American Workers Should Not Get The Shaft

Photo by Jim Bauer
Photo by Jim Bauer

It happens now and again that I find myself on the opposite side of the fence of fellow republicans. In the case of the question of whether or not we should be extending unemployment benefits, I'm on the side of the fence that says we most certainly should. With unemployment numbers still around 9.5%, there are a lot of people who are looking for work. In the meantime, getting a small pittance, which is essentially what unemployment benefits are, is helpful to simply stay above water as much as possible.

Sure, I've heard the argument made several times that extending the benefits up to 2 years is ridiculous. I've heard the argument made that people who are receiving benefits are less likely to actually seek work, opting to take the benefits and "a little time off" in lieu of actual job seeking. I'm also certain that for a certain number of people who are unemployed and receiving benefits, that may well be true.

All that aside, the thing we have to keep in mind is that the people who are right now collecting unemployment benefits are workers. True, they are not working now. But these are hard-working Americans who paid taxes and who paid into the very system they are now needing to benefit from. If anyone should get any kind of help at all, shouldn't it be the hard-working, American taxpayers such as these people are? After all, it's their taxes which are paying for the bank bailouts. When they get back to work they'll stil be paying taxes, and will likely have to pay more taxes to cover the monies paid out in the bank bailouts. So if the American worker is expected to look out for the welfare of the American economy, someone ought to recognize his importance in the economy and look out for him.

I've heard some people refer to the unemployment benefits as a sort of welfare. I've heard some people refer to unemployment benefits as a social entitlement. I take issue with that. Unlike welfare recipients, the people, again, who are collecting unemployment are the ones who paid for the program in the first place. Welfare recipients do not pay taxes. Many of them don't even hold jobs. So frankly there is no comparison.

Saying no to the American worker when it comes to benefits, in a time when companies are still not hiring at the levels they were previous to the recession, and in an era where workers are having to accept jobs which pay far lower wages than they are accustomed to, is a slap in the face to anyone who believes hard work pays off in the end. Workers went to work every day and put in their 40 and 50 hour workweeks and didn't ask for the economy to tank. They didn't ask for their lives to be turned upside down. They didn't ask to be laid off.

What I want to hear said from fellow republicans to the American worker is, "We're on your side. We'll get you covered while we go to work to establish policies that will grow the economy and get you back to work."

I thought that was exactly what we republicans are all about. Hard work. Job creation. And taking care of the worker. Unlike the democrats who only say that. Through our policies the American worker will get back to work. While we're getting that done, he does not deserve to get the shaft.

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Comments 48 comments

SheriSapp profile image

SheriSapp 6 years ago from West Virginia

This is so strange, I just wrote a hub that addresses this unemployment issue as well. I, myself, do NOT think unemployment is a type of welfare, and I completely agree that those drawing unemployment HAVE worked and paid into the system. However, the republicans simply want another extension to be funded by cuts elsewhere and NOT add more to our huge debt. I think BO knows what he NEEDS to do to gain republican support for this bill, but it is more politically fortuitous for his party to simply call the republicans heartless.

cvanthul profile image

cvanthul 6 years ago from Florida

I happen to agree with you, and I'm Republican also.

Specialk3749 profile image

Specialk3749 6 years ago from Michigan

I agree with you too! Let some of those who have the opinion that unemployment benefits should not be increased, loose their job and then see what their opinion is going to be. I bet it changes fast.

Tom Whitworth profile image

Tom Whitworth 6 years ago from Moundsville, WV


I agree with your premise of this hub. Let Obama take some of the over $400billion in unspent "stimulus" funds for funding extended unemployment!!!!!!!!!!!

Springboard profile image

Springboard 6 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Sheri, they aren't going to make the cuts. The workers need the money now. The time to bicker about costs is NOT when it affects the hard working American who needs it. The time to bicker about it was when we bailed out the banks, paid for clunkers to be replaced, and paid for home buyers credits—which by the way would have been much better used to offer to homeowners, who's mortgages as a result of the banks shenanigans were upside down, to get a tax break. It could have been used as well to help homeowners in foreclosure or facing it. But that's for another day.

