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Bob Ehrlich: Biden's Breaking the Cardinal Rule and Subsidizing Some Very Bad Behavior

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You know what they say: Rules are meant to be broken. But what to think when it is government that knowingly and willfully breaks the rules, when government subsidizes bad behavior to the detriment of our economy, our culture, our country?

Only five months into the Biden administration and one particular rule is out the window. Specifically, the cardinal rule: If you subsidize it, you will get more of it. Read and weep.

Illegal Immigration

When government subsidizes illegal immigration, you get more illegal immigration.

The rule is familiar enough: An oversupply of cheap labor lowers the price of labor and thereby lowers wages for American workers.

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This rule of basic economics is understood by most, so why the relentless push to beat down America’s marginal labor pool? Good question. The answer: There is little media interest in reporting on the considerable suffering sustained by America’s working class and working poor.

These good folks (many of whom still work with their hands) are no longer cool nor worthy of empathetic stories in the Sunday edition of The New York Times. You see, too many voted for the wrong guy in the last two elections.

A related headline: “HUD won’t require citizenship for vouchers.” Yep, you read that right. The Biden administration will further subsidize illegal immigration by handing out emergency housing vouchers (thereby overturning a Trump policy that limited assistance to actual citizens).

Biden immigration policy might as well read: Come one, come all — child care and housing and transportation are on the house.

Do you think the Biden administration is subsidizing bad behavior?


When government subsidizes unemployment, you get more unemployment.

Witness the startling decline of new jobs announced the week before last (a projected one million turned into an abysmal 266,000). And this during a time when businesses of all sizes — especially small businesses — are desperate for workers.

The explanation, of course, revolves around government’s decision to extend additional unemployment benefits regardless of need — you know, the old “let’s throw money at the problem” play.

And so 60 percent of the unemployed soon figured out they could make more money by not working rather than returning to their jobs.

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At last count, 13 red-state governors have noticed the problem and have sought to cut back on the additional federal benefits. But who couldn’t see this coming?


When government makes crime pay, you get more crime.

Geez, who could have guessed that defunding law enforcement would lead to … more lawlessness?

In many venues, one’s chances of getting arrested for minor crimes or misdemeanors has not been this low in decades. And the odds get even longer when the offense is committed in a major city where Soros-sponsored prosecutors reign and bail is removed as a threat.

The recent chaos in Portland, New York, Minneapolis, Seattle and Chicago speaks to the “success” of the “defund” movement.

Here, fewer police officers on the street translates to more street crime — most often committed against society’s more vulnerable populations. It will stay this way until enough folks in deep-blue subdivisions demand an end to the violence — and more police.


When government encourages fatherlessness, you get more fatherlessness.

Experience has shown that welfare subsidies often lead to more single (usually female) head of households. Nevertheless, some on the left have spent a great deal of time and effort assuring us that fatherlessness is not a big deal, that those who simply engage the issue are somehow racist.

But fatherlessness turns out to be a very big deal indeed.

Empirical studies show that just about every social malady you can think of (poverty, juvenile delinquency, homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction, poor academic performance, underemployment, mental health issues) is more prevalent in fatherless families.

That President Barack Obama was unafraid to speak to the issue was a high point of his presidency. But it is now 60 years since then-Assistant Secretary of Labor Daniel Patrick Moynihan published his groundbreaking study on poverty and fatherlessness in the African-American family, a problem that has only metastasized across every race and socio-economic class since then.

Your average high school freshman understands that subsidizing negative behavior typically leads to more negative behavior and further dependency. And so why is it so difficult for our expert class (the really smart people) to recognize that no amount of happy talk will alter the results of a rule they so often choose to ignore?

No wonder “the elites” are polling so poorly.

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.

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Robert Ehrlich is a former governor of Maryland as well as a former United States congressman and state legislator. He is the author of “Bet You Didn’t See That One Coming: Obama, Trump, and the End of Washington’s Regular Order,” in addition to “Turn This Car Around,” “America: Hope for Change" and “Turning Point.” Ehrlich is currently a counsel at the firm of King & Spalding in Washington, D.C.