Join 3,382 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


"... it feels like it was all for nothing. Nothing pays off."
December 18, 2013 1:05 PM   Subscribe

7 New Yorkers About to Lose Their Unemployment Benefits Tell Their Stories
posted by The Whelk (139 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Heartbreaking. Regardless of what side of politics you are on, I've always wondered how/when do people in power lose empathy for the very people they were put in power to protect?
posted by greenhornet at 1:18 PM on December 18, 2013 [13 favorites]



"At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge," said the gentleman, taking up a pen, "it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, Sir."

"Are there no prisons?" asked Scrooge.

"Plenty of prisons," said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.

"And the Union workhouses?" demanded Scrooge. "Are they still in operation?"

"They are. Still," returned the gentleman. "I wish I could say they were not."

"The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour then?" said Scrooge.

"Both very busy Sir."

"Oh! I was afraid from what you said at first that something had occurred, to stop them in their useful course," said Scrooge. "I'm very glad to hear it."

"Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude," returned the gentleman, "a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time because it is a time of all others when Want is keenly felt and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?"

"Nothing," Scrooge replied.

posted by bearwife at 1:21 PM on December 18, 2013 [31 favorites]


I don’t understand how people can afford to support families on $375 a week. I can’t even support myself, and how is $375 a week going to be enough to live in New York City? And now that’s being taken away. These politicians in Washington either don’t give a damn, or are absolutely clueless about how people live their lives.
Having done this myself, I can say that it is practically impossible to actually live on $375. You can survive, sure. Right up until your luck runs out and you actually need to pay for something that isn't rent or food.
posted by griphus at 1:21 PM on December 18, 2013 [23 favorites]


I hate the whole rhetoric of, "If we keep giving them money to help them scrape by, they'll never bother getting a job!"

Terror and dread aren't actually very good motivators. Staring down a black hole of financial ruin when you're already running a gauntlet of professional rejection doesn't help you get out of bed in the morning. It's hard to sell yourself and your talents to a potential employer when the world is telling you, explicitly, that you're a lazy slob who just isn't trying hard enough.

What a fucking mess.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 1:24 PM on December 18, 2013 [57 favorites]


see also: "poor children should have to work for their food"

It feels like we're living in an episode of South Park with "THIS IS WHAT REPUBLICANS ACTUALLY BELIEVE" flashing at the bottom of the screen every time some deluded asshole decides to share their important thoughts with us.
posted by elizardbits at 1:27 PM on December 18, 2013 [46 favorites]


This might be a silver lining for progressives in the upcoming 2014 elections. Nothing flips a conservative over to the blue side like not being a part of the "in-crowd" of boot-strappers and suddenly seeing their "hard-won" benefits expire.
posted by Renoroc at 1:28 PM on December 18, 2013


Also if anyone reading this is unemployed in NYC and without health insurance I will tell you what my mom told me: go and apply for Medicaid-managed care right the fuck now. There's vendors all over the city and at least the one I worked with from AmeriGroup was really nice and helpful; it was literally her job to sit down with you and help you fill out the required paperwork. They should also be able to tell you right there and then if you're eligible.

When you get hired, all you have to do is write them a letter asking them to terminate your coverage.
posted by griphus at 1:32 PM on December 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


This will be me. The idea that I will probably have to borrow money to buy Christmas presents is heartbreaking.

At the very least, though, I am young, healthy, on my boyfriend's health insurance, and don't have children.

But I still feel like a turtle on my back.
posted by girlmightlive at 1:32 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Having done this myself, I can say that it is practically impossible to actually live on $375.

This is why I really don't get the whole "living off the teat of the working masses" argument I hear so often. Living on unemployment sucks. There are probably some small minority of folks out there who generally just don't want to work and would rather live off unemployment. Okay, fine. That's always going to be the case, and seems to me to be a reasonable 'loss' everyone should just get over. As for the vast majority of the rest of the folks - taking away their meager survival check is just horribly cruel. Like yes, I'm sure it was just having no want of bread and milk that kept all these people from getting jobs. We'll starve them into motivation! I mean seriously.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:34 PM on December 18, 2013 [14 favorites]


But I still feel like a turtle on my back.

But Rand Paul is not helping.

Why is that, Rand?
posted by weston at 1:38 PM on December 18, 2013 [45 favorites]


Paul Ryan would like to thank you seven for being responsible citizens and doing your part to bring sense to our nation's budget problems.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:39 PM on December 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


It is definitely possible to live in New York on $375 a week, if you are young, without children, and willing to live with roommates. But it's incredibly depressing.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:40 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I agree with this article, but there are more problems with unemployment than just the time period it's available.

Calculating my current unemployment in NY grants me 64% of my current salary. (I remember being on unemployment in NYC for about two months, back in 2007. Who could forget that wonderful "Unemployment Benefit" debit card with the logo of shame you get.) It was really tough, but I was able to scrape by until the payroll checks started coming in again.

FL, on the other hand maxes out at 40% of my current salary. While I haven't been on unemployment in FL yet (knock on wood), 40% of my current salary would... wait... carry the one... divide by 52... Yep. That sounds about right.... Combined with draconian tenant/landlord laws, 40% of my current salary would deliver me straight to the wonderful gated community under the I-95 overpass down by the railroad tracks.

For me (and a number of FL residents, I expect), extending the unemployment benefits period by any time frame wouldn't help, because after 6 months, I'd probably die of starvation or be in jail for armed robbery and/or dispensing "street-level pharmaceutics."

But at least it's warm year-round and there's plenty of bugs and lizards to eat. Y'know.... They should put that on a pamphlet.
posted by Debaser626 at 1:41 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is it the government's job — my job to feed my neighbour's child? I don't think so. Obviously nobody wants kids to go to school hungry … but is that always the government's job? To be there to serve people their breakfast?
posted by KokuRyu at 1:44 PM on December 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


Terrifying.
posted by turbid dahlia at 1:51 PM on December 18, 2013


But I still feel like a turtle on my back.

But Rand Paul is not helping.

Why is that, Rand?


I'll hazard a guess. Because Rand Paul believes it is less expensive to let people structurally squeezed out of the economy by financialization, globalization, and automation to slowly sink than it would be to give them enough money to live with dignity.

I submit that it is your responsibility to prove him wrong.
posted by Naberius at 1:52 PM on December 18, 2013


Regardless of what side of politics you are on, I've always wondered how/when do people in power lose empathy for the very people they were put in power to protect?

It happens when they become Republicans.
posted by FatherDagon at 1:53 PM on December 18, 2013


Naberius:
I'll hazard a guess...
No. The proper response is that he's a replicant.
Or perhaps a Republicant.
posted by charred husk at 1:54 PM on December 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Having done this myself, I can say that it is practically impossible to actually live on $375.

Remember that's $375.00 before taxes. I was actually penalized the year I was on unemployment because I failed to estimate and file quarterly. It was easy enough to explain that unemployment was supposed to be temporary, and they gave me a pass.
posted by Gungho at 1:56 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why Do We Care Whether the Poor Work?
Why A War On Poor People?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:56 PM on December 18, 2013


itt: conservativism is evil, good thing we are not conservatives, that must be why there's no homeless or hungry people in predominantly liberal towns
posted by rebent at 1:56 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


At this point I would have more respect for them if they just came right out and said "I don't care about poor people and I hope that they starve/freeze/die from not having health care/whatever ASAP".

I would still think they were the most vile loathsome scum of the earth but at least they would be HONEST scum.
posted by elizardbits at 1:56 PM on December 18, 2013 [22 favorites]


I've always wondered how/when do people in power lose empathy for the very people they were put in power to protect?

Well, first off, you make the mistake in thinking that they believe they were put in power to protect anyone. These are people who do not, by dint of their actions, seem to believe in the "united" part of United States.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:57 PM on December 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


But I still feel like a turtle on my back.

Turtles all the way down. :\
posted by tilde at 2:00 PM on December 18, 2013


I swear to God I'm coming closer to becoming a distributist every day.
posted by charred husk at 2:01 PM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


This might be a silver lining for progressives in the upcoming 2014 elections. Nothing flips a conservative over to the blue side like not being a part of the "in-crowd" of boot-strappers and suddenly seeing their "hard-won" benefits expire.

We could be savages wearing animal skins fighting through the ruins of our post-apocalyptic cities and some liberals would still be sitting there arms folded doing the "Surely this will convince them how right we are! Now we may finally win something!"
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 2:11 PM on December 18, 2013 [13 favorites]


After such an FPP, usually I see: "don't read the comments!". But I find that wrong, most of the time. Bad comments clue you in to the mindset. For that matter, all comments do. Even when they are not in agreement with the prevailing Metafilter sentiment. For example, this comment:

CANDIDE08

Robert Derczo: " I consider myself a conservative Republican, for about 40 years, and I don’t like it when they say people are lazy. People aren’t lazy. There aren’t any jobs out there — there’s a complete lack of compassion."

You have nobody to blame but yourself, your voting history and your party.


Because according to Metafilter, it's never ever the fault of the voters. The votes have been suppressed, or the election stolen, or districts gerrymandered or you're a goat for pointing to the voters, ever. Somehow magically, it's never the fault of the voter.
posted by VikingSword at 2:12 PM on December 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've had two periods of unemployment/"freelancing" that lasted a year each in the last five years. I was lucky, in that I have a girlfriend who really generously helped me through that time and could afford to do so.

It was some of the hardest shit I've ever had to deal with, sending out hundreds of resumes, not hearing anything, just fucking nothing. Unemployment can be like staring into the void.

I ended up taking a pretty shitty job unrelated to my education — I was one of those assholes with a clipboard outside your Trader Joe's — and did it well. The average turnover for the position is three days; I lasted over a year. I still got fired over things that were out of my control, and had to fight to get unemployment because they contested the claim and lied about me to the EDD after they agreed not to contest.

I ended up getting a similar job that was at least working directly for the non-profit I'd hustled for. I got the job mostly because I knew some folks who had been shunted over there, and the org was in internal disarray and needed pretty much anyone who wasn't a total fuckup. When I first joined, there simply wasn't a budget to have me do the coms work I do now, and frankly, people didn't take me seriously. I've been lucky to have the opportunity to demonstrate my skills and move up, but that's in large part because of how goddamned dysfunctional this place was when I first got here.

So now I'm making adult-ish money for the first time in my life, in a field I didn't anticipate, and I'm still filled with anxiety and dread over the notion that it could all come crashing down incredibly quickly and I could be just as fucked as a few years ago, scampering after so few jobs.

Part of what I've been doing the last couple months is recruiting interns. Now, I always took paid internships when I was in school, because I had profs that pointed out that people who get your work for free never have any real incentive to change and pay for the labor. So I designed the internships to be basically independent studies with our org. as a way to train students on media skills in the service of LGBT advocacy. But instead, I'm getting applicants that are wildly overqualified, and it's clear that having an unpaid internship is better for them than having a hole on the resume.

Ugh.
posted by klangklangston at 2:14 PM on December 18, 2013 [15 favorites]


The votes have been suppressed, or the election stolen, or districts gerrymandered or you're a goat for pointing to the voters, ever. Somehow magically, it's never the fault of the voter.

That's why Federal diaster aid shouldn't be available to red states and counties like in Moore, OK and Joplin, MO. Those people didn't vote for government spending, they shouldn't be allowed to recieve any.
posted by T.D. Strange at 2:15 PM on December 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


"itt: conservativism is evil, good thing we are not conservatives, that must be why there's no homeless or hungry people in predominantly liberal towns"

That conservativism, especially in things like cutting unemployment benefits — which is both morally and economically stupid — is evil does not mean that simply being liberal is a panacea, especially since in America, "liberal" is anyone to the left of Limbaugh.

But glad to see you couldn't mount a real defense and just went for the tu quoque.

"Because according to Metafilter, it's never ever the fault of the voters. The votes have been suppressed, or the election stolen, or districts gerrymandered or you're a goat for pointing to the voters, ever. Somehow magically, it's never the fault of the voter."

