House Votes to Expand Unemployment Benefits | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

House Votes to Expand Unemployment Benefits

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Gov. Haley Barbour said he was fine with missing a critical budget deadline if it meant reducing the state's spending.

More Mississippians could qualify for unemployment insurance under a bill the Mississippi House of Representatives passed Saturday. The Senate adjourned hours before the vote, meaning the Legislature will not bring up H. B. 1755 and 1756 until the Senate returns April 20. But the House vote suggests that both Republicans and Democrats may finally be on board with a bill that re-authorizes the Mississippi Department of Employment Security while drawing down more federal stimulus money.

Over the last month, Gov. Haley Barbour and House Democrats have disagreed on Mississippi's requirements for citizens to qualify for unemployment insurance, which Democrats argue are too stringent. Mississippians must work more than six months to meet unemployment insurance requirements and can only seek full-time work while unemployed. Under current law, only about 24 people out of 100 state residents qualify for unemployment insurance. Democrats want state law changed to allow more citizens to qualify, and give the state access to $56 million in federal stimulus money, but Barbour has argued that any change in state unemployment law commits the state to more costs in an age of budget shortfalls.
"We've gotten the assurance of the governor that he will not fight this bill in the Senate," said Rep. Cecil Brown, D-Jackson. "I'd say that was a tremendous improvement."

War between the two parties threatens to kill the re-authorization of the Mississippi Department of Employment Security after House Labor Committee Chairman Rufus Straughter, D-Belzoni, refused to allow Senate Bill 2404, which reauthorized MDES, out of his committee. Straughter said it did not contain language allowing the state to make use of $56.1 million in federal stimulus money for unemployed Mississippians, and did not include the proper code sections to pay unemployment benefits. Meanwhile, House Republicans, who Democrats say follow the will of Barbour, refused to pass House Bill 1346--a House bill re-authorizing the MDES while allowing the state to make use of the federal stimulus money--with the required three-fifths vote.

To qualify for more federal stimulus money, legislators must change state law to allow job hunters to seek part-time employment, instead of restricting their search to full-time employment. This eligibility requirement rules out many single mothers who cannot realistically seek full-time employment because of demanding family hours.
"There's approximately $56 million in federal stimulus funds available if we make some minor changes to state unemployment laws, but the governor's not willing to do that, and that's why MDES isn't currently authorized," said Rep. Bob Evans, D-Monticello.

Barbour defended the current practice at a March press conference, arguing that the state offers childcare for mothers seeking full-time work. "We put more money into child care through the TANF program than we did before I took office," Barbour said. "We do that with the expectation of people working fulltime or being willing and able to work full time to accept unemployment benefits."

Carol Burnett, executive director of the Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative, disputed the governor's positive assessment, arguing that the state's child-care fund "only serves 11 percent of the kids who qualify."

Another requirement for using federal stimulus money is that the state must allow unemployment benefits to people who have been employed less than six months. Currently, only people who have held jobs for more than six months may qualify for unemployment, even though an employer begins paying unemployment insurance on that employee with the first paycheck. If, for example, an employee lost his or her job May 15, 2009, the standard base period with which the state estimates eligibility would only count work the employee did in 2008. It would not recognize any work in the first quarter of 2009.

That situation changed over the weekend, however, with both House Republicans and Democrats backing two bills that re-authorized MDES and changed state law allowing new employees instant qualification for unemployment insurance. House leaders say the law change would allow the state to receive up to $21 million of the $56 million in federal stimulus funds. The bills suggest, however, that House leaders may have backed away from their call to lower restrictions allowing the unemployed to seek part-time work.

"I hate that the move to re-authorize MDES happened when it did," Evans said, of the vote, which occurred on the House floor after the Senate had already left the Capitol at 1:30 p.m. "Without the Senate there to take it up, the bill died.  But we can handle it during the week we come back, in April, and we believe the Republicans, and Barbour, may be willing to get onboard with this compromise."

Previous Comments

ID
156994
Comment

So what will this 21 million in stimulus money be used for? Does it only apply to those filing for benefits for the first time? I hardly think that it will cost the state 21 million to cover those that will qualify for unemployment based on the fact that their most recent 6 months of employment will be figured in. Would this not include people who have only been the job a little over one year or less? To tell you the truth not that many people have been hired over the last year and a half so I don't think this change will benefit that many workers who are laid off and would otherwise not qualify for unemployment if the most recent 6 months were not figuered in. Unless this means that the legislation is retroactive and will qualify people who were turned down in the past due to insufficient wages. If that is the case then people who have or are receiving unemployment should see their overall benefit amount increase since the last 6 months of wages would be added in. Also, if someone has not worked in say a year and half then suddenly gets a job in MS (fat chance of that) then suddenly gets laid off (yeah right, employer hires someone this year and then lays them off realizing we're in a recession) that person would not receive enough of an employment benefit check to make their time to file worthwhile. I say something smells of this supposed "Deal". Sounds like the Democrats are once again caving to Haley Barbour. The bottom line is that unemployed workers receiving benefits in MS still won't qualify for the additional benefits that most other states are receiving called "Extended Benefits" Unemployed in MS receive 53 additioanal weeks of benefits that are paid fully by the federal government not by the state. While most in other states who have adopted 2 out of four recommended changes (part-time employment is only one out of 4 that can be chosen) are receiving 99 weeks of benefits. If MS were to agree to cover victims who have to leave their jobs do to domestic abuse along with this new bill would that not allow MS unemployed to receive approximately 26 more weeks in benefits paid with stimulus dollars and not a penny out of the pocket of MS???? Am I missing something here????

