I suppose this is probably wishful thinking, but it seems to me I’m seeing more and more conservatives and libertarians getting fed up with contemporary Republican nonsense. I missed it when it came out, but Megan McArdle’s post on extending unemployment benefits provides a strong example.
During a normal economy most unemployment is frictional. There are people who need to get new jobs. They need to find those new jobs; some of them need to accept that their old jobs or industries are no longer good growth prospects, and either retrain, or brace themselves to accept a lower salary. Generous unemployment benefits–particularly generous and lengthy unemployment benefits–can interfere with this process by encouraging people to hold out for an unrealistically great job (or simply take a little taxpayer-financed vacation), rather than accepting what’s offered. So it makes sense to keep them relatively lean, and short; unemployment benefits should not be a good alternative to work.
But these are not the circumstances in which we now find ourselves. Job markets have collapsed in many areas. We’re not simply trying to move people into the ample supply of new jobs faster; there is no ample supply of new jobs. Rather, we’re shuffling a limited number of job openings between a much larger number of people. In a game of musical chairs, there’s no cost to letting the music play longer; you’re still going to end up with the same number of people sitting on the floor.