In Closing…

When I first began this project I did not care as to what issue I chose to immerse myself in, but after completing it I am so glad to have chosen unemployment. If you would have previously asked me what I felt about the unemployment issue in North Carolina you most likely would have been deeply offended by my answer. Looking back I realize that I was like the thousands of people whom I have no respect for, often referred to as “uninformed voters.” These are the people who make generalizations without any knowledge on the subject, and I am sad to say that before this project I was one of them in concern to this issue. In saying that, I am now glad to able able to refer to myself as an informed voter in the area of unemployment. Through this project I would be able to have a conversation with someone on the subject and share my beliefs with evidence to back them up. I would now be able to tell you that our Republican Legislators were not in the wrong in making the hard decision to cut unemployment benefits. That the governor had North Carolina citizens in mind when he decided that he would use these cuts to pay off our state’s $2.5 billion debt to the federal government. That while these cuts are harsh, they are not completely unreasonable, and that in fact, other states offer much lower benefits to their unemployed. I can also tell you that by not taxing businesses the government was not protecting the rich, but rather creating a system so that these businesses can then in turn open up more jobs for unemployed workers to seek. I hope that by reading my blog you were able to discover these things as well, and that you were able to join me in calling yourself an informed voter too!

Self-Critique

When I first began this topic I had no idea if I was for or against the newly instated unemployment cuts. The further I immersed myself in the topic the more I began to see that while these cuts are harsh, they are necessary in the progression of our state. I definitely see these cuts as harsh, perhaps not unlivable, but I can see where it will be very hard for families to survive off the stipend each month until they are able to find work. When I first read that the cuts were reduced from $535 a week to $350 a week I thought that this was ridiculous. Then I found an article stating the unemployment benefits for each state and realized that our benefits were not as harsh as previously assumed, some states offered over a hundred dollars less per week to their unemployed than North Carolina. When I first began this project I looked at North Carolina as completely just in making the cuts…that was until I read that we could be at fault for the denial of the federal benefits to the long term unemployed (Extended Unemployment Compensation or EUC). If North Carolina was at fault for not waiting until the right term to pass the unemployment cuts, then we were not just in making the cuts…at this time. However, in the end I still agreed with my original belief that these cuts were a necessary evil. In order to pay off our $2.5 billion debt, cuts had to be made to unemployment in order to avoid cutting from education and further taxing businesses, which by not doing so opens up more jobs.

Class-Links

During the duration of this project we were asked to comment on the blogs of our peers. While doing so, I found quite a few that I found interesting.

http://nclegislature.wordpress.com/

This blog provided evidence about the Affordable Care Act in North Carolina. The Affordable Care Act is one in the same with Obamacare and offers affordable health insurance to all Americans, or so it seems, and instates an online marketplace where those seeking coverage can easily purchase it online. This blog looks at the act as a whole and distinguishes the parts of the act that need work before it can be considered a true success.

http://estoniansugar.wordpress.com/?ref=spelling

This blogger focused on the death penalty in North Carolina. In the blog the death penalty was discussed in an unbiased manner and the author tried to determine if with the Racial Justice Act, the punishment of death was truly a better option than life in prison without parole. The Racial Justice Act stated that those of a minority who were given the death penalty could repeal if they felt the ruling was biased, thus creating a loophole and a way to carry out the process.

http://ncandguns.wordpress.com/

This blog expounds upon the issue of gun control in relation with the recent acts passed in North Carolina. The author goes into detail as to why guns should not be considered the culprit for heinous crimes such as mass shootings. Recently North Carolina has been loosening the hold on gun laws and allowing those with gun permits the right to keep their weapons in their cars, and eventually the right to bring them into public venues.

Links Post

While writing my blog I found many links helpful in truly getting to know my topic: unemployment cuts in North Carolina. Here are just a few!

http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/02/13/1589891/north-carolina-senate-slashes-state-unemployment-insurance-program/

This site truly highlights the issue. It gave a lot of details explaining what exactly the unemployment cuts were and who they would affect. I found it helpful in that it provided a lot of statistics and facts in accordance with unemployment cuts, and just unemployment in general.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/07/01/north-carolina-first-state-to-cut-long-term-jobless-benefits-protesters-rally/

This site is from Fox News. It discussed a Moral Monday protest centered around unemployment cuts. For me, this article was really helpful in that it would display the point of view of a protester against these cuts, and then the point of view of a senator who was for the cuts. It was interesting to see the contrasting points of views and it helped me to see where both sides were coming from.

http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=2220

This was an article from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Although it was not in direct correlation with North Carolina unemployment cuts, it gave me insight as to why the cuts were necessary. It displayed evidence that other states were paying off federal debt by cutting education.

