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A South Carolina state senator has proposed a bill requiring unemployed people to work for state or local government 16 hours a week in order to continue receiving benefits for longer than six months. Before you object that crackpot Republican state legislators are always proposing all sorts of crazy horrible stuff that never goes anywhere, consider two things. First, a lot of it never goes anywhere, but a disturbing amount is made law. Second, "A spokesman for Gov. Nikki Haley said she generally supports the measures."

When considering how horrendous an idea is, consider the following:

South Carolina’s unemployment rate is nearly 10 percent and has remained above the national average for years. The average unemployment benefit payment in South Carolina is $235 weekly, which ranks 45th nationwide. The maximum a laid-off worker can receive is $326 weekly.

The theory behind a law like this is that unemployed people are lazy and if they would get up and try a little, they'd all find jobs. Somehow we're to believe that the people of South Carolina became lazy en masse, deciding it would be just dandy to live on $235 a week. If there was any merit to that, you'd be seeing unemployment correlate with the level of unemployment benefits, rather than seeing the state ranked 45th in average benefits have above-average unemployment.

One possible bright spot:

Last year, Florida lawmakers considered a bill requiring community service for unemployment benefits, but it died after the Department of Labor informed lawmakers it would conflict with federal law, Wentworth said.

I can definitely think of worse things to have South Carolina Republicans occupy their time with than a bill they ultimately won't be allowed to put into effect.

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