Author
HooYoo2say
Date
2010-03-31T13:48:00-06:00
ID
156996
Comment

Also, on the part-time job search hangup that Governor Barbour has, unemployed Mississippians are more likely to only be able to find part-time work right now in case you haven't noticed. There's also a new trend that apparently Governor Barbour is unaware of or prefers to ignore. That being that many full-time workers have seen their 40 hour work week slashed. Maybe not down to part-time status but this thing is far from over. Based on that fact the Governors demand that people be only seeking full-time employment is almost comical. Is that not like saying that if you are unemployed and receiving benefits if someone offers you a part-time position you should turn it down? Even though most part-time employment pays nearly as much as the maximum weekly benefit amount in MS pays which I believe is a whopping $230.00! Before taxes! So you aren't eligible for benefits if you are seeking only part-time work. If you are laid off and receiving benefits and turn down an offer for part-time work that is equal to or exceeds your benefit amount then you must refuse the job or must you accept the job? See how ludicrous this all is? Splitting hairs while passing on 56 million dollars that I'm sure most businesses in MS would love to see circulating through their businesses even if there might be a slight chance that they might see a slight increase in payroll unemployment tax. Maybe, possibly. But the change in state law can be changed back in four years. I think most savy business people would jump at such a proposal if they stood to receive 56 million dollars that does not have to be paid back. I think the odds of this money helping the people and businesses in MS far outweigh this monstrous deadly beast that might seek to put MS businesses in jeapardy of failing because they can't afford a temporary small increase in their SUTA tax. Any business that fragile won't emerge from this recession or has already gone out of business due to (listen closely Haley) lack of consumer demand. Due to a lack of customers with money to spend. Included in that amount is the lack of $56,000,000.00 just sitting there waiting on Haley to OK it so Mississippians can spend it at local businesses that are soarly in need. If this was not such a serious issue it would be laffable. Turn down 56 million in free money while spending money to sue for what seems to be a perfectly legal piece of legislation enacted by Congress. Petty Petty Petty Petty Politics.

Author
HooYoo2say
Date
2010-03-31T14:53:13-06:00
ID
157002
Comment

HooYoo2Say, We need people with your level of understanding to run for office. We need thinkers and individuals who are not just self-serving, hate-filled, political animals. The Dems are caving in and we need to start working on carving them out.

Author
justjess
Date
2010-04-01T09:52:24-06:00
ID
157003
Comment

[quote]Also, on the part-time job search hangup that Governor Barbour has, unemployed Mississippians are more likely to only be able to find part-time work right now in case you haven't noticed. There's also a new trend that apparently Governor Barbour is unaware of or prefers to ignore. That being that many full-time workers have seen their 40 hour work week slashed. Maybe not down to part-time status but this thing is far from over. Based on that fact the Governors demand that people be only seeking full-time employment is almost comical. Is that not like saying that if you are unemployed and receiving benefits if someone offers you a part-time position you should turn it down? Even though most part-time employment pays nearly as much as the maximum weekly benefit amount in MS pays which I believe is a whopping $230.00! Before taxes! [/quote] Part time hours wouldn't be a "living wage", as the left so comments with regard to minimum or lower wages. Odd that you're willing to let employers exploit employees by only giving them a few hours a week.

