The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page has tut-tutted 90.6 million Americans for being jobless, disabled, uninsured or broke enough to need food stamps.
They “aren’t even looking for a job,” sniffed the Journal, blaming this on too easily accessed social safety net components “that substitute for work” – unemployment insurance, disability payments, food stamps and (“soon”) Obamacare.
According to this view, only the threat of destitution will motivate workers to get jobs.
Why is it that, in this view, workers deserve the stick while executives are thought to merit the carrot of incentives?
Considering the kind of low-wage, dead-end drudgery produced by the ever-expanding “service economy” of burger flipping and bathroom cleaning, it’s understandable why motivation might be hard to maintain. Those seem to be the only kind of jobs that haven’t been outsourced by the hundreds of thousands to subsistence-wage workers in India or Mexico.
I propose a challenge for the Journal’s editorial writers: a one-month sojourn for each of them in the shoes of a laid-off teacher, a disabled factory worker or a single mother whose full-time job doesn’t pay a living wage or provide health insurance.
Move into their homes, shop for clothes with them at Goodwill, wait with them to see a doctor in a community health clinic.
Then tell us what you think based on your experiences, instead of offering judgments that substitute for first-hand knowledge.