Friday, August 13, 2010

Fox News (I used to like these guys) Perpetuates the Myth that Unemployment Benefits Make Joblessness Worse.

John Lott of Fox News put up a post on Fox Forum blaming the Democrats passing of extended unemployment benefits for recent increases in unemployment claims. You can read his post here.


Sorry, John, but this is pure drivel. The number of people qualifying for unemployment benefits may have changed, but the number of people actually unemployed has not. There is a relationship between length of benefits and average length of joblessness, but it is not a causal relationship as you would have us believe. The increase in benefits, which by the way did not actually increase the total length of benefits but only extended the eligibility window for the full amount, is a response to the real needs of the long term unemployed, not the other way around.


As Harold Meyerson of the Washington Post puts it: "What won't work as an economic solution -- indeed, it amounts to cruel and unusual punishment -- is blaming the unemployed for their failure to find jobs. There are now roughly five unemployed Americans for every open job, according to the Economic Policy Institute's most recent calculations, and that ratio isn't likely to decline much if we leave it to the corporate sector to resume hiring. Corporations have figured out a way to make money without resuming hiring. Their model is premised on not resuming hiring. If the public sector doesn't fill the gap, the era of American prosperity is history."


While extending unemployment benefits is not a viable long-term solution to the problem of unemployment, especially in the current circumstances, it is the humane thing to do, and certainly makes more sense than lining Lloyd Blankfein's pockets with multi-million dollar bonuses while the rest of us strive to crawl out of the smoking ruins.

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