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Apr. 4 2010 - 6:22 am | 3,640 views | 3 recommendations | 46 comments

Corporations find another way to break the poor by fighting unemployment claims

The front of a Wal-Mart Store is seen 22 Septe...

Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

At the inception of a typical Employer-Employee relationship, there is usually an implied or contractually guaranteed understanding that the Employer bears certain responsibilities.

However, the burden of the Employer-Employee relationship increasingly falls exclusively on the Employee. The Employer scrapes the bone by slashing the safety net, raking in huge rewards, while the Employee is told to fight for scraps of meat out on the tundra.

The biggest Employers, corporations, have enjoyed their privileged class for decades. Certain Fortune 500 firms enjoy social perks like getting to safely shelter their revenues in tax havens so they don’t have to contribute to any Socialist projects in the US of A like schools or roads.

There are also companies like GM that outsource jobs (and sell out employees), chasing the cheapest labor around the globe. Meanwhile, an army of corporate lobbyists has successfully bought off both political parties, and Citizens United now permits corporations to spend unlimited funds to elect the next asshole who will let them do whatever they want.

Another company, Wal-Mart, pays its employees such low wages that they qualify for food stamps and public assistance. And that’s legal. It’s even considered a good business model. Even plantation owners had to feed their slaves, but Wal-Mart found a loophole to that profit suck.

But the folks on food stamps are the lucky ones. The number of unpaid internships is on the rise, causing some observers like M. Patricia Smith, the former New York labor commissioner, to ponder if such free labor policies are illegal. At the very least, it’s a way for the elite to screen for other elites, in the words of Atrios. If only trustfund kids can afford to take an unpaid internship, then that ensures only the rich advance while the poor take jobs that can immediately pay.

These Employers — let’s call them deadbeat corporations — have a cute new way to screw their employees.

With a client list that reads like a roster of Fortune 500 firms, a little-known company with an odd name, the Talx Corporation, has come to dominate a thriving industry: helping employers process — and fight — unemployment claims.

The shady claims that Talx heroically thwarted for the poor, defenseless Fortune 500 firms include

Gerald Grenier, 47, who spent four years as a night janitor at a New Hampshire Wal-Mart and was fired for pocketing several dollars in coins from a vending machine. Mr. Grenier, who is mentally disabled, told Wal-Mart he forgot to turn in the change. Talx, representing Wal-Mart, accused him of misconduct and fought his unemployment claim.

After Mr. Grenier waited three months for a hearing, Wal-Mart did not appear. A Talx agent joined by phone, then seemingly hung up as Mr. Grenier testified. The hearing officer redialed and left an unanswered message on the agent’s voice mail. The officer called Mr. Grenier “completely credible” and granted him benefits.

Talx appealed, claiming that the officer had denied the agent’s request to let Wal-Mart testify by phone. (A recording of the hearing contains no such request.) Mr. Grenier won the appeal, but by then he had lost his apartment and moved in with his sister.

“That was a nightmare,” he said.

(Talx’s client list includes Aetna, AT&T, Best Buy, FedEx, Home Depot, Marriott — which also happens to be one of the Fortune 500 firms with the most offshore tax haven subsidiaries — McDonald’s and the United States Postal Service.)

Notice that it is the mentally disabled employee on trial, while Wal-Mart, the Fortune 500 company, never has to answer for its practices of union-busting, its dismal customer safety record, wage and hour violations, failure to provide healthcare to its employees, destruction of local economies– to name only a few copiously documented complaints.

Sometimes, it really does seem like the corporations are trying to see just how far they can push their poor workers before they snap.

The wealth disparity in the US is at an all time high. The median wealth for a single black woman is $100. For a single Hispanic woman, it’s $120. People are losing their homes, their jobs, their healthcare, and they are buried under mountains of debt. Two million of them are in jail. Half of American children will live in households receiving food stamps before the age of 20, and 14 million American children live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level. Two and a half million more children livinglive in poverty today than in 2000.

