Self-Reflection and Analysis Post

I have progressed a lot during the writing of this blog because it has educated me even further about unemployment benefits and the true positives that come out of the program.  I knew my stance on the topic before, but after looking at the data and lack of justification for the opposition, I have strengthened my resolve to oppose these cuts and any similar destruction of welfare.   Writing so many varied posts on the topic of unemployment insurance has made me very aware of the many facets of the issue as well as the positives and negatives that are associated with such a significant form of welfare.  I was not a staunch defender of unemployment benefits before this project, I just knew that they could have been of great use to my family.  I think my personal experience dealing with this issue encouraged me to pursue a greater understanding of how the issue functions so that I can provide a very well informed stance when conversing about the issue.  I have certainly improved upon my understanding of unemployment insurance and I can now truly support my position with facts and statistics demonstrating why families like mine could be helped out tremendously by this form of welfare.

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Class Links Post

–          This blog has been invaluable to me in attaining a better understanding of the death penalty in North Carolina.  There are verified statistics and strong rhetoric used in each post, and the author addresses each aspect of the death penalty in great detail.  The cost effectiveness is assessed, there is an analysis of the morality of repealing the Racial Justice act, and an overall vision that considers whether the death penalty is necessary at all if it is not carried out in the proper manner.  Another extremely significant topic that is discussed in-depth in this blog is the connection between race and the death penalty.  The post that I feel taught me the most in this blog was “When Race and Death Row Collide” because it elaborates on the very tangible association between African Americans and the death penalty.  I have been a reader of this blog for nearly a month and I believe that the combination of data and language has synthesized a strong proposal and informational blog regarding the death penalty.

–          This blog offers a very interesting view on gun control, and the stance that is formed throughout the posts is well supported by data.  The blog touches on the many controversial aspects of gun control, including the failure of current laws, mental health issues, and the unlikely possibility of strengthened regulations.  The conclusion drawn from this blog seems to be that, in order to improve our current condition, we must regularly enforce the current background check laws.  The most provocative and significant post was an entry that displayed the murder rates in countries with significantly less firearms around, and that there was still lots of killing, through alternative means.  This supported the author’s position that maybe removing guns is not a good idea, but rather improving the system for future benefit of our society.  This blog can offer someone on either side of the gun control issue a wealth of knowledge and a very neutral solution that could be embraced by both sides.

–          The author of this blog did a very good job in constructing an unbiased argument as to why gun control must be approached very cautiously and that previous measures have failed considerably.  The posts place an emphasis on enforcing the current gun laws rather than trying to pass new legislation regarding firearms.  There is a very in-depth analysis of the data surrounding current gun control issues, as well as an analysis of the North Carolina House Bill 937.  This blog also touches on the issues of gun sales in North Carolina at gun shows without proper background checks, as well as the fact that the majority of Republicans do in fact support bans on high capacity magazines.  The author conveys the prominence of the issue of gun legislation very well, and the blog provides an interesting insight into the more right-leaning opinions on gun control.

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Reading List – Links Post

–          This definition provides an intuitive and in-depth description of some of the lesser known aspects of unemployment insurance.  It elaborates upon the programs history, and most importantly it defines the association between governing bodies due to the fact that this is a federal-state joint program.

–          This post gives a chilling view into the blatant disrespect North Carolina has shown the federal government, whom has offered these funds regularly over the past few years.  It also describes many situations in which these cuts will affect each person locally, and that the public is astounded that North Carolina would take the initiative to slash such a significant piece of welfare.

–          This articles most beneficial point is the discussion on Pat McCrory and his belief that these cuts will help to slash our deficit.  The article provides a good baseline for understanding McCrory’s justification for cutting unemployment benefits.  Not many pieces have covered the GOP justification aspect of this issue, so this was a very important piece of literature to support my blog posts.

–          This is a data chart drawn up from economic statistics for all fifty states.  It provides very telling and beneficial information regarding the poor state of North Carolina’s economy.  The most important piece of data in this set is the fact that North Carolinians average income is 38th in the nation out of 50.  This is a very poor statistic for the state and the multiple charts on this site may give you deeper insight into the horrible status of our state economy.

–          This has been the most informative and the most significant piece of work to aid me in my writing of this blog.  This article provides both the GOP justification and the statistical implications of these cuts on our state and local economies.  This is the best article to read to understand a good journalistic perspective on this issue and it will also cover all of the various aspects of unemployment insurance.  This article is invaluable when attempting to attain a true grasp of the unemployment issue.  There is an in-depth analysis of the GOP plan to pay back the debt as well as data to demonstrate the horrid effect that these cuts will have on our local economies, both key aspects of the issue that are essential to this articles prominence.

–          This article is a good preface to read to understand the initial reaction of McCrory and the General Assembly to the issue.  McCrory placed the blame on the federal government for causing the cuts, but it is evident that his signature and the General Assembly were the driving force behind these cuts to welfare.

