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Cutting unemployment benefits actually hurts the economy

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

EDITORIAL : State legislator Alex DeCroce can apologize ‘till the cash cows come home, but the damage is already done: All offensive comments aside, the Assembly Minority Leader succeeded in furthering the belief that cutting unemployment benefits could boost the state’s economy. Anyone who took Economics 101 knows: That’s fiscal suicide.

It is as ignorant as it is cruel to lose patience with people who can’t find work, to broad-brush the 321,664 New Jerseyans who have been jobless for a lengthy period of time as “gaming the system,” and, on top of that, to refer to them as “these people.”

After all, many paid into the fund that is now helping them make ends meet. That’s why it’s called unemployment insurance . It’s supposed to be there when you need it.

But in a society that can swing to a “me first” mentality in a heartbeat, the freeloader stereotype can spread fairly easily, especially among those with comfy jobs that require murder or an even GREATER offense before termination is considered.

Of course, if DeCroce had first consulted the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, he’d have found some interesting bits of information.

Let’s start with the fact that, right now, there is one single job opening for every five people who are unemployed. I wonder how DeCroce would ring his logic around THAT Rosie.

If that doesn‘t grab you, how about: The overall economy actually gains $2 for every dollar of unemployment paid out. Says who? The Labor Department.

It’s not as if recipients are banking their checks, zipping down to Atlantic City, or hitting the streets looking for hookers and crack. They have to pay rent, fill their tanks, clothe and feed their kids — and themselves.

“I’m one of the few people here … who feel that benefits are too good for these people,” DeCroce told a business group. “Why go to work? If you can go for 26 weeks collecting $550 a week, and you get an extension for another 26, that’s close to $27,000 a year or $30,000 a year, and a lot of people figure, ‘Why go to work?'”

A hue and cry arose, and DeCroce suddenly turned weasel, saying: “I meant no offense to those who have suffered from the national economic downturn and despite their best efforts have been unable to find work.”

Then today Gov. Christie unspokenly came to DeCroce’s aid, demeaning the dialogue as a cafeteria “food fight” and admonishing  legislators as if he were Dean Wormer.

The problem here is that too many people are focusing on DeCroce’s insensitive attack when real attention should be paid to the realities of economics. Not even Christie can see that — and it’s his job to keep an eye on the bottom line.

I don’t want to hear apocryphal stories about unidentified, able-bodied people content to stay on the dole. The argument, even if it were true for a percentage of those collecting, doesn’t help the situation. It doesn’t change anything.

Besides, two can play that game.

See, for every gold-bricker tale DeCroce and those of his mindset can conjure, I can give you one of an industrialist who used tax cuts to buy himself a bigger house, go on vacations, and put on the Ritz — instead of creating more jobs.

I want to know what net effect unemployment has on the economy. I want to know whether tax cuts for the rich actually makes it easier or more difficult for people to find jobs. I want this to be about what works and what doesn’t — which, of course, could go a long way toward determining who works and who doesn‘t.

It beats listening to the class bias of some rich clown who represents a wealthy suburban district, who is married to a woman who pulls down $130,000 a year (she works for the state, creating a dual-government household whose salary, benefits and eventual pensions are ENTIRELY paid by you and me), a guy who never had to worry about making ends meet.

Just give us some truth.

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