Not Wanting Jobs

"A significant number of American voters seem to believe that the unemployed don’t really want jobs because they would prefer to live off unemployment insurance or other social benefits.

These are the voters that many Republicans (and some Democrats) are reaching for when they propose to “welfarize” unemployment insurance – imposing requirements for volunteer work or blanket drug tests.

"Many such voters are also drawn to a particular austerity strategy my fellow Economix blogger Casey B. Mulligan laid out last week: cutting taxes for high earners and cutting subsidies for low earners. This strategy makes perfect sense if you believe that most people who are struggling to pay their bills aren’t trying hard enough.

"This argument appeals for several reasons. It absolves believers of any responsibility for other people’s hardships. It lends credence to the assertion that the labor market would work just fine if it weren’t jammed up by a social safety net. It lays the blame for persistent unemployment squarely on President Obama, who has urged extensions of unemployment benefits and other forms of public assistance. ..." <Read more>