Casaubon's Book

From HuffPo, this article about the likely outcome that the Democrats will fail to pass an unemployment extension – unfortunately it was bound to happen sooner or later, but it will be crushingly hard on millions of people who have just been barely making it, and now aren’t.

The legislation, known as the “tax extenders” bill, would reauthorize extended unemployment benefits for people out of work for six months or longer, would protect doctors from a 21 percent pay cut for seeing Medicare patients, and would provide billions in aid to state Medicaid programs.

Come Friday, 1.2 million people will lose access to the extended unemployment benefits, a number that will grow by several hundred thousand every week after that. Fifty million Medicare claims from June are currently in process at the reduced rate, which the AARP says has already caused some of its members to have trouble finding a doctor. And the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that dropping the $24 billion in aid to states will lead to cuts in services and thousands of layoffs, and that spending cuts to close states’ aggregate budget shortfall absent new federal funds in 2011 would lead to 900,000 public- and private-sector layoffs.

Funny how our concern about deficits seems always to play out in the suffering of the poor.

Sharon

Comments

  1. #1 Don
    June 24, 2010

    The bad news just keeps coming. How can we help people deal with this, I wonder?

  2. #2 Lynne
    June 24, 2010

    I worry about this a lot. I think in Canada people would then be eligible for welfare payments. Is this what will happen in the US do you think? Will people get any type of government assistance at all? This is very upsetting.

    I have often wondered what would have happened if governments decided to spend trillions of dollars on long term employment insurance and then just let banks and car companies fail. The logic being – we’ll let our companies sort things out in a free market, understanding that layoffs will happen, but we won’t allow our citizens fall below a certain standard of living.

    Of course I have no idea what this would cost, or whether it was possible, but I would have liked a focus on protecting people, rather than corporations.

  3. #3 Brad K.
    June 24, 2010

    Don,

    The veterans advisor at the local job services office has a email newsletter. This week he let us know that Out-of-work job applicants told unemployed need not apply

    Chris Isidore, senior writer, Wednesday June 16, 2010
    The last thing someone who is unemployed needs to be told is that they shouldn’t even apply for the limited number of job openings that are available. But some companies and recruiters are doing just that.

    I think every member of the House of Representatives that has not moved to impeach B. Hussein Obama for reckless abuse of office and exceeding authority under the Constitution needs to be replaced.

    Impending tax increases for next year, Executive Orders establishing union labor precedents, and increasing burdens of regulations and employer reporting requirements all cost jobs – directly. The indirect rhetoric to “tax the wealthy” to “redistribute the wealth” drives capital (that stuff businesses used to use to start ventures and do business) overseas, along with employment opportunities. I hear that some contractors are hiring in Afghanistan and Iraq, and that most of their workers survive the experience.

    Obama could have pushed to prohibit private motor vehicle insurance, putting a real damper on profligate fuel usage in America. Instead he is still focused on the inane Cap and Tax boondoggle, as part of his socialistic approach to redistributing wealth (and enrich certain of his election campaign contributors). He could have focused communities on banning new bedroom “community” housing developments in favor of strategies that encourage living where work and shopping is, without the fuel-consuming long commute. He could have focused on the inordinate amount of fuel expended for massively consolidated schools, both used by the school for transportation, and by the community, as average distance increases for school functions.

    There are few innocent players. The Republican party has few heroes, they have been spending a *lot* of time playing along with some really bad legislation. The Democrats are doing what government does – retain office, at all costs. And people keep letting the Democrats buy more votes with taxpayer money.

    Those worried about economic recovery, about the debt deflation crisis, about global warming, or peak oil, are left in the lurch as trillions of dollars and massive amounts of irreplaceable fossil fuels are wasted, instead of applied with an intent to address current problems and prepare for the long path to recovery or setting a new level of technology (depending on your personal view of the next years and decades).

    Just one (more!) personal observation. Motivating Americans to by new, fuel efficient, hybrid, or electric vehicles sells new vehicles – keeping auto makers and especially their unions well employed. But what about strategies to improve fuel usage among the millions of existing cars? Seth Godin posed a trick question a while back, whether it would be more effective to double the mileage of new cars getting 50 mpg, or increase the mileage of vehicles getting 10 mpg by two or three mpg. The answer is plain – the 20 to 30% improvement of the low mileage vehicles saves more fuel. (Traveling 100 miles at 50 mpg, doubling mileage would reduce fuel used from 2 gallons to 1 gallon. Traveling 100 miles at 10 mpg would take 10 gallon; reducing that by one gallon would require 11.11 mpg, or a mileage increase of slightly over 11%. YMMV) Since labor unions aren’t much involved in research and engineering – there is no motion in our government to look for such improvement. Since there are few wealthy people to attack, involved in low mileage vehicles (from transport trucks to pickups, SUVs and luxury cars, and older vehicles), the Democrats don’t have anyone to punish in the press to win votes. So the disinterest in “real change” means that they spend their efforts on politically advantageous manipulations and crony paybacks, instead of actually building out a new nation suited for the changing future ahead of us.

    Grr.

  4. #4 Alex Besogonov
    June 24, 2010

    Brad K. – are you stupid or just misinformed?

