Unemplyoment bill in SC

I can’t say I entirely disagree with efforts in South Carolina to reform how unemployment benefits are paid out. Basically, they want to get people back to work doing something. Some of it makes sense:

A Senate panel advanced bills Tuesday that would require people laid off in South Carolina to pass a drug test to receive unemployment benefits, then volunteer 16 hours weekly with a charity or public agency to keep receiving a check…

Another policy change would require people drawing unemployment benefits to accept job offers that pay incrementally less than their previous wages.

The change means those drawing unemployment benefits must accept job offers that pay 90 percent of their previous wage after four weeks. The percentage would drop every four weeks. After 16 unemployment payments, they’d have to accept 70 percent of their previous income. Once federal extensions kick in at 20 weeks, they’d have to accept minimum wage labor.

I can agree with the volunteer work to an extent. Currently there are companies which state that people out of work for certain periods of time need not apply. There have been movements to make it illegal to do that (which I support), but I don’t know of any state that has actually passed any legislation. Having people volunteer in certain areas would counter some of the concerns of the douchebag companies out there. (I don’t know the ins-and-outs of the bill, but it would make sense to include internships as well.)

Of course, this doesn’t come without its problems. A person on unemployment in South Carolina gets about $235 a week. As a single individual with roommates, I could get by on that if need be, but anyone with kids is necessarily going to struggle. I can’t imagine it would be easy to pay for daycare or a babysitter for 16 hours a week while already on such a tight budget. For some people the SC bill is only going to make life more difficult, thus forcing them onto welfare for longer. That would be counter-productive for everybody.

On drug tests, I think that’s just a stupid idea. Relatively few people on welfare spend their money on illegal drugs, so the whole idea isn’t practical. And for those who do imbibe such substances, the testing costs are astronomical compared to the savings for the states.

On forcing people to accept job offers that suck, there are two obvious problems. First, fuck you to anyone who forces a person to work at a particular place or for a particular wage. Given how fond Republicans are of pretending that taxes are somehow akin to enslavement, I would think they might be more sensitive to forcing people into certain actions regarding their economic well-being. Second, any company that sees a large gap in a person’s work history is liable to intentionally offer that person the lowest wage they know they can get away with. All this does is create cheap labor for businesses by unfair means. If the state wishes to encourage people to get off welfare, they should use the carrot, not the stick.

So, some of these ideas aren’t entirely terrible. I think it’s likely the volunteer idea is motivated by the Republican perception that poor people are inherently lazy and bad, but it does have some merit to it. Indeed, the drug testing idea has a similar motivation, though it has no merit. The forced-work/slavery idea is a terrible one, but it has seemingly decent enough motivations. But then, this is South Carolina. I really don’t expect them to fix any of their problems in a way which resembles anything rational. (Sorry, native South Carolinian Stephen Colbert.)

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8 Responses

  1. The issue isn’t and never has been one of laziness, the issue is one of a disincentive to work, find work or seriously look for it. It isn’t laziness when you react in a rational way to incentives.

  2. And unemployment, so far as I know, is based on what your income was prior to becoming eligible for unemployment “insurance” benefits. It’s not quite like food stamps.

  3. I don’t want to pull a PZ and ascribe the worst of motivations to the opposition, but I don’t think it’s a secret that many Republicans believe that many people on welfare are lazy.

    According to the article, SC has an average payout of $235 and a maximum of $326. Most people with children and mortgages can’t get by on that for too long.

  4. It seems reasonable to me to require any person receiving money from the state to pass a drug test. This test should of course start with the governor of that state and all it’s legislators.

  5. Preaching to the choir rationalcrank. Preaching to the choir. Contrary to what Michael said, I think there is rampant drug use among those collecting public benefits. Tobacco and alcohol. If you want to collect public handouts and my tax dollars are being used to pay for it, than it is very reasonable to look into what exactly recipients are spending their capital on. If you can afford cigarettes, you can afford food.

    Michael, I think for lack of better terms, lazy is a decent descriptor. The fact is, and it’s close to indisputable, that unemployment, like so many other programs, provide incentives to keep one’s self collecting. While that isn’t laziness, it is certainly not a good faith effort either.

    More than anything else, those sucking from the public teat should not be able to do so for, what were we up to, 99 weeks? Two years? Really?

  6. “On forcing people to accept job offers that suck, there are two obvious problems. First, fuck you to anyone who forces a person to work at a particular place or for a particular wage.”

    Who is forcing anyone to do anything? If someone chooses to turn down jobs offers that’s fine with me, I just ask that I not be made to continue paying people who get an opportunity to work and don’t do so. That’s as big a pile of nonsense as the occupiers alleging they were somehow forced to take out massive amounts of student loans.

    When a person decides to do something of their own free will, and that something has consequences, I don’t really feel all that bad. I’m sorry if people are too proud to work at shop ‘n save because they feel it is beneath them, but that is their problem, not mine, and I don’t see how I should be paying for an others pride.

  7. I would be all for the drug tests if they weren’t a massive expense that failed to fix anything.

  8. You didn’t have an issue with the stimulus.

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