Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Morality of Unemployment Benefits

The biggest difference between a conservative and a liberal is: if a Republican saw a drowning man, they would tell him to "sink or swim". A Democrat would throw him a life preserver.

The Republicans claim they're "pro-life", but only from conception to birth. After a child is born, they might as well say, "OK kid, you're on your own now."

And the Republicans are also very enthusiastic about the death penalty. When Rick Perry was asked during a GOP debate about the 234 executions in Texas, even before Perry had a chance to answer, the crowd had erupted in applause for the governor’s actions. It didn't matter to them that one might have been another Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, and may have been an innocent man.

And it seems that many Republicans, those with the most means, the wealthiest among us, are also the most prone to influence our government policies in regards to taking care of those newborn children, the poor, and the unemployed.

Last year alone, Republican donor and casino mogul Sheldon Adelson made $7 billion, according to Forbes. That translates to about $134.6 million a week, or $19.2 million a day, assuming a 7-day work week. Assuming a 40-hour work week, Adelson reaped $3.3 million an hour.

Sheldon Adelson and his wife gave $10 million to Newt Gingrich, who has tried to end TANF and food stamps for decades. And we're all familiar with the billionaire Koch brothers who wants to end Social Security and Medicare for people who are too old and/or sick to work any longer.

Why have ultra-rich Republicans been so adamant about not caring for those who can't care for themselves? They feebly claim it's "redistributing the wealth" and "punishing success" and "transforming America into a socialist country". They call it "big government" and "wasteful spending".

The uber-wealthy Republicans and their representatives in congress claim "we don't have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem" - - even though we have 100 million more people in the U.S. today than we did 40 years ago, while during that same period of time, tax rates for the rich have plummeted to new historical lows. But they're still falsely claiming that taxes are too high, and that we can't afford to feed the poor and unemployed.

After you're born, the Republicans don't want to hire you and pay you a living wage; and if you do lose a job (through no fault of your own) they might as well tell you, "OK kid, you're on your own now."

Whether you were drowning in a lake or dying on the street, the Republicans don't want to toss you a life preserver...but yet still they claim to be "pro-life", but only from conception to birth...and even pre-conception, if one also considers their desire to ban birth control. According to the Republicans, a person's seed has more rights to life than they do.

Sheldon Adelson's strong position in the Asian markets has pushed the stock of his company (Las Vegas Sands) up roughly 50% to a recent $48 per share. These shares were once traded as low as $1.50 in 2009 during the stock market crash -- and when the DOW JONES hit its low in early March of that year.

Sheldon Adelson makes most of his money from the 3 resorts he owns in Macau (China). His goal is to push company shares back over $100, near their 2007 peak. After holding his stocks for one year, he can sell them and Adelson would only pay a 15% "capital gains" tax rate - - just like Mitt Romney paid on $20 million of his "carried interest" income.

Someone earning over $35,350 a year moves into the higher 25% tax bracket.

Among single men, the median income in 2010 was in the 25% tax bracket at $35,627, or $17.12 per hour. For single women it was $25,456, or $12.24 an hour (near poverty wages for a family of four). The U.S. median household income was $49,455 -- a combined income of $23.77 an hour for all earners in one household, given a 40-hour work week.

Mitt Romney, one of the wealthier Americans in this country, didn't work a single day, unless you count campaigning for president. His income last year was an amount roughly equivalent to the annual payout for a CEO of a too-big-to-fail bank. Mitt Romney joked last year that "I'm also unemployed.". Ha-ha. He was laughing all the way to the bank with Sheldon Adelson.

But what else can one expect from Mitt Romney, who is a BIG TIME corporate shill.

Mitt Romney's campaign received $554,044 from 325 lobbyists and the political action committees of 38 lobbying firms that collectively represent more than 1,400 clients, according to The Huffington Post's analysis of contribution disclosure forms filed with the Secretary of the Senate.

A sampling of the most notable clients includes a Who's Who of banking and corporate America: Goldman Sachs, General Motors, JPMorgan Chase, The Blackstone Group, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Atria, Pfizer, the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, AT&T, Citigroup, Elliott Management, Comcast, Google, Koch Industries, the Managed Funds Association, Verizon, Visa and Wal-Mart.

Meanwhile those that actually have to work for median income wages (or those who need an unemployment check after being laid off because of private equality firms like Bain Capital) face another Republican cock-blocker in Congress.

It seems unemployment insurance may actually be the sticking point in negotiations over the extension of the payroll tax cut to the end of the year, although it's hard to say who's holding out for what. Democrats have signaled they want to push the max duration of benefits back up to 99 weeks. Tough sell. And Republicans have suggested they're serious about drug testing and denying benefits to people who don't have high school diplomas.

An historically high level of unemployment persists. The Gallup organization estimates an underemployment rate of 18.7% and our U-7 total of the un- and underemployed still hovers above 27 million Americans. The currently reported U-3 rate of 8.3% only presents 12.8 million -- less than half who are really out of work -- because 15 million Americans were out of work 2 years ago, exhausted all their unemployment benefits, and most haven't found work again.

A humming economy usually means a high rate of "churn" in the work force: employees voluntarily leaving one job for another in search of higher pay and new challenges. One worker's exit from a job opens the way for someone else to jump on to the ladder. But there's one problem: people aren't' quitting their jobs.

Along with other policy changes, the Republican proposal for extending the payroll tax cut would also cut up to 40 weeks from the existing available federal unemployment benefits. Just as in Greece, the GOP is pushing for even greater austerity for the poor and unemployed. But why?

It's common knowledge that the jobs crisis was caused by recklessness in the financial sector, made possible by irresponsible deregulation which resulted in enormous unconditional bailouts for the bankers that is at the heart of the disaster. So why would anyone now seek to punish the unemployed when they seek work, but cannot get it?

Extended unemployment benefits provide on average about $300 a week — one-third of the average weekly wage, or about 70% of the poverty level for a family of four. If you strip this meager amount money from people who remain out of work through no fault of their own, you will push more individuals and families onto the streets and into homeless shelters.

How would that help any economic recovery when the people who lose jobs cannot even afford to buy basic goods and services (like housing, heat, and food)?

The old and new Republicans have been stubbornly clinging to Ayn Rand's philosophy of morality. They refuse to be "thy brother's keeper". You see, the Republicans in Congress, those who represent the likes of Mutt Romney and Sheldon Adelson, don't want to pay for things that collectively benefit humanity - - such things as unemployment benefits, food stamps, healthcare, and Social Security for the rest of us who might need a life preserver.

But they would support increasing the military budget by cutting out the food stamp program. A new aircraft carrier doesn't have to "paid for" but food stamps do.

The Republicans have been more concerned about "saving" the rich rather than saving the poor. That's the major difference between conservatives and's much more than just politics, it's also about basic morality. The Republicans, especially southern evangelists, are not only immoral, but they are also two-faced hypocrites for claiming to be good Christians.

Someone needs to remind all those self-righteous Republicans that Jesus loves poor people too, because God made so many of them. And I'm quite sure He would want rich Republicans like Sheldon Adelson, Donald Trump, Herman Cain, and Mitt Romney (etc., the top 1%) to pay just a little more to help the poor and unemployed - - rather than call them names, marginalize them, and castigate them).

Mother Teresa would probably agree, because it would be the moral thing to do.

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