    “Impending tax increases for next year, Executive Orders establishing union labor precedents, and increasing burdens of regulations and employer reporting requirements all cost jobs – directly.”

    No, they don’t. US had experienced the greatest economic growth in its entire history during the time of exceptionally high taxes and tight workplace regulations.

    Don’t believe me? Want to bet I’m wrong?

    “The indirect rhetoric to “tax the wealthy” to “redistribute the wealth” drives capital (that stuff businesses used to use to start ventures and do business) overseas, along with employment opportunities.”

    Doesn’t happen. Quite the opposite, lack of strong unions and associations allows jobs to be outsourced. You can’t compete with $4 per day Chinese worker.

    “Obama could have pushed to prohibit private motor vehicle insurance, putting a real damper on profligate fuel usage in America.”

    Yawn. Won’t even make a dent. Insurance comes to play only during accidents, which don’t happen all that often.

    “Instead he is still focused on the inane Cap and Tax boondoggle, as part of his socialistic approach to redistributing wealth (and enrich certain of his election campaign contributors).”

    The ones who are able to cut as much CO2 as possible. Which is all good in my book.

    “He could have focused communities on banning new bedroom “community” housing developments in favor of strategies that encourage living where work and shopping is, without the fuel-consuming long commute.”

    How? And can you quantify the cost of moving a significant part of the population from already existing sprawls?

    “He could have focused on the inordinate amount of fuel expended for massively consolidated schools, both used by the school for transportation, and by the community, as average distance increases for school functions.

    Won’t even make a dent. Sorry, but you fail everything.

  5. #5 Alex Besogonov
    June 24, 2010

    “There are few innocent players. The Republican party has few heroes, they have been spending a *lot* of time playing along with some really bad legislation. The Democrats are doing what government does – retain office, at all costs. And people keep letting the Democrats buy more votes with taxpayer money.”

    ROTFL! LOLOLOLOLOL!!!!

  6. #6 Don
    June 24, 2010

    Gosh, I ask the question, what can we (as individuals, I meant) do to help out the newly impoverished, and I get an anti-Obama diatribe in response! I wasn’t interested in a political discussion; I just wanted to express my human concern for those in a predicament that could well be mine in a few more months or years.

    But since you wrote your screed, Brad, I’ll just say a few things. I’m not the least bit interested in impeaching the duly elected president. He’s doing no worse regarding overstepping the Constitution than his predecessor did. And don’t kid yourself: the Republicans are no more heroic than the Democrats are; they’re just as interested as the Democrats in retaining office and buying votes.

    And one more thing: we’re not going to end our oil dependency until we end our auto dependency. I’m not interested in making cars more efficient. That won’t make more than a tiny bit of difference. I’m more interested in seeing passenger rail service and public transit restored and giving people incentives to leave their cars in the garage–or get rid of them. THAT will make a difference. So yes, we should tax carbon to discourage its use. That’s not socialism; it’s using free enterprise to encourage different behavior. GM can be put to work making railway cars, as James Howard Kunstler recommends.

  7. #7 Ed Straker
    June 24, 2010

    Speaking as someone who is directly impacted by this hard cut-off of unemployment, I really grow tired of the political scapegoating going on, as if the only problems in this world originate with politicians, and a simple housecleaning is all you need to restore “morning in america” again. Politicians were not the sole cause of the Credit Crisis, nor peak oil & ecological overshoot. We’ve all been co-conspirators in this to some degree, and it takes a certain amount of maturity to recognize that.

    So let’s stop thinking that if we merely sling enough mud at politicians that it’s somehow going to make things better when our problems are cultural and systemic. We get the government we deserve!!!

  8. #8 Stephen B.
    June 24, 2010

    Alex wrote: “[The] US had experienced the greatest economic growth in its entire history during the time of exceptionally high taxes and tight workplace regulations.”

    Well, I’m assuming that you’re talking about the early to late 20th Century and you’re right, but you don’t suppose that “greatest economic growth” happened at the very same time that the US saw the greatest growth in its cheap coal, oil, and natural gas energy supply as well?

    I’d say that the great growth era happened not because of taxes or the lack thereof. I’d say the growth happened due to the US pioneering the prolific use of cheap fossil energy.

  9. #9 Alex.Besogonov
    June 25, 2010

    “Well, I’m assuming that you’re talking about the early to late 20th Century and you’re right, but you don’t suppose that “greatest economic growth” happened at the very same time that the US saw the greatest growth in its cheap coal, oil, and natural gas energy supply as well?”

    I’m talking about 50-70-s.

    “I’d say that the great growth era happened not because of taxes or the lack thereof. I’d say the growth happened due to the US pioneering the prolific use of cheap fossil energy.”

    Yes, but it was certainly not the main moving power. USSR had as much access to raw energy resources with considerably worse results. Can the same growth be replicated without access to abundant energy resources? I don’t know, but I think it can be done.

    Of course, I’m not saying that there will be immediate growth if taxes are raised. I’m just saying that high taxes do not necessarily prevent it.

  10. #10 Sharon Astyk
    June 25, 2010

    Brad, I realize we have a very different political worldviews, but got anything new, besides “Obama bad?”

