Michelle Malkin, for some reason, was invited to be a part of today's THIS WEEK panel, maybe because she was wandering through the Newseum or something. Anyway, she took on the issue of unemployment benefits by saying that "If you put enough government cheese in front of people, they are just going to keep eating it," which explains why America has never grown tired of cheap cheese and why it's totally led to nobody wanting to strive or excel or have a job in the past three decades.
Malkin went on to say that "smart economists," including Clinton economist Larry Katz, say that unemployment insurance only prolongs joblessness, and that, basically, if the jobless started starving to death and dying on the streets, it would give them the kick in the pants they needed to get a job again. Everybody just sort of looked at Malkin, like she was INSANE, and George Stephanopoulos very politely said, "Uhm...I don't know if I follow that." To which Malkin replied: "BUT IT WAS A CLINTON ECONOMIST, BLARGLE!" Stephanopoulos was still a bit dumbfounded, wondering why anyone in their right mind would take unemployment benefits "when a job was available."
Malkin's counter argument is that, for some reason -- who knows why really, maybe there was a presidential administration that recorded epic job losses for a decade maybe, it's a real mystery -- there has been unemployment insurance for many weeks. And for some reason, they are going to keep extending it -- as if there was some sort of ongoing economic crisis or something! And because of that, "people will delay getting a job until three weeks before the benefits run out."
Finally, Cynthia Tucker kindly points out that...uhm...if there are no jobs to get, literally no jobs to be had, then it's probably a good idea to sustain people's lives until such time as there are actual, real-life job interviews to go on and real-life employers actually taking resumes and whatnot: "That might be true when there are jobs out there that are available, but there are very few jobs available at the moment. So I don't think that people are just using that unemployment to be lazy, instead of going out and searching for jobs." Malkin attempts to yammer about incentives, but Tucker shuts that down by pointing out that when jobs get advertised, THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE ATTEMPT TO APPLY FOR THEM, which is a weird way of staying on the dole, forever.
UPDATE: Larry Katz, the Clinton-era economist cited by Michelle Malkin today as offering dire warnings of the way unemployment insurance incentivizes unemployment showed up in yesterday's New York Times saying remarkably different things about unemployment insurance:
Traditionally, many economists have been leery of prolonged unemployment benefits because they can reduce the incentive to seek work. But that should not be a concern now because jobs remain so scarce, said Lawrence Katz, a labor economist at Harvard.
For every job that becomes available, about six people are looking, Dr. Katz said. "Unemployment insurance gives income to families who are really suffering and can't find work even if they are hustling to look," he said.
With the economy still listing, he added, a temporary extension can provide a quick fiscal stimulus. And, Dr. Katz said, when people exhaust unemployment and health insurance, many end up applying for disability benefits, which become a large, unending drain on the Treasury.