POLICY: Slackers of the zeros

Men Not Working, and Not Wanting Just Any Job and if you parse the article, it’s the employment-based health care system that has many of them stuck in this rut—many are on disability waiting for Medicare to kick in. They won’t take a job that doesn’t have health benefits. But of course they’re not officially unemployed because they’re not officially looking for work. (That’s a trick Reagan learned from Thatcher BTW)

Just another drip drip drip on the road to the big reform debate in a few years…


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  1. “1. None of the men in the article are on disability.”
    I dont care, they are still lazy asses
    “2. What right do you have to tell people how to spend their money?”
    What right do these people have to be lazy and then in 20 years expect a government bailout to float their retirement becaue they pissed away everything they have with this foolishness? You dont htink these same people will be crying for government aid when the ride is over and they dont have a penny to live on?
    “3. One of the men is working under the table (the ex-con),”
    Yeah the same ex-con who said he would rather not work than work as a dishwasher at $8 an hour because its not enough money for him.
    “the other takes care of his 3 children and freelances when he can get work”
    What article did you read? None of those men are taking care of any children. All the kids in this article are grown adults.
    “and the third has written two novels.”
    Yeah I wonder how much his book deal gave him for that. Oh thats right, he’s just fucking around, he’s not a serious writer.
    “Misguided maybe, but hardly lazy.”
    Hardly lazy? did you read the article? The guy “writing the novels” sleeps in until noon every day. The ex-con recognizes that there are plenty of jobs he can get with a felony record (dishwasher, construction worker, etc) but outright refuses to take it because he’s not satisfied with making only $8/hour. The former engineer spends his time in trendy coffee houses borrowing against his house to support his lifestyle. He hasnt done any freelancing in months and has said himself he wont work a regular job, he will only work if he gets presented a “home run” opportunity. Yes, they are lazy.
    This wouldnt be such a big deal if I didnt think these assholes will come back in 20 years after they have squandered their savings and beg for government money to float them.

  2. Let me try to put it more clearly. The trend in disability is well-known and has research behind it as to what is happening. This is a long-term trend stretching back through several economic cycles. The drop in work-force participation for men 30-54 is surprising to most and recent starting only in 2001/2 and not understood by many at this point although some suggestions have been made as to the cause. No researcher has suggested that disability is a good explanation for the “missing men” and if you read the article carefully, you will find that several labor experts are quoted, but none to support this arbitrary attribution except possibly Theresa Ghilarducci although I don’t think that she was specifically citing disability payments even though the reporter left that impression.

  3. Matt,
    The fact that this is in the article is just bad reporting. Go to the BLS and look at the appropriate series for men in the workforce. Then go to the SSA site and look at the disability stats. What you will find is a slow and steady rise in disability (like I said for all demographics) from 1990 to the present. What you’ll find in the BLS data is a sharp break in work force participation for men in 2001. That would be expected due to the recession, but while you’ll see the expected recovery for women and other ages from the end of the recession to present; what you won’t see is the expected recovery for men in this target demographic the reporter is writing about. It baffles me why this disability statistic was included since it DOES NOT fit the data.
    In other words, the percentage of “missing men”, if the trend suggested by the reporter would have followed from 2000 to now, as a percent of all men in this age range would rise slower than percent of men on disability in this age range. If the missing men were not taking advantage of this government program in disproportionate numbers then the trend would be the opposite, % on disability would rise slower than the % who had dropped out which is what the actual data shows. Like I said, this is just sloppy reporting.

  4. Well none of these ones are but the article is pretty clear
    “But the fastest growing source of help is a patchwork system of government support, the main one being federal disability insurance, which is financed by Social Security payroll taxes. The disability stipends range up to $1,000 a month and, after the first two years, Medicare kicks in, giving access to health insurance that for many missing men no longer comes with the low-wage jobs available to them.
    No federal entitlement program is growing as quickly, with more than 6.5 million men and women now receiving monthly disability payments, up from 3 million in 1990. About 25 percent of the missing men are collecting this insurance.
    The ailments that qualify them are usually real, like back pain, heart trouble or mental illness. But in some cases, the illnesses are not so serious that they would prevent people from working if a well-paying job with benefits were an option.
    The disability program, in turn, is an obstacle to working again. Taking a job holds the risk of demonstrating that one can earn a living and is thus no longer entitled to the monthly payments”

  5. Wow Jason, why would anyone hire an idiot like you? Despite your blustering bravado about how you would work as a dishwasher first, I doubt you would and if you tried, I doubt you could hack it.
    1. None of the men in the article are on disability.
    2. What right do you have to tell people how to spend their money?
    3. One of the men is working under the table (the ex-con), the other takes care of his 3 children and freelances when he can get work, and the third has written two novels. Misguided maybe, but hardly lazy.
    The whole issue with disability is a red herring since disability for both men and women is up from 1990 across all age groups and income levels. Also this “missing men” phenomena is from 2001 and not a steadily increasing trend from 1990 to 2006. This particular story element is just bad/lazy reporting. Besides, I’ll repeat, none of the profiled men are on disability.

  6. I read that NYT article and it made me sick. The men they profile in that article arent disabled, they are just lazy asses. They are drawing down on their savings, remortgaging their home over and over again, just so they can stay at home and do nothing.
    All I hear from them is a bunch of excuses “we’re too good to wash dishes, I cant work that hard, etc etc”
    What a bunch of lazy punks. If I got laid off and couldnt find any other job besides a dish washer, you’d better damn sure believe I’d be signing up for that job immediately.

  7. why should people work when the government makes it entirely convenient and happy life just staying at home doing nothing all day?
    You think its bad here, try Europe. In Europe you can get paid up to 40,000 a year to stay at home and do absolutely nothing. Thats why their unemployment rate is double the USA. Its very comfortable to be unemployed over there.

  8. I’m sorry but in this day and age there is just no excuse for this kind of thing. Start your own online service. Get a sales job. Make salsa and sell it online. Move to another state. Write a self help book for other slacker zeroes like yourself. Do something to make a living. Do anything.
    The healthcare issue is real. But so is the sloth issue!
    Granted there are exceptions – and many of them – but this is sad.

  9. My understanding is that people who qualify for disability benefits under Social Security also qualify for Medicare once they have been on disability for two years. It’s amazing to me that the number of people on disability has skyrocketed since 1990 while the number of physically demanding jobs has declined (due both to a gradual economic shift away from manufacturing and increased mechanization) while workplaces have become both safer and environmentally cleaner. I think it is, indeed, culturally much more acceptable to be on disability than it once was.

  10. I think you’re reaching on this one. Being in the situation described in the article, employer-based healthcare is perhaps the single biggest motivator to finding a job, but the jobs are just not there. The increase in disability is more closely tied to a cultural shift where it’s ok to be on disability, employers are not willing to tolerate lower productivity (a lot of violations of ADA go unreported), and a lessening of the stigma of mental disease.