Something in a challenge

Jan. 29, 2013 @ 05:06 AM

On Monday, a grassroots organization based in Raleigh issued an interesting challenge to North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory.

The challenge was for him to live for one week on $350 — nothing more, nothing less.

Action NC issued the challenge in response to a potential measure that will cut the maximum unemployment benefit from its current average of $535 to $350 per week.

Currently, the maximum benefit for unemployment insurance is $650 per week.

The policy director for Action NC, Kevin Rogers, said that the challenge comes because "McCrory doesn't understand what it's like to live on so little money."

"The Governor needs to understand the pain he will be inflicting on unemployed workers fro all over the state," Rogers said in a statement.

It is rather interesting that this challenge has been made and, to us, it does hold some merit.

Currently, roughly 10 percent of the workforce in North Carolina are out of work and, in Rutherford County that number is closer to 13 percent.

Taking a third of those people's income they rely on until they can get a job will do way more harm than good.

Think of that $200 from each person being taken out of the local economy.

Think of people trying to make ends meet on $200 less a week, or $800 less per month in an average four-week month.

Not only does it have the potential to cause more debt for those who already can't afford it, it also can prevent those people from paying bills like electric, water, gas, sewer and other necessities.

That could have a snowball effect as entities not able to collect money for those bills may be forced to pass their losses on to those consumers who are able to pay, forcing an increase for everyone.

A House committee is expected to start discussing the measure when the North Carolina General Assembly begins work on Jan. 30.

A proponent of the bill, state Rep. Julia Howard, told the Associated Press that the proposal would take effect in July. That starting date is important because of federal regulations averting the latest fiscal situation that gave states federally paid emergency benefits for another year if the benefit rules go unchanged.

The proposal from Action NC, while not realistic, is interesting.

Imagine if we all had just $350 per week to live on.

There are some who are working now who may be making even less than that, but we have to consider that those effected are not likely to be spending that money frivolously or with disregard for obligation. It is those same people that are struggling to feed their families and pay their bills.

We would urge lawmakers in Raleigh to take a hard look at this proposal and be open and honest about the thoughts and processes behind the consideration of a proposal that has the potential to more damaging than productive.

By Matthew Clark, for the Editorial Board


The Daily Courier Editorial Board consists of community members Jerry Brewer, Kyle Bingham, Tom Padgett, Dr. Shermaine Surratt and Cliff Strassenburg as well as Editor Matthew Clark