How delusional can some liberals be? There’s no limit…

Did you shake your head when you read this, which appeared under the Bizarro-World headline, “Clyburn too conservative?

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn is used to political foes calling him liberal. They’ve been doing it for years. Now, though, prominent liberals are coming after him for being too conservative.

The patron saint of delusional Democrats.

The patron saint of delusional Democrats.

Several left-wing groups are criticizing South Carolina’s Clyburn, the No. 3 Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, for his relationship with one of the party’s influential centrist policy organizations.

The founders of that think tank, Third Way, attacked U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., last week for pushing tax hikes for the rich and increases in Social Security benefits, and for taking other stances that they said represented risky fiscal approaches and bad political strategies.

Allies of Warren, a freshman lawmaker who is a rising star in Washington, struck back quickly.

Four liberal groups asked Clyburn of Columbia and 11 other Democratic members of Congress who are “honorary co-chairs” of Third Way to repudiate the condemnation of Warren and sever their ties with the organization…

Do you recall, back during the Democratic Convention last year, when I highly praised a speech by Bill “Third Way” Clinton? Aside from the fact that it may have been, as I said, the most skilled and powerful political speech yet in this century (and as I noted at the time, that was coming from “the editor who presided over an editorial board that was tied as first in the country to call on him to resign after he admitted lying to us”) — certainly the best I ever heard from Clinton — my positive impression of it was heightened by the fact that it followed an atrocious rant from Elizabeth Warren, which I characterized as follows: “She gave one of those speeches full of resentments and blame, the kind that makes me dislike political parties so much.”

Which is, you know, pretty much par for the course for her. These allies of hers, if anything, tend toward even sillier rhetoric:

“We’re calling on James Clyburn to do the right thing and immediately drop his affiliation with the Wall Street-backed Third Way…”

“Wall Street-backed” being a very powerful epithet among these people. Because, apparently, business is evil by its very nature in their belief system.

Embracing the Third Way.

Embracing the Third Way.

It’s interesting to me that, just as John Boehner is finally reining in the loonies in his party — and they’ve been on quite a rampage for several years now — the left wing of the Democratic Party is going on a delusional tear of its own.

The only way this embrace of Sen. Warren as presidential timber for 2016 makes sense for Democrats is that it would provide Hillary Clinton with a way of looking sensible and mainstream by contrast (which she is, by contrast), putting her in a strong position for the general election.

But I don’t think these folks are thinking that way. I think they actually believe Sen. Warren represents a direction in which they can pull the country. Hence my use of the word, “delusional.”

63 thoughts on “How delusional can some liberals be? There’s no limit…

  1. Juan Caruso

    “I think they actually believe Sen. Warren represents . Hence my use of the word, “delusional.”

    When “a direction in which they can pull the country” is so conceptual as to have no successful precedent (in significant scope and achievement) in recorded history, an uncertain basis (in near term benefits of applied science) and no funding assumptions matched by human productivity (magnitude and growth trends), then what you call “delusional” in a political context implies absence of critical thinking.

    By varying degrees liberals present such schemes as abstract themes with a glaring absence of attendant detail. Conservative politicians are equally guilty of deceits and legerdemain. Unlike hoi polloi liberal/progressive followers, more conservatives (producers) constantly plan, and demand that their have more concrete explanations, as well.

    Delusional is a matter of degree, as in Warren’s claim to be native american (1⁄32nd accurate).

    Currently, we

  2. Doug Ross

    I agree with you, Brad. (Mark the date).

    Warren is the Democrat’s version of Joe Wilson. A clueless populist. She has made some of the dumbest economic statements I can recall.

    She needs to go back to the reservation she pretended to come from.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      It is when what it means is that you approach situations pragmatically, rather that acting according to some quasi-religious belief that either the markets, or the gummint, is always right or always wrong.

      And that’s what Third Way means, in the Clinton-Blair sense. You know, like New Labour.

  3. Michael Rodgers

    Senator Warren is pointing out that Third Way isn’t what it once was. Progressives do not believe “business is evil by its very nature.” What did you think of President Obama’s recent speech on inequality?

