Monday, July 25, 2011

Haley to college students, seasonal workers: Get a job

Irony: A woman who couldn't explain what, exactly, she did part-time for a consulting firm and a hospital, gets elected governor of a state whose chief industries are tourism and agriculture, and she quickly moves to block a policy that pays unemployment benefits to seasonal workers and college students when their tourist- and agricultural-season jobs come to an end. Seven months after taking office, her state is tied for fifth in the nation with 10.5 percent unemployment.

At least a few of these college students are South Carolina's future classroom educators, getting a head start on finding summertime jobs to augment the low salaries they'll collect once they find a coveted teaching job.

Chris Haire of the Charleston City Paper caught an item on Rupert Murdoch's Fox News Channel and wrote about it:

According to Gov. Nikki Haley, hordes of college students have been filing for unemployment benefits once their summer jobs have ended. Even worse, the state was actually playing along, paying them what I would imagine are millions and millions of dollars every year.

Thankfully, Gov. Haley put an end to this wasteful and shameful practice, according to the Fox News report. To which I have to say, bless you, Nikki, bless you.

However, in her interview with Fox News, Haley wasn't clear on exactly how many college students were receiving unemployment checks and how much money the state was paying out to them.

In order to get an answer, I sent an e-mail to Haley's ever-prompt spokesman Rob Godfrey. Below is the letter:

Hey Rob,

Chris Haire with the Charleston City Paper again.

I've got a couple of questions about a statement that Nikki Haley made on Fox News this week regarding unemployment benefits for seasonal employees.

During the interview, which you can find here, the governor says that thanks to her efforts, the great state of South Carolina "stopped giving benefits to seasonal employees that were college students working for summer getting benefits."

This is the first that I have heard that the Palmetto State has a problem with college students bilking the state out of unemployment money. It's quite surprising that it has been allowed to go on all these years. Believe you me, I'm glad that Gov. Haley has put a stop to this practice. It is a travesty.

However, I need to get a few numbers and whatnot from you.

One, how many college students working seasonal jobs were collecting unemployment in 2010, 2009, and 2008? (I'm sure these figures are readily available.) And then can you give me figures concerning how much unemployment money was going to these particular college students for those years as well?

Two, the governor claimed on Fox News that benefits to seasonal employees have been stopped. However, reading over the law and other reports, it would seem that benefits haven't stopped; they've merely been changed or limited? In fact, seasonal employees who are laid off during the season can still collect unemployment.

Perhaps you and Haley are aware of another definition for "stopped" that I'm not privy to. I've spent the vast majority of my teen and adult years either drunk off my a** or high as a kite, so I easily could have missed any changes to the lexicon. If you can point me in the direction of an online dictionary with this definition, I would appreciate it.

Three, you know, I just can't stop thinking about all of those college students getting unemployment benefits, and, well, I don't know about you but I sure could have used a few extra bucks in college, and I'm just baffled that none of my friends told me about this. ... How did Haley first hear about this? Is this something Haley has firsthand knowledge of? Did she collected unemployment benefits while a student at Clemson? ...

Four, The Sun Times out of Myrtle Beach seems to indicate that the vast majority of seasonal employees in Horry County that collect unemployment benefits are not college students seeking summertime jobs, but the men and women, the husbands and wives, the fathers and mothers, who call Myrtle Beach home; they are the ones who work in the hotels, restaurants, bars, and other places of business serving the Grand Strand's seasonal tourists. Have you considered contacting The Sun Times seeking a retraction?

It bothers me to no end to think that the media has no regard for the facts and, in this case, would ignore the horrible truth that Haley uncovered: that South Carolina college students, particularly those in Myrtle Beach and, I would think, Charleston as well — gasp — have been filing unemployment claims when their summer jobs came to an end and not, well, adults who have families to support, mortgages to pay, and groceries to buy. (Fortunately for Haley, the latter vote but the former do not.)

Five, and please forgive me for asking this, but the naysayers out there, the negative ninnies, might say that Gov. Haley claims that college students were bilking the state out of vast sums of unemployment funds in order to make her accomplishment seem all that much more grandiose. I know that's a strange claim to make.

After all, Haley certainly accomplished quite a good deal by changing the rules regarding who does and who doesn't receive unemployment benefits, so it would make absolutely no sense for her to act as if college students were solely responsible for bilking the state out of what I would think would be millions of dollars by falsely filing unemployment claims.
Once again, Rob, I appreciate your help, and I look forward to your prompt reply.

Best Regards,


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