Author
Mark Geoffriau
Date
2010-04-01T11:10:50-06:00
ID
157018
Comment

Not sure you understood my point JussJess. But I'm not understanding yours well enough to know if that is indeed the case. Regardless I'll just go along with the presumption there is indeed a point in there. Let me take a whack. You are proposing that Haley Barbour is actually protecting employees from an evil beast in the form of businesses that, God forbid, offer you a job with less than 40 hrs per wk?? Am I right in my tranlation of your point or are you wrong? To be clear,no one is actually letting employers exploit employees by offering part-time positions. When you own a business you have the say in how many employees you want and how many hours you need them to work. Just like an employee, under normal circumstances can accept or reject a position if the hours do not suit them. The only person doing the exploiting right now is Governor Barbour. In my opinion he is causing harm to both business and the unemployed in this state by refusing to allow 2 out of 4 temporary changes to archaic outdated unemployment laws. Quite the contrary JussJess. Haley Barbour is exploiting part-time employees by not allowing a them to qualify for unemployment benefits if they are laid off their job no matter how long they have been working for the employer or employers. With the economy the way it is right now businesses come out even better by hiring part-time. They are better justified when not offering benefits to part-time employees when those benefits are given to their full-time cohorts. They also have the advantage of dumping them without a moments notice while not running the risk of higher payroll taxes since part-time employees won't be able to file an unemployment claim against their account. Hence Governor Barbour's staunch stand against any part-time employee being allowed by law to file for unemployment. In this topsy turvy economy employers having the ability to hire and terminate employees without any real consequence is vital. And Haley Barbour is determined to protect that right to the tune of $56,000,000.00. To understand the magnitude of that amount of money is the fact that Mississippi did not even pay 56 million in unemployment benefits in the last two years combined. But here is where Haley really gets over on the Democrat's weak knees. By holding the Governor's feet to the fire to either accept or reject the entire 56 mil Haley would definitely be taking a huge risk if the state's unemployment fund, at the rate it is going, were to dry up while the 56million went unclaimed. By stepping aside and letting the Democrats have their small victory allowing employees to claim credit for wages THEY HAVE ALREADY EARNED Haley is actually making fools out of the Democrats. He has shielded his base, businesses, from any tax increase that might otherwise arise by hiring dispensable temp part-time employees. He does not have to waver on what he has from day one deemed unacceptable. The Democrats then serve him dessert by making a slight change in a law that really has no sound positive impact for anyone as far as this recession goes. The purpose of the 6 month final quarter law went out the window the day benefit payments were automated. Way back in the day when Al Gore invented the Internet. Remember? However, what the passing of this nominal law does do is save Haley's behind by padding the UI fund. And by the size of that behind thats a heck of a lot of padding. As Paris Hilton would say, "That's Huge" in terms of releasing the Governor from the heavy heavy decision on whether to give employees a rare break or risk political embarrassment by refusing the entire 56 mill only to see the unemployment fund go belly up at a high cost to businesses, employees and pretty much everyone in the state of Mississippi. Good job Dems! I'm sure Haley will breathe a huge sigh of relief when you show him who is boss and hand him the legislation he's been counting on from you for all along. Wake up for crying out loud!

Author
HooYoo2say
Date
2010-04-01T15:47:09-06:00
ID
157020
Comment

OOPS! Sorry justjess that post was intended to address Mr. Geoffriau. Thank you for your comment though. The problem for me being in office is that I'm a thinker with a bad temper which would inevitably lead to me straggling over two-thirds of my colleagues lol.

Author
HooYoo2say
Date
2010-04-01T16:21:20-06:00
ID
157028
Comment

[quote]When you own a business you have the say in how many employees you want and how many hours you need them to work. Just like an employee, under normal circumstances can accept or reject a position if the hours do not suit them.[/quote] You are absolutely correct, and your logic is irrefutable. The real question is why that logic doesn't also apply to wages?

Author
Mark Geoffriau
Date
2010-04-02T10:24:48-06:00
ID
157030
Comment

The free market controls wages above the minimum wage set by law. The minimum wage in place which was recently raised for the first time in many years is still below what is considered the poverty level in this country. But this is a free market and no employer is going to pay more than what is necessary to retain labor to do the job. If a job pays well then there is always a downside to the job. Well except for jobs in the public sector and those in investment and capital wealth ie. Wallstreet. These sectors pay far more than what is necessary to retain labor but their tab is being carried by the taxpayers. The public sector and Wallstreet make the laws though and they are not going to make policy that would eliminate or reduce their own jobs and wages. On that note I must say there are many areas where Haley Barbour and myself have a difference of opinion but I do appreciate his core beliefs and trust that the private sector is often the route to take if success and a higher quality of life is desired. I think Governor Barbour just needs to be reminded at times that priorities and responsibilities of public elected officials and a CEO of a private sector business often will differ and part ways in areas along the way. Haley must be mindful to not always go the way of a CEO. That is a time when towing a center line and skills of negotiation eventually bring the two sides back together.(Like it or not that is exactly how healthcare reform was accomplished. Perhaps the skills of a community organizer have been understated) But anyway, maybe Haley does better in this area than I realize which would mean he should do more in the way of explaining his reasoning behind some of his actions. Maybe he's just misunderstood :-)