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/north-carolina-becomes-first-state-to-eliminate-unemployment-benefits

This article, like the previous, helped me greatly after I had found my stance on the issue of unemployment. It fortified my belief that these cuts were a necessary evil in stating that without the cuts business would be targeted and would face serious tax increases. It goes on to say that by avoiding these tax increase businesses will be able to hire more workers.

http://www.wral.com/nc-alone-in-choice-to-end-extended-unemployment-checks/12574715/

This article focused a lot on our federal debt. It stated why we accumulated the debt in the first place, and how much debt we truly accumulated. Being a large part of the unemployment debate, our debt to the federal government, I found this article very useful.

Implications

When North Carolina Legislature passed the unemployment cuts this year approximately 170,000 unemployed citizens were affected. These citizens, while looking for work, rely on unemployment benefits to sustain them until they are able to find jobs. Also, those who have been unemployed for an extended amount of time previously qualified for EUC, extended unemployment compensation. This year North Carolina became the first state to be denied these federal benefits. Not only do unemployed North Carolinians have to face harsh unemployment benefits, but a lack of extended federal benefits as well. If these two issues remain unresolved, I believe that North Carolina will see an increase in homelessness and a decrease in population. Either people will lose their homes and have no where to live, or people will leave the state and seek unemployment benefits elsewhere. 

However, this issue can not be resolved simply by undoing these unemployment cuts, the North Carolina Legislature made them for a reason. As a state we need to pay back our debt to the federal government. If we simply took away the newly instated unemployment cuts, then our state deficit would continue to increase until there was no way we would be able to pay off our debt. North Carolina would then face immense economic turmoil in finding a way to pay back billions of dollars in debt.

As stated in my theories post, North Carolina has only one option in my mind. We need these cuts temporarily to pay back our debt, but after that debt is paid off, there is no need for these cuts. Perhaps unemployment benefits do not have to be restored to their previous amount of luxury, but they should not remain as harsh as they are now.

Theory

            North Carolina unemployment cuts are not something that can be easily resolved. In my analysis post I stated that with the cuts made to unemployment our state deficit can be paid off in approximately three years. The cuts are a fast fix to the state’s economic problem that will allow legislature to avoid taxing businesses, opening up more jobs, as well as cutting education and raising taxes.

            The large divide between the unemployment debate was created by democrats believing the cuts to be unjust and showing little regard for the unemployed, and republicans believing the cuts to be necessary in paying off state debt and progressing the state as a whole. Both sides have a good point. These cuts are harsh, but they are necessary, for now.

            In order for North Carolina to appease both parties the state government should vow to restore unemployment benefits back to normal once we are in a good place economically. With these cuts the debt should be paid off in about three years, in the mean time unemployed workers should make the most out of the benefits they are currently offered while continuing the task of looking for work. After we have shed our federal debt, benefits should return to normal, appeasing both parties in the long run.

Long term unemployed in NC are denied EUC

In most states, once a worker was unemployed for longer than 26 weeks, they became eligible for EUC. EUC is Emergency Unemployment Compensation and it was used as a safety net for those who were no longer able to receive state benefits but were also unable to find work. The federal government previously offered this program to all 50 states…that is until North Carolina passed the newly instated unemployment cuts this year. The federal government stated that the Emergency Unemployment Compensation no longer applied to North Carolina’s unemployed. With the state facing immense debt, why would the federal government turn their back’s on us, especially when the reason for these cuts is to pay back the money we owe? It is still unclear as to whether the federal government cut North Carolina’s EUC benefits due to the untimeliness of the cut’s installation, or due to their disappointment with the cuts themselves. Regardless, you can be sure that the federal government is not proving a point or doing any good by denying North Carolina the EUC benefits, but rather hurting those who are desperately in need. It was also noted that the previous year the federal government allowed four states to make changes to unemployment benefits. If the federal government deemed these unemployment cuts unlawful and that is the source for our denial of EUC benefits, then how is it that these four states were granted leniency and not North Carolina? However, if the source for the rejection of EUC benefits was early installation of unemployment cuts by North Carolina Legislature, then that begs the question as to why the state could not wait for a proper date? Either way you look, someone is to blame here for long term unemployed workers being denied the benefits they so desperately rely on.

http://tv.msnbc.com/2013/06/28/north-carolina-axes-benefits-for-long-term-unemployed/

Analysis

Introduction

          This fall North Carolina Legislature shocked the nation when they cut unemployment benefits by nearly 34%.  In previous years North Carolina had among the best benefits for unemployed workers in the nation, offering $535 a week for 26 weeks. Cuts were made so that, beginning July 1, North Carolina now offers $350 a week for 20 weeks for unemployed workers. Although these cuts may seem unjust in that it is such a drastic change for unemployed workers, these cuts are necessary in paying off our state debt, and in avoiding making cuts from other state departments.

