Does the right really believe the unemployed are lazy?

Do conservatives genuinely believe that the unemployed are not trying to find work? That unemployment benefits make them lazy?

That’s a stunning accusation, given that there are six unemployed people for every job. Every job fair that I see in the news attracts long lines of would-be workers who haven’t yet given up hope that they will finally find a job. This is the deepest recession since the Reagan years.
wmode=”transparent”>

Yet, Jim Bunning’s accusation has supporters. (I first heard the accusation from rightwing blogger Michelle Malkin, when she and I were on ABC’s “This Week.” See the video below.)

From the WaPo:

Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) recently single-handedly held up the latest extension, a bill to keep unemployment benefits in place for 30 more days, saying Congress should find other cuts to cover its $10 billion price tag.

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) did not join Bunning’s effort, but he defended his colleague’s point of view. Kyl told the Senate he questioned why anyone would see unemployment benefits as helpful to the economy, or to the job market.

“If anything, continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work,” Kyl said. “I am sure most of them would like work and probably have tried to seek it, but you can’t argue it is a job enhancer.”

Andrew Stettner, deputy director of the National Employment Law Center, says there’s a good reason people are out of work for so long. There are six unemployed Americans for every available job, he said.

“The primary reason people are out of work so long is a lack of jobs,” Stettner said.

The 14.9 million jobless Americans have been out of work an average of 29.7 weeks, just below January’s 30.2-week average. Those levels are the highest since the government began keeping those records in the 1950s, according to Stettner.

The ranks of the unemployed include Jerome Boyd, 48, a father of four who lives in Arlington. He was laid off in August from his job as a sous chef at Gaylord National Hotel at National Harbor.

He receives $1,200 a month in unemployment benefits, less than half the $3,000 a month he brought home from his job. Now he is often behind paying about $1,500 in rent, a car payment and other expenses. “I’m stealing from Peter to pay Paul,” he said, adding: “There’s the cable, the phone bill. I owe the bank overdraft fees and the insurance is lapsing a little bit. I can’t take my kids shopping for school clothes because I don’t have enough to do that.”

The checks may be meager, but Boyd does not know what he would do without them. “I depend on this money,” he said. “I’m wondering every other week if it is going to keep coming in or not. It’s stressful, and especially when you’re trying to look for a job, too.”

276 comments Add your comment

Bob

March 9th, 2010
8:20 am

It does not matter now, the jobs package was just approved so it’s full speed ahead on employment.

RGB

March 9th, 2010
8:28 am

There are believable data that support the claim.

But Bunning’s aim was to adhere to that which the Democrats professed they wanted: pay-as-you-go.

A separate question is: In addition to “paygo”, what other things do the Democrats say that want–but really don’t? Freedom? Free enterprise? National security?

If the Democrats don’t want paygo, they should go on record to say they really didn’t mean it.

And to the extent that higher taxes sap the private sector of capital investment (which it does), the higher taxes (needed to pay for unemployment benefits) strangle job growth.

But you knew that.

meinpvb

March 9th, 2010
8:31 am

The fact of the matter is that with the way Obama is taxing everybody and everything in sight, it is easier not to work and have the producers pay for everything for you from food to shelter to clothes. Are there some people honestly trying to get jobs? Of course, but when the nanny government covers everything for you, where is the desire and the need to get off your duff and actually work. The sad thing is that Obama is slowly squeezing those who want to work because they see their paychecks shrinking to pay for his needless and unneccesary programs.

quod erat demonstrandum

March 9th, 2010
8:34 am

And it would take so little to reduce the unemployment numbers – make it less of a burden on business.

Cut Capital gains tax, and move every working person to a flat tax. It has worked everywhere it has been tried.

Increasing taxes and deficits has never worked to get the economy back into good shape – unless you count a world war.

Bush’s recession showed a quick recovery – he cut taxes and kept a lid on spending, then he went off the rail.

Turd Ferguson (Cynthia Tuckers Original # 1 fan)

March 9th, 2010
8:34 am

Uh yes. Not all unemployed are lazy, however, it would be interesting if data was available. Some individuals just refuse or dont want to work.

