Before you label me uncaring and unsympathetic to the plight of the unemployed (as a freelance writer, I’m about as close as you come to earning unemployment wages; in fact a large portion of the unemployed are probably making more than me) please hear out my reasoning as to why it might be beneficial for people to contribute labor of some sort for their unemployment benefits.
With unemployment benefits once again being extended and the ranks of unemployed, underemployed and those who have just given up remaining high, my reservations continue to grow regarding an end to the current recession and unemployment problems any time soon. While I understand the need for unemployment benefits in certain situations, it seems that the system in its current state, is being used, abused, and generally overwhelmed.
That being said, my problem with unemployment benefits is not so much the payment of these benefits, but the return upon investment society is reaping — or in the current case — not reaping from their use. Rather than getting paid to do nothing other than possibly look for new jobs, which by looking at the number of those on long-term unemployment appear to be virtually non-existent, maybe those on unemployment should be put to work making some type of contribution to society, ala the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corp) or WPA (Work Progress Administration) style programs of the Depression Era.
I don’t think that getting a little productivity in return for unemployment benefits is too much to ask, and I think that many of those currently on unemployment would tend to agree. In fact, I think many of these people would welcome the opportunity to be made to feel useful again and maybe even pick up some new trades or skills in the process. Just imagine what could be accomplished with millions of unemployed people working just a day or two a week. Even if they were just patching potholes, digging ditches, or cleaning up trash from forests or roadsides, the amount of productivity would be immense.
The following is just a few quick thoughts that I threw together — a very broad outline — of how people could be productive in return for their unemployment checks. I think you’ll get the general idea of where I’m headed with my train of thought.
I believe it is important to still be on the job hunt during your time on unemployment, therefore; working for unemployment benefits would only be a part time requirement. Of course there would be some people out there who will bemoan this idea, saying that “searching for a new job is like a job in itself”. To that I say, “It may well be. I don’t dispute the fact that finding a new job, especially in an economic environment as the one we now face, is challenging. But if you don’t like the schedule, don’t file for unemployment. No one is forcing you.” Problem solved.
I’m not trying to be crass or unsympathetic here, but it seems like too many people continue to want to have their cake and eat it too. The feeling of entitlement in this country appears to be growing in leaps and bounds and there needs to be a line drawn somewhere — and soon.
But getting back to the program.
When signing up for unemployment a survey of your interests, skills, abilities as well as any physical restrictions would be taken and paired with possible available work projects in your area. Roles or jobs that meet best with a person’s abilities would be offered first, and should the filer not be interested in any of these positions, one could be assigned. Of course there would be those with every medical condition in the book that would try to avoid any sort of manual labor, however; I would think there would be an option for just about everyone, since available jobs could range from more sedentary roles such as filing paperwork or answering phones, to more active roles such as picking up sidewalk trash, sharpening pencils, or some type of manual labor. I mean it really wouldn’t matter. At least there would be some sort of productivity occurring and people could possibly keep certain skills sharp in the process or at least socialize and maintain some semblance or normality in a work environment.
Even at two or three eight-hour days (the rest of the time being used for searching for full time employment), I think that many people would be surprised at how much could be accomplished. A group of unemployed persons could be sent out with a foreman to pick garbage from a forest, sweep sidewalks, learn a new skill or trade, construct park benches, paint artworks in or on public buildings, build park shelters, cut firewood, paint houses for the aged and infirm or cut their grass, work at data entry, provide entertainment at senior centers, plant trees and flowers, and a whole slew of similar work and jobs that need to be accomplished.
The list of projects and work could be quite extensive and could obviously range with the skills and abilities of the people filing for unemployment. Everything from computer work, to construction projects, to more menial tasks might be involved.
Of course, as with any government work there would most likely be a good amount of corruption and inefficiency (a supervisor signing off on someone’s work without it actually being completed in return for a payoff, or similar example) but even then, there would be some level of productivity to show for the immense amount of unemployment money being paid out. I just hate to see so many with so little to do when there is so much that can be done.
Disclaimer: The author is not a licensed financial professional. The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or financial advice. For financial advice, readers should consult a licensed financial advisor. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader’s discretion.