Dick Meister: The jobless need help. Now!!

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By Dick Meister

Guardian columnist Dick Meister, former labor editor of the San Francisco
Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsroom, has covered labor and politics for more than
a half-century. Contact him through his website, www.dickmeister.com, which includes several hundred of his
columns.

It's time for Congress to help the many jobless Americans ­an estimated
450,000 in the next three months alone ­ who are about to be denied
federally- funded Unemployment Insurance benefits.

What Congress must do ­ and must do quickly ­ is once again expand the
emergency program that was established during the Great Recession in 2008 to
provide benefits averaging $300 a week to the steadily growing number of
jobless.  Congress has until only January 1 to block the first cutbacks of
extra benefit weeks that could continue until at least 2015 unless Congress
Acts.

President Obama and congressional Democrats are pushing measures that would
lengthen the benefit payout period through 2014 at a cost of about $25
billion on top of the $225 billion spent so far on the program. But given
the congressional haggling over economic measures, the chance of agreement
before Congress adjourns December 31 is slight.

Meanwhile , the number of Americans unable to find  jobs they need for
survival remains in the millions. Already, there are four million who have
been seeking jobs for more than six months and many others who have stopped
looking.

 Particularly hard hit are aging as well as younger workers, and women and
minorities. Their number ­ and need for unemployment benefits ­ is certain
to grow, most likely at a rapid pace.

All this is happening, of course, at the same time that banks, corporate
interests and other wealthy Republican friends continue raking in huge
profits. Money gained from relaxing the tax breaks given such political
friends, for instance, could very well go into funding further Unemployment
Insurance payments and other steps to help U.S. workers.

Ironically, cutting the federal benefit program could actually lead to more
unemployment. That's because workers denied benefits naturally have less to
spend and that could in turn cause those who rely on the laid-off workers'
business to cut back operations.

 The need for extending the federal benefit program should be obvious to
anyone outside the powerful circle of GOP & friends. Listen to what Gene
Sperling, Obama's chief economic adviser, told the New York Times' Annie
Lowrey:

"There has not been a time where the unemployment rate has been this high
where you have not extended it. Why would you not expand now, when you're
dealing with the nearly unprecedented levels of long-tern unemployment
coming off such a historic recession? "

Why not, indeed?

Guardian columnist Dick Meister, former labor editor of the San Francisco
Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsroom, has covered labor and politics for more than
a half-century. Contact him through his website, www.dickmeister.com, which includes several hundred of his
columns.

Copyright 2013 Dick Meister

Comments

Unemployment insurance and other forms of government benefits act as a disincentive to work.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 25, 2013 @ 7:28 pm

The unemployed need help now, as do many other people:

Sequester cuts to deprive over 125,000 households of housing aid

Excerpt:
"Far from calling for an end to the cuts that both parties had previously sought to palm off as inadvertent and arising from political “gridlock,” the US political establishment is increasingly calling for the cuts to be made permanent. Wall Street Journal editorial board member Stephen Moore summed up the perspective of the US ruling class when he wrote last week: “The sequester cuts in annual budgets for the military, education, transportation and other discretionary programs have also been an under appreciated success, with none of the anticipated negative consequences.” Barack Obama, for his part, has called for replacing the sequester cuts with an even more draconian package of cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security."

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/08/27/hous-a27.html

Posted by Hyacinth Bouquét on Nov. 25, 2013 @ 9:32 pm

of government borrowing.

The best cure for unemployment is a gradual decline in the cost of labor.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 26, 2013 @ 6:30 am

So you want Americans to work longer and harder for less?

Posted by marcos on Nov. 26, 2013 @ 7:13 am

They have to work harder now because they have to hand so much of their pay packet to the government as a tithe.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 26, 2013 @ 7:32 am

The more taxes are paid, the more the economy hums and the higher wages are even after taxes. The 1990s proved this conclusively. But that left too much money in the hands of the middle class which caused political problems for the theoclassical economists, therefore that had to grind to a screeching halt.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 26, 2013 @ 7:53 am

The productive part of the economy is the total economy minus that which the government confiscates.

That is why almost every major nation has enacted lower taxes over the last 30 or so years. When the public sector becomes too large, as in places like France, Spain, Greece and Italy, then the economy suffers.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 26, 2013 @ 8:17 am

The government taxes and then spends those dollars back into the economy almost immediately. Nothing is lost unless government debt is paid down, then those dollars are indeed extracted from the economy.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 26, 2013 @ 10:56 am

and then we'd all be rich.

