Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Americans incentivized not to work?

So this friend of mine, let's call him Rusty, shares the opinion of many on the right that at some point in time, starting around the time Obama became President, (hmmm....), Americans lost the incentive to work, or more accurately, were incentivized by Big Gubumint not to work, thanks to food stamps, Medicaid, unemployment benefits, and unquantified "welfare" of all kinds.  Nothing I say can convince Rusty otherwise.  It's an article of faith.

Rusty and his Rush Limbaugh-listening ilk don't believe stats such as those from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that there are currently 3.1 applicants for every job out there.  (While still daunting, this rate is far down from 6.9 applicants for every job at the end of the recession in June 2009.)  Nor do they stop to think what would happen if all those "welfare" recipients decided to enter the workforce -- even more applicants for every scarce job, and downward pressure on wages.

In fact, Republicans oppose raising the minimum wage, which would give more Americans the ability to support themselves without welfare.  A poverty-level minimum wage is certainly a disincentive to work.  

In his latest Rolling Stone blog post, Matt Taibbi takes the piss out of another right-wing theory, this time of David Brooks, about why Americna men especially don't want to take all those "humiliating" jobs out there just waiting to be filled: "David Brooks Wonders Why Men Can't Find Jobs: Comedy Ensues."

Regardless of why Brooks' particular theory is stupid and unsupported by facts, it's alarming that almost all U.S. conservatives are living in a speculative alternative America where able-bodied Americans prefer to "lounge around" on $200 a month for food stamps, rather than accept one of the many job offers dangling in front of them, because they consider such work beneath them.  According to conservatives, for whatever reason, before Obama, these Americans were incentivized to work, no matter how.  Post-Obama, these people have no incentive to work.  

So what changed besides the color of the guy in the White House, I wonder?  It couldn't be the fault of the GOP majority that came in with Obama.  So what is it??

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