Helping the unemployed

By Paul Moomjean 01/16/2014

During the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt had to do something to help a hurt country. Public works programs. The fole. Bonds. He did everything he could think of. While much of his social engineering of the economy has gone into hyperdrive since the 1930s, causing much economic misfortune and bloated federal budgets, his action did save the United States from a total collapse. Today our nation remains in a dark economic hole. Unemployment is still too high, and the American worker needs to get back to work to help himself, his family and his country. As I write this, the Senate is battling for positioning concerning extended unemployment benefits, and while the cold blooded conservative in me says “no,” the compassionate conservative in me says, “Let them eat cake.”

The difference between conservatives and liberals can be summed up this way: Liberals want to do too much, and conservatives don’t want to do enough. Currently, Congress is battling out an unemployment benefits bill that would extend benefits by either three months or 10 months, for roughly $6 billion. That sounds like a lot of money, but if something isn’t passed soon, then what could happen to our nation’s unemployed families might be too damaging overall.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is fighting the GOP instead of working with them to make something happen. He has continually blocked Republicans from joining in the healing process because, in his words, Republicans are “continually denigrating our economy, our president and frankly, I believe, our country.” Reid’s lack of bipartisan leadership is not good for this situation. By keeping Republicans in the dark, he’s limited outside views and is creating hostility in a situation where ultimate teamwork is required.

“Indiana voters didn’t send me here to be told just to sit down and forget it,” said Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind. And he’s right. Reid must work with everyone to make sure that Americans don’t go hungry or miss rent. If Reid doesn’t work with the GOP, he deserves whatever happens in the midterm elections come November.

Unemployment benefits are such a complex issue, one that transcends politics because it deals with people whose life hit them like a bus. Conservatives cannot call this laziness as they might regarding welfare recipients, because the way one gets unemployment benefits is by paying into the system while once employed. Here is where I break away from my fellow conservatives, and one reason is because, from 2007 to 2010, I experienced the hardship of not having a job.

I was once told that a liberal is a naive person who just hasn’t had his or her wallet stolen, therefore espousing the philosophy that people are basically good. I’ll go one step further and say that many fiscal conservatives are people who have yet to be blindsided by life so as to need a helping hand. When I was unemployed, my unemployment benefit check was the only thing keeping me from having to become a burden to my friends or family. It kept food on the table. It kept me warm in the winter. It kept me feeling like a member of society. But I didn’t want to stay there forever.

There must be a balance between helping and coddling. Unemployment benefits allow for people to have some safety net. Even popular conservative Charles Krauthammer said on #The Charlie Rose Show# that we must have safety nets. Safety nets can never be lifetime solutions, though. We must work together as a nation to make sure that society doesn’t fall behind so much that we don’t recover.

    As I wrote earlier, in the 1930s FDR went the opposite direction of Herbert Hoover, and the United States was restored in due time. When times are tough our leaders must act, not sit back. In times of prosperity, like the 1980s and 1990s, the country reduced the welfare state and allowed people to take care of people. Today our nation is hurting. Business will not save us. Reid must make something work, and he must include everyone at the table.
In times of weakness we must help; after we rise, then we can talk about the conservative strategy. 


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