Friday, July 16, 2010

PM Discussions with Twin, #145: The Crazific--

Oh, no, wait. That's that other guy, who writes better blog posts than I do.

In any case, continuing in the spirit of re-posting things I have been yelling at someone who already pretty much agrees with me, here is something I said to Twin after he told me a story about a friend getting a job after finding out his unemployment benefits were going to run out sooner than he thought. (His friend had been getting some additional education and planned to finish that before his bennies ran out, then go out on the hunt with his new credentials. He ended up getting a job that he would have wanted anyway, which, as Twin pointed out, would be the kind of story the Republicans in Congress would love to tell you.) Maybe re-posting this will be an infinitesimal drop that will add up with a bunch of others, and eventually amount to enough of a cleansing torrent that we can get some of these bastards out of office, and out doing real jobs, like producing reality teevee or lobbying for Big Pharma.

We now join our rant, already in progress …

Well, sure. It is Econ 101, if not Human Nature 101, to say that if you give a group of people money for doing nothing, some of them are going to be happy to just sit and collect.

The problem I have with the Republicans is that in all their self-righteousness about this (not to mention their frequent dog-whistling), they fail to acknowledge several other things that are just as true as the above. For example: some people will make good use of the time and stipend to better themselves, as with your friend's example. This sort of behavior is to the benefit of the economy and society.

As you also point out, there are different degrees of difficulty in getting another job. Skill set, age, skin color, geographic location, and probably several other factors are non-trivial here.

I'd also say, though it's probably hard to be empirical about, that a significant chunk of people in any group start feeling very uneasy about doing nothing but sitting around on the dole. Just as it is human nature to enjoy free lunches for a while, it is also human nature to get sick of being in this position -- pretty quickly, on average -- and to desire, greatly, to have a sense of self-worth, to feel as though one is pulling one's weight, being self-sufficient, contributing to the general good, etc.

It should also be said that unemployment benefits do not exactly allow one to live the life of Riley, particularly if the recipient is not the second income-earner for a household, but the primary one. This is even more the case for those who need the UBs most -- typically, such people have been living paycheck to paycheck or close to it, due to the unbalanced nature of our system. Blue- and pink-collar workers are often the first to go, the least well-positioned to able to deal with a sudden loss of income (and benefits), and among those who find it hardest to get another job.

Therefore, as part of the governance of an entire nation, it is the depth of heartlessness and pigheadedness to vote against extending a program merely because you can imagine that someone, somewhere is taking a little bit of advantage of it. Especially when you are also ready to go to the mat to protect things like military hardware contracts and agribusiness subsidies.

Not "you" you, of course. And I know I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. But, as with the McCain situation, sometimes I just have to type these things out.

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