Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Jobless "Indulge" in Unemployment

Note: There have been no Tommy columns this week in the New York Times. So far, the only explanation for the NYT has been a note on Sunday's and Wednesday's editorial page that "Thomas L. Friedman is off today." Speculation is rampant (in my house, anyway) that Tommy has been shitcanned, but Fire Tom Friedman is not ready to pop the champagne just yet. We'll keep you posted on this rapidly developing story, but in the meantime:

Meet Douchebag Ryan Young

On Sunday, Paul Krugman argued in his NYT op-ed that Congress should extend unemployment benefits. Today, the Competitive Enterprise Institute's long-necked wunderkind Ryan Young fired back:

To the Editor:
Paul Krugman is at a loss to explain why some people oppose extending unemployment benefits. One reason people hold such an opinion is that when government subsidizes something, there tends to be more of it.

The more government subsidizes unemployment, the more people will indulge in it for longer periods of time.

Ryan Young
Washington, July 6, 2010
The writer is a journalism fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Ah yes. That's right. We are suffering from an epidemic of unemployment indulgence. I mean, you can't turn a corner with bumping into a job. But for so many Americans, the temptation to pamper themselves with $210 a week (Mississippi unemployment benefits) or $362 (Michigan) is just too great that they walk right past all those "We're hiring!" signs on the newly erected factories and march into the unemployment office for their weekly splurge.

Some people indulge themselves with a glass of wine before dinner. Others chocolate or a nice spa treatment. Douchebags like Ryan Young indulge themselves with the fantasy that unemployment is a lifestyle choice, and has nothing to do with the fact that employers aren't hiring.


  1. I didn't even have to read his letter to know he was a total douche. The James Spader hair and glasses give it away every time. Hey Ryan, you were terrible in 'Mannequin'! But seriously, I hate this argument. How about you take one percent of your hatred for unemployment indulgers (a subset of "welfare queens", obviously) and direct it toward military spending, which every day is taking a far larger chunk of your precious, life-affirming money.

  2. Matt is incredibly ugly and therefore untrustworthy.

  3. How can anyone take Ryan Young seriously? He doesn't even have a beard.

  4. I'm glad you've discovered the only TRUE way to undermine his argument: call him a douchebag.

  5. @Anonymous#2. My apologies. I wrote this piece for regular FTF readers who I figured wouldn't need too much help undermining Mr. Young's argument. I wasn't expecting the Friends of Ryan Young. But since you seem to need a little more hand-holding:

    There are nearly 10 million people collecting unemployment including between 2 and 3 million who will lose their benefits if Congress does not approve an extension. In order for these people not to be unemployed, they need -- wait for it -- jobs. Since there simply are not jobs available for the overwhelming majority of the unemployed (we actually lost jobs in June), it seems pretty douchebaggish to imply that those (on average) $300/week checks have taken away people's will to work.

    And it's even more douchebaggish to refer to unemployment as an indulgence.

  6. '...taking away peoples will to work."

    Actually, this IS the argument Larry Summers made in several academic papers, empirical papers too--you know, ones that try to discern from the data the disincentive effects of unemployment benefits. Summers found that unemployment benefits raise the unemployment rate by about 1 percentage POINT.

    But let's not let any real evidence get in the way of the heavier intellectual 'douchbag' argument.

  7. Ryan - you're even more adorable when you post anonymously on my blog (or ask your friends to defend your honor anonymously) than when you stare soulfully into the camera for your CEI mugshot.

    Summers (a douchebag himself) wrote that paper 30 years ago has said his analysis doesn't apply to today's economic conditions.

    But, no need to argue about Larry Summers. Long-term unemployment benefits expired for a few weeks for millions of people. Surely, when we get the jobs numbers for those weeks, we'll see a huge uptick in employment as a result.

    And a question: Do you ever tell unemployed people to their face that the reason they don't have a job is because their indulging in unemployment? Probably a better idea to make that argument anonymously on some obscure blog

  8. Let's see, Summers, a member of the Obama administration, says his earlier work (that now conflicts with the views of the Liar in Chief) doesn't apply today. And you drop to your knees to defend/believe if he is the ONLY economist to present evidence showing that unemployment benefits raise the unemployment rate. Who wouldda thunk it! Summers has no reason to be dishonest being a member of Barry's administration.

    I guess Christina Romer will be the next to say that her work, which shows that tax increases have very strong contractionary effects on the economy, doesn't apply today.....even tho her results were published in the MOST RECENT issue of the most prestigious journal in the economics profession.

    If some one in the Obama administration says that water now runs uphill, you'd probably believe that too.....

