A guy walked into the local welfare office to pick up his check.How does one measure the seriousness of an unemployed person's commitment to finding a job? In particular, one question that begs to be answered: to what extent does the amount and duration of unemployment benefits affect the willingness of unemployed people to seek and take a new job? These questions are very challenging to answer, as there are so many variables involved. Nevertheless, the evidence seems to suggest that the more unemployment benefits pay, and the longer they're paid, the longer unemployed people are willing to remain unemployed. The timing of job acceptance in the first link above is particularly telling to me.
He marched straight up to the counter and said, "Hi.. You know... I just hate drawing welfare. I'd really rather have a job."
The social worker behind the counter said, "Your timing is excellent. We just got a job opening from a very wealthy old man who wants a Chauffeur and bodyguard for his beautiful daughter. You'll have to drive around in his 2011 Mercedes-Benz CL, and he will supply all of your clothes.
"Because of the long hours, meals will be provided. You'll also be expected to escort the daughter on her overseas holiday trips. This is rather awkward to say but you will also have as part of your job assignment to satisfy her sexual urges as the daughter is in her mid-20's and has a rather strong sex drive."
The guy, just plain wide-eyed, said, "You're bullshittin' me!"
The social worker said, "Yeah, well... You started it."
I don't have good answers for all this. I'm certainly not advocating the elimination of all jobless benefits – there are definitely people out there who can't find a job at all, and without the benefits they won't be able to purchase even the basic necessities of life. I am saying something else, though: that the nature of our unemployment safety net deserves close study and (probably) some kind of adjustment. On the evidence at hand, taxpayers are financing the voluntary unemployment of an interesting fraction of the unemployed, and that just ain't right...
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