Yet, this generation’s New Deal wasn’t created to help the people. It was negotiated in back rooms and behind closed doors for the sake of Wall Street. The wealthy got bailed out at the expense of the poor taxpayers. Unfortunately, as tends to happen, populist anger is directed at the wrong people: immigrants, blacks, gays, while the real crooks — the guys in suits — sneak out the back door.

It seems fitting that today is the 43rd anniversary of Dr. King’s Beyond Vietnam speech because King had a lesser publicized dream to form a Poor People’s Campaign. Ultimately, the movement never got off the ground because certain members feared the goals were too broad, and the campaign would generate backlash against blacks and the poor.

Now seems the right time to attempt the Poor People’s Campaign again.

The thing about corporatism in America is the race to the bottom is never going to stop unless people demand it stops. Corporations’ only purpose is to chase bigger and bigger profits, and if that happens at the expense of employees, so be it. They’ll pay shitty wages, bust unions, deprive humans of healthcare, jeopardize their safety, whatever it takes to earn bigger annual profits. They’ll even harass a mentally disabled night janitor in a nefarious attempt to wrestle his unemployment benefits away from him. Nicely asking them to stop is like asking a Great White Shark to show some compassion.

Democracy itself has been tainted by corporatism. Elected officials don’t work for the people – they work for their corporate donors. The only way to reclaim democracy is by forcing out corporate clients — whether they be Democrats or Republicans — and electing representatives that truly work for the people. (ActBlue is paving the way for how to do this.)

Dr. King understood this. He knew the organization of poor people was key to giving them a leveraged voice in the world of politics. He also thought the presence of poverty in a rich nation like America was absolutely inexcusable. King once said:

The curse of poverty has no justification in our age. It is socially as cruel and blind as the practice of cannibalism at the dawn of civilization, when men ate each other because they had not yet learned to take food from the soil or to consume the abundant animal life around them. The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty.

I’m always amazed at poor people’s ability to grin and bear their brutal treatment while the rich continuously fuck them. The amazement usually fluctuates between genuine admiration and frustration.

I think the good-natured attitudes come from the poor really believing the myth of the American dream (that one day they too will be rich), which may also explain the Republican/teabagger hatred of the poor. It must suck to work hard for decades only to lose your house or job. The temptation to lash ourout at a tangible “other” is understandable, though not excusable.

It’s much easier to believe a Beck or Limbaugh (two members of the rich, cultural elite who wouldn’t be caught dead in some of the towns in which their loyal listeners reside) — that the State Of The Country is the fault of the Mexicans! Or unemployment benefits! Or Feminists! Or Teh Gayz!

Recognizing that the real problem is huge multinational corporations and their partners in D.C. is considerably more daunting.


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  1. collapse expand

    RE:People are losing their homes, their jobs, their healthcare, and they are buried under mountains of debt

    Yep, you are so right allison….they have been losing everything while Obama has been peddling his fucking health care nationalization for the past year….

  2. collapse expand

    Why aren’t these people working in one of the jobs Obama’s trillion dollar stimulus created?

    Becaus the stimulus didn’t create a single private sector job…..it was used to subsidize and buy off public employee unions across the usa with money going to prop up state and city budgets

    • collapse expand

      Andy you are as stupid as it gets. You are exactly what is wrong with this country. I used to think the better thing to do was to just ignore idiots like you. But when your lies and BS go unanswered other sheeple with the brain power of a mouse start to believe your crap. The stimulus by several acounts saved or created 2million jobs. Many of them were private sector jobs. Before the stimulus this country did not manufacture any high tech batteries for hybrids they were all imported. Now because of the stimulus we have a high tech battery industy that is growing and creating many jobs. That is just one small example. The tax cuts were the least effective part of the stimulus.
      When are you going to realize that these scumbags you get your news from at Fox and on the radio are laughing all the way to the bank. They are laughing at you because they are making boatloads scaring sheeple like you to vote against there own self interest. You and the rest of your crowd are the most pathetic bunch of unpatriotic cowards. Yes cowards.

