Part I: Decision-making and Philosophy
Unemployment and the legislator’s decision regarding the unemployment benefits
Congressional republicans’ reluctance to extend the unemployment insurance, which led to its expiry on the 28 December last year, is cruel. The high unemployment rate caused by the 2008 recession prompted the government to expand the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program. The expansion was aimed at providing some income for the long-term unemployed persons who had already exhausted the usual 26 weeks of the period of state benefits. The program was extended for a period of up to 99 weeks whiles the federal and states also collaborated to offer other assistances. The republican lawmakers seem to be politicking and unperturbed about the high rate of unemployment and the swelling number of unemployed Americans seeking employment.
Failure to extend the unemployment benefits only a few days after Christmas ensured that more than one million of unemployed Americans lost an important upkeep. The insurance benefits provide a temporary upkeep for the unemployed people while they continue searching for jobs. These are people who are unemployed and their predicament is not their fault but because organizations are not hiring. As a consequence of the failure to extend the insurance benefits, the benefits to about 1.3 million Americans expired on the 28th of December 2013. The continued failure to reintroduce the program may see an additional two million people without the benefits within the initial six months of 2014. The decision by the lawmakers to refuse to extend the insurance benefits program beyond 28th December was selfish and based on the partisan politics that the republican and democratic legislators advance to the detriment of the tax payers.
I am impacted by the decision not to extend the compensation program negatively and positively, abet indirectly for now. If it is true that the abrupt cut on the unemployment benefits would be detrimental to the slowly recovering economy, another possible economic downturn for refusal to extend the benefits would affect me adversely. Accordingly, having friends, neighbors, and relatives who are getting the unemployment benefits for lack of work is likely to demotivate me. Knowing that I will be paying taxes from my hard earned salary while a person waits for handouts from the federal government is discouraging. It is true that the unemployed Americans do not have the anything to sustain themselves while they frantically search for employment but extended benefits are unfair to any taxpayer. However, when there is continued lack of employment for an increased number of people within the community will lead to social crimes and I, just like other persons, will not be spared from the outcome. To that extent, the decision by the Senate and the House of Representatives not to extend the unemployment benefits definitely has an impact on my welfare, irrespective of whether I am in gainful employment or not.
Part II: Philosophy and the Community
Unemployment and job crisis has been a thorny issue in America, especially since the 2008 recession. The issue relating to whether to extend the employment benefits has created an unprecedented debate for and against the extension. Latest efforts by the senate to extend the unemployment benefits have failed.
Those advocating for the extension of the benefits state that the extension would be a modest yet an effective way of reviving the already ailing economy and steering it to the right track. Proponents of this vies observe that the economy seems to be gaining recovery momentum. They point to the vibrant stock market in the past year, bullish economists, and an indication of a recovering job market. As such, they believe that it is not time to end the insurance benefits program despite the fact that the job market has registered steady recovery. They opine that though the job market has recovered to a certain extent, in reality the job market is still not good enough to cater for the unemployed. As such, they conclude that ending the program would be senseless because the benefits that accrue from the federal benefits are a sure way of nurturing the ailing but recovering economy back to its ideal state. Unlike the opponents, the supporters of the extension argue that the benefits do not encourage being selective when looking for employment. They opine that the unemployment rate is as high as 7 to 10 percent and that for every job opportunity there is at least three job seekers. They also believe that even with the job market recovery, those who have stayed for more than the requisite 26 weeks without employment, face more challenges because the more people stay out of employment, the more the employers are reluctant to employ them. As such, the proponents conclude that the only definite way of ensuring that the unemployed get employed is to let the economy recover to its ideal state (The Editorial Board, 2014). Otherwise, any premature termination of the benefits will only lead to the proliferation of the problems that the unemployed are currently experiencing.
Those who oppose the extension of the federal benefits for the unemployed contend that the assertions that the unemployed lack work and that opposition to the extension is harmful to the economy, contradicts genuine facts and sound economics. They give examples of states like North Carolina, which reduced the unemployment benefits from the 99 weeks to 73 weeks. The consequence of the reduction saw the unemployment rate in the North Carolina fall from 8.8 to 7.4 percent. Those opposing the extension of the federal benefits attribute the reduction in the unemployment rate in North Carolina to the fact that there was subsequent increase in the search for jobs and that people accepted employment opportunities that they had previously shunned.
Further, those against the extension of the federal unemployment benefits argue that the $25 billion annual cost of sustaining the extended program only increase the national debt. They oppose the argument that extending the program would hasten the growth of the economy because the beneficiaries tend to spend the money quickly. Their contention is that the money used to fund the program is raised from reducing budgets for other federal programs. The critics of the benefits program insist that the program provides an incentive for the unemployed to prolong their stay away from employment. Those presenting that the government needs to do away with the program argue that the benefits encourage the beneficiaries to even choose when to begin looking for a job (Morici, 2014).
Relevance to the Community
The unemployment issue is relevant to the community because it alludes to the core of a just society based on equal opportunities. The high employment rate for a portion of the community is likely to create and increase the poverty levels. It is worth noting that the unemployed are usually considered to be victims of an unjust society. Poverty may lead people to commit crimes such as stealing as people try to fend for themselves. As such, when the crime rates surge, it is not surprising that unemployment has a role to play. Employment and unemployment are features of a capitalist community. Capitalism and increased unemployment may cause of an impoverished social order that prompt those who are underprivileged to result to crime. This is because unemployment is a key cause of inequality within the community. For instance, lack of employment means that some people within the community will not be able to access important social amenities such as education and healthcare. This is because access to social amenities requires people to have money to spend. If people some people are unable to access public social amenities then the community is considered to be unjust. The debate regarding unemployment and whether the government should extend the unemployment benefits is therefore a core issue affecting individuals and the community at large.