The efficacy of a vote for a congressmember is orders of magnitude lower than the efficacy of a vote by a congressmember in congress. Blame should be apportioned relative to power to affect change.
posted by klangklangston at 2:21 PM on December 18, 2013 [14 favorites]


The lower-middle class tea party sympathizers are getting the country they have been brainwashed into thinking they want. They are getting just what they deserve. The problem is they are taking the rest of us with them.
posted by Foam Pants at 2:22 PM on December 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


I've always wondered how/when do people in power lose empathy for the very people they were put in power to protect?

The people they were put in power to protect are doing just fine.
posted by Gelatin at 2:23 PM on December 18, 2013 [9 favorites]


Because Rand Paul believes it is less expensive to let people structurally squeezed out of the economy by financialization, globalization, and automation to slowly sink than it would be to give them enough money to live with dignity.

I submit that it is your responsibility to prove him wrong.


There's a few assumptions in that guess and assignation of responsibility:

* that the question is actually amenable to decisive proof
* that, if it were, Paul's beliefs (stated or personal) are based on evaluating proofs
* that those on Paul's side bear no burden of proof
* that "less expensive" is at the top of the hierarchy of values for public policy
* that Paul is not a replicant, as an increasing numbers of Republicans seem to fail Voight-Kampf (OTOH, this is also true of the Turing test, which would rule replicants out).
posted by weston at 2:25 PM on December 18, 2013


The efficacy of a vote for a congressmember is orders of magnitude lower than the efficacy of a vote by a congressmember in congress. Blame should be apportioned relative to power to affect change.

If only those congressmembers weren't like natural disasters we have no control over. Another earthquake! Whelp, that's bad! Bad earthquake! Bad congress member!

I dream of a land, where you can elect your members of congress to reflect the will of the people, so you're not stuck with a legislator over whom you have as little control as over an earthquake. Where might there be such a land? A land, where the population holds itself accountable for the votes it casts? A land, where if you elect a Rand Paul, you've elected, well, a Rand Paul?
posted by VikingSword at 2:30 PM on December 18, 2013


If you wait for conservatives to fix this via government, you will wait a long time. If you take charge of the problem and find a solution outside of government, you also take charge of the solution.
posted by Ardiril at 2:30 PM on December 18, 2013


that Paul is not a replicant, as an increasing numbers of Republicans seem to fail Voight-Kampf (OTOH, this is also true of the Turing test, which would rule replicants out).

Tyrell: I'm impressed. How many questions does it usually take to spot them?
Deckard: I don't get it Tyrell.
Tyrell: How many questions?
Deckard: Twenty, thirty, cross-referenced.
Tyrell: It took less than six for Rand, didn't it?
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:31 PM on December 18, 2013 [17 favorites]


Then I got married and had kids, and I wanted to do everything opposite from what my mom did. I knew before I had a family it would have to be a lot better for them. Now, not having money, and with benefits being cut off, it feels like it was all for nothing. Nothing pays off.

Every so often in the past six months, reading an article like this, I get a little shiver that says "something horrifying is going to happen in this country."

Edgardo Torres' story gave me a shiver.
posted by ryanshepard at 2:31 PM on December 18, 2013 [8 favorites]


I notice that only one person is under 40.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 2:34 PM on December 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


I hate the whole rhetoric of, "If we keep giving them money to help them scrape by, they'll never bother getting a job!"

It's a necessary component of fetishizing the super-wealthy as so-called job creators: the rich can only be motivated by more money, apparently, while the rest of us can only be motivated by less.
posted by scody at 2:40 PM on December 18, 2013 [67 favorites]


It's good for people to have work. But hustling to run a household on that amount of money is work. If we had more respect for that kind of work, we'd be better off as a country.
posted by subdee at 2:45 PM on December 18, 2013 [8 favorites]


A land, where the population holds itself accountable for the votes it casts?

That's great in a land where direct and indisputable consequences are equally felt by all individuals for electing a given individual to office. As for me, I'm living in a land where it doesn't really matter one bit that I elected Elizabeth Warren because some idiot in a Red State elected Ted Cruz who can just throw a tantrum and filibuster anything he doesn't like.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 2:52 PM on December 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


I lived on my own when I had a job paying $600 a month after taxes.

Of course, it was in the early 90s, in a tiny apartment in a low-income housing complex that cost me $425 for rent+heat+water (no extra charge for the roaches), and I didn't have health insurance, and I mostly ate rice and beans and sugar (with an occasional visit to mom's house for veggies and ice cream), and I had a broken window in my crappy car for months because I didn't have the $80 to fix it, and I didn't have air conditioning in a third-floor apartment during a humid Chicago summer so I sat around without clothes on a lot, so it was good that I didn't have roommates.

I was going to make a sarcastic comment about how "if I did it, everyone else can do it" or something, even though we're talking about less than half the money and 20 years of inflation, but I'm too busy reading that paragraph and thinking about how lucky I am to have come as far as I have and I'm upping my charity donations in 2014.
posted by davejay at 2:57 PM on December 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


When a quote starts with 'senator Rand Paul argued ... on Fox News' you don't expect to be enlightened at the end of reading, but:
...the government would be doing “a disservice to these workers … when you allow people to be on unemployment insurance for 99 weeks, you're causing them to become part of this perpetual unemployed group in our economy.
Yeah, because it's a not a disservice to let them starve. FFS.
posted by Ned G at 3:00 PM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I notice that only one person is under 40.

Some of that is likely because of this:

I still got fired over things that were out of my control, and had to fight to get unemployment because they contested the claim and lied about me to the EDD after they agreed not to contest.

Contesting claims isn't unusual, and neither is trying to intimidate an employee into not filing. And even at that point, not every fired employee wins in a contested claim. It's a pretty high bar. Also, there are many people working at least partially under the table or working odd jobs/"freelancing" in a way that doesn't mesh well or at all with actually getting unemployment.

The horrible thing is, if you can't get unemployment you probably are SOL in terms of getting any cash aid. That's where welfare is supposed to come in, but doesn't anymore. Which is why you see so many people doing things like digging through trash cans for scrap metal. Same "jobs" as in India's slums, it's appalling.

Last Christmas Day, my (then) boyfriend had his car window smashed in, and all the person took was the loose change in his cupholder. It was around $1.50.
posted by rue72 at 3:01 PM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Where's the job training and re-training? If you are out of work for 99 weeks what can we do to get you a job?

Where is the CCC for the 21st century?
posted by bottlebrushtree at 3:02 PM on December 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


Where is the CCC for the 21st century?

Deficit reduction.

We need to grow the economy, you know. RUN THE GOVERNMENT LIKE A HOUSEHOLD. TIGHTEN OUR BELTS. Blah blah blah.
posted by rue72 at 3:03 PM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


They used to be a lot more honest about thier goals.
posted by The Whelk at 3:06 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Where is the CCC for the 21st century?

This article is two years old, but if you want to go to some far-off rural place and do unskilled labor, the opportunity is there.
posted by Hatashran at 3:22 PM on December 18, 2013


itt: conservativism is evil, good thing we are not conservatives, that must be why there's no homeless or hungry people in predominantly liberal towns

There pretty much aren't homeless people in those places. But you have to go to cities where the taxes support community more than generous corporate welfare (and bombs and corruption and stuff), and I doubt you can find any of those in the USA. I remember the discovery of a homeless guy being front-page news, and the community was horrified - and angry that the net hadn't done its job. Now I'm in the USA, and even though the taxes are higher in the US, the streets swarm with the sick and homeless, because so much of the culture here makes people ideologically unable to support spending taxes wisely.
These attitudes really are evil, and their wages in human misery is all around us.
posted by anonymisc at 3:26 PM on December 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


AEI (Yes, that AEI): Earlier this year, as The New York Times reported, the North Carolina legislature cut unemployment benefits, reducing (a) the maximum payout by a third and (b) the number of weeks residents can receive jobless aid. As a result, starting in July the state lost its eligibility for the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program. (This is the extended benefits program scheduled to expire nationally at year end.)

So how’s that worked out in the Tar Heel State?

...

In other words, it looks like the cut in unemployment benefits moved people out of the labor force rather than into employment. Likewise, the state employment rate — the share of adults with jobs — declined from 56.7% in June to 56.5% in October. Did reducing the number of North Carolina residents eligible for federal extended unemployment benefits boost employment? These data suggest it did not, a reality Washington policymakers might want to consider.

posted by T.D. Strange at 3:48 PM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


> Because according to Metafilter, it's never ever the fault of the voters. The votes have been suppressed, or the election stolen, or districts gerrymandered or you're a goat for pointing to the voters, ever. Somehow magically, it's never the fault of the voter.

Your tone is not particularly conducive to polite conversation. Could we avoid the snark, please? This is a very serious issue...

In the United States in 2013, there are only two political parties. As we are informed here on the blue time and time again, if you don't vote for one of those two parties, you aren't just throwing away your vote, you're actively encouraging the dark side to triumph.

I don't agree with that, but the fact is that in all the elections we've had in the last two decades, voters have in practice only had the choice between a right-wing, pro-militarist, pro-big-business, anti-union party called the Democrats, and the far-right-wing, insanely belligerent, big-business-fellating, worker-hating Republicans.

Both parties are bought and paid for by the rich. Both of them are big on "austerity" - now when interest rates are at historic lows, during the time when most Americans need support from their government more than any time in the last 50 years.

Do note that twice in a row we have elected the supposedly more "left wing party" - and what has it gotten the working men and women of America? Theoretically, somewhat less of a screwing than they would have gotten under the Republicans...

Oh, and I know specifically what the Democrats here would say to us - "Organize grass roots, and in 20 years perhaps you'll get results" - because that's what we get every time.

There wasn't any voting choice that people could have made that would have avoided this outcome. Victim blaming is offensive.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:02 PM on December 18, 2013 [29 favorites]


Every time i hear the claim that things are good because new claims for unemployment have gone down, it makes seethe a little.

How much of that is because people's benefits ran out and/or they aren't eligible for unemployment because they don't have enough credit weeks with the current employer because it's one temp job after another?

I'm not the best at math and stats, but to me, a reduction in new claims for UC does not equal more jobs or more people being employed.
posted by sio42 at 4:10 PM on December 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


There wasn't any voting choice that people could have made that would have avoided this outcome.

We did at one point have a congress and president that put the now-to-be-eliminated unemployment extensions into place, and that congress and president did seem to be put in place by voters.
posted by weston at 4:14 PM on December 18, 2013


There wasn't any voting choice that people could have made that would have avoided this outcome. Victim blaming is offensive.

Hmm. What if we had primaries? Where we could run any candidates we wanted, even if they were radically different from the candidates that have traditionally run, Democratic or Republican? Say, a Socialist? Or a Fascist? In all but name? Would that be possible, in the land of the free? Is it possible in this political system?

Well, let's see.

Why, lookie here! What do we find?! We find radically right-wing, Fascist-in-all-but-name, candidates being run in primaries, precisely to avoid establishment GOP. And they win - often. Why is it, that this is available to some but not to others? Maybe because it reflects where the electorate is? Or is that blaming the victim?

So, it's possible to have any candidate, as long as s/he gets enough votes - even a Socialist or Fascist. Or anything inbetween. We're not all doomed to old style D or R. It's called primaries.

I guess that's what happens when we take responsibility for our voting, when we engage in the political process, instead of assuming the position of blameless victim whom it is offensive to blame when they score a self-goal. Never blame anyone for the results of their own actions and you still won't abolish the reality of self-harm.

Perpetually blaming outside forces for our own failings is offensive - an offense against reality. Rand Paul didn't just happen like a meteorite striking from the clear blue sky. People chose him, people then voted for him and now he's reflecting the will of the people who put him there, and if he doesn't they'll vote him out. The blame/responsibility does not belong to the clear blue sky.
posted by VikingSword at 4:28 PM on December 18, 2013


I'm afraid we're way beyond anything like a full-employment economy, even for the devalued meaning of 'full employment' that's currently used. When our corporate lords shipped all the manufacturing & etc. jobs out of the country, they inevitably sentenced us to competing for an inadequate number of jobs selling each other fries. There aren't enough jobs now, and there are never going to be enough again. We have to figure out what to do for the people who can't get a job. I do not know the answer.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:28 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


It could both be the case that (a) America has two right wing parties with similar goals varying only slightly in degree, and (b) that certain subsets of voters reliably vote for the more fascist of the two parties against their own economic interests, and to a certain extent might "deserve" to reap what they've sown.

