Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Monday, June 21, 2010 4:37 pm

Who decided it was OK to hate the unemployed?, cont.

Filed under: Evil — Lex @ 4:37 pm
Tags: ,

Senate hopeful Rand Paul thinks we’re cuddling the unemployed too darned much:

“In Europe, they give about a year of unemployment. We’re up to two years now in America,” Paul said on Sue Wylie’s WVLK-AM 590 radio program.

“As bad as it sounds, ultimately we do have to sometimes accept a wage that’s less than we had at our previous job in order to get back to work and allow the economy to get started again,” Paul said. “Nobody likes that, but it may be one of the tough love things that has to happen.”

Let’s examine the unspoken premises here, shall we?

  • The problem isn’t that people are unemployed, it’s that we’ve extended unemployment insurance benefits for up to two years.
  • The problem isn’t that there are no jobs, it’s just that there aren’t any jobs at the wage we used to have.
  • People aren’t out of work because they can’t find jobs, they’re out of work on purpose because they haven’t been shown enough “tough love.”

Jesus wept. That’s not libertarianism, that is psychotic hallucination. And that’s bad enough.

But combined with what else is going on, there is a very, very ugly school of thought developing among some conservative Americans, and it needs to be called out. Digby puts her finger on it, I think:

This new meme about the unemployed continues to shock me, and I’m not easily shocked by rightwing rhetoric. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this one before, however. They are making a conscious decision to portray the unemployed as the cause of high unemployment so they don’t need to factor it into economic decisions. The actual point seems to be making a permanent underclass out of what were responsible members of the workforce and then demonizing them for being unemployed — thus creating a scapegoat for continued unemployment. This also gives them an excuse to “welfare queen” these people and cut services and social spending even more under the rationale that we need to teach them a lesson in tough love. After all, we “reformed welfare as we know it” so why not “reform unemployment insurance as we know it” too?

Next step: the elderly who are living high off the hog on social security instead of selling oranges on street corners as they should. (That’s another one of those good jobs that are being stolen by undocumented workers.) …

It’s clear that stubborn unemployment is impeding the Grand Bargain to “cut the deficit,” which actually means cutting social spending of all kinds. (After all, even a high school economics student can figure out that reducing unemployment is key to reducing the deficit, so I think we can fairly assume at this point that the deficit is beside the point.) So they are attempting to change the perception that unemployment is something that happens to people and turn it into something they do to themselves, thus making it something that shouldn’t require social insurance. It’s a very daring thing to do because it goes right to the heart of the middle class. But from the looks of things, they are in the process of consciously turning the middle class into an underclass on all kinds of levels, so perhaps that’s not an accident.

This war on the unemployed and the New Austerity is very, very creepy and I’m extremely concerned that it’s going to take on a life of its own. Not only will it destroy the economy further — it’s the opposite of what needs to be done — it’s going to finally destroy what’s left of our frayed social contract. This is the environment in which very unpredictable things begin to happen.

And I’m always amused by the extent to which the folks who push this sort of stuff believe they are immune to its effects.

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