Author
HooYoo2say
Date
2010-04-02T12:48:01-06:00
ID
157039
Comment

Because, Mark, some people are true *ssholes who would pay their employees a penny a day (or less) if they could get away with it. (Which is exactly what some American companies are doing overseas in countries that don't have wage regulations.) Honestly, I don't understand your objections to paying people wages they can actually live on. And please, don't tell me about how half the people making minimum wage are under 23. "Under 23" does not mean they're all college kids supported by their parents and working for pin money. There are plenty of single parents in that group, along with many others trying to break their cycles of poverty—an impossibility when you're making minimum wage. And what about the other half? You know, the other 1.3 million workers 24 and older making at or less than minimum wage in America? Paying people wages they can live on lifts everyone's standard of living. That statement is only nonsensical if "standard of living" is limited by the amount of money in your pocket, and the size of your house, SUV and stock portfolio. If you can expand the definition to include knowledge, health and general well being, there is more to it than sucking up resources and buying more stuff. I know we fundamentally disagree on this point, as we do on many others. I believe it is in the best interest of society to eliminate poverty by working to provide more social and economic equality. In Mississippi's case, a third of our citizens live below the poverty line, yet we're shocked over how we scrape the bottom of the barrel on every other quality-of-life issue as well. It's not rocket science: No matter what issue (or result) of social inequality you start with, none of them occur in a vacuum. Where you have people in poverty, you also have high incidences of ignorance, disease and crime.

Author
Ronni_Mott
Date
2010-04-02T17:49:54-06:00
ID
157041
Comment

You're right -- it's not rocket science. It is, however, basic economics. The idea that employers would pay a "penny a day" assumes that either (A) all employers, regardless of size or industry, have agreed to pay no more (which is already illegal), or (B) some of those workers can produce no more than a pennies' worth in a day's work (which seems highly speculative and unlikely in the American economy. Actually, what you see in nations with stricter minimum wage laws is higher unemployment, which, of course, is not surprising if you've taken an economics course in college. What I find particularly disturbing about your argument is this: If we can simply dictate wage levels (as the minimum wage seeks to do), why would we ever desire to set it at the bottom of the scale? Why would we only legislate wages barely enough to cover the necessities? That is, if we have the power to enforce wages (which are really just another price -- the price of labor), regardless of its effect on unemployment or the cascade effect on other prices in the market -- moreover, regardless of the relation to the actual economic worth of the work being done -- then wouldn't it be cruel to set it to any amount below what could purchase an abundance for each individual? Given your economic framework, we might as easily set the minimum wage to $100,000 per year. Actually, why stop there? Set the minimum wage to $10 million per year -- I'd be awfully curious to see why you wouldn't support this, given your economic worldview, and I will be interested to see if you attempt to argue against without implicitly denying the very assumptions that lead you to support minimum wage laws in the first place.

Author
Mark Geoffriau
Date
2010-04-02T18:12:25-06:00
ID
157051
Comment

The oft-overlooked and sinister part of this “no unemployment payments for part time workers” debate is that part time workers have unemployment tax deducted from their checks; deductions, that under current law, they will never get back in benefits. In other words the poorest are once again subsidizing the more fortunate. As for the minimum wage not being a “living wage”, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EIT) is designed to supplement the wages of the working poor. A downside to the EIT is that it is mainly distributed once a year in a lump sum around tax time. By accepting the 56 million Mississippi will get an immediate, predictable and sustained (although short termed) economic shot in the arm.

Author
FrankMickens
Date
2010-04-03T01:22:57-06:00
ID
157062
Comment

Mark, I'm not going to argue against a $10 million minimum wage, because the premise is completely absurd, as you know. Your argument, my friend, has just fallen off the deep end of the slippery slope. As to your premise that nations with "stricter" wage laws have higher unemployment, please cite your source. One can only assume that said source would not include most western European countries, like Germany and Austria, where wages are set by unions, and which also enjoy a number of social benefits such as universal health care and higher education by merit instead of by ones ability to afford it. Also, your a,b assumptions are incomplete. When a multinational goes into a country with very high unemployment it can pretty much set its own rules. I will continue to argue for a living wage, not one that gives everyone everything our consumerist society says they "should" have. Draw a distinction between needs (adequate, healthy food, clothing, a roof over ones head, etc.) and wants (hi-def TV, a cadillac SUV and Moet et Chandon Champagne) and you may get a little closer to what I'm advocating. Even Adam Smith, that great scion of capitalism, said that "No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable," and "To feel much for others and little for ourselves; to restrain our selfishness and exercise our benevolent affections, constitute the perfection of human nature." In the current conservative mindset, its all dog-eat-dog and survival of the fittest, where those that already have quite a lot get more, and those that have very little ... well, who cares. That is a spiritually bankrupt economic philosophy.

Author
Ronni_Mott
Date
2010-04-04T12:58:38-06:00
ID
157063
Comment

Honestly, it's not worth pursuing the discussion. I'm willing to assume the best intentions of those with whom I disagree. I tend to assume that the collectivists and central-planners are misguided, but honestly want a just, fair, and equitable society. Having been told that I have a "spiritually bankrupt economic philosophy", however, doesn't put me in the mood for constructive debate. I'm sure you're already quite aware that economists who fail to recognize the correlation between minimum wage and unemployment (particularly among young, unskilled, and uneducated workers) are in the stark minority. Feel free to post references to Card and Krueger, however, in your attempt to prove that the overwhelming majority of economists are wrong (and probably spiritually bankrupt, too!).