Neither observation offers any comfort to the other subsets of voters who didn't vote for ruinous policies and are largely powerless to do anything to change course.

Simplistically blaming the ignorant voter and cackling with glee at the consequences is obviously counterproductive on its face, offering no policy discussion much less solutions, but also fails to acknowledge that many of those voters have been continually indoctrinated with extremely well financed professional right-wing propaganda for 40+ years specifically intended to reach these kinds of legislative results.

But it sure is satisfying to blame the bamboozled.
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:41 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


VikingSword: "Why, lookie here! What do we find?! We find radically right-wing, Fascist-in-all-but-name, candidates being run in primaries, precisely to avoid establishment GOP. And they win - often. Why is it, that this is available to some but not to others?"

Because they're being bankrolled by shady billionaires and other moneyed interests funneling money through opaque non-profits?
posted by Hairy Lobster at 4:44 PM on December 18, 2013 [15 favorites]


Because according to Metafilter, it's never ever the fault of the voters. The votes have been suppressed, or the election stolen, or districts gerrymandered or you're a goat for pointing to the voters, ever. Somehow magically, it's never the fault of the voter.


I know it's emotionally satisfying to make national politics a morality play, but maybe it's to Metafilter's credit that we don't leap to blame vague demographics like "the voters!" for big, complex problems.

Don't ask "whose fault is this" unless blaming someone can fix the problem.
posted by serif at 5:04 PM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


"If only those congressmembers weren't like natural disasters we have no control over. Another earthquake! Whelp, that's bad! Bad earthquake! Bad congress member!

I dream of a land, where you can elect your members of congress to reflect the will of the people, so you're not stuck with a legislator over whom you have as little control as over an earthquake. Where might there be such a land? A land, where the population holds itself accountable for the votes it casts? A land, where if you elect a Rand Paul, you've elected, well, a Rand Paul?
"

I dream of a land where someone making snarky comments about the political process evidenced even a fucking modicum of understanding about how it works.

Because the math is more publicly available (I don't have full Wiley access right now), let's look at Obama: "What is the Chance Your Vote Will Make a Difference?" The national median efficacy is one in ten million. But this is New York (which means, of course, that his vote had zero chance of electing Rand Paul), so any given vote has the efficacy of 1 in 100,000,000. Which is about five times the actual population of the state.

It's also about ten times less likely than actually dying in an earthquake in California in any given year.

Whereas the efficacy of a single Congressional vote is quite high in proportion — I'm not going to bother to do the math, since I think you should be willing to accept that.

So if the guy was a major political donor, or a lobbyist or even an activist, sure, he might have had a measurable effect on politics. But as a Republican in New York?

Well, again, I dream of a world where people who want to be assholes about politics knew a little about what they were talking about when they blame voters.
posted by klangklangston at 5:06 PM on December 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


And now maybe we can get back to talking about unemployment rather than doing that asshole thing where we blame the poor for being poor? Ranting about how they deserve it because they voted GOP is just as much assholery as Rand Paul saying they deserve it for lack of work ethic.
posted by klangklangston at 5:09 PM on December 18, 2013 [11 favorites]


But it sure is satisfying to blame the bamboozled.

Bamboozled? How do you unbamboozle someone who believes Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya? That's not a rare belief. That's a third of the Republicans, and it's only increased since 2008. Please go down a list of various bamboozlings and see more of the same. People believe that shit, because they want to believe it. [...]continually indoctrinated with extremely well financed professional right-wing propaganda for 40+ years[...] - this is of course the standard excuse, as if people don't have enough brains to look up the simplest information about how birth certificates work. You have people "believing" things, because they are already highly primed to believe them - racism and bigotry have existed for much longer than 40 years.

You are fooling yourself if you think this is the result of 'right-wing propaganda' - this is exactly why people on the left fail at understanding and being able to explain how people vote, and why they are continually surprised. The idiotic talking points spewed by the right-wing political forces are not designed to "bamboozle", because that would assume that you are conveying information, information that 'deceives' or changes minds. That is just not so. The truth is, that this stuff is propagated to capitalize on an already prevalent sentiment, it is provided as a rallying point for political identification and tribalism signifiers. All they are doing is screaming - in various ways - THE OTHER! The ways could be: BLACK! GAY! MUSLIM! LIBERAL! It is NOT about information. It is not about bamboozling. It is about "US vs THEM".

As long as there are large numbers of bigots and reactionaries in the U.S., their sentiments will find political expression. Since the Left doesn't oblige, the Right is happy to step in.

That's the problem - the audience wants to hear that song. It's not about the performer. And Metafilter simply will not accept that.

Because they're being bankrolled by shady billionaires and other moneyed interests funneling money through opaque non-profits?

Case in point. The political tendencies and the Nativist proclivities of large numbers of voters, particularly in certain regions, were already there. The Tea Party merely harnessed them. The Tea Party may have started by being bankrolled by shady billionaires, but it has long since become a grass-roots movement, and expression of deep Nativist sentiment that has existed since before the Civil War. There are not enough billions to buy the kind of numbers in votes TP candidates have been getting. Not by a long shot.

The sooner we face that reality, the better. By lying to ourselves about the problem, we are never going to find a way to solve it. Misdiagnose the disease, and you'll never even begin to find a cure.

Voter suppression happens, but voter suppression is not the primary problem in getting a Rand Paul elected. Gerrymandering districts is a reality, but not the primary reason why a Rand Paul gets elected. Shady billionaires are a reality, but not the primary reason a Rand Paul gets elected (shady billionairs, btw., regularly lose in California).

The voters have to change, whether more contact with other points of view, or more adroit political outreach or any other method, that's what we should be discussing and focusing on, instead of lying to ourselves about the roots of the problem. The problem is shitty voters. How to turn them into less-shitty voters is the issue. We seem to have had a small measure of success with acceptance of gay civil rights - gay marriage. Maybe we can find ways of making progress on other things.
posted by VikingSword at 5:11 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Bamboozled? How do you unbamboozle someone who believes Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya? That's not a rare belief. That's a third of the Republicans, and it's only increased since 2008."

Pay them.

"That's the problem - the audience wants to hear that song. It's not about the performer. And Metafilter simply will not accept that."

Yeah, yeah, you're the lone prophet in the wilderness.

"The voters have to change, whether more contact with other points of view, or more adroit political outreach or any other method, that's what we should be discussing and focusing on, instead of lying to ourselves about the roots of the problem. "

Actually, probably better to focus on the subject of the FPP, rather than listening to your MEFI LEFTISTS DON'T GET IT reel-to-reel you trot out whenever you think you have a prompt.
posted by klangklangston at 5:18 PM on December 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


Being Australian I cannot imagine a world where your unemployment safety net (or healthcare) can be taken away from you.
I'd be in abject fear all of the time.

As it is now I know I could at least feed myself and almost make the mortgage/bill payments if I were to become unemployed tomorrow and my savings ran out.

I'm not surprised most of these are older workers either. It seems to be a thing here as well (and they keep pushing up the retirement age too. Ain't no one going to hire a 65yo when a 21yo will do).
posted by Mezentian at 5:22 PM on December 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Being Australian I cannot imagine a world where your unemployment safety net (or healthcare) can be taken away from you.
I'd be in abject fear all of the time.


Which will keep you abject, which is probably the point.
posted by rue72 at 5:28 PM on December 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


But as a Republican in New York?

Gee, maybe a Republican in New York was, you know, outvoted or something? Still doesn't make him any less of an asshole, just because more people around him happend to vote sensibly.

So, you know, maybe we should ask why more of them are not outvoted in Kentucky, land of Rand Paul, as I asked? Maybe the voters attitudes are the problem? Maybe we should try to figure out how to change their minds or approach the problem differently if our current strategies don't seem to work?

Well, again, I dream of a world where people who want to be assholes about politics knew a little about[...]

Take a bow.

I dream of a land where someone making snarky comments about the political process evidenced even a fucking modicum of understanding about how it works.

Indeed, at least the modicum of understanding that encompasses the simple fact that more votes win over fewer votes. And have the brains to ask what can be done to change those numbers.

Actually, probably better to focus on the subject of the FPP rather than listening to your MEFI LEFTISTS DON'T GET IT reel-to-reel you trot out whenever you think you have a prompt.

Concentrate. Rand Paul and the politics of the situation with Democratic vs Republican votes and attitudes including quotes from Rand Paul, and quotes from one of the seven people profiled and comments on the article, are all explicitly part of the subject of the FPP. Don't worry about prompts you think others are seeing, and worry about the factual basis of your reel-to-reel rants.
posted by VikingSword at 5:31 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, this whole, the plebes are ignorant thing gets old after a while.

The truth is, unemployment is here. What do you suggest we do about it? Should we keep voting? Will enough votes get people jobs? Will we lose unions and benefits just to feed ourselves? Because we are ignorant plebes who only vote a certain way? Is that what you're saying?

Most people don't have enough time in the day to research and read about issues, so yes, they get it from the TV and the internet. My daughter works and goes to school. She is liberal minded, and her partner is very conservative. Yet she probably doesn't know a thing about ALEC and the Koch brothers, she just knows that it's hard to make a living and get by.

Last year, she was a top sales manager at her organization, was flown to NJ and feted in NYC and ran a trade show in Las Vegas. Then she got laid off, as did a dozen other people, due to the company losing a contract. She had to start all over again at a lesser company, and is now on her way up again, as well as going to school and raising a child and supporting a husband who has MS and diabetes (he also works full time at a specialist small electronics job, and is on call on weekends). She just turned 31 today.

In 2008, my husband lost his job at a mortgage company. He wasn't a loan officer, but ran the office and was a major domo, riffing off his MBA from Thunderbird. All of a sudden, he couldn't get a job. Years ago, he was a business consultant, in both the commercial and non-profit sectors, but like the stories in the article, no call backs.

We're lucky, he has a job now. It has benefits. He's doing well and making quotas. We found a great place to live that has heat included. Last year, we were keeping the heat down to 60 to keep from having to order oil so often. Now I find it very hot here, and 64 is my preferred temp.

What is it that you want from us plebes? To be more intelligent? We voted for who we thought was best, and that person didn't win. The next time, we will also vote for who we think is best. At least we go out and vote. We're not stupid. We both have education and keep abreast of the news. We know who our representatives are. But we can't solve all the issues just by being informed and by voting. It's really upsetting to see people come in here and attack "MetaFilter" as if it were an entity. We are not an entity, we are thousands of people, and I, for one, would rather hear more stories from my fellow MeFites than the constant grind of "you liberals!" It gets old. I am not a liberal. I am a human being. Start talking to me like one.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 5:38 PM on December 18, 2013 [17 favorites]


Well summed up, in my opinion, VikingSword. If you ever wonder why so much money is injected into the political process and into promoting ignorance/apathy/disinformation within the general public, there's your answer -- the former makes votes less valuable (lobbyists bypass the voting process to get things they want) and the latter makes people less likely to vote.
posted by davejay at 6:17 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, I've done enough political volunteering in my day to realize that the political process is driven by money, not by voters. So right off the top of my head, I would say you are wrong about the political process. I disagree with you. In fact, I disagree with you about most of your statements, and I find them tone deaf to the plight of American people who are unemployed. I am not sure why you continue to blame things that are not in control of most people, but blame the voters instead. Clearly, you haven't been inside the political machine and seen how it works, because I have, and it's not pretty. Where are you getting this stuff from?
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:19 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


[VikingSword/klang: have a grown up discussion without making this personal]
posted by jessamyn at 6:23 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I had no idea I wandered into a battlefield. Forget I said anything and pretend I didn't agree with anyone.
posted by davejay at 6:25 PM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I guess on that note from Jessamyn, I'm leaving off. I've made my points but I don't want to continue arguing or further grar. Thank you for listening to me.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:25 PM on December 18, 2013


the political process is driven by money, not by voters.

