Thursday, September 23, 2010
Though in general I am adamantly opposed to any senator who supports the Fairness Doctrine, or any other attempt by the government to control the media, or believes in the Green Jobs Myth (I will reserve a response to that for another time,) this time, she does seem to have a bill that would fill a dangerous void in existing unemployment policy.
The Americans Want to Work Act has been introduced in congress and is being passed around the Committe on Finance right now. You can track its progress here. The full text of the bill, in its' present form, can be found at THOMAS.
So what exactly does this bill do? It extends unemployment benefits by up to 20 weeks. In addition, it allows for a "fourth-tier" benefit to kick in when bureaucratic delays relating to the application of this bill are reached. Considering the length of our current recession, this is an absolutely necessary act. One can debate for hours the practicality of unemployment insurance to begin with, but it is not sensible to go changing the world on families already hurting from a bust economy. Such debate is better reserved for the summer of economic growth, when private charity and families can take care of their own during the changeover period, rather then this horrid blizzard, where we would be ripping the coat off of their backs to face the bitter gales.
It also does something much less desirable. It extends the rather poorly thought out temporary subsidy for hiring. This will encourage businesses to act irrationally and hire workers they don't need, creating production that will likely go away when the subsidy does, assuming if it is ever created at all, and wasting tremendous resources that could be instead invested in the economy of our nations future. Even worst, it increases the size of the subsidizing for workers thus hired retained, increasing the effectiveness of this economic laser guided bomb. So why should the senate vote for this bill?
Because right now, the families of those 99ers are on the economic edge of oblivion. Private charity has dried up, the budget (and with it government jobs) are drying up, unemployment is at the point where they may not have relatives or a community that can support them, competition for jobs is fierce, and the government is, for better or worse, the last place they have to turn. It costs relatively little money, and it keeps these people going for 20 more weeks. Like it or not, we signed up to cover them. Sound economic policy, in this one rare case, will just have to wait, as we have to consider the culture of our country and how actual human beings will interact with the system, in this case, by not saving money as a result of the unemployment insurance that our democratically elected (by you and me) government created.
"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea." (Matthew 18: 6, New King James Version)
Further, it's a very well-written bill. It covers the technicalities and exceptions even ones (example: Railroad Retirement Taxes) that most people have never heard of. It's clearly written by someone who understands bureaucracy. And yet, it's relatively short. I read it in under 30 minutes. And it doesn't create a lot of unnecessary bureaucracy. Good job Stabenow. It's the exact kind of bill we should encourage, on principle, to keep the elected leaders accountable to people like you and me. In conclusion, good tidings, but of the slightly smelly variety.