Author
Mark Geoffriau
Date
2010-04-04T15:03:04-06:00
ID
157065
Comment

Mark, So sorry, and echoing Ronnie M above.....the shoe fits.

Author
FrankMickens
Date
2010-04-04T22:47:19-06:00
ID
157066
Comment

posted by FrankMickens on 04/03/10 at 01:22 AM The oft-overlooked and sinister part of this “no unemployment payments for part time workers” Exactly Frank. I do not understand why PT wages are not allowed to count towards hours worked by an employee. It's not as if it gives them some added advantage. You still have to have a certain amount of wages in order to qualify for unemployment. All it means is that it would take longer for a part-time employee to qualify. If they meet all the other criteria they would get benefits albeit most likely far less than a FT worker. But at least they would get credit for the hours they put in the same as FT workers are afforded. The reality is,and what Governor Barbour is fighting, is temporarily changing the state law that prohibits PT workers to qualify for unemployment benefits if laid off through no fault of their own. Governor Barbour is probably more concerned that the legislature could decide to not change the law back to prohibit PT benefits after the 4 year time frame lapses. People deciding instead that this is a fair law and should be upheld. I mean who wouldn't temporarily make a small change in something that has no immediate or extremely damaging consequences in exchange for $56,000,000.00!!!!!!!!!!! UNLESS the change is overwhelming popular with the populace and they tell their representative, "Don't you dare overturn that law. It's fair and we like it." Also blocking of this legislation allows employers to hire PT versus FT enabling them to layoff PT employees without losing the credit they earn that lowers their SUTA rate over time for maintaining a good record of retaining employees. I believe this may the "tax increase" Governor Barbour is referring to when stating that allowing PT employees to qualify for benefits would raise taxes on businesses. It sounds sensible to those who do not understand exactly what Barbour means when saying employers taxes would be raised. Yes, the SUTA % they pay on payroll does go up if an employer's credit they receive for retaining employees decreases due to increased layoffs. Thats kind of the whole idea behind the credit thing is it not? Governor Barbour does not want businesses to lose this additional credit for retaining workers just because they happen to layoff someone who is working part-time. I would like to highlight something rarely mentioned in this debate. That being all the tax breaks alloted business for hiring as well as added benefits such as being able to write off capital expeditures in full as business expense. These are just a drop in the bucket to what has been offered to businesses to help them through this recession. It pales in comparison to what has been offered to this country's low wage and part-time workers and the less advantaged communities as a whole. The absurdity is what local businesses are most in need are customers with cash ready to spend on just the basics of life. All these creative incentives while creative, make no real world sense. Why would a business hire anyone, even if the gov subsidizes their wages temporarily or gives a temporary payroll tax cut if there are no customers for that new hiree to serve. I wonder if our state business owners are more concerned about how much they will save or how much more they may have to pay in SUTA down the road. Or are they more concerned about the future of their business and it's ability to survive with the continued decrease or decreasing customer base? Governor Barbour hopefully has allowed businesses in MS to weigh in on the fate of this $56,000,000.00 if he hasn't already done so. His opinion is the only one I've heard echoed in the media.

Author
HooYoo2say
Date
2010-04-04T22:48:45-06:00
ID
157078
Comment

Mark: I think you're trying to get it both ways here. First, you're indignant: Honestly, it's not worth pursuing the discussion.... Having been told that I have a "spiritually bankrupt economic philosophy", however, doesn't put me in the mood for constructive debate. (a.) It's worth noting that Ronni didn't say anything about YOU. Here's what she wrote: In the current conservative mindset, its all dog-eat-dog and survival of the fittest, where those that already have quite a lot get more, and those that have very little ... well, who cares. That is a spiritually bankrupt economic philosophy. You, however (b.) then immediately turn around and start name-calling: I'm willing to assume the best intentions of those with whom I disagree. I tend to assume that the collectivists and central-planners are misguided, but honestly want a just, fair, and equitable society. So now the people you disagree with are "collectivists" and "central-planners" -- talk about broad strokes! McCarthy much? Of course, the difference is, apparently, that you show compassion toward those you label "misguided," "collectivists" and "central-planners" which makes it all better. Please. Then, on top of all that, you go ahead and continue arguing anyway (while retreating from all of Ronni's salient points): I'm sure you're already quite aware that economists who fail to recognize the correlation between minimum wage and unemployment (particularly among young, unskilled, and uneducated workers) are in the stark minority. Feel free to post references to Card and Krueger, however, in your attempt to prove that the overwhelming majority of economists are wrong (and probably spiritually bankrupt, too!). Just a quick look at the flippin' Wikipedia page offers a nice array of economists who disagree that there's a simple supply-and-demand principle you can apply to the minimum wage: (for example Pierangelo Garegnani[17], Robert L. Vienneau[18], and Arrigo Opocher & Ian Steedman[19]), building on the work of Piero Sraffa, argue that that model, even given all its assumptions, is logically incoherent. Michael Anyadike-Danes and Wyne Godley [20] argue, based on simulation results, that little of the empirical work done with the textbook model constitutes a potentially falsifying test, and, consequently, empirical evidence hardly exists for that model. Graham White [21] argues, partially on the basis of Sraffianism, that the policy of increased labor market flexibility, including the reduction of minimum wages, does not have an "intellectually coherent" argument in economic theory. Gary Fields, Professor of Labor Economics and Economics at Cornell University, argues that the standard "textbook model" for the minimum wage is "ambiguous", and that the standard theoretical arguments incorrectly measure only a one-sector market. And we're able to do that without referencing those dreaded Clintonite economists -- the vile sots -- who keep trading on their solitary claim to fame of having been associated with an administration that showed more sustained job growth and economic expansion than any GOP administration of the 20th or 21st centuries.

