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ICYMI: Rubio: Americans Deserve Dignified Work

Sep 14, 2021 | Comunicados de Prensa

Honoring the Dignity of Work
By Senator Marco Rubio 
September 14, 2021
First Things
 
Our country faces a fundamental question. Emerging from the pandemic, will we renew the promise of a free economy that provides our people with well-paying jobs? Or will we increase government pay-outs and benefits to cover up our failure? 
 
Forty years ago, St. John Paul II issued the encyclical Laborem Exercens (Latin for “through work”). He argued that “human work is a key, probably the essential key, to the whole social question.” John Paul II does not tell us what policies to adopt to meet our challenges. But he is very clear: Our goal should be to promote, provide, and honor work.
 
Work is about more than meeting our material needs. It has profound human significance… Work allows us to provide for those in our care. But it is also a way to build upon and honor the labor of those who came before, and to better our world for those yet to be born.
 
To an elected official like myself, several insights in Laborem Exercens stand out.
 
First…work is often hard, but it also brings people together through shared experiences. Shared work is a powerful engine of assimilation and it bonds liberals and conservatives in a common enterprise, which is something we certainly need in today’s divided society.  
 
Second, the “principle of the priority of labour over capital.”…Applied to today: The business of what virtues and skills our people build up through work is more important than watching the stock market go up. 
 
Third, the pope urges us “to act against unemployment, which in all cases is an evil, and which…can become a real social disaster.” He cautions against support systems that devalue work. When a system treats citizens as consumers only, and not as productive members of society, “incalculable damage is inevitably done…first and foremost damage to man.”
 
Fourth, family is “something that man is called to.” Work allows the family to be self-sufficient rather than dependent. 
 
In short, Laborem Exercens is clear that there is dignity in work… But as I wrote in 2018, recognizing the dignity of work must not be an empty gesture. We must make changes and provide incentives that channel more Americans toward the kind of work that can sustain a family and build a brighter future.
 

 
In 2019, I made the case that the Church’s “teachings should guide us to reject an unserious and distracting debate over abstract labels, and simply start to build an economy that can better provide dignified work.” Six months later, a plague upended our economy and culture…
 
Rather than letting small businesses go bankrupt and throwing workers on unemployment, I created the Paycheck Protection Program. We decided to pay small businesses to keep their workers on payroll through the worst of the lockdowns. 
 

 
The Paycheck Protection Program established a pattern we need to follow in the future. It kept employees out of the unemployment system and gave purpose to a paycheck… We preserved employers’ ability to honor the dignity of work.
 
The same way of thinking led me and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) to fight against our own party as we sought to expand the Child Tax Credit in 2017… Ultimately, President Trump and my Republican colleagues agreed, allowing us to double the size of the child tax credit. Tax return data confirmed the 2017 law put millions into the pockets of working American families. It was a policy that honored and rewarded their work.
 
Now, with Democrats in control, the policy of choice is a government child allowance… This approach degrades our fellow citizens and does not honor their capacity to be productive workers.
 
The argument over a pro-work child tax credit versus an anti-work government child allowance exemplifies the choice we face. Will we encourage an economy that works for its people? Or one in which people in Silicon Valley and elsewhere can work and do well, while cash payments from Washington pacify those left behind? 

 
One does not need to be Catholic or even a believer to see the truth of what John Paul II says: “Human work has an ethical value of its own.” Let’s turn away from the complacent approach of buying off Americans with cash payments. We must build a more prosperous and fair economy that can provide dignified work for all Americans. Justice, equality, and meaning will not come through checks sent from Washington, but through work. 
 
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