Bubba

March 9th, 2010
8:38 am

The right believes that SOME of the unemployed are lazy. And, apparently so do some of the left. This is an entry from another blog:

Paul Krugman attacked Jim Bunning last week for blocking the extension of unemployment benefits. Krugman said “What Democrats believe is what textbook economics says”, namely that the government should keep paying unemployment benefits.
There’s just one problem. As James Taranto pointed out, a Nobel Prize winning economist has written a very popular textbook that points out exactly what Republicans are saying — “Public policy designed to help workers who lose their jobs can lead to structural unemployment as an unintended side effect . . . . Generous unemployment benefits in some European countries are widely believed to be one of the main causes of “Eurosclerosis,” the persistent high unemployment that affects a number of European countries.”
The author? Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman and his wife Robin Wells.

quod erat demonstrandum

March 9th, 2010
8:40 am

“I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.” – Ben Franklin

ctucker

March 9th, 2010
8:47 am

meinpvb, Please tell me what Obama has taxed. Let’s stick to the facts, here: Obama has LOWERED taxes. The stimulus package included a $282 billion tax cut — the biggest one-year tax cut in U.S. history, according to the Wall Street Journal

ctucker

March 9th, 2010
8:47 am

Quod, What does this have to do with the poor?

quod erat demonstrandum

March 9th, 2010
8:54 am

ctucker – you have got to be kidding me.

It is not in man’s nature to be idle. It is detrimental to his spirit and well being. Extended periods of being on the dole damages the pride of the provider of the family. Some after awhile, become comfortable with their level of poverty.

Providing extended aid to the unemployed (poor) is not what they need. Allowing business the means to grow by lessening their tax burden will allow that.

rdh

March 9th, 2010
8:56 am

First, lets dispense with the “6 people for every job” crapola. That might be 6 people for every job of a particular skill set, but there ARE jobs out there. Many are menial or unskilled or near-minimum wage. I know SEVERAL people that are collecting unemployment and cobra benefits that have been out of work for more than a year and a half and are not trying to find a job AT ALL.

Are all the unemployed lazy? No. A LOT of people, though, will not take a job that they feel is “beneath them” when they can collect unemployment. Should someone be collecting unemployment if they could work a near-minimum wage job? I think that for the first 9 months… fine. Try to get a job in your profession and make more. It would benefit society to do so. Beyond 9 months, it is time to start thinking about a career change, and to take what is out there. Example: construction jobs. Due to the recession, the Atlanta construction industry collapsed. Due to the GA/FL/AL water wars, it is NEVER going to return with the force and momentum that it had. Those jobs are gone FOR GOOD. The people in those industries who are waiting for things to bounce back are collecting unemployment…. with no intention of looking for or taking a job. It is time they were cut off!

Finally, Cynthia, when is enough? How long must someone collect unemployment before it is no longer considered “heartless” to cut them off and make them find ANY job? Many people have been on unemployment for almost two years.

tts

March 9th, 2010
8:59 am

ctucker: the stimulus package is going to raise taxes, yeah he may have given us a temporary tax cut, but that money isnt free and we are the ones that will be paying it back…so when obama pushed through the stimulus package and gave grants to organizations that really didnt need any immediate funding, he basically raised taxes. or did you think the government was going to pay it all back themselves without dipping into our pockets?

Bubba

March 9th, 2010
9:06 am

“Finally, Cynthia, when is enough? How long must someone collect unemployment before it is no longer considered “heartless” to cut them off and make them find ANY job? Many people have been on unemployment for almost two years.”

RDH, you have gotten to the heart of the matter here. I would ask Cynthia and other liberals who think it’s heartless to cut off benefits the following question: Do you go out every day and hand a homeless person (or unemployed person) a $1,000 bill? No? Why not? BECAUSE YOU CAN’T AFFORD IT! Does that make you heartless or indifferent to their plight? Of course not. We as a country cannot afford to continue to hand out jobless benefits to the unemployed indefinitely – regardless of how bad we feel for them.

