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Minimum Wage

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I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that the WonkBlog is promoting conservative economists that want to allow employers to pay less than the minimum wage.

[SL] I suppose considering Obama’s actual proposals for combating unemployment would be too much to ask, and I don’t find it hard to explain why he’s not making a lot of concrete proposals given that anything he proposes will be defined as beyond-the-pale socialism by House Republicans.  But, sure, if he cared about unemployment like conservative economists do he’d give everybody a free bus ticket to Minot and have the taxpayers pick up the tab so that profitable corporations can pay workers even less, what great ideas.  In particular, I can’t imagine any bait and switch in which the minimum wage is relaxed and the compensatory tax credits mysteriously vanish.  I mean, if it’s proposed by a conservative think tank you know it’s in good faith!

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  • Nice of Slate to write the headline.

  • TribalistMeathead

    Considering how light the WonkBlog post is on actual content, I’m gonna assume it’s a vehicle for Dylan Matthews to make a clever reference to a television show that went off the air nearly 30 years ago.

  • burnspbesq

    I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that LGM would choose to shoot at the messenger rather then responding to the message.

    • I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that your comments always support conservative economics.

    • rea

      It’s not as if there have not been, you know, actual studies, that show the incresing the minimum wage does not lead to higher unemployment.

      • Mark Jamison

        “Allowing firms to hire the long-term unemployed at less than the current minimum wage and supplementing their income with an EITC-like payment“

        The “and” is sort of critical to the whole statement. Several of the proposals could have come from someone like Dean Baker (specifically the one regarding occupational licensing) or Jared Bernstein (he’s discussed minimum wage versus EITC).
        Reasonable to be skeptical of the sincerity of anything coming from AEI and it is likely that if the Democrats embraced the proposals that they would suddenly all be deemed some sort of Socialism (see Romneycare). Individually though each of the proposals have some merit albeit with caveats and recognizing that none of them are major game changers.
        At this point there aren’t any fiscal solutions being tried to address unemployment so automatically shooting down anything that comes from the other side of the fence seems counterproductive in the least.
        The better strategy may be to embrace what you can (or what might have a positive impact even on a small scale) and then watch how quickly the Right backtracks on its own proposals. Then at least the point that virtually everything coming from the Right comes in bad faith.

        • Mark Jamison

          Then at least the point that virtually everything coming from the Right comes in bad faith gets reinforced and gains traction with the general populace.

        • DrDick

          “Allowing firms to hire the long-term unemployed at less than the current minimum wage and supplementing their income with an EITC-like payment“

          You mean the Wal-Mart/McDonalds business model?

          • Malaclypse

            They can’t go below minimum. Yet.

            • Bill Murray

              unless the person is in an occupation with tipping. Although I guess that technically just changes the minimum.

          • Mark Jamison

            No, the Wal-Mart/McDonalds business model doesn’t include a safety net like EITC. EITC is an effective means of assuring a basic minimum income while maintaining incentives to work.
            A reduction in the minimum wage (temporarily) wouldn’t be good but with an increased EITC it becomes a workable program. No reason not to counter with a proposal that increases the minimum wage to at least $10.10 (where it would be had it kept up with inflation) and also provides for indexing in exchange for a temporary suspension of the minimum supported by an increase in the EITC.
            The EITC is effective and efficient when supported by a progressive tax system. Much less susceptible to gaming than the minimum wage (reducing hours, work off the clock etc.)
            Unfortunately crappy low paid jobs seem to be the new norm, not just here but all across the world. The difference though between a crappy job here and one in say the Netherlands or Denmark is the presence of a strong social safety net including versions of minimum income plans like the EITC.
            I’m not suggesting the proposals offered in the WonkBlog article are perfect or remotely something that should be jumped at but they do have merit and they are worth discussing. I have pretty much no doubt that an offer to discuss ends being rejected and the goal posts get moved but responding to proposals like this one, especially when they have elements that could be useful is better than dismissing everything out of hand.
            How is that any different than the Tea Party tactic of saying no to everything? The sad thing is that the Right can get away with abject refusal of everything and anything because their basic program is akin to “let them die and decrease the surplus population” and doing nothing and the current versions of inertia tend to allow for just that.
            A progressive program involves doing something so if that means finding some sliver of something that can be developed into a useful program in something proposed by the Right then the effort is worthwhile. That doesn’t mean giving away the store in negotiating or even surrendering principles. It does mean taking things that have a bit of merit and discussing them in ways that lead people to conclude that the Right is either totally insincere in offering the proposals or that the proposals are simply Trojan Horses. The third possibility, remote as it may seem, is that there are some Republicans who see the danger in the way the economy and employment is trending and are amenable to solutions that create a better safety net and the potential for better employment.

    • Helmut Monotreme

      When the messenger only brings self-serving lies from the institute of bought-and-paid-for mendacious suck-ups, sooner or later, shooting the messenger stops sounding like a bad idea.

    • L2P

      Why, it’s almost as if what happens when we decrease the minimum wage is a complete mystery! Or as if employers never considered whether it’s better to lay off workers and keep the remaining happily fully employed or to make every worker unhappy by cutting every worker’s hours! Or, god forbid, there weren’t reasons to regulate some industries.

      Call me when a conservative economist suggests something that hasn’t failed, repeatedly, for obvious reasons, in the past.

      • firefall

        have a nice looooooooooooong nap, then

        • Bill Murray

          I think he’ll beat Rip van Winkle

      • mojrim

        Thirty five years and counting. I’ll have a flying car before you get this call.

    • JMP

      The message is transparently idiotic though. It’s just a right-wing wish list of programs to further screw over the unemployed and funnel even more more profits to corporate plutocrats that the AEI masks by lying claims that they would somehow reduce unemployment.

      There, you happy?

  • A Different John

    Yeah, I saw that too. Pretty much all of those ideas are terrible. Bonus to people getting jobs? The problem is there aren’t anywhere near enough jobs going around, not that people aren’t looking for them. Relocation vouchers? Show me the location in the country that has 5 million open jobs that they just can’t fill no matter how much wages there go up and that no one is moving to already. Government off the backs of entrepreneurs? The problem isn’t that there aren’t a lot of entrepreneurs (I work in Silicon Valley, I know a lot of people in startups – and I’ve worked in three over the last six years as well as helping out with two others), it’s that there’s no demand for what they are selling. Reducing occupational licensing requirements? The problem isn’t that we don’t have enough hairdressers (if we didn’t, wages would be going up, up up for hairdressers) but that we don’t have enough aggregate demand… these are all supply-side solutions for an economy that has a huge demand shortfall.

