Sunday, May 13, 2012

The GOP was Dead Wrong About the Unemployed

For almost four years the GOP has said that jobless Americans would find work as soon as their employment benefits ran out. Well, they ran out, so where are the jobs?

The Federal Relief Administrator said: "Three or four million heads of households don’t turn into tramps and cheats overnight, nor do they lose the habits and standards of a lifetime. They don’t drink any more than the rest of us, they don’t lie any more, and they’re no lazier than the rest of us. An eighth or a tenth of the earning population does not change its character which has been generations in the moulding, or, if such a change actually occurs, we can scarcely charge it up to personal sin.” – Harry Hopkins was the Federal Relief Administrator under Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933.

Paul Krugman recently wrote in the Huffington Post: "There's one economics-driven thing that matters enormously to human well-being...having a job. People who want to work, but can't find work, suffer greatly. Not just from the loss of income, but from their diminished sense of self-worth. And that's a major reason why mass unemployment, which has now been going on in America for four years, is such a tragedy."

There are economists like the University of Chicago's Casey Mulligan, who has written multiple articles insisting that the sharp drop in employment after the financial crisis four years ago reflected, not a lack of employment opportunities, but a diminished willingness to work.

At the Maine GOP convention, Republican Governor Paul LePage received an enthusiastic standing ovation from his fellow Republicans for saying that all able-bodied out-of-work welfare recipients need to "get off the couch" and go find employment.

For four years unemployed Democrats and unemployed Republicans have had to endure the GOP's slurs, slanders and disparaging remarks about their personal character and work ethics.

In a June 2011 poll of likely voters, Democracy Corps found that a third of Americans had either themselves suffered from job loss or had a family member lose a job. Another third knew someone who had lost a job. Moreover, almost 40 percent of families had suffered from reduced hours, wages, or benefits.

The Republicans have falsely claimed, and constantly repeated, that as soon as someone uses up all their unemployment benefits, they find jobs. What's pitiful is, it seems that only "employed" Republican voters believe this outrageous lie -- that, or they are either in denial or just plain ignorant -- just like many people were during the Great Depression.

Below is a short list of some notable quotes from the Republicans about American workers, the unemployed and unemployment insurance benefits during the Great Recession. Keep in mind, while reading this list, remember that currently there are at least 8 million Americans that were laid off during the recession who have been out of work for two to four years now, and they have already exhausted all their unemployment benefits a long time ago -- and still they haven't found another job.

  • Glenn Beck: "Two years is plenty of time to have lived off your neighbor's wallet. Work at McDonald's, work at two jobs!" (McDonald's received 1 million job applications last year for 60,000 part-time summer jobs. Glenn Beck's net worth is $85 million.)

  • Rush Limbaugh: "The longer you pay people not to work, the longer they're not gonna try to work. Unemployment compensation is just another welfare program."

  • Florida state Senator Nancy Detert wanted their UI department to "more closely scrutinize those applying for benefits to get rid of slackers and malingerers."

  • Florida Republican governor Rick Scott thinks the jobless aren't looking hard enough and wanted to end benefits to give more tax breaks to the rich.

  • Texas Republican representative Blake Farenthold compared Americans on unemployment insurance to alcoholics and drug addicts. 

  • Fox News John Stossel calls the unemployed "freeloaders" and Sean Hannity accused them of "living above their means".

  • Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah: "We shouldn't be giving people cash who basically are just going to blow it on drugs." He, like many other Republican politicians, wants the unemployed to face mandatory drug tests.

  • Representative Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) also equated the unemployed with alcoholics and drug addicts.

  • Newt Gingrich: "Paying unemployment benefits to America's unemployed, only makes them lazy."

  • Senator Jim DeMint, Republican from South Carolina: "There are a lot of people gaming the system right now."

  • Sharron Angle, Republican candidate for senator of Nevada in the 2010 election, called the unemployed "spoiled".

  • Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, the Republican whip: "Unemployment benefits dissuade people from job-hunting because people are being paid even though they're not working...they don't look for a job until two or three weeks before they know the benefits are going to run out."