      “RE:People are losing their homes, their jobs, their healthcare, and they are buried under mountains of debt”

      “Yep, you are so right allison….they have been losing everything while Obama has been peddling his fucking health care nationalization for the past year….”

      Are you really to dumb to see all of hypocrosy and contradictions in your two posts. In the first line you say poeple have been losing their healthcare then in the second line you complain about him passing health insurance reform. Then in you second post you complain about the stimulus which he did before healthcare. Which was a huge jobs bill. So your complaining about the economy and the stimulus at the same time. The stimulus was the biggest attempt to revive an economy in the history of this country. So was the stimulus not enough for you. It was hard to understand how badly the republicans screwed this country up. With a some help from Clinton. This Economy has been 30 years in the making it will not be something that Pres. Obama will be able to fix in 16 months.

      Allison great piece you were right on. Now that healthcare is done all on the left need to set the agenda at campaign finance reform. We can’t let the corporate media get us all divided on something else that really doesn’t matter. This needs to start from the bottum up. We need to make donations to the directly to the good guys out there. We need to unite under this one issue and only this one issue. Wars, debt, imigration and any other issues need to all wait. Financial reform needs to be done. But nothing else matters or will get better until we get the money out of politics. If us on the left can unite on this and make it the main issue coming into the elections and keep pushing it until it is done. Everything else will be that much easier.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
    • collapse expand

      Hi Andy-

      Obama’s stimulus created millions of jobs http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/17/business/economy/17leonhardt.html (even Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger admits that: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN2114915920100221).

      The problem was, he didn’t focus enough on the people and the stimulus was too small, according to Nobel Prize-winning economists: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gsJHUXLO9mpVYTD4HEsQBK_-mbHQ and http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/09/opinion/09krugman.html.

      The greatest economic disaster since the Great Depression demanded an equally enormous effort by the government. Unfortunately, Obama offered a watered-down solution. Hence, small job growth.

      There are also parochial issues like cuts to bus routes. Poor people need mass transit to get to their jobs. If they have to drive 70, 80, 90 miles to get to a minimum wage-paying job, they end up spending more on gas than they receive in pay.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  3. collapse expand

    Well said, Allison. I think people have become mesmerized by false identity. Most have adopted stereotypical roles and seem unnaturally resigned to the fate of that role as prescribed by others. I think people have forgotten that life and liberty are incredible gifts and opportunities.

    • collapse expand

      You make an excellent point Scott. Way too many people settle for an unsatisfying, underpaying job because they allow themselves believe it’s the best they’ll ever get.

      You can see the sadness in the eyes of the 40-something waittress, the middle-aged delivery guy, the frustrated postal worker. These people die a thousand tiny deaths just to avoid the risk of suffering one day of hunger while they look for something REAL in life.

      But how and when did the fire in their hearts go out? Who snuffed it out, and why? I think for many of them it happened in school. Many have shown what a psychological meatgrinder school is. Many people enter that institution as curious, passionate children and exit it as passive drones, drained of everything except the will to live (indeed, some lose even that – which is why there are so many young people killing themselves).

      http://www.spinninglobe.net/againstschool.htm

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        Gregory – I understand the spirit of what you’re saying, but I also think it’s perfectly fine if a man or woman wants to wait tables, or chooses to become a garbage man or woman because they need early hours, to stay close to home, etc.

