Whatever one might think about the dropping unemployment rate, it’s not coming because of job creation. While the Democratic-led government’s avarice for spending has grown, there are actually fewer people working than seven years ago – 1,148,000 fewer than in Nov. 2006, to be precise.
So when Rand Paul suggests that something is amiss in Welfaretopia, leave it to Charles Blow to publish a scathing rebuff in the New York Times. The editorial “The Appalling Stance of Rand Paul” is well-written, and has a veneer of persuasion draped in the blunt “how dare you, sir?” moralism the left long ago patented.
The ‘incendiary’ Rand Paul quote in question:
“I do support unemployment benefits for the 26 weeks that they’re paid for. If you extend it beyond that, you do a disservice to these workers.”
The assertion by Paul that extending unemployment benefits beyond half a year might lead to undesirable consequences in the workforce was enough to drive Blow apoplectic, apparently. Blow dives right in:
This statement strikes at the heart — were a heart to exist — of the divide between conservatives and liberals about whether the social safety net provides temporary help for those who hit hard times or functions as a kind of glue to keep them stuck there.
Whereas I am sure that some people will abuse any form of help, I’m by no means convinced that this is the exclusive domain of the poor and put-upon. Businesses and the wealthy regularly take advantage of subsidies and tax loopholes without blinking an eye. But somehow, when some poor people, or those who unexpectedly fall on hard times, take advantage of benefits for which they are eligible it’s an indictment of the morality and character of the poor as a whole.
If Paul had been consulted for a response, he would have railed against the corporate welfare that Blow is decrying here. Libertarian conservatives believe that governments rig the economy and warp the job market, thereby harming the poor. For example, take the minimum wage. Raise it to $15 and you will drive businesses out of business or cause them not to hire at all, thereby depriving young people of work experience (see: sky-high unemployment for black youths – positive or negative thing, Mr. Blow?).
Another perverse effect is that long-term unemployment can warp salary expectations of those re-entering the work force. Based on Harvard professor Gregory Mankiw’s work, the “Calafia Beach Pundit” pointed out: “Extended unemployment benefits keep worker’s salary expectations high, and that has the effect of reducing employers’ willingness to hire. It’s not that unemployed individuals are insufficiently motivated to find work, it’s that employers are insufficiently motivated to seek out more workers since salary expectations remain high.”
Also consider that there is a clear correlation between the end of unemployment benefits internationally and a surge in people finding work. A hand-wringing article in the Washington Post concedes the recent research based on the U.S. economy:
That said, labor economists are interested in investigating whether extended unemployment benefits actually increase the length of unemployment. Here, things get a bit murkier. Recent research from Henry Farber of Princeton University and Robert Valletta of the San Francisco Fed shows that paying extended unemployment benefits slightly increases the unemployment rate. The unemployment rate was about 0.4 percentage points higher in 2010 — it was 9.0 percent instead of 8.6 percent — than it would have been without the benefits, according to their estimates.
More worrisome, the authors find that paying unemployment benefits for an extended time has a particularly bad effect on long-term unemployment. Long-term unemployment benefits may have caused the long-term unemployment rate to be one-quarter higher than it would have been without the benefits. In other words, up to one million people were out of work for more than six months because they were receiving benefits.
I suppose obviously liberal professors who pen editorials in the Washington Post are also ‘arrogant,’ ‘callous,’ and ‘disrespectful’ for suggesting that, perhaps “American workers need to go through shot-term [sic] pain of losing unemployment compensation to benefit from the long-term gains of getting a job?”
Continuing on, the professor Joann Weiner, above-cited, nails what improves the lot of workers in a nation (Hint: It’s not endless job benefits):
Sustained economic growth is one way to eliminate long-term joblessness…
Of course, the Great Recession of 2009-2012 was much worse than the typical economic recession, with GDP falling sharply and the unemployment rate rising significantly. What these figures mean is that economic demand is much weaker now than is typical, meaning that workers have a harder time finding work now than in other, more “normal” recessions.
Recent real GDP growth [SAAR 2.84% Q3], although not based on capital investment, is a positive sign that maybe the United States can move on from failed Obamanomic policies. But it will take a real surge in production to lead the poor out of poverty and dependency. Ultimately, conservatives want people to be happy and self-sufficient; they want others to have the opportunity to lead, at the very least, a middle-class lifestyle.
If impediments to growth like higher taxes, unrealistic minimum wage demands, and ObamaCare mandates are not removed, then the U.S. will not be able to enlist many of the able-bodied poor to dig America out of the hole that Washington has put the country in.
And if anyone is not like your typical Washington politician, it’s Rand Paul. Politicians who stand for liberty, and mean it, just give Beltway progressives like Charles Blow the heebie-jeebies.
But whatever the ideological differences Blow has with Paul, it is simply ignorant to call him “callous” or arrogant. It reveals that Blow is either being mischievous or doesn’t sufficiently understand Paul’s point-of-view to constructively critique it.
“Conservatives” like Rand Paul are actually classical liberals who believe, exactly because most people are equal, that freedom of opportunity promotes virtuous behavior; people are able to adapt their behaviors to suit their unique tastes, temperaments, and talents. Equality of outcomes is perverse and runs against the grain of human nature; it penalizes initiative, innovation and effort.
That is not to say there is no such thing as misfortune; it’s just that the welfare state metastasizes and spreads misfortune; churches and charities locally administer to and teach people and families who fall into misfortune. The welfare state legitimizes victimhood and facelessly feeds it and encourages it.