–          This article provides much of the key evidence that you can present in support of unemployment benefits.  The promise that unemployment insurance shows in these visuals is astounding, and the facts are all there to inspect.  Millions of North Carolinians are saved from poverty every year thanks to the program, as is evidenced by research in the article.  This article also elaborated upon the poverty crisis in North Carolina and why the proposed plan by McCrory is a farce.

–          This data provides the unemployment rate by state.  North Carolina is tied for 44th, one of the worst in the nation, at 8.7% unemployment.  These statistics display a harrowing picture of the economy of the state, and it also allows a comparison between various states economic statistics.

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Future Implications Post

A future without such a significant social safety net is beyond the vision of most, but it is safe to predict that the effects would be devastating to the economy and quality of life of the people in our state.  With already 1 in 5 North Carolinians faced with poverty, this state will face a grim reality if unemployment benefits remain scarce for subsequent years due to these cuts.  The estimated impact of these cuts, for solely this year, is a loss of 1.2 billion dollars in the state economy, and an average loss of 20 million dollars per local economy.  It is evident that if there is not some sort of arrangement agreed upon in the near future that our economy will continue to suffer, and that the percent of impoverished North Carolinians will continue to grow.  Numbers seem to indicate that we could break the 30% impoverished rate by the end of the decade with the trajectory of the state economy.  While we are not all directly affected by a state deficit, we will all sooner or later be directly affected by a failing economy if these cuts are not repealed.   It is evident that the impending poverty creates a dire situation, and welfare could be the only method through which our state economy can survive during this economic hardship.  If no resolution is reached to restore the benefits, the people of North Carolina will suffer for decades to come as families sink into the lower class.

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Theory Post

Unemployment insurance has always been a polarizing issue, but the recent developments in North Carolina have ushered in a new era of awareness regarding the unemployed.  There are vast differences in opinions on this program, but there is no doubt that a solution must be reached.  Those who are against these benefits often believe that their tax dollars are being spent to prop up a lazy sect of our citizens, while those who support the benefits often have an understanding of the positives that this social safety net provides for our society.  While there is no possibility of living in a world without bias and prejudice, citizens must look past their preconceived notions about those who are out of work if we are going to come to a beneficial solution that the public would be in favor of.   There are very few shared values among the polarized sides of this issue, and I truly believe the solution is to properly educate the public on the extremely positive results of unemployment insurance and then to fully fund the program.  This is not too much to ask for, because in return, there is the promise that our state deficit would continue dropping, as we have seen over the past two quarters300 million dollars has been eliminated from the state deficit in just 6 months, and this should be convincing enough evidence for people to demonstrate that we can have a thriving unemployment insurance program while also erasing the deficit over time.  If citizens are made aware that there is no true justification to the GOP actions and that we were headed toward economic recovery, then maybe their educated nature can overtake the prejudicial thoughts that were often associated with the unemployed and welfare.  The real solution here is educating the public, because if citizens could better understand this issue, many of them would see the benefits of the program to our society rather than maintaining their previously nonchalant and biased attitude towards the issue.  I believe that the polarized sides of this issue, when educated, could take pride and find common ground due to the fact that even when we were fully funding the unemployment program, we maintained a steady decline in the state deficit due to all the other fiscal cuts that this General Assembly has made.

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This week I will attempt to debunk some of the many false assumptions that are maintained by society against the unemployed, as well as look into the progress NC made in months prior to the cuts.  The issue of unemployment benefits is often brushed off by the public, because many people do not believe they will be affected by such programs.  Most people do not understand the significance of this welfare until they are faced with unemployment themselves, at which point their support is undermined because they’ve been branded as incapable and lazy by society.  It is a vicious cycle, and people’s lack of compassion as well as lack of relatability to the issue really drive some of the negative prejudices held against those out of work.  In recent posts I have elaborated upon the technicalities of the altered North Carolina unemployment insurance program, and with an objective view, free of bias, it is clear that three to five months of merely a quarter of your former wages is not going to allow those out of work to live the privileged moocher lifestyle that they are portrayed as living.  To blame the unemployed people of our state for the economic turmoil is a great injustice.  It is evident over the past two quarters that our state is recovering, a decrease in debt from $2.4 billion to $2.1 billion in 6 months is no small feat.  This demonstrates that previous expenditures were helping to rebuild the state’s economy, but this looks set to undo the economic progress.  Why, with this progress, is it necessary to dis-articulate such a broad and secure source of welfare within the state?

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Official Analysis Post

I submitted the initial analysis post before class on 10/8, so after class I went back and modified my work for this re-release of the analysis post.

The unemployment insurance program in the United States is funded and executed through a federal-state joint operation.  This allows for a combination of federal and state payroll taxes to be pooled to assist different states, and it classifies the program as federal mandate, albeit partially unfunded.  Federal mandates are orders from the federal government that invoke a responsibility among the states, and maintaining unemployment insurance can fall under this category.  The program is constructed to distribute funds to those who have become unemployed by no fault of their own, but with this unique welfare program, funding is always on the line, and there are regulations that each state must abide by to continue receiving their funds.  Our state of North Carolina actively contradicted these strict guidelines in order to cut the budget for subsequent years, and in doing so they have lost funding for long-term unemployed throughout the state.  Unemployment is such a controversial issue that the benefits program is badgered by misinformation and bias, but the key to assessing the issue objectively is to minimize these outside influences, and to focus on a true analysis of the competing forces.  North Carolina is the only state in the nation to deliberately forfeit a significant portion of the unemployment insurance funding, and this is at a time when extremism in politics has run rampant.  Pat McCrory and the Republican Party of the General Assembly hope that cutting unemployment benefits will allow us to pay back our state debt quicker, but I will explain why the hopeful positives that the cuts pursue lack in stature compared to the devastating social and economic effects this will have on the majority of citizens in just the 38th wealthiest state.