It's always the little guy at the back of the line busting his tail and getting his tail busted, and this just can't happen.

Springboard profile image

Springboard 6 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Cvanthul, it's nice to not be alone. :)

SpecialK, very true. Besides the fact that we're not talking about enormous sums of money here. I believe I read somewhere that the average unemployment check, BEFORE TAXES MIND YOU, is about $300 per week. No one is going to get rich off of a check like that. And to be honest, it isn't REALLY going to do much more than cover the bare essentials—if it'll even do that. The incentive is there for workers to return to work when work is available.

Some people seem to have this picture in their heads of laid off workers having umbrella cocktails on boats on the river while they cash their unemployment checks...I hardly think so.

Again, these are hard-working people. They got to the unemployment line because they worked—you can't be unemployed if you never had a job. They are the backbone of America and they need help. This is part of the way we can do it.

Springboard profile image

Springboard 6 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Tom, what better way to give back to the VERY people who paid for it, and WILL PAY FOR IT for many years to come. I love it!

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

It is my understanding that it is employers who pay for unemployment benefits, not the workers. I have known people who will collect benefits until they run out and then get a job. However, I have also been out of woork and my unemployment benefits were never all that much.

katiem2 profile image

katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

My sister just got cut off of unemployment after working for over 25 years, lost her job and now can't draw unemployment for more than six months, no jobs that she can find paying enough to cover the expense of working, what a mess. God help us one and ALL! Great tribute to the American worker, who by the way would rather work PERIOD!

Springboard profile image

Springboard 6 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Dahoglund, unemployment "insurance" is a government agency which is paid for by employers and through taxes, and this becomes more true when workers who are unemployed are unemployed longer or in higher numbers. These 'extensions' are federally funded. Federal funds come from taxes paid by workers. It's a round robin.

As for those who let the benefits run out, and don't necessarily look for work UNTIL they run out, I say so what and so be it. We're not talking about millions of dollars here, and if employers want to scoff at paying a laid off worker $300 a week, they ought to reconsider paying millions in salaries, benefits, and exorbitant severance packages to their upper echelon—who, by the way, are so smart to warrant such great big salaries that they damn near took down the entire American least in part. The government played a role too, I am definitely aware of that.

You show me a story where a laid off, unemployment collecting worker suddenly found himself living the good life and maybe I'll give a second thought to taking his benefits away. My guess is that the story you might actually find is that even with an unemployment check, the bills are still not all getting paid because the check is too small to be able to accomplish that.

Springboard profile image

Springboard 6 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Katie, I cannot disagree with anything you said. You paint a picture of the reality.

SheriSapp profile image

SheriSapp 6 years ago from West Virginia


Thanks for commenting back to me here. I completely agree with what you said about the OTHER failed and unnecessary programs. Like always, the rich get theirs and most of us get nada!! They should have helped folks with mortgages. Additionally, tax breaks to average workers would have put much more money into the system. Anyway, you know I respect you and your opinion, even if we sometimes have differing feelings on how things should be handled. Thanks so much for your time and thought.

breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 6 years ago

I say find the money and extend the benefits. It's there, but clearly Obama prefers to let the Republicans look bad. He could care less about unemployed people.

Springboard profile image

Springboard 6 years ago from Wisconsin Author

The debate is half the fun, Sheri. :) I value your opinion as well.

Springboard profile image

Springboard 6 years ago from Wisconsin Author

On that I agree POP. Once again we are in a position of posturing, and that solves not one single problem in this country. It's another example of partisan politics getting in the way of rational and reasonable debate on real issues we face. The president wants to point fingers and make the republicans look bad and the republicans are wanting to make the president look bad, making this 'extension of benefits' issue one of spending. This, IMO, is not about spending at all, but about the heart and soul of the economy...that is, the American worker.

I KNOW the democrats don't give a hoot about jobs or the American worker for that matter. As for republicans, they should know better that unemployment benefits are as necessary as was the bailout of AIG...

