Saturday, December 28, 2013

Extended unemployment benefits expire; some GOP pundits plays scrooge on the issue, saying some people should accept a lower station in life

On this last Saturday of 2013, as the extended unemployment benefits for millions of Americans expire as part of the “budget final solution”, Brad Plummer of the Washington Post offers “7 things to know about expiring jobless benefits”, link here.
The biggest concern is that people remain unemployed a long time, they become less employable.  Their skills atrophy.  Employers, rationally or not, see the as personally “the biggest losers”.  And conservatives preach that long term unemployed should just swallow their pride and start over as minimum wage workers. It’s tough love time.  Seantor Jon Kyl of Arizona made some typical comments, as reported by Huffington, here
It seems there will be political pressure in January to restore some of the benefits.
I had to toy with the low wage market (so well documented by Barbara Ehrenreich in her 2001 book “Nickel and Dimed”   One of the issues that comes up in this market is hucksterism, the ability to “sell” and manipulate people, “overcome objections” and “create urgency” which is often false.  I ran into this both selling concert subscriptions over the phone, and as a debt collector.
It’s disturbing to see how this has gone, with desperate telemarketing schemes (barely within the law), and email spam schemes.  People simply do not like to be approached to buy things from salespersons;  this is a massive cultural change from my parents’ generation, where “sales people” were better respected.
Some people might feel drawn into selling unusual products or services that, however legal, might be unsettling, and require permanent appearance changes.  Imagine trying to sell tattoo services, or even (as a male) "No no". 
And at the same time, manufacturing goes offshore, as does a lot of software support, although in recent years there have been spotty but encouraging signs that some manufacturing will return to the US as China and other countries find it harder to deal with the problems of exporting cheap labor.
All of this is colored by the debate over the minimum wage, which many cities (including Washington DC) have been trying to increase locally, but the end result will be fewer jobs. 
Noam Chomsky could be right.  There are elements of eventual warfare in all this.

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