Insults Directed at the Unemployed
It's a sad reality that when unemployment rates rise so do the number of insults directed at the unemployed. We are seeing this today. Below I am assembling a list of disparaging comments made about the unemployed. I think it's important for us to remember how these influential people stereotype the jobless, casting them as lazy and incompetent people. This is not the proper way to treat your fellow citizens, and it also sets the stage for bad public policy. These insults and insinuations may also make it harder for the unemployed to find new jobs, since they send out the message that the jobless may not be worth hiring.
7-31-2012: Stephen LaRoque, Republican Who Hired Unemployed Workers To Clean His Yard Under Federal Indictment: In 2011, a North Carolina lawmaker got into an argument with one of his constituents. Apparently, he scolded the woman--and other unemployed Americans--for wasting federal tax money. Subsequently, LaRoque was indicted by a federal grand jury for theft of federal tax money. He resigned from the North Carolina General Assembly.
5-7-2012: Paul LePage, Maine Governor, Tells Unemployed Americans to "Get Off the Couch" and Get a Job: This article reports: "At the Maine GOP convention...Gov. Paul LePage (R) received an enthusiastic standing ovation from his fellow Republicans for saying that all able-bodied out-of-work Americans need to "get off the couch" and go find employment."
Unemployment: How The Lazy Are Hurting The Needy: Writing for U.S. News and World Report, business correspondent Rick Newman writes, "there's growing anecdotal evidence that people who might be able to get jobs are choosing to live on the dole rather than work." To his credit, Newman also writes, "Most people who receive jobless aid don't abuse the system." As a whole, this article is not too insulting. Still, these types of headlines, and this type of reporting on "anecdotal evidence," tends to exacerbate animosity towards the jobless. Ironically, the economy added 115,000 jobs in April 2012 (the same month this article was written), not even enough to keep up with population growth.
Herman Cain Blames the Unemployed, GOP Debate Audience Cheers: This story reports that presidential hopeful Herman Cain "criticized the Occupy Wall Street protesters, saying, 'Don't blame Wall Street. Don't blame the big banks. If you don't have a job and you're not rich, blame yourself.'" This statement seems to ignore the multitude of fines imposed on, and shareholder lawsuits against, the big banks for things such as mortgage and securities fraud. (Ron Paul--another GOP presidential hopeful--disagreed with Cain and said Cain "blamed the victims")
Right-Wing Media Renew Assault On Unemployment Insurance: Charles Payne, Fox News business contributor says that cutting off extended unemployment benefits for the jobless might be doing the jobless a favor: "...you
know people who are unemployed two years, three years, they lose their skills,
they lose their desires and in some ways, you may actually be doing people a
favor by saying 'you got to get off the sofa.' You have to get off the
Angle Calls Unemployed Americans "Spoiled," Claims There Are Plenty Of Jobs Out There: It is reported in this article that U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle stated: "They keep extending these unemployment benefits to the point where people are afraid to go out and get a job because the job doesn't pay as much as the unemployment benefit does...What has happened is the system of entitlement has caused us to have a spoilage with our ability to go out and get a job..." (Angle seems oblivious to the fact that a lot of unemployed people do not receive unemployment benefits, those that do must look for work, and the money received through unemployment benefits is usually quite low)
The End of Wishful Thinking: Ben Stein writes in the American Spectator: "The people who have been laid off and cannot find
work are generally people with poor work habits and poor
personalities. I say 'generally' because there are exceptions.
But in general, as I survey the ranks of those who are
unemployed, I see people who have overbearing and unpleasant
personalities and/or who do not know how to do a day’s work." Notice that Stein writes that there are "exceptions" to his generalization. This clearly indicates that he thinks most people who are laid off have poor work habits and poor personalities.