I've been writing for years that the core Republican value boils down to this: cheap, disposable labor.
They want the workforce battered to the point where they will be grateful for any kind of work, no matter how badly paid or how poor the working conditions - and they want you stripped of any rights in the workplace that might slow them down while making money.
I was reminded of that this basic truth this morning when I read George Will's latest column:
Today's unemployment rate is 10 percent; the underemployment rate—the unemployed, plus those employed part time, plus those discouraged persons who have stopped looking for jobs—is 17.3 percent. Almost 40 percent of the unemployed have been so for seven months or more—which is not surprising: Congress continues to extend eligibility for unemployment benefits, apparently oblivious to the truth that when you subsidize something you get more of it.
He's not talking about the Wall Street Bankers who got us into this mess, of course. He's chiding people who are on unemployment for not taking anything they can get, under any conditions.
He bemoans the fact that I can still pay my rent.
And here, I've been thanking the lucky stars that had me accept a job across the bridge in New Jersey, where the reasonable benefits are generous enough to still cover my rent and food. (I suppose I could get find a job doing manual labor at minimum wage somewhere, but the medical bills wouldn't be worth it.)
I feel like I've let George down, somehow. The fact that the few jobs that are still available don't pay enough to live on makes the decision to stay on unemployment the only sane one - sort of like how George's banker friends decided to take their own version of government support.
I guess I'm supposed to feel ashamed. After all, if I'd picked the right parents who would have sent me to the right schools, why, I'd probably be George Will right now! My magical DNA and Ivy League alumni network would have been enough to save me from life's travails, someone's father would have given me a protected job with a fat paycheck, and this point would officially be moot.
It never ceases to amaze me, how they think down there in Cocktail Party Land.