Lamenting Leftism

New Mexico Searches for Answers to Why Johnny Won’t Work

New Mexico is on track to be last in yet another performance metric. This time it’s not education, employment, or average income. It’s turning away federal unemployment insurance.

With at least 25 states already ending or scheduling the end of the additional $300 a week in federal unemployment insurance (UI), New Mexico has no such plans.

Here’s an explanation from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham:


The governor’s office of course has no statement on ending the additional UI money because the marketing brilliance of Democratic policy is that they never have to explain their rationale, but the reason isn’t complicated.

New Mexico was proud to be first in line to ask for federal assistance when the program was announced, so it shouldn’t be surprising when we’re last in line to give it up.

Workers across the country are saying they’re reluctant to return to their old jobs

“There’s a wild card in the push to return to post-pandemic life: Many workers don’t want to go back to the jobs they once had,” Fortune magazine reported on May 18, 2021.

Nate Mullins quit his job as a bartender last November after clashing with managers over mask rules and worrying that he would spread the coronavirus to his immune-compromised sister.

Mullins’ unemployment checks don’t match what he was making at his Oak Harbor, Washington bar, but they’re enough to get by while he looks for jobs that would provide health care and retirement benefits.

“This opportunity to take a step back and really think about what you’re doing really changed my mind,” said Mullins, 36. “(It) made me think long-term for the first time” (emphasis added).

This is common sense. Humans are efficiency machines. We seek the maximum resources for minimal effort.

While defenders of UI will blame corporate greed, poor benefits, and undesirable working conditions, the root of the problem is simpler than that. When the government is paying people to not work, many simply choose not to.

Nothing is stopping Mullins from seeking a better job while working at a lesser one. With the exception of a few Kennedys, working your way up through a company or industry is how the vast majority of Americans move out of the service industry.

And people who’ve earned their way know that it’s easier to get a new job when you’re already employed than it is when you’re not. The reasons for this are obvious: being unemployed “sends a negative signal about your work ethic and hirability” to prospective employers, you have less leverage (and thus appear more desperate), and you come off as less independent, less motivated, and less hungry than someone who is moving up from a position they already hold versus someone who’s moving from the couch to a regular job.

Are these fair stereotypes? 


Imagine you have a daughter (or four), and a prospective boyfriend comes to dinner. Would you be wrong in thinking less of him if he didn’t work, hadn’t completed high school, didn’t have a trade or a skill or a marketable trait that allowed him to afford dinners, clothes, a car, a house?


This is not classism. It’s basic evolution. 

Every species exists to further its lot in life, to not only pass on genes but to improve the survivability of offspring. Resources — wealth, property, power — provide this opportunity. Work is the process to obtaining it.

Like the boyfriend who lives in his mom’s basement, unemployment speaks volumes about your character. Not only do you lack the discipline to provide for yourself, but you are okay with surviving on someone else’s dime.

Unemployment insurance, after all, is a tax allocation: taken from someone and given to someone else.

As for New Mexico’s reluctance to relinquish the funds, it’s an economic decision. 

$300 a month for the 78,000 unemployed New Mexicans translates to more than $24 million in money circulating in the state economy. Per month. 

It’s less than would be spent if those 78,000 residents were employed full time, but not all of those people would work at all, let alone full time, even if they didn’t have unemployment insurance. 

New Mexico has the third highest unemployment rate in the country, at 8.2%. We rank 48th in average income and last in education, two statistics that directly correlate not only to low employment but the reluctance of New Mexicans to rejoin the workforce. 

Johnny won’t get a job because he doesn’t have to. And the governor is going to rake in as much out-of-state money as she can before pulling the plug and forcing Johnny back to work.

It’s not what’s best for Johnny. It’s not what’s best for New Mexico. But it’s easy money that the state is in no rush to turn away.

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