A Hard Rain Is Gonna Fall

Obama Administration

This week 1.3 million people will be losing unemployment benefits, which will be a disaster for them (just as food stamps are going away, too) and a drag on the economy overall.

WaPo has a map showing where the people losing benefits live. Wow, New Jersey is about to get slammed. What’s up with that, Gov. Christie? Hasn’t yelling at schoolteachers created more jobs?

One person happy about the loss of benefits is Paul Ryan, who seems to sincerely believe that cutting people off of benefits will inspire them to get jobs that aren’t actually there.

Ryan has always defended his stinginess on safety net issues as tough love for the poor, giving them “incentives” to take a job, any job, to support their families.

“We have an incentive-based system where people want to get up and make the most of their lives, for themselves and their kids,” he says. “We don’t want to turn this safety net into a hammock that ends up lulling people in their lives into dependency and complacency. That’s the big debate we’re having right now.”

Now, where have we heard this before? Timothy Egan remembers.

When a million Irish died during the Great Famine of the 1850s, many in the English aristocracy said the peasants deserved to starve because their families were too big and indolent. The British baronet overseeing food relief felt that the famine was God’s judgment, and an excellent way to get rid of surplus population. His argument on relief was the same one used by Rand Paul.

“The only way to prevent the people from becoming habitually dependent on government is to bring the operation to a close,” Sir Charles Trevelyan said about the relief plan at a time when thousands of Irish a day were dropping dead from hunger.

(I understand the one million figure is a conservative estimate. And the Irish were growing plenty of food in Ireland. They just weren’t allowed to eat it.)

Ryan always strikes me as being possibly less bright than a bag of hammers. But, still, there’s something particularly galling to me when someone with an Irish surname takes up this “tough love for the indolent poor” crusade.

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  1. Annie  •  Dec 28, 2013 @1:39 pm

    Yes! He’s an idiot and it galls me that he and I share the same last name (my maiden name)! How he got elected is a mystery because he is a stupid man. May he some day know the same fate that he wishes on other people who are poor and jobless.

  2. goatherd  •  Dec 28, 2013 @3:02 pm

    “giving them “incentives” to take a job, any job, to support their families.”

    When I graduated from college unemployment in Florida, where I lived, was over 10%. It took me years to catch a break and get a job that offered any hope for advancement. There was a crisis and the non-profit I worked for went belly up. One thing I knew instinctively, was that if I took a job, delivering sandwiches or “any job” as our Randian overlords suggest, I would have thrown away any chance at ever finding a better life.

    If you think spending too long a period looking for work, puts the “Mark of Cain” on your brow, try a little stint in “any job.” People like Ryan have absolutely no idea how the world works, they don’t have to, they don’t live in it.

    By the way, I recently watched a BBC series called “The Victorians.” It reinforced the point about the similarity of Victorian attitudes to those of the conservative elite.

  3. maha  •  Dec 28, 2013 @3:19 pm

    If you think spending too long a period looking for work, puts the “Mark of Cain” on your brow, try a little stint in “any job.” People like Ryan have absolutely no idea how the world works, they don’t have to, they don’t live in it.


  4. Gator90  •  Dec 28, 2013 @3:14 pm

    “Where the people are many and their hands are all empty…” Maybe Dylan was describing a Republican paradise. There are even guns in the hands of young children.

  5. c u n d gulag  •  Dec 28, 2013 @3:38 pm

    I wonder how Senator, and Dr., Rand Paul would like it if I passed reading an eye-chart in a local DMV, and self-certified myself as an Optometrist, or Opthamologist, or whatever that sociopathic assclown self-certified himself as, and opened an “Eye Clinic” right next door to his “I Clinic?”

    KY, you’re lucky you have a Democratic Governor, who accepted Medicaid money, and started a state health care exchange, because, I’m sorry, but too many of your citizens, are too f*cking stupid to continue to live, because they voted for both McConnell, and Paul.
    And Paul makes McConnell look like a combo of Sam Adams and Thomas Jefferson!

  6. Waspuppet  •  Dec 28, 2013 @4:55 pm

    I’d really like it if, at the very least, one of Our Media Stars would ask Paul Ryan and/or his fellow Republicans, “So are there job openings falling from the trees that people are too indolent and dependent to do, or are Obama and the Democrats clueless and awful at creating jobs? Because you say both all the time, and they can’t both be true.”

