Friday, December 3, 2010

Gaming the system

Margery Eagan of the Boston Herald provides a some anecdotal evidence against extending expiring unemployment benefits. Of the eight "unemployed workers" (how's that for an oxymoron?) she spoke with, only two were "unequivocal" in their desire for the benefits to be extended. The rest worry that an extension will allow people to continue to "game the system."

It's telling when even those who stand to benefit from the extension are against it. I wonder if these sentiments are reflective of the larger population. I also wonder about the logic of the two people who want to see benefits extended:
The first was a 52-year-old civil engineer out of work since April 2007 who wants Brown to extend benefits “at least through the holidays and until spring time,” said Mark, who asked that his last name not be used. “I hate being unemployed. I hate collecting unemployment. Now I have to take money out of my 401.”

The second, Greg Vasale, 61, has been out of work for 18 months and said he was for extending benefits, even though they won’t help him much. Why? He played by the rules. He never refused work. But that meant, particularly cruelly, that when he took a job for less money and lost it, his unemployment was cut in half. Any day now he may lose his car.

So one hates collecting unemployment, but would like to collect more of it. Odd sounding, but fair enough. The other says it won't really help because the system is broken, but is in favor of extending it anyway.

I see the logic behind both rationales, but these aren't exactly glowing endorsements for a program that is sending 40 million taxpayer dollars a day just to California. It's no wonder lame-duck House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is reduced to claiming that unemployment benefits are "one of the biggest stimuluses [sic] to our economy."

Yeah, Nancy, keep singing that tune.

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