    Passing this benefits extension package has one benefit--it will keep unemployment higher than it otherwise would be and further increase the likelihood that all these socialists Dems will be voted out of office in November.

    And this too--I am not Ryan.

  9. Wow. This is so exciting. I had heard about you people, but never really believed you existed. But not only do you exist, you've come to my blog!

    "Liar in Chief." "Socialists." "If some one (sic) in the Obama administration says that water now runs uphill, you'd probably believe that too." The use of all caps to signify your impotent white male rage!

    That is better than Panda-cam or going on safari!

    Now, I'm going to ask you a couple of questions (one's a repeat). My hope is that you won't answer them, but instead will come back and drop a few socialist bombs and imply that I engage in sexual acts with members of the Obama administration. (And I don't want to coach you because you're really good at what you do, but if you could somehow work in "lamestream media," I might literally swoon.)

    1. How will taking people's unemployment benefits away put people back in the workforce if the economy isn't creating jobs? Where would you suggest that all the ex-freeloaders find work?

    2 Do you ever tell unemployed people to their face that the reason they don't have a job is because their indulging in unemployment?

    Remember, do not answer those questions!

    p.s. This might make your head explode because in your world there are only two types of people - those that wanna blow Obama and those who think he's Hitler - but I hate Larry Summers more than you do.

  10. 1. Ending unemployment benefits lowers the reservation wage, which means that some, not all, unemployed individuals will accept jobs they otherwise would not accept, do not need to accept, when collecting unemployment benefits. [Obama has been a job-killing machine, but this does not mean there are NO jobs out there.]

    2. Stupid questions not worthy of a reply. Did Obama look the elderly in the face and tell them that many of them will be denied essential health care in the latter stages of their life if Obamacare passes? Oh wait, he didn't have to, they apparently figured it out on their own.....given that so many oppose it.

    You should read some economics. Larry Summers is but one in a whole line of economists who have studied this issue. The genesis of this work was the extraordinarily high unemployment rates in Europe--average long-term unemployment rates in the 10% range versus 5 to 6% in the US--during the 70s and 80s that accompanied (surprise, surprise) the very generous unemployment benefits in these European countries. The empirical evidence, which you choose to disregard for political reasons or ignorance, is, quite simply, overwhelming. So, instead, you engage in childish name calling.

    Look, you can accept the fact that unemployment benefits increase unemployment and still argue for extending unemployment benefits on normative grounds that the costs of ending unemployment benefits after 75 weeks exceed the benefits of extending them to 2 YEARS. This is, after all, the argument liberals use when calling for an increase in the minimum wage despite the empirical evidence which shows that increasing the min wage raises unemployment of teens and low-skilled workers (the very workers liberals claim they want to help by raising minimum wage).

    And I don't haste Larry Summers, just as I don't hate Barry.

    Summers is a hypocrite for denying his own scientific work.

    Obama, by contrast, is a liar. During the campaign, Obama railed against the Bush deficits and promised spending cuts. He told us that health reform would NOT include a mandate--he blistered Hillary for wanting a mandate--and was not intended to take over the insurance industry. He told us taxes would go down for anyone making under $250,000 a year. And 'Too big to fail' was to be a thing of the past. Best of all, we would become a post-racial country with the long-awaited election of a black man to the White House.

    And what did we get? More of everything--more spending, record deficits, more taxes, more regulation, more mandates, more racial division.

    Finally, I don't hate Tom Friedman either. His Flat World thesis is laughable and his jihad against fossil fuels is misguided, which is why I came to this website.......only to find a bunch of liberal 'we can't argue the point so lets attack the messenger' BS and name calling.

  11. I hate to barge in, but...
    "Did Obama look the elderly in the face and tell them that many of them will be denied essential health care in the latter stages of their life if Obamacare passes?"

    DEATH PANELS! Forget there, y'know, not being any actual evidence of their existence.

  12. Oh, and because I missed some... argumentation? Frothing? I can't decide...
    In any case, I missed Anon. calling Obama a liar because mandates happened because CONSERVATIVES refused to pass a public option, given their superminority of, what, 41 out of one hundred? A clear sign of unanimous public support. Example: Medicare buy-ins, which would have been neither mandatory nor a public option, were killed by Lieberman (hate hate hate) because 'liberals were too happy about them' (paraphrased).

    Also, he spent a lot, yes, because he had to deal with the collapse of the U.S. economy after Bush. Bush also, I will remind you, started the bailouts. So a bit more fact and a bit less bash, please? I may be somewhat disappointed in Obama, but only because he's not liberal enough.

    Socialist Scandinavia, I notice, is doing quite well.
    Wandered In

  13. Please come back! Tom Friedman has not yet been fired, and we need you more than ever!