    But I guess that’s too much to ask of people who get paid millions of dollars to talk about politics.

    “How he got elected is a mystery because he is a stupid man.”

    He comes from a connected family and has been shaking the right hands and mouthing the right talking points since (I kid you not) he was a teenager who was able to finish high school thanks to Social Security survivors benefits when his father died. Mr. Bootstraps Self-Sufficiency has had about six months in his life without a government check coming in.

  7. c u n d gulag  •  Dec 28, 2013 @5:17 pm

    If the MSM assclowns asked those questions, they’d lose their 6 -7-8 figure a year salaries.
    5 or 6 extremely powerful corporate and real “persons” own 90+ percent of our news and information sources – and they’re doing just fine with the status quo.

    Why rock the boat, baby, when there are tons of people smarter and more talented than Disco-dancin’ Dave Gregory, and UpChuck Todd, who’ll be happy to take their jobs and money, and happily bullsh*t the public?
    They may be cowardly, compliant, and complicit assclowns, but they ain’t stupid!!!

  8. c u n d gulag  •  Dec 28, 2013 @5:46 pm

    Is there no way to “un-twit-filter” some of us long-term twits?

    At this point, you’ve got to know the most damage that a twit like me can do to offend you, the other regular commenters, and any newcomers!!! 😉

    SET THE REGULAR TWITS FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. erinyes  •  Dec 28, 2013 @6:14 pm

    “A hard rain is gonna fall”; perfect description. The fallout will shake us to the core if congress fails to act quickly. I was watching moyers last night. His guest said american capitalism is cruel beyond description. We’re about to find out.

  10. Mike G  •  Dec 28, 2013 @8:05 pm

    What a coincidence that this outbreak of don’t-want-to-work indolence happened just after the economy went into the dumpster thanks to the hog-wild deregulation ideology of Ryan and his buddies.

    If you think spending too long a period looking for work, puts the “Mark of Cain” on your brow, try a little stint in “any job.”

    This. If you’re a college grad with years of McJobs on your resume it can take a mighty effort to ever get out of that pigeonholing.

  11. Doug  •  Dec 28, 2013 @8:36 pm

    This recession (which ended years ago as measured by corporate profits) has been unique in my experience. And I’m not young. The bounce for business was swift and strong, but jobs and wages are stagnant. Year after year. Conservatives tire of extended assistance, but there is extended need. The invisible hand of the free market has been giving the worker the finger. The unemployed and under-employed know this well.

    Let’s move off the topic of unemployment insurance and discuss employment as the objective. Wages you can support a family with and lots of jobs. This is a new idea – plenty of rough edges – but I think it could work. There’s an abundance of cheap money – capital is available but what company can compete producing goods in the US at (fair) US wages against mega-corporations who have exported jobs to the third world for pennies an hour and are bringing finished goods back to sell at premium prices?

    If the objective is jobs, not profits, why couldn’t non-profit, tax-exempt manufacturing ‘entities’ be subsidized by the government with the understanding, they would give hiring preference to the long-time unemployed. Focus on producing consumable items that low-income people must buy. Discard the profit motive – ditch advertising completely. Hire qualified, possibly retired, management who can adapt to a business model that has low overhead (and prohibits 6-figure salaries), but has generous incentives that labor would share for meeting goals.

    For low-income people who are on assistance, give ‘bonus’ credit for purchasing from an ‘un-corporation’. They are keeping others off government assistance. Create dis-incentives for companies who refuse to carry ‘un-corporate’ goods. Yeah, I’m sure the legality of that would be challenged, but the corporate giants will see the threat of goods produced by entities who don’t have the profit motive and they will try to prevent the buyer from having access to those goods.

    Even liberals who see the failure of the market to meet the minimal needs of society (as far as jobs and wages are concerned) have not come up with proposals that go beyond extending benefits to keep people from starving and rioting. Why not push back? Produce jobs, goods and set aside the profit motive in a productive segment of the economy.

  12. Swami  •  Dec 28, 2013 @9:10 pm

    Paulie’s concept of how things work is very similar to Nancy Reagan’s program to combat homelessness.. ” Just go buy a house”. The idea is not to get caught up in the particulars when you’re putting forth great ideas. You think Edison allowed his creative genius to be stifled by a concern of who is going to pay the electric bill? So why should Paulie be held to a higher standard in concerning himself with the worries of a bunch of freeloaders.