  • North Carolina State Representative George Cleveland, claiming that extreme poverty doesn’t exist: “We have no one in the state of North Carolina living in extreme poverty."

  • Former Nixon speechwriter and TV personality Ben Stein writes that the people who are unemployed right now are “generally people with poor work habits and poor personalities.” He claims that unemployed Americans have “unpleasant personalities who do not know how to do a day’s work“.

  • Rick Santorum: "I don’t care what the unemployment rate’s going to be. Doesn’t matter to me. My campaign doesn’t hinge on unemployment rates and growth rates.”

  • Representative John Linder (R-Georgia): “Even when businesses are willing to hire, nearly two years of unemployment benefits are too much of an allure for some.”

  • Michelle Malkin, Republican rightwing extremist: “Extending unemployment benefits will encourage people not to look for work.”

  • Republican governor Nikki Haley: “I love that we are one of the least unionized states in the country. We don’t have unions in South Carolina because we don’t need unions in South Carolina, and we’ll make the unions understand full well that they are not needed, not wanted, and not welcome.” (Besides the federal government, which also includes the military and members of Congress, Wal-Mart and McDonalds are America's two biggest job creators, which are non-union and pays an average wage of $8 an hour. The GOP is anti-government, anti-union, and pro-Wal-Mart and McDonalds.)

  • Michele Bachmann: “Our nation needs to stop doing for people what they can and should do for themselves. Self reliance means, if anyone will not work, neither should he eat. If we took away the minimum wage, we could potentially virtually wipe out unemployment completely.” (Like all in the GOP, she advocates for slave wages while receiving a hefty government salary and tax subsidies.)

  • Former Majority Leader Tom DeLay: "Unemployment benefits keeps people from going and finding jobs."

  • Ron Paul: “You don’t have a right to a house, you don’t have a right to a job, you don’t have a right to medical care.” (Just a right to freedom.)

  • Senator Judd Gregg (R-New Hampshire): "Extended benefits undermine the economic recovery for the reason that they basically keep an economy that encourages people to, rather than go out and look for work, to stay on unemployment.”

  • Ron Johnson, the Tea Party-backed Senate candidate: "When you continue to extend unemployment benefits, people really don't have the incentive to go take other jobs."

  • Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa: “We shouldn't turn the safety net into a hammock."

  • Republican Congressman Dean Heller of Nevada: “Is the government now creating hobos?”

  • Rick Santorum: ”I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them other people’s money."

  • Paul Ryan, regarding the Georgia Plan to have the unemployed work for free: “It's something we’re looking at.”

  • Fox News host Bill O’Reilly: "You gotta look people in the eye and tell 'em they're irresponsible and lazy because that's what poverty is, ladies and gentlemen. In this country, you can succeed if you get educated and work hard. Period. Period."

  • Republican Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett: "The jobs are there. But if we keep extending unemployment, people are going to sit there...they say, I'll come back to work when unemployment runs out."

  • New Jersey Republican governor Chris Christie: “We need to take on the teachers’ union once and for all.”

  • Minnesota State Rep. Mary Franson, comparing the poor to wild animals: “Last week, we worked on some welfare reform bills. And here, it’s kind of ironic, I’ll read you this little funny clip that we got from a friend. It says, ‘Isn’t it ironic that the food stamp program, part of the Department of Agriculture, is pleased to be distributing the greatest amount of food stamps ever. Meanwhile, the Park Service, also part of the Department of Agriculture, asks us to please not feed the animals, because the animals may grow dependent and not learn to take care of themselves.”

  • Andre Bauer, the Republican Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina, also comparing the unemployed to wild animals: "My grandmother was not a highly educated woman but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed. You’re facilitating the problem if you give an animal or person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that. And so what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to curtail that type of behavior. They don't know any better."

  • Herman Cain: "If you don't have a job and you're not rich, blame yourself."

  • President Ronald Reagan is still being quoted: "Unemployment insurance is a pre-paid vacation for freeloaders."

  • Of the young male veterans (those ages 18 to 24) who served during Gulf War Era, 21.9% were unemployed as of  last year. Glenn Beck said, "I bet you'd be ashamed to call them Americans."

