Billionaires Won’t Be Happy Until the US Becomes Austerity-Ravaged Greece

December 12, 2008: Scene from the anti-austerity riots in Greece. (Photo: Murplejane)December 12, 2008: Scene from the anti-austerity riots in Greece. (Photo: Murplejane)

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Billionaires don’t need a social safety net, so they’re using the right-wing spin machine to destroy it.

Back in December 2013, Republicans gave the US a really nasty Christmas present: they cut off long-term unemployment insurance for 1.3 million people.

The party of Scrooge left Americans high and dry in the cold, and unable to provide for their families during what’s supposed to be one of the most joyous times of the year.

Republicans blocked the extension of unemployment insurance in December 2013 because they said it would encourage US citizens to find a job and get back to work.

The fact that there were no jobs to find didn’t really matter to them.

Fast-forward to today, and the right-wing is claiming a big victory.

See more news and opinion from Thom Hartmann at Truthout here.

The right-wing spin machine is using a working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research to claim that leaving millions of Americans without unemployment insurance actually helped job growth in 2014.

The NBER paper says that, “The analysis based on this simple inference implies that the cut in benefits in 2014 can explain nearly all of the observed aggregate employment growth in 2014.”

Naturally, the right-wing spin machine is taking the paper’s findings and running with them.

An article in the conservative Washington Examiner about the paper reads in part, “The study gives ammo to conservatives who argue that welfare benefits for able-bodied adults encourage people to live off government handouts instead of seeking work.”

A piece over at The Wall Street Journal reads,

Since the states with the highest unemployment were targeted with the most federal benefits, the extra benefits harmed the people and regions that suffered the worst of the recession and weak recovery. Had Mr. Obama done the opposite, the stimulus might have recognized that people prefer the dignity of a job to claiming a government stipend for not having one. Both individuals and the larger economy would have been healthier.

This ridiculous meme that cutting unemployment insurance helps create job growth has been repeated over and over again on right-wing talk radio, in right-wing papers, on Fox So-Called News, and even on The Big Picture.

But here’s the thing.

It’s completely bogus.

What the right-wing spin machine isn’t telling you is that the paper by the NBER is highly flawed, relies on bad numbers, and confuses correlation with causation.

The Roosevelt Institute found that the paper failed to back up many of the claims it made about employer dynamics.

The Center for Economic and Policy Research found that a similar study conducted with more reliable and accurate numbers came up with the exact opposite conclusion.

And even the paper’s co-author, Kurt Mitman, rejected the conclusion that unemployment insurance makes people lazy.

Mitman told The Washington Post that, “People who are out of work are always out looking for jobs, whether or not they’re getting unemployment insurance.”

The fact is that cutting unemployment insurance doesn’t help people find jobs and doesn’t provide a boost to the economy.

It’s actually the opposite.

As the Economic Policy Institute points out, unemployment insurance is, “among the most effective forms of economic stimulus.” When unemployed people get the unemployment benefits from the fund they paid into their whole lives, they use that money to buy things – and that is what stimulates the economy.

Of course, the right-wing spin machine doesn’t care about any of that.

All conservative pundits care about is latching on to anything, whether it’s accurate or not, that backs up the lies that support their oligarchs.

And unfortunately, the right-wing spin machine in our country is incredibly effective and efficient, and has taken over most of our media and political dialogue.

The right-wing spin machine will lie about anything, if it means those lies will help right-wing lawmakers slash benefits, eat away at the social safety net, and throw working-class Americans out into the cold.

And, behind the right-wing spin machine are the United States’ billionaires and wealthy elite.

Billionaires don’t need a social safety net, and don’t care if working-class Americans are thrown onto the streets to starve. If anything, doing that provides them with cheaper and more desperate labor.

More importantly, the billionaires don’t want their not-so-hard earned money going to help others.

Bottom line, US billionaires don’t want working-class Americans, or as they like to say, the “riff raff,” to be anything but so terrified they’ll take any kind of crap wages the big corporations offer them.

So, they fund right-wing websites, they fund right-wing blogs and newspapers, they fund right-wing talk radio, and they fund right-wing TV, all so they can make sure their message of “screw the working-class, screw the social safety net” is heard loud and clear by their conservative lapdogs in Congress.

Billionaires and conservatives in the US think that by turning our country into Greece, it will somehow magically be a better place, and they’re using the right-wing spin machine to spread that message to the masses.

Don’t believe their lies.