I emphatically reject this vicious stereotyping aimed at people like me

Over the weekend, Kathryn F. e-mailed me this link:

Why the “lazy jobless” myth persists – Unemployment – Salon.com

And I have to say, I was appalled at what I found there… I don’t mean this stuff:

During the recent fight over extending unemployment benefits, conservatives trotted out the shibboleth that says the program fosters sloth. Sen. Judd Gregg, for instance, said added unemployment benefits mean people are “encouraged not to go look for work.” Columnist Pat Buchanan said expanding these benefits means “more people will hold off going back looking for a job.” And Fox News’ Charles Payne applauded the effort to deny future unemployment checks because he said it would compel layabouts “to get off the sofa.”

The thesis undergirding all the rhetoric was summed up by conservative commentator Ben Stein, who insisted that “the people who have been laid off and cannot find work are generally people with poor work habits and poor personalities.”

The idea is that unemployment has nothing to do with structural economic forces or rigged public policies and everything to do with individual motivation. Yes, we’re asked to believe that the 15 million jobless Americans are all George Costanzas — parasitic loafers occasionally pretending to seek work as latex salesmen, but really just aiming to decompress on a refrigerator-equipped recliner during a lifelong Summer of George…

I mean that gross, unfair, insensitive photograph. As a guy who spent close to a year unemployed, I deeply resent such a depiction. It’s totally unrealistic. My gut is nowhere near that big. In fact, mine is much better suited structurally to balancing the remote control on while snoozing in front of the Boob Tube. I can prove this. I have demonstrated this, time and again. And besides, I was just monitoring C-SPAN, waiting for Congress to extend my benefits…

4 thoughts on “I emphatically reject this vicious stereotyping aimed at people like me

  1. Steve Gordy

    In addition to the injury of being laid off or “right-sized,” the newly out-of-work must undergo the joys of waiting in line to sign up for unemployment benefits; at that point, when folks who work at the One-Stop Center start giving you strange looks, you may start to understand why unemployment ain’t that great a place to be.

  2. bud

    This is fun game the tea party elitists like to play. Slam those who are either out of work or struggling in a low-paying job while ignoring the tens of millions made by the CEOs of dangerous mining companies or head football coaches at universities hiking tuition into the stratosphere. We are rapidly becoming a plutocracy in this country with the vast majority of the wealth controlled by a handful of elitists. In other words we’re becoming Mexico. Hey maybe that’s how we can control the border, make it less lucrative to work here. Seems like we’re well on the way.

  3. martin

    bud, Nicholas Kristoff actually had a piece in NYT a couple of weeks ago about statistics showing bcause of our current income disparity, we have already reached the banana-republic level.

    I think Americans should start looking for jobs in Europe. It’s sounds like they are pretty sick of their current crop of immigrant labor.

  4. Ralph Hightower

    If one makes more than a minimum wage job, then unemployment is not a paycheck replacement.

    I don’t know what the max benefit is for South Carolina, but four years ago, it was about $300 per week which is $15,600 annually.

    So unemployment is not a paycheck replacement for anyone making over $16,000. It clearly is not an income replacement for those anyone making $50K, $75K, etc.

    It’s time for those commentator that are saying that the unemployed are eating bon-bons to hit the unemployment line themselves and see if they can manage a life on unemployment.

    Unemployment is not fun for those that have been there.


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