        But those jobs should have dignity, too, and dignity comes from a living wage, provided healthcare, and the knowledge they won’t be hurt while working.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
        • collapse expand

          Allison,
          I think what you have said here cannot be emphasized enough. People working those jobs deserve a living wage and dignity too! Many of these low wage jobs are quite necessary– more necessary than many that pay more. They will always be there. To argue that the answer job training and more education is the answer for someone in a low wage job ignores the fact that we always need people to fill these low wage jobs. I think a better and simpler answer to improving the lives of these workers is to pay them more, for chrissakes!
          Job training is not some magic bullet. Sometimes people are trained for industries that never really take off.
          There are people who who want to do a good job at work but not necessarily make attaining a more prestigious position the focus of their life. Don’t they deserve to make enough money to live on?
          Perhaps some may see a job such as cleaning offices or hospitals as one that someone should view as a job to “escape” from. I say, I would rather have someone dedicated to this work. Believe me, you would notice it if this work was not done well.

          In response to another comment. See in context »
          • collapse expand

            I think you nailed it when you point out that training/education is no magic bullet. Exactly. The whole we-need-better-educated-workers myth originated as a lie from the business world–it started the moment they we asked to cough up some excuse for not promoting experienced workers, and just for generally bottom-lining everything without consideration of their employees’ careers or well-being (two inconvenient considerations that chip away at the holy Bottom Line). The lack-of-education lie was an all-purpose cover. It works because it’s circular and because our press is never in the habit of critically checking things out. Business says it, it’s true. Two minutes of checking would prove them liars, but two minutes of research might mean missing the next Big Story.

            I worked 15 years for a company that hired an HR manager who had no college degree. (Two in a row, come to think of it.) He believed in the virtues of having a degree–as long as it was OUR career path, not his. Our managers were all in the process of getting “degrees” from faux (read: community) colleges, maybe to keep pace with the myth that getting ahead required an education. Then again, our second-in-charge person didn’t even bother building on her H.S. background. She was too busy almost-running the place.

            Business can lie all it wants–at least until we stop jumping when it barks “Jump.”

            Another thing, as I’m sure you’re aware, is that many of the underpaid/undervalued jobs of today were mainstream at one point, both in terms of dignity and level of pay. And at least were once adequate for survival. You could work at a hardware store and support a family. Now it’s presumed that you have to have a degree in something. What we need are people too well-educated to buy every last bit of bullshit from our holy money overloads. But we’d have to retire profit, wealth, business, etc. as our national religion.

            In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        What a whining pussy you are Gregory.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        Gregory,
        I got a better look at your post. Can you see how incredibly condescending it is?
        You are judging someone by the status of their job. Happens all the time, but can’t you see how ridiculous it is to do so? A person is not their job (or “career” as you probably describe your work). Some people just want to earn a living and focus on other things. The problem is when they can’t earn a living they can’t focus on other things.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
  4. collapse expand

    Your report states several factual points. As an economist, the report misses critical facts one needs to understand. While the recession dislocated much economic activity, it still operates under certain principals.

    First corporation goals are not profit. Their goal is to produce a good or service of value that consumers want. Profit is an achievement when the good or service sells well.

    Second wages are set by the market for labor. Corporations and other employers don’t set them. Government can’t set them, although it can impede wages causing them to be lower than they ought to be and causing some to be higher.

    Third government sets rules of regulation corporations and society as a whole are to follow.

    Fourth the conduct and performance you talk about operates in a society with customs and practise.

    To rant against them is like a sailor in a storm yelling at the wind. It has effects,but not the ones required under the circumstances.

    • collapse expand

      Corporate goals are not shareholder profit? Where did you study economics?

      In response to another comment. See in context »
    • collapse expand

      “First corporation goals are not profit. Their goal is to produce a good or service of value that consumers want.”

      LMAO!!!!

      I don’t even know where to begin with this. I guess it doesn’t even matter, since you are almost certainly beyond the help of rational argument if you really believe this. Wow.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
    • collapse expand

      Herb, I really have to disagree. I’d believe you’re point if you could show me an unprofitable Fortune 500 corporation. Profits are absolutely the goal, so are nice, fat bonuses.

      You’re right that wages are set by the government, and the government is comprised of politicians who get elected by taking donations from the corporations they’re then meant to regulate. That’s the whole problem with the system.