    Just incredible, the blindness of these people. And Wonkblog!! I used to have a fairly high opinion of Dylan Matthews, well, relative to most of the blogosphere…

    • joe from Lowell

      Relocation vouchers? Show me the location in the country that has 5 million open jobs that they just can’t fill no matter how much wages there go up and that no one is moving to already.

      I actually liked that one.

      Plenty of people are moving to the Dakotas to work in (or support) the drilling boom, but how many really poor people or long-term unemployed people can actually pick up and move across the country?

      • The infrastructure isn’t there, in North Dakota, to absorb whole families. The entire oil economy is based on unmarried/single males moving in and sleeping and eating in abysmal conditions while they leave their dependents (who need health care, schooling, and jobs as well) elsewhere. And a boom economy is, by definition, a temporary economy. Its illogical to pay people to move to jobs if a better solution would be paying them to stay in their locations and work on improving conditions there. Very few jobs, other than extractive or tourism based, are limited geographically.

        • joe from Lowell

          So you would oppose relocation vouchers?

          If there was a bill in Congress to give unemployed people $1000 to cover moving expenses and first-months rent if they moved for a job, you’d oppose that bill?

          • mds

            I might well oppose a bill designed to relocate people to take awful temporary jobs in shithole states which would be unwilling or unable to increase spending on the necessary public services, because I’m not sure how much it would actually help matters to subsidize turning everyone into the equivalent of migrant farm workers. It would also be much more likely to end up as an up-to-$1000 tax deduction for relocation expenses, if it were to pass this Congress at all, which I doubt. “The jobs are there if lazy unemployed people would just get out and find them” is primarily used as a phony-baloney excuse not to do anything for the economy.

            • mds

              … which is not to say, I hasten to add, that I would necessarily oppose a jfL-designed relocation voucher program that was only one small part of a sane comprehensive jobs policy by the federal government. It’s just that any relocation plan which could pass a GOP House, at a time when there’s such a shortfall in the total number of available jobs, would probably not be all that worthwhile. As Baker, Krugman, etc, have noted repeatedly, one of the reasons that there are positions going unfilled is that employers don’t want to raise wages to attract qualified applicants. Why subsidize them doing that?

              • joe from Lowell

                It’s just that any relocation plan which could pass a GOP House, at a time when there’s such a shortfall in the total number of available jobs, would probably not be all that worthwhile.

                But since when do discussions about what good policy would be require us to oppose good policy ideas on the grounds that they can’t get through the current Congress?

                Shall we start saying we oppose increasing taxes on the top 1% on the grounds that the current House of Representative would only pass bad tax bills?

                Would your answer to “Should we increase taxes on the top 1% of wage earners?” be “No?”

                • Its not a good policy.

                • joe from Lowell

                  That doesn’t make the argument “The Republicans won’t pass a good policy, so we shouldn’t support one” less dumb.

                • mojrim

                  You’re focusing in on mds secondary, weaker, argument. It is possible (common in fact) to have more then one reason for something; the weaker of the two does not detract from the stronger. Aimai is right anyway, it’s simply bad policy.

            • joe from Lowell

              a bill in Congress to give unemployed people $1000 to cover moving expenses and first-months rent if they moved for a job

              a bill designed to relocate people to take awful temporary jobs in shithole states which would be unwilling or unable to increase spending on the necessary public services

              That’s nice. What about a bill that bears some resemblance to what I asked, and isn’t larded up with silly-assed baggage that you added so that you could have an excuse to oppose it?

              • mds

                So where are all those non-shitty jobs for poor unemployed people that are going unfilled located, pray tell?

                • joe from Lowell

                  That’s for the individuals who decide, on their own, knowing more about their specific situations and opportunities than you or me, to decide.

                  That’s the genius of voluntarily programs. If they don’t actually provide much benefit to somebody, then they don’t use them. If they only provide a benefit to one guy out of fifty, then that one guys gets to decide to use it, and the other 49 don’t.

                  And since when has “But that won’t solve the entire problem of unemployment!” been an excuse not to solve some of it?

                • This is what I don’t get. It is not the case that there are jobs “going begging” and unfulfilled anywhere in the country. At the prices employers are willing to pay they are sometimes not able to get the workers they want. Thats because people who are qualified for those jobs aren’t willing to accept the abysmal contracts or pay that are now being offered to them. Offering some schmoe from out of state 1000 dollars to make the low pay more palatable is a direct subsidy to the employer who would otherwise have to raise the pay he was willing to offer to employ a worker who is already present in his area.

                  This is not rocket science. This is the actual way the employment market works. If there are not enough workers then the employer has to raise the money offered to entice workers into the jobs. That includes relocation money. If the employer isn’t willing to pay for relocation/higher wages/advanced wages then the job isn’t really there or the person coming from out of state to take it is just scabbing the local labor market. He gets a job but someone else, local, is denied it at a better wage.

              • I see that while I was doing other things JfL has gone off on one of those weird tears.

                Look: I don’t think any of us owe you any kind of explanation or defense of ourselves as good liberals who support sensible jobs programs and/or the welfare state.

                The proposal that the government should fund the needs of corporations who lack sufficient workers is, to me, a non starter. This is not what the government should be doing. If there is a job and if there are not enough local people to fill that job I expressely do not believe that the government should subsidize the cheap skate corporation by pulling unemployed people from elsewhere and shipping them off to strange places so that they can scab/union bust and take jobs from local people or show up and be cheaply employed at below market rates by the corporations. Historically where employers have wanted workers they have paid enough to get them there.

                The amount of money you are proposing, and the absurd method you are choosing to imagine allocating it, are all extremely wrong headed and would end up simply benefitting cheapskate employers and forcing people out of their home communities in pursuit of deracinated and temporary work.

                • joe from Lowell

                  I’m going to skip all the posturing for the audience and jump right to the actual substance of your comment.

                  The proposal that the government should fund the needs of corporations who lack sufficient workers is, to me, a non starter.

                  Providing poor workers with the opportunity to get to where the jobs are only benefits corporations? Really?

                  I guess you oppose public education. I guess you oppose public transit (oh, wait, you wrote below that you support it and want it expanded). Those help corporations get the workers they need. Guess what else they do? They help people get jobs, too.

                  If there is a job and if there are not enough local people to fill that job I expressely do not believe that the government should subsidize the cheap skate corporation by pulling unemployed people from elsewhere and shipping them off to strange places so that they can scab/union bust and take jobs from local people or show up and be cheaply employed at below market rates by the corporations.

