Part of our work here at the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute is to pro­vide you, our read­ers, and fel­low pro­gres­sive activists with infor­ma­tion that can be used to counter the talk­ing points lies, half-truths, and decep­tion par­rot­ed by con­ser­v­a­tive talk radio hosts, talk­ing heads and polit­i­cal oper­a­tives. Here are two cas­es where the truth is entire­ly dif­fer­ent than the right wing’s talk­ing points.

Myth #1: If gov­ern­ment cuts tax­es on busi­ness, the sav­ings will be passed on to customers.

This mantra has been part of the holy canon of con­ser­v­a­tive ide­ol­o­gy for the past thir­ty years. How­ev­er, just because they keep say­ing it does­n’t make it true. For exam­ple, on July 23rd, a num­ber of avi­a­tion tax­es expired when Con­gress failed to reau­tho­rize the Fed­er­al Avi­a­tion Administration.

So by con­ser­v­a­tive log­ic, now that the tax­es have expired, the price of an air­line tick­et should be drop­ping, giv­ing fre­quent fliers a price break.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the oppo­site hap­pened and greedy air­lines reaped the wind­fall.

Sev­er­al avi­a­tion tax­es expired after mid­night Fri­day when Con­gress failed to reau­tho­rize the Fed­er­al Avi­a­tion Admin­is­tra­tion, which col­lects the rev­enue. The sus­pend­ed tax­es could save pas­sen­gers 10% to 15% on their tick­et prices, but most U.S. car­ri­ers have boost­ed fares to the lev­els tick­et prices would have been with the tax­es still in place, allow­ing the air­lines to take in rough­ly an extra $25 mil­lion a day, says Rick Seaney of

The bot­tom line: When cor­po­ra­tions have to choose between giv­ing their cus­tomers a break and padding their prof­its, they can be count­ed upon to go with the lat­ter option. It’s hap­pened time and time again.

Myth #2: Unem­ployed work­ers will sim­ply use up their ben­e­fits rather than look for jobs because they don’t want to work.

With the Great Reces­sion and eco­nom­ic down­turn claim­ing over 14 mil­lion jobs nation­wide, many find them­selves out of work and try­ing to sur­vive on unem­ploy­ment benefits.

As if los­ing their jobs isn’t enough, they are sub­ject­ed to deri­sion by con­ser­v­a­tives who call them lazy and say they don’t real­ly want jobs because they’re col­lect­ing ben­e­fits. Nev­er mind that the ben­e­fits have been legal­ly earned, or being used for the pur­pose for which they were intended.

Such details are triv­i­al­i­ties to the self-right­eous con­ser­v­a­tive. The false stereo­type they’ve invent­ed comes straight from the pages of the 1980s play­book of Rea­gan con­ser­v­a­tives (wel­fare queens, anyone?).

How­ev­er — as with the pre­vi­ous myth — this one is also untrue.

The Wash­ing­ton State Employ­ment Secu­ri­ty Depart­ment recent­ly sur­veyed 30,000 exhaus­tees (unem­ployed work­ers who have run out of ben­e­fits). The sur­vey was sent to any­one who had run out of unem­ploy­ment ben­e­fits since Novem­ber 2009, with over 5,000 peo­ple responding.

Only about 25 per­cent of those who respond­ed to the sur­vey had found work. Most of these said they used online resources and net­work­ing to find their jobs.

Of the exhaus­tees respond­ing to the sur­vey who have not found work, more than 86 per­cent were still look­ing for work, and near­ly half said age is their great­est bar­ri­er to find­ing work.

Sur­vey results of par­tic­u­lar inter­est include the following:

  • Near­ly 90 per­cent (3,942 of 4,451 respon­dents) of respon­dents said they vis­it­ed a Work­Source office dur­ing their unem­ploy­ment ben­e­fits claim period.
  • More than 46 per­cent (392 of 847 respon­dents) of reem­ployed exhaus­tees found Work­Source ser­vices help­ful in find­ing employment.
  • Reem­ployed exhaus­tees cit­ed résumé assis­tance, job-search help, use of office equip­ment and class­es as some of the most help­ful Work­Source services.
  • One in 12 exhaus­tees who have not found work cit­ed lack of edu­ca­tion or skills as his or her great­est bar­ri­er to find­ing employment.

75% of those who ran out of ben­e­fits were still out of work as of the date of the sur­vey, and many of the exhaus­tees were eli­gi­ble for 99 weeks of ben­e­fits. Giv­en the num­bers of peo­ple vis­it­ing Work­Source offices and uti­liz­ing avail­able ser­vices, the issue is not the lack of desire for employ­ment but rather the lack of jobs available.

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