There is a debate going on in Washington DC about extending
unemployment benefits. I don’t
really like the word “benefits”, but I suppose it is appropriate in the sense
that some are benefiting at the expense of others.
In a speech, Obama said, “I can’t name a time where I met an
American who would rather have an unemployment check than the pride of having a
This is a ridiculous statement. I’m sure the people that Obama meets are not going to admit
to him in a short conversation that they sure are happy they have unemployment
benefits so that they don’t have to get a job.
The reality is that paying people to be unemployed does
encourage unemployment. How can it
be otherwise? Meanwhile, Obama is
saying that we will lose jobs if the unemployment benefits aren’t extended. Let’s just say that economics is not
one of Obama’s strong areas.
Even if someone collecting unemployment could find a job
that pays more than the unemployment, it may not be worth it to him to take the
job, especially if the difference is not that great. I have personally met people who admit they don’t want a job
or a higher paying job because it would mean drastic cuts to their welfare.
I’m sure there are also many people collecting unemployment
who are officially unemployed yet working in an unofficial job. There are plenty of black market jobs
where you can work and get paid under the table.
With all of that said, I don’t let the Republicans in
Washington DC off the hook. Those
opposing an extension of unemployment benefits may or may not be doing it for
the right reasons. But we
shouldn’t forget that it was under Bush when unemployment benefits were
extended in the first place.
In addition, if we are going to cut welfare, I can think of
a lot of places to start ahead of unemployment payments. Restoring extended unemployment
benefits for 2014 would cost less than $20 billion. This is a large amount, but not large in comparison to an
almost $4 trillion federal budget.
I agree in cutting welfare, but let’s start with some easy
stuff. Let’s stop funding the NSA
to spy on us. Let’s stop funding
drones to go overseas and drop bombs on wedding parties. Let’s stop funding the bank accounts of
foreign dictators. Let’s stop
funding rich farmers through agricultural subsidies. Let’s stop funding the big banks on Wall Street. Let’s stop occupying virtually the
entire world with the military.
Let’s stop funding the FDA that keeps potentially life-saving drugs off
I could go on, but the point is that an argument over
unemployment benefits is a drop in the bucket in terms of the budget. It does affect real people. Some people are scamming the system and
some people probably really do depend on that money.
However, there are so many easier places to cut first. Unfortunately, these are the things
that have what is considered bipartisan agreement. These are destructive things.
Aside from the money being redistributed, the only destructive thing about unemployment payments is that it encourages people not to work. But at least it isn't killing people and destroying things directly.