      There is a two-tier system of justice in the United States. Normal people (you and me) go to jail if we steal. Corporations, and corporate CEOs, do not go to jail. If you can show me one high-ranking corporate lacky (besides Bernie Madoff) who went to jail for dismantling Glass-Steagall or selling bum mortgages to poor people, lemme know.

      Your fourth point confuses me completely. If we lived in a society with “customs and practices” as a civilized people, corporations wouldn’t be permitted to raid the Treasury and steal from poor taxpayers.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        We are officially in complete agreement!

        In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        Allison

        On your point of corporate profit, you should point to the law, and not to the bonus propaganda (even though the bonus line is sometimes true). Directors are under a fiduciary duty to maximize shareholder value. The argument is not whether Fortune 500 companies are profitable, it is what subjects their directors to liability. Their duty is to maximize value. In theory, producing quality products leads to this, but that is not the case today.

        I have a friend that attends one of the top MBA programs in the country. Are you aware of the fact that it is possible to earn a degree in financial engineering? And you wonder why we have corporate scandals.

        Directors have a responsibility to maximize value. We now have school that churn out graduates in the field of bullshitting value.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
        • collapse expand

          “Directors are under a fiduciary duty to maximize shareholder value.”

          Exactly. The machine is built to turn a profit at any cost.

          In response to another comment. See in context »
        • collapse expand

          craig,

          Please explain what financial engineering might be…are we talking enron accounting here? Am I naive thinking that accounting rules were governed by law to avoid things like fraud?

          In response to another comment. See in context »
          • collapse expand

            Yes libtree, you are naive to think this. Most audits cover only a very small percentage of an entire company. They are also premised on the fact that the company is reporting all of the information and correctly so. They also usually specifically state that they are not looking for misstatements (you cant use them to prove a lack of fraud.)

            A balance sheet is a joke. Using GAAP, most corporations can come up with literally millions of legally acceptable permutations. In order to understand a balance sheet, you have to go through a lot of work, and even then, you are not going to catch fraud. Questions such as how much they are taking in depreciation expenses, how much are they valuing their goodwill, what expenses are the deferring, etc constitute a large part of the issue, and they take a lot of work to get to.

            But even this work does not find fraud. And with the growth of institutional investers, such as mutual funds, directers are under an increasing pressure to provide short term profit at the expense of long term opportunities. The pressures are high, even removing their personal bonus picture, to game the system, whether through fraud, or more commonly, through accounting trickery.

            In response to another comment. See in context »
    • collapse expand

      “To rant against them is like a sailor in a storm yelling at the wind. It has effects,but not the ones required under the circumstances.”

      Luckily, modern liberals barely rant against the rich and powerful, unless careful, milquetoast criticism (a few “fucks” notwithstanding) qualifies. There are, apparently, more deadly things than a democracy run by business–like the President saying “God” in public (a violation of something or another), or people not building their CD library according to the NPR Guide to Being Smart (Music Ed.), or someone committing the double crime of not living in New York and not liking “Nurse Jackie,” and how this spells danger for the intellectual future of humanity.

      You have nothing to worry about. Your Republican values may not be those of the President, but they’re the ones he’s honoring, which is the same difference.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  5. collapse expand

    Have you seen Matt Taibbi’s latest in Rolling Stone? The people in rural parts of the country are being screwed over most my predatory banks, not by the government passing a stimulus bill. If only these folks knew who was really hurting them…

    • collapse expand

      Zaid,

      That is the crux of it…we get these feel good PR ads on TV about pharma curing cancer and exxon building wind turbines, all butterflies and rainbows and banks putting cash machines everywhere like johnny appleseed tossing seeds and growing future apple pies and chemical companies we never heard of making things we can’t live without (not here but that doesn’t matter) and Archer Daniels Midland feeding the world as if they produced something other than corn for use in manufacturing and animal feed and High Fructose Corn Syrup and there is no evidence it is bad for you unless you live in Europe.