I disagree. I've seen plenty of examples, where tons and tons and tons of money was defeated by superior numbers of votes. California is an excellent example - including the last gubernatorial election (and many before that - where the candidate with more - much, much, much more money - lost). And Karl Rove had precious little to show for his $300+ million in the national elections, when it came to actually getting people elected. There are endless examples such as these. We clearly don't agree, but I'm always open to arguments backed by facts and evidence - personal attacks don't make me change my opinion, sorry.
posted by VikingSword at 6:29 PM on December 18, 2013


It has everything to do with him and people like him, being a Republican. Because it is voters like him who caused these cuts. He is an example of such a voter. He may have been outvoted in NY, but voters like him prevailed in Kentucky and elsewhere. That's the problem. You can't limit yourself to NY - because your fate will also be impacted by voters in Kentucky and elsewhere. Which is why it is the politics of the voter that are relevant, not the location of the voter. Republican voter views (given what the GOP stands for today) are a problem, wherever the voter may be located.

Then explain to me how, say, every congressional district has majority support for something like ENDA, or how 91% of Americans support requiring background checks for all gun sales and yet both have been shot down or even prevented from coming to a vote in the first place in one or both chambers of Congress.

Just saying "you can fix the voters" has been proven wrong again and again, so stop repeating it.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:29 PM on December 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Exactly. No one did, so I brought it up, because it is worth bringing up - a lot of other people already covered the bad consequences of bad votes. I asked how not to have bad votes - they don't fall from the sky. Some disagree and don't see the sense in concentrating on the voters, rather on shady billionaires and other factors. I think it starts with the voters.

Okay. We need to have better campaigns. But please keep in mind that the problem doesn't completely rest with the voters, because those "Republican voter views" don't form exclusively in a vacuum and are shaped in large part by a very well-financed media engine that is very efficient a promoting a specific political discussion. Any attempt at reaching out to voters to make them less "shitty" will have to break through that, and there's plenty of worthwhile work to be done in curbing the abuses that power and wealth bring to our electoral system.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 6:36 PM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


and yet both have been shot down or even prevented from coming to a vote in the first place in one or both chambers of Congress.

Extremely simple. Amazingly simple. Not enough people felt strongly enough to make those votes count. I'm a good example. I support strictly limiting guns - in fact much more radically than probably the average American - but it is far, far down in my list of what I hold a legislator accountable for. If I can get a lawmaker to take care of the 1000 priorities that come before gun control - for me - that's good enough for me, and I'll give him/her a pass on the gun vote. When a fire is consuming the house, I'm concerned about many things, but the fire takes precedence. I suspect I'm not unique in that respect (sorry). You can have 99% support something weakly, at a low priority, and nothing will get done, because the legislators are not held accountable (even if a small percentage do feel strongly about the issue - just not enough). Are there enough people who feel strongly enough to primary a lawmaker just based on this vote? No? So it won't happen.

Meanwhile:

Just saying "you can fix the voters" has been proven wrong again and again, so stop repeating it.

Is countered by reality. The one thing the right wing has over the left in this country is the ability to hold their legislators accountable. They take their score cards seriously. This is how they get the ultra-right wing votes. This is why the GOP has been yanked so strongly to the right. This is why the GOP legislators are terrified OF BEING PRIMARIED. And they are, regularly primaried - so they vote and vote and vote exactly as they are told by the folks back at home. This is an undeniable reality and I'm surprised anyone would question it.

There is no comparable force yanking the Dems to the left. That's where primaries come in - in safe districts we can afford it... just as the TP's have been doing in safe GOP districts.

So yeah, I'll continue to repeat it, for one reason: it's TRUE.
posted by VikingSword at 6:48 PM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's true only in the most trivial and facile manner, with zero explicative value. It's a political science deepity, that ignores structure in order to promote a neo-liberal just world fallacy.
posted by klangklangston at 7:22 PM on December 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


Not to denigrate the difficulty that these people are going through, but part of the problem is that they are narrowly focused on finding a "job." The first two people interviewed are, in order, an accountant and a civil engineer. These are skills that can be used for much more than a "job." If I had these skills and needed to work, I would find some way of doing self-employment and freelancing work in those areas, to bring in some income. There is much more opportunity in today's economy, for those with skills, than looking for a job would offer.
posted by yclipse at 7:27 PM on December 18, 2013


When I was out of work, I applied for everything I could find, with even the most tangential connection to work I had done. And my field doesn't require any certification or licensing, which both accounting and civil engineer do.
posted by klangklangston at 7:37 PM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have the luxury of being white, articulate and personable so after a long period of unemployment I just bit the bullet and got a job working retail at Fry's.

It wasn't pretty but it kept me out of the house. And the recruiters are finally starting to call me for better positions with 6 months work experience under my belt, even shitty Fry's service desk experience.
posted by Talez at 8:09 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's true only in the most trivial and facile manner, with zero explicative value. It's a political science deepity, that ignores structure in order to promote a neo-liberal just world fallacy.

In exact inversion of reality, it is the claim above that is empty of meaning. The reality I described has the best explicative value there is: it explains the results we see. Your claim, in contrast, does nothing - it merely asserts.

The TP has managed through strict legislator accountability and a robust primary process to strongly bring the GOP to the right. That's a fact. This has brought with it a number of policies they have favored, and which we regard as disastrous - for example the astonishing amount of rollback for women's right to control their own bodies. In contrast, in California, where the TP is weak, we've had an expansion of those rights. The difference: voters.

California was pretty conservative once upon a time. Change is possible. And change happens when voters are influenced to change. So concentrate on those. We had prop 8 - a defeat. What changed? Voters minds were changed through a lot of hard work. That's what we need to concentrate on: voters.

"Structure" follows politics, in economy as in everything else. Get the right votes, and you change the structure. The TP proved that - and this is not a "neo-liberal just world fallacy". I rather doubt that putting everything at the feet of Mean Mr. Rand is a deep - or deepity - political analysis. That might be termed "the unjust world fallacy". The world is neither just nor unjust, it is whatever we make it. It is, most importantly, susceptible to organization through the political process, a process that starts with the voters. It makes sense to concentrate on them so they elect sensible lawmakers, rather than hoping Mean Mr. Rand might, randomly and for reasons unknown, not be mean one day, which appears to be as far as the "it's not the voters" analysis goes... apparently Mean Mr. Rand fell from the sky one day and ensconced himself in the Senate - nothing to do with voters - so maybe indeed he'll be raptured back into the sky, again, without involving voters in any way; best of luck with that strategy and explanatory framework.
posted by VikingSword at 8:52 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


> If I had these skills and needed to work, I would find some way of doing self-employment and freelancing work in those areas,

Sigh. This gets brought up over and over and over and over again.

Freelancing isn't some magic bullet that miraculously makes you employable. It is starting a business, and this is something that takes capital, it takes connections in the industry you are getting into, it takes a long time to even break even, and it takes a lot of luck - and even with all of these things, it's likely that you will fail.

Look at the areas you're talking about, accounting and civil engineering.

Who hires a freelance civil engineer? If you're at the top of your profession, then yes, you would be able to consult to other companies. But for your average or even better-than-average civil engineer, you're basically completely unable to function without an entire company behind you. You need logistics, you need insurance, you need certifications for each state you're in, you need someone who only works on sourcing the materials you're going to need, you need people to prepare blueprints and that sort of thing.

Accounting is a little more plausible - except that there are a lot of people already doing this. On one side, you have H&R Block - on the other side you have the big accounting firms - and in-between you have literally hundreds of thousands of other people who are already in the business.

Is it possible to do? Yes, much more likely than being a freelance civil engineer (really, hard not to roll the eyes at the thought). Is it going to replace your old day job? Probably not - and if it does, it won't be in a year, and probably won't be in two years either.

Again - when you go freelance, you are starting a new business. The majority of new businesses fail, and freelance businesses fail more than the average business. To act as if this is some obvious answer that these hapless unemployed civil engineers, accountants, town planners or short-order cooks have simply overlooked is simply not correct.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:08 PM on December 18, 2013 [12 favorites]


> The world is neither just nor unjust, it is whatever we make it.

Most of us have no chance to "make it" whatever they want. Most people don't have the skills, the financing, the confidence, the charisma, the contacts to "make the world what they want", nor the luck.

And in the last couple of decades, the "1%" have cemented their grasp on the world and worked their hardest to prevent the rest of us from having a possibility of "making it".

I say this, not as a bitter person who failed to make it, but as someone who did make it (at a modest level), through a combination of exceptional skills which I was born with, and even more, a great deal of luck, someone who still is shocked to have managed to get to where he is. I look back at my life, I see dumb mistakes that I luckily didn't bear the brunt of, I see dumb luck that paid off, I see a great deal of good fortune. In another world, I'm getting my meal from a garbage can right now.

Your idea of the world where everyone is in complete control of their lives is wrong. In the last generation or so, the United States has been remolded to serve the needs of a tiny number of rich psychopaths to the detriment of everyone else, and at this point, your repeated dismissal of this undeniable fact seems to be willful ignorance.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:15 PM on December 18, 2013 [14 favorites]


If I had these skills and needed to work, I would find some way of doing self-employment and freelancing work in those areas, to bring in some income.

Survival is at stake for these people and their families. I'd give them the benefit of the doubt that they've attempted to leverage their skills, and that the "opportunities" that you're seeing weren't there for them or didn't pan out.

I have the luxury of being white, articulate and personable so after a long period of unemployment I just bit the bullet and got a job working retail at Fry's.

Disabled, have an "accent," not enough higher education, are too old, are a kid, come off as "ghetto," have a record, your parent ruined your credit, you ruined your credit, or if you're just a pain in the ass, in that same exact circumstance -- unless your loved ones take pity on you, you're likely to be on the street. Same story even if you've got everything going for you except good luck.

It doesn't have to be like that, and it's endlessly depressing to me that it is.
posted by rue72 at 9:18 PM on December 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


"In exact inversion of reality, it is the claim above that is empty of meaning. The reality I described has the best explicative value there is: it explains the results we see. Your claim, in contrast, does nothing - it merely asserts."

What? Was this supposed to make sense? In an inversion, what I said is empty of meaning? So, because this reality isn't inverted, it's meaningful?

"The TP has managed through strict legislator accountability and a robust primary process to strongly bring the GOP to the right. That's a fact. This has brought with it a number of policies they have favored, and which we regard as disastrous - for example the astonishing amount of rollback for women's right to control their own bodies. In contrast, in California, where the TP is weak, we've had an expansion of those rights. The difference: voters. "

Or, the alternative reductive answer, "The difference: Everything else that influences voters." Putting the sole locus of change into the individual voters is nonsense.

""Structure" follows politics, in economy as in everything else."

That's nonsense. Every year, we have new voters. Yet the structure of American politics remains pretty much unchanged. The structure is not following from the politics in any meaningful sense — you're just making circular claims. You might as well be saying that goodness comes from God. It's equally daft theological reasoning.

"The TP proved that - and this is not a "neo-liberal just world fallacy"."

The Tea Party has not had a significant effect on the structure of American politics. This is, in fact, the easiest example of where your hyperbole veers into fantasy. Even moving the center of the Republican party rightward is not a substantial change in the structure of American politics. There have been very few changes to the fundamental structure of American politics, and claiming that the Tea Party — a populist, nativist resurgence of white ressentiment — marks a change in the structure and not a continuation of long-term trends is more a twitter pitch for Politico than a coherent theory of politics.

And it's your dogged insistence on the individual voter that marks this as neo-liberal; and your dogged insistence on blaming those voters makes it the just world fallacy.

"I rather doubt that putting everything at the feet of Mean Mr. Rand is a deep - or deepity - political analysis."

What are you on about?

"That might be termed "the unjust world fallacy". The world is neither just nor unjust, it is whatever we make it."

No, requiring human intervention to achieve justice does mean that the world is inherently unjust. It's definitional. Claiming it's neither just nor unjust and inventing some "unjust world fallacy" is nonsense.

"It is, most importantly, susceptible to organization through the political process, a process that starts with the voters."

Well, no. It can start with voters, or it can start with factions who don't use the ballot to influence social attitudes, or it can start with institutions, or it can start with any number of things.