If not MORE. These workers paid for, and will continue to pay for the bailout, and where they are is even probably directly related to what was going on with AIG that they are standing in the bread line at all.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States

We here the same argument about social security like it is some big good deed the government is doing for us. The point is we are workers and we contributed all our lives so why shouldn't we get what we were promised?

There are probably more people unemployed than the numbers project since people have fallen off the unemployment roles. I do know of 2 situations where people are not looking for work because their mates work and the unemployment adds just enough that they don't feel the need to go look for a job until unemployment runs out. I think this is the minority however, and basically agree with your hub.

I do think they need to make cuts somewhere as well, as the deficit is still ballooning but the unemployment should continue in the meantime.

Tom Whitworth profile image

Tom Whitworth 6 years ago from Moundsville, WV


Check out the REAL unemployment rate!!!!!!!

Springboard profile image

Springboard 6 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Oh, there are definitely those folks who have their spouse picking up the pieces, who are enjoying the benefits in the meantime without actually seeking work Pamela. I definitely agree that that is happening. Still, I'm not really opposed to that, as I pointed out in a reply comment I made to Dahoglund where I said, "As for those who let the benefits run out, and don't necessarily look for work UNTIL they run out, I say so what and so be it. We're not talking about millions of dollars here, and if employers want to scoff at paying a laid off worker $300 a week, they ought to reconsider paying millions in salaries, benefits, and exorbitant severance packages to their upper echelon—who, by the way, are so smart to warrant such great big salaries that they damn near took down the entire American economy..."

The ones who screwed it all up may be out of work as well. But you can bet they took millions with them on the way out the door. And if anyone is enjoying the good life, it's the ones who put us (the working public) in this predicament. I know two wrongs don't make a right, but when it comes between the little guy and the guy at the top, the only one who feels the real pain is the little guy. Don't forget that while all this economic turmoil was unfolding, these same workers also watched better than 50% of their life savings wiped out. Even at the top, if you lost 50% of even just a million dollar portfolio, you wouldn't be starving any time soon. You may, however, have to give the yacht back and trade in that BMW for a Cavalier.

Tom, the real unemployment rate is what NO ONE in the democratic party wants to touch with a ten foot pole. Scary stuff indeed.

sheila b. profile image

sheila b. 6 years ago

It's all just games the politicians are playing. The republicans think sticking to pay/go is what their people want, and the dems are having fun making them look heartless. None of them have a clue about how 'the people' really feel.

Springboard profile image

Springboard 6 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Sheila, exactly. I should point out, for the record, that I DO agree that there's a ton of unneccesary stuff crammed into this bill, and I understand about the real concerns the republicans have that we have to curb spending. It's another reason I've said all along I don't like these big, myriad item bills. I think we should simply have a bill for one thing, and another bill for another. Frankly we'd get more done as well as there would be more clear lines as to what we all can agree on or not agree on. Good things get lost in the slop of the whole, such as whether or not an unemployed worker should receive his benefits or not.

This is a massively important issue, and the way the dems laid it out and the way the repubs are handling it has made it into a political mess that will hurt the hard working American, plain and simple.

billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

Springboard an excellent hub. I think one has to address two issues here one the humane issue and the cost issue. In both cases I come down to the same conclusion. Unemployment benefits should be extended to those that can't genuinely find work. First the majority of these people have paid taxes or their families have and they are American citizens. From a cost standpoint what is the cost of not providing benefits? These people are left to fend for themselves or be locked into a downward welfare spiral, a life of crime. Lets be realistic what do you think happens when someone has to feed their family. It used to be a good conservative platform was looking after fellow man - certainly isn't that a Christian tenant? This is a long way from brazen government spending that comes out the Obama admin. Or bailing out the likes of Goldman, AIG etc etc that helped cause the massive job lines along with the help of hand in pocket ignorant politicians. I am all for taking responsibility but sometimes people need a little hand when they are trying to walk again and take that responsibility - it doesn't mean they aren't doing their best. This is why we have work programs, education programs and the like not just blind handouts.

carolina muscle profile image

carolina muscle 6 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

man, you are so right!!

