As the ideological rift in America becomes ever wider, it seems two camps are emerging by and large- one that champions workers and identifies with their struggle, and one that feels the lower classes in America are contributing more to its financial woes than the upper ones.
A place where this dichotomy is highlighted is unemployment, which seems to in recent years been equated with welfare- even though workers pay in to it should the circumstance of job loss come to pass… hence the name “unemployment insurance.” In an economy with a sluggish recovery often referred to as “jobless,” the average length of unemployment has skyrocketed over what it was in recent decades. And what seems to be at the heart of the debate is whether those who use unemployment- meant to keep a family afloat while a job is found to replace the lost one- are languishing on it at taxpayer expense or using it is as it is intended, to stay solvent and out of poverty.
So it seems an inordinate form of cruelty to take someone who has just endured a life-changing job loss and to force them to submit to drug tests. But that’s exactly what the state of South Carolina is doing, and more perplexingly, they want to mandate up to sixteen hours per week of community service- often used by courts to punish low-level offenders- as a deterrent. A deterrent for claiming the insurance you paid in to in order to protect yourself if you company downsizes. Abhorrent.
This sort of ignorance as to the point of the law is unforgivable, but statements by South Carolina Republican Senator Kevin Bryant just catapult the know-nothingness into new levels of dumbassery. When pressed on the fact that such regulations conflict with federal law, Bryant said:
“It’s time to start pushing back. I can’t base how I vote on a bill on what some activist, liberal judge is going to do.”
Sen. Paul Campbell seems to willfully ignore the burdens a bill like this would place on a family with children- particularly single parent households- who may not be able to afford the childcare that would be needed to perform community service on their now-reduced income. Campbell says:
“We’re not trying to be derogatory. We’re trying to help them go from the unemployed to employed ranks.”
To be sure, there is a certain loss of relevancy one feels when one has been let go or “made redundant,” as the Brits say. But passing bills infringing on the rights of South Carolina residents, placing an undue burden on families in crisis, seems to be inordinately cruel in times of stunning economic hardship for Americans. Do you agree with South Carolina’s measures to punish the unemployed?