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      You know what? I need to go back and read that. Don’t know whether I’d like it or not, but I’ll bet I don’t like it as much as Clinton’s speech, referenced above, in 2012.

  4. bud

    This shows just how ridiculously far to the right our political world has gotten over the last 30 years. Warren is more of a pragmatist than just about anyone in congress. She was absolutely right in the run-up to the financial meltdown in 2007. She pushes for policies that will prevent that kind of crash from ever happening again. And yes she pushes for a bit of sanity when it comes to the staggering wealth inequality in this country. And horror of horrors she believes labor unions should be supported. She would have been a centrist in 1972.

    But today with the extremist factions in the Republican Party and the dangerously cultish libertarians gaining traction in economic proposals her pragmatism is viewed as wacky leftist nonsense. She is my hero but given the environment she will likely make little headway in the short term.

    1. der deutscher Flußgabelunger

      I totally agree with you Bud. Today just believing we should have a banking system that is competitive and not an oligoplolistic market makes you a Marxist.

      I mean today we can’t even bash Wall Street without it being insinuated that “business is evil by its very nature in [our] belief system.” Because God knows every true, red-blooded, patriotic American just loves Wall Street. We just can’t get enough of our global financial overlords. As Americans we just love it when JPMorgan and Citigroup rig LIBOR, when Goldman Sachs directors are charged with insider trading, when interns, like Moritz Erhardt, drop dead from exhaustion at Bank of America, or when HSBC allows Mexican drug cartels and Iranian terrorists to launder money through them without anyone being charged with a crime.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        And that’s a good example of the kind of polarized thinking that makes the Third Way necessary — you suggest that the alternative to seeing business as evil by its very nature as being a “true, redblooded, patriotic American [who] just loves Wall Street.”

        In my view, both of those ways of seeing the world are invalid. I see our financial system, and government, as neutral systems that can each do great good or great harm depending on particular actions made by individuals within them.

        Seeing either as inherently evil or good is, to use that word again, delusional.

  5. Bryan Caskey

    Brad, I think you’ve missed an important point.

    Elizabeth Warren sits on the Senate Banking Committee. This supplies her with the power to harass and harm banks if she wants.

    The group you referenced in this piece – called Third Way – published a paper critical of Warren’s views on banking. Ok, that seems like fair game to me. Regardless of what you think of the criticism, or a policy, you would think that addressing a Senator’s policy would be fair game. Did Senator Warren address this criticism on the substance?

    Nope. She fired off a letter to the six largest banks (WHICH SHE REGULATES) asking for the names of the think tanks that they contributed to, including the “Third Way”. Because in her world, any criticism of her is some kind of bad faith, corporate plot. It’s bullying and threatening.

    You think any of these banks want to tell Senator Warren to go pound sand? Nope. What they’ll do is they’ll likely be intimidated into stopping their donations to think tanks, so they don’t draw the ire of Senator Warren.

    A government that is big enough to menace and harass its critics is one thing. That’s kind of inherent in the government.

    But it’s made so much worse when that government is increasingly controlled by people convinced with complete certainty of their own intellect and righteousness — which means that any criticism or opposition is, by definition, contrary to the public good, and that, in turn, justifies any and all means used to squelch such malevolence.

    This is the biggest problem with ideological politicians. When they believe their position as an article of faith, they see all opposition to their faith as illegitimate and not worth of a substantive response.

    Government at all levels is being weaponized against the people by ideological politicians, which is kind of the inverse of what it should be. I know that you like to say the government is *us*, Brad. It’s just hard to continue to believe that with everything that my eyes are telling me. Maybe it used to, way back when.

    1. Mark Stewart

      I thought “Progressive” used to mean something more akin to this “third way” kind of pragmatic, practical and progressive way of thinking about improving our society’s future?

      When did “Progressive” get tarred with liberalism (which isn’t anything like Liberalism)?

      Can we please start defining politicians with some accuracy?

