What has to happen to the American economy before the people in government decide to spend money on job creation?
It seems that public assistance in its various forms-whether it’s unemployment insurance, Social Security disability, welfare, food stamps or others-was branded years ago as the substitute for a decent, good paying job in a country where that has become an endangered species.
These programs were never designed to be used in this capacity. Public assistance is an essential tool to temporarily bridge the gap for individuals between jobs-to keep them going from the time they lose one job until they gain another.
It’s not as if recipients have been getting benefits they never deserved; they earned them when they were working. Deductions from paychecks cover unemployment insurance, Social Security and disability benefits. Workers also pay an assortment of taxes to the federal, state and city governments.
That’s a big bite from the paycheck, but if someone loses their job, at least they know that they earned a small cushion to fall back on until they can find another means of employment. Now federal benefits for those who have been unemployed for more than six months are being cut-and, to quote Shakespeare, it’s the unkindest cut of all.
Starting this week, benefits for more than 140,000 New York State residents will be cut by almost 11 percent as a result of the budget stalemate in Washington.
Every state was ordered to reduce the benefits paid to people who have exhausted their 26 weeks of regular unemployment benefits and have begun collecting emergency benefits.
Americans need a helping hand, and now that the government appears tired of giving out some public assistance, these Americans are getting “the finger” in the form of benefit cuts.
So what’s left? In New York City, those on unemployment insurance will need to “do more with less” money. But there are also potentially two million people on food stamps and 176,000 New Yorkers collecting Social Security disability insurance, which is up 30,000 in the last four years. The federal government hasn’t taken the ax to those programs-yet.
And there aren’t enough jobs-well, at least in the U.S.
Foxconn Technology Group, the makers of smartphones that have become as essential to many Americans as oxygen, announced it’s hiring 10,000 workers on top of its current 300,000- strong work force-in China. So many Americans buy these phones, and that cash seems to turn into jobs in another nation’s economy, but never here.
Instead of finding ways to create jobs-the empty promise of almost every politician-the government has spent years doling out public assistance to everybody. Now, it seems the government doesn’t want that responsibility either-even though no one has done anything about the lack of jobs in this country.
Some, sadly, are content to get by on public benefits. But there are many, many people in this country who want to work for a decent wage and live productive lives if only somebody would give them that chance.
To borrow a phrase, America needs a “New Deal,” something that puts millions of people back to work and leads to self-investment and real economic strength. Too much money is going out of this country; the time is now to bring some of it back here.