This is like claiming that Louis XVI ruled a democracy because his power ultimately derived from the acquiescence of his subjects, which is shoehorning actual politics into your pet theory.

It makes sense to concentrate on them so they elect sensible lawmakers, rather than hoping Mean Mr. Rand might, randomly and for reasons unknown, not be mean one day, which appears to be as far as the "it's not the voters" analysis goes... apparently Mean Mr. Rand fell from the sky one day and ensconced himself in the Senate - nothing to do with voters - so maybe indeed he'll be raptured back into the sky, again, without involving voters in any way; best of luck with that strategy and explanatory framework."

Yes, the entirety of democratic theory that is not focused on the voters is all about not electing Mean Mr. Rand. You are clearly intimately acquainted with the literature, and have solved the Delagate versus Trustee problem. Mean Mr. Rand is frequently cited. There has been no work on extra-democratic organizing. There are no non-democratic influences on organization. Voting is the only way to resolve political conflict. Of course the counter-argument to your monomaniacal obsession with voters is that institutions are absolute and brook no agency, and for all of democratic history there has been no serious examination of non-democratic forces on democracy. The only thing emerging democracies need is to vote themselves better leaders.

Thank God we have you to tell us to just make people vote better duh!
posted by klangklangston at 10:45 PM on December 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


"Who hires a freelance civil engineer? If you're at the top of your profession, then yes, you would be able to consult to other companies. But for your average or even better-than-average civil engineer, you're basically completely unable to function without an entire company behind you. You need logistics, you need insurance, you need certifications for each state you're in, you need someone who only works on sourcing the materials you're going to need, you need people to prepare blueprints and that sort of thing. "

Well, and this is one of those things that really highlights how under-capacity America is right now. We should be using this time when both labor and capital are relatively devalued to make the massive infrastructure investments that we'll need in the future if we're going to continue on a growth trajectory.

And that's also what's always missed in the "Taxes are a drag on the economy" argument. Sure, increasing taxation does have a depressing effect on some things, like spending and investment at the top. But it's always treated on the right like it happens in a vacuum rather than the taxation being linked to greater expenditure on public investments that would otherwise be market failures (in the case of civil engineering, the collective action problem is the biggest — we could see a massive improvement in things like road safety and decreased long-term environmental costs with infrastructure upgrades, things that would positively effect all, say, businesses in a town. But none of them would act on their own to pay for it because it would disadvantage them competitively unless everyone pitched in).
posted by klangklangston at 11:05 PM on December 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't know much about unemployment as it is today, so maybe someone can answer my question: How many weeks/years of work does it take to make one eligible to collect 99 weeks of unemployment, and what percentage of your usual wage do you collect on unemployment?

I will say that a person may not be able to live on $375 a week in NYC, but you can live on that amount in Spokane, WA and lots of other places. When I was younger and working, sometimes two jobs, I moved wherever I had to in order to get a better job. I was working in medical transcription in a small hospital in Colorado when they cut our hourly rate because the hospital was in financial trouble. We had a new baby to care for and with the cut it was going to be difficult to pay for heat and everything else through the winter, so I got out a map and looked it over to see where we could relocate where we'd still be close to my precious Rocky Mountains but I could earn a living wage with benefits. We moved to Missoula MT because there were two good-sized hospitals there; unfortunately, they both wanted to hire me but for 20 hours only so they didn't have to pay benefits. I took a job at a clinic instead, full time, with benefits.

Still, my hourly rate was too low to be even barely livable, so I drove to Spokane and put in my application at three hospitals here. All three offered me a job in transcription, and I accepted one at $2 an hour more than I'd made at my good rate in Colorado, and with complete benefits. We packed up and moved here - that was nearly 26 years ago.

I'm as liberal as anyone can be, but I can't figure out why anyone should be able to live on unemployment indefinitely rather than relocate or get retrained or something in order to support himself. The engineers I worked with in California and Arizona were used to having to relocate when government contracts fizzled one place and took fire in another - these were electrical, mechanical and design engineers in the aerospace industry.

Can someone please set me straight? Thank you.
posted by aryma at 11:13 PM on December 18, 2013


"I don't know much about unemployment as it is today, so maybe someone can answer my question: How many weeks/years of work does it take to make one eligible to collect 99 weeks of unemployment, and what percentage of your usual wage do you collect on unemployment?"

So, the way that it works is that each state can set their own rules within some guidelines from the Feds, and then the Feds will reimburse them for a portion of it. It's financed by payroll taxes both federal and state. (So people on unemployment have already paid in, and since most of them work far longer than they're unemployed, most will pay in more than they'll get out.)

What you actually get paid is based on what you earned, and how your state calculates the benefits. For example, in California, you can get between $40 and $450 per week, depending on your income, but it takes earning about $44k per year to max that out ($11k in the previous quarter). Most people make less.

In California, you're eligible for that benefit for between 12 and 26 weeks based on previous earnings.

In times of high unemployment — like we've been in since the Great Crash of '08 — the Feds authorize extended benefits.

"When I was younger and working, sometimes two jobs, I moved wherever I had to in order to get a better job."

Right, and you recognize that not everyone can do that, or that there may just not be enough jobs in a given industry to support the number of people seeking them?

"We packed up and moved here - that was nearly 26 years ago. "

While the mini-recession at the end of Bush I was bad, it's nothing next to the Great Crash. Seriously, it's the worst since the Great Depression. Only the stagflation of the late '70s/early '80s is comparable.

I see this a lot with discussions on college costs too — people don't realize that their experience is no longer all that similar to what people are experiencing now.

"I'm as liberal as anyone can be, but I can't figure out why anyone should be able to live on unemployment indefinitely rather than relocate or get retrained or something in order to support himself."

You know that to be on unemployment you have to be able to work and actively seeking work, and documenting said seeking, right? And that you can lose benefits by going back to school outside of fairly narrowly defined retrainings?

"The engineers I worked with in California and Arizona were used to having to relocate when government contracts fizzled one place and took fire in another - these were electrical, mechanical and design engineers in the aerospace industry. "

Yeah, and you get why that might be different from today's experiences, right?

"Can someone please set me straight? Thank you."

The first thing to understand about being on unemployment is that pretty much no one wants to be. Ninety-nine point nine-nine-nine percent would rather be at a job, even a pretty shitty job, than on unemployment. It's a bureaucratic hassle for comparatively little money but it can be the only thing keeping you above water. The only people I know for whom unemployment is a regular part of their routine are people in the film industry, and that's because they'll work crazy hours for a couple months on a movie, then once it wraps they're unemployed until they can get another gig (or the next gig they have gets going). And even they'd rather be working.

The second thing is that relocating takes money. It costs to move belongings, and there's a social cost for abandoning your network. It's a real impediment, and it's not like there are great jobs at the Ford plant that need filling up north. There are a few places, like tar sands in the Dakotas, that hire like that, but those are dangerous jobs that still don't tend to last that long. So that's a real barrier too.

Third, the retraining you're offered as part of EDD often sucks ass. I could go to workshops on learning Microsoft Word, and how to do retail cashier work, but since I've done those jobs before, I wasn't going to get any real benefit out of them. They vary depending on where you are and what skills you already have, but they're not going to help someone who's an accountant or civil engineer — they're aimed at folks who got laid off from the snap-rivet factory and now need to learn to work a register.

Fourth, the idea of just taking any job has a really big public cost, specifically opportunity cost. We want accountants to be able to do accounting; we want civil engineers to be able to design streets and dams and stuff. If they're working at a Chipotle, that's under-utilizing their skills, and is a net waste in the economy. It can be better public policy to subsidize the idle periods rather than force a lot of disruption and wasted opportunity into the economy. This is combined with the fact that subsidizing their unemployment means that they're still able to contribute, albeit in a diminished way, to the overall economy.

So from my vantage, it looks like there are two things that would help you get this a little better: Understanding that your experience might not be all that much like what people today are facing, and that many of the options and opportunities you had no longer exist, and that the framing of thinking that people who are on unemployment aren't trying pretty much all the time to get off of it. Once you get that, it becomes a lot easier to see why we'd want to support someone for as long as necessary and that the narratives of moral hazard don't really reflect the actual situation.
posted by klangklangston at 11:54 PM on December 18, 2013 [12 favorites]


Your idea of the world where everyone is in complete control of their lives is wrong. In the last generation or so, the United States has been remolded to serve the needs of a tiny number of rich psychopaths to the detriment of everyone else, and at this point, your repeated dismissal of this undeniable fact seems to be willful ignorance.

The idea is not that everyone is in complete control of their lives. That's your mischaracterization of my position. And one which required a willful misreading of this sentence:

"The world is neither just nor unjust, it is whatever we make it." Where I clearly say "we", meaning all of us, voters. It is up to us. We collectively have that power. In a democracy, the way to organize or change society is through having enough voters agree - and that's where the contest takes place. It is, ultimately about the voters.

In the last generation or so, yes, wealth inequality has reached huge proportions. Yes, there is the far too powerful and privileged 1%. But to claim that this state of affairs is unique in our history, or not amenable to democratic change, is "willful ignorance". We've been there before. And we managed to change it.

Heck, humanity has been in much more bleak circumstances. When feudalism ruled, we didn't get to use the democratic vote to change anything. So it's rather melodramatic to proclaim that we have somehow entered a black hole of such gravitational pull that we're in an unprecedented political doom, where democracy and voting no longer applies.

In many ways, especially economically, our society has swung to the right over the past few decades. This is not an irreversible course. We have swung back and forth before. We can swing to the left. And we can do it through putting together enough of a voting coalition to pull it off. We've done it before. We can do it again. Focusing on the voters is the right thing to do.

In an inversion, what I said is empty of meaning? So, because this reality isn't inverted, it's meaningful?

No, it means that your assertions inverted reality - because while you assert that my statements are empty of meaning, it is the exact opposite - your assertion itself is empty. Not that complicated, really - maybe to you it is, though.

Putting the sole locus of change into the individual voters is nonsense.

And where did I do that? Change - even extremely dramatic change - however, can be accomplished by groups of voters, sufficiently large groups, commonly called "majorities", or even not quite as large groups, commonly called "pluralities". In our system, if you have a large enough number of votes, you can accomplish just about anything politically - including changing of the constitution, which we have done repeatedly.

Every year, we have new voters. Yet the structure of American politics remains pretty much unchanged.

Wrong. It changes - to the degree that new voters, or old voters, vote for that change. And this has happened repeatedly in our history.

The structure is not following from the politics in any meaningful sense — you're just making circular claims.

It most certainly is following - constantly in ways large and small. And have historically done so too. We've added states and often in the process changed our laws, we've altered voting rights, we've even had a pretty big thing happen when things broke down in something called: The Civil War. And it has continued - to this very day. Sometimes there is more movement (see: during the presidency of FDR as well as the aftermath, where we even had a constitutional change limiting consecutive presidential terms 1947-1951 with huge structural political impact), sometimes less. But there is always movement, driven by the political process. Break out of your circular understanding of political evolution - there is always movement, and it is not in a circle.

We can change our political structure in any direction we wish - we just have to get enough voters on our side. Nothing is frozen in place. We've already changed in the past, and will do so in the future.

And it's your dogged insistence on the individual voter that marks this as neo-liberal; and your dogged insistence on blaming those voters makes it the just world fallacy.

No, my insistence on counting votes, including individual votes which comprise voting groups and coalitions, marks this as numerically literate. Observing that the views of voters and their voting patterns influences where we end up politically marks it as the observation of the real world actuality.

No, requiring human intervention to achieve justice does mean that the world is inherently unjust.

So the world is inherently unjust? Odd, since justice is a human concept, and therefore any society that organizes itself creates the conditions of justice or injustice - they don't fall from the sky. Or to paraphrase your earlier statement "You might as well be saying that the world's inherent injustice comes from Satan. It's equally daft theological reasoning."

Me: "It is, most importantly, susceptible to organization through the political process, a process that starts with the voters."

You: "Well, no. It can start with voters, or it can start with factions who don't use the ballot to influence social attitudes, or it can start with institutions, or it can start with any number of things."

