Okay, not all unemployed people, but definitely some of them. Let me explain.
Last month the U.S. House of Representatives passed another 13-week extension of unemployment benefits on top of the current California maximum of 79 weeks. And just last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (DβNevada) introduced a proposal to extend unemployment insurance by up to 14 additional weeks for jobless workers in all 50 states. The proposal would also extend benefits for an extra 6 weeks in high unemployment states.
Assuming these provisions survive and eventually get signed into law by President Obama, it means qualifying individuals in California will be eligible to receive unemployment benefits for up to 99 weeks. (UPDATE: In April 2010, President Obama signed the bill into law after the Democratic majority in Congress passed the legislation on what was essentially a party-line vote in both the House 289-112 and Senate 59-38.)
The cost of this extension is estimated to be on the order of $70 billion. Of course, U.S. lawmakers have not figured out whether or how to pay for that, so they’ll just cover it in a manner that requires the least amount of political courage. That is, they’ll just print more money – damn the torpedoes and thank you very much.
That being said, for now let’s forget about the financial impacts and just focus on the magnitude of time, shall we?
If we’re going to talk about the length of time that certain people should be getting paid unemployment benefits, I have to insist on raising a bit of a stink. Come on, that’s almost two whole years.
Hey, I have nothing against the number 99 per se.
But 99 is a ridiculous number when it comes to the number of weeks the government allots some people to find a job while enjoying the luxury of a safety net. To be more specific, I have no doubt this is a big reason there are now a growing number of people who characterize themselves as being happily “funemployed.”
According to this expose by the Los Angeles Times, the funemployed are “usually single, in their 20s and 30s and find that life without work agrees with them.”
This story by CBS News asks, “If the economy is so dismal, why are victims of the recession smiling?”
I’ll tell you why: Because a lot of people are collecting $475 per week in California or $900 per week in Massachusetts for doing absolutely nothing!
Most of those smiling people are single, under 35 and either have a low mortgage payment or are renting an apartment.
One of my coworkers was telling me about a friend of his who fits that profile who absolutely refuses to look for a job until his jobless benefits run out. He’s having a blast and the Unemployment Office isn’t paying enough attention to notice that he isn’t really looking for work anyway.
And who can blame the guy? Why work for $10 bucks an hour stacking boxes when you earn $11.88 per hour sitting at the beach or skiing at Mammoth Mountain?
If the government is going to continue to extend unemployment benefits, then the state unemployment offices need to do a better job policing those who are receiving them.
I say that before anybody receives a single cent of extended unemployment benefits resulting from the Federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, they should have to prove they are making a good-faith effort at finding a job. After 52 weeks, and until they can show otherwise, people that have failed to meet such a modest requirement should be required to do community service for 20 hours per week in order to continue to receive further unemployment benefits.
After 72 weeks, the community service requirement for failing to demonstrate a good-faith effort to find a job should increase to 40 hours per week.
No community service, no check.
If you want to stay “funemployed,” be my guest, Skippy – just don’t expect the taxpayers to subsidize you.
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