      Warren represents the antithesis to Tea Part. Clyburn represents old school pork politics. Clinton would have seemed like Warren before she served as Ssecretary of State. Now, maybe she is a viable candidate of a more centrist stripe. Wow, that’s hard to say.

  6. Harry Harris

    The statement that Speaker Boehner has reined in the right wing that has made him, a very conservative rep, look somewhat moderate quite likely jumped the gun, and overstated the case. The “loonies” have pulled his party so far right, they pretty much win every disagreement in their caucus even if they appear to give ground. The so-called “moderates” among them are already talking about getting concessions for not crashing the economy with another debt limit battle this spring. He’s apparently reined them in from sheer looniness to only outright looniness.
    Your characterization of Senator Warren’s statements as resentment and blame remind me of the typical right-wing approach to criticizing any idea they oppose – mostly factless, generalized, loaded language without any real criticism of the actual position. I usually expect better from you.

  7. Brad Warthen Post author

    Harry, I’m sorry if you don’t like that blunt characterization of her speech as being filled with “resentment and blame.” I don’t know what the typical “right-wing” approach would be; all I can tell you is that was my honest reaction to her speech, as a guy who is unaffiliated with either wing.

    After all this time, I don’t remember specifics of what caused me to recoil, but let’s take a moment and skim back through the speech now

    Here are some specific sentences and phrases that exemplify what I was talking about:

    “the game is rigged against them’
    “chipped, squeezed, and hammered”
    “Their fight is my fight”
    “People feel like the system is rigged against them. And here’s the painful part: they’re right. The system is rigged. Look around. Oil companies guzzle down billions in subsidies. Billionaires pay lower tax rates than their secretaries. Wall Street CEOs—the same ones who wrecked our economy and destroyed millions of jobs—still strut around Congress, no shame, demanding favors, and acting like we should thank them.

    “Anyone here have a problem with that? Well I do. [This line is probably what caused me to compare her to the “Kingfish”… “ain’t no Standard Oil men gonna run this state; gonna be run by little folks like me and you“]”

    “The Republican vision is clear: “I’ve got mine, the rest of you are on your own.” Republicans say they don’t believe in government. Sure they do. They believe in government to help themselves and their powerful friends. “

    Those are some examples.

    But you know what? She lost me at “fight.” Politicians always lose me at “fight,” and she used the word 9 times in this speech.

    It suggests that the deliberative process through which we make policy decisions is a war, and that those who disagree with us are our enemies. They are pure evil, and we must fight them at every turn, or they will do terrible things to us. It starts with such a presumption of bad faith.

    It is the language of thousands of press releases from parties that demonize the opposition in order to get the base whipped up and keep the donations coming in.

    I grew sick and tired of this rhetoric years and years ago. I believe its enormously harmful to the ability of our system to work for the people of this country, no matter which part of the political spectrum it comes from.

    As soon as anyone starts using language like that, I start tuning them out. So does everyone, except the portion of base at which it is aimed, which roars its approval — and nothing gets done.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      And of course, it helps to hear it. Her tone adds so much.

      By the way, my link above, illustrating the point that politicians always lose me at “fight,” was to a speech Hillary Clinton gave in 2008. In that election, she was the voice of the angry left — which is why I preferred Obama to her. Now, it’s Warren.

      Here’s an excerpt from my column dissecting Sen. Clinton’s speech in ’08:

      Take, for instance, this typical bit from Hillary Clinton’s speech:

      “My friends, it is time to take back the country we love. And whether you voted for me or you voted for Barack, the time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose. We are on the same team. And none of us can afford to sit on the sidelines. This is a fight for the future. And it’s a fight we must win together. I haven’t spent the past 35 years in the trenches… to see another Republican in the White House squander our promise…”
      Let’s deconstruct that a bit.
      Take back the country? From whom? Did I miss something? Did the Russians roll right on through Gori and into Washington? No? You say Americans are still in charge, just the “wrong” Americans, of the wrong party? But your party controls Congress! Take it back from whom?
      … a single party with a single purpose. Now there you’ve hit on the biggest lie propagated by each of the major parties, the conceit that there is something coherent and consistent about such loose confederations of often-incompatible interest groups. Did you not just spend the last few months playing with all the force you could muster upon those very differences, those very tensions — between feminists and black voters, between the working class and the wine and cheese set? What single purpose, aside from winning an election?
      This is a fight… No, it isn’t, however much you love to say that. Again, I refer you to what the Russians are doing in Georgia — that’s a fight, albeit a one-sided one.
      … that we must win together. Actually, that raises a particularly pertinent point, which is that the only “fights” that “must” be won are the ones in which “together” is defined as all Americans, or all freedom-loving peoples, whereas such divisive factions as your party and that other one that will meet in St. Paul militate against our being able to win such fights together.
      I haven’t spent the past 35 years in the trenches… You’re absolutely right; you haven’t. So spare us the war metaphors.
      … to see another Republican in the White House squander our promise… Like that’s what matters, the stupid party label. Like there isn’t more difference between you and Barack Obama in terms of philosophy and goals and experience and what you would bring to office than there is between John McCain and Joe Biden. Come on! Please!…

  8. Doug Ross

    One needs only look at her ideas related to student loans to realize she has no clue about economics.

    She wants to make it possible for student loan debts to be discharged via bankruptcy. Does she understand that the reason those loans can’t be discharged is because there is no asset tied to them when the loan is made? It’s not like a house or car that can be repossessed and return some value to the lender. Putting this into law would have the effect of a) raising interest rates on student loans due to the higher risk and b) reducing the opportunities for low income students to get loans due to the risk associated with them.

    The problem isn’t student loan debt. The problem is the cost of education rising beyond its value due to the ease of obtaining loans regardless of the academic qualifications of the student or the value of the degrees in the marketplace. College isn’t worth the investment for many people and those people should be discouraged from getting themselves into debt,

    1. Bryan Caskey

      Also on the topic of Sen. Warren Econ 101 failure is her questioning why the minimum wage isn’t $22/hour. People who strongly advocate for the minimum wage astound me.

      1. Doug Ross

        Exactly. I’ll give you an example. My daughter works for $10 hour in a bakery. There are four other bakers, each working about 30 hours a week, The shop is just getting by right now… if they had to raise the pay to $22 /hr for five people, that would increase costs by $12*5*30= $1800 per week. That would result in either the shop going out of business or at least one person losing her job.

        The minimum wage exists for people who have no marketable skills or teens who live with their parents. If you are 25 years old and only making minimum wage its because of the choices you have made not because rich people are trying to keep you down.

        1. Silence

          I think that there’s a misconception about the minimum wage. Most people don’t earn it for very long. Even when I was clerking part-time in a grocery store at age 16, I only earned minimum wage for a few months before getting a series of (small) raises. People who remain at a job for any length of time are liable to earn more than minimum wage because they acquire skills and training that elevate their worth beyond that of a new body off the street. People who bounce from job to job on a monthly basis may actually be inclined to remain at or near minimum wage, but that raises the question of why they cannot hold a job or excel in a position.

          1. Doug Ross

            And if you have a minimum wage job and decide to have one or more children, that should be a YOU problem, not a ME problem.

          2. Kathryn Fenner

            How about when you have a good paying job, a few kids, and then lose the job and cannot find anything but minimum wage jobs? It happens.

        2. Juan Caruso

          Doug, just a reminder of a familiar minset devoid of commensurate accountability.

          When Hillary Clinton was pushing for national health insurance [1999] she was asked about the effect compulsory health insurance for employees would have on employers. MRS. Clinton said, ‘I can’t be responsible for every under-capitalized small business in America’!”

          Which goes the distance as to why some unelected lawyers should deserve the working public’s wrath. Not presidential material except by delusion, or as Hillary herself would say, “suspension of all disbelief”.

          1. Silence

            Have you seen the prices they charge for cupcakes over in the Vista (and elsewhere, I suppose)? It’s like $3 and up for a regular cupcake with a ridiculous amount of icing, most of which I’d have to scrape off and throw away. At those kind of prices, they can afford to pay $22/hour, I think. Of course maybe they don’t sell many…

      2. Brad Warthen Post author

        Whoa, I just did the math — that’s $880 a week, or $45,670 a year.