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

Interesting read but I can't comment because I live in England.

amillar profile image

amillar 6 years ago from Scotland, UK

It makes sense to me.

Springboard profile image

Springboard 6 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Billy, well said. And like I said before, the folks on the bread line now are there largely not of their own design. THEY were the ones affected. THEY were the ones ponying up the taxes to help the top end. And THEY will be the ones to pay the taxes on and on down the road. If anyone at all deserves some help, it's THEM first and foremost.

Carolina Muscle, I'm printing that off and showing it to my wife. Those are words I don't hear often around here. lol

Hello, sure you can. :) All viewpoints are welcome here. And as for me, I comment all the time on issues happening in other parts of the world. Forming an opinion is simply a matter of knowing the details and having an idea about how it should all work out.

Amillar, thanks, and thanks for stopping by.

Patti Ann profile image

Patti Ann 6 years ago from Florida

Excellent article - I agree that we do need to help the unemployed WORKERS - with all of the money that we send overseas to help other countries - surely we can help our own people.

reddog1027 profile image

reddog1027 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

A great article, Springboard. These times are not typical. This recession has hit more people in more places then the American people are used to.

Not all people on unemployment are the same. Yep, some people look for any easy way to get by but what about the people who up until now have always paid their own way? What about families where now both the husband and wife are out of work.

I feel that we should take the money we are spending on two wars, one where they don't want us and the other we can't possibly win, and spend it to get our own country back on track. We Americans can do anything we set our minds to. We just have to set our minds to it and do it.

Springboard profile image

Springboard 6 years ago from Wisconsin Author

And in this case we should Patti Ann. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

I won't comment on the wars Reddog, but can only agree with you on the other points. As for spending to get the country back on track, I think that's part of the problem why we're so far OFF the track. Still, like I said before, this is one spending issue I don't think we (dems and repubs) should be bickering over.

Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 6 years ago from US

Republicans/Democrats suck-we need a third party to do what the people want. I know there is one out there.

billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

Springboard this also is very relevant to the foreclosures and housing situation - they are not unrelated as you point out.

Springboard profile image

Springboard 6 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Pollyannalana, there is, of course, the tea party. Not really a third party officially, but they are building up steam, and are a strong conservative movement. I'd be curious to learn what their stance is on this issue.

Billy, you are probably correct in that many of these unemployed workers are no doubt, also homeowners. One of the things that irks me is that in all aspects of this downtrodden economy, the guy doing the right things who has been left in the muck is the one who gets hurt in the end. And there seems to be no real help in sight. Tax credits went to folks who were first time homebuyers, for example, not to homeowners who were upside down in their mortgages—and I'm not speaking to those who took on too much than they could handle, but rather those who were hard working who are now out of work and upside down in their mortgage through no fault of bad decision making. We could have given those tax breaks to homeowners to offset their upside down situation. Sort of like what we did with the banks who are required to have a certain level of solvency. Furthermore, banks should have been much more willing to work with their homeowner customers faced with difficult situations. For example, complex modifications were not necessarily necessary. Some homeowners in higher interest mortgages who were at 90%-100% financing, who were also now upside down, could have simply had the terms changed to reflect the lower interest rates that were available, which would have reduced mortgage payments in some instances by hundreds of dollars. We essentially helped everyone in the economic crisis who caused it, but we continually leave the ones who are affected in the dust.

LRCBlogger profile image

LRCBlogger 6 years ago

Great hub and discussion springboard. As some of you may know, the extensions look like they will pass. The Dems fought another round and have got Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, Republicans of Maine, to switch sides to support the bill giving Dems 60 votes in the senate to break the Republican filibuster.

The senate should finalize today and send the bill to the House of Representatives. The house is expected to pass the bill and many of the unemployed who lost their benefits will see them restored.