                  I’ve helpfully highlighted the bullshit you made up to give yourself something to argue against.

                  forcing people out of their home communities

                  Christ, what a dishonest person. Forcing people? Tell me, do those public transit subsidies you like force people onto buses?

                • You are having hysterics and I don’t really understand why.

                  People have a right to live in their own communities, where they have paid taxes, and receive welfare benefits and schooling there. If there are no jobs they have a right to move to where jobs are, and also to expect that their communities and their government will attempt to help create jobs locally.

                  In the real world states and towns have both supported job creation locally and also tried to slough off the responsibility for feeding, caring for, and educating, an underemployed or unemployed population by exactly what you are advocating: handing people money or bus tickets and shipping them out of town.

                  I see no reason to support JfL’s fantasy 1000 dollar amount of money to random individuals because historically this kind of program has not worked to any actual worker’s advantage. You have almost literally no idea what you are talking about at this point. Government subsidization of business needs in one part of the country is not a good solution to a generic unemployment problem all through the country.

                • Also, I resent being called “dishonest” because I am addressing the real world implications of a program like “give a 1000 dollars to individual X to relocate to get a job.”

                  You don’t like the word “forced” because you think its going to be voluntary? That’s just because you are playing around with fantasy money in a fantasy world where legislation doesn’t actually happen and where there aren’t real world competing interests.

                  Right now, in the real world, people only get their unemployment money if they jump through hoops pretending to apply for jobs that don’t exist on a regular basis. Imagine what happens when the fantasy “move for a job you moocher” bill gets passed and you apply for that money and the job falls through–do you have to spread your circle of job applications in order to qualify for Unemployment in your home community? Do you lose your Unemployment becuase you don’t take that job across multiple states? What if you move out there and the job falls through? How many times can you be eligible for this miracle money?

                  There are a million and one reasons why creating a program that presumes that people can and should move out of their communities for work in someone else’s community–given how many social services happen in your local community after you have residency–is a bad idea. Labor mobility is highly problematic for families and communities. Other programs, even virtuous programs, that cost states and towns money lead them to dump their unemployed or sick population in other locations. I forsee that this fantasy 1000 dollars will quickly be appropriated by states and towns to pay for shipping undesirables out of town, and whether there is a job there at the end or not the troublemakers will be gone.

                  There is nothing in your planned legislation that deals with this reality.

          • Yes, I would. I think historically those relocation costs are bogus and would quickly be used as ways of moving the poor off the local tax rolls at home. There are very, very, few places where there are so many jobs that this would make sense as a way of dealing with unemployment. It usually means that there is a temporary rise in a specialized job that someone who is really poor/unemployable simply isn’t going to qualify for or its seasonal and the reason its appearing right now is that the employer isn’t willing to pay for it year round. These “great jobs” somewhere else are largely apocryphal and if they don’t pay enough for transportation for the worker and first and last month’s rent then I don’t think they are worth the government subsidizing them.

            • Oh, mds got in first with a clearer explication.

            • joe from Lowell

              Yes, I would.

              I don’t believe you.

              I think you’ve painted yourself in to a corner and won’t back down on the internet.

              You’d oppose a bill that give poor and unemployed people $1000 if they moved to find work.

              Sure you would.

              • …so is there a Latin name for the technique of insisting people are LYING when they don’t answer your rhetorical questions the way you want them to? It seems, somehow, like a less-than-effective feint.

                • joe from Lowell

                  I don’t speak Latin.

                  I don’t know what an “effective” blog comment would be.

                  And I’m not sure how the concept of “feinting” comes into this at all.

              • I’m sorry, was I not clear? Yes, I would OPPOSE a bill to give 1000 dollars to poor and unemployed people to move for work. I think its absurd, unworkable, and cruel.

                There is no magic pot of jobs elsewhere or, if there are, historically the employers have born the cost of bringing the workers there. Second of all 1000 dollars won’t cover the cost of a move. It might cover the cost of a bus ticket, or a car rental, but not much more than that. It can cost more than 1000 dollars to move within an urban area to lower the cost of one’s working commute. I would rather see public money spent creating workable, nearly free, public transportation so that people could have afforadable housing and jobs in the places they already are.

                • joe from Lowell

                  You were perfectly clear; you just weren’t all that plausible. I could take you at your word, but that would be an insult to you.

                  There is no magic pot of jobs elsewhere

                  So? There is no “magic pot of jobs,” so therefore, government assistance to help people who have found jobs actually get to them is a bad idea? Should we stop subsidizing bus routes from poor neighborhoods to industrial parks, too? Sorry, folks, I know you found some work, but it would be cruel to spend public money to get you there.

                  Second of all 1000 dollars won’t cover the cost of a move.

                  Depends on the move. It won’t get you from Worcester to LA, but it could get you from New Bedford to somewhere near Boston.

                  Anyway, you do understand that this “cruel” policy of giving people money if they want it to help them move isn’t mandatory? That the way vouchers work is that people who want, based on their own understanding of their lives, to accept that extra money would are given the option of doing so? It would, I guess, benot cruel to simply tell people who would like a $1000 voucher to help with moving expenses, “No soup for you!”

                  I would rather see public money spent creating workable, nearly free, public transportation so that people could have afforadable housing and jobs in the places they already are.

                  In a situation in which there were no regions with elevated unemployment, and no regions with better job prospects, this would be fine, but that’s never the case. You can make all the buses in Gary, Indiana free, but so what?

                • rea

                  Why aren’t those jobs in the places where the people are? Well, of course, mostly because they re imaginary jobs. But, to the extent that any such jobs exist, it’s because corproations have move to weird places in order to take advantage of lower state taxes and fewer regulations. See, e. g., the Texas campaign to get companies to move to Texas. The last thing we need is Rick Perry touring Connecticut or California and saying “Move to Texas, and the federal government will pay to move your workers there!”

                • joe from Lowell

                  Why aren’t those jobs in the places where the people are? Well, of course, mostly because they re imaginary jobs.

                  Umwut?

                  There were high-unemployment places across the United States during even the 90s boom. It is simply nonsensical to assert that national economic performance is the only thing that effects local unemployment, as if the entire country was one big job market.

                • It would get you from new bedford to somewhere near boston? Why and how would this 1000 dollars be given to the guy from new bedford and not to the guy in boston? Why is the unemployed guy in Boston not already getting this job for which he wouldn’t need to relocate? You are presenting a complete fantasy of the job market in which we are suffering from a huge mismatch (because it has to be huge to be meaningful enough to spend 1000 dollars a job on) where there are
                  1) a pot of jobs that are unfulfilled locally
                  2) a set of unemployed people who but for this 1000 dollars can’t get there
                  3) and the jobs specifically won’t cover transportation and relocation fees for the workers they so desperately need.

