Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

We’re Writing Off the Unemployed (Another Reason Why I Reject the Republican Party Absolutely and Completely)

00.00k Politics Through a Cartoonist's Eyes 09.11.11

THIS is the attitude of the Republican Party and their oligarch paymasters… any questions?


Back in 1987, my Princeton colleague Alan Blinder published a very good book entitled Hard Heads, Soft Hearts. It was, as you might guess, a call for tough-minded but compassionate economic policy. Unfortunately, what we actually got… especially, although not only, from Republicans… was the opposite. Moreover, it’s difficult to find a better example of the hard-hearted softheaded nature of today’s GOP than what happened last week, as Senate Republicans once again used the filibuster to block aid to the long-term unemployed. What do we know about long-term unemployment in America?

First, it’s still at near-record levels. Historically, the long-term unemployed… those out of work for 27 weeks or more… usually, are from 10 to 20 percent of total unemployment. Today, the number is 35.8 percent. Yet, we allowed extended unemployment benefits, which went into effect in 2008, to lapse. As a result, few of the long-term unemployed receive any support. Second, if you think the typical long-term unemployed American is one of Those People… non-white, poorly educated, etc… you’re wrong, according to research by the Urban Institute’s Josh Mitchell. Half of the long-term unemployed are non-Hispanic whites. College graduates are less likely to lose their jobs than those with less education, but once they do, they’re actually a bit more likely than others are to join the ranks of the long-term unemployed. Workers older than 45-years-old are especially likely to spend a long time unemployed. Third, in a weak job market, long-term unemployment tends to be self-perpetuating, because employers, in effect, discriminate against the jobless. Many people suspected that this was the case, and, last year, Rand Ghayad of Northeastern University provided a dramatic confirmation. He sent out thousands of fictitious résumés in response to job ads, and found that potential employers were drastically less likely to respond if the fictitious applicant was out of work more than six months, even if they were better qualified than other applicants.

What all of this suggests is that the long-term unemployed are mainly victims of circumstances… ordinary American workers who had the bad luck to lose their jobs (which can happen to anyone) at a time of extraordinary labour market weakness, with three times as many people seeking jobs as there are openings. Once that happened, the very fact of their unemployment made it harder to find a new job. Therefore, how can politicians justify cutting off modest aid to their unlucky fellow citizens? Some Republicans justified the filibuster with the tired old argument that we can’t afford to increase the deficit. Actually, Democrats paired the benefits extension with measures to increase tax receipts. In any case, this is a bizarre objection at a time when federal deficits aren’t just falling, but clearly falling too fast, holding back economic recovery.

For the most part, however, Republicans justify their refusal to help by asserting that the real cause of long-term unemployment is because people aren’t trying hard enough to find jobs, and that extended benefits are part of the reason for their lack of effort. People who say things like this… like, such as, US Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)… probably imagine that they’re being tough-minded and realistic. In fact, they’re peddling a fantasy at odds with all the evidence. For example… if unemployment is high because people are unwilling to work, reducing the supply of labour, why aren’t wages going up?

However, evidence has a well-known liberal bias. The more their economic doctrine fails (remember how the Fed’s actions were supposed to produce runaway inflation?) the more fiercely conservatives cling to it. More than five years after a financial crisis plunged the Western world into what looks increasingly like a quasi-permanent slump, making nonsense of free-market orthodoxy, it’s hard to find a leading Republican who’s changed their mind on, well, anything. This imperviousness to evidence goes along with a stunning lack of compassion.

It’s striking how hard it is to find anyone on the Republican side even hinting at sympathy for the long-term jobless. Being unemployed is always presented as a choice, as something that only happens to losers. One often gets the sense that contempt for the unemployed comes first, that the supposed justifications for tough policies are rationalisations. The result is that they’ve written off millions of Americans… potential employers reject them; politicians whose fuzzy-mindedness matches the hardness of their hearts abandon them.

10 February 2014

Paul Krugman

New York Times


Editor’s Note:

I’ll keep this short. If you support the Republican Agenda, you reject the Lord Christ and all that He taught. The Republicans support greed, torture, spying on ordinary folks, warmongering, and grasp for global hegemony… they worship Mammon. As Our Lord Christ said, No man can serve two masters (Gospel according to St Matthew 6.24)… neither can you. You can serve Christ or the Republican Party, but not both. That’s a “’Nuff said”…

The Republicans despise you as “lazy”… you’re not worth much in their eyes. Indeed, since 1981, they’ve done their best to erode your economic and political rights (PRISM and extreme rendition, anyone?). Then, why vote for them?


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