        My first job out of COLLEGE paid $130 a week. For three weeks — then I got a bump to $145. (That was for many years the most exciting raise of my life. I couldn’t believe it, it sounded so good. When the executive editor said he was giving me a $15 raise, I said, “You mean every WEEK?” It seemed too good to be true.)

        My first SALARY job, meaning I was off the clock, paid $250. For a work week with no upper limit.

        So I guess $22 an hour as MINIMUM wage is a little hard for me to relate to.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Seriously, though…

            My wife was in graduate school in Memphis when I started that job up in Jackson. We had one car, a ’68 Buick I’d inherited from my grandfather — and she needed it more than I did, to get around Memphis. I could walk to the newspaper.

            To see her on the weekends, I walked to the bus station downtown, and rode the Greyhound to Memphis. It would drop me off on a fairly deserted stretch of Summer Avenue, at the site of the world’s first Holiday Inn. (The actual bus station in Memphis was way downtown, about 30 minutes from my in-laws’ house where my wife was staying.)

            It wasn’t much money THEN, either. But, before we had kids, it was all we needed.

            I see kids today buying houses the moment they get married, and I marvel at them.

          2. Doug Ross

            There are plenty of government workers making less than $22 an hour..especially in schools. Think of the tax increases that would be required to support this.. pure populist lunacy from someone who makes several hundred thousand per year. I hope she runs just to see her destroyed like Rick Perry was.

          3. Kathryn Fenner

            Not a lot of kids buy houses, ever. You moved up to the executive class. Those kids don’t have crushing school loans, etc.

      3. bud

        So Doug where did you get your economics degree. Whether a debt is tied to a security is irrelevant to whether it can be discharged in a bankruptcy. Mortgages are tied but houses are usually protected assets. Credit cards aren’t tied to any particular asset either. Of course they should be dischargeable in a bankruptcy.

        But I’ll agree that the cost of college has gotten totally out of control. No sense in all this building mania until the cost problem is addressed.

  9. Harry Harris

    Several comments above illustrate the dominant political discourse of our times. Somebody wrongly characterizes Sen Warren as promoting a $22 per hour minimum wage. It is then debated as fact. Somebody hears what they want to hear and attacks a “straw man.” Senator Warren cited a study establishing $22 as the point at which the minimum wage would be if it had tracked productivity since 1960. She was advocating for an increase in the minimum wage – not pushing $22/hr as even feasible.
    The assumption that workers at any skill level can easily improve their level of compensation is out of touch with the labor marketplace. It is usually used to undergird assertions that low-paid people are just slackers and that people who question either the fairness or the efficacy of our economic practices are just on the side of the “takers.”

    1. Doug Ross

      Well Harry, how high would YOU like to see the minimum wage raised? Do you see any downside to doing so in terms of increased prices, lost jobs, etc. or will it just be an instant improvement for those in low-skill jobs?

      1. Harry Harris

        I’d like to see the minimum wage raised in steps to about $10.50 over 3-4 years. There is downside to almost anything. There would likely be some impact on prices in a some areas, but the multiplier effect of more money spent quickly by those who basically can’t afford to save much of it would be felt by local businesses – especially in the South. The amount gouged by speculators in oil and other commodities has a bigger inflationary effect than wage increases – and is a damper to the economy (decreasing demand for other goods and services). I’d be interested to see the inflationary and job-killing effect of paying upper management (not owners, hired hands) 50 to 400 the average (not bottom) pay of the company’s workers. It’s all a matter of perspective and who can buy the bigger megaphone.

        1. Bryan Caskey

          “There would likely be some impact on prices in a some areas, but the multiplier effect of more money spent quickly by those who basically can’t afford to save much of it would be felt by local businesses – especially in the South.”

