THE BLOG
10/10/2011 12:59 pm ET | Updated Dec 10, 2011

The Times Explains Why the Jobless Hate Unemployment Benefits (Except for the Fact That They Don't)

Ever hot on the trail of the latest trend, the New York Times now brings us the surprising news that the nation's jobless want to see an end to those pesky unemployment benefits.

Come again, you say? Clearly, you haven't been hanging out with Dan Tolleson, the 54-year-old poster boy for a front-page October 7 story bearing the headline "Some Unemployed Find Fault in Extension of Jobless Benefits." Tolleson -- whose "last good job was working for a group that aims to replace the income tax with a national sales tax" -- simply has no patience with government efforts to help the unemployed. "Far better to relax some of these outrageous regulations," he counsels.

Still, not buying it? Okay. You may have a point. Nine paragraphs into its story, the Times acknowledges that the vast majority of the unemployed -- close to three out of four -- disagree with Tolleson. Which is an interesting statistic given that my admittedly unscientific study found that three out of four Times readers weighing in on the piece found it to be silly.

"Some turkeys support Thanksgiving and find fault in calls for vegetarianism," one reader observed.

"Could the Times have found someone nuttier to represent the views of the unemployed?" queried another.

"Some unemployed people repeat Republican talking points! Wow! That's really newsworthy," a third chimed in.

And in a more serious vein: "It is absurd to focus a story on one person who thinks unemployment benefits are a bad thing. There are millions who are not eligible for benefits who think it a good thing. What is the point of such a story?"

The Rutgers University report from which the piece draws its data is a product of the school's John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development. Along with non-profits, government, and labor groups, the Center's "Partners and Supporters" also include a panoply of corporate interests. Good to know.

Which brings me to a final point: Three out of four of unemployed Americans have a question for the editors of the New York Times: What have you been thinking?