The focus of this issue is the impact which these welfare cuts will have on North Carolina’s already poor economic state, and the continued suppression of the lower and middle classes.  Earlier this year, the North Carolina General Assembly dropped the maximum weekly payout of the states unemployment insurance program from $535 to $350.  This drop saw North Carolina go from the highest maximum rate in the southeast to below that of our neighbors.  This cut also put North Carolina in contempt of the federal regulations, and they were unable to win the appeal to maintain a maximum payout below what is required.  As a result of this cut, North Carolina lost federal funding for the long-term unemployed in the state, those out of work for over six months to a year, immediately knocking 72,000 North Carolinians off of a previously federally funded benefits program.  Also, unemployment insurance benefits have now been reduced to just three to five month lengths and pay less than ever before due to the initial cuts.  The issue of unemployment is not a new one to state legislatures, but the method in which ours has decided to act has caused problems to culminate at a time of financial crisis in the state.

The most cited reason for the action taken by our General Assembly this spring is that they have concluded that cutting these unemployment benefits is the most influential and consistent way to cut into the states debt.  The fiscal research office of the Assembly theorizes that, with these cuts, the state will be able to pay back its 2.1 billion dollars in federal debt by 2016, rather than 2019.  This poses an interesting insight into the issue.  We must determine if our financial security in relation to the federal government is worth the sacrifice of the financial security of our citizens and businesses.  Due to the federal cuts, businesses in North Carolina will now have to supplement the state government, paying $42 per employee annually into the unemployment assistance program.  This is twice the rate of $21 per employee that was active when the federal government was assisting with funding.  The idea that unemployment benefit cuts will help to combat our state debt is a valid one, but the General Assembly has not released their fiscal reports as of yet and there is not really any peer-reviewed research, post-cuts, presented on how this will affect the track to pay back the debt.  This leaves citizens at an interesting point, because while there is a valid belief that we can cut into our debt faster with these cuts, the damage it will do to our local economies is supported by multitudes of statistical evidence.  In North Carolina, 1 in every 5 citizens is living below the poverty line.  This is due in large part to our state having the 6th highest unemployment rate in the nation of 8.7%.  In a state where there is such economic turmoil, it is easy to see the benefits of the unemployment insurance program.  In just 2009, during the economic recession, nearly 3.4 million North Carolinians were pulled out of poverty by unemployment benefits.  Numbers stayed strong through 2011, but due to continued legislation slashing benefits, in 2012 the number dwindled to just 1.7 million North Carolinians being brought out of poverty thanks to these benefits.  Even as legislation and public opinion turned against the unemployed, the positive effects of the federal-state joint unemployment insurance program are exceptional and statistically reinforced.  This presents the case that maybe we should not be cutting such a once influential and positive aspect of our societal safety net, and that there are more viable options to eliminate in order to pay back the debt faster.  It is difficult to present a case as to why we would deliberately shorten the unemployment benefits span to 3-5 months, cut the maximum payout rate, and kick an estimated 170,000 citizens off of a program that has shown such exceptional results.  All of this, at a time when 20% of North Carolinians are facing poverty and nearly 10% are facing unemployment.  Another defining factor in this debate is the effect that this lack of funds will have on local economies because citizens will not have money to spend.  It is estimated that with 170,000 citizens losing their benefits, that $600 million in federal aid will not be spent in the state, leading to a revenue loss of $1.2 billion throughout the economy in North Carolina.  These are harrowing numbers, and while I agree the debt is important to cut, it has dropped from $2.4 billion to $2.1 billion in the first two quarters of this year, so I do not believe we need such drastic reductions in welfare for this purpose, especially at the expense of our businesses and generous federal funding.

Unemployment insurance has such clear results that it should be recognized as a beneficial source of welfare by the state, but the General Assembly has opted to make an effort to slash the budget by cutting this social safety net.  The General Assembly must publish their fiscal research if they are to push their agenda, and they have a very valid case that our state debt is weighing us down, but the people must be well educated enough to decide if this is the best method by which to reduce the debt.  Statistics demonstrate that there are multitudes of positives as a result of these benefits, leading you to question the true reasoning and motive for the decision made by this session of the Assembly.  I believe this is such a significant issue that the public must become more knowledgeable about it, and hopefully a post that does not invoke societal prejudices and assumptions about the unemployed is adequate enough to get the focus of the audience.  I authored this post in a fashion that I hope will inform and educate readers about the true events affecting unemployment insurance in North Carolina.

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