Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Is Congress playing Scrooge on extended unemployment benefits?

In The Washington Post on Wednesday, December 11, 2013, Ruth Marcus gives a strong tonguelashing on p. A19, “That Scrooge Rand Paul”, titled online “Rand Paul shows no heart for the unemployed”, link here.  He's probably not the only one in Congress, at least the GOP. 

Marcus does give some heed to Rand’s ideas of “moral hazard”, but points out that in a poorly functioning economy, with a weaker middle class (“Inequality for All”), the idea of taking away benefits really won’t incentivize grunt work, it will just cause homelessness.
   
Oh, yes, I recall the implorations of previous recessions.  Yup, “do grunt work, turn to friends and family.” 

After my own career “imploded” (so to speak) at the end of 2001, I learned what it was like to interview for menial, low wage jobs, some involving hucksterizing, and thinking this was my new moral place, after “re-education”.
  
I was told by ING that my unemployment could not start while severance was being paid, but later the state of Minnesota told me they had been wrong.  But I was qualified for $11,600 in benefits, payable for a period over 12 months, starting at any time, reduced  by other income and stopped any week in which I worked for more than 32 hours. I had a part time job selling for the Minnesota Orchestra and then full time as a debt collector (irony), so I stretched it out.  I wound up collecting “only” $6500.
  
I wonder if social media or Internet presence could be looked at as interfering with a job search, according to regulations.  That wasn’t much of an issue in 2002, but I did bring it up at one of the “Minnesota Workforce” classes, which (once a week, for two hours, somewhere on Lyndale Ave. in Minneapolis) were mandatory.  



Update: Later Wednesday

A tentative budget deal reported today from the committee does not extend unemployment benefits. 

I "paid" $1 to a homeless man on Dupont Circle for that picture above.  I guess that's the "free market",  I have no way of knowing if he was genuinely homeless or panhandling.  

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