Commentary

The best op-ed of the weekend: NC’s disastrous lab experiment gone awry

unemploymentIn case you missed it, there was a great op-ed in Raleigh’s News & Observer over the weekend by Kevin Rogers of the group Action NC. In it Rogers explores the disastrous folly of North Carolina’s three-year-old experiment with a decimated unemployment insurance system.

After documenting some of the destruction the changes have inflicted on the state’s workers and its workforce, Rogers put it this way:

“This is all to say that the drastic and draconian unemployment insurance cuts North Carolina made in 2013 were a complete failure. The share of people with jobs in North Carolina did not grow nearly as quickly as it did in states that did not make these cuts, and there was no discernible increase in the share of the population with a job. Instead, tens of thousands of job seekers were forced into part-time jobs, forced into underemployment or fell out of the job market completely. In all cases, these people would not show up in the official unemployment numbers but are certainly still unemployed by any sensible measure.

Moreover, the most vulnerable of our population fared even worse than the average. While the official unemployment rate for whites in the state was 4.1 percent in the second quarter of 2015, the unemployment rate for blacks and Hispanics was 9.3 percent and 10.1 percent, respectively. That means the cuts to unemployment benefits hit minority households more than twice as hard as white households.

But the story doesn’t end there. Women, who already face across-the-board wage disparity, also face an unemployment disparity. While it is true that women have regained a large number of the jobs they lost during the Great Recession, their gains are highly concentrated in low-wage occupations. Sixty percent of the increase in employment for women between 2009 and 2012 was in the 10 largest occupations that typically pay less than $10.10 per hour. In contrast, these 10 low-wage occupations accounted for only 20 percent of men’s employment growth over the same period.

If the states are truly laboratories of democracy, then North Carolina is surely the domain of mad scientists. When the goal of a policy is to get more people employed quickly, and the result is more people without jobs, it matters little with what catchy term the results are branded. For those still unemployed and without assistance, it’s easy to see where the experiment has failed.

The mad scientists in the General Assembly still have time to fix their creation before it becomes full-fledged Frankenpolicy. They should.”

You can read Rogers’ entire essay by clicking here.

Uncategorized

Rucho tweet makes national headlines

Senator Bob Rucho’s tweet that “Justice Robert’s pen & Obamacare has done more damage to the USA then the swords of the Nazis,Soviets & terrorists combined” (see below) is bringing more unwanted national attention to the Old North State.

Among the outlets covering the absurd and offensive comment:

Seems likely that Jon Stewart and/or Stephen Colbert won’t be gar behind.

Meanwhile, Kevin Rogers of Action NC offers the following as a partial response: Read more

Uncategorized

The truth about the Affordable Care Act

Veteran analyst and activist Pat McCoy of Action NC authored an excellent essay about the Affordable Care Act for today’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer. To quote:

“The political frenzy over the Affordable Care Act is an object lesson in what is wrong with American politics. Rhetoric equating the reform law with socialism, and even slavery, has abounded and belies its moderate scope and concessions to the market-based insurance system that had left almost 1 in 5 Americans uninsured. Read more

Uncategorized

Why your tax dollars subsidize profits at McDonald’s and Burger King

Fast food workersRaleigh’s News & Observer published an outstanding think piece by Kevin Rogers of Action NC today udner the headline “The high cost of fast-food’s low wages.” Rogers’ headline was simpler: “McWelfare.” 

As you can see below, either one works.

I recently met Willietta Dukes, a mother of two and fast-food employee in Durham, North Carolina. Willietta makes $7.85 at Burger King, despite 16 years of experience in the fast-food industry. In August, tired of struggling to get by, she walked off her job, just a month after losing her home because she could no longer afford rent payments. Despite working hard for as many hours as she gets from Burger King, Willietta is forced to rely on food stamps just to make ends meet.

Willietta is not alone. Research released this week finds that more than half – 52% – of fast-food workers nationwide are paid so little that the public needs to provide assistance to make sure workers can afford basic, everyday needs. In other words, fast-food employees are twice as likely as other workers to be forced to rely on programs like the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (food stamps) or Medicaid. Read more

Uncategorized

The absurdity of drug testing public assistance applicants

Kevin Rogers, an attorney with Action NC, has an excellent opinion piece in today’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer:

“For all the trouble they caused this session, N.C. General Assembly leaders lacked a certain amount of inventiveness.

Almost every bill they introduced was already being considered, or was law, somewhere else.Case in point, during the final hours in Raleigh, the General Assembly passed a foolish bill requiring those applying for public assistance to pass a drug test before they can become eligible. This unconstitutional idea has been tried before in other states, and it makes no more sense here than it did when it was first implemented, and failed miserably, in Florida. Read more