Friday, February 7, 2014

The Philosphical Inconsistencies in Republican Thinking on Unemployment and Taxes

Once again our soulless federal government failed to approve extending unemployment insurance for those suffering a long term loss of work. For those unemployed who have dependents, this kick to the groin has collateral victims; for a Party so quick to praise the traditional nuclear family this failure to provide money to workers- workers who have paid into the system for years and now simply want some of that money back- it seems unconscionable that they would increase the amount of stress, anxiety, frustration, and conflict (often physical) within the family. The philosophy at the root of this madness is the idea that by creating a greater sense of urgency and "poverty" among the unemployed that they will work harder to find a job. Set aside the fact that the demand for labor is uneven throughout our nation, and that it stands to reason that many of the long term unemployed are living in those pockets where demand is low. The point: make money more scarce and people will try harder to obtain more of it.

Now let's turn to the rich and taxes. If we are to take Republican reasoning to its logical conclusion, then it stands to reason that what we should do is raise taxes on the rich as a way to motivate them to work harder to produce their income and wealth. Make money more scarce and the rich should work harder to get more of it. Right?

Well, apparently not, and the reason is very revealing, because it suggests something very pernicious, namely that there is a fundamental, immutable difference between the "haves" and the "have nots." For the rich, the key is to let them keep more of what they have; that will motivate them to want even more. But for the poor, the undeserving, the morally inferior, the key is to tighten the screws and forcibly push them to a precipice: the truly worthy poor and unemployed will rise up and overcome, while the others will wither and die, literally.

This reasoning of course defies much conventional economic wisdom, a common failing of the current Republican Party. More evidence was on display when they bemoaned the fact that a growing number of workers, now aware that they can still receive health care by working less hours, choose to work less rather than the more "natural" inclination to always want to work more and more. The Party must be unaware of a basic Eco 101 lesson on the "income" and "substitution" effects of labor. Some people choose to work less so they can pursue other things like spending time with the family. That's called "opportunity cost," another basic economic tenet.

The Republicans have already shown themselves ignorant of basic science, we can now add to that basic economics. Is there anything that Republicans truly understand. I now understand why they are such fervent supporters of school choice; they clearly didn't learn much in their public school education.

So the heartless policy on unemployment insurance can be traced to two possible things. On the one hand they are simply ignorant of basic economics and the expansionary impact of maintaining or even increasing compensation to the unemployed. Or, on the other hand, they are avowed Social Darwinists who believe that the poor and long term unemployed are inferior beings that should be denied government support. Its a horrible choice, but then again the people who have hijacked my former Party are showing themselves to be horrible people.