SouthernGal

March 9th, 2010
9:12 am

My dad (8th grade education) was laid off in 1957 because the company he worked for closed…he had a wife and 5 children to support. For 1 year until he found a permanent position…he pumped gas by day and drove a taxi at night.

Those who truly want to work will find a job.

jimmy62

March 9th, 2010
9:14 am

I got laid off a month ago. I could be working as a waiter today, but it’s easier to collect unemployment and look for a good job. And I think that’s acceptable for a couple of months, but I will soon hit three months unemployed, and unlike Cynthia, I don’t want to be a drag on society. So I will be soon be waiting tables unless something better comes along. And that means I won’t be collecting unemployment I am eligible for.

I suspect I am very, very rare in this. Most keep collecting till they can’t get anymore. And considering we have people with Cynthia’s ideals running things, benefits will continue to get extended forever.

Still waiting for Cynthia to condemn the violence from the liberal whiners at Berkely who rioted over state-wide budget cuts because now their already heavily subsidized education will cost them a little more. Cynthia is always so quick to bring up even the hint of a violent message from the right, but ignores actual violence from the left.

Dee keith

March 9th, 2010
9:16 am

It’s laughable to hear the conservative on intelligence/ liberal on ignorance crowd champion the same tax cuts that contributed to the financial disaster that the country is marred in. The Bush tax cuts did not create one net job gain the entire 8yrs. Bush was in office, and some of the same ignorant people who were victimized by them are now claiming that they want the same sort of tax cuts now. The stimulus package helped save the economy from going off the cliff, which is what it was suppose to do until the private sector, which most conservatives clowns put their faith in, starts to rebound. The fact that conservatives simple minded ignorance prohibits them from grasping this fundamental fact about the stimulus, only underscores why it is important to keep them as far away from running this country as possible.

Reality

March 9th, 2010
9:18 am

Coming from a family full of right wing republicans…. I do think that the right believe that the unemployed are lazy. I hear this sort of talk at every family gathering (we cannot pick our family, right?).

However, just a couple of them have changed their minds – only when THEY became unemployed!

Reality

March 9th, 2010
9:22 am

jimmy62 – So you think that no college student complaining about tuition increases is a conservative? LOL!!!! You don’t think that any in California marching to protest college costs are from the right???

Wow! What plain are you from?

TnGelding

March 9th, 2010
9:23 am

Well, unemployment compensation does give you options. Why go to work for less for a short time at a job you are over qualified? Of course some do abuse it, but for the most part the unemployed will go back to work when a job they want is offered.

NRB@gmail.com

March 9th, 2010
9:24 am

So the guy quoted in this story is “robbing Peter to pay Paul” but still has cable television.

Awesome.

Bubba

March 9th, 2010
9:27 am

Reality, I’ll ask you my question: Do you go out every day and give a homeless or unemployed person $1,000? Or $500? If not, why not?

Bob

March 9th, 2010
9:27 am

Dee Keith, didn’t you read what Cynthia said, Obama has given us the biggest tax cut in history, Don’t blame conservatives.
“It’s laughable to hear the conservative on intelligence/ liberal on ignorance crowd champion the same tax cuts that contributed to the financial disaster that the country is marred in.” If tax cuts from conservatives caused our problems, why did Obama give more tax cats than any president, according to Tucker, in history ?

TnGelding

March 9th, 2010
9:31 am

jimmy62

March 9th, 2010
9:14 am

Hats off to you, sir. Good strategy. For the life of me I just can’t understand all the emphasis on exports. The cost and waste of transportation alone make it undesirable unless you have a unique product to offer. The consumer base is here.

Dee keith

March 9th, 2010
9:34 am

Reality, “only when THEY became unemployed” unfortuanetly is a playbook in which Repugs follow religiously. I know a lot of people who claim to be anti gov. until they get victimized by the Enrons. World Coms, Wall Street, etc., and only then do they involk the Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), (Start Sucking On The Gov. Tit)

TnGelding

March 9th, 2010
9:36 am

NRB(at)gmail(dot)com

March 9th, 2010
9:24 am

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. At what point do you cut back to necessities?

ctucker

March 9th, 2010
9:36 am

Quod, I agree that extended periods of being on the dole are damaging. So most people would rather be working but they can’t find jobs!