                  That’s not the way the job market works. If the job is so low paying and low skill that it doesn’t pay enough for the workers to move there and rent then its not a good enough job for the government to subsidize rather than, say, paying the person welfare in the place they are in.

                  There is a seasonal market for jobs on the Cape–do you know how those jobs are filled? The stores and restaurants used to fill them locally but they now run up into the fall when the college kids go back to school. The cape stores and restaurants import workers and pay the cost of their coming and subsidize the (horrible) worker housing. Having the government pay those costs would be literally subsidizing the businesses and it wouldn’t materially help any individual worker–it would “help” one over the others who didn’t receive subsidies but it wouldn’t increase the ability of any individual worker to get to a job.

                • Oh, and I seem to need to add this here.

                  Even if it were true that at some other point (“the 90’s boom” ) that there were pockets of jobs in one part of the country and not in another it ought to be obvious that WE ARE NOT IN A BOOM. Wherever there are jobs there are literally hundreds of people lined up around the block to take them already. Why would we pay someone 1000 dollars to travel from one depressed area to another?

                • joe from Lowell

                  Why and how would this 1000 dollars be given to the guy from new bedford and not to the guy in boston?

                  This reasoning is not only a bogus false dilemma (having one program doesn’t preclude any others), but is actively pernicious. Success builds on success in politics, and getting one social welfare program implemented makes the adoption of other more, not less, likely.

                  Anyway, I’m not going to answer in some theoretical, aggregate sense questions to be answered in specific, individual ways by the people who choose to take part in the program. If the program isn’t helpful in someone’s individual circumstance, they don’t use it.

                • joe from Lowell

                  Why would we pay someone 1000 dollars to travel from one depressed area to another?

                  We obviously wouldn’t, Jenny.

              • manual

                Every read any recent ethnography or studies on public housing relocaton? I’ve read them all. One thing you learn: people of little means, for obvious reasons, do not like to move. In a very unstable world, kin networks and familiarity go a long way. It’s important to remember that actual people with real families need to be doing this mass relocation. Young men with appropriate skills could make the move. But for most demographic groups, these neoliberal schemes are unworkable and, often, unwanted. It’s a lot harder than it appears on paper.

                But, to your point, im not against relocation vouchers but I think it’s a very minor policy solution with very little significance.

                • 100 percent this. Carol Stack’s “All Our Kin” is an oldie but a goodie. People rely on their families and you can’t break up families without doing tremendous harm not only to the originating community but to the individual. The kinds of low level employment/desperate poverty where 1000 dollars would make or break the chance for a move are exactly the kinds of work and workers where being connected to other people is the best source of support going.

                • joe from Lowell

                  Every read any recent ethnography or studies on public housing relocaton?

                  I have a master’s in city planning, so yes. Public housing relocation was a mandatory move imposed on unwilling people. A relocation voucher program would be a voluntary program, affecting only those people who decide that it would benefit them.

                  In a very unstable world, kin networks and familiarity go a long way. It’s important to remember that actual people with real families need to be doing this mass relocation.

                  It’s also important to remember that those actual people with real families would be the ones deciding whether or not to use the vouchers and move.

                  It probably would be a relatively minor program, but that doesn’t make it a bad one. The beauty of a voluntary program is that it won’t be any bigger than it needs to be.

                • manual

                  Well, it seems we all agree it is a pretty marginal policy.

                  Not to get too pedantic. Nt all public housing studies are HOPE VI – im sure you already know. A lot of Geautraux and other scatter site stuff shows how little people want to move.

                  A professor of mine (black guy) who used to work with James Rosenbaum would always (correctly) complain ‘he’s crazy if he thinks all these black people want to move deep into the exurbs.’ He was right.

                • joe from Lowell

                  A lot of Geautraux and other scatter site stuff shows how little people want to move.

                  Sure. Two points though: 1) not mandatory. 2) a job can be a great motivator.

          • Joe – here’s the thing. There are mobility assistance programs in nations with strong labor market policy and social welfare systems, like Sweden.

            However, mobility assistance programs there work as part of a larger network of programs all bent on the same end – hand in glove with programs to enhance labor demand at a macro level, encourage economic development in underdeveloped areas, etc.

            Studies of mobility programs show relatively modest effects, and none of them have shown that mobility assistance programs are highly effective at dealing with high levels of unemployment at a macro-level.

            So unless this came packaged with large-scale jobs programs, I’d advise against it since the money could be put to better use at improving the macro-economy.

            • manual

              this

            • joe from Lowell

              Steven,

              Name one currently existing social welfare program you support cutting on the grounds that the overall social welfare system isn’t strong enough.

              If you can’t, then you should see the problem with opposing the addition of a social welfare program on the grounds that the overall system is not strong enough.

              • The two situations aren’t analogous – in one case, you have a status quo that one is suggesting taking money away from, programs with clients that depend on them, that have hopefully been rigorously assessed for their effectiveness, etc.

                On the other, we’re talking about the relative merits of how to spend new money and how it can best be spent in order to produce the best results for the most people – and if you told me you wanted to spend, say, $35 billion on relocation assistance, I would say outright, don’t spend it on relocation assistance, it’s better to spend it on direct job creation.

                • But while we’re at it – I’d be happy to repurpose Medicare Advantage money towards Medicaid expansion, most job training programs have a lousy track record in actually improving outcomes and I’d re-purpose their spending on direct job creation, a lot of Federal financial aid to education could be better spent as endowment grants directed at lowering tuition rates instead of feeding the student debt beast, etc.

                • joe from Lowell

                  On the other, we’re talking about the relative merits of how to spend new money

                  Actually, we’re not. We haven’t been comparing a relocation-voucher program to anything other than the status quo.

                • I sure the hell am. Let me be clearer: we need direct job creation measures, we need consumer demand stimulus (bringing back the payroll tax cut would be huge), we need minimum wage increases and regulatory mandates to require health and other benefits for part-time workers to vitiate the trend towards casualization of labor, we need systemic labor market policies that bring together an expanded WARN Act provision with kurzarbeit/Swedish-style adult education programs, we need to tax liquid holdings to flush capital into investment, etc.

                  And then once we have all that in effect, we can throw some money at relocation assistance and actually have it produce some modest results.

                • joe from Lowell

                  I sure the hell am.

                  OK.

