If you lose your job, it doesn’t matter how you lost it. It’s your own fault. The company went under. A Bain-like hedge fund bought it and looted it and pumped up stock prices by kicking you and half the other employees out the door. You got sick. You got injured. You used up too much time in your bosses’ opinion taking care of a sick spouse, sick kids, a new baby, elderly parents. Whine all you want. It’s your fault. Now go away, loser, and leave the rest of us winners alone to enjoy our winnings without guilt or the slightest sense of obligation.
The Republicans’ rhetoric on unemployment---on all of life’s vicissitudes that routinely land people in need of help---is designed to make needing that help so shameful that we all become terrified of inviting that shame upon ourselves. And of course the surest way to wind up needing help is to lose your job and that makes losing a job the worst thing that could happen. We’re meant to be afraid to do anything that might cost us our job. We’re meant to feel so grateful just to have a job we’ll take anything the bosses’ dish out and accept whatever they deign to give us in the form of pay and benefits.
The object is to make us good employees, from the bosses’ point of view: Pliable, unquestioning, obedient, fearful, and cheap.
On top of this, it’s not enough that we’re afraid of losing our jobs through our own faults---and remember, it’s always our fault---we’re meant to be afraid of, resent, and outright despise anyone who might cost us our jobs: Boat-rockers, rabble-rousers, meddlesome liberal politicians, unionizers, any of our erstwhile fellow employees who’ve lost their jobs through their own fault and in the process possibly made us look bad in the bosses’ eyes.
And of course it goes beyond that. Our resentment, fear, and contempt is meant to extend to anyone, anywhere who’s lost their job and is asking for help. We’re meant to see them as losers and deadbeats, not worth our time or attention or aid. We’re meant to push them away so their bad luck won’t rub off. We’re meant to turn our backs on them, tell them to go away, leave us alone, we got problems of our own, mac, so we can go about our business of keeping our heads down, keeping our noses to the grindstone, taking whatever comes with thanks, and never, ever asking what’s wrong with a country that throws people away like this, leaves them to suffer and starve, just so that a few already rich assholes can get richer?