ZACHARY: Kemp's ending of jobless benefits hurts Georgia families

DomeLight by Jim Zachary 

Scoring political points and pandering to a base while hurting struggling families in Georgia is beneath even Gov. Brian Kemp. 

Kemp announced this week he will put an end to the $300 jobless benefits that so many Georgia families are depending on. 

Kemp is simply disconnected from the realities faced by so many people in our state. 

Maybe Kemp doesn’t know any single mothers trying to care for their children?

Maybe Kemp doesn’t know any workers whose paychecks are not large enough to pay for childcare, transportation and rent? 

Maybe Kemp doesn’t know any families worried about where their next meal is coming from?

Maybe Kemp doesn’t know anyone having to make a decision between buying prescription medications and putting food on the table?

Yes, it is true that restaurants, fast food places and other businesses are having a hard time finding workers. 

That does not mean, however, that people are lazy and don’t want to work. 

It does not mean people would rather depend on unemployment than have a decent paying job. 

It does mean that our nation’s workforce is in a major state of flux and the transitions from economic shutdown to partial reopening to reduced capacity to a wide open economy presents multiple challenges that will not be easy for workers or businesses. 

The pandemic has also exposed major wage inequity, and it says a lot about the state of play for a huge swath of the American workforce that $300 week could make a major difference in the lives of families.

What does it say about the state of play when we rip $300 from the hands of people struggling to feed and house their families so they will go get a low paying job that leaves them way below the poverty level and still unable to pay their basic living expense? 

Yes, the move by Kemp to turn back the federal unemployment dollars is being touted as pro-business but can we not find a way to support both Georgia families and Georgia businesses? 

Ending the extra $300 in federal jobless payments adding to regular unemployment checks will not save Georgia one penny but will cost thousands of Georgia families dearly. 

Jim Zachary is the editor of The Valdosta Daily Times, CNHI’s director of newsroom training and development and president emeritus of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation. 

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