    God evidently has found Paulie more morally fit and more deserving than the rest of us malingerers.

  13. erinyes  •  Dec 29, 2013 @7:49 am

    Once again, I’m reminded of the failed British colonial empire. Divide and conquer the natives. Until the natives got their own magnum gun, all was well,
    It appears the masters are repairing the credit, and the sheep and cattle are being once again enticed to go forth and spend.
    What really galls me is this constant b.s. about just getting “any” job. I went through something like that when I was 19, there is a little thingie called depression that goes with constant rejection. Its one of those things that can’t be realized until experienced.

  14. c u n d gulag  •  Dec 29, 2013 @8:36 am

    Some very creative thinking!
    But I’m sure our Conservatives will say that that’s Socialism.
    Or, Fascism.
    Or, Communism.
    Or, Muslism Islamism Shariaism.
    Or, some other “ism.”
    Or, all “ism’s” combined.

    Don’t ever mention your idea again.
    I already fear for your life.

  15. goatherd  •  Dec 29, 2013 @8:37 am

    To make things even worse, geniuses like “Newt” propose ridiculous ideas like scrapping child labor laws. As an example of the benefits of this brainstorm, poor students can take over the janitorial work at schools, earn money and learn “responsibility.” This idyllic vision seems to lose track of the former janitors, displaced by the child labor. It’s often difficult to fathom how such a harebrained concept gets traction, especially among working class people, but it does, thanks to 24/7 propaganda and a stupefying popular culture. From Newton’s end the idea is not so much harebrained as it is purely vicious.

    The “two Americas” is part of their grand vision, the rich live at Versailles and the rest of us live in China. This will solve the biggest problem faced by the people at the top, namely, it is very difficult to find good “domestics” these days.

  16. erinyes  •  Dec 29, 2013 @10:00 am

    A correction to my comment; that should be “maxim” gun.
    I’ve been reading Kipling and Margolis again.

  17. erinyes  •  Dec 29, 2013 @10:04 am

    Having toured viscaya in Miami, and the Biltmore estate in Asheville, I have had a glimpse into the gilded age. Wonderful if you’re on top !

  18. Bill Bush  •  Dec 29, 2013 @10:50 am

    Every time I watch Downton Abbey, I think “Oh, how pretty!” followed immediately by “Oh, what a drag to live someone else’s life by a book of manners.” Ryan evidently has not made it to the second thought.

  19. David Kowalski  •  Dec 29, 2013 @12:33 pm

    The “mark of Cain” casts an even broader net than you guys think. Try looking for a job in the private sector once you get a job in government, any government including government businesses like a local utility. Yes, you get more responsibility quicker than in the private sector but the fools still don’t want you.

    So, I put together a billion dollar budget. Who Cares? Audited programs that spent hundreds of millions of dollars a year? Not much. Made projections for billion dollar programs on a multi-year basis? Well, it’s government, son. Automated processes. Well, they deserved to be automated. Those government slackers aren’t doing anything. Responded to the market force of losing most of the business from our largest customer from re-location by a multi-million dollar package of cost cuts and rate increases. Wrote laws (not a lawyer). Wrote speeches. Gave presentations to community groups.

    Lots and lots of stuff but none was in the private sector so despite an MBA from Harvard, the same school W attended a few years before me), I was persona non grata in the private sector.

    I eventually got in and got steady work through my girl friend. Doing the same things I had done before for surgical groups, individual doctors, a nationally ranked hospital, a billing company, and a bid to privatize a government-run facility. Then I got disabled so now I fit the private guys in as time permits me but the clowns still do business with me. Who else can do genuine sophisticated cost accounting? Not their plain vanilla CPA (a real nice woman, by the way).

  20. Swami  •  Dec 30, 2013 @12:42 pm

    I don’t know why you liberals waste time thinking about a million people losing a government handout? Khloe lost 30 pounds and Kim has some sexy selfies posted to the internet.. It’s all about priorities, people!
    Jesus said the poor will always be with you, but the Kardashians will only be here for a season..

    Oh, what’s with Bruce..is he prepping for reassignment surgery?

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