    Sharon

  11. #11 Stephen B.
    June 25, 2010

    Thanks Alex. I think we agree on some things there.

  12. #12 Jennie
    June 25, 2010

    It’s funny to me how fiscal responsibility becomes important when we’re talking about aid to the long term unemployed and not when we’re talking about the massive DoD budget needed to fund two wars.
    I’m going to second Lynne, I would have been much more in favor of bailing out the employees of those, “Too big to fail” car companies and banks, and letting the auto makers/banks fail as they will.

  13. #13 Greenpa
    June 25, 2010

    Alex: “capital (that stuff businesses used to use to start ventures and do business)”

    Hilarious. Yep, that’s the stock “undeniable truth” used to justify Wall Street. You really need to take a look at reality.

    Maybe 1ยข out of $100 in The Market is EVER “put to work” in a real business. The rest is “trading” profits, leveraged and swapped and inflated- and fantasy. “Traders” and “Speculators” insist on being called “Investors”, to help keep that illusion going.

    But even they know it’s fantasy. Which is why you can find all of them worrying “you know, this little downturn may even get so bad it affects the Real Economy (their term), and gosh, that would be really bad for us!”

    BP has lost $100 BILLION dollars in market value, due to stock price drop, since the spill. Effect on daily operations? None whatsoever.

    Only Angel investors and venture capitalist money is put to “work”- and both of those have dropped drastically for the last few years.

    Sorry- your claim is not historically documented.

  14. #14 Lisa
    June 25, 2010

    Sharon,

    It’s not even just hurting the “poor.” It’s destroying healthcare, and failure to extend benefits will stress the already overtaxed social sector that’s operating with huge cuts and deficits due to lack of donation from people who have a little money to donate.

    This failure to pass affects us all, upper middle class on down. The only people who won’t see a problem or effects are the people who are in the top 1% of wage earners and can afford to not work or buy any services they might need.

  15. #15 Niki
    June 28, 2010

    I think Lynne is right. If people cant get unemployment, they will apply for welfare. Either way the government will pay although welfare may provide much less than unemployment. It seems we have two options. Ignore the plight of the many who will be affected or do what we can as individuals to help our fellow man. It may be as little as planting a small garden and sharing the bounty, offering to drive someone to submit a job application or as great as offering to share ones home with a needy person or family. Its time we exhibited comapssion with actions instead of words.

  16. #16 Sharon Astyk
    June 28, 2010

    Niki and Lynne, you may already know this, but just in case for readers that don’t, welfare simply isn’t an option for a large number of the unemployed. It is almost impossible to get welfare in the US if you are male, or not a parent. And since the mid-1990s, even those who are eligible face heavy problems – you have to work, for example, which means it is almost impossible to take care of an elderly parent or disabled child.

    There are more than six million people in the US who qualify for no subsidies except food stamps, which are the one resource available to us – most of the people cast off unemployment will not end up on welfare, barring major changes. They will be far less fortunate than that.

    Sharon

  17. #17 Prometheus
    June 28, 2010

    Sharon,

    I would agree with your assessment and go a bit further. Since 1997 the U.S. has not had a welfare program but rather a temporary limited work incentive program.

    Distended unemployment or underemployment supplements.

    Most people have an understanding of a system pre-dating TANF because in the late 80s and early 90s the political rhetoric was at its apex.

    People also continue to refer to food stamps in these discussions. Stamps have not been in circulation in two years and often benefits under SNAP and TANF are on the same EBT card.

    What we are looking at in the present economy is the same fabulist nonsense from both ends we saw in the stagflation of the late seventies.

    Old people did not eat dog food.

    Welfare Queens did not buy Cadillacs.

    This morning’s news had stories of people using their EBT’s at casinos in California last week’s was College students hosting gourmet parties on swag from their newly minted SNAP EBTs.

    I think the harder we are working and the more tenuous our positions the more willing we are to think people are abusing the system or cheating us.

    It lets us continue to deny the rapidity with which our way of life is circling the drain.

  18. #18 Consumer
    July 2, 2010

    I think it’s becoming obvious that the government needs to become the employer of last resort. There is a lot of work to be done in this country, and a lot of people who need work to do. If the market is not going to match up needed work with needy workers, then the government should do it.

  19. #19 POWERMAN
    August 23, 2010

    When is everybody going to understand the powers that be are going to own everything you thought was yours. You will become enslaved to do what they will make you do by their tactical means of corruption and deception. Will you have much of a choice in the near future?, this is highly doubtful. No matter what regime is in control there is going to be a global single government that will take good care of their loyalist who protect them from the masses, they will be untouchable and destroy any efforts against those whom would be threatening. This may sound far fetched but look at where you were 3 years ago and look at yourself now. Is anyone offering to loan you money?, Is anyone doing anything about the economy? Are you ever going to regain at least what you had?, What about the near future, Can you seem to make future plans for your lives, your families and so forth, Be aware, be very aware of whats coming down the pipe an enigma of darkness and deception that will drown all of us in a cataclysmic human abyss far from what we know. As humans we just don’t like to accept change even when it’s lurking on our door step.

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