      It’s the big lie and soon to be coming to you in new and improved political candidates. If you liked Reagan the new model for 2012 will have you running to the polls “It’s the first I-Candidate and the line starts to the right.”

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  6. collapse expand

    Your piece almost hits the spot–that is, I feel as if I’ve almost finally found a genuinely angry progressive piece about corporate greed. But not quite. A curiously clinical tone takes over near the end, and we have the usual dumping on poor people. Yes, poor people are forever failing to understand the source of their woes, and they tend to side with the very people screwing them over. But what’s worse? That, or a bunch of better-educated sorts who KNOW who the culprits are but who just can’t get mad enough, because, gosh, we’re talking about money and power and position–things that we non-poor types sort of relate (dare I say, aspire) to?

    Which is worse? Can you guess my choice?

    I live for the day when I see a piece like yours which contains 1/10 the passion of the average kill-religion-now essay. In which corporate greed needs to wiped out, with no ifs, ands, or buts. In which we’re spared the usual evil-is-bad tutorial and the swipe at the non-HBO class.

    So close. So very close. I will keep looking.

    • collapse expand

      I called out your comment because I think you’re sort of right. In America, it seems like the poor, ignorant people are much more easily whipped into a frenzy (and hence more likely to protest,) while the rest of America, which is ironically the majority of America, watches the circus on teevee.

      I would suggest that you not so flippantly assume what I do (or don’t do) in my private life, and assume I’m not working — in my own way — to help elect Progressive candidates to positions of power.

      But I take your point — more than bitching is needed. Though, there still needs to be documentation of corporate greedy. That’s why I wrote the piece. The Talx story just broke yesterday.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  7. collapse expand

    Actually, more bitching would help–if the money lords of our democracy sensed honest, passionate anger coming from someplace (esp. the middle, but even simply from the left alone), they’d head for the nearest shelter and live with the taxes they never paid.

    I don’t see the level of anger that should be there. I hear tempered anger. With a tone of reluctance. By contrast, anything lower class–fundie religion, Faux News bytes, etc.–is pounced on and shredded instantly in the liberal blogosphere. Granted, these are easier targets, but no one ever won a war by focusing on those.

    And I’m not assuming those things–you’re obviously progressive. But we libs/progressives seem to have softened in our attitude toward power and abuse thereof. It worries me.

    As far as frenzy-whipping goes, I think plenty of that is happening across the whole class spectrum. For instance, huge numbers of people promoted Obama as something he barely is–a liberal with strong convictions. This, in reaction to Bush and Co. Like the poor folks in question, they responded to a huge threat to their liberty and well-being by working against same.

    At the moment, we middle-and-above liberals should be busy judging ourselves. In my opinion.

    • collapse expand

      Re: Obama.

      I agree with your summation of liberals’ projection of their own hopes and dream onto Obama, the firmly centrist pragmatist. A lot of liberals obviously wanted very radical change. Unfortunately, they elected an incremental technician.

      In defense of Obama, he never claimed he was going to end all wars and shoot money cannons down Main Street. People were just dancing through a beautiful dream during the primaries, and a few journalists/bloggers were trying to point out that he wasn’t the Liberal Savior, but not many people listened.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  8. collapse expand

    I have actually be in a hearing with a Talx representative. they are the most heartless, degrading people. The agent and my former boss called me an out and out liar even when i had proof that they were in the wrong. I won, but it took 2+ months.

  9. collapse expand

    There was a trio of depressing articles in the Sunday Times– The Talx article, the pushback (at the state level) against law school clinics by business and industry, and an article about an independent home supply store struggling to stay afloat in NYC. It was all a bit much.

    • collapse expand

      It’s life in a Corporatocracy. We should have tried to elect someone who was at least half-inclined to check that power, i.e. to assert some of the powers of traditional three-branch government. Even if that put his reelection in question.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  10. collapse expand

    Allison,

    At some point we need to examine the possibility that this country has already surrendered its democracy. Not since the days of the Jungle and Elmer Gantry and the Octopus and Robber Barons have things been so out of whack. Never in our history has so few controlled so much and been so brazen and blatant about their power.

