The Death of the $600 Unemployment Benefit Is Not About Economics; It's About Discipline and Power



Hey Charles, are you familiar with John Holbo's essay on David Frum's Dead Right? Its a rather famous blog post from the antediluvian age of the internet. It covered a lot of the same issues. If you haven't, you might find it interesting.

Its particularly remarkable because Rush Limbaugh was invoking the Donner Party as worthy examples for American workers just the other day. Some themes remain evergreen.


@1 if people are truly incentivized to stay on unemployment because they make more money all that says is the problem isnt with unemployment payments being too high, it's that companies are not paying workers enough.

Also, Larry Kudlow is a drunk and a cokehead who hasn't done an honest days work his entire life. I'm so glad him and an alzheimers patient who somehow bankrupted a casino are the arbiters of how money should be spent.


Correct, @3.

Nothing a $15 an hour minimum national wage wouldn't fix.


"... these passages reveal or indicate
is that capitalism is not really an
economic system but a
system of control."

and as the lesser Classes
head South on the Food Chain
it's gonna take more and & More & MORE
police actions to keep us in our Proper Places.*

Good thing they're Militarizing the Po-po.
oh, and all the Me FIRSTERS are gonna
go along for the ride. They best have
some place in the Fascists' New Deal too.

*WE outnumber them
by A LOT. Baby...


So get the fuck out there
get a Job and Die for trumpf.

It's the Patriotic Thing to do.


They took their $500 BILLION + therefore to them, why bother? Trump, meanwhile went golfing in NJ for until next week.


An extra $600 per week is $15 an hour given a 40 hour work week. That's on top of whatever unemployment benefit would normally be paid (1/2 to 2/3 of wages?). No transportation expenses, no child care expenses and no germs. Lots of people will ride that train as long as they can.


Hey if now is a good time to be mad about people getting something for nothing, can we do the Walton heirs and all the other death-money gazillionaires who've never done an honest day's work in their entire lives?


@8: No, not lots. Dealing with Washington State ESD on a weekly basis in no fun.


In just about every major city, there is a battle within the Democratic Party, as gleeful socialists think that electing a member of Congress just a bit more to the left will somehow change everything.

But there is a similar battle going on within the Republican Party. The old guard is disgusted with Trump, and dream of returning to the good old days when people were more civil. This is happening from sea to sea. From so called Mainstream Republicans of Washington trying desperately to hold on to the vestiges of a Grand Old Party by endorsing an unqualified but at least sensible doctor for governor; to Maine, where Susan Collins is similarly trying to hold on to her seat by claiming she isn't one of "those" Republicans.These Republicans are disgusted with Trump, and find his racist, sexist, jingoistic manner disgusting, or at the very least, gauche.

If there is a poster child for the anti-Trump Republicans, it is Mitt Romney. He is the son of a moderate Republican from the Midwest -- a progressive when it came to civil rights. He is the only Senator to vote to convict Trump on an article of impeachment. He has been, by all rights, the voice of reason and civility within the Republican Party. This is a man who claims he is honest to a fault, and can't bring himself to lie, even if it serves his party. This is what he said to a group of fund raisers while running for Congress:

"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president [Obama] no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax."

So either Mitt Romney believes that about half of Americans are bums, or Romney is full of shit. I have to assume the former. The Republican Party may not agree on everything, but they think anyone on public assistance is a fucking bum. As someone who has actually spent time with people on welfare, I respectfully say to you, Governor Romney -- Fuck you, and fuck your party.

You motherfuckers are completely out of touch. You have no fucking idea how miserable it is to be on public assistance. The pain, the heartache, the desire to do something -- just fucking something -- to make ends meet. Your desires turn to hate, and you bite the hand that feeds you. You hate the welfare office, and the bureaucrats in there. Romney has no fucking idea, and unlike his dad, lacks the sympathy to understand that. They assume the worst of people -- and are more concerned with their supposed laziness than actually fixing the economy.

The Republican Party is fucked up. I don't know if it will ever be fixed.


@8 Bullshit. Most people genuinely want to work, genuinely want to make a contribution to the economy. And in a situation where there is mass unemployment because the current president's arrogant incompetence left the nation's governors with no alternative but to do lockdowns on the economy-it was going to have to be either lockdowns or everybody agreeing to social distance and wear masks, "powering through" as we all know, was not a workable alternative-it is totally inappropriate to accuse people of being slackers when we all know there ARE no unfilled jobs for people to do.

the $600 a week payment is not only basic decency, given that we're in a situation where "just getting a damn job" isn't an option, it is what we should always have done with the unemployed-because that would have encouraged them to start saving for later-as nobody has the option of doing under our current wage scales- because it would have given them the resources to pay for job training courses, as nobody who is unemployed at the moment has any ability to do, and it might have given some the chance to pool their resources and work together to create a future none could ever have on their own.

Our approach to the unemployed should never have been suspicious, judgmental and miserly to start with-it should always have been based on the assumption that almost everybody genuinely wants to work, wants to have a purpose in life, and that virtually none of the unemployed deserves to be treated like a scam artist.


