Posts Tagged ‘Unemployment’

Why do we pay people not to work?

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

So in pondering the rather large stimulus bill that is winding its way through Congress, and the long list of pet projects and crazy ideas that comprises the bill, I was wondering this: why do we pay people not to work?

The bill would extend unemployment benefits, and add a huge pot of money to the old-style welfare programs.  If these people want to work, but can’t find a job, why don’t we put them to work?

  • Unemployment: For those extra 13 weeks, why don’t we hire these people (for the same cost as unemployment) for a 3 days a week, with the extra 2 days for finding a job? What would they do? Tutoring students in the inner-city, anti-graffiti work, cleaning up parks and clearing paths, and repairing the homes of the elderly and poor. (Or this: senior centers are closing because they can’t afford to staff them. Anybody want to play bingo with old people and make them lunch?) Sure, you’d need supervision and materials, but isn’t it better to get something useful out of this money, rather than nothing?
  • Welfare: Many of the recipients are single parents with kids at home, so maybe it makes sense for them to stick around. But tell me why there should be any trash on their blocks or at their local parks? You want welfare?  Keep you block clean. (And then maybe you’ll stop your kids and your neighbors’ kids from throwing trash all over the place!) Volunteer in your kids’ schools. Make phone calls to parents of truant students.

I can’t be the only one who thinks this way. It seems to me to be common sense, that paying people to do nothing is a bad idea.  It discourages work, by letting people avoid the jobs they think are beneath them. It encourages laziness, by not requiring anything from those who are unemployed. Let’s have some responsibility and some accountability. If poverty and starvation were real risks, people would get off their asses, and the stuff that always needs doing, but nobody wants to do it, would start getting done.