Inglorious Layabouts

You can title a movie Inglorious Basterds and be applauded but don’t you dare use the B word on real people. Gerald Keddy is finding that out.

But he is getting support, not only from the water cooler coffee pot crowd.

One TV network, let’s call them the CBC, decided Keddy could only be directing his “bastards” remarks at homeless people who had physical and mental disabilities, and on that wobbly assumption they interviewed street people, all of whom were mystified that someone would say such unkind things about them.

The problem with the CBC assumption is Keddy is a very nice guy who would never say such things about people who struggle with disabilities. I know Keddy well enough to say he is probably more generous towards those truly in need than many of his critics

It never occurred to this otherwise excellent reporter that in talking about people who sit around on the streets of Halifax, Keddy may have been talking about the perfectly healthy people who turn down work at places like his Christmas tree farm so they can milk employment insurance like a cow and, ahem, sit around.

Monte isn’t just talking off the top of his head. After all he has a it of experience on the file.

When I was minister of immigration I was stunned by the fact that even though the unemployment rate was over 10% in Prince Edward Island, fish plants there had to bring in Russian workers because they couldn’t find local workers.

It seems EI paid enough that, in a very narrow sense, it was completely rational that unemployed Islanders would refuse to do those very tough and dirty jobs.

It wasn’t meant to work that way. Good intentions – unintended consequences.

… if a person turns down a job to accept employment insurance then by definition that person is ripping off the system because EI is only supposed to be for people who sincerely seek — but can’t find — work.

When people rip off employment insurance and draw benefits they’re not entitled to, then EI premiums are forced to be higher than they would be otherwise. That in turn means businesses can’t afford to hire as many workers as they would if premiums were lower.

Small businesses must raise their wages to attract workers away from EI, which means overall they won’t be able to hire as many people as they would have liked.

In other words, when it is too easy to get benefits or when it is easy to rip off the EI system, those who do play by the rules pay the bill for those who bend the rules, and all kinds of people end up needlessly unemployed.

Conclusion – It’s broke and Keddy knows it.  Do we really want him to shut up about it?

3 responses to “Inglorious Layabouts

  1. Yes it is broke BUT yes we do need to shut Keddy up about it. Enough with the loose lipped flippant remarks from the party currently in power- have we lost total decency in this country? And, BTW, don’t float the EI abuse idea in front of the folks who just lost their jobs at ACA in New Minas- not a very merry Christmas for them.

  2. EI abuse harms real applicants the most.

  3. EI is a multifaceted beast. When I lived in NF, I saw EI functioning as an industrial subsidy program. The huge fishing industry, at that time, would have been much smaller without EI. Of course, the fishing industry was far too large — dare I say “unsustainable” plundering of a natural resource.

    EI functions as a program to subsidize seasonal industry. That may be necessary for Canada — where seasons rule? Obviously, there is a good deal of opportunity for abuse of any subsidy program. The difficulty is sorting out the Robbin Hoods from the Robbing Hoods.

    I can’t fault Mr Keddy for expressing exasperation when he perceives abuse. I suspect that EI is to the nett advantage. Nevertheless, I don’t think people should be castigated for pointing to its obvious flaws.

    The media hysteria hinges on the “B”-word. If Mr Keddy had just said there are people who abuse the EI system, he would have been totally ignored. It’s is hard for me to fathom why Canadians get so bent out of shape by the “B”-word… but they do. I suspect Mr Keddy is not a careless fool, rather he used the predictably more-proper-than-thou public-backlash to actually get an issue on the agenda.