Puppet propaganda in the op-ed pages

Laying down covering fire during an election year:

If I wanted to keep poor people poor, there are several government policies I would favor.

For starters, I would advocate for a robust and ever-expanding welfare state. Programs like Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment insurance, etc.? Perfect poverty traps.

I would recognize that a perfect recipe for keeping poor people poor is to create incentives that push them into decisions that prevent them from climbing out of poverty.

We can expect to see more of this tripe as the year unfolds. What Brian is trying (and so far failing) to do is deflect attention away from the realities of the recession, and put forward the idea that people are struggling because of their own choices. All they have to do is "want" to work and a good job will magically materialize for them. The truth is much more complex and disturbing:

In addition, North Carolina’s labor force began to shrink. The state is experiencing the largest labor-force contraction it's ever seen -- 77,000 fewer people were working or searching for work this October than a year ago. This should, but won’t, settle a partisan debate. Cutting unemployment insurance apparently hasn’t encouraged the unemployed to look harder for work: It has caused them to drop out of the labor force altogether.

To get unemployment insurance, you have to actively search for work and prove that you're doing so. The drop in the labor force suggests that this incentive was effective. Without it, more people just give up.

Meanwhile, the burden of easing the financial distress caused by unemployment has shifted from public programs to private charities. According to Alan Briggs, executive director of the North Carolina Association of Food Banks, they're struggling to cope.

Programs like food stamps and unemployment benefits aren't incentives to not work, they are bridges between careers. Without the bridge, you don't magically fly through the air to the next career, you fall into the abyss. And your children fall with you.

Comments

Aha! I see the problem...

Brian Balfour is policy director with the Civitas Institute in Raleigh.
He's paid to be a jerk. If you pay people to be mean and small-minded, then they will be mean and small-minded. Although some are happy to do it for free.
I can only hope that he either has no children or that his children do not follow his lead.

The irony is,

Civitas and JLF made their bones attacking government (when it was Democratic) for pretty much everything it tried to do, and now they're nothing more than a cheerleader and an apologist for Art Pope's administration. Their credibility was already in question before this current political environment, but now there's no longer any question.

We need to start a

We need to start a 'non-profit' to support some of government's best actions and activities.

Generational poverty

We have pockets of what has been called "generational poverty" in the U.S. It is not race-specific and it is not region-specific nor is it politically-specific. There is no question that we have a subculture of entitlement receivers that continue that through generations in America. It is not comfortable to talk about and it is, for the most part, not investigated and certainly not reported on mostly because it is embarrassing that a nation as strong and abundant as America is, this should not be happening. Generational poverty is where one generation teaches their next generation how to "work" the system of entitlements in America. It is there. It is growing. And, it is something that will continue to proliferate unless it is not only recognized but acknowledged.

True

Well said. WELL said!

Recognition alone won't solve it

The vast majority of those caught up in generational poverty hail from blighted urban areas and remote rural ones. And the only (humanitarian) solution for that is to jump-start the economies in those areas.

But as depressing as those blighted areas are, they are not a new phenomenon. What is new is the vastly accelerated movement of capital to the top 10% in general, and the top 1-2% in particular. The middle class is coming apart at the seams, and with it our ability to provide the very opportunities that (might) help people climb out of poverty.

Cutting out food stamps and unemployment benefits won't save the middle class from destruction. Exactly the opposite. It will bring it about much sooner.

Who could disagree with that?

I think the whole question for just so many taxpaying citizens in our country is just how long do we taxpayers pay for those that don't have jobs before "we" provide an avenue for work in our country. The state can provide work to just so many people in just so many jobs to help improve the state's infrastructure. There are just so many "public" needs that NC government could hire people for to use our state's revenue to help and along with it grow the private sector with jobs supporting those efforts. It would be a win-win for both government/taxpayers and businesses. It's not hard to see how this could happen. I am amazed NC or other states don't see how they can better use their "unemployment" dollars.

Private sector jobs

haven't materialized.

The GOP tells us that cutting corporate income taxes will cause corporations to generate more jobs that will be filled by the unemployed and thus improve the economy.

The corporate tax trend has been downward for some time. Where are the jobs? They haven't materialized. Instead, the savings become increased profits (not increased labor force) and benefit (SURPRISE!) the top 1% who run the corporations and own much of the stock.

The jobs that do materialize tend to be very low-wage.

What sorts of things do you have in mind for NC to better use public money to provide these needed services (somehow outside the government sphere?) and result in this win-win situation?

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"What I see from the folks who are opposing our agenda is whining coming from losers." -- Thom Tillis

Types of jobs for public money

It is a good question, Posmo. I wish I was smart enough to just spit out a bunch of innovative and creative uses for the money we use to pay unemployment insurance payments that NC State Government could put in place. But, I'm not that smart. During the Great Depression a myriad jobs were created and run by government that pulled us out of that miserable period. This was done through the WPA, a government-created department, I think. Many or maybe even most of the types of jobs created then wouldn't apply today, but the same idea can be put in place. I would make sure that there were provisions that, where possible, people currently on unemployment insurance and others that are unemployed that are not receiving payments for unemployment had to be first priority hires. Like I said, I don't have all the answers, but there are a lot of people far smarter than me that could get this done.

A stark illlustration

I think we've posted this before, but this brilliant video demonstrates, in a very clear and stark fashion, and in less than 7 minutes, the extreme wealth inequality of our nation.

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"What I see from the folks who are opposing our agenda is whining coming from losers." -- Thom Tillis

The Republican base eats this stuff up

and they're happy to repeat it as the gospel truth, and Civitas and others in the PopeWeb are happy to continue to produce the tripe.

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"What I see from the folks who are opposing our agenda is whining coming from losers." -- Thom Tillis