Well, yes. "or it can start with factions who don't use the ballot to influence social attitudes"... which then have to be expressed by voters at the ballot box to impact laws. "or it can start with institutions"... which then have to be expressed by voters at the ballot box. "or it can start with any number of things"... but all of them have to be then expressed by voters at the ballot box. My point in saying "it starts with the voters" was not to say that voters cannot be impacted by anyone or anything outside of other voters - that would be absurd. It was to state that whatever means are brought to bear - whether by "factions" or "institutions" or "any number of things", they have to influence voters. So the focus has to be on voters - however we get there, and "through any number of things".

Thank God we have you to tell us to just make people vote better duh!

I don't believe in God, so I merely thank all those people who involved themselves in effecting change in our democracy, and who managed to do it long before the people on that list of random links to random papers were even born. Somehow we've managed to vote FDR in, without having to access a single Jurgen Habermas paper. But then again, I've always believed in human agency and so don't rely on divine intervention to get Rand Paul in or out of the Senate, and believe in human agency to put together voting coalitions through which we can get politicians in to the Senate, and whom we can hold accountable. Yes, it is about the votes, and therefore it is about the voters.
posted by VikingSword at 12:14 AM on December 19, 2013


[VikingSword and Klangklangston, it seems this would be the point where we invite you to start emailing each other, or not -- but drop the one-on-one narrow debate/derail here.]
posted by taz at 12:26 AM on December 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Fair enough, taz, point taken.
posted by VikingSword at 12:43 AM on December 19, 2013


Not at all sure why people can't both work to convert voters in areas where they still vote for right-wing policies and be aware of all the other obstacles that stand in the way of constructive change.

I doubt that anyone who wants to reach out to voters who currently vote Republican thinks of them as "stupid plebs" (although Republicans would like you to believe they do, because then you won't listen). And I doubt that anyone who thinks that money and gerrymandering and propaganda weight the scales firmly against left-wing politics isn't going to bust a gut to get decent politicians elected.

But I'd be surprised if washing dirty linen in public or starting factional fights over small differences of approach helped anyone, except the right.
posted by lucien_reeve at 5:57 AM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is there a way to get info from the major payroll companies to figure out how many people are actually getting paychecks? I guess it would be skewed for those working multiple jobs but maybe there's a way to account for that?

And if we could compare to census numbers or something we'd know how many people are actually working as opposed to saying well, they're not on unemployment, must have found a job, which is what most if the news i hear seems to say.
posted by sio42 at 7:07 AM on December 19, 2013


A college friend of mine, 22 years old, complained incessantly about how underpaid he was at the graphic design job he landed literally right after graduation. He was earning ~40k a year. A year on he's switched to a job which gives him less work and pays him 60k, and when I complimented him on the upgrade he grumbled about still being "below average".

I swear to God. I love my friends, they are wonderful people, but dear lord they are privileged rich white fucks.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:45 AM on December 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


And let's not forget, aryma, how many people are underwater on their house mortgages, etc. If, knock wood, we had to relocate, we'd probably be unable to sell our house for more than $90,000. Our mortgage is $120,000. That's if we're lucky, and it sells in less than a year. The house next door is currently selling for $50,000 thanks to a foreclosure, and is equally nice, which would disadvantage our sale even further. Not everyone has the luxury of being able to immediately pick up and move somewhere with better jobs.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 8:41 AM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


And what if you move, but there aren't any jobs there, either?

In that case: now you're also broke from moving. And everybody you know who could give you a couch to crash on or a meal is too far away from you to help. And probably already taking care of the kids and/or SO and/or parent you left behind.
posted by rue72 at 8:59 AM on December 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


When I was younger and working, sometimes two jobs, I moved wherever I had to in order to get a better job.

This is a very different process in NYC than it is in (roughly) the rest of the country. If you're poor here, chances are, first of all, that you don't have a car. Possibly not even a license or, in some cases, even the ability to drive. You also don't have the finances to get even a beater, or, you're smart enough to realize that buying a beater and leaving NYC is a bad idea when your car breaks down in two months.

The other is that you're probably not going to, well, fit in all over the country, or they have to abandon literally their entire lives, including parents, siblings, etc. they may need to support. It's practically the equivalent emigrating countries, especially if your parents or grandparents are immigrants themselves and you have no family or connections anywhere else, which is the case for many multi-generational New Yorkers.

Then there's the fact that a lot of of New Yorkers aren't white or are otherwise culturally disparate from most of the country. And you'd be surprised how difficult that makes, well, everything when you move somewhere where most people are white, or where the class division between white and non-white is really, really culturally entrenched in a way it isn't in NYC.

Edgardo Torres from the Yonkers projects can't just pack up and move to Colorado the way someone can bounce from Colorado to Montana. There's a massive and often unbridgeable culture clash, whether it's because he's Hispanic, or just not white, or from New York, or from the wrong part of New York or what have you.

I don't want to make it sound like NYC is some sort of separate country from The Rest Of America. It's not. People are people are people everywhere. But if you're from the projects, or old-school Italian with a Bensonhurst accent, or visibly Jewish with a really Jewish name, or anything else that marks you as "not a regular American", you can't just pack up and go like WASP-y John Smith can. There's opportunity, sure, but there's a good chance it's far worse and far harder than what you have here, no matter how seemingly expensive it is to live in NYC.
posted by griphus at 9:16 AM on December 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


When people suggest moving, i feel they don't take into account:

- currently having a lease. If you break the lease there's usually a fee of two or more months rent.

- getting a new place with a new lease where you need to put down a one month security and then also pay rent.

- getting utilities set up sometimes costs money for deposits or having to fight w the utility company that no, the person who owes you $800 really doesn't live here and going without hot water until you prove it during business hours from 9-4.

- getting/paying for a truck to put all your shit in. Paying for gas to move it. If you move to a new state, new license, tags, and registration for your car. Possibly an emissions test.

- taking time from job hunting to do all of the above shit. Like look for an apt in a new place to see if it's safe and stuff.

Moving is not a magical answer.
posted by sio42 at 9:52 AM on December 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


As for the vast majority of the rest of the folks - taking away their meager survival check is just horribly cruel. Like yes, I'm sure it was just having no want of bread and milk that kept all these people from getting jobs.

Well, sort of.

No one likes being on unemployment, but it does take the edge off. And sometimes, that edge is just what keeps someone narrowly focused on employment, until they're willing to take absolutely any job whatsoever, just to put food on the table/have a roof over their head. Unemployment doesn't mean people stop looking for jobs. But it does mean that sometimes on sleeting, awful days, someone stays inside instead of going out, or when they get a job offer at minimum wage, they turn it down, because they're doing better on unemployment than they would be at minimum wage.

This can be viewed as a positive or a negative, but either way, it's still often the reality of things.
posted by corb at 11:08 AM on December 19, 2013


No one likes being on unemployment, but it does take the edge off. And sometimes, that edge is just what keeps someone narrowly focused on employment, until they're willing to take absolutely any job whatsoever, just to put food on the table/have a roof over their head. Unemployment doesn't mean people stop looking for jobs. But it does mean that sometimes on sleeting, awful days, someone stays inside instead of going out, or when they get a job offer at minimum wage, they turn it down, because they're doing better on unemployment than they would be at minimum wage.
Common sense is anything but. Being on unemployment increases the intensity of job searching, and the marginal increase in length of unemployment length when receiving UI benefits is "simply because some of those unemployed workers would have otherwise dropped out of the labor force, discouraged by lack of job prospects." (JEC Senate study).

So, no.
posted by introp at 11:27 AM on December 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


corb: "But it does mean that sometimes on sleeting, awful days, someone stays inside instead of going out, or when they get a job offer at minimum wage, they turn it down, because they're doing better on unemployment than they would be at minimum wage."

This is not my experience at all. People around me drop in and out of employment all the time. The reason they may not instantly go for minimum wage jobs as long as they can avoid it is not because they'd rather sit at home. It's because it seems like a waste. It's because as long as they can hold out it would do them no good to take those jobs as it might damage their chances in their own field of expertise unless they hide it from their CVs and they would likely be rejected as being overqualified anyways (I have anecdata for this).
An additional benefit is that it's not always a straight swap anyhow. The people I'm talking about may be capable of doing a minimum wage job but some other person they're now preventing from getting that job may in turn not be qualified to take they next available job in their original field of expertise because of lack of qualification. So by taking jobs you're overqualified for, unless justified by absolute necessity, you're putting additional pressure on the less qualified unemployed currently looking for jobs. Personally, I have no problem supporting people with unemployment, even if they're using it to hold out for jobs that are better suited for them. Doing that helps both the less advantaged and the economy overall.

klangklangston's earlier comment warrants repeating: "Fourth, the idea of just taking any job has a really big public cost, specifically opportunity cost. We want accountants to be able to do accounting; we want civil engineers to be able to design streets and dams and stuff. If they're working at a Chipotle, that's under-utilizing their skills, and is a net waste in the economy. It can be better public policy to subsidize the idle periods rather than force a lot of disruption and wasted opportunity into the economy."
posted by Hairy Lobster at 11:29 AM on December 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


that edge is just what keeps someone narrowly focused on employment, until they're willing to take absolutely any job whatsoever, just to put food on the table/have a roof over their head.

But maybe there aren't any jobs.

Or maybe you just can't get a job fast enough and lose your home, which usually also means losing a whole lot of your stuff as well, and having to start over from scratch (at best). It's not like being homeless or maybe living on someone's living room floor or in your car or in a shelter or whatever puts you in a great position for job hunting. You're going to have even less time, energy and money to job-hunt in that case, even if you're somehow more supremely motivated (instead of just dispirited at that point) than when you had at least a modicum of security and peace. You're not more likely to actually get a job, and you've got a very deep pit to crawl out of financially even if you do.

Even just losing the money to pay for day care can sabotage a job hunt. These people have families who they have to support as well -- how many of the people interviewed here have children? Would you be OK with plunging those children into destitution along with their parents? One of the people interviewed specifically talks about growing up in poverty and feeling doomed never to escape it -- do you really think that taking away the tiny financial lifeline, which he also uses to provide for his children, is going to be a good motivator for him?

Rather than motivating him, I would expect that to disillusion him. If a lot of people start getting put in that position, and start feeling disillusioned in that way, what do you think is going to happen in terms of crime?

I don't think that lack of focus is usually what keeps someone from getting a job, so increasing motivations to focus, especially while de fact tearing apart a person's life (and maybe family) in the process, is useful in solving the unemployment problem. It also seems to me that forcing people into destitution, desperation and disillusionment, works against the public good, and I don't support the government doing that.
posted by rue72 at 11:44 AM on December 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


When I was laid off, I received a lump-sum severance package that was the equivalent of three-months' wages. However, since the payout occurred at the very end of the calendar year, I was pushed into a much higher tax bracket.

Although I was able to dump the payout into an RRSP (do they have those in the States?) and defer the income, unfortunately a good chunk of the payout was eaten up by income tax (I had already been paying income tax throughout the year as well).

It was a dick move on the part of the small agency I worked for that added insult to injury.

On top of that, I did not qualify for "employment insurance" because of the severance package, even though I had been making monthly EI contributions, which makes me deeply happy now that I am self-employed and do not have to pay into that stupid (Canadian) system.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:59 AM on December 19, 2013


If there aren't enough jobs for everyone who wants one, then no amount of moving around is going to fix it.
posted by wuwei at 12:08 PM on December 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't think that lack of focus is usually what keeps someone from getting a job, so increasing motivations to focus, especially while de fact tearing apart a person's life (and maybe family) in the process, is useful in solving the unemployment problem.

Assuming you mean isn't rather than is, I see what you're saying, and I don't necessarily either agree or disagree with you. I haven't seen enough data. But the question I was trying to answer is why people would think it might demotivate people from certain outcomes, not whether or not those outcomes were best for society overall.

