If You’re Going to Declare War on the Unemployed, at Least Have the Decency to Own Up to it

WASHINGTON — During a debate on the floor of the House of Representatives this week, Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) suggested the unemployed can’t find jobs because of their own bad decisions.

“I have been back in my district, and we do town halls all the time,” Reed said. “And what I’ve heard from small business owners across our district is that one of the main reasons that they cannot hire individuals is because they simply cannot pass a drug test.”

Time was when Republicans at least had the decency to pretend that they care about the unemployed. Now, secure in their arrogance and self-righteousness, Republican lawmakers have dropped the facade of compassion and concern, revealing their true agenda, which seems to be creating a permanent underclass, while also embarrassing and harassing those caught in a seemingly never-ending cycle of poverty.

In an economy where there are four job seekers for every open job, Republicans seem intent on rubbing the noses of the unemployed in their plight. Instead of trying to determine how government might best support and assist the unemployed, Republicans appear set on a course which would allow them to continue to embarrass and harass those unfortunate enough to be out of work. Their latest focus appears to be on requiring those drawing unemployment benefits to take drug tests on the specious belief that drug use is endemic among the out of work. Republican Congressmen can’t produce any evidence, but claim to hear it a lot in their districts, so of course it must be true.

If you believe, as many Republicans seem to, that those out of work are simply not working hard enough to find a job, then you’re going to view the unemployed with contempt. And why would you agree to assist those you hold in contempt?

So…let me see if I have this straight; CEO pay increased on average 27% over the past year, and Republicans display no concern over the growing issue of income inequality. Of course, why should they be concerned? Their focus is on ensuring that we’re not paying unemployment benefits to drug abusers…never mind that there’s no evidence that drug use among the unemployed is even a significant problem.

What evidence do Republicans have that drug use is a problem among the unemployed? None that they’ve been willing to share. Ask a Republican politician’s staff for additional information on his or her anecdote about the stoned jobless, and they’ll tell you it’s just something they hear about all the time back in their districts, and you have to take their word for it.

Republicans are OK with spending $806 billion on the war in Iraq, but they balk at a few billion for unemployment benefits? Meanwhile, the rich continue getting richer, and Republicans continue working to reduce the already small tax burden on the rich. The gap between those who have and those who don’t continues to grow, which may before long lead to the creation of a permanent underclass who lack the financial resources to pull themselves out of poverty.

Part of the problem is the ideological myopia in the GOP. Rather than being honest about the unemployment problem, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has stated that what this country has is not a lack of jobs problem; America has an “education and poverty problem.” Right; the jobs are out there, it’s just that too many Americans are too poor, stupid, and indolent to get those jobs.

Indeed. If only millions of Americans weren’t victims of their own poor decisions and sloth….