Last week, a colleague of mine marked his 27th birthday.When I inquired as to how he celebrated, he bemoaned the fact that he wasburied in work and was forced to temporarily defer his planned soiree.
His storyline was in striking opposition job-wise to my27th birthday, which was so long ago that leg warmers, headbands and Air Supplywere actually in vogue.
I spent that day at an unemployment office in suburbanPhoenix, the victim of a rather abrupt downsizing no doubt fueled by myfrequent criticisms of my now-former company's management.
As the current debate rages over extending and increasingunemployment benefits, I often think about that day and filling out the reamsof requisite forms which entitled me to collect roughly $100 per week. Forthose keeping score at home, that lasted just over a month.
My contention has always been that unemployment benefits(obviously those beyond a much-needed transitional phase) have the potential tomorph into a shorter-term welfare, and the dreaded cycle of dependency where itactually can serve as a disincentive to work. Sort of like paying agrariansmore money not to grow certain crops.
Certainly, receiving higher unemployment benefits for alonger period would, to a point, stifle the ambition to undertake theadmittedly arduous process of job hunting. That many opine (and there'sresearch compiled since the 1970s to support it) could and would lead to higherunemployment. And at a rate of roughly 10 percent, I doubt anyone wants it togo much higher.
Proponents, however, argue that the high unemployment andtorrid competition for jobs, an extension and increase will not have mucheffect, if any.
Okay, if we accept that premise, then what about thecompanies who want to hire?
If it costs more to hire, then wouldn't it stand toreason that companies would, say, hire less people?
The current administration also crowed that those whoreceive higher benefits tend to spend them. Sort of like the various stimuluspackages?
But if the people who receive higher benefits for alonger period of time do decide to spend them, what happens to the people whohave to pay out more as a result? I somehow doubt they will share in theeconomic camaraderie of this short-term shopping spree.
We've seen the result, or more accurately, the non-resultof some $3.6 trillion in economic "spendulus" packages implementedover the past three years.
I certainly wouldn't wish upon anyone a repeat of mybirthday experience at the unemployment office, but extending and increasingunemployment benefits will do little more than already increase thegargantuantab that we've alreadyrun up.
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