By Efrain Nieves & Victoria Cepeda
In the hopes of incentivizing people to “get out” of unemployment and into the job market, some conservative politicians are proposing the reduction of unemployment benefits and granting corporate tax cuts instead. Take Utah and Florida for instance. The latter has proposed bill HB 7005 “that would establish some of the deepest and most far-reaching cuts in unemployment benefits in the nation.” The bill is heading for the desk of Gov. Rick Scott.”
“The Republican sponsor of the bill, state Sen. Nancy Detert (R), relied on the same false assumption as the lawmakers in Utah, saying that cutting benefits “encourages people to get back into the job market.” Meanwhile, research by the San Francisco Federal Reserve has found that workers who qualify for unemployment benefits stay unemployed just 1.6 weeks longer than those who do not qualify for such benefits.”
Which brings us to B.F. Skinner’s Positive Reinforcement Theory.
B.F. Skinner defined reinforcement as creating situations that a person likes or removing a situation a person doesn’t like, and punishment as removing a situation a person likes or setting up one he doesn’t like. Positive reinforcement is superior to punishment in altering behavior. Punishment was not simply the opposite of positive reinforcement; positive reinforcement results in lasting behavioral modification, whereas punishment changes behavior only temporarily and presents many detrimental side effects.
Skinner’s reinforcement theory should be a must read for supporters of this bill across the country. Assuming that reducing unemployment benefits will ” encourage people to get back into the job market” (miamiherald.com) is a desired outcome, not a proven one. The assumption would hold true if there were jobs readily available matching the skills of all those this bill will affect. Consequently, encouragement is the least unemployed people will feel when their benefits run out three weeks earlier than expected. To make things more discouraging, the same bill would give businesses a tax break.
Detert said her proposal already was the “gift of the year” for Florida’s business community.“Pigs get fed, hogs get slaughtered,” Detert said. “Learn to like it or get nothing.”
The bill cuts by 10 percent the tax rate that businesses pay to cover the costs of unemployment benefits and makes it easier for companies to keep former workers from collecting benefits.To qualify for benefits, workers would have to prove they were seeking jobs and complete a state-approved skills test or training program. Is this not what most folks need to comply with anyhow in order to get their unemployment benefits extended?
What is about those less fortunate (not affluent) that makes Republicans want to take from them? Why is the average American the one bearing the brunt of budget cuts, reductions and scale backs? Don’t corporations get enough breaks already? Haven’t they taken our jobs overseas in hopes of even greater tax breaks and greater margins of revenues?
Enough is enough. 2012 coming soon to a voting booth near you.
photo from westorlandonews.com
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