Given the choice between Paying the poor vs. Starving the poor . . .

Background: The government is paying unemployed people only $300 per week, and (surprise, surprise) some people are reluctant to go back to work at jobs that will cost them money.

People gather to show their support for the 2020 Basic Income March at the Utah State Capitol, Sept. 19, 2020, in Salt Lake City.

The purpose of the payments is to prevent families from falling into poverty, which would also help cause the entire economy to slide into poverty.

The payments themselves, though not enough in of themselves to prevent poverty, do benefit every American, rich or poor, by increasing GDP, narrowing the Gap between rich and poor, and preventing a more serious recession.

So what’s a government now to do about those unemployed people who won’t go back to work? It has several choices.

  1. The government can do nothing different, and let the unemployment payments end at the allotted times. This is the “we’re afraid to do anything controversial, so we’ll do nothing” approach of timid politicians.
  2. The government can stop all payments now. This is the “starve ’em ’til they beg for work” approach that businesses and primarily the GOP want.
  3. The government can set a minimum pay requirement that is high enough to make returning to work financially advantageous. This is the “let businesses pay more because the government is going broke” approach.
  4. The government can eliminate the unemployment necessity, and simply give all people a weekly or monthly stipend. This is the “Social Security for All,”  progressive approach.
Yahoo Money Calls to end pandemic unemployment benefits gain steam after disappointing jobs report By Denitsa Tsekova, reporter for Yahoo Finance and Cashay, a new personal finance website. Follow her on Twitter @denitsa_tsekovaSat, May 8, 2021
Calls to cancel pandemic-era unemployment benefits intensified this week as worries over a labor shortage gained steam, culminating in a crescendo on Friday after a wildly disappointing jobs report for April.
South Carolina and Montana announced plans before the report to end the jobless programs at the end of July, after weeks of local reports across the country recounted how restaurants couldn’t fill positions.
After the jobs report on Friday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced its support of stopping the extra $300 in weekly unemployment benefits, citing worker shortages, while Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) introduced a bill to repeal the pandemic unemployment programs.

The Republicans are sure to favor the “starve ’em ’til they beg for work” approach.

The GOP is, after all, the Party of the Rich, and if there is one thing the rich hate it’s for the poor and middle-classes to have more money or power.

It’s all a reflection of Gap Psychology, a state of mind in which the rich wish to widen the Gap between them and the rest of America.

The Gap is what makes them rich (without the Gap, no one would be rich or poor), and the wider the Gap the richer they are.

Interestingly, many of the poor and middle, having been brainwashed by the rich, to favor punishing the poor and middle to favor the rich.

That too is part of Gap Psychology, the desire to come closer to those above you in the social structure, by agreeing with them.

Voting for a right-winger essentially says, “I admire rich people, and though I myself am not currently rich, I aspire to be rich, and in some twisted way, my voting against the poor moves me closer to being rich.”

“While there are certainly people that needed access to increased unemployment benefits during the heart of this pandemic, we should not be in the business of creating lucrative government dependency that makes it more beneficial to stay unemployed rather than return to work,” Marshall said in a statement on Friday.

While $300 per week is hardly “lucrative,” the U.S. Chamber of Commerce most definitely wishes to avoid a “government dependency” by creating a business dependency, in which people are so desperate they will take any job, even at starvation wages.

That is, rather than giving the government power over people’s lives, the U.S. Chamber wants business CEOs to have power over people’s lives.

As to which is the more benevolent rule might be subject to debate.

All the government wants is your vote and your acquiescence. The business CEOs want your sweat labor and your money. Which is more onerous?

What’s to blame for the disheartening job performance in April, though, has no consensus among economists.
After payroll gains missed by over 700,000 — 266,000 jobs were added last month versus estimates of 1 million — a firestorm on Twitter ignited among economists and analysts, who largely agreed that tightness in the labor market existed, but argued over the culprit.

The so-called “culprit” is quite obvious. Too many jobs pay too little.

Despite right-wing wishes, people are not stupid enough to accept a job paying $300 a week (or even a tad more), especially considering the kind of unpleasant jobs those generally are), when $300 are available for not subjecting oneself to unpleasant jobs ruled by unpleasant supervisors.

Complicating matters is that the jobs recovery is not occurring in a vacuum, but amid a public health crisis that introduces multiple variables.
While there is no single measure for workforce shortage, increased work hours and wages are considered some of the signs that indicate employers are struggling to fill jobs and the labor market is tightening, according to Heidi Shierholz, senior economist and director of policy at the Economic Policy Institute. 

Apparently, employers are not struggling enough to make their jobs more attractive, preferring to save money by letting the unemployed struggle.

“If employers really can’t find the workers that they need, they’ll respond by ramping up the hours of the workers,” Shierholz told Yahoo Money.

Rather than hiring more people at improved wages and working conditions, employers prefer to work people to death, even if this requires paying overtime wages.

