"Why is there so much animus against the unemployed, such a strong conviction that they’re getting away with something, at a time when they’re actually being treated with unprecedented harshness?"K has been discussing this and related issues - why the "right" has such an animus toward, and fear of the great unwashed, for a long time - in op-ed's, interviews, and blog posts. In the article he asks if the reason is stupidity, ie, that republicans don't know that there's not much welfare going on rt now, that republicans basically have no idea in the world how the other half lives, or maybe it's just basic right-wing meanness that somehow spreads like a virus in Republican get-togethers, etc. He settles on confirmation bias - that rt. wingers live in a closed universe, getting their "information" exclusively from Cato, AEI, Limbag, and Fox.
Many other "left" wing pundits weigh in on this issue. Perhaps at some point I'll supply a list of example links to informed commentary on the question Krugman asks, from DeLong, Thoma, Chinn, Konczal, Chait, etc.
I don't presume to provide information as informed as the latter list does as a matter of course. However, in my naïveté, I (as my twitter page notes) am a recovering republican, so I believe I am 100% qualified to reliably divulge unto you the answer to why the "right" is so relentlessly set in it's, un-civil, counterproductive, and anti-american ways.
The answer, my friends, is that Republicans are Jihadists. What is Jihad? My associate, Mr. Wikipedia, says it is many things, including that for Muslims, it is a struggle against those who do not believe in the Islamic God; the struggle is religious duty imbued in them by the Koran. Jihad is often translated as "Holy War". Replace "Muslims" with "Republicans." Replace "Islamic God" with "imaginary free market". Etc. Ok, not philosophically consistent, but still.
Certainly I'm not the first to point out the similarity between fanatical Islam and our fanatical climate change-denying, misogynistic, super-religious, racist right. There is more than happenstance in the similarity.
All forms of human society have religion as a central part of societal grouping - mostly, and unpleasantly, super-religion. Western liberal democracy, before it became what we experience today, had a thousand years - and more - of rule-by-men-in-pajamas. Unfortunately there are frequent statements these days by US rightists that there is no notion of separation of church and state in our founding documents which of course is just one of the very many reality-challenged memes which circulate in the right's Fantasy Land. It's the fantasy land of Arcs and Parting Seas. It's nothing more, or less, than religion: The refuge of people possessed of no tools to understand the word other than ancient superstition. The Us vs. Them of the jungle.
Today we are far from being a Jihadist state. But not that far.