Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What is really fair?

Above is a link to Paul Krugman's NY TIMES piece in which he criticizes Sen. Jim Bunning (KY) for holding up an unemployment benefits extension in March. Krugman argues that Democrats are the morally superior party, that they are working for the common people. He points to that well known sympathizer and all around good guy, William Jefferson Clinton, as a shining example of the noble politician.

"Bill Clinton famously told a suffering constituent, “I feel your pain.” But the thing is, he did and does — while many other politicians clearly don’t. Or perhaps it would be fairer to say that the parties feel the pain of different people."

Wasn't this the same guy that didn't even consider the pain he would cause his own wife when he caught a bj under his desk from a White House intern? And yet Krugman wants me to believe he truly cares about some struggling worker in Anytown, USA?

Krugman's terrible example aside, giving people money they did not earn through endless unemployment benefits extensions is not as morally clear cut as he wants you to believe, nor is it as big of a boon to the overall economy as he argues.

Let's start with the economy. In order to extend unemployment benefits, Congress will need to take money from somewhere else. This will be done through higher taxes of fees leveled on people with jobs. This may be done today or in the future, but eventually it will have to be done. Assuming it is done today, all of the money used for the additional unemployment benefits has been taken from other workers, mostly through wages that will never be paid because their employers must pay unemployment taxes to both the Federal and state gov'ts instead.

It is often argued, as Krugman does, that unemployed people help the overall economy because they spend this additional money. Krugman says this is "textbook economics". But am I really less likely to spend that money if it was given to me? I would love to get an extra $100 a week. Perhaps I would pay off credit card bills or deposit it in a savings account, both of which would help to shore up banks balance sheets, which Krugman and other economists say are lacking. Or maybe I would buy some new clothes, or a watch, or some other consumer goods, which would increase demand in the exact same way that the unemployed's expenditures would. Textbook economics also says that spending money is spending money, and letting me spend it (or even save/invest it) would help the economy just as much. And the best part of all is that it wasn't taken from me and "given" to someone else, but was mine the whole time.

And now the moral part. Helping people without jobs buy food and other necessities is indeed a good thing. I don't think any reasonable person will argue with that. But are unemployment benefits really the best way to do that? As I noted before, all of the money that businesses pay the govt in unemployment taxes are wages that will never be paid to each of the employer's workers. If instead of the employer paying the govt and then the govt paying the unemployed, what if I just got to keep my money and I donated it to charity? Then the unemployed could go to local foodbanks and other charitable organizations to have their basic needs met. This would eliminate the waste and red tape associated with all govt programs and allow people to provide the help their areas need on a more local scale. In addition, it would stop the truly immoral practice of taking someone's lawfully earned money and giving it away.

Of course Democrats and people like Krugman think that will never happen. They think that people are inherently greedy and will never share their money. That is why we need the govt to collect the money by force and then distribute it as it sees fit. We can't trust individuals to help each other. After all, only about 20 - 30% of registered votes are Democrats, the morally superior party. Republicans and Independents are only about themselves and their rich friends. It never ceases to amaze me how Democrats always portray themselves as so caring and helpful while believing that everyone else is so greedy and selfish. It must be nice to be Paul Krugman, to be able to look into the mirror every morning knowing that you are a wonderful human being because you support the govt taking other people's money to redistribute to the less fortunate. Who cares what you do with your own money, as long as you support higher taxes and more spreading of wealth there will be a place for you in liberal heaven.