News for People on Unemployment
A note sent into andrewsullivan.com criticizing people on unemployment set off a number of angry responses. This relates closely to the Washington Post story in “Freakonomics” last week telling the story of a family on the economic edge, which included a part where the lady of the house refused a job offer because it paid less than being on unemployment. I guess I don’t blame her for making that choice as much as I blame a system that gives her the choice rather than just cutting her off unemployment as soon as she refused a legitimate job offer. Oh, screw it — I blame her, too.
The final link here is to an article about unemployment benefits with a number of interesting comments, some of which get me to my primary point. Many of the comments and responses I have linked to have people saying some version of the following quote, taken from the andrewsullivan.com comments to which I linked earlier, in which someone states they were stupid not to go on unemployment during an earlier period of difficulty (emphasis added):
In retrospect, that was idiotic; I had paid into the system, I was legally entitled to the benefits, and taking advantage of them would have been no more disreputable than requesting my annual income tax refund.
No, you didn’t pay into the system. Unemployment insurance in Missouri, and in the federal system (and I am pretty sure this is also true in most, if not all, other states), is not something employees pay into. It is not a payroll tax like Social Security or Medicare. Only employers pay unemployment taxes to fund the system., which are different for each employer based on the number of claims filed from that company in prior years.
So, if you are home on unemployment during these difficult times, I am not slamming you. I like to think I would never go on unemployment, but if I were unemployed and my kids didn’t have any food, I would do whatever it took to take care of them. So maybe I would take it, maybe I wouldn’t. But just don’t think when you receive your unemployment check that you had somehow put into the system, because you didn’t. Yes, perhaps a portion of the taxes paid might have gone back to employees in the form of higher salaries. But if you are trying to justify the entire situation in the way that the above commentator did, that is hardly a convincing addendum.