Tuesday, November 30, 2010

When Unemployment Runs Out, the Unemployed Get Cranky

Q: How can a government that has done such a horrible job of managing the economy keep its citizens from revolting en masse?

A: Spend like there's no tomorrow.

Unfortunately for the government, and the unemployed masses, tomorrow is almost here.

In December, the unemployment extension, which allowed people to continue receiving unemployment benefits for 99 weeks after losing their jobs, will run out, immediately dropping tens or hundreds of thousands of Americans from the unemployment rolls, and eventually dropping many more.

Up until now, the government has managed to keep a lid on the anger of Americans by keeping the unemployed fed with foodstamps and kept money in their pockets with extended unemployment benefits. But these are stopgap measures that count on a rebounding economy to get people back to work. However, our economy shows little signs of a rebound, and people continue to lose their jobs.

In an era when banks receive billions of federal dollars for a job poorly done, Americans are fully justified in their anger towards their government. Our economy is crumbling while our legislators twiddle their thumbs, while devising new ways to reward corporate failure.

Now that the unemployed are about to feel the full force of the crappy situation we're in, we can expect their anger to grow.

Notice that even though this is the worst economy since the Great Depression, we haven't seen any bread lines or droves of unemployed workers flooding the streets. This is a testament to the effectiveness of food stamps and unemployment checks at hiding the devastation. But once we run out of money for those programs, things will get ugly.

I'm not thrilled about the prospect of a breakdown of social order, but this is the bed we made, and come December, we will have to lay in it.

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