Author
Todd Stauffer
Date
2010-04-05T14:02:13-06:00
ID
157079
Comment

Todd, I'm quite surprised that you consider using actual descriptive political labels like "central planners" and "collectivists" to be "name-calling". What term would you prefer for those who rail against the evils of the unchecked free-market and the chaos of capitalism? And I'm sure you recognize the difference between merely supposing your opponent in a political or economic debate is well-intentioned but misguided, and believing that they are "spiritually bankrupt" or support a spiritually bankrupt system.

Author
Mark Geoffriau
Date
2010-04-05T14:14:50-06:00
ID
157080
Comment

Todd, I'm quite surprised that you consider using actual descriptive political labels like "central planners" and "collectivists" to be "name-calling". Mark, it is *red-baiting* -- and it's no more attractive, or less scary, in today's world than in the McCarthy era. How can you expect anyone to have the patience to converse with you when you go off the deep end like that, and then pretend that it's poor witta you being trampled. Come on. We don't allow blatant bigotry, and the red-baiting needs to stop as well. Try to make a coherent argument without sounding like you're typing from a bunker in your back yard with the black helicopters hovering overhead. You just sound paranoid. I do give you credit for being willing to get creepy under your real name, though. Half a point.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-04-05T14:46:32-06:00
ID
157081
Comment

It's fine if you want to reject the historical labels for those who support the idea that the free-market tends to produce unjust inequalities and that the government has to power to correct economic realities through coercive force -- every political group or movement has the right to reinvent itself periodically. So, I'll repeat my question: What term would you prefer for those who rail against the evils of the unchecked free-market and the chaos of capitalism? Paranoid as I (apparently) am, I don't think I'm just imagining that I've read those phrases here on this very site.

Author
Mark Geoffriau
Date
2010-04-05T14:55:50-06:00
ID
157082
Comment

No one is rejecting historic labels, Mark; it is who you are applying the words from your bunker. It tickles me even more that you are trying to frame the debate by saying "well, what would YOU call (insert your wingnut conspiracy of the day)"? Um, I'd call it your wingnut conspiracy theories that reduce a variety of opinion into something you think can be so easily labelled. And were you someone who actually seemed to listen to reason, I would suggest that you stop trying to group everyone who might bother to disagree with you under some "central planner" umbrella that can or should be defined by one or two labels of anyone's choosing, which just makes you sound goofy. You're just coming across as a simplistic ideologue at this point who just wants to yell at all the commies on your lawn. And that's tired, so I'll bow out again. No good conversation to be had here, apparently.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-04-05T15:06:01-06:00
ID
157083
Comment

Fair enough. I didn't realize that everyone here was so embarrassed about supporting more government intervention into the market economy and afraid of applying a label to it.

Author
Mark Geoffriau
Date
2010-04-05T15:09:29-06:00
ID
157084
Comment

Todd, I'm quite surprised that you consider using actual descriptive political labels like "central planners" and "collectivists" to be "name-calling". What term would you prefer for those who rail against the evils of the unchecked free-market and the chaos of capitalism? I would call that person someone pinned desperately between the rock and the hard place that make up the two sides of your false dilemma. But if we're able to reign in the rhetoric a bit, and grant that people who disagree with unbridled libertarian ideals might be something short of Mao, then I'd certainly suggest an alternative label -- "pragmatist." I'm in the category, and I consider myself a non-ideologically bound supporter of free enterprise AND smart government. I don't think the two are mutually exclusive and can, in fact, work in conjunction toward a more perfect union. Markets need rules, and some "market needs" (like health insurance, fire fighting or military combat) arguably are better served when they're populated with non-profit service providers who incentives and rewards run to something other than shareholder value. And I'm sure you recognize the difference between merely supposing your opponent in a political or economic debate is well-intentioned but misguided, and believing that they are "spiritually bankrupt" or support a spiritually bankrupt system. The difference I see is that Ronni was rendering her opinion on a philosophy (aside: I'd like to hear your defense of social darwinism as the morally superior philosophy) and you were rendering your opinion about your "opponents." Yours is the ad hominem argument.

