But some hard truths should be kept in mind.
Paying people unemployment benefits for longer than six months can render then unemployable, in the eyes of the people doing the hiring, some observers say. Plus, being out of the workforce in a fast-changing world just makes the job hunt harder, as even the NY Times has noticed.
“Skills become obsolete, contacts atrophy, information atrophies, and they get stigmatized,” said Harry Holzer of Georgetown University.
This is not to say people on unemployment are lazy. It’s to note the universal truth that people respond to incentives. Giving people more than two years’ of jobless benefits is to tempt many to stay out of work more than six months. That can mean forever.
So extending unemployment benefits can be harmful, as so many unintended consequences are.
Also, it’s not as if North Carolina has huge bundles of cash lying around. Or that it has been a real Scrooge in the past.
The proof: The state is already $2 billion in debt to the federal government for previous infusions of cash to pay for jobless benefits. And that sum may go higher.
The safety net may be tattered, as some say. But it’s spending that is tearing the fabric.
That’s billions of dollars that can’t pay teachers or police officers, that can’t build bridges or roads.
And of course that is money all of us are going to have to pay back one way or another.
North Carolinians already have run up a big bill with the state. A previous post referred to a study earlier this year from the Institute for Truth in Accounting. It analyzed the real financial liabilities of all the states. It concluded that in North Carolina each state taxpayer’s financial burden is $14,800.
So you, as an NC taxpayer, already face a burden of $14,800 from the state. Add to that the enormous federal debt. Do you think you, and all of us, have a lot of money to contribute to the government?
Moreover, complaints may be falling on deaf ears. A new poll says that a plurality of those polled — 39 percent — said the government should not do anything for the unemployed.
Surely the debate will go on. We all sympathize with people caught in a malfunctioning economy. But let’s keep some of these facts in mind.