Money the government confiscates tends to be dead money - much of it is spent overseas or given to those who spend it unproductively.

"Starve the beast" is political orthodoxy at this point.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 26, 2013 @ 11:17 am

You are wrong, taxes are not extracted from the economy, they are spent back into the economy, into the public sector. That is why businesses spend to much money trying to buy elections, to become the beneficiaries of those taxed expenditures, as in insurers buying Obamacare.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 26, 2013 @ 1:47 pm

funds are controlled by bureaucrats rather than by enterprises.

That is so widely held and well known that it's not even a debate any more.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 26, 2013 @ 1:59 pm

Sweden, Germany, The Netherlands, Canada and Denmark are not underperforming. They are outperforming the Anglo-Saxon countries of the United States and the United Kingdom.

Bureaucrats do a better job of allocating resources than capitalists in many industries. This is so widely known and held it isn't even worth a debate anymore. Everyone is in favor of mixed economies except for a few kooky Ayn Rand types.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Nov. 26, 2013 @ 2:28 pm

The issue is that government taxing does not take money out of the economy unless the government uses tax receipts to retire debt in which case those dollars are indeed extinguished. This is why debt reduction and austerity under threat of a liquidity trap and slack demand are so dangerous.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 26, 2013 @ 2:54 pm

Even though we already spend 40% more than we take in taxes and know that is unsustainable?

Thank god people like you don't have any power. The voters aren't that stupid.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 26, 2013 @ 3:11 pm

The English tried austerity during the downturn and did worse than anyone else. They are still in a recession, last I checked.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Nov. 27, 2013 @ 11:01 pm
Posted by anon on Nov. 30, 2013 @ 6:43 pm

which practice good old WASP politics and ethics, rather than the southern european high-tax basket cases like France, Spain, Italy and Greece.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 26, 2013 @ 2:55 pm

The US beats the Netherlands and Denmark on annual GDP growth over the last four years. Germany and Sweden have been doing well, but other high-spending countries like France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Greece are doing far worse. The UK's spending is very high, much higher than Canada's, which is similar to the US.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_spending#As_a_percentage_of_GDP

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.KD.ZG

Posted by Guest on Nov. 26, 2013 @ 3:04 pm

Countries with low taxes and high spending, like Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal do poorly. It is important to have high taxes along with high spending. All those countries run massive structural deficits, which catch up to you eventually.

The Netherland and Denmark beat the US on Per Capita GDP growth over the longer term. You have to adjust for population growth, the US grows about 1%/yr most European countries do not.

Now I do not believe that taxing 100% of income leads to even faster growth, it is just important to socialize those things which are better run by plodding government bureaucrats, like medicine, health care and transportation and let the greedy capitalists do the things they are best at, like producing manufacturing goods.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Nov. 27, 2013 @ 6:51 pm

The world does not run according to a formula in a theory book.

Each problem is unique and lends itself to a range of solutions. Sometimes a pure public sector solution is best, sometimes a joint venture public/private and sometimes private solutions are best. It all depends on the nature of the problem at hand.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 27, 2013 @ 7:28 pm

Much of our tax dollars goes to naught.

At the federal level tax dollars go to foreign aide, over seas military adventures, foreign bases etc... The federal government spends billions outside the USA and on useless non sense.

The states, counties and municipalities do the same with their redundant make work projects.

I hate to break it to you, good and services create wealth, shuffling money off to the San Francisco Dept of the environment creates nothing of value.

Posted by Matlock on Nov. 27, 2013 @ 11:31 pm

"Particularly hard hit are aging as well as younger workers, and women and
minorities. Their number ­ and need for unemployment benefits ­is certain
to grow, most likely at a rapid pace."

True, so long as Obama is President.

Posted by racer さ on Nov. 26, 2013 @ 9:22 am

The implication here is clear enough - if you are a white male, you get no sympathy if something bad happens to you, because compassion is only available to people who are young, old, non-white or female.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 26, 2013 @ 9:40 am

Nothing is more inspiring than affluent retired white guys complaining about white privilege!

Posted by racer さ on Nov. 26, 2013 @ 11:11 am
Posted by Guest on Nov. 26, 2013 @ 11:27 am

The most out of work type was the working class male in the trades.

Posted by Matlock on Nov. 27, 2013 @ 7:23 pm

White males migrated to knowledge work in the last couple pf decades.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 27, 2013 @ 9:07 pm

because I think you are talking out of your ass again.