Scout

March 9th, 2010
9:37 am

Ms. Tucker:

It’s a combination of things and it does apply to most (not all) unemployed:

Lazy
Too picky
Poor job interviewing skills
Poor interviewing dress appearance (i.e., personal grooming)
Not willing to move for a job
Not willing to develop new skills
Too many “incentives” to not look very hard

Even in times of employment upswing, employers complain you just can’t find good people. Someone willing to start at the bottom and work hard to move up.

Just one person’s opinion …………………

Van Jones

March 9th, 2010
9:44 am

Excellent column yesterday! I wish I could have commented.

As for today’s… showing up for a job fair and being employable are two different things.

ATLshirt.com

March 9th, 2010
9:48 am

Bob

March 9th, 2010
8:20 am

A jobs bill ?? By the Government ?? You think it will work, almost as good as the stimulas ???

ATLshirt.com

March 9th, 2010
9:49 am

ctucker

March 9th, 2010
8:47 am

They did a sin tax on cigerrettes and alcohol which affects poor people..

Bitter EX democrackkk

March 9th, 2010
9:49 am

When you’ve got the government sending you a check, WHY would you work?

RMJ

March 9th, 2010
9:51 am

Wow!!! I can’t believe people are actually suggesting that majority of folks are lazy are are depending on unemployment to make a living. First of all unemployment would not pay most people’s cost of living along. Do some abuse it sure. But that’s some. If you have a job, were able to find a job or have not been laid off from a job. Consider yourself very LUCKY. Try looking for a decent paying job in this market. It’s very tough and almost impossible in some industries and cities. Some of you folks are truly on another PLANET!!!

T-Town

March 9th, 2010
9:56 am

A friend recently confided in me that his son just took a voluntary layoff to make more money on unemployment. I asked how could that be? Well the young man had trouble making it to work and many times his checks were docked because he was out of sick time (tough to fire a union worker). Since he really didn’t want to work, why not go on unemployment until his dream job came along….making $50,000 sitting on his butt smoking cigarettes.

Dee keith

March 9th, 2010
9:59 am

Bob, Giving tax breaks to big corporations with the expectation that they are gonna take it and create a job for middle and working class families, despite the fact their is no market for their product, is delusional. That’s the one thing this recession has taught us. What President Obama has done is provide tax breaks for the middle/working class, and small businesses, in other words he is putting money in the hands of people who spend money, which is what drives big business. Big businesses are making a profit now doing cost cutting measures, specifically labor, because their is no market for their products.

South Georgia Conservative

March 9th, 2010
10:00 am

Among other factors, unemployment is being bolstered by the fear among employers that Obama’s Health Care proposal will add to the cost of employing people. If they hire a new employee today, the cost of that employee could skyrocket with health care mandates. If an incremental, reasonable approach to solving our healthcare woes was adopted, hiring would most likely rise.

Tucker, you destroy what little credibility you have when you attribute to Jim Bunning the suggestion that extending unemployment makes people lazy and they won’t seek work. His gesture (with which I disagreed) was a symbolic protest about adding expenditures without paying for them. No one on the left or the right can attribute joblessness to laziness unless they can identify available jobs that are not being filled. We have a dearth of JOBS, not applicants. If the Obama Healthcare plan goes away, available jobs will rise.

ctucker

March 9th, 2010
10:01 am

They, who, ATLshirt? Not Congress. Maybe the state legislature?

ctucker

March 9th, 2010
10:02 am

Van Jones, Thanks. I was travelling yesterday, so I couldn’t monitor comments. With race as the subject, I thought the blog needed to be monitored.

Peadawg

March 9th, 2010
10:02 am

Not all are lazy, but to think that none of the unemployed are lazy is ignorant.

Swede Atlanta

March 9th, 2010
10:03 am

Ref meinpvp

Can you explain how Obama is taxing everybody and everything?

quod erat demonstrandum

March 9th, 2010
10:03 am

ctucker,

We can look back in our history to see what prior Presidents have done during financial bad times. We have almost 250 years to look back on.

