The Effects of Public Policy at Villanova

Steven Makino, Staff Writer

 It’s no exaggeration to say that this school year has felt very different compared to last year, when COVID-19 persisted as a significant and unchecked threat across the globe. Most of these differences I believe are for the benefit of the Villanova community, as we are on the verge of returning to the normalcy of college life. However, one aspect of campus that I’m sure the vast majority of students – including myself – have issues with is the quality of the dining hall and reduced hours of service. What is truly jarring about this situation is that this was one of the areas of campus life I felt was handled very well last year, during a time when the threat of COVID-19 was at its greatest. However, this becomes less baffling when looking at one aspect of the realm of American politics: disastrous public policy. 

The four years of the Trump administration resulted in about $7.8 trillion being added to the national debt, according to The Washington Post, a feat that is a rational complaint about the former president, even among members of his own party. The Biden administration has not done any better. It is worse in fact, as Biden is projected to spend nearly $10 trillion in his first year alone. The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan that was passed earlier this year was the first major instance where a majority of the benefits such as the $1,400 stimulus checks and extending the unemployment benefits (which just ended earlier last month) were unnecessary, or at the very least, could have been trimmed down. This bill would have made sense in the spring of last year, but this is no longer the case. While at first glance this may seem like an extra sigh of relief for many American families, this form of reckless spending will only hurt the economy in the long run. 

With the authorized emergency use of Pfitzer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines in December and mass availability at the start of spring, there has been ample time for those to get theirs or make a risk assessment based on their own personal circumstances or beliefs. Yet, the Biden administration instead promoted mixed messaging about the vaccines by stating time and time again that there is a need to “protect the vaccinated from the unvaccinated,’’ despite that being the point of receiving the vaccine in the first place. This has led to many states delaying reopenings of businesses or imposing restrictions not on the basis of science but on needless fear. In addition, businesses that are attempting to open are facing labor shortages due to the government promoting vaccine hesitancy and essentially paying many to stay home without offering any sort of incentive to go back to work.

The argument can be made that this is due to people wanting to work for a fair wage rather than “starvation wages.” I agree that the federal minimum wage rate is unacceptable and that it should be raised to at least $11 per hour. However, this commonly thrown rebuttal neglects the fact that according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the amount of hourly paid workers that earned the minimum wage or less was about 1.5 percent of more than 73.3 million workers in 2020. Decreasing from 1.9 percent in the previous year, it’s safe to say that government spending is to blame for the labor shortages across the country and on our own campus.

To make matters worse, the excessive spending of President Joe Biden has seen inflation continue to rise in recent months on many common goods with no signs of going away. The August Jobs Report highlights this problem as while about 10 million jobs are open in the United States, the number of jobs created was 235,000. A number that missed the mark of economists’ predictions of 725,000 jobs, this horrible statistic is due to the Biden administration eliminating the incentive structure for Americans going back to work. Instead of a natural recovery that should have happened once the vaccines were available, Biden’s COVID-19 policy and massive spending have delayed this economic recovery and put the U.S. in a state of inflation and in the likes of an “artificial coma” for far longer than needed.

Labor shortages and the supply chain issues mentioned by University President Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A., Ph.D. during his Q&A at Family Weekend can be blamed on these reckless policy decisions and do not seem like they will go away anytime soon. The Democratic Party’s $3.5 trillion budget resolution bill would effectively serve to make inflation concerns worse, as the total amount of spending this year alone would rival what Trump added to the national debt during his whole term. President Biden has also been wanting to raise the corporate tax on businesses to 28%, which would only serve to force companies to pass on the burden of this increase to consumers by raising prices, at a time where inflation is already an issue. 

Villanova is not blame free in this matter, as with the costly price tag to attend this school, its wages to staff members should increase as well as to student workers who may need the money to help pay for their attendance here. However, much of the blame for reduced hours of Cova, late night, convenience stores, as well as the quality of the food resides in the current administration and its lack of knowledge (or disregard) for the fundamentals of economics.