Saturday, June 18, 2011

Show Me Proof

Here's wind up to a NYTimes/JSOnline piece on unemployment benefits:

The Times story suggests that some states have held back on changing the law to allow the extended benefits for ideological reasons.

In Wisconsin, it is the job of the Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council to make recommendations ot the Legislature on changes to jobless pay, including the decision on whether to approve extended benefits. Those benefits ended April 16, according to the Department of Workforce Development.

The Wisconsin panel has not yet considered the measure, and could not even summon a quorum for its May meeting. Its April meeting was canceled.
And here's the Huh? moment:

In the Times story, Jim Buchen, vice president of government relations for Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and a member of the advisory council, questioned whether there was a need for extended benefits.

"The management side is not inclined to approve this anyway absent concessions on their part. The real question is whether there is still a need for extended benefits. We are increasingly hearing from people that they are having trouble hiring workers who are on unemployment because they want to wait until their benefits are exhausted," Buchen told the Times.
Buchen's anecdotal aside seems patently ridiculous to me. Why would anyone pass up long-term employment income and job stability, especially in the current economy, for the sake of short-term unemployment benefits?  It would also seems to make little sense that these moochers are actively going out and speaking to the management types that would be hiring people if they are, indeed, waiting out the rest of their unemployment benefits. How, then, did "the management side" -- Buchen's phrase, not mine -- acquire this information?

I really wish news organizations would call PR shills out on shit like this. Where is the data backing your claim up? How was it gathered? Can provide the name of someone who is refusing employment to instead take unemployment benefits? Just one name, that's all we're looking for. Why not make it easier: how about the name of one employer who is having a hard time finding employees because the entire potential workforce has been rendered immobile by unemployment benefits?

Buchen's rhetoric is pretty standard: manufacturers are out their trying to create jobs that people are too lazy to fill. The problem -- and the reason why groups like WMC rely on the old "laziness" talking point -- is that there is seemingly no way to quantify the claim. But that doesn't mean further evidence shouldn't be requested way confronted evasive dodges like Buchen's.

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