We can see what worked and what might have worked and what did not work.

But this administration is not doing that. The combination of crushing debt and vast new spending is not a good idea.

Azazel

March 9th, 2010
10:03 am

Yes they do! It is all about Calvinism — if god (choose one) really loved you, then you would be prosperous, since you are not prosperous, then god smites you because, obviously, you are lazy and shiftless wanting alms from those who are prosperous.

ctucker

March 9th, 2010
10:03 am

TnGelding, If you can’t understand the emphasis on exports, let me help you: There are now huge markets in places like China and Brazil; each country has a growing middle-class with money to buy. We’ve bought a lot of their stuff. If would help our economy if they started buying some of ours.

Granny Godzilla

March 9th, 2010
10:05 am

Sadly yes, some of the right, some of those compassionate conservatives, believe that most of the unemployed are lazy.
It makes them look churlish, ignorant and mean.

Karma is not their friend.

MAC

March 9th, 2010
10:06 am

I can say from first hand experience with some currently unemployed acquaintances that extended unemployment benefits may not make people lazy but it does reduce the sense of urgency to find another job.

That said, I can also attest to the fact that jobs are extremely scarce, even for the highly educated, highly experienced unemployed.

Perhaps the benefits should start 90 or 180 days after last employment date.

Swede Atlanta

March 9th, 2010
10:11 am

Ref MAC

So what is a family to do for the first 3 to 6 months of unemployment? We know Americans have done a poor job of saving for a rainy day. Given that I don’t see your proposed delay being reasonable.

Kevin

March 9th, 2010
10:12 am

As a fiscal conservative, I understand Senator Bunning’s stand that we should be able to find the funds to eliminate in order to pay for additional unemployment. I personally do not believe that all unemployed are lazy and not wanting to find jobs. Jobs are just not being created and we have to assist people who have been unemployed until business hiring starts to pick up.

One idea would be for all federal gencies to immediately freeaze any payments made to outside contractors or consultants pending a review by say the General Accounting Office (”GAO”). As a CPA, I see payment to outside consutlants and contractors as one of the increases in overhead spending that can be reduced immediately.

Grumpy

March 9th, 2010
10:17 am

Why hasn’t Jerome Boyd, the subject of the sob story in the article, canceled his cable service?

Reality

March 9th, 2010
10:17 am

Kevin – Oh, come on…. If outside consultants and contracts are reduced, however will the CEO, CFO, etc. get the free golf outings, free steak dinners, the kick backs, and the other “perks” that they deserve?

Keep in mind that I am speaking as an ex-management consultant.

Reality

March 9th, 2010
10:19 am

Grumpy – Comments like that really gripe me! Who are you or who is anyone to nit-pick on an individual when you do not know all of the details, it is entirely unfair. Have you thought about the fact that the cable TV has a channel that shows job opennings?

Do not judge!

NetBanker

March 9th, 2010
10:22 am

Rather than rehash the same old arugments let’s get creative and discussion SOLUTIONS! For most workers the gap between real pay and unemployment benefits is massive; especially in GA which is exceptionally stingy on payments. How about changing the current rules to allow people to collect a reduced unemployment benefit while working a part-time or minimum wage job AND extending the period they can collect if they are working part-time?

This type of change would allow people who want to work to do SOMETIHNG as well as not get into such a deep financial hole that bankruptcy is the only answer. You would also get a better level of economic stimulation as these part-time workers/reduced benefit recipients have a bit more money to spend or use to pay bills than simply working part time or colecting unemployment benefits.

What about eliminating income taxes collected from unemployment benefits? (This has never made sense to me in the first place, but there’s our government for you)

Many small businesses end up in the situation where they need to hire staff in order to grow, but taking on new staff before obtaining the new business is an expense they can’t fully afford. They get stuck in a chicken/egg situation (can’t grow without more employees, but can’t afford the employees without growth) So how about taking unemployment funds and using them to subsidize workers for small businesses to help them grow their business which would enable them to make the jobs permanent as income grows?

You folks are smart….Don’t bi tch…THINK!