    Citi-group actually produced a paper proclaiming the country a plutocracy:

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/6674234/Citigroup-Oct-16-2005-Plutonomy-Report-Part-1

    Astounding but are they right? Plutocracy is government rule by the few, the aristocratic wealthy class, the top 1%.

    From wiki: In a plutocracy, the degree of economic inequality is high while the level of social mobility is low. This can apply to a multitude of government systems, as the key elements of plutocracy transcend and often occur concurrently with the features of those systems.

    However there are stop gaps to the influence of money on our government. “In the United States, campaign finance reform efforts seek to ameliorate this situation.” (wiki)

    Well we know that is now history. Our supreme court has now ruled that corporations can directly pour money into ads for candidates and policies. They also ruled that governments can seize property for private interests.

    Some democracy.

  11. collapse expand

    Seems these comments have gotten off track. Hello people, we pay for unemployment INSURANCE. Not only do employees, but employers pay FUTA. It’s crap when corporations get away with denying legit claims, absolutely absurd for any politician to deny benefits/premiums you’ve already paid for.

  12. collapse expand

    I had to read your link to the New York Times to understand how US corporations could possibly profit from blocking unemployment benefits – after all, aren’t those benefits paid by the government? But the NYT seem to say that an employers tax rate is directly linked to how many of its previous employees are on benefits. Surely I’ve got that wrong? So corporations pay less tax if they stop ex-employees from receiving unemployment benefits. Wasn’t this result inevitable from such a law? Its offering corporations a cost they can cut to increase profits, so without regulation, they inevitably cut the cost.

    Here in Australia Unemployment Benefits are paid by the Federal Government to anyone out of work for up to 6 weeks, until they find employment again. For your former employer to block your unemployment benefits wouldn’t profit them at all, although they can make life difficult by firing you instead of making you redundant, since that means waiting the full 6 weeks until your government unemployment benefits get paid. Everyone’s taxes pay for your benefits until you can find a new job, including your previous employer. They amount they pay is not tied to how many ex-employees are receiving benefits.

    Our stimulus package was first paid to people receiving a government age or disability pension, before being extended to everyone who had lodged a tax return. The theory was that the stimulus would trickle UP, and it seems to have worked.

    I knew the US had obscenely unfair labor laws compared to Australia (and in Australia we need much improvement), but I hadn’t known that the tax system contributed to the problem. Surely that’s something that can be lobbied to be fixed?

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    About Me

    I co-host Citizen Radio, the alternative political radio show. I am a contributing reporter to Huffington Post, Alternet.org, and The Nation.

    My essay "Youth Surviving Subprime" appears in The Nation's new book, Meltdown: How Greed and Corruption Shattered Our Financial System and How We Can Recover beside esssays by Ralph Nader, Joseph Stiglitz, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Naomi Klein, who I'm told are all important people.

    G. Gordon Liddy once told me my writing makes him want to vomit, which is the greatest compliment I've ever been paid ever.

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    Location:New York, New York

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    • In The Nation’s New Book

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      Check out my article “Youth Surviving Subprime” in The Nation’s new book beside essays by Ralph Nader, Joseph Stiglitz, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Naomi Klein.

       
    • Citizen Radio

      I co-host the biweekly political-comedy show, Citizen Radio. It’s like CNN, but with more swearing. Citizen Radio covers the stories that the mainstream, corporate media ignores. Past guests include: Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Matt Taibbi, Jeremy Scahill, Ralph Nader, Tariq Ali,  Janeane Garofalo, Melissa Harris-Lacewell, and more…

      Go to wearecitizenradio.com and click on the iTunes logo to subscribe to our podcast for FREE. Also, join us on Facebook

       
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