These Republicans (and the Democrats who similarly do the bidding of banks and corporate CEOs) are a funny lot. There are still the Bush dead-enders who still think that if they Just Work Hard Enough™, they'll be in the Rich Guys Club too someday, but an increasing number of us -- you know, those who watch that George Carlin video over and over again, know that the game was rigged thirty years ago when Ronald Reagan said that if you just give the rich enough money, the stuff that overflows from their stuffed pockets will "trickle down" to us. The saddest cases aren't the long-term unemployed who know they'll never work again and after Working Hard Enough their whole lives, now find themselves going to the church food pantry for some boxed macaroni and cheese. The saddest cases are people like the Peter Griffin soundalike who recently called Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren a "socialist whore":
This is someone who's a victim of The Big Club, but he's so invested in the Just Work Hard Enough meme that to realize that everything he believed in is a lie would probably destroy him. It's easy to forget that when these people send around e-mails of Obama with a bone in his nose, or take guns to Democratic candidate appearances, and vote again and again against their own self interest, choosing candidates who point their attention elsewhere so that the latter's corporate masters can steal the last few bucks out of the former's back pockets, they're operating out of fear -- a fear that the Big Club has spent thirty years tapping, and will continue to tap until we're all scrambling for scraps.
The politicians who do the bidding of the Big Club think they're part of it. They get invited to conclaves given by the Koch brothers and they receive the largesse that the Big Club gives them and they think that when the middle class has been successfully destroyed, they'll be on that Big Boat with the Big Club, swilling Dom Perignon from the cleavage of hookers. They don't realize that they'll be left behind too. And it doesn't matter that
And that explains why, now that they seem to have successfully stymied any attempt to rebuild the job base in this country, they're going after the unemployed (NYT editorial):
Tragically, the more entrenched the jobs shortage becomes, the more paralyzed Congress becomes, with Republicans committed to doing nothing in the hopes that the faltering economy will cost President Obama his job in 2012. Last week, for instance, Senate Republicans filibustered a $60 billion proposal by Mr. Obama to create jobs by repairing and upgrading the nation’s deteriorating infrastructure. They were outraged that the bill would have been paid for by a 0.7 percent surtax on people making more than $1 million.
Things may be about to get worse.
Federal unemployment benefits, which generally kick in after 26 weeks of state-provided benefits, are scheduled to expire at the end of the year. That would be a disaster for many of the estimated 3.5 million Americans who get by on extended benefits — an average of $295 a week. It would also be a blow to the economy, because it would reduce consumer spending by about $50 billion in 2012 — which would mean slower economic growth and 275,000 lost jobs. Unfortunately, given Republicans’ demonstrated willingness to ignore human needs and economic logic, it is more likely than not that jobless benefits will be a major battle in the months ahead.
There are no plausible arguments against an extension — in fact, Congress has never let federal benefits expire when the unemployment rate was higher than 7.2 percent. But there are many specious arguments, chief among them that providing benefits reduces the incentive to get a new job. The evidence says otherwise.
A recent paper by Jesse Rothstein, an economist at the National Bureau of Economic Research, shows that benefit extensions in early 2011 raised the jobless rate by about 0.1 to 0.5 percentage points, but most of that was due to benefit recipients staying in the labor force and actively looking for work during the time they are collecting benefits, rather than, say, dropping out in despair.
Unemployment benefits are the first line of defense against ruin from job loss that is beyond an individual’s control. In a time of historically elevated long-term unemployment, they are an important way to keep workers connected to the job-search market. They are also crucial to ensuring that the weak economy doesn’t weaken further.
The Republicans blocking an extension of unemployment benefits seem to WANT there to be mass despair and a complete elimination of the middle class. They seem to think that when everyone is poor except the Big Club and themselves, that somehow they'll benefit. But there's no way the Big Club can buy enough STUFF to keep an economy this size healthy, and that's really the point. The Big Club already has its sights set elsewhere. It could be China, it could be India, it could be the Philippines, it could be Indonesia. It could be the entire Middle East, for all we know. But if you finish a Big Bulp from 7-Eleven and you're still thirsty, you buy another Big Gulp. And as long as there's another Big Gulp to be had for the Big Club, they don't care about the giant, non-bio-degradable plastic cup they leave behind.
These politicians will find this out after it's too late.
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