          Actually, no. There is no “multiplier effect” or it’s almost so small that you couldn’t really measure it in an economy of the size of the US. The money that you propose to be paid to those minimum wage workers must come from somewhere. We’re not asking the Fed to just print it to hand it out after all. It’s coming from…wait for it….other people. So, you have to look at the difference in the savings rate between the two groups.

          It’s a little more complicated than just:

          1. Make employers pay employees more.
          2. ???
          3. No more poor people.

    2. Bryan Caskey

      “The assumption that workers at any skill level can easily improve their level of compensation is out of touch with the labor marketplace.”

      Harry, two-thirds of minimum wage earners receive a raise within the first year.

      1. Harry Harris

        If those raises represent progress toward a living wage or advancement to higher earning jobs, who doesn’t applaud that. Small increases beyond a low starting point that represents a low-demand labor market more than the value produced by the worker don’t mean that the worker has made great strides by edging from 14.5K to 16K per year.

        1. Bryan Caskey

          When you say “value produced by the worker” what exactly do you mean?

          Also, the minimum wage isn’t an effective way to help people supporting a family (if that’s your objective) because most minimum-wage workers are not heads of households. More than half are students or young people.

          1. Harry Harris

            Sorry. Sometimes I am often too vague and condensed when I write stuff. I was referring to the power of the employer to set wages in a low-demand economy (local or more general). My interest goes beyond minimum wages to creating more two-way commitment between employers and employees. Companies that move from treating employees as expendable parts of a profit machine and move toward employees who truly see their stake as a productive part of an efficient and effective enterprise – and who are rewarded financially and in other inclusive ways. I also want to help the lot of those who work at the bottom of the pay scale even if the greater problems of low wages can’t be quickly solved. I have no quarrel with low-wage scales that are coupled with substantial profit-sharing plans that do more than line the pockets of the higher -ups. Look at the “contented cows” studies during the late ’90s’ and early 2000’s. Company morale and employee empowerment are good for the bottom line – and, I contend, our society.

          2. Milo Minderbinder

            It’s all for the Syndicate, and everyone gets a share. What’s good for M & M Enterprises is good for the country.

  10. Bryan Caskey

    Unfortunately, the people in support of the minimum wage are do-gooders. They believe that they are helping poor people who need the money. However, what they’re actually doing is absolutely assuring that people who’s skills are not sufficient to justify that wage will be unemployed. It’s a law that says you MUST discriminate against people who have low or no skills. Who has low or no skills?

    Young people.

    Why do you think the teenage unemployment is now significantly higher than adult unemployment? It’s been higher for a long time, but it hasn’t always been that way. In 1948, youth unemployment was about 10%, not too far off the adult unemployment rate. It’s now 25%.

    1. Harry Harris

      Ignoring the gross generalizations concerning young people and low-skilled workers, let’s home-in on the apparent implication that the minimum wage is responsible for youth unemployment. In 1948, we were still largely agrarian and rural. Few teenagers were counted in the workforce. Many were working on farms and some in factories after school hours. Our economy was expanding rapidly – during and after the war, and the labor force included many fewer women. Times, attitudes, economics, and young people have changed a lot. I wonder how many young women were included in the unemployed figures from 1948.

    2. bud

      the people in support of the minimum wage are do-gooders.

      Perhaps. But we’re also pragmatists. I’d raise the minimum to about $10. That would be a huge stimulus to the economy since most employers that pay the minimum are unlikely to lay anyone off. They operate with the fewest workers possible and just pay what has to be paid. In any event if the economy ever picked up the minimum wage probably wouldn’t be needed. But since businesses can get away with paying slave wages they will.

  11. Silence

    The bigger issue here is that by combining a low minimum wage with a socialist welfare state, as a society we end up subsidizing the low-paid (unskilled, lazy, unlucky or whatever) employees of various corporations. As such, McDonald’s, Wal-Mart or whomever can get by paying minimum or near minimum wages to employees because we shell out the rest through various social welfare programs. Healthcare, SNAP, public transit, childcare vouchers, whatever, it’s us bringing up the minimum wage to an actual subsistence level.