                  I haven’t been, and rebuttals that assume I am aren’t really responsive.

                  We certainly do need a more robust jobs policy across the board. No argument here.

                • Ok then, so given budgetary constraints, should relocation assistance be a first-round priority?

            • mojrim

              Bingo.

        • Bill Murray

          My cousin’s F-150 truck is not that abysmal. Of course if he wants a decent bed he would have to commute 50-100 miles each way on some back roads

        • Barry

          And Krugman covered the absolute size of the boom; on a national level, it’s nothing. On the level of a regular-sized state, it’d still be nothing.

          • joe from Lowell

            …and it’s also one place in the entire country, provided in response to a request to name one place.

            • A Different John

              I believe I had the caveat “5 million open jobs” along with “not moving to already.”

              Thanks for reading!

              BTW – I don’t care much about that 5 million number, but where’s the evidence that a large chunk of the unemployed aren’t taking jobs because they can’t afford to relocate?

              • joe from Lowell

                I ignored the “5 million” stupidity as an rhetorical flourish. It’s embarrassing (for you) to discover that you actually think it’s a substantive consideration.

                along with “not moving to already.”

                Because if relatively well-off workers who can afford to move on their own can get there, then there can’t be any value in helping those too poor to do so. Such an awesome, progressive sentiment. Please, explain to me how most people have photo IDs for voting, too.

              • joe from Lowell

                where’s the evidence that a large chunk of the unemployed aren’t taking jobs because they can’t afford to relocate?

                I didn’t say anything about it being a “large chunk.” It would probably be a limited chunk – but since when is “This will only solve some of the problem” been a reason not to do something? Especially something that people can use, or not, as they see fit?

                It it’s a small solution, it will be a small program.

      • elm

        I agree with joe that relocation vouchers are a good idea, though it would only have minimal impact on its own. Anything that increases the mobility of workers will make it easier for them to find jobs (and find good jobs to their liking.) But the real problem right now is that there aren’t enough jobs, period.

        • Right. There aren’t enough jobs so relocation to imaginary jobs is completely besides the point. In the days when there were enough jobs people usually could tap their networks for enough money to get to them–that’s the entire story of Irish immigration in this country. People came to get jobs. They went into temporary debt to relatives and friends and employers to do so. In a situation of declining work needs and three people for each job it doesn’t make sense to destroy communities in order to parachute one or two people out.

          • joe from Lowell

            If there was a bill in Congress to give unemployed people $1000 to cover moving expenses and first-months rent if they moved for a job, you’d oppose that bill?

            There aren’t enough jobs so relocation to imaginary jobs is completely besides the point.

            Sorry, poor person who’s found a job elsewhere, Aimai says it’s imaginary.

            It’s good to know that there is no reason for the government to help people who have expenses, because your Irish ancestors tapped their churches and families.

            • I didn’t have Irish ancestors. But in fact people habitually do tap their social networks for temporary assistance to move for jobs. What evidence do you have that people are not able to find jobs locally but could find them elsewhere and can’t get there? I mean really, what evidence? Unemployment rates are extremely high all over the country.

              • joe from Lowell

                But in fact people habitually do tap their social networks for temporary assistance to move for jobs.

                And people do habitually tap their churches to help pay for medical needs. Applying your logic, that means the government should not help out, too. After all, social networks!

                And just how much help do you think the “social network” of, say, a poor person in a Detroit housing project is going to help with moving expenses?

                Try to put yourself in the shoes of someone without your advantages.

                What evidence do you have that people are not able to find jobs locally but could find them elsewhere and can’t get there?

                The existence of lower unemployment rates in some places than others. The migration of the Irish people who totally weren’t your ancestors. The rather well-documented phenomenon of people moving to other places to take jobs. Was that question meant to be difficult?

                • This really isn’t the way people get jobs. People don’t just “find” a job from a detroit ghetto in some other part of the country. They never, ever, have. People move along well travelled routes, passing from friend to neighbor to a job that they know exists that is being offered through networks. When a new plant opens up, or a restaurant is looking for workers, they don’t hire an unknown from a far away place. They hire someone who presents themselves at the plant, or who comes to them vouched for through a system.

                  That’s the reality of how people get jobs at the low end of the economic system. So, no, I don’t think 1000 dollars from a government bureaucracy is a sensible way of adressing the problem of a mismatch between some guy in one location who doesn’t have a job and a small pocket of jobs in another location far away. If the businessowner wants that guy he will find a way to pay to get him there, and he should. If he doesn’t know of the existence of that guy, or that guy is interchangeable with 1000 other low wage workers, how is he going to show the government on paper that he “has a job” when he moves?

                • joe from Lowell

                  This really isn’t the way people get jobs.

                  Any people, anywhere, ever. Nobody anywhere ever would find it easier to get a job if $1000 was made available to help them move, because no people anywhere who need jobs are ever stuck without enough money for moving expenses.

                  Right, Jen-Bob? “Government bureaucracy.” You were dong pretty well.

                • Hob

                  Jesus H. Christ, Joe, did you really just accuse Aimai of being the troll JenBob? What the fucking fuck? Do you actually think that, or is that just your idea of a devastating insult?

                  I’ve been hanging out here for years and I don’t think I’ve ever gotten in an argument with you, and I tend to think about 75% of the complaints people often make here about how you argue are overblown; you may be kind of a hothead, as are many of us, but you’re clearly not an idiot. But you’ve just managed to destroy nearly all the respect I ever had or might have for your opinion. Everyone here is familiar with Aimai just as they are with you, she’s clearly not a troll or a wingnut, and aside from one extremely well justified remark about how you’re flying off the handle here, she’s done not a goddamn thing but disagree with you in good faith.

                  Not that you have any reason to care what I think, but for the record, at least one person who you can’t possibly accuse of having had some long-standing feud with you now thinks you’re an unbelievable ass.

      • Matt

        “Plenty” is roughly 50k or so. Given that the number of jobs needed is several orders of magnitude larger, do you have a treasure map of 100 more copies of the Bakken Shale formation or are you just talking out your ass?

        • joe from Lowell

          That would be a really terrific argument to make to someone who described relocation vouchers as a complete solution to unemployment.

          Let us know if you find any.

      • manual

        Sure, some young people are moving to North Dakota. But this one the great Yglesias lines of reasoning – just relocate. Except that we know from existing empirical evidence that the poorest are least able to relocate. But sure, whatever.

        More to the point, we cant have everyone relocating to North Dakota: 1) The job growth, while noteworthy, is too small to accomadate the large swaths of unemployed and 2) its not really an ideal place to relocate: it’s a one-industry town in the midst of a boom cycle that will eventually end.