@11 he promised to double gitmo.

World class creep


@11 No, Seafas is right. I'm a lazy so-and-so who would rather sit on the dole than return to work. I was living like a king, A KING!, on that extra $600. I'll just have to bide my time until the democrats get in power and give me more free stuff.


Very cool find Charles! What a nice surprise to find a hidden letter like that from a random purchase.

Conservative's beliefs that nobody wants to have a job and only receive free handouts (everyone but themselves, of course. They're the only hardworking, honest folks in existence) is as strange as another belief by a group closely aligned with conservatives: christians.

I've watched christians react with astonishment upon finding out someone is atheist. "What's to stop you from murdering people?!? Or raping?!? Or robbing banks?!?"

Are they suggesting that the only reason there isn't mass crime being committed is because everyone is too afraid of punishment by a deity?


Everyone pays taxes with every paycheck, including unemployment taxes (and so does the employer). Just like SSDI and Soc. Sec. retirement, the trope that people are getting "something for nothing" is total and complete bullshit. Working Americans pay into the system with every single paycheck and therefore the $600/week in unemployment they were collecting is money they earned with every paycheck while they were working. The $600/week in unemployment is called UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE because it is INSURANCE FOR IF AND WHEN ONE BECOMES UNEMPLOYED.

Congress has no right to fuck around right now pretending the money they are doling out is THEIRS (while they collect their taxpayer funded paychecks without a second thought, even while on recess, even while not doing their jobs). The House passed legislation back in May that would have paid the $600/week extra UI through January 2021. The Senate should have passed it then. The GOP are out of their fucking minds. What, exactly, do they think is going to happen when people are evicted from their homes en masse, have no jobs (no 1.8 million jobs added last month is not a big deal when 50 MILLION PEOPLE LOST THEIR JOBS), have no health care, get sick to the tune of millions (we've already passed 5 million, that number will balloon if people are forced out onto the streets with no money, no homes, no food, no health care, etc.)

Congress has been out of control for (ever?). They are elected to represent the people and serve the people and work for the people and all of the people who are now in dire need of receiving that $600/week UI should not have to even be worrying about it - it should be a given.

These assholes have robbed this country blind for decades. They whine that they can't live on their $175,000 salaries, free health care, and per diems all the while denying working people a living wage or health care.

We ARE the shit hole country. Trump and the GOP have made certain we will remain the shit hole country. All that remains to be seen is how bad it will get.


Couvis about 60% of those getting the extended benefit are making more than they did working. Plus you can’t refuse to be called back without losing all unemployment benefits. There are no jobs that aren’t minimum or near minimum wage or that don’t require significant retraining or experience.

It’s the thinking of assholes like you that got us into this part of the pandemic. What should have been a four or five month battle will drag on until next year. Instead of following science and doing what the rest of the industrialized work has done your ilk concentrated on thinking you were owning the libs when in fact you were contributing to the deaths of tens of thousands of people.


@12 & 16

Only you can re-elect Donald Trump. You are the only chance he has. Please be quiet for a few months.


@18 No I won't sit down and be quiet.

Republicans have stunningly and stupefyingly decided to stick with the president in a decision that voters will not forgive or forget. Make no mistake, voters are angry. More than 160,000 families will be without a brother, a sister, a mother, a father, or a friend this Labor Day. As a result of the failed White House response to the coronavirus, an estimated 200,000 families will set one less plate out at Thanksgiving. This was an absolutely avoidable tragedy.

Republicans have to let Donald Trump lose if they want victory


@21 You should try to have a bit of compassion for some of the folks that post here. The malady is called Trump Derangement Syndrome. I live with a lady that shares the affliction.

The last three years have been like having Tony Soprano be President of the United States. Donald Trump is incompetent and corrupt. He is easily the worst President that we've had in living memory. Trump has done a horrible job managing the pandemic. There have been thousands of unnecessary deaths and the economy - the one thing that he'd done okay with - has been foolishly demolished. Simply look at how the other modern democracies handled the pandemic and how they are doing now. The rest of the world looks at America and is shocked and appalled. That makes people crazy and they say things that they shouldn't.


So, just wanted to point out something re; the disincentive to work.

Let's say that is totally true and that now people are going to go and start seriously looking for a job. Let's also say, best case scenario, that everyone works so hard that every available job is taken.

What do we do with the almost 3 in 4 who are still unemployed? There are almost 4 people per job opening as of May 2020 as per the source below.

The Republican's arguments would only be valid if those numbers were reversed or at least close to a 1 to 1 ratio.



So, let's take a look at that "regular state unemployment" for a sec. Link below.

If you are living in some states, I will concede that you will do ok-ish on unemployment. If you are willing to live on ramen and tap water and live somewhere dangerous the money you get in states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania will for the most part cover your expenses.

But what about states like Mississippi with $235 a week? Or Arizona, Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee, and Florida that all fail to break $300 a week? And no, the cost of living isn't so low that it can make up for it. I would go through the trouble of getting cost of living data for you but right now I've sited two sources for my argument so far.

