First it was food stamps and now it is “unemployment benefits.” In the case of the former, Obama set up a “temporary” program that increased the amount of free money available to Americans. As I’ve said before, I don’t think cutting this stuff deserved to be a high priority. But, since it was scheduled to drop unless renewed, I’m not surprised that Congress didn’t want to continue the increase. Basically the government created dependency.
So now unemployment benefits (another government-manufactured dependency) are due to expire. According to the New York Times,
Unless Congress acts, during the last week of December an estimated 1.3 million people will lose access to an emergency program providing them with additional weeks of jobless benefits. A further 850,000 will be denied benefits in the first quarter of 2014.
Congressional Democrats and the White House, pointing to the sluggish recovery and the still-high jobless rate, are pushing once again to extend the period covered by the unemployment insurance program. But with Congress still far from a budget deal and still struggling to find alternatives to the $1 trillion in long-term cuts known as sequestration, lawmakers say the chances of an extension before Congress adjourns in two weeks are slim.
As a result, one of the largest stimulus measures passed during the recession is likely to come to an end, and jobless workers in many states are likely to receive considerably fewer weeks of benefits.
The reigning paradigm is that the economy just happens to be sluggish and these people need to be helped through a hard time. My perspective is that the sluggish economy is a choice, not an uncontrollable circumstance. The massive money-printing program is designed to keep the economic elite in power. The reason why jobs and wages and production and prices can’t be balanced and coordinated is because of the games being played at the Federal Reserve. Unemployment benefits, in this system, are simply a consolation prize. People are being enticed to be content with unproductive and minimal lives by these benefits.
So I don’t think the real reason for the benefits is humanitarian at all. The government wants to keep the people happy and compliant while they allow the zombie economy to continue to fester. On one level this is simply Democrats trying to buy voters. But on a deeper level it is a way our ruling class allows their plunder to “trickle down” to the jobless in order to keep them cooperative.
The lapse in benefits is also expected to exert some drag on the economy. Michael Feroli, the chief economist of JP Morgan, estimates that the expiration of benefits will shave about 0.4 percentage points from first-quarter economic growth next year. The Economic Policy Institute recently estimate that the lapse will cut GDP by about 0.2 percent and cost 310,000 jobs.
So basically we are supposed to go into debt many billions of dollars more to add 0.4 percent to 2014’s economic growth in the first quarter.
I have a better idea. It involves a growing number of people becoming outraged about what the government has done to our economy. Employment benefits are the opiate of the jobless. What I want to see are torches, pitchforks, and mass drug withdrawal.