[Content Note: Class warfare.]
In their continuing bid to eradicate any semblance of a social safety net, Congressional Republicans are set to let
more than 2 million people lose their unemployment benefits by the end of the first quarter next year. 1.3 million will lose benefits by the end of this year. Paul Krugman explains
the cruel rationale behind this decision:
Now, the G.O.P.'s desire to punish the unemployed doesn't arise solely from bad economics; it's part of a general pattern of afflicting the afflicted while comforting the comfortable (no to food stamps, yes to farm subsidies).
... Here's the world as many Republicans see it: Unemployment insurance, which generally pays eligible workers between 40 and 50 percent of their previous pay, reduces the incentive to search for a new job. As a result, the story goes, workers stay unemployed longer. In particular, it's claimed that the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which lets workers collect benefits beyond the usual limit of 26 weeks, explains why there are four million long-term unemployed workers in America today, up from just one million in 2007.
Correspondingly, the G.O.P. answer to the problem of long-term unemployment is to increase the pain of the long-term unemployed: Cut off their benefits, and they'll go out and find jobs. How, exactly, will they find jobs when there are three times as many job-seekers as job vacancies? Details, details.
...Businesses aren't failing to hire because they can't find willing workers; they're failing to hire because they can't find enough customers. And slashing unemployment benefits — which would have the side effect of reducing incomes and hence consumer spending — would just make the situation worse.
...So the odds, I'm sorry to say, are that the long-term unemployed will be cut off, thanks to a perfect marriage of callousness — a complete lack of empathy for the unfortunate — with bad economics. But then, hasn't that been the story of just about everything lately?
Let them eat bootstraps!
I don't know in what fantasy world Republican lawmakers are living, that they imagine people can just go out and get a job with a livable wage tomorrow.
And I am constantly awed by their utter faithlessness in other people—their persistent belief that most
people are always looking for an angle, always searching for a way to scam the government so that they don't have to work. That is just completely at odds with reality.
Sure, there are scam artists. And there are also people who are regarded as scam artists who are really just people comprehensively failed by their country, who lacked even the most basic educational and employment opportunities, who have little choice but to find a way to game a system that set them up to fail. And then there are all the people who would happily work, if only they had the option.
To hear the Republicans' tell it, it's nothing but scammers and "takers" as far as the eye can see.
But being poor isn't easy
. Being poor is one of the most difficult things to be in this country. Poverty is not for lazy people.
There is evidence of laziness in this debate, such as it is. But it isn't people who quite rightly want their unemployment benefits extended while their elected representatives continue to pursue austerity strategies that limit their employment opportunities. It's the conservatives making the lazy arguments about US workers, to justify their garbage policies, reality and decency be damned.