This "$2400/month lottery pay-out" is what is keeping people in their houses, food on their tables. UI was meant to be tight and cause lots of suffering to force people back to work. We can't get the vast majority of unemployed people back to work so we need to supplement UI.


@24 Granted, an extra $600 per week is probably too much but GhostDog has a point, too. We will need to support workers and businesses - large and small - well into next year. And yes, there will be a bitter price to pay for printing all of this Monopoly money but we'll have to cross that burning bridge when we get to it.



To be clear, I am willing to live with less than $600. I think it’s not a great idea but cutting it to $400 would be a good compromise. Or have the treasury send out checks based on your AGI cross referenced with unemployment rolls in the states. Or something else that can actually work(aka, anything that doesn’t ask the state unemployment systems to do more than the simplest tasks).

There are not enough jobs. There is not enough demand. Things will get much worse.

Winter is coming.




CM, I reflect on Kaleki's point and consider his rather casual dismissal of rentier interest. In this financialized age, rentier interest equates with personal profits for the rich. The rich have and are making money on their money much more so than by making something actual. I agree that discipline, class maintenance and social order are tenets of Capitalism (which I view as a religion), AND any threat to rentier interest is a genuinely large threat to the rich. We know them as the leisure class, after all, not for nothing!


It is of course perfectly ludicrous to believe that people are not taking jobs because they are making too much on unemployment. The jobs are gone. Whole sectors of the economy have crashed. It sounds like part of the reason for the Republican sabotage here is that they are dead set against bailing out states as well though, which is even more self-destructive. If states and municipalities have to drastically slash payrolls this depression will be vastly deeper and longer.


if reptilicants can Defund the hated Government they can just make it go away and no one will even care. Good Riddance! they'll cry as they wonder why food is no longer Safe there is no Fire Dept (but a Massive [Militarized!] Po-po) and sewage is running down the streets into the toxic waste dump where we, the Peons get our 'water' from.

A Glorious Reptilican
Utopia for ALL!*

*fuck OFF, Peons.
if you were Worthy
you'd already BE Rich.



Actually I don’t really think they have a plan, really. 20 Republican senators believe in the horrors of deficits so much that they are willing to allow the republic to burn into ashes before they will vote for another dime.

Every bad thing that happens is all due to them.

It will be ironic that a group that started by dressing like 18th century patriots are the ones that burn it all down.


Monumental contraction of U.S. economy wipes out five years of gains
The U.S. GDP shrunk by seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 32.9%

"It was Trump's defiance of science, his muddled messaging and his incessant vitriol that has plunged the country into a swamp of joblessness, receding labor participation and slumping business confidence unseen in other developed nations,"

"Here we are, a country so rich in expertise, in resources, in capacities, and yet we're watching a complete failure of a political response — with a massive loss of life — in real time," Sachs said. "It's quite shocking, because Trump not only does not know how to approach this issue but he blocks those who do."


Trump signed one executive order and three memoranda (pretending to do something about the GOP's refusal to pass a second stimulus bill, when the one the House passes has been sitting on Mitch McConnell's desk since MAY 2020).

His "executive order theater" is meaningless and will do nothing, but his base is eating up like shit pie (see above).

Despite what he believes, he cannot legislate and he does not control the purse strings - congress does both of those things.

Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell and his colleagues are enjoying a three day weekend (they enjoy a three day weekend every week, except when they are on recess when they enjoy weeks off at a time - all the while getting paid) and Trump is enjoying a three day weekend playing golf in NJ. Meanwhile the world watches, gobsmacked at how unbelievably fucked up America is.

U.S. Coronavirus Response Met With Alarm Abroad
Europeans are watching America’s bungled coronavirus response with astonishment.


lymie, it's Neocons
what have the deep Deep
(uncontrollable!) Emotions
mostly anger hate envy sloth
(the latter by the Idle Rich, who
Despise sloth in others ['cause they
see it so Prominently in themselfs]).

So, you're British?


@25 -- If I may paraphrase, what you are saying is that even if you give people more of an incentive to work, they won't, because there simply aren't enough jobs. Furthermore, if you reduce the amount of money going out to people, then there will be fewer jobs.

To which I say: No Shit. The problem is, the Republicans are either too stupid to understand this, or don't give a shit. Their inability to give a shit is the root of this debate. Charles claims it is all about control. I claim it is about philosophy. The latter is at the heart of the Republican Party -- a mix of laissez-faire economics and Christianity. This is a strange mix -- not at all natural, given that Christianity, by its very nature, would suggest spending a lot more money on the poor, and reigning in the rich (Matthew 19:24).

So what is it then, that makes for this strange combination? Christians not only believe in the value of work, but they believe it is an attribute unique to Christianity (just like sympathy). It is something that is not natural (who would take pride in their work, if not for their godly upbringing?). This isn't about saving money. It isn't about control. It is about the inherit sinfulness of sloth (one of the deadly sins, after all). So who cares if the overall economy is better if we give people money. Who cares if fewer people get kicked out of their homes, or fewer people go hungry. This is not a battle over their earthly lives, it is a battle for their very souls. Give them money to spend and they become the devil's plaything. The Republicans will have none of that.