On Fox News today, Juan Williams, formerly of NPR, advanced an argument about the detrimental effects that extended jobless benefits can have on people. You see, Williams said, these unemployment checks can kill people’s work ethic, hurt their values, even harm their sense of style.
It started after host Megyn Kelly told Williams that a man she knows is staying on unemployment rather than taking a job that pays less than what he earns with jobless benefits.
“To me it’s crazy because the longer that person is unemployed the more difficult it is then for them to get a job,” Williams said. “Because employers, potential employers, will look and see that gee, they’ve been out forever, it doesn’t make sense. And I think that’s partly playing in to this cycle. And at some point then it becomes a matter of you lose your work ethic, your values are impacted, you know, getting up, showing up, dressing well, all that good stuff.”
Given that, Williams concluded:
So I don’t know that that’s smart. But you know apparently people are making that calculation. I think it’s a self-destructive one but that’s what people are talking about here in Washington more than ever, that in fact the government may not be helping somebody by offering them these benefits, we may be hurting them. But the White House position, as I just explained to you Megyn, is, ‘You know what? Can’t be heartless in this situation.’
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com