Watch and listen to the following and tell me if you think this sounds like A) a serious, major-party candidate for the U.S. Senate in Nevada or B) Dadaist performance art, a parody of the worst possible candidate in the history of electoral politics extending her middle finger to voters and practically daring them to vote for her.
This is like Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross running for the Senate. "You're all spoiled, lazy assholes. Jobs are for closers. What's my name? Fuck you, that's my name." Angle is telling voters in the state with the highest unemployment rate in the nation – take that, Michigan! – that the root of the problem lies in their slothfulness and sense of entitlement. "Spoiled", that's what they are.
Let's investigate those claims, momentarily suspending disbelief and pretending that someone like Angle would choose her words based on readily available data.
Nevada's unemployment program is unremarkable, calculating benefits using the same "High Quarter" method employed (see what I did there?) by the majority of states. Using the most recent data I could find, a report from February 2010, the 2009 average weekly benefit ($305) and average duration of benefit (16 weeks) were both within 1% of the national average.
$305 weekly would be $7.62/hr assuming a standard 40 hour work week. The minimum wage is set by state law in Nevada at $7.55. At 40 hours that would produce $302 before taxes. So the unemployment benefits spoiling the hell out of Nevadans paid a premium of $3 over minimum wage – for about four months. On July 1 the minimum wage increases to $8.26 in Nevada, meaning that unemployment will pay the equivalent of about $30 per week less than what the most feebly compensated hourly workers will make.
In other words, unemployment benefits in Nevada do pretty much what they are intended to do: provide short term, subsistence level income for people who have been involuntarily separated from their jobs. Perhaps Sharron Angle should be prepared to tell us the proper level at which benefits should be set in order to properly encourage people to work. Perhaps a maximum benefit of $100 per week, paid in a moldy onion sack full of quarters placed atop a tall, greased flagpole, would provide the right incentive. If the issue is that the dole and menial jobs pay essentially the same, why are we supposed to jump to the conclusion that the welfare state is too generous? It is far more relevant to ask why all of these jobs our elected officials are telling us to take pay wages that barely cross the poverty line.
"Logic" like Angle's takes me back to my childhood, to lectures from brainwashed Reaganites about how poor people were just lazy and the problem was that welfare paid them a six-figure salary to sit on their asses enjoying their big screen TVs and bouncing cars and all those other silly things that negroes like (All unemployed people were black). It has been a while since we've been blessed with a politician sufficiently disconnected from reality to make this argument in the middle of a double-dip recession in a state with the highest unemployment rate in the country. We should bottle Sharron Angle – to preserve her special essence, not to deprive her of oxygen. We need to keep her talking, as she appears to be another gift that will keep on giving.