A Dec. 29 Associated Press article by Amy Taxin and Christopher Rugaber highlights the stupidity of the politically charged public debate about extended unemployment benefits. We are advised that there is a (presumably credible) “theory that ending benefits will cause some unemployed to drop out of the workforce.” Let me get this straight: We pay people about $300 per week to do nothing, then when the money is taken away, they stop looking for work? Seriously?
I have a one-word descriptor for this theory: Stupid. When the free money stops, most sane people will conclude that it’s time to get a job, any job, and not necessarily one that is the same as, or as good as, the one they had many, many months previously. It is the new reality that one must confront.
Has anyone noticed that most of the people who are drawing “extended unemployment benefits” are actually making more (net of taxes) than people working full-time at the bottom of the economic totem pole? And make no mistake, extended unemployment is “free money.” Unemployment insurance covers 26 weeks of unemployment. After that, it is a form of welfare.
Our infinitely wise Congress may decide that it helps the economy to continue paying unemployment benefits to the long-term unemployed, but it has nothing to do with “fairness.” The “fair” thing to do would be to supplement the incomes of the working poor and close the faucet to the long-term unemployed.
Not that that would be good public policy.