One clue to unemployment is provided by a story that has been typical even well before COVID:

The New York Times Schools Are Open, but Many Families Remain Hesitant to Return By, Dana Goldstein, Sun, May 9, 2021
Pauline Rojas’ high school in San Antonio is open.
But like many of her classmates, she has not returned and has little interest in doing so.
During the coronavirus pandemic, she started working 20 to 40 hours per week at Raising Cane’s, a fast-food restaurant, and has used the money to help pay her family’s internet bill, buy clothes and save for a car.
Rojas, 18, has no doubt that a year of online school, squeezed between work shifts that end at midnight, has affected her learning.
Still, she has embraced her new role as a breadwinner, sharing responsibilities with her mother, who works at a hardware store. “I wanted to take the stress off my mom,” she said.
“I’m no longer a kid. I’m capable of having a job, holding a job and making my own money.”
“There are so many stories, and they are all stories that break your heart,” said Pedro Martinez, the San Antonio schools superintendent, who said it was most challenging to draw teenagers back to classrooms in his overwhelmingly Hispanic, low-income district.
Half of high school students are eligible to return to school five days a week, but only 30% have opted in.
Concerned about flagging grades and the risk of students dropping out, he plans to greatly restrict access to remote learning next school year.

And thus, the Gap between the rich and the rest widens, and it is the lower-income groups who help widen it, not only with their votes but with their personal life decisions.

We discuss, in Ten Steps to Prosperity (See below), this common, seeming paradox, of children and their families rejecting even free college, to work: (See Step 5. Salary for attending school.)

It demonstrates why unemployment is a multi-faceted situation, having disparate reasons that cannot be addressed by just one government action.

Lack of good schooling can doom otherwise bright children, our nation’s greatest asset, to lives of wasted potential and abject failure — a great loss to America and a threat to our international leadership. Returning to the original article:

Average hourly earnings for workers in labor and hospitality also increased to $17.88 in April, up from their pandemic low of $16.92 in July and are higher than their pre-pandemic level of $16.90 in February 2020, according to data from the Labor Department.
Some economists pointed to the increase as a sign that employers are competing with the enhanced unemployment benefits, specifically the extra $300 a week that the Chamber of Commerce said “results in approximately one in four recipients taking home more in unemployment than they earned working.

What a disgrace for America: While corporations and their executive leadership pocket record salaries and perks, 25% of the workforce makes less than $300 a week!

Shierholz noted that the wage increases in some sectors may not be robust enough.
For instance, nonsupervisory workers in leisure and hospitality still make less than $21,000 a year after wage increases, according to Shierholz, or about $10 an hour.
“While there’s definitely signs of isolated and temporary tightness in the labor market,” Shierholz said, “a lot of the huge complaints that we’re seeing really are about businesses being frustrated that they can’t find workers at extremely low wages.”

If your business can’t survive even at slavery-level wages, you had better reassess your business model. Or maybe, just maybe, you should go out of business and not rely on poverty dependency to populate your workforce.

The number of women in the labor force fell by 64,000 in April, while the number of men increased by 493,000, Michael Madowitz, an economist at American Progress, pointed out to Yahoo Money.
“If there is a labor shortage, it’s all about women,” Madowitz tweeted on Friday after the jobs report.

Well, perhaps not exactly:

Scant difference between total unemployment (red) vs women unemployment (blue).
In Summary The purpose of a government is not to increase business profits or to maximize the wealth of the very richest among us.
Nor is the purpose of government to maximize employment.
The sole purpose of government is to protect and improve the lives of the people — all the people.
And since the majority is composed of people, whose lives most need improving — the poor and middle classes — government should focus on helping them rather than on punishing them for not accepting menial labor at starvation wages.
Unemployment is not a disease to be cured by punishing the victims, as the right-wing politicians wish.
Unemployment is a failure symptom of a Monetarily Sovereign government, despite having infinite financial assets, fails to use those asset to address in its primary purpose: To improve the lives of the people.


Rodger Malcolm Mitchell [ Monetary Sovereignty, Twitter: @rodgermitchell, Search: #monetarysovereignty Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell ]


  • Monetary Sovereignty describes money creation and destruction.
  • Gap Psychology describes the common desire to distance oneself from those “below” in any socio-economic ranking, and to come nearer those “above.” The socio-economic distance is referred to as “The Gap.”

Wide Gaps negatively affect poverty, health and longevity, education, housing, law and crime, war, leadership, ownership, bigotry, supply and demand, taxation, GDP, international relations, scientific advancement, the environment, human motivation and well-being, and virtually every other issue in economics. Implementation of Monetary Sovereignty and The Ten Steps To Prosperity can grow the economy and narrow the Gaps: Ten Steps To Prosperity:

  1. Eliminate FICA
  2. Federally funded Medicare — parts A, B & D, plus long-term care — for everyone
  3. Social Security for all
  4. Free education (including post-grad) for everyone
  5. Salary for attending school
  6. Eliminate federal taxes on business
  7. Increase the standard income tax deduction, annually.
  8. Tax the very rich (the “.1%”) more, with higher progressive tax rates on all forms of income.
  9. Federal ownership of all banks
  10. Increase federal spending on the myriad initiatives that benefit America’s 99.9% 


The Ten Steps will grow the economy and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and the rest.


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