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N.C. slashes holes in safety net

Something profoundly awful has seeped into the top strata of American society: Our nation's corporate and political elites have developed immunity to shame.

It has become morally acceptable for those in lofty circles to enrich themselves while turning their backs on the rest of us

Even more damning, the power elites now feel ethically free to slash America's tattered safety net, leaving more holes than net for the workaday majority of Americans who've been knocked down by the ongoing economic disaster created by these very elites.

North Carolina is the latest state to flaunt its shame-resistant political leadership, which now consists of corporate-funded tea party extremists who loathe the very idea of a safety net.

These North Carolina lawmakers and lobbyists have been gutting everything from their public schools to health care.

Now, they've turned on their own citizens who are out of work.

In a state with the fifth-highest jobless rate in the country and with no recovery in sight, the right-wing governor and Legislature recently whacked unemployment benefits and cut the number of weeks people can receive this essential aid to 19 weeks. The national standard is 26.

That move automatically disqualified the state from getting $700 million a year for long-term jobless payments from the federal government.

Yet, Gov. Pat McCrory issued a cockamamie, Kafkaesque claim that the gut job ensures that "our citizens' unemployment safety net is secure," while providing "an economic climate that allows job creators to start hiring again."

Yeah, we'll all hold our breath until those "job creators" get going.

If ignorance is bliss, McCrory must be ecstatic. Meanwhile, his shameless immorality has unleashed a growing storm of weekly demonstrations at the capital.

The North Carolina Justice Center has more information about this war on the jobless. NCjustice.org.

OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer and public speaker.