That said, I think it's really weird that this budget deal is being viewed as the fault of Republicans. This budget deal was overwhelmingly passed by Democrats /and/ Republicans in the Senate - the Republicans were the ones who wanted to stop it - and it gouges Republican demographics pretty hard, too (the lowering of military retired pay pensions). This is completely a bipartisan screwing, so blame should really fall on everyone in this mess.
posted by corb at 12:12 PM on December 19, 2013


That said, I think it's really weird that this budget deal is being viewed as the fault of Republicans. This budget deal was overwhelmingly passed by Democrats /and/ Republicans in the Senate - the Republicans were the ones who wanted to stop it - and it gouges Republican demographics pretty hard, too (the lowering of military retired pay pensions). This is completely a bipartisan screwing, so blame should really fall on everyone in this mess.

The choice was between passing nothing before Congress went home and seeing what happens (see also: October 1-17 of this year), or passing something that was a shit sandwich that everybody got a big bite of. And in any event, the Democrats will be introducing reinstatement of UI in a separate bill next month:
In normal times, of course, all the usual arguments against extending benefits would be pretty compelling. It really would provide a disincentive to go out and find work. But today, when there are three or four job seekers for every job available, that's just not an issue. People aren't unemployed for long periods because they're lazy. They're unemployed because they can't find a job. Lots of them are married and college educated. As AEI's Michael Strain points out, "Someone who has been unemployed for 30 or 35 or 40 weeks, and is in their prime earning years with kids and education ... It strikes me as implausible that this person is engaged in a half-hearted job search."

Even lots of conservatives agree that we should continue to extend unemployment benefits as long as the job market remains anemic. This really shouldn't be a partisan issue.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:26 PM on December 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, the Republicans say they will be introducing amendments around the military retiree pay as well, but in either case, just offering amendments or bills after the fact is still a ball drop, and we shouldn't forget that these people voted directly against their constituencies, all of them, in order to get the deal done.
posted by corb at 12:53 PM on December 19, 2013


corb: "Yeah, the Republicans say they will be introducing amendments around the military retiree pay as well, but in either case, just offering amendments or bills after the fact is still a ball drop, and we shouldn't forget that these people voted directly against their constituencies, all of them, in order to get the deal done."

In order to not have the vandals who shut down the government and threatened to default on our debts play the same game when the current CR expires. Talking about this deal in a vacuum without factoring in the fact that one team took us to the brink of economic disaster in order to maximize their leverage is simply dishonest.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:57 PM on December 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


"That said, I think it's really weird that this budget deal is being viewed as the fault of Republicans. This budget deal was overwhelmingly passed by Democrats /and/ Republicans in the Senate - the Republicans were the ones who wanted to stop it - and it gouges Republican demographics pretty hard, too (the lowering of military retired pay pensions). This is completely a bipartisan screwing, so blame should really fall on everyone in this mess."

Why is that weird? Do you not remember ye old October when the government shut down entirely because a rump of the GOP didn't want to fund anything unless the ACA was repealed? As far as gouging the Republican vets, again, the solution to that is restoring spending to pre-sequester levels. That's Republicans gouging Republicans, not something pushed by Democrats as a goal!

"The blame should really fall on everyone" is flat nonsense when the positions were "FUCK EVERYONE TO DEATH" versus "Let's not fuck everyone" and the compromise was fucking some people.
posted by klangklangston at 1:32 PM on December 19, 2013 [8 favorites]


No one likes being on unemployment, but it does take the edge off. And sometimes, that edge is just what keeps someone narrowly focused on employment, until they're willing to take absolutely any job whatsoever, just to put food on the table/have a roof over their head.

Forcing people into ill-fit jobs (whether by means of inflicting desperation or otherwise) is economic and social sabotage. Our entire society (and us) prospers when we give the economy what it needs to best-fit allocate resources to where they can do the most good.
Cutting unemployment is penny-pinching pound-foolish in just so many different ways. The real reason we do it is ideological and cultural. (Because we're assholes who cut off our nose to spite our face)
posted by anonymisc at 2:27 PM on December 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Where's the job training and re-training?

For what jobs?
posted by thelonius at 4:34 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


thelonius: " For what jobs?"

Seriously. This training meme is all about the imaginary shortage of STEM workers and the imaginary "structural unemployment." been debunked so many times that it's hard to take seriously.

I'm sure employers would all love if workers came in with all the knowledge they need for the position they have, but that's never been how things have worked, and if someone's worth employing to do a job, they're worth training at the company's expense, not the government's. The government has a hard enough time sustaining the safety net as-is without trying to micromanage job-specific training.
posted by tonycpsu at 5:10 PM on December 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


thelonius, that's basically what Hyman Minsky told LBJ in the 60s.
posted by wuwei at 5:24 PM on December 19, 2013


I'm sure employers would all love if workers came in with all the knowledge they need for the position they have, but that's never been how things have worked, and if someone's worth employing to do a job, they're worth training at the company's expense

But that's kind of the point, isn't it? The employers think that most people aren't worth training to do the job, at least not at the rates they're asking. So they'll go without until they find someone who is worth it to them.

The unspoken part of the unemployment problem is that 1) not everyone is actually a great worker, 2) a lot of people are trained for jobs that there's a glut in, and are unwilling to retrain, and 3) regulations put less jobs on the market.

The company I work for, right now, for example, is hiring. They're practically begging employees to recommend people for the positions. But after thinking about it, of my unemployed friends who would want to work there, I don't know anyone responsible and competent enough that I'm willing to stake my reputation on their work performance. If I did, I'd recommend them like a shot - the company is offering incentives. But I don't.

People do need retraining, but they need retraining in jobs that aren't glamorous. Boiler inspector, for example. Plumber. Hell, in major cities, pest control. Childcare is another huge one. There are a host of jobs that need skilled people, but they do need people that are already skilled. People need to sink themselves into retraining.

And honestly, in an economy this hard, we need to allow for other means of compensation besides just money. Room and board is valuable, and we need to allow for it to be nontaxable compensation that can supplement someone's salary.
posted by corb at 6:05 AM on December 20, 2013


corb: " The unspoken part of the unemployment problem is that 1) not everyone is actually a great worker, 2) a lot of people are trained for jobs that there's a glut in, and are unwilling to retrain, and 3) regulations put less jobs on the market. "

None of these things are what's keeping employers from hiring people. Show me the company that hires people before they have customers willing to buy their products. There's no actual shortage of workers or training. If the demand is there, the business will do what it takes to get someone to do the work. The fact that they're not is not, as you say, evidence that the workers aren't trained well enough, it's evidence that there's really not enough demand to justify the employer training them. Blaming workers for being "unwilling" to retrain is asinine.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:29 AM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


corb are you serious...

I believed you when you said people need to devote themselves to re-training

i believed you when you said that people need to not want to do glamorous work

but seriously? Accepting room and board from a company as a form of compensation? are you fucking serious? In an at-will state (or, as we will soon be, country) that is just an asinine assertion, and hoisting up "Well people aren't going to get paid enough money to buy food so they should be happy with the poisoned company cheese" as a solution is absolutely ridiculous.
posted by rebent at 9:03 AM on December 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


furthermore, even offering a R&B stipend is hilariously dangerous. Just look at health insurance - however long ago, companies offered "tax free" health care plans to help attract and retain workers. And then, oh no, we can't afford it any more so that's cut, good luck.

step 1: say that your intangible compensation is better than money
step 2: slowly phase out intangible compensation
step 3: say that "it was just intangible anyway, we can't afford it"
step 4: profit.
posted by rebent at 9:05 AM on December 20, 2013


I haven't worked at a company that has done this, but I've had friends who have had this done at nonprofits, and they really liked it, because it lowered their own tax burden to the point where they didn't wind up paying income tax. The company bought/rented housing, and then had employees live rent-free there.

I also really enjoyed it while I was in the military - I got most of my taxes back, while still living in barracks or on post housing which was pretty nice. Obviously, there's ways to abuse it, but I think that there has to be a better way of limiting abuse than forbidding it altogether.
posted by corb at 9:07 AM on December 20, 2013


rebent: "corb are you serious..."

She's as serious as a heart attack resulting from working 18 hour days for the privilege of not starving in the streets.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:08 AM on December 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


For how the military does it, you can pop over to the BAH calculator, pick a zip code and a rank, and see how much you would get in tax-free housing stipend if you chose not to live on post.
posted by corb at 9:09 AM on December 20, 2013


Pro tip: SNAP benefits, housing subsidies, etc. accomplish the same goals without putting the employer in a position of potentially threatening someone's access to food and housing.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:09 AM on December 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Or, with apologies for cross-posting this in the aging Dasani thread, we could just give the moochers houses, and save money in the process.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:14 AM on December 20, 2013


but seriously? Accepting room and board from a company as a form of compensation? are you fucking serious?

Have you not considered the upsides? For example you could own and operate stores next to the housing for the convenience of these workers. And to encourage them to shop at those stores you could pay them, in addition to the room and board, in scrip redeemable at the stores which you own and operate. Everybody wins! Everybody who matters anyway!
posted by Justinian at 12:47 PM on December 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


And to encourage them to shop at those stores you could pay them, in addition to the room and board, in scrip redeemable at the stores which you own and operate.

And if the prices at the company store are too high, then the serfs employees are free to take that scrip to other stores to see if they can buy products elsewhere! That's what Freedom™ is all about! Thanks, invisible hand of capitalism!
posted by scody at 1:01 PM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Charlie Pierce: We Are Two Nations: A Christmas Serial
The Congress of the United States left town this week very proud of itself, and it left town with one serious matter left undone. They refused to vote to extend unemployment benefits for 1.3 million Americans whose benefits will expire at the end of this week. There were some promises about getting something done in January, but these were idly tossed out the windows of the town cars making tracks for the airport. But January is not the season. This is the season. All across America, Christmas dinners will be threadbare, if they happen at all. Hundreds of thousands of children will watch the commercials, the shiny and happy people at the shiny and happy malls, the horse-drawn homecomings from the beer companies, and wonder what place it is in which these things happen, and how it could be that they one day could get there, while their parents watch from the stairway and wonder how their lives had drifted so far from that same place.
"I've been forced into these benefits and now they're going to cancel the benefits," Ham said. "I just think it's wrong." Ham was laid off in April after working for a private contractor at Fort Bliss for four and half years. "I've been unemployed for eight months now and I haven't had one interview," Ham said. "I had heard stories about people being unemployed for a long time. I thought that's what I was headed towards. It's been a lot harder than I thought though." Ham said he needs those benefits to get by. "I need them to pay for groceries, food, my bills, power and rent," Ham said. But Ham said more than anything he just wants to get back to work. "I'm leaning on my dad, but I'm 34 years old," said Ham. "I just keep applying and don't give up."
This decision was consciously taken by a Congress soaked in electorally convenient religiosity. This decision was consciously taken by a Congress so soaked in electorally convenient religiosity that its members believe that people -- other people, naturally, and their children -- will be strengthened in their moral character by completely avoidable deprivation. That the mothers and fathers out there, avoiding the gazes of their children because of the simple expectations there that they cannot meet, will be better, stronger, and moral people for the pain that causes them to look away as the lights on the tree begin to blur with their tears. That, in 2014, these people will thank the Congress of the United States for forging this completely unnecessary crucible in which their souls can be forged into sterner stuff. This is what this Congress believes, as it goes home proud of itself and its members dress themselves to sing the midnight carols with no conscience sounding in counterpoint, and this is Christmas in America, and it is the year of our Lord, 2013.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:36 AM on December 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


And Part Two:
Before leaving town this week, the House Of Representatives proposed further cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which is the long bureaucratic name for the food stamp program. (A temporary expansion of the program had expired in November and had not been renewed.) The new bill not only would cut benefits further, but it also would require that recipients comply with new work requirements, and be drug tested regularly. Earlier this month, Congressman Jack Kingston, widely considered the "moderate" choice in the Republican senatorial primary in Georgia, proposed that poor children be put to work as custodians in training in return for the free school lunches with which they are provided. In this, Kingston was not being original; Newt Gingrich proposed something similar in 2012, and he was running for president of the United States as part of an extended book tour. And, most memorably, a few months back, when they were debating how much to cut the food-stamp program, a Republican congressman from Tennessee named Steve Fincher, whose family had received millions of dollars in farm subsidies down through the years, cited II Thessalonians admonition of he who will not work will not eat as an excuse for eviscerating the benefit program.
Appearing this past weekend at a gathering at a Memphis Holiday Inn, Fincher explained his position on food stamps by stating, "The role of citizens, of Christians, of humanity is to take care of each other, but not for Washington to steal from those in the country and give to others in the country."
Millions in subsidies, from the same program that until this year was tied to the food-stamp program for sound political reasons, which is the way we take care of each other in a political commonwealth. But poor children, if they do not work, shall not eat. Not all the big clanging brass ones hang in bell towers this season.

