I retired from Ohio's unemployment bureau after 30 years. While I have no empirical evidence, my experience showed me that people would much rather work than collect benefits. As Sherrod Brown says, there is dignity in work. Our society shames those on unemployment when the cause is only sometimes the fault of the worker, especially during a pandemic. You correctly point out that perhaps the real problem is low wages. Once again, Republican governors are acting stupidly, cutting off "free" money which goes into their states, stimulating local economies.

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I have checked and never found a major daily news paper that had a Labor Section, though oddly they all had Business Sections, and really that is all you need to know about the biases of the OWNERS of the press.

I understand that my observation is anecdotal (as is anything/everything Megan McArdle has ever written), and therefor just as valid.

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I just read that PA is ending the extended benefits in June "because unemployment has fallen below 5%". No specifics on why it is below 5%, but regardless it doesn't make sense to end it now. It's federal money!

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Last week Paul Krugman posted strong evidence that contradicts these claims:

“ Notably, the expiration of the $600-a week-benefit introduced in March 2020 didn’t lead to any visible rise in overall employment; in particular, states with low wages, for whom the benefit should have created a big incentive to turn down job offers, didn’t see more employment than higher-wage states when it was removed.....

Also, if unemployment benefits were holding job growth back, you’d expect the worst performance in low-wage industries, where benefits are large relative to wages. The actual pattern was the reverse: big job gains in low-wage sectors like leisure and hospitality, job losses in high-wage sectors like professional services.“


Our lazy media can’t be bothered reporting these facts even though you know they are well aware of what economists like Krugman has been documenting. The media is doing the same with claims about the danger of inflation, ignoring the evidence that the price rises are in industries that have bottlenecks in their supply chains or excessive rebound demand that are pushing the prices up.

It is clear that Republicans have managed to influence the underlying economic assumptions of journalists with their decades of propaganda. Many journalists also cannot accept that there is no evidence that government debt causes inflation despite blatant counter examples. For instance Reagan nearly tripled our national debt without causes inflation problems. Bush also increased our debt with his tax cuts and unfounded war without causing inflation problems.

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A lot of the issue is that the press and broadcasting rely on rank-and-file employees who aren't at the level of the big contracted names. It doesn't pay for the organization to rile up these lower wage people by pointing it out in print. They prefer a caste system of lowly workers and a few cloud minders far above them. In the middle are the gatekeeping managers.

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I remember when Paul Krugman came out with The Great Unraveling, and Russell Baker reviewed it for The New York Review of Books. It is one of the best commentaries ever about coverage of Washington politics and includes this magical paragraph:

"The healthy income of top Washington-based political writers may also have an effect. For those with a foot or two in television, the income is very healthy indeed. Six-figure incomes are the rule, and those seen frequently as TV performers may be millionaires. We are talking of people who may well be in that top bracket so generously favored by the Bush tax cuts. Self-interest almost always begets a little prudence."

This led to a reporter calling Baker, who said that he grew up poor, as most reporters of his generation did, since they were Depression-era babies. He said something along these lines: They ended up covering politicians who were wealthier than they were, and appreciating programs that helped their families. Current reporters had grown up in a time of economic prosperity and were better-paid than their predecessors, and often were children of the 1960s and thus into social issues more than economic ones.

To put it another way, I worked for a couple of years as a reporter and editor. I started at minimum wage (it was the early 1980s). No one covering DC for a media outlet is working for minimum wage. So they have no conception of what it's really like.

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Even I’m getting bored of my old fart cynicism regarding the establishment media’s disastrously awful “journalism” but I do want to note that the mainstream’s economic reporting over the years has be so detached from reality and facts as to be very, very little more than a complete serial fiction. More relevantly, there’s a number of reasons for difficulty in filling the worst paying jobs; the limited government monies is in all likelihood the most minor reason — fear of taking ill or dying is far more likely. As Eric notes (more or less), the failure — or refusal — to seek out a perspective from any worker is inexcusable.

As for the Richer item, the punchline was omitted. Pretty much as he was reading on one screen that the database had been destroyed, on the other screen he pulled up said database, intact and not at all destroyed.

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For sure, today’s major victims of the economic mess vis a vis the pandemic are lower paid workers who are being depicted as dead beats by many in the press and msm is walking in lockstep w/that common Republican narrative. How about paying them a decent and livable wage? Eric, you’re right on the money (no pun intended 😋). It’s as though lower paid workers don’t count in the conversation by the Rs about quality of life and family issues; their disdain for the ‘lowly’ worker is palpable. Talk about biases. Thus, the cruel, cutting off of unemployment insurance by Rs in red states. Unforgivable. The press is reporting on the wrong side of this issue; their words inflame the topic and morph it into reality for the public. That’s the shame of their one side reporting. The former guys’ voters were interviewed to the extreme. What do the Biden voters think?

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The same old play book the Republicans have been using for years. They used to rail against welfare sighting "why should people work if the government is giving them money and food-stamps?" We understand the code for what people the Republicans are talking about too. It's always divide and conquer. Now the Republicans are blaming Biden because his "handout" is why people don't want to work. Of course the lazy press doesn't bother to ask the question of why employers do not pay a fair wage? As you point out, people are now reassessing things, especially young people. Look at college enrollment. It's way down and it started before the pandemic. Young people have gotten wise to the fact that college presidents are getting paid millions while graduates are on the hook for decades paying back their student loans. How will these folks be able to build any wealth while in constant debt, especially when working for unfair wages. So it's not lazy people who simply want to sit on their couch eating chocolates. It's people who because of a pandemic, now realize just how bad they have been getting shafted for years by a system and media who reward the super wealthy.

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To the GOP an all the so called journalists let's take away your paycheck and benefits for 1 month and you live on what these employers are paying the one's being interviewed. Let's see what you can do with that check, can the rent and utilities get paid, can you go to market and buy food for your family of 4, is their money to pay for wifi? Just a few everyday things people are concerned with while their employer is living the high life off these so called lazy people. Is the GOP only talking about Dems or are their followers headed back to work?

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Since the days of Adam Smith, the debate has raged about the proper level of pay for labor. The lord and merchant classes were convinced that anything beyond subsistence wages would disincentivize work. But because a steady labor force was needed, workers needed enough money to be able to feed their children - the next wave of cheap labor. The dilemma was finding the level of pay that would allow workers to reproduce without making them lose their desperation to work. Seems there is still a market for that thinking.

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Soledad O'Brien ran this story on Matter of Fact:


Also, a local reporter from NBC affiliate WLWT in Cincinnati interviewed Frank LaRose about this subject and when he was finished with his Rethuglican spiel she asked him if he had talked to any workers. I cheered!!

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By cutting off extended unemployment benefits theses revolting republican governors hope to force people back to taking low paying job.

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Mr. Boehlert. Quoting Meghan McCardle’s opinion piece as Washington Post authority is both unfair and unwise. Unfair as she is a well known part or RW Media & thus predictable in her opinion pieces. Unwise as it gives her a credibility she simply doesn’t deserve.

One part of me via not unhappy that Republicans are cutting benefits. First, because the Federal deficit is too high as it is. Second because the attack ads write themselves. Picture Republican Officeholder being shown literally snatching money out of people’s hands.

But the reason for this post is that you, the Republicans, and everyone else in this debate, miss the key point here.

Unemployment recipients are consumers.

Workers are consumers.

Hammer this home. It’s not about payments as much as the spending on goods & services those payments allow.

Don’t allow the roles to be split.

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The school year will be over soon so why should students go back now only to be home again in a few weeks or so? Just let them start over in class in September, preferably after they've been vaccinated along with their parents and teachers.

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