What is knowledge work? Being a contestant on Jeopardy?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 27, 2013 @ 9:24 pm

It's all knowledge work and service work these days.

Posted by anon on Nov. 30, 2013 @ 6:44 pm

Once again Anon demonstrates ignorance.

You need to get out of the northwest corner of the City, every now and then, anon.

Posted by Brompton Bosworth on Nov. 30, 2013 @ 7:02 pm

I'm going with less than 10%. Prove me wrong.

Posted by anon on Nov. 30, 2013 @ 7:13 pm

Industry is kind of a vague term.

As far as manufacturing, %10 sounds about right, citywide.

In Dogpatch or Bayview, for example, it might be as much as half the economy.

Posted by Ritch Bryant on Nov. 30, 2013 @ 7:34 pm

parts of the city where few people ever go.

Got it.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2013 @ 7:52 pm

%10 per cent isn't trivial, so no, I don't agree.

Posted by Ritch Bryant on Nov. 30, 2013 @ 8:13 pm

The present and future of San Francisco is high-paid knowledge work and not trying to do what they do better in Texas, Mexico or China.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 01, 2013 @ 8:29 am

When I said trades I meant it in the broadest sense.

Still, the hardest hit in the great recession was male's in typical male jobs.

The least hit was government workers, which are often new class make work jobs for we all know who.

Posted by Matlock on Nov. 27, 2013 @ 9:32 pm

They should do what Americans have always done. Get a job, if not here, then sone place else.

North Dakota is booming, thanks to fracking, and there is a labor shortage there.

There's always work but you have to look for it and make an effort to get it. The nanny state throwing "help" at them is the wrong tactic. That just creates an entitlement mentality.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 26, 2013 @ 4:43 pm

To think that not long ago taking charity was shameful. When did so many Americans become whining children?

Posted by marcos on Nov. 26, 2013 @ 8:42 pm

The only Americans who are whining are the tax whining billionaires who complain and caterwaul about paying their fair share.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 26, 2013 @ 9:23 pm
Posted by Guest on Nov. 27, 2013 @ 8:42 am

How do billionaires pay a majority of taxes collected? Do they make a majority of income? You are not even close to true here. Even the top 1% doesn't pay a majority of taxes and the vast majority of the 1% aren't billionaires.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Nov. 27, 2013 @ 6:53 pm
Posted by Guest on Nov. 27, 2013 @ 9:08 pm

so they don't pay their fair share.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 27, 2013 @ 9:17 pm

They don't pay whatever percentage, but if they do they should pay more.

What is a fair share when it all goes into furnace anyways?

Posted by Matlock on Nov. 27, 2013 @ 9:37 pm

and make less sense than anyone here. For years, no less.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 27, 2013 @ 9:44 pm

"no wrong answer" that means whatever is said you will find something to bitch about. It's also the Rush Limbaugh syndrome, whatever someone says or does just bitch about it. It could also be called the Saul Alinsky school of whining. Another area the right and left meet up together,

Someones complains that the rich don't pay a certain percentage, then when it is pointed out they do, the next step is complaining that they should pay their 'fair share." "no wrong answer."

Then I point out that whatever anyone pays it will be wasted.

Whats odd is that the left hates the government and yet wants to give it more money.

Posted by Matlock on Nov. 27, 2013 @ 10:21 pm

The Right claims to hate the government but they constantly want to grow their pet programs: Military, Police, the NSA, etc.

The Left is the same, but they want to grow their own pet programs: Food Stamps, Education, Medicare, SSI, etc.

The only real difference is that The Left wants to raise taxes to pay for their goodies and The Right thinks that they can just borrow and foist the cost off to someone else. Because of this, The Left is actually more responsible.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Nov. 27, 2013 @ 11:07 pm

Meaning the left keeps out of my wallet and the right keeps out of my bedroom.

Posted by anon on Nov. 30, 2013 @ 7:17 pm

You are a nutter, the top 1% doesn't even pay half of all federal income taxes:

http://www.ntu.org/tax-basics/who-pays-income-taxes.html

And income taxes are the most progressive of all taxes:

http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=3505

Show me the proof for your completely incorrect bullshit statement.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Nov. 27, 2013 @ 11:04 pm

still pay the vast majority of all taxes and therefore subsidize everyone else.

Posted by anon on Nov. 30, 2013 @ 7:18 pm

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