Author
Todd Stauffer
Date
2010-04-05T15:18:01-06:00
ID
157085
Comment

It's ad hominem to suggest your opponent in a debate is wrong? Isn't that generally the basis of debate -- the two sides disagree on an issue? Assuming the other side is merely misguided, and not evil or "spiritually bankrupt", would seem to me to be the most charitable characterization. I'm curious where I suggested that the collectivists with whom I disagree are in any way morally equivalent to repugnant monsters like Mao. Perhaps I'm not the one who needs to reign in the rhetoric? I think the strongest claim I made was actually using the politico-philosophical labels "collectivist" and "central-planner". If that's what passes for "ad hominem arguments" and "binary rhetoric" these days... To respond in brief to your aside, I'll point out that only Ronni has equated the "conservative mindset" with Social Darwinism. The fact that I believe the government does an exceptionally poor job of charity doesn't mean I believe charity shouldn't be practiced.

Author
Mark Geoffriau
Date
2010-04-05T15:27:21-06:00
ID
157087
Comment

With due respect, Mark, you can't "debate" if you trot out one logical fallacy after another. You never get to real dialogue or discussion if everyone is dodging logical fallacies flying all over, regardless of what your position is. I really do suggest studying fallacies a bit and then trying again: the constant use of them only obscures your own points and keeps others from taking you seriously. And in the ad hominem realm, there is a big difference between a noun and an adjective -- if you get my point. If not, never mind.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-04-05T16:10:29-06:00
ID
157088
Comment

I know I'm beating a dead horse, Mark, but I did not accuse you, personally, of holding a spiritually bankrupt economic philosophy, nor did I say you (or your economics) were evil. On the other hand, I would be interested to hear how the current conservative economic position is spiritual in nature. I simply can't imagine Jesus (or Abraham, the Buddha or Muhammad, et al) arguing against a living wage and arguing for corporations (and those who run them) to make more profits while people live in poverty. Please feel free to enlighten me, since I'm obviously so "misguided" (an elitist passive-aggressive term if I ever heard one). You have clearly labeled me a collectivist and a "central planner," the newest slam-the-left buzz word from the Cato and Mises Institutes (have they shown up on FOX News, yet?). I'm sure I don't have to tell a smart guy like yourself that those labels are most often aligned with socialism and communism (thus the connection to Mao). Personally, I really don't care what you think of me, but it gets tiresome to repeat this over and over to those who label and then dismiss me: I'm not interested in the government owning and running all forms of production (socialism) or abolishing all forms of private ownership (communism). What I'm interested in is some semblance of a level playing field. In a society where the richest one percent of U.S. households now owns 34.3 percent of the nation's private wealth, more than the combined wealth of the bottom 90 percent, the playing field is hardly level. Taxpayers have bailed out the wealthiest, least regulated banks (to the tune of $700 billion) and the auto industry (thanks, Mr. Bush), yet I hear cries of bloody murder when conservatives are asked to care for the least among them through health care and a living wage. Where is your outrage against Wall Street and those who are taking home million dollar bonuses at taxpayer expense? Social Darwinism aside (your term, not mine) it all has me wondering how that fits into the Christian ethic (or any ethical code, religious or not) when millions in America are unemployed, underemployed, or working two and three jobs to make ends meet. Families can't afford to take their children to see a doctor and are just praying no one gets sick, while insurance companies are posting record profits. There's simply something wrong with that picture: The people keep getting the shaft while corporations keep getting bigger and more powerful. If you think that's OK, we really don't have anything more to talk about.

Author
Ronni_Mott
Date
2010-04-05T19:37:09-06:00
ID
157094
Comment

A few points: Actually, Todd introduced the term "Social Darwinism" into the discussion as a description of the conservative view of society. I didn't then, nor do I now, support bailouts for any business or industry. One of the very things that actually does ensure a "fair playing field" in the market is allowing businesses to fail. Not just the "potential" to fail, but actual failure. It redirects resources away from inefficient ventures to better businesses, and provides a constant reminder to the surviving businesses the dangers of risky behavior in the marketplace. You're skipping over a step when you assume that an unequal distribution of wealth indicates an unlevel playing field. That's a difference in results, not a difference in legal rights and opportunity. You might as well accuse of NBA of massive, systemic racism because the number of white players doesn't mirror the percentage in general society. I'll have to find the reference, but I saw a report the other that ranked the health insurance industry 87th in terms of profit margin. Where is your outrage for the greedy book publishers (who ranked up in the 30's on the list)? Posting excessive profits while millions of parents can't afford to buy their children books. The problem with your challenge to integrate free-market economics with Jesus or the Christian ethic is that you've already defined the terms such that free-market economics can only be identified with a desire to take food out of the mouths of babes and make the rich richer. I won't even a defense on those terms. If you're not willing to allow that I actually believe the free-market produces more wealth for everyone, then I'm condemned before I start.

