Unemployment benefits: needed more than ever

William Ferguson

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In a downward-turned economy, millions of Americans stand jobless, held financially afloat by American unemployment compensation. The United States Senate voted 59-39 to pass a bill that would extend the provision of unemployment benefits for those Americans requiring it. An estimated $33.9 billion dollars will be pushed into the economy to help those who need it. This is significant because throughout this recession, Senate Republicans have been blocking and curtailing efforts to allow the unemployed to collect these benefits.

By placing money into the pockets of those who need it most and would actively spend it, the government can readily jumpstart the economy. Having a system of unemployment insurance is in the best interest of the country. It does no good to have people spiral into a financial abyss immediately after losing their job.

In a purely economic sense, one of the most proven methods of stimulating an economy is to place money in the hands of people who need it badly; this is what Unemployment Insurance does.

In a general sense, unemployment compensation works at a few different levels. Getting its origins in the Great Depression, the writers and passers of the original bill knew what unemployment truly was. Firstly, the UI program, in times when unemployment is low, receives tax revenues from American workers. This creates a surplus of funds that can be tapped in to during times of recession. Secondly, when an unemployed person requires sustenance while finding another job, the UI works to provide a financial cushion. Thus, when one is working, their taxes help those less fortunate – and vice-versa.

This give and take has been criticized since its inception. Some may argue that unemployment benefits promote one to stay unemployed to receive the full benefit. Those who have experienced what it is like to be on unemployment say otherwise.

“I really want to work. I would rather be working than getting these checks,” said Fairfield Resident Andrew Obiacoro, who has been on unemployment for over five months. “My daughter needs this money.”

In a downward-turned economy, millions of Americans stand jobless, held financially afloat by American unemployment compensation. The United States Senate voted 59-39 July 19 to pass a bill that would extend the provision of unemployment benefits for those Americans requiring it. An estimated $33.9 billion dollars will be pushed into the economy to help those who need it. This is significant because throughout this recession, Senate Republicans have been blocking and curtailing efforts to allow the unemployed to collect these benefits.

By placing money into the pockets of those who need it most and who would actively spend it, the government can readily jumpstart the economy. Having a system of unemployment insurance is in the best interest of the country. It does no good to have people spiral into a financial abyss immediately after losing their jobs.

In a purely economic sense, one of the most proven methods of stimulating an economy is to place money in the hands of people who need it badly; this is what unemployment insurance does.

In a general sense, unemployment compensation works at a few different levels. Originating in the Great Depression, the writers and passers of the original bill knew what unemployment was. Firstly, the UI program, in times when unemployment is low, receives tax revenues from American workers. This creates a surplus of funds that can be tapped into during times of recession. Secondly, when an unemployed person requires sustenance while finding another job, the UI works to provide a financial cushion. Thus, when people are working, their taxes help those less fortunate – and vice-versa.

This give and take has been criticized since its inception. Some may argue that unemployment benefits promote individuals to stay unemployed to receive the full benefits. Those who have experienced what it is like to be on unemployment say otherwise.

“I really want to work. I would rather be working than getting these checks,” said Fairfield Resident Andrew Obiacoro, who has been on unemployment for over five months. “My daughter needs this money.”

On a personal level, I received unemployment benefits for about three months. I worked as a contractor for a high-tech company and worked on the same project for nine months. I then received a call one Wednesday evening stating that I would no longer be required. I was laid off – without warning, without even a second thought to my livelihood, in the middle of the week. After looking for work and floundering, I applied for and received the paltry sums that the UI provided and was barely able to pay any bills, let alone make a living. The amount of finances that one receives from the UI does exactly what they are meant to do – provide a cushion, not a solution. That safety net is there to catch people between employment opportunities, but it’s full of holes. Sure, it will catch you initially, but the seams wear over time until you finally fall through, helpless.

This extension passed by the Senate just allows a few more seams to be sewn. Alternatively, there are those who believe that people actually want to be on unemployment.

Republican Senator John Kyle of Arizona said, “… continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them [the unemployed] to seek new work.”

This notion that unemployment arises from unemployment insurance is ludicrous. It’s as if tornadoes occur because I buy tornado insurance or the ground shakes because I have earthquake insurance.

The fight to defend the principles of the UI will continue even past this recession. Politics will get in the way of sound economic policy, and the ones who suffer the most will be those who are already suffering. This Senate vote is a step in the right direction. What’s a mere $33 billion compared to the trillions awarded in big business bailouts anyway?

On a personal level, I received unemployment benefits for about 3 months. I worked as a contractor for a high-tech company and worked on the same project for nine months. I then received a call one Wednesday evening stating that I would no longer be required. