Money Can’t Replace Meaning and Purpose

Money Can’t Replace Meaning and Purpose

Money Can’t Replace Meaning and Purpose

American poverty

Work has intrinsic value

Last month, I had the honor of participating in the Heritage Foundation’s annual Antipoverty Forum, where scholars and practitioners discussed the state of poverty in the country and the local efforts to confront the issue.

The discussion this year centered on the Biden Administration’s Build Back Better (BBB) bill that is now making its way through Congress and the ways in which the bill would undermine work by using much of its $2.4 trillion to expand safety net benefits and create new entitlements, all while eliminating work requirements.

Despite unemployment numbers dropping nearly to pre-pandemic lows in most states, what is not widely understood is that labor force participation (the number of people who are able to work and are actively looking for work) is much lower than when the pandemic began. Some 4-5 million people have effectively dropped out of the workforce – at least for now – despite record job openings (10.4 million in September).

While the drop in workforce numbers is partially explained by fear of COVID and mothers forced to stay home with children, much of it can only be explained as being caused by increased benefits (and the elimination of many requirements for qualifying), rescue-related payments and, now, monthly child tax credit payments. The BBB bill is very likely to make these trends and others, like inflation, worse.

Although we’re concerned that people are choosing not to work and agree that more money coming from Washington, DC, will make matters worse, my remarks reflected our concern at GCO about why worklessness harms the individual. Work is not merely about earning money; it has intrinsic value.

 

The Success Sequence provides an outline of how to reverse the cycle of poverty in our communities. GCO uses this as a framework for much of our work.

Championing a return to normalcy and healthy social interaction

Work provides each of us with an outlet for our God-given talents and creativity. It allows us to serve others and contribute to other individuals’ well-being in exchange for having our own needs met. More than that, it provides us with social capital and a network of colleagues and friends who can help us when we need it. Much research has also shown that worklessness leads to poor mental and physical health and can contribute to increased drug and alcohol abuse – the 100,000+ overdose deaths during the pandemic representing the latest example.

As our government wrestles with how to deal with the pandemic and sets its priorities, it should avoid anything that discourages employment and causes more isolation. For individual and societal health on every front, the government should be championing a return to normalcy and healthy social interaction – including at work – that allows the American people to be resilient during times of crisis.

GCO signed coalition letter urging policymakers to prioritize high-speed broadband in rural Georgia

GCO signed coalition letter urging policymakers to prioritize high-speed broadband in rural Georgia

GCO signed coalition letter urging policymakers to prioritize high-speed broadband in rural Georgia

The Georgia Center for Opportunity (GCO) has signed on to a coalition letter urging policymakers to prioritize the use of federal emergency dollars for high-speed broadband in rural, underserved areas of Georgia.The letter makes four recommendations:

  • Target funds to areas without access to high-speed broadband, defined as 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload

  • Avoid investments in government-owned networks
  • Reduce red tape around deployment
  • Ensure adequate resources for permitting approval

 

Buzz statement rural broadband

 

GCO’s take: “Broadband for rural areas should’ve been a priority prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, it’s an emergency,” said Buzz Brockway, GCO’s vice president of public policy. “Good Internet access will be a boon to rural Georgia. Broadband is also crucial for some of our state’s most vulnerable students, and expanding Internet access is closely aligned with GCO’s mission to expand educational opportunity. In the middle of all this, we can’t afford to get mired in bureaucratic red tape, either. That’s why we must avoid working through government-owned networks and instead quickly review and approve applications to get this done.”

 

GET BUZZ’D AT THE STATE CAPITOL

GET BUZZ’D AT THE STATE CAPITOL

GET BUZZ’D AT THE STATE CAPITOL

Get Buzz'd Blog Header

A focus on the state legislature and the policies effecting Georgian’s everyday life. 

Buzz Brockway, VP of Policy, is in downtown Atlanta at the state Capitol building, and walks us through the the last day or sine die of the legislative session. 

