HuffingtonPost published this article today. Unemployment for 1+ million people will run out just in time for the Holidays and the push will be on to extend them once again. Of course, the argument for that extension is the fragile economy, specifically the absolutely crucial holiday retail season. I guess I am getting a bit jaded by the economic news. One question has been popping up whenever I read about extending unemployment benefits, how much public support Fannie and Freddie might need to stay afloat, the need for Federal stimulus monies for the states to maintain public payrolls and other such stories is--do you want a fast train wreck or a slow one? The issue of whether we will get a train wreck is long past. I think our leaders have opted for the slow train wreck but I am not so sure that was the wisest option. There is a certain wisdom in getting it over and done with.
Carrying on with the unemployment theme, I have been totally irritated with some of the latest coverage of the issue. MSNBC had a headline this morning (and, I think, yesterday) that proclaimed 'For Some, Jobless Benefits Trump A Job.' Yeah, it is nice they fudged a bit by saying 'for some.' But the implication is that a lot of jobless people are out there sitting on their backsides enjoying a life of leisure on what one talking head earlier this week on CNBC called 'our overly generous unemployment compensation.' The comments by the anchors yesterday reinforced that impression when they talked about the unemployed taking benefits 'instead' of looking for work. From my own experience during the one brief time I qualified for benefits, I spent a lot of time looking for work, sending out resumes and applications, preparing for the few interviews that materialized. I wasn't sitting on my ass. I sympathize totally with the one worker who noted that he was worse off for taking a job that paid less than either his former employer or his unemployment benefits because he found he couldn't stomach the job (after his employer insisted he harass an elderly couple who made the mistake of signing for their grandchild's student loan). When he left that job he had to reapply and found himself no longer eligible. I spent a bit longer at my next job and did get a higher wage and more hours than I had in my previous job (the one on which my unemployment was based) but it was a job I couldn't handle even after several attempts to adjust myself to it. The company made sure it looked like I had left entirely voluntarily and successfully challenged my application. In the end I was, like the worker in the story, worse off for having taken that job. But then, if I hadn't taken that job I might have wound up having my benefits cut off anyway since the pay was actually a bit more than I had been receiving before. The way our unemployment in this state is run pressures the unemployed worker to take work and the longer the worker is unemployed the more pressure is applied to make that worker take anything at any wage. I have thought about this since my very unpleasant experience and I have a question: which erodes your job skills more--being out of work or working in a job that doesn't use your skills? I have heard a lot of comment on the first but none on the second.
Rain at Rainy Day Thoughts has a link to that Pew poll from a couple of weeks ago that attempted to examine how religiously literate Americans were. I found it interesting for a couple of reasons. Atheists scored better by a couple of points than any religiously oriented group. Not all that surprising since they more than others would be most likely to need to defend their religious choice. But the averages were all abysmal. None scored more than 20 out of 32 questions correct. For the heck of it, Mom and I went through the questions just to see how hard the poll really was. We both answered all question correctly. We were unsure of only 3--those dealing with a couple of the Supreme Court decisions--but answered those correctly as well. What the poll really underscored was how abysmally ignorant so many Americans are. Rain's assessment is somewhat kinder than mine--it isn't so much a matter of being 'smarter' than Atheists but how interested we are in what inspires us and our fellows spiritually. Unfortunately, I don't think many of us are all that interested.