The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Pushing unemployed workers out on a limb
– then chopping it off

Feb 16, 2004

In January, 375,000 people exhausted their unemployment benefits, while two million more are expected to lose their benefits in the first six months of the year, both records.

The federal program that provided 13-week extensions of unemployment benefits expired in December, and Congress has refused to renew it. This is the third time that the extension was allowed to run out.

It's outrageous that this program, which is limited to periods when large numbers of people are out of work, has been passed on only a short-term, temporary basis. Even if they eventually renew it again as they have two times before, the situation of the unemployed was made more desperate.

When politicians let a program like this lapse, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without a check, they are forcing people back to work at very low paying jobs – paying less even than unemployment benefits.

The politicians claim that the program had to be cut because of the federal budget deficit. Yet, tax cuts to the wealthy, which were supposedly going to create jobs, will cost 264 billion additional dollars this year alone. This is 40 times the amount needed to pay for extended benefits.

No – the politicians cut programs like this because it serves the capitalist class to have an ever larger pool of labor desperate enough that they are forced to work for any wage. That's all.