 

Our state lawmakers create policies that better the lives of Georgians. Learn more about active legislation and how it translates into everyday life for all of us.

GET BUZZ’D AT THE STATE CAPITOL

Get Buzz’d At the state Capitol

Get Buzz’d At the state Capitol

Get Buzz'd Blog Header

A focus on the state legislature and the policies effecting Georgian’s everyday life. 

Buzz Brockway, VP of Policy, is in downtown Atlanta at the state Capitol building, and walks us through the proposed changes to The Special Needs Scholarship, occupational licensing, a current protest, and more.

 

Get Buzz'd - at capitol - March 17 2021

Our state lawmakers create policies that better the lives of Georgians. Learn more about active legislation and how it translates into everyday life for all of us.

Key GCO priority bills make crossover deadline

Key GCO priority bills make crossover deadline

Key GCO priority bills make crossover deadline

legislative update

The Georgia legislative session is halfway over, and already we’ve made some important progress in breaking down barriers to work and expanding opportunity for all Georgians.

We reached a key legislative mark on March 8: The crossover deadline. That means that any bill not passed by at least one chamber (either the Senate or the House) is likely dead for the remainder of the session.

The great news is that several key bills supported by the Georgia Center for Opportunity (GCO) made the crossover deadline.

 

Get Buzz'd capitol update

Watch Buzz Brockway, VP of Policy for GCO, from the state Capitol as he updates us on what legislation is moving forward, and what is over for the year. 

Education

Heading up that list is a measure that would expand the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship. This program helps students with individualized education plans (IEPs) attend a private school that is a better fit for their individual needs. On March 3, the state Senate passed a measure, Senate Bill 47, that opens the scholarship to preschoolers in addition to students with a wide range of special needs, just not those with an IEP.

We’re continuing to work with lawmakers on the House side to pass the bill and send it to Gov. Brian Kemp’s desk for his signature. We’re hopeful that 2021 will be the year this important measure becomes law in order to better serve families of special needs students who have disproportionately suffered during the pandemic.

Occupational licensing

We’re also seeing progress on occupational licensing reforms. Occupational licensing is needed in some industries and job categories, but the laws on the books today in many cases are an unnecessary roadblock to employment for workers.

Two bills on this issue made the crossover deadline. The first, Senate Bill 45, allows people who move to Georgia and hold an occupational license to immediately be granted a provisional license. This will allow these new Georgians to immediately go to work and support their families.

A second measure, Senate Bill 27, extends the time (up to two years) a retiring military member may count their military training toward requirements for an occupational license

Both bills are now pending in the House.

 

Adoption reforms

We’re pleased that two adoption-reform bills passed the House before the crossover deadline. House Bill 114 would increase the annual tax credit available for adopting a foster child from $2,000 to $6,000. And House Bill 154 would lower the minimum age to adopt from 25 to 21.

Foster and adoptive families play a crucial role in creating stable environments for some of the most vulnerable children in our society. Anything we can do through policy reform to help these families should be a priority.

Justice reforms

In an attempt to address the type of tragic vigilante violence that occurred in the Ahmaud Arbery case, lawmakers unanimously passed House Bill 479 on March 8. The measure overhauls Georgia’s citizen’s arrest law to generally prevent bystanders from attempting to arrest an individual suspected of a crime. GCO believes this is a crucial piece of legislation to prevent unnecessary tragedies and foster greater racial justice in our state.

 

Bills that didn’t make the cut

Unfortunately, supporters of Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) will likely have to wait another year before we see them become a reality. Although a measure (House Bill 60) to create ESAs passed the House Education Committee on Feb. 26, it never came up for a vote on the floor of the House.

ESAs are an important way to expand educational access and choice for Georgia students. They allow parents and kids—no matter their race, the circumstances of their birth, or their socioeconomic status—to have equal access to the funds needed for a great education. We’ll continue fighting for ESAs in the 2022 legislative session.

On a positive note, bills that would have legalized parimutuel horse-race betting and casino gambling in Georgia are now dead after failing to make crossover.