Susan Bewley: It’s not the unemployment checks
Marc Cuniberti’s business column is an insult to workers everywhere. He gives a simplistic and incorrect answer as to why there is a scarcity of workers in spite of high unemployment.
He concludes that it is “because of the generous unemployment bonus payments being paid by the Employment Development Department.” Yeah right. You give those serfs more than bread and water, and they get uppity.
Discounted is the fact that schools are not fully open, so parents (mostly women) cannot go back to work. There is a lack of child care, and it’s expensive if you can find it.
Also, some workers or the people they live with are immuno-compromised, so they worry about getting COVID-19 at work and bringing it home. (Note that there are 11 restaurants in our little towns of Nevada City and Grass Valley whose owners are fighting the mask requirements.)
Further, many businesses have closed permanently, while others have thrived during the pandemic. It takes time to match the location and skill level of the new jobs with the location and skill level of the workers.
Does he really think that a worker is going to turn down a good job offer for a temporary EDD benefit? Not likely.
Mr. Cuniberti again insults workers when he quotes “famed investor Jeffrey Gundlach,” who says workers are staying home watching Netflix. I’m willing to bet that Mr. Gundlach makes more than $30,000 per year, which is the annual salary at $15 per hour.
The push for a minimum of $15 per hour is a totally separate issue from EDD benefits, and please note that no one is suggesting an increase to this level effective tomorrow. It has been gradual over several years, reaching $15 an hour in 2022.
A minimum wage simply gives collective power to employees, because a business is always going to try to pay the least it can to its workers. It says that management inherently has all the power in a work situation, and we as a society are going to protect workers.
Are Mr. Cuniberti and Mr. Gundlach ignorant of or simply not concerned with the massive and growing income disparity in the United States?
Mr. Cuniberti does not mention an important point made by President Biden, and that is that most people believe in the dignity of work. They define themselves by the work they do. Being unemployed damages one’s own sense of self-worth, regardless of the reason for the unemployment.
If you want some insight into how the economic system that made America so strong is now failing us and what it will take to fix it, I recommend the movie, “Saving Capitalism.” Or, you can read the book by Robert Reich, famed economist and professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley. Oh yeah. It’s on Netflix.
Susan Bewley lives in Nevada City.
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I was a Republican for decades. The party chased me out with ideology that was good for the Republican Party but very bad for our country.