        It’s much better to build strong, multi-dimensional local economies that provide sustainable employment for all. Im fine with relocation voucers, but dont fool yourself that this is not conservative agitrop.

        • Lee Rudolph

          More to the point, we cant have everyone relocating to North Dakota

          Well, I’d sure be willing to chip in to relocate WonkBlog there! And I have a few other people in mind as well.

          • manual

            ha

        • joe from Lowell

          Except that we know from existing empirical evidence that the poorest are least able to relocate.

          This is supposed to be an argument against helping people relocate? To be even more precise, the problem of people being too poor to relocate is supposed to be an argument against providing money so poor people can, if they choose to, afford to relocate?

          I…just…wow. You see some bad reasoning on the internet, but…wow.

          More to the point, we cant have everyone relocating to North Dakota

          Even more to the point, I didn’t say we could.

          Even more to the point than that, a voluntary assistance program allows those who the program would help to use it, while allowing those it would not help to not use it. The only people being “relocated” (nice, scary word, writes the agency of the people deciding to move themselves right out of the story) would be those who would benefit from relocating.

          • manual

            Do you argue on the internet for a living? Does it pay well? If so, can i get a relocation voucher?

        • joe from Lowell

          Im fine with relocation voucers, but dont fool yourself that this is not conservative agitrop.

          Oh, the article is conservative agitprop, and some conservatives like to play the ‘I support this and not that social program’ game (as if these conservatives would really support spending tax dollars to help poor people move! Can you imagine the ads they’d run against it?), but neither of those points address the merits of relocation assistance.

    • JMP

      And there’s cutting disability benefits, that will cut unemployment by – um – what exactly? This list assumes the bullshit Libertarian assumption that there are jobs out there and the unemployed could just get a job if they wanted one enough. The only question is whether the AEI is so stupid that they actually believe this, or just lying.

  • Yeah, starting to get real tired of Wonkblog’s tendency towards Slate-style contrarianism.

    Leaving aside for the moment that Dylan Matthews knows damn well that Obama’s proposed a raft of jobs measures that the Republican House and Senate Caucus have been happy to kill, these ideas are awful.

    1. Relocation vouchers to the long-term unemployed in high-unemployment areas – this has been shown to have a marginal effect at best.

    2. Speenhamland for the 21st century – this is going to make deficient demand worse. We don’t need depressed wages.

    3. Make it harder to get Disability Insurance – because what we really need right now are more unemployed people in the job market.

    4. Worksharing as an alternative to layoffs – already being done, only helps a bit, and even then at the beginning of a downturn, not in the middle.

    5. Deregulation. Surveys of business owners all point to deficient consumer demand, not regulation, as the problem. Then again, I think AEI would argue that a wildling invasion is reason for deregulation.

    6. Deregulating licensed professions. Because there’s no reason why people who handle dangerous chemicals should be certified in their use. And also something not likely to bring about increased levels of demand.

    7. Drill everywhere. Their own link shows that domestic drilling isn’t adding much to the economy.

    8. Give people lump sums if they get a job. Their own link shows this doesn’t work.

    Fail.

    • JKTHs

      Just the $50 billion of infrastructure spending that Obama has proposed would do better in the short term without the long term harm that a lot of these policies would cause.

      • Pretty much. That’s what’s so stupid about the conceit – Democrats have dozens of jobs bills moldering on the shelf. Ignoring their existence just because you don’t want to write another story that says “The Republican Congressional Caucuses are the reason why we have 7.5% unemployment” is just lazy.

      • joe from Lowell

        As well as doing lots of long-term good. Bridges and tunnels and treatment plants that don’t overflow (woot CSO money woot!) boost economic growth.

        • One of the uniform drawbacks of all of the proposals listed above is that none of them significantly improve production or productivity (in the sense that better infrastructure decreases transportation costs, etc.).

    • Sev

      Well, we’ve already done natural experiments with sub-minimum wages and ‘deregulation’ wrt undocumented workers.
      As for ‘work-sharing,’ isn’t that what McDonalds et al are doing in cutting people’s hours, not entirely to the liking of their employees?

      • Bill Murray

        Work sharing in jobs that pay well generally works pretty well, of course that’s not what is under discussion.

      • No. Work-sharing is, ideally, an economy-wide policy like kurzarbeit. The idea is that, rather than concentrate suffering on the unemployed by layoffs, you diffuse it by cutting hours instead…combined with the government stepping in to provide money to make up for the loss in wages.

        The problem with this proposal is that we’re already promoting work-sharing; it was a significant element of ARRA back in 2009. Moreover, kurzarbeit’s virtue is that it works as an automatic stabilizer that prevents both unemployment and loss of income during the initial phases of a recession. So it’s not a new policy, and it’s not one that’s suited to the current situation, where you have gradually rising employment.

        • L2P

          Work-sharing would actually be GREAT if it was part of a mandatory government program, like family and medical leave. Lots of parents, for example, would probably be OK with working 30 hours of a full-time job and sharing the rest with somebody who only wanted 10 hours while mostly doing something else. If employers were ORDERED to comply with those requests, it wouldn’t be a bad thing.

          But that’s not on the table. What’s on the table is employers saying, “Hey, that full-time job? Yeah, it’s now half-time. Good luck with that mortgage!” That sucks for everybody. Except the employers, in the short run.

    • joe from Lowell

      2. Speenhamland for the 21st century – this is going to make deficient demand worse.

      And why wouldn’t other employers just start lowering their wages, knowing the government will pick up the slack and their wage-reductions won’t harm their ability to attract and retain workers?

      • Well, they probably would. That’s exactly what happened with Speenhamland – employers dropped wages below subsistence levels, knowing the relief system would pick up the difference.

        EITCs haven’t recently had the same effect because they’ve been paired to some extent with measures intended to keep up the value of market wages (minimum wage laws, local living wage ordinances, PLAs, etc.).

  • Hogan

    Also worth looking at is the proposal of Kevin Hassett, another AEI economist, to have the government engage in direct hiring of unemployed people.

    Is this like the Heritage Foundation health care plan, which conservatives nominally supported until it actually got passed and then declared wrongheaded and unconstitutional?

    • janastas359

      Does Wonkblog really believe that this is something the Democrats would oppose?

    • sharculese

      What, like some kind of act to speed the national recovery, maybe an administration concerned with making progress on public works? I’m sure conservatives will fall right in line behind a plan like that.

      • mojrim

        Of course they will, just like they did with FDR!