Argument

            The main reason for the cutbacks made to North Carolina unemployment benefits is to supplement for the debt we accumulated after the recession. During the recession many people lost their jobs and North Carolina needed extra money to extend benefits to a wider pool of unemployed workers. In order to supply unemployed workers with benefits, the North Carolina Legislature borrowed a significant amount of money from the federal government. After the recession our outstanding balance that we owed the federal government was about $2.5 billion, plus interest. I believe that, as a state, it is only right to make cuts to account for our outstanding balance from the place in which the money was used to sustain. That means that in order to pay back our debt, making cuts from unemployment seems only right rather than making another state run department suffer for money that was not even used towards them.

             In accordance with my previous paragraph, I recently came across an article published by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities written by Nicholas Johnson, Jeremy Koulish and Phil Oliff, that stated many states are cutting education in order to supplement for their federal debt. If North Carolina did not make cuts from unemployment benefits, it is entirely possible that as a state we would be facing more education cuts. With education funding already taking serious hits from North Carolina Legislature, it would immoral to make cuts from it yet again to make up for the unemployment debt.

             Radical disputers to the newly passed unemployment cuts believe that these cuts are immoral and unemployed workers will be unable to support themselves on such a small budget. However, while North Carolina’s cuts are drastic, they are not unethical. Many states across the nation offer less money per week for the unemployed as well as a shorter amount of weeks that one can receive the benefits. In my previous blog I discussed the various states that offer less than $350 a week, and the states such as Georgia, who offer benefits for 18 weeks as opposed to 20. With that said, one can not simply discount North Carolina as unjust for making these cuts when many other states offer benefits that pale in comparison.

            Another reason as to why unemployment cuts can be made justifiable is in taxes. If North Carolina had not made such drastic cuts from unemployment, all North Carolina residents would be facing sharp tax increases. These tax increases do not just affect those who can afford to make these payments, but all residents. By this I mean that those who are coined “rich” would not be the only ones to pay these taxes but all North Carolinians, including the middle class and the lower middle class. It would be unfair to make these people pay even more taxes when North Carolina already offers some of the highest taxes in the nation.

            These unemployment cuts are a necessary evil, yes, but still necessary, all the same. Without these cuts business owners, big and small, would be asked to pay an extra $21 a year per worker until the debt to the federal government was paid off. Imagine a small business owner with 6-8 employees is asked to supplement the state deficit in this way. The first year he would pay $126-$168 for his workers in taxes, the next year he might pay $252-$336 for his workers. If this goes on for 5 years he would end up paying $630-$840 for his workers in taxes. Think about how much money this is when you are a small business owner. By not making cuts to businesses Governor Pat McCrory hopes that this will open up more jobs so businesses will hire more people. When businesses have to pay more in taxes, they tend to hire fewer workers. By making cuts from unemployment rather than increasing taxes for business owners, this should open up more jobs and decrease the number of unemployed workers.

Conclusion

             It is true; North Carolina has the fifth highest unemployment rate in the country at 8.8%. A lot of people will be affected by these unemployment cuts, and the benefits they are now offered are harsh. However, these cuts are necessary and are the best and fairest way to repay our debt to the federal government. With these cuts 74% of our deficit will be made up by 2015. That means in just three years we will be able to pay off our debt. These cuts are temporary, and perhaps after those three years are up, benefits may be raised yet again. Until then, unemployed workers will be encouraged to continue seeking work, even though the job market is small. It helps to remember that while these cuts are radical, they are not unreasonable. These cuts ensure that no more cuts are made from education (which has already seen too many), and that taxes are not raised for all North Carolina citizens and business owners. Franklin D. Roosevelt once said on the matter of unemployment insurance, “We must not allow this type of insurance to become a dole through the mingling of insurance and relief, it is not charity. It must be financed by contributions, not taxes.”