As Paul Krugman quoted in his article: "The classic answer to such people comes from a passage near the beginning of the novel The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (best known for the 1948 film adaptation starring Humphrey Bogart and Walter Huston):

"Anyone who is willing to work and is serious about it will certainly find a job. Only you must not go to the man who tells you this, for he has no job to offer and doesn't know anyone who knows of a vacancy. This is exactly the reason why he gives you such generous advice, out of brotherly love, and to demonstrate how little he knows the world."

Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) is probably the only Democrat who doesn't care about average American workers or the unemployed. He votes against the Democrats all the time, and is more like a Republican when it comes to protecting corporate interests over the people's common good. But other than that, the Democrats definitely care more about the living conditions and the employment situation of average Americans than any Republican every would.

But in all fairness to the Republicans, they did offer a few jobs with a bill that included the TransCanada XL Pipeline, but what other realistic jobs bills have they proposed in the last four years? And the TransCanada XL Pipeline will only create 20,000 "work years", not 20,000 permanent full-time jobs. And the big oil companies will only sell that refined oil to China anyway.

With more than 20 million Americans out of work (12.5 million the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, plus at least 8 million long-term unemployed who are no longer being counted), what other ideas have the Republicans come up with to put 20 million lazy drug addicts back to work - especially when there are only 3.7 million job openings?

But regardless of all the Republican slurs, slanders and disparaging remarks about the poor and unemployed (which was meant to divide and marginalize the jobless, so that the general public would not feel empathy and favor the continuation of extending unemployment benefits), the GOP has been proved wrong about the unemployed. Millions have exhausted all their unemployment insurance benefits a long time ago and are still out of work. So what's the GOP's theory now?

Instead, the Republicans will continue to lay off government workers while cutting jobless benefits, food stamps and anything else that the people who were hit the hardest by the recession might need for their survival. The GOP doesn't care if they live or die...even if they're Republican voters.

Another "new" Paul Ryan budget plan passed the house. It will slash about $48 billion from Medicaid programs and cut food aid by more than $36 billion. "How do we reconcile more money for bombs while cutting money for bread?" asked Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio). "The real deficit that we are dealing with here is a moral deficit, and it's time that we face the truth." (Editor's Note: Paul Ryan is a pencil dick.)

People like Paul Ryan know damn well that it's not old sick people who are costing the government for Medicare, it's corporate fraud. The inspector general's office says their team will turn over the names of the 2,637 pharmacies it identified in a $5.6 billion billing scheme.

But the Republicans will still's all a part of their bigger plan for de-funding government and "starving the beast". The old, poor, sick, and unemployed are the "beasts" that the Republicans want to starve.

The GOP was dead wrong about the unemployed, they weren't lazy and they didn't find jobs when their unemployment benefits ran out -- and that's why 100,152 Americans died from suicide over the last four years, in part because of record long-term unemployment, divorces, illnesses, homelessness, foreclosures and bankruptcies.

The suicide rate has gone up, and calls to the suicide hotline has increased by 33%. The annual rate is 10.7 per 100,000 nationally and 34.5 in Las Vegas. In a study conducted by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it found that in 2008-2009, some 8.3 million U.S. adults had suicidal thoughts in the previous year. About 2.2 million people reported making suicide plans in the last year. One million reported an actual suicide attempt in the last 12 months.

Meanwhile, the GOP would rather cut unemployment benefits rather than tax the rich a little more.

William Shakespeare: "You take my life when you take the means whereby I live."

Below: A Tribute to the Republicans from the Unemployed

(* Editor's Note: If you know of any other remarks the GOP made about the jobless, please feel free to leave a comment.)

1 comment:

  1. This column was written a few months ago, but I found it on a job-related search I was doing.

    I think the saddest thing about this is that these wealthy politicos and businessmen are the people who, by direct business practice, political support, or policy-making, took jobs away by sending them overseas and whatnot. In other words, a world in which people have things arbitrarily taken away is perfectly natural to them, but a world in which people in need are given things is wrong and perverse.