But this is the argument in season over these holidays. That the poor must suffer in order to be redeemed. That hunger is a moral test to be endured. That only through pain can we hope. What doesn't destroy you, etc. Santa Nietzsche is coming to town. The idea that we should -- hell, that we must -- act out of charity for each other through the institutions of self-government is lost in the din of a frontal system of moral thunderation aimed at everyone except the person who is out there thunderatin' on behalf of personal-trainer Jesus, who wants us to work, work, work on that core. That was the way that government operated once before; the specific institutions that Scrooge mentions, and with which the Spirit eventually reproaches him in his own words - the prisons, the union workhouses, the treadmill, and the Poor Laws - were all government institutions based on the same basic philosophy that drives the debate over the food stamp program today.(We even seem to be going back to debtor's prisons.) We have speeches on self-reliance given by government employees to people who increasingly have only themselves on whom to rely, day after grinding day. It is a way to keep the poor from having a voice in their own self-government. It is a way to keep the wrath of the boy at bay. There will be a reckoning, one way or another. But it can be staved off by platitudes, and by verses from Scripture wrenched from the obvious context of the Gospels. The sepulchers brighten whitely while the bones inside grow increasingly corrupt. This is what this Congress believes, as it goes home proud of itself and its members dress themselves to sing the midnight carols with no conscience sounding in counterpoint, and this is Christmas in America, and it is the year of our Lord, 2013.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:31 AM on December 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


Charles Pierce is a national treasure.
posted by klangklangston at 10:02 AM on December 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


My imagination is forcing me to really draw out the metaphor of Santa Nietzsche. I imagine it something like Krampus, except with more pontificating.
posted by corb at 7:02 AM on December 26, 2013


That's kind of a strange thing to take away from a story about members of Congress trying to play Saint Nicholas for millionaire farmers while sending poor food stamp recipients off to Krampus' lair, don't you think? Though I suppose focusing on the metaphor is a good way to distract oneself from having to think about the vicious consequences for real people.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:20 AM on December 26, 2013


Paul: jobless aid ‘weakens’ U.S.
A couple of weeks ago, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) reemphasized his opposition to extended emergency unemployment benefits in a rather startling way. To continue to provide assistance to these jobless Americans, the Republican senator said, would be to “do a disservice to these workers.” He repeated the line a week later.

In other words, for Rand Paul, cutting off aid to those struggling to find work during a period of high unemployment is actually doing those folks a favor.

He continues to believe this.
Paul, who’s openly considering a bid for president in 2016, said in a Friday interview with NBC News that extending unemployment benefits past 26 weeks will hurt workers – and that paying for it without raising taxes weakens America.

“Does it make sense for our country to borrow money from China to give it to the unemployed in America? That is weakening us as a country,” Paul told NBC News.
It’s important to understand how misguided his argument really is. For one thing, China owns only a small percentage of U.S. debt. For another, there’s no reason policymakers necessarily have to borrow the funds needed to help the unemployed (though borrowing costs are low and it makes perfect economic sense to do so).

But the notion that helping the unemployed “is weakening us as a country” is plainly ridiculous. Will the nation be stronger on Sunday when 1.3 million Americans lose their purchasing power, costing the country as many as 300,000 jobs in 2014?

Indeed, it’s not unreasonable to consider this a binary choice. Under which scenario is the United States better off: helping these 1.3 million jobless or cutting them off? Paul believes the latter, but every shred of evidence points in the opposite direction.

The senator elaborated on his approach during a recent Fox News interview, arguing, “There was a study that came out a few months ago, and it said, if you have a worker that’s been unemployed for four weeks and on unemployment insurance and one that’s on 99 weeks, which would you hire? Every employer, nearly 100 percent, said they will always hire the person who’s been out of work four weeks.”

Ezra Klein did a nice job explaining why this is a “correlation/causation error of staggering size.”
Imagine a study that asked doctors whether they thought a patient who’d been under treatment for a serious illness for four weeks was more or less likely to survive than a patient under treatment for a serious illness for 99 weeks. Of course the doctors would say the patient under treatment for 99 weeks was less likely to survive.

Paul would look at that study and argue for removing the treatment from the patient who’d been sick for 99 weeks. After all, doctors thought it made the patient less likely to survive!
posted by zombieflanders at 11:06 AM on December 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Nietzsche is often misunderstood as justifying amoral, selfish behavior from the "übermensch," but that comes from only reading the first half; the übermensch must have an aesthetic norm inherent that creates a transcendent glory — Achilles' revenge for Patroclus's death as seen as individual, transcendent will to power (and inevitable death) is closer to the übermensch than Howard Roark.
posted by klangklangston at 11:10 AM on December 26, 2013


Nietzsche is one of a group of people - oddly enough, Ayn Rand included, as well as Karl Marx and Bakunin and some others - who it's really hard to take seriously, not because their ideas themselves are inherently good or bad, but because their ideas are overwhelmed by the mental force of their most irritating supporters, many of whom we all met nauseating quantities of while in college. It's possible that a lot of good ideas are lost this way.

Randian selfishness may carry the same name as the word of our common acquaintance, but it's not even the same idea, because Randian selfishness includes within it the concept of giving if it feels internally right to do it and advances something you value.
If you wish to save the last of your dignity, do not call your best actions a ‘sacrifice’: that term brands you as immoral. If a mother buys food for her hungry child rather than a hat for herself, it is not a sacrifice: she values the child higher than the hat; but it is a sacrifice to the kind of mother whose higher value is the hat, who would prefer her child to starve and feeds him only from a sense of duty.
The Randian argument is essentially that people should be bound only by their own ideals and their own hierarchy, rather than taking an artificial sense of value from what society demands. So it's not so much amorality as an argument for singular rather than common morality.
posted by corb at 12:07 PM on December 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


"Randian selfishness may carry the same name as the word of our common acquaintance, but it's not even the same idea, because Randian selfishness includes within it the concept of giving if it feels internally right to do it and advances something you value."

Even then, it's bound up in an ethic that makes it fairly preposterous to hold out that as a mitigating factor. The quote you give shows what a tautology it is. Nietzsche, on the other hand, has a similarly elitist view of generosity, believing that it will come primarily from an indifferent surfeit (aristocratic); however, he gives it as one of the markers of übermensch, in that the great spirit will inherently overflow beyond what the herd can accomplish by striving.

Again, Rand is at her best a Nietzsche for morons. Nietzsche at his best is a Romantic wrecker riding the search for truth through the paradoxical collapse of Hegelian idealism. The gulf between them as thinkers is as great as the gulf between the religious thought of Dan Brown and John Milton. (And I don't even like Nietzsche all that much.)
posted by klangklangston at 12:27 PM on December 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wow, that third part is almost a good enough sermon to send me to the Mother Church. I want to quote the whole thing, because its effect comes from litanic repetition, but that would be tedious. I would only make one change, and it's a pretty lousy pun, so I can't blame Pierce for not using it:
We are two nations but we do not have to be. We are two nations because we choose to be. We are two nations because we have separated churches from religion, religion from faith, and faith from the gospels. We are two nations because we pray to god and against upon our fellow citizens. We are two nations because we have made of religion a set of laws, and a set of laws into a religion. We are two nations because we hate the sin but love the sinner, and we are not wise enough in our hearts to know that you cannot divorce one from the other. Hate is hate. We are two nations because we hate the sin and are not wise enough in our hearts that this is very definition of self-loathing, because we all stumble and we all fall, rich and poor alike. We are two nations because we choose to be.
As for Rand, where she's Nietzschean, she's Nietzsche's parrot, and like most parrots, you can't get a good conversation out of her.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:13 PM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sorry, what I wrote above was probably one of the more pompous things I've ever typed. As soon as I saw it again, I rolled my eyes.
posted by klangklangston at 8:50 PM on December 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Meet the Americans Who've Lost Their Unemployment Benefits: "I'm Thoroughly Petrified"
Name: Anonymous

State: New York

"My benefits run out this week. I'm thoroughly petrified…I am the nice girl you went to high school with who was in the advanced classes, graduated with an A average, and went on to college. I'm the girl who always worked through high school, college, law school, and grad school. I never thought I would end up a welfare mother, but here I am. I want you to know how I got here and why I can't get out. I want you to realize that your nasty comments on social media about the losers demanding entitlements and benefits and hand-outs as compared to your 'hard-earned money,' hurt more than you know. Those comments may also be hurting your friend or colleague or relative. I'm not alone in this situation. I do not want benefits, or hand-outs, or entitlements. I want a job. I want to be able to pay my own way. I want to be self-sufficient again and earn the money I receive through hard work. I don't want to lose my house or have to talk to another debt collector. But in the meantime, I am grateful that some of our lawmakers saw fit to protect the vulnerable in times of need."
posted by zombieflanders at 8:59 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Slashing unemployment benefits carries huge costs to the economy. Here’s one economist’s shocking estimate.
According to Harvard economist Lawrence Katz, the decision, which slashed the benefits of some 1.3 million people, could cost the economy up to a billion dollars a week. According to Katz:
the calculation was based on the “multiplier effect” of cancelling the benefits program, which had been forecast by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Applying the CBO’s estimated multiplier effect to the $400m per week being lost in benefits, Katz said, translated into a cost to the economy of between $600m and $1bn.
But that's just the short-run cost. Katz warns that “The long-run cost to the taxpayers will be much higher from disconnecting people from the labour market.”

I will never understand this madness, and what the Republican party thinks it is accomplishing by doing these things. Do they not understand what it's like to be unemployed in this economy? Do they not have any friends or loved ones experiencing the hell of long-term unemployment in America in 2014? The personal consequences are brutal. And the economic impact of austerity policy is devastating as well.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:16 AM on January 5 [2 favorites]


If they do have friends or loved ones experiencing long-term unemployment, it's the friends' or loved ones' responsibility for their failure to be more employable. Or maybe they're just lazy, and having their benefits cut off will motivate them to get a job.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:36 AM on January 5


GOP’s ulterior motive on unemployment: Economic sabotage?
Congress has never cut off these benefits when unemployment has been as high as it is right now, and the long-term unemployed and the chronically poor aren’t equivalent populations. So there’s got to be more going on than just conservative indifference.

Some Republicans would claim the deficit is too high to renew benefits, but we know that’s not true because the deficit is shrinking fast, and there are myriad, painless ways to defray the cost (which, for a year-long extension, run north of $20 billion) over a decade. The Senate bill, authored by Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Dean Heller, R-Nev., would last for only three months.

Other Republicans argue incorrectly that the benefits create a significant work disincentive, and claim to believe that allowing them to lapse will stimulate the labor market — even though the problem isn’t complacency but rather that there are three unemployed workers for every job opening in the country right now.

Finally, Reps. Tom Cole, R-Okla., and Rob Woodall, R-Ga., explained that a major reason his colleagues will likely decline to renew the benefits is that they’ve arbitrarily decided enough’s enough.
[...]
By process of elimination, we’re left with politics. Unemployment benefits make people’s lives better and buoy a fragile, but possibly accelerating recovery. Some Republicans are apparently reluctant to give Democrats and the economy a shot in the arm right now.

This has been the motif of the past five years. But it hasn’t always defined every Republican. It’s possible that the Reid/Heller bill will clear the Senate. If it fails, though, or passes today then stalls in the House, I’d question the sincerity of Republicans who claim any kind of principle was at stake.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:41 AM on January 6 [2 favorites]


​NYC to pay $18 mil for RNC arrests in largest protest settlement in US history
posted by jeffburdges at 3:41 AM on January 16


« Older Conan O'Brien once again catches local news media ...  |  If you've ever dreamed of maki... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments