Unemployment Benefits and Change
Being unemployed for long periods is a terrible experience for those who lack the resources to survive an extended financial drain. Especially when a family is on the line, the hopelessness and fear of joblessness is one of modern life’s greatest anxieties.
Still, at a certain point, unemployment benefits begin to become a weapon of dependency for government agents:
Thousands of out-of-work Rhode Islanders will start running out of unemployment benefits on Nov. 30 unless Congress acts to renew certain federal benefit programs.
About 30,000 unemployed people are collecting jobless benefits in Rhode Island, where the unemployment rate is 11.5 percent, fifth-highest in the nation.
If certain federal benefit programs expire as scheduled late this month, about 17,000 unemployed Rhode Islanders would run out of benefits sooner than they otherwise would, state figures show.
Short-term help is, I’d argue, a just and reasonable responsibility of state government, and during times of economic stress, the federal government should shift funds from other expenditures to help the states in their efforts. But when nearly two years of government subsidies come to be seen as a humanitarian necessity, the calculation begins to change.
After all, those who are kept afloat by such funds are less likely to make changes that might improve their circumstances while contributing to the economy. That’s true on a personal level, with the decreased the likelihood that workforces will move from place to place or industry to industry as the economy requires, or reconfigure their living circumstances toward more sustainable expectations and better fortified family supports. It’s also true on a political level, with the ire of unemployed voters focused on maintaining and extending their temporary benefits rather than pressuring politicians to cease their games and get out of the economy’s way.