Author
Mark Geoffriau
Date
2010-04-06T08:27:44-06:00
ID
157097
Comment

Actually, Todd introduced the term "Social Darwinism" into the discussion as a description of the conservative view of society. "a" not "the". I submit there is more than one form of conservatism and not all of them subscribe to a social darwinian sort of ethic. Indeed, there's another type of (rather dominant) American conservatism that would bristle at the notion that you're uninterested in marrying your free-market principles to a Christian ethic. Ah, the limits of labels! (FYI...starting now I will be heard from less because it's press day followed by a board meeting. I'll jump back in after 7pm or so if any actual debate happens. ;-)

Author
Todd Stauffer
Date
2010-04-06T09:03:57-06:00
ID
157105
Comment

You're skipping over a step when you assume that an unequal distribution of wealth indicates an unlevel playing field. That's a difference in results, not a difference in legal rights and opportunity. Economic inequality is both a result *and* a difference in legal rights and opportunity. To wit: Corporations now have roughly the same rights as individuals in America (brought to courtesy of lobbyist such as the Chamber of Commerce), yet they do not have the same accountability. If I'm hurt by a faulty product (and not necessarily part of a class-action suit), I can expect to spend years trying to get damages from the manufacturer, who will do everything in its power not to admit guilt. If I can hang in long enough, the chances are excellent that the company will settle without admitting guilt or making fundamental changes in their operations. Or, with tort "reform," chances are also excellent that I'll never recoup my loses for grievous injury. If you punch me in the face, you're going to jail. Big difference. Having money provides all kinds of "rights," whether intrinsic, earned or bought, that those without money do not have. A simple tally of the economic status of those in prison (prior to their incarceration) will tell you that. It's a cliche to say that justice belongs to those who can pay for it; it's also basically true. And opportunity? Please do not tell me you don't believe the rich don't have much more opportunity. From the day they pop out of their mother's wombs, the rich have more opportunity—for better educations, better food, better housing, etc. than those who don't have money. Where is your outrage for the greedy book publishers (who ranked up in the 30's on the list)? Posting excessive profits while millions of parents can't afford to buy their children books. I'm outraged at any corporation that makes money to the detriment of their employees, the environment or society as a whole. It's not the specifics, it's the entire corporate structure that makes it easy for people to be their greedy worst. The problem with your challenge to integrate free-market economics with Jesus or the Christian ethic is that you've already defined the terms such that free-market economics can only be identified with a desire to take food out of the mouths of babes and make the rich richer. Well, actually, no. You're making a rather broad assumption without any basis in fact. I brought up Christianity because most people in these parts can relate to it, and claim an understanding of its tenets. I have no great love for organized religion, which has been responsible for propagating a great deal of human suffering and bloodshed "in the name of God" to this day. The most profitable business on the planet may well be the Catholic Church, followed closely by Bible publishers, would be my guess. What I'm talking about is not religion, but ethical behavior—how one behaves in a society. You have to understand what that means to you, just like I do; however, there are some basic ethical tenets in all spiritual writings [(nonviolence (don't kill), don't take what isn't yours or that you don't need (don't steal), don't cheat (or covet), don't lie, share what you have with those less fortunate, etc.)] that are common among most spiritual practices. You're right that I don't believe free-market capitalism produces more wealth for everyone. To say that is empty rhetoric as far as I'm concerned. I am interested, however, to see how you would prove such a statement.

Author
Ronni_Mott
Date
2010-04-06T19:03:04-06:00
ID
157145
Comment

Soooo....anywho, I think that part-time employees that work over 20 hrs per week should be allowed to file for benefits if laid off through no fault of their own. Just because they are only bringing in enough to buy food and maybe make a car payment they feel the bite of losing that income just as much as the next person. One one hand it doesn't take much income to disqualify someone from receiving public assistance or food stamps but if they lose that income due to an economic downturn they aren't considered to be viable enough to warrant unemployment compensation. That is such hogwash. Telling someone that they make enough to make ends meet but then if they lose that same amount of income through layoff it's "Oh you don't work enough hours to qualify for employment insurance." When the national average of hrs worked per week has dipped to 35 at times during this recession I think that requiring someone to seek only full-time employment, 30 hrs minimum, to qualify for unemployment benefits is really putting a squeeze on people who are already struggling to get through this mess.

Author
HooYoo2say
Date
2010-04-07T16:20:25-06:00

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