Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Do Unemployment Benefits Keep People from Looking for Work?

From the Washington Monthly:

March 8, 2010

THE GOP STILL JUST DOESN'T LIKE THE UNEMPLOYED.... It's astounding, but in the midst of an unemployment crisis, prominent Republicans continue to castigate those struggling to find jobs.

Yesterday, for example, disgraced former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) argued that DeLay said, "there is an argument to be made that these extensions of these unemployment benefits keeps people from going and finding jobs." When CNN's Candy Crowley described his argument as "a hard sell" to the public, DeLay replied, "It's the truth."

Crowley followed up, asking, "People are unemployed because they want to be?" DeLay again said, "Well, it is the truth."

When it comes to Republicans condemning the unemployed, there seems to be something of a trend of late. Two weeks ago, Rep. Dean Heller (R) of Nevada expressed concern that the government is "creating hobos" by extending unemployment benefits. Around the same time, Rep. Steve King, a right-wing Republican from Iowa, explained his opposition to extended unemployment benefits: "We shouldn't turn the 'safety net' into a hammock."

Last week, Senate Minority Jon Kyl of Arizona, the Senate's #2 Republican, argued that unemployment benefits dissuade people from job-hunting "because people are being paid even though they're not working." And this, of course, coincided with Sen. Jim Bunning's (R-Ky.) crusade against extending benefits.

As a matter of economics, the GOP argument is absurd: "[W]hen the economy is deeply depressed, extending unemployment benefits not only helps those in need, it also reduces unemployment. That's because the economy's problem right now is lack of sufficient demand, and cash-strapped unemployed workers are likely to spend their benefits. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office says that aid to the unemployed is one of the most effective forms of economic stimulus, as measured by jobs created per dollar of outlay."

As a matter of conscience, having prominent Republicans chastise those struggling to find work during an unemployment crisis is just callous and cruel.

And as a matter of politics, who, exactly, is going to be impressed by Republicans attacking the unemployed as lazy? Since when is "screw struggling families, let's worry about corporate tax cuts and the estate tax" an effective election-year message during difficult economic times?
Apropos, in his recent blog, Paul Krugman found himself remembering a passage near the beginning of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre:

"Anyone who is willing to work and is serious about it will certainly find a job. Only you must not go to the man who tells you this, for he has no job to offer and doesn’t know anyone who knows of a vacancy. This is exactly the reason why he gives you such generous advice, out of brotherly love, and to demonstrate how little he knows the world."

And apropos of what it's like to be unemployed in the midst of a great depression, I highly recommend watching the 1940 Academy Award winning film starring Henry Fonda, John Steinback's "The Grapes of Wrath," which we recently found on DVD at Costco.


The Melinda said...

The argument sounds to me like a carefully honed attempt by Rove to reframe the issue. In form, focus on a small group and present an argument which pins the blame on them, thus deemphasizing reality.

It is exactly the same as the approach used by John Fund on the issue of elections. "The problem is voters cheating, illegal aliens, a liberal conspiracy."

éminence grise said...

Exactly right, Melinda. Blame the victim. I don't know if there has been more than a dozen individuals in the country convicted of "voter fraud" (the term always used in the newspapers). Whereas, the really big fraud committed by the election computer operators is never mentioned in the press and is white washed when the guy is taken to court by activist citizens.

The Melinda said...

Writing "Stealing Elections: An Instruction Book," oh, excuse me I mean "Stealing Elections - How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy."

John was really unhappy about writing it. it was his consolation prize in 2000 because he did not get to be Bush Speech Writer.

He was whining about it at dinner in NY. We caught a bite to eat after going to a Libertarian evnt together. Present were myself, my daughter Morgan, and John.

John lies like a psychopath because he IS a psychopath. See pillsburyjustice.info