Tue, May

3 More Reasons GOP Should Extend Unemployment Benefits


BOSTICK REPORT-Congresswoman Maxine Waters held a rally to extend unemployment benefits in South LA this past weekend. It was well attended, but what struck me most wasn’t just the number of people who showed up. 

I was touched by the stories I heard about families struggling to live while unemployed. Not just struggling to eat or keep a roof over their heads, but their struggle to protect the sanctity of their family and most importantly, nurture their children. The rally placed a face on life as an unemployed person that I think is missing in the dialogue today and I am grateful that we have people like Maxine Waters championing us in congress. 

There are so many good reasons to extend unemployment that are rooted in logic and good economics. Those arguments have obviously fallen onto deaf Republicans ears. 

Let’s move beyond unemployment as a statistic and look at the potential effect that ending benefits might have on three core republican tenets: personal responsibility, shrinking the welfare state, and protecting the sanctity of family. 

1)    Kicking people off of unemployment will encourage them to walk away from their houses. 

With nearly 6 million households still underwater on their mortgage, many people have found themselves trapped in cities where their jobs no longer exist. Their industry may be thriving in another state, but not in their own state. This geographic dissonance prevents these from people from re-entering their fields. Without unemployment keeping them afloat, what incentive will they have to remain personally responsible for that house? Why shouldn’t they abandon their house and take their family to where the jobs are? And wouldn’t that increase in blight affect the recovery of their old city?  

2)    Kicking people off of unemployment will push them onto our welfare rolls. 

Life on unemployment isn’t luxurious. If you live in Los Angeles and you’ve been getting the absolute most you could possibly get in unemployment, then your rent alone will consume nearly 80% of your check. That leaves about $13 dollars a day to feed and clothe your children, pay for your electricity and water, and make sure you have a working telephone with which to seek out a job. What kind of emergency fund does that family have if they don’t have a job after their unemployment runs out? By voting no on unemployment extensions, Republicans are encouraging those desperate families to swallow their pride and enter into the welfare system that the GOP constantly moralizes against. 

3)    Kicking people off of unemployment will exacerbate the stress those mothers and fathers experience, leading to more divorces. 

Many of these people are married with children. Life as an unemployed mother or father is no picnic. On top of the very stressful task of paying your bills, seeking out jobs, and sending unread resumes, you are still a parent. 

You must still invest yourself in the nurturing of a child who desperately needs you to provide the stability, security, and guidance necessary to grow into an upstanding member of society. That child’s entire world is you. The way they see other people, the way they learn how to cope with problems, and the way they view themselves is all based on their relationship with you. 

So, what suffers the most when you’re raising kids in a job market where hundreds of people interview alongside you to work at Starbucks? What do you set aside when you need to properly love your babies while sweating through sleepless nights of job hunting? Your marriage. 

Unemployed people are struggling. They are struggling to make ends meet. They are struggling to pay rent, to pay for the lights, to pay for the clothes their children need to go to school. They are struggling to keep the peace in their marriage and remember that they are more than unemployed, but they are not giving up. 

These families are not giving up, because they know that this recession will someday end. They have not given up on the possibility that they will someday be able to hold their heads up in pride as they deposit their paychecks. They are struggling because they have not given up on this dream. 

All they are asking from Republicans is that Republicans don’t give up on families. Extend unemployment benefits. It’s the moral thing to do.  

(Odysseus Bostick is a Los Angeles teacher and former candidate for the Los Angeles City Council. He writes The Bostick Report for CityWatch.)








Vol 12 Issue 8

Pub: Jan 28, 2014




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