Your View: Benefits law change bleeds state’s unemployed

Jul. 18, 2013 @ 08:07 PM

The practice of bloodletting to treat illness was popular for centuries before it was discontinued in the early 20th century. The practice involved piercing or cutting the patient and allowing blood to drain from his or her body until they fainted. It was finally discontinued when the medical profession realized it was killing more people than it was curing.
In February, a North Carolina bill was signed into law that is the economic equivalent of bloodletting. The law, which went into effect June 30, reduces the weeks our state’s unemployed are eligible for funds — 26 to 19 — and cuts maximum weekly benefits, before taxes, from $535 to $350. The average received is closer to $299. The law disqualifies the state from receiving federal money for the unemployed, money that would have added more than $500 million to our economy. The law is permanent.
By the end of this year, an additional 100,000 N.C. unemployed will also lose their benefits. One in 10 of those are veterans.
I recently read in the Enterprise where one in four of our state’s children now live in poverty and that North Carolina ranks 35th in child well-being. Thanks in large part to the passage of this heartless law, these figures will probably increase in the months ahead.
In May, North Carolina, which now has the fifth-highest rate of unemployment in the nation, saw joblessness increase in 87 of 100 counties, including Guilford and Davidson.
This law seems to be a classic case of putting the cart before the horse. Our state’s legislators probably should have initiated their job-creation plan before cutting the safety net out from under our unemployed.
Those who submitted themselves to bloodletting in the past, did so voluntarily. The economic equivalent now being practiced in North Carolina is involuntary. But the end result will be the same.
RICHARD THAYER
Thomasville

 

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