    • Cody

      I thought that interesting too.

      I thought deficits were killing America. We had to have massive downsizing in government waste, right?

      So now that Obama has fired all those federal workers in the name of “deficit reduction”, we should hire a bunch of federal workers otherwise it’s because Obama doesn’t care about unemployment.

      Great. I hope Obama has learned his lesson about negotiating with terrorists. You give them a little of what they want, and they just blame you for it.

      • You know what? I do bin laden the credit to think that if Bush had prophylactically blown up the twin towers himself, Bin Laden at least wouldn’t have turned around and attacked him for it. In that he was at least more honest than the Republican party.

    • Bill Murray

      Did conservatives ever nominally support this, say on the past 10-15 years? I remember the “economics historian” Amity Schlaes contending that all those CCCers were not actually employed

      • JKTHs

        I don’t think they’ve supported it, uh, ever except in the Pentagon.

  • How does letting government pick up the slack for corporations who underpay their workers end up benefitting society? Isn’t it just transferring the cost of reproducing the worker onto the taxpayer, and permitting the corporation to refuse to adequately compensate labor while increasing its profit share? How does any of this go under the heading of increasing jobs/combatting unemployment? AT the most it creates incentives for companies to featherbed–to hire more workers than they want because they are getting subsidies from the government for doing so.

    • Fake Irishman

      It would be as if the government paid for health insurance for all of Wall Mart’s line employees. Oh wait….

    • Lee Rudolph

      Isn’t it just transferring the cost of reproducing the worker onto the taxpayer

      Can’t be; the GOP would never meddle with reproduction!

      (How does your spellchecker come up with these things, and where do I get one? I can’t even, reliably, have that selection of buttons for inserting bold, italics, strike-outs and whatnot—for instance, they’re gone now, though they were there last evening.)

      • firefall

        I’m expecting Micro$loth to announce a release of MS Word-Aimai any time now

    • tt

      One way to think about this is that minimum wage is a tax on businesses that some of the worst actors mostly avoid (FIRE, energy) because most of their workers make substantially more than minimum wage. Instituting, say, a tax on profits that was then used to compensate low wages directly would potentially be more even and efficient.

      This is not an argument against the minimum wage. But I don’t think it would be correct to characterize taxing the massive profit margins of banks (or compensation for bankers) and redistributing to low-wage workers via social programs as government picking up the slack for the relatively low-profit sectors which happen to employ the lowest wage workers. It’s just making all corporations pay their fair share.

      • A very good point. A high minimum wage is, in fact, a way of keeping corporations and employers from exploiting local government and federal programs. You could tax corporate profits at a very high rate but of course the lobbyists have made that impossible so this is the only avenue left.

        • tt

          It’s true that taxing corporate profits is difficult in the current political context. One of the nice things about minimum wage is that it’s very popular and therefore probably politically costly for the right to attack. It’s good politics and good policy! I just want to oppose the line of attack against social programs that they are just subsidies to WalMart.

          • NonyNony

            Actually if you wanted to get the benefits you described above what you would do is:

            1) Raise the minimum wage to a living wage.
            2) Implement the high profit tax you describe above
            3) Use the proceeds of the high profit tax to subsidize the businesses that are now paying out more in wages due to the increased minimum wage.

            This turns the high profit tax away from being a “tax the profits and hand them over to poor people” and into a “subsidize businesses that are low profit but important by taxing the businesses that depend on them indirectly”.

            If you make it “rich vs. poor” the poor will always get fucked. If you make it “rich vs. richer” you have a better shot of making it work. It’s the only kind of class warfare that actually works in the USA these days.

            • PeakVT

              I don’t think we want to get into the position of subsidizing inefficient businesses that just happen to be good at navigating a subsidy programs. If raising the minimum wage puts certain firms out of business, then so be it. They weren’t adding all that much value to society anyway.

              • NonyNony

                I was thinking more like things like agriculture, where we really do depend on people making lousy wages to get us the food that we need to survive.

                You’re right that if businesses like Wal*Mart can’t actually make their own business model work by paying people a living wage then fuck them – someone else will be able to make it work and it won’t matter. But there will be some areas where the problem tt is talking about really would create an imbalance.

                • tt

                  The problem isn’t necessarily that you put small farmers or fast food franchise out of business. Profits will decline, prices will rise slightly, and that’s all fine. My point is more, these are industries that make relatively small profits. They should be taxed on those profits, and made to treat labor well because that’s how you get a society that’s good to live in for everyone. But there are also industries which don’t rely so much on low end labor and make obscene profits, and it is also their responsibility to help ensure that everyone gets a living wage, even if they don’t directly employ many people who get paid less than living wage. One advantage of social programs as opposed to minimum wage and labor regulations is that you can use social programs as a means of redistributing downward from these industries. And I really don’t buy that such downward distribution is equivalent to subsidizing WalMart.

          • But they are just subsidies to Wal Mart. Basically, almost all social programs are simply ways of keeping the poor from stringing the rich up on the nearest lamppost–twas ever thus. Bread and Circuses. German Health Care. The oligarchs will never disgorge anything, even the taxes raised off the sweat equity of the poor, unless they fear for their lives.

            • tt

              Well, I think that’s an incorrect model for how progressive policy changes actually get made. One question: if social programs really are subsidies for WalMart, why doesn’t WalMart and companies like it promote political candidates who support expanding social programs?

            • L2P

              I don’t think that’s true if we have a progressive tax system. The social programs are funded by someone, and for all our flaws our tax system is still pretty progressive. The rich pay for most of the stuff. So our social programs end up being the rich people paying for stuff for the poor.

              It’s not completely accurate, and not perfect, but I think it’s also far from “a way to keep the poor from stringing up the rich.”

  • rea

    It’s all supply-side crap. Put programs in place to encvourae employers to hire people, without considering that there isn’t any demand for the stuff these new hires would produce.

    • Davis X. Machina

      The demand for boostraps is unconstrained in all realities.

  • Waingro

    When I saw this title in the link preview:

    this-conservative-economist-cares-more-about-unemployment-than-obama-does

    … I thought “That has to be Dylan Matthews.”

    It is.

  • sharculese

    The name WonkBlog says it all. It’s a place for overeducated young dudes who have the luxury of reducing the world to charts ‘n’ graphs.

    WonkBlog: you’re on stop shop for all things best and brightest.

    • Scott Lemieux

      I will add that there’s not really a Unitary “WonkBlog.” Plumer is great. Matthews…has a more uneven record.

