I’m writing this because of a Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good email asking me to sign a petition to extend long-term unemployment benefits, which expired on 12/28/2013. Although I attend an Episcopal church these days, I did sign the petition and encourage you to do the same — if you live in the United States.
If you view unemployment benefits as providing a disincentive to work, that’s fine (though I’d like to see proof). But then I’d like to see you petition Congress for something else that will put people to work. Something other than tax cuts, which we have already tried and which have been shown to be a failure.
If we don’t want to pay unemployment benefits to people who want to work but can’t find jobs, my suggestion would be to resurrect the Works Progress Administration. Make the federal government the trainer and employer of last resort so that anyone willing and able to work can. We should try to ensure that wages paid by the fed for similar kinds of work don’t exceed that being offered in the private sector.
If people are able bodied, can’t find work in the private sector and don’t want to work for the WPA, then I’m ok with not giving them benefits. I think we as a society are obligated to provide opportunities. But if people don’t want to take advantage of those opportunities we should not force them but then have no further obligation to take care of them.
But to suggest, as most people in Congress and on the Right these days, that we have NO obligation to assist the unemployed and that our only duty is actually to make the best off more comfortable, makes me ashamed of our country.
These are off the cuff ideas and not fully fleshed out. What would you do to ensure that those who want work can find it?