    1. Doug Ross

      That’s a good point, Silence. I don’t hear anyone who is in favor of raising the minimum wage also supporting a cut in benefits to those who receive the increase in salary.

      1. Silence

        Thank you, Doug. It would make sense to phase out the benefits so that the government teat would expire upon gaining full-time, (new higher) minimum wage employ. I’m sure that’s a pipe dream, though.

        1. Kathryn Fenner

          People who need benefits should get them. Especially if they are able to work and do so. If they no longer need them, I believe they no longer get them.

          1. Doug Ross

            No one is saying people don’t need benefits. But if you get an $80 raise per week from your job due to an artificial increase in pay, should you continue to receive the same benefits you are currently getting?

          2. Silence

            I’m saying that it’s time to stop subsidizing corporations – that essentially they are able to underpay their workers with the taxpayer making up the difference. If you work, you shouldn’t need public benefits. Period. End of sentence. We are enabling the behavior of underpaying low-wage workers, and we should stop.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      That’s pretty alien to my experience…

      Lemme tell ya about unemployment benefits…

      When I was laid off, the max you could get in SC about about $320 a week. That was based on losing a job making probably about a fifth as much as I did at the paper, or something really low. (I don’t know what percentage of lost wages the benefit is supposed to replace.)

      Obviously, if you have a home and a life built on many times that, then you’re likely to lose it all if it takes any time at all to find a new job, because $320 a week won’t pay your bills.

      So right away you think, “Hey, while I’m looking for a new, permanent job, I could supplement that meager allotment by getting a temp job flipping burgers or something. Then maybe I can make ends meet, on a short-term basis.”

      But no. Every dollar you go out and earn is subtracted from your $320. So if your go out and bust your hump flipping burgers all week and earn $290 (which is what 40 hours at minimum wage pays), then you only get an unemployment check of $30.

      So obviously, you’re better off NOT working, and spending that time job-hunting instead. That, of course, is assuming that jobs are to be had…

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        But if jobs are not to be had, and even with your connections and experience, you had to scrounge, then you take what you can get.

      2. Harry Harris

        Actually Brad, according to ESC rules you can earn up to 25% of your benefit without penalty, and it is reduced on a proportional basis beyond that until it goes to zero at some point near your original basis.
        By the way, I miss your voice in the larger forum. Though we often disagree on issues, I always respected your considered approach to discussions and your skill as a writer. At the time, it appeared to me that several media and news outlets decided to replace talent and experience with some cheaper hires. My view was from the outside, but several moves at newspapers and TV looked “corporate.”

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Actually, it was worse than “news outlets decided to replace talent and experience with some cheaper hires.”

          Basically, they got rid of the highest-paid talent and didn’t replace them with anybody.

          For instance, since we were the two highest-paid people in editorial, Robert Ariail and I were laid off at the same time. The State still has no editorial page editor or cartoonist. My two remaining associate editors, Warren Bolton and Cindi Scoppe, were folded into the news department and now report to the executive editor.

          And it was a corporate thing in the sense that McClatchy had overburdened itself swallowing a company (Knight Ridder) twice its size in 2006, so it was extremely vulnerable when the downturn came. But layoffs at newspapers were, and are, a national phenomenon, not at all limited to McClatchy. The whole industry was in a bad way, and the recession just devastated it.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            As for that thing about the up to 25 percent — nobody told me that.

            But it’s a fairly moot point, since 25 percent of $320 is $80, and pretty much anything I did was going to exceed that.

            This is why I only collected a check for about three weeks out of those several months.

            It was also a huge hassle even staying on the rolls. After my 90-day consulting contract with USC ran out, I had to go through a tedious review process getting recertified to get benefits, explaining multiple times why I’d gone and lost THAT job (the answer being that it wasn’t a job, it was a time-limited consulting contract).

            In my experience, unemployment isn’t worth the work it takes to get it.

  12. bud

    SNAP is actually a tiny part of the budget. The REAL welfare in this country is corporate welfare. Given the outrageous policy of taxing capital gains less than wages is a true national disgrace.

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