I agree with many of the conservatives on here that Obama not finding money to pay for these extensions is political. He (and congress) are purposely doing this so they can point out that the Republicans want to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans but won't help the middle class. It is a political move but a very shrewd one. So the question is, why won't the GOP support $35 Billion for working class Americans but they are ok with adding 680 Billion to the national debt to extend tax cuts for the top 2% of Americans. Why does the $680 billion not need to be funded ?

Again, I hate to see political games but clearly the Dems want to give themselvse a huge talking point vs the GOP

coolmompublishing profile image

coolmompublishing 6 years ago from Georgia

Great hub full of well thought out points! As someone who has been job hunting for over a year (When things went sour with my son's father, I moved back with the fam who lives in a rural area), unemployment issues have been a recent sore spot. I eventually had to give up and be a stay at home mom and do the best I can supplementing with several freelancing projects and sporadic self-employed odd jobs. Even if I did get a regular job, the amount of money I would make here in the rural south would cover child care and not much else. By the time I was physically capable of considering a move back to the "big city" to reclaim my former job, the nest egg that was supposed to get me through maternity leave and a month or two of job hunting was gone.

Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 6 years ago from US

I am still trying to get to the bottom of the 700 million Hillary and the Mexican government are going to play with about drugs. Does anyone ever buy any of this? As I have said before if they find these drug people,they get all they have and own and made from drugs, why do they need 700 million? They just say whatever they can think of and what can we say? Oh don't fight drugs, yes 700 million more, go for it. I know they keep all the money and homes, cars possessions of people they catch, why isn't that enough? Since it is the Mexican dealers I suppose Mexico should get that, huh?

Springboard profile image

Springboard 6 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Well, on this one you and I disagree LRC. Firstly, the Bush tax cuts that will expire will affect far more than just 2% if you add in the real heart of small business in this country and sole proprietorships that will be affected. Smaller business provides 70% of the jobs in this country and a hit on small business is EXACTLY where these tax cut reversals will go to the heart of...meaning if you want to grow the economy, you DON'T do it by hitting on the very folks who provide 70% of all the jobs. Seems like it's not that much rocket science to me, but a lot of people seem to forget all the time that sticking it to the rich is like throwing a boomerang like a ball. You keep waiting for it to hit the big guy and knock him down, and before you know it you realize it's actually on its way right back to you and YOU'RE the one that gets hit.

If you want to strangle the economy even more and curb capital investment which would lead to more jobs and economic growth, letting the Bush tax cuts expire is exactly how you will get that done.

Springboard profile image

Springboard 6 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Coolmom, it is a situation I think many Americans find themselves in. Until things in the economy improve significantly, we have to do what we have to do. I just wish the Obama administration and the dems would STOP keeping the economy in a stranglehold like they are. We still won't grow or recover quickly, but I'm inclined to believe it would be FASTER.

Pollyanna, I missed that one.

Joni Douglas profile image

Joni Douglas 6 years ago

This administration and Congress, both dems and the GOP, are playing games with this issue. Real people are hurting and they are playing a cat and mouse game.

I know of a woman who has had to support her family for years. She was never college educated, she was a stay at home mom when her husband became ill and was officially declared disabled. So, she was left to raise their children, take care of her invalid husband, and find a full time job, which she did. Worked there for 15 years, and because of the economy lost her job. Her unemployment is 325.00 a week and the SS her husband gets is not even a house payment. She loses her unemployment next month if the clowns in Washington continue to play games and pay off the rich pigs instead of the people.

jdunbar profile image

jdunbar 6 years ago

My husband has been laid off for some time now and believe me, it has been no picnic for him. With him being in the construction business, we hear that the unemployment rate in this profession is even greater. You are absolutely correct on the little money you get from the state definitely not being something you can solely live off of. Thank God I still have my job which, who knows, may come to an end also. Its sad when the people of this country who actually have jobs, pay taxes then get laid off can't even catch a break for nothing.

