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Friday, January 10, 2014

A Helping Hand

I am in favor of unemployment benefits.  I am not in favor of unemployment for too long and there is the problem.  How long is too long?

I am comfortable with the standard 26 weeks as a buffer to allow individuals to regain their footing after losing their job.  Beyond 26 weeks I begin to feel uneasy and have a sense that the system maybe being abused.

Still in a poor economy there are many valid instances where an individual cannot find a job and truly needs help beyond 26 weeks and I would like for them to have it.  Here is my suggestion for extending a helping hand without increasing the sense of entitlement.

1.       If you lose your job through no fault of your own (the current qualifications are good enough for me) you can draw unemployment up to 26 weeks.

2.       At 26 weeks an individual may elect to continue to draw unemployment with the following conditions
a.       Eligibility to continue to receive unemployment benefits would be subject to means testing.
b.      A percentage of the amount paid as unemployment would be a loan from the taxpayer at current bank rates that must be repaid when the individual reestablishes an income.
c.       The amount of an unemployment payment that becomes a loan would be progressive starting at 1% on week 27 and increasing by 1% each week thereafter.  Ex. On week 27 the payment is $100 then $1 would be a loan.
d.      Personal assets in the amount of the loans to an individual would become collateral with repayment requirements binding against the individual and their estate.

3.       When the loan amount of an unemployment payment reaches 50% of the payment (week 76) the individual is no longer eligible for unemployment benefits.


  1. Tom, I have read your suggestions regarding unemployment benefits a few times now. I like them. What I think we need though is a logical and rational transition from unemployment benefits to welfare for the few, I hope few, who cannot, for whatever reason, find gainful employment. They, of course, would be subject to the welfare qualifications. Unlike unemployment, which anyone can get regardless of their net worth (I am assuming from things that cross my desk), welfare would subject the recipients to rigorous checks and deny those with other means over a certain level. In an ideal world we would not need such a thing because everyone would either find a job or get help from their family, friends or community. But we're not in a perfect world...far from it.

    1. Providing a helping hand for the “few” that exhaust unemployment benefits is a humane sentiment that I think we all share. I do worry that providing an expedited means of moving from unemployment to welfare is a little risky in that it may give some individuals mental permission to become a taker instead of a doer.

      My last statement is where my liberal friends go berserk and accuse me of harboring all kind of ill will toward the unfortunate. I would like to help those that “really” need help, but I think it should be most difficult to become a ward of the State if you don’t want to help yourself.

    2. I'm not at all sure that we ALL share the humane sentiment, except maybe in our own heads, but I think we do agree that the requirements for becoming a ward of the state should be quite rigorous, although I am not fond of the phrase "ward of the state". It reeks with a whole list of negative connotations that are really not at all helpful. I did not say nor did I mean to say that we should provide for an "expedited" means of moving from unemployment to welfare. My point is that for the long term unemployed, the unemployment compensation system may not be the best system for what ails them. We can't know that unless their circumstances receive more scrutiny and the unemployment compensation system is simply not the right place for that to happen as it exists today. As I alluded to in my first post I have seen people with a lot of means receiving unemployment and that is perfectly legal to the best of my understanding. However, welfare benefits are means tested and so switching some people from unemployment to welfare will actually cut off government benefits of the recipients who really don't need benefits. Of course we could reach an even better solution for that particular issue by means testing for unemployment benefits and never paying anything to those with the means to weather a period of unemployment. I would be in favor of that too. I'm not sure why we don't already do that.

    3. Interesting comment on “ward of the State”. I will offer a different point of view and say that I see the phrase as helpful in that it clearly and accurately states the situation. I see euphemisms as an enemy of clear thinking. If I called an individual receiving State assistance a “sponge” that would be wrong and unhelpful.