A Rebuttal To “Jobless pay is a privilege, not a right”

In this post entitled “Jobless pay is a privilege, not a right,” Ruben Navarrette argues against extending unemployment benefits, essentially saying that paying people for “doing nothing” is counterproductive.

Far from being counterproductive, unemployment benefits are a critical safety net that prevent people from becoming homeless and unable to feed themselves and their families in times of economic distress.  If you’ve lost your job through no fault of your own, then yes, jobless pay is your right as an American and a human being.


How long is too long? Because of these kinds of emergency extensions, in nearly half of the states, the jobless can collect unemployment checks for 79 weeks. The proposed extension would lengthen this time span up to 99 weeks. That’s almost two years of individuals collecting money for not working. If you’re fine with this because you feel sorry for those who don’t have jobs, then how about three years? Four years? Should there even be a limit?

The current recession is the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and therefore calls for strong measures to help those the most affected by it.  The extended benefits are one of those measures. We didn’t get into this mess overnight and it is going to take a while for us to dig ourselves out. Until then, those who cannot find work need something to sustain them.

Furthermore, unemployment benefits have a positive impact on the economy. People use their unemployment benefits to pay rent/mortgage, put food on the table and pay their bills. They may use the money to buy school supplies or clothing. If the benefits were to completely stop, that money would dry out and so would its stimulative effect.

Does giving someone something for nothing over a sustained period of time do more harm than good? If you’re collecting unemployment benefits for almost two years, there is less incentive to find another job — until the benefits run out. You can’t get rich on unemployment checks, but depending on where and how you live, you can get by. People who want to be successful usually start with being ambitious. And this means we have to be careful of introducing into the equation anything that might stifle one’s drive.

This paragraph is pure poppycock. You MUST look for work in order to continue to collect benefits. So, tell me again how people lose the motivation to find work just because they’re collecting unemployment?

Rather than being distracted by the haggling over an extension, shouldn’t we be pressuring Congress to come up with real proposals to stimulate job growth? I’m not talking about hiring new census workers but creating a friendlier business climate where companies want to hire more people. Congress won’t act until it feels the heat from unemployed constituents, who won’t complain as long as checks show up in the mailbox.

You’re clearly of the conservative bent and one of the people who thinks that anything that’s good for businesses is also good for the country.  We’ve had eight years of that thinking in which the government provided massive handouts to American corporations who promptly outsourced jobs overseas. We’ve seen Wall Street run amok, amid government policy to look the other way while it did whatever it wanted.  Sorry, you don’t get to play the “business friendly” card.

Congress has already acted on stimulating job growth and continues to do so. I agree that more needs to be done, but again, we aren’t going to get out of this dire situation overnight and until we do, the unemployed need help.

Are those who are chronically out of work hurting their own marketability by refusing to move, or obtain new training, or go back to school? Human-resource managers say that even in a down economy, there are plenty of people applying for jobs for which they’re unqualified. I’m not surprised. Americans are a proud people who expect to replace a lost job with a better one. It doesn’t always work that way, and so those who refuse to lower their sights may remain unemployed for a long time

Refuse to move?  There might be a reason why someone can’t move, such as being trapped by an underwater mortgage. Furthermore, in order to move you’d need to have money to do so and the reasonable expectation that the employment picture would be better there than your current location.

Refuse to obtain new training or go back to school? Where possible, people are getting new training and returning to school. This is not available or feasible for everyone, however. In any event, before training can do any good, there need to be jobs for which that training can be utilized. At the moment, there are simply too few jobs and too many people out of work.

I rather doubt that there are any Americans sitting at home wondering about how to pay their bills who are too proud to take a “lesser” job. The question is: can that “lesser” job provide a sustainable living?  In case you hadn’t noticed, living is a little bit expensive.

And, do many Americans have it exactly upside down when they bash conservatives and conclude that holding up unemployment benefits is heartless? Maybe the most compassionate solution would be to reverse the current incentives and get more people back into the work force as quickly as possible — even if it isn’t at their ideal job, or even if they have to hold down more than one to make ends meet or to maintain their lifestyles.

You make the mistake of assuming that there are jobs available that but people won’t take them because they’re less than “ideal.”  8.4 million jobs have been lost in the current recession. Last month, the economy created 162,000 jobs. Certainly, we’re going in the right direction, but again, it is going to take time to climb out of the pit we’ve dug ourselves.

In the meantime, what do you think would happen to all those unemployed people if they don’t have benefits to rely upon? Some will lose their homes or apartments and wind up on the street. Still needing to eat, some will turn to crime. Moreover, being homeless will surely hurt their job prospects worse than collecting a tiny check and eking out a living from it.

Yes, it is heartless to withhold jobless benefits. It is beyond heartless and shows a complete disregard of the economic realities we face as a nation.

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “A Rebuttal To “Jobless pay is a privilege, not a right””

  1. Emily says:

    As a small business owner, the LAST thing I want to do is hire someone who is going to continue looking for a “better” job. Do you know what turnover does to my bottom line? Since we’re so close to being below that bottom line and something as small as a few turnovers could put us under, then you’d have another 10-12 unemployed looking for benefits. Sometimes I think these newspaper bloggers purposely don’t address the big picture in an effort to sensationalize their own employers and keep their own jobs…and the cycle begins again. (sigh)

  2. Kathy McGraw says:


    You know, I’ve never thought of the impact on small businesses such as yours of hiring people to work for you who later move on to other things.

    In normal times, what is your turn-over rate and how do you cope with that? Do you plan to have a certain amount of turn-over?

    Thank for that perspective.

  3. Emily says:

    Our turnover rate is thankfully very low – we may lose 2 or 3 employees a year. Much of that is my husband’s ethics. He refuses to pay his drivers below minimum wage, even though we could with them being tipped employees. He’s also very generous with mileage, of the $1.75 we charge per delivery order, $1.25 goes to the driver. That’s not to say that it’ll always be that way, but for right now, we try to keep our employees happy. You’d have to when you see what it costs to run MVR’s and background checks!
    Truth be told, when an employee quits, my husband and I step it up and try to capitalize on the smaller payroll as long as we can. But at what cost? We had an employee quit two weeks before Christmas, and we didn’t replace her until March. In that time, we saved a bunch of payroll and taxes, but my husband didn’t have a single day off. So for us, personally, our quality of life suffers tremendously with turnover.
    Thanks for listening. 🙂

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Buy VerizonCell Phones and Save. | Thanks to Bank Rates & Reviews, CD Rates and UK Loan
Easy AdSense by Unreal