      • sharculese

        duly noted

      • manual

        If by uneven, you mean terrible, mean-spirited and factually weak, then yes. This guy gets it wrong on pretty much everyting. Remember when teacher strikes were destroying the american education system?

    • Matt

      For most of the posters there (article linked above a fine example), the first “o” in the name is a typo – should be an “a”. ;)

  • Warren Terra

    I only barely glanced at the blog post, and in general I assume any “conservative economist” won’t be happy until we have a herditary class of Helots. And Matthews’s headline is beyond nuts.

    Still, you seem to be a bit unfair to Matthews when you write:

    I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that the WonkBlog is promoting conservative economists that want to allow employers to pay less than the minimum wage.

    From my brief look at the blog post, there’s something about how the government could create a class of long-term unemployed workers whom employers could hire at below-minimum-wage expense, with money coming from the government to make up the difference to the workers – much like my undergraduate institution had “work-study” jobs, where a lab could hire a financial-aid-eligible undergraduate to wash bottles and make media for a couple bucks an hour, and the work-study program would kick in another several bucks an hour to bring the student’s hourly earnings up over minimum wage.

    This doesn’t strike me as sound policy, in a couple of ways, not least of which is that it assumes our current minimum wage is adequate. But so far as I can guess it isn’t what you seem to imply it is: it isn’t a plan to let employees take home less than the minimum wage.

    • Its not really that different in the end from the execrable TESCO scheme that was just busted, in the UK, where longterm unemployed were forced to take “training” jobs for TESCO in order to get their dole money. They were doing real work for TESCO, displacing paid workers, and their salaries, such as they were, were actually being paid by the taxpayers.

    • joe from Lowell

      But the language is “that lets employers pay less than the minimum wage.”

      Erik seems to have gone out of his way to make it clear that he’s talking about what employers pay.

  • manual

    Dylan Matthews should never been taken seriously. He routinely cites these too clever by half schemes and almost never does the hard work of looking at the studies. He is easily the most gimmicky and intellectually dishonest of his breed. He shares all of Matt Yglesias self awareness challenges without any of the intellectual range, depth or writing skill.

    • L2P

      Yes, the world doesn’t need a second Yglesias, let alone a bargain-basement Yglesias. It’s like the difference between getting a Big Mac somebody stepped on and getting a Big Mac the cook wiped on his ass after taking out the meat and putting in a ratburger. Both of them suck, but one of them’s just absolutely terrible.

  • joe from Lowell

    I think I got fooled by the troll.

    Aimai would not argue right-wing talking points like “Irish immigrants didn’t have this social program, so why should poor people have it today?” or “Lots of people move without government assistance,” or “Unemployed people should tap their social networks for money instead of looking to the government.”

    Jennie has been name-jacking women commenters lately, and Aimai and I went off on him together last night – over race no less.

    • joe from Lowell

      Also “government bureaucracy” and “hysterics.”

    • Warren Terra

      Honestly, everything about Jennie says that their only purpose here is to attempt to destroy the chance for civilized debate. I don’t know what technical solutions are available (I assume IP address bans have been attempted?), but constant shifting of pseudonyms is destructive to conversation, and traducing commenters by hijacking their names is just vandalism pure and simple.

      Obviously, there’s no point in asking this asshole to grow up – they’ve been vomiting upon this blog for literally years now. Is there some software fix we could try? Or might someone know who they are, and be able to send a stern note to their mother?

      • joe from Lowell

        Farley sez he uses one of those fake IP thingies.

    • Hob

      If it turns out that someone other than Aimai has been commenting under her name in this post, I’ll feel a little dumb, but it won’t make what you’ve said here any less ridiculous.

      First, JenBob is a total idiot and isn’t capable of imitating coherent speech at such length; if you’re able to reread this thread and completely ignore your disagreement on the political content, I think you’ll see that that’s the writing of someone a lot more sophisticated.

      Second, you’re absurdly mischaracterizing what was said. The point of the “Irish immigrants” reference was not “Irish immigrants didn’t have this social program, so why should poor people have it today?”; it was that in a time “when there were enough jobs” people often relocated with family assistance even though the government was not helping them do so— which doesn’t mean they wouldn’t have been better off if they also had government aid then, but the point is that now there are not enough jobs. It’s inexplicable to me how anyone could read that comment and take it the way you did, especially when the writer has emphasized in virtually every second paragraph that her opposition to this particular policy proposal is not based on anything remotely resembling “why should poor people have it,” but on a belief that such a policy would not achieve the desired goal.

      I honestly have no idea whether that belief is correct. I don’t have the data to either back it up or disprove it, but one could produce such data; the argument on both sides is reasonably clear, you are both saying specific things that one could look for historical and economic parallels for (note that that’s not something you could say about anything JenBob has ever written). Much of what Aimai(?) wrote seems very plausible to me; the stuff that you quoted in bold and called “bullshit you made up” was not backed by citations, but if you can’t see how an honest progressive could reach conclusions like, say, corporations are inclined to use desperate migrant labor for the purpose of union-busting— and might feel that that’s such a common-sense thing that it doesn’t need a citation— then I don’t know what to say. It’s one thing to disagree or think that the historical parallels aren’t applicable now, but your response is just incredibly, well, unresponsive.

      • Hob

        I should add that the one thing I do feel capable of evaluating as a factual statement, without referring to economic data, is that “$1000 to cover moving expenses and first-months rent if they moved for a job” is an absurd proposal, period. When’s the last time you moved? That’s an insanely inadequate amount, even if you’re talking about moving to the next town over, let alone out of state.

        I realize that you changed your wording later and said this is supposed to just maybe help a little, isn’t it better than nothing, etc.; but when you start out by saying it’s to “cover” expenses that it can’t possibly cover, you shouldn’t be surprised when people respond to you on that basis.

        Also, it’s really bizarre to accuse people of being wingnut liars who are throwing around vague straw-man notions, and then the next minute respond to a pretty simple factual query as follows: “That’s for the individuals who decide, on their own, knowing more about their specific situations and opportunities than you or me, to decide.” I mean, that’s about the vaguest and most Republican-sounding statement anyone here has made. You’re the one who’s insisting that this would help people get jobs. You provided one example of where they could get jobs: North Dakota. People pointed out reasons why that’s a really terrible example. It’s really not so unreasonable to ask you to provide some kind of better example at that point.

        • Hob

          Well, that was a bunch of wasted words since I didn’t notice I was commenting on the thread from 2 days ago, rather than the more recent one where Joe (hilariously inadequately) apologized to Aimai. My only consolation is that I can’t possibly be as embarrassed as he is.

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