More Unemployment Benefits = More Unemployment

One of the biggest differences between liberals and conservatives is that the latter have a better understanding of human behavior than the former. Take unemployment benefits. The longer they’re in place, the longer people go without jobs.

Many if not most recipients would rather keep collecting that free money rather than accept a job that pays lower than their previous job, or that has a tough commute, or that they wouldn’t particularly enjoy compared with the laid-back life at home.

Don’t believe it? Then look to none other than Larry Summers, the director of the National Economic Council under President Obama, who co-authored a paper in 1995 titled “Unemployment insurance lengthens unemployment spells.” He’s an anomaly among Democrats – someone who actually does understand that aspect of human behavior.

President Obama’s apparent lack of understanding thereof is getting him into trouble politically. As explained by columnist and economist Alan Reynolds, it’s no coincidence that the lengthening of unemployment benefits to an unprecedented 79 weeks in more than half the states is resulting in a 10.2 unemployment rate.

To be sure, it’s OK to have unemployment benefits for a certain amount of time to help people get back on their feet. But when they go on for too long, human nature dictates that persistent high unemployment is the end result.