Social Norms and Religious Values/Beliefs That Inform Various Perspectives of Federal Benefits unemployment
Communities are organized in such a way that the relationship between people conform to particular patterns. Social policies within a community are usually informed by the dominant values relating to various components such as work and family. Most, if not all, structures of social protection rely on steady work to cover for unfortunate occurrences such as ill health, unemployment, and even old age. Employees who misbehave in their work places are usually penalized either by suspension or dismissal. In contemporary communities, being ‘normal’ is not the same as being ‘average’, it illustrates being able to conform to the social norms. For instance, poverty is atypical in developed countries. Consequently, unemployment is correlated with poverty, perhaps because it undermines the role of individuals to fend for themselves. In the absence of employment, it is difficult to adhere to the social norms. The social protection for unemployment since the 2008 recession is the federal insurance unemployment program. The structural views relating to deviance postulates that deviance is caused by the social structure, which includes the family, economy, and community. For instance, increase in crime is usually associated with unemployment although the reduction in employment has not been associated with the reduction in the proportion of crime.
Relevant Ethical Theory
Classical theory provides that unemployment increases life satisfaction as the unemployed enjoy increased leisure since such persons do not encounter the stress that is caused by work. However, this theory fails to take into consideration various studies that show that lack of employment cause low self-esteem. The unemployed persons may also feel disgruntled to the point that they feel helpless. This theory also overlooks the fact that communities believe that failure to work is a considered to be contravening the community’s social norm, a situation that may attract bad reputation. Studies further show that the unemployed individuals do not enjoy their status since they mostly suffer low family satisfaction, poor health, and a generally poor psychological wellbeing. The classical approach provides that the benefits that the unemployed may receive from time to time usually have no effect on the psychological welfare. This is evidence that it is not the loss of income that disgruntles the employees but rather that it is the loss of employment that causes psychological, physical, and social problems. Further, the classical approach argues that the unemployed will have to be paid considerably high wages in order to ensure that they get the same satisfaction with those that are employed. However, it is notable that employment does not suffer the insufficiency or lack off observing work ethic. Consequently, no information shows that nether work ethic nor motivation is the cause of unemployment.
Relevant Political Theory
The opposition to the revival of the Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program is founded on the theory of pervasively, futility, and jeopardy. This theory was developed by Albert Hirschman. This is a relational theory based on conservative principles. The theory is divided into three parts namely: perversity thesis, futility thesis, and jeopardy thesis. Perversity thesis postulates that every purposive action that is aimed at improving some elements relating to the social, economic, or political order aggravates the problem that one wishes to solve. Futility thesis provides that efforts that are aimed at providing social change are available but will not succeed I making even the slightest transformation. Consequently, jeopardy thesis postulates that the cost of effecting a proposed transformation is too high to the extent that it threatens to erode the gains that had been achieved previously. The foregoing three reactionary approaches are often adopted by the conservative political figures. These approaches draw their influence from the responses that arose following the liberal thoughts regarding the French revolution as well as the Declaration of thee Right of Man. It also relates to the need for welfare state and contentions relating to the universal suffrage during the 19th century. Hirschman concludes that there are risks involved whether one acts of refuses to act (Hirschman, 1991).
The pervasively, futility, and jeopardy approach to the issue of whether to extend the federal unemployment benefits reduce the issue to a choice between continuing to receive unemployment benefits and finding employment. Consequently, the employers are likely to prefer employing workers who have not been in the job search for a long time. Accordingly, this theory would approach the benefits issue from the view that prolonging the period that people can enjoy unemployment benefits causes a corresponding increase in the number of people that are not in employment. The question that then arises is how relevant the proposed effects are and whether the concerns are currently relevant. Hirschman is convinced that there would exist only two ways of withdrawing from being a beneficiary of the unemployment insurance benefits program. That is, finding employment hence removing oneself from the unemployment bracket and giving up on the search for a job. However, the approach acknowledges the difficulty for a unemployed persons to exit their ‘comfort zones’ characterized by receiving payments for almost not doing any work.
Unemployment and job crisis is a massive issue. There are a considerable number of Americans who have been searching for work every year without success. However, the recent unprecedented move by legislators to cut the unemployment benefits regarding the long-term unemployed has considerable consequences. However, before reintroducing the benefits, the legislators must consider various approaches and solutions to the unemployment menace; otherwise the United State runs the risk of ending up with an unjust society.
Hirschman, Albert O. (1991). The Rhetoric of Reaction: Perversity, Futility, Jeopardy.
Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Morici, P. (2014). Obama blind to facts on extended unemployment benefits. United Press
International. Retrieved From http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Analysis/Outside-View/2014/01/24/Obama-blind-to-facts-on-extended-unemployment-benefits/UPI-52531390570263/
The Editorial Board. (2014). Extend unemployment benefits: Our view: The emergency benefits
are a modest but effective way to help nurse the economy back to health. USA Today. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2014/01/05/jobless-benefits-unemployment-insurance-senate-editorials-debates/4330673/