Unemployment Benefits: To Be Clear


I think it’s important to clear a few things up.  And to explain the difference between personal charity and legislative responsibility.

On a human and personal level I get the fact that someone out of work is struggling.  Most likely with personal value issues, household income issues and perhaps larger life skills and career opportunity issues.

I get that.

And to that extent, I resonate with the personal heart string tugging concept of needing to provide relief.  I absolutely agree that helping when one can is the right thing to do.  Without a doubt.

On the governmental and legislative level I know that the best thing that can be done is to make sure that it is as easy as possible for people  looking for work can match up with people looking for workers.n  In short, for the removal of every possible obstacle.

The juxtaposition of those two very valid and noble positions seems to be taking place in our debate.

The fiscal conservatives want less unemployment benefits to be handed out.  Less as in fewer weeks and less money.  The social  liberals want to increase those benefits.  Increase as in extend benefits and with more money.

And they yell at each other.

But they aren’t arguing about the same topic.  The Left are advocating a position of personal charity.  The Right are advocating a position of economic modeling.  Both are right in their specific context, but that context isn’t the same.

So, I would suggest this:

  • My Liberal friends:  Form a non-profit foundation that provides relief to the unemployed.
  • My Conservative friends: Contribute to said foundation.
  • End government mandated charity.

Remember, there must be an incontrovertible condition for the government to relive a man of the fruits of his labor by threat of sword or gun.  And the simple fact that you feel more comfortable with this man having that man’s property does not meet that condition.

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3 comments
  1. To the extent that (I would argue) it is the government’s responsibility to promote economic growth, extending unemployment benefits is also desirable. UI benefits are very stimulative and have a huge multiplier effect because they are targeted toward the people that will spend them expeditiously at the time the economy needs it most. Take a look here at Peter Orszag’s comments on unemployment benefits: http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=830

    • pino said:

      howdemocracyworks said:

      Thanks for stopping by.

      UI benefits are very stimulative and have a huge multiplier effect because they are targeted toward the people that will spend them expeditiously at the time the economy needs it most.

      I absolutely agree that the money obtained from UI is spent and not saved.

      Perhaps my point would be better stated a s a question:

      “If UI is as stimulative as reported, why not provide that money ad infinitum?”

      At work, in my career, I extol my colleagues to arrive at conclusions after exploring relevant data. I’m trying to apply that to myself in my politics. If it provides a relief to the economy to provide UI than I’m willing. However, according to the data, when is enough, well, enough?

  2. Alan Scott said:

    Part of our problem is a demand problem . Business won’t expand because with low demand they can’t. Government in all it’s wisdom keeps printing money to jack up demand. Well defacing our currency is not working . There is something our idiot government can do. There are two sectors of the economy where demand is okay . Food and energy . In both the price is too high because of government policy . First we have to get out of the ethanol business. That would lower food prices .

    Second we have to encourage, not discourage domestic energy production .The gas and oil drillers in Ohio and Pennsylvania are hiring and buying steel. Encourage them. Employment in those industries can easily increase . If they have environmental issues, work with them, don’t just shut them down .

    If you get food and energy prices down that will be all of the stimulus we need . The rest will magically take care of itself . This is not rocket science unless you work in the White House .

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