EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

January 19, 2014

Column: Thoughts on the persistence of unemployment benefits

Thoughts while Congress squabbles over keeping “emergency” unemployment benefits at 99 weeks:

To start with the most trivial, what is the magic of 99 anyway? Why not just make it 104, which would be a nice, neat two years?

Back in the dark days before civilization -- when horses pulled carts on cobblestones streets running with open sewage -- standard emergency unemployment lasted 26 weeks, or six months. So, why not just a multiple of that?

Or is there is something psychological about keeping the number of weeks from the next order of magnitude -- sort of like prices that are always $9.99, or $99.99, or $999.99, etc.? You know, so we can all feel like it’s not being overdone, that 99 is reasonable but 100 would be over the top?

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Along that same line, could we be a bit more honest and drop the pretense that this has anything to do with an emergency? An emergency is supposed to be sudden and brief. How about we call it “new normal” unemployment benefits that now and forever will be due to the “mess” President Obama inherited from President George W. Bush.

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In fact, why limit it to two years? Why be so heartless, cruel and extremist as to put any limit on it at all? Especially when the beautiful people in the TV and movie industry still gather in their gowns and tuxedos to congratulate themselves on how well they pretended to be other people

Oh, wait, sorry. They are mostly far-left liberals, so they’re immune from attack even when they flaunt their wealth and 1 percent status. What I meant was, how can we limit unemployment benefits when those predatory, capitalist, right-wing creeps on Wall Street are still making millions -- obviously by stealing it from the poor and middle class?

“Progressives” tell us that people are looking hard for jobs but the jobs just aren’t there. Therefore, we as a society must not abandon them without the means to pay their mortgage, rent or, more importantly, smartphone bill.

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