Some Things Don’t Change … Unfortunately

I wrote this post almost 4 years ago, and decided to update it in light of the failure to pass extended unemployment benefits.

I’ve spent a while reading statements from various right-wing politicians – Rand Paul being one of the more prominent – that extended unemployment benefits are a bad thing.  You see they may increase the deficit, and (gasp!) they may cause people to put off taking low-level, low-paid jobs!  There seems to be two major core assumptions:  That the extension of the benefits decreases people’s willingness to look for work; and that there are plenty of jobs available, if only those lazy unemployed would just take them.  To back up their case, they’ll come up with an apocryphal business owner whose minimum wage jobs are just going begging, because the unemployed won’t take them.

I’ve heard it from not only the politicians, but various other members of the tea party wing of the Republican Party in their blogs and letters to the editors.  The problem with it?  It’s not backed up by any facts.  The studies that have been done don’t show that extended benefits acts to decrease people’s motivation to look for work.  It also ignores the current economic reality that for every job, there’s 5 job seekers.  The other reality they don’t see?  Even if many of the unemployed are willing to work that minimum wage job, they still wouldn’t be hired.

I know this from personal experience.  A decade ago, I went through a period of extended unemployment, without the help of extended benefits.  Here’s what happens:  First, you’re looking for jobs in your field.  Then you widen your search to jobs in related fields.  Then anything you’re remotely qualified for.  Finally, you go for anything at all.   In the time frame I was unemployed, which was a much less serious recession than this one, I sent out over 2500 resumes and applications.  I received a total of 10 interviews, and no job offers.  Yes, I applied everywhere.  You want to know something?  Your local convenience store, McDonalds, Burger King, etc. won’t hire you if you have an advanced degree and were previously a white collar worker.    Entry level jobs?  Not a chance.  You learn to hate the phrase “you’re overqualified.”     I heard it a lot.    It’s a continuing, on-going and depressing routine.  You send out applications, resumes.  You scour every job search site in existence and send out more.  Most of the time, you hear nothing at all – not even a “not interested.”  Once in a while you get an interview, but then you find out that you’re not going to get the job – one place only interviewed me because they were required to interview X number of people before they could hire the person they were going to hire in the first place.

So I know what it’s like.  I’m fortunate in this recession to have a stable job, and even getting an occasional call about other positions.  But I know people who aren’t as lucky as me.  They’ve gone from middle income, solid professionals to desperate – and there are no jobs.  None at all.  Not even the “low income jobs” are available.  Yet, somehow, a group of conservatives with absolutely no experience with it, and no willingness to listen to real data and real people, feel free to bloviate about it.   In their imagination, there are lots of jobs available, if only people would just suck it up and accept minimum wage.  That they themselves have “recession-proof” careers,  and/or a lot of money, and have never had to really look for those sorts of jobs isn’t relevant to them.  They’re clueless, and they take a great deal of pride in being clueless.  I know they do, because all the data says they’re wrong, and they still spout that crap.

[Added] Sadly, this hasn’t changed.  The Republicans – and yes, Rand Paul still – are making the same arguments they were.

“When you allow people to be on unemployment insurance for 99 weeks, you’re causing them to become part of this perpetual unemployed group in our economy,” Paul argued on “Fox News Sunday.”

Paul has consistently opposed long-term unemployment benefits. In 2010, he similarly said during an interview on Fox News, “You get out of a recession by encouraging employment, not encouraging unemployment.”

All of which does not match up with any real facts. Instead of “5 people for every job,” there’s now three, which is an improvement, but not by much.  All the same factors I mentioned back in 2010 still apply.  In order to reduce unemployment, particularly long-term unemployment, there has to be jobs.  Which is something the Republicans have failed miserably at helping to create, except by chanting their sound bite slogans and attempting to repeal the Affordable Care Act.   That’s a message we, as Democrats, need to push.  There are now millions of people who have had their safety line cut, and more on the way.  It wasn’t because the President didn’t try to do something, it wasn’t because the Democratic members of Congress didn’t try, it’s because of the Republicans.  If the voters want to complain, then then they need to look in a mirror.  After all, they either thought Republicans had the answer, or didn’t think it was important to turn out to vote.  The only way to turn that around is to change that, because all the Republicans are doing is insulting everyone.

