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Commentary

Auchter's Art: The "U" in UIA should stand for "undermine"

cartoon about unemployment
John Auchter for Michigan Radio
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Undermine is a good word. What it means is very intuitive from its roots. Is there a category for those types of words? It's not quite an onomatopoeia, or is it? Perhaps Rebecca Kruth and Anne Curzan can help me out with this.

In any case, under and mine together create a clear picture:

  1. erode the base or foundation of (a rock formation).
    "the flow of water had undermined pillars supporting the roof"
     
  2. lessen the effectiveness, power, or ability of, especially gradually or insidiously.
    "this could undermine years of hard work"

    Let me add another:
     

  3. ruin an already tenuous trust
    "the Michigan UIA again undermined the notion that our government is of the people, by the people, for the people"

This week, just as Democrats and the Biden Administration continue to build the case for a more helpful and reliable government, the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (as reported by Bridge Michigan) dropped this little nugget:

Nearly one-fifth of the Michigan residents who received unemployment payments during the pandemic are now learning their eligibility for jobless benefits didn’t meet federal standards.

Michigan officials will reevaluate claims filed by 690,092 people. The vast majority — 648,000 — will have to confirm their jobless status from a different set of criteria and may learn they weren’t eligible for funds they already received.

Even worse, the Michigan UIA has a well-documented past of grinding up unfortunate souls who have gotten caught in its machinery. It's pretty awful. But does it prove that all government is fundamentally bad? I don't think so. The Michigan UIA is to government what Enron was to capitalism — a really bad instance that undermines the whole thing.

John Auchter is a freelance political cartoonist. His views are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management, or its license holder, the University of Michigan.

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