Springboard profile image

Springboard 6 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Joni, it's a terrible situation. I've said it so many times, I'm actually blue in the face over it, that I'm not against the rich. I have nothing against people doing well and getting to the top. But I DO take issue with ALL of the money STAYING at the top in business. I DO take issue with a logic that says the WORKER is the greedy cockroach in the business. God forbid the worker asks for more money, or for better benefits. God forbid the worker asks to be paid a little bit and make a living as he sweats on a production line for a company. You CANNOT justify calling a worker who makes $40,000 a year greedy for asking for a .40 cent an hour raise and then give the CEO an 18-20% increase in his salary, bonuses and stock options and call him worthy of it. And when the top makes mistakes, the burden of that should not fall on the WORKER'S shoulders either.

AND IF the burden DOES fall on the worker's shoulders, then he should not be denied the same opportunity that the top gets to get by in the meantime. In business, CEOs step right in with severence packages worth millions built right into their employment contracts. Many employees are lucky to get an unemployment check, let ALONE any kind of severence that's worth a whole lot.

I'm just tired of the American worker being considered the bottom rung of the ladder and continuously being kicked in the butt and called a greedy, lazy, unskilled person.

And if you really want to know, for whatever it's worth, it would seem to me with the state of the way things are, that all the so-called smart guys with fancy business degrees and all this education has gotten us really far, hasn't it? All it feels like to me is that they've all become glorified vacuum machines sucking all they can out of the bottom.

Springboard profile image

Springboard 6 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Jess, you hit the proverbial nail on the head. The worker used to be respected in this country. Hard work used to be rewarded. Loyalty and honesty used to stand for something. Not so any more. Now the American worker is just a nobody. A bottom feeder. A fly that just won't stop buzzing in the top's face that must be swatted and gotten rid of at every possibility. Sad indeed.

rebekahELLE profile image

rebekahELLE 6 years ago from Tampa Bay

springboard, there is a lot of good sense in this hub. thanks for writing on such an important topic. I really believe there is a lot of misleading information out there about what exactly unemployment insurance is and how it helps especially in a recession. good for you for standing up for the American worker.

Springboard profile image

Springboard 6 years ago from Wisconsin Author

I'm one republican who is proud to say that I am a strong believer that the lifeblood of America is the American worker. Through the worker, capitalism really gets its opportunity to work and work well. If everyone is prospering then everyone is consuming, and so the circle gets completed. If you take the American worker out of the equation, or consider him a less important part of the system, you leave the cirlce open and the cycle runs into a dead end.

Property-Invest profile image

Property-Invest 6 years ago from London

A very current and insightful hub! We are so cut off from what is happening in the US, it's great to get an insider's view.

Springboard profile image

Springboard 6 years ago from Wisconsin Author

A lot of partisan politics is what I see, unfortunately. More than usual anyway.

Shawn Scarborough profile image

Shawn Scarborough 6 years ago from The Lone Star State

In normal times I would disagree that unemployment benefits should be extended because I think it discourages job seeking. But these are not normal times. With unemployment over 9% and few employers hiring I really don't see any alternative. Unemployment benefits should be extended until the economy recovers. Great hub, voted up.

Springboard profile image

Springboard 6 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Exactly. These current unemployment circumstances are a result of economic conditions, not lackluster employee effort or performance, and not as a result of normal downsizing either. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Tom Cornett profile image

Tom Cornett 6 years ago from Ohio

Evey poilititian should read your hub.

Some politicians think the people will just laze around if unemployment is extended. Mine ran out 6 months before I found a part time job. We barely made it. While being unemployed, I looked for work every day on line, mailed resumes, and told everyone I was looking for work. I believe that most of the unemployed are doing the same.

Benefits are usually about half of a paycheck. My suggestion....Liquidate Fanny and the unemployed.

Springboard profile image

Springboard 6 years ago from Wisconsin Author

I like your last idea a lot. Besides, God forbid we get back to the old idea, "If you can't afford it, it's not yours to own." Fannie and Freddie were a part of that long arm of the government that got too deep into home ownership...

And set this whole circumstance in motion if you ask me.

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