11 Comments

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11 responses to “Some Things Don’t Change … Unfortunately

  1. So basically if you’re unemployed and using your benefits to give yourself time to look for a halfway decent job, you’re wrong because you didn’t go for the first minimum wage gig that was advertised.

    If you do go work at Walmart or McDonald’s, however, and you can’t feed your family with what you make there, then you’re wrong too because you didn’t look for a better job. Damned if you do…

    Many people believe (after listening to enough Republicans) that it’s the “right thing to do” to turn down unemployment benefits and take the first shitty job that comes one’s way. What they don’t realize is that in the long run society is better off if more people get a chance to remain in the middle class.

    • Sadly, it’s even if you were willing to take the first minimum wage gig, you wouldn’t get it. They really don’t want to hire anyone with college degrees (all jokes about Ph.D.’s saying “would you like fries with that?” aside), or with management experience. When the first “tech crash” came back in the late 80’s, a friend of mine ended up working at a Burger King. All she had to do to get the job was to “creatively omit” certain things from her application and resume. Like that her “military service” was as an officer, that she had a Master’s degree in Computer Science, and that her “data entry job” at a major computer firm was actually “lead programmer.”

      Also, another friend of mine recently applied for a job opening. There were over 200 applicants waiting to apply, for a whopping 5 positions. He didn’t get it, but just getting a call-back interview was a major accomplishment.

      • True. In spite of the stereotype, I’ve never met a cabbie or burger flipper with a Ph.D. The career purgatory for people with advanced degrees usually consists of a string of internships or research assistantships that disappear when the grant isn’t renewed.

        Also true is that there is no unlimited supply of shitty jobs. Republicans seem to believe that all an unemployed person needs to do is head for the next burger joint or Walmart and get a job. Thanks to decades of Republicanism, that’s no longer true.

        • Even besides that, the supply of shitty jobs may be nowhere near the supply of unemployed. The nearest burger joint to here is 45 miles, the nearest Walmart is 60 miles. I pointed out to one local seasonal hiring business owner that there was no way the people he was griping about “not wanting to work” could get to his business to work. :roll:

  2. Vic78

    The Koch Bros. are in social engineering mode right now. That’s all we’re seeing right now. The GOP are right in line with the program. Things are fine as long as they are getting what they want. I believe the asshole Wall St guys are in on it as well. The bloggers and opinion writers believe they’re John Galt. There’s no hope for them.

  3. Cappadonna

    I guess the Ayn Rand disciples won’t be happy until working people are selling their organs for income.

  4. Of course, it makes absolute sense! If you starve people, they’ll not only go look for food, but they’ll eat garbage just to stay alive! The Republicans and TPs can’t see that if you starve people, some of them will die. Those opposed to extending unemployment benefits are a heartless bunch – it’s fine with them if families and society suffers while they point to these imaginary jobs. Once again, they’re proving that they don’t have solutions to anything – they just want misery for everyone else who seems undeserving.

  5. And a lot of ads for professional jobs are, for some strange reason, in the papers when they’re not hiring.

    I want everyone who is hurting from this and the people who love them to remember this. It was a Congressional decision, and it might have passed if people knew about it and called their representatives. It hurts us all when we put people and families closer to the skids or make them homeless.

    • For the most part, those jobs are already filled or have the top candidate on the way before the ad is submitted to the paper. Most businesses do that to show “due diligence” in terms of various state laws. “See, we advertised, but we didn’t get any response!” :roll:

      I would say they need to remember that it’s not just a Congressional decision, it’s a Republican decision. I didn’t see any Democrats lining up to say “No” to extending the benefits, or coming out with bullshit justifications to not do so.

  6. see above

    It all goes back to the R”s disability you wrote about a few days back. I still have to ask where did they all come from, what schools did they attend, who brainwashed them, or are they really sociopaths as I’ve read in some quarters.
    I read Ayn Rand at 16 and very quickly figured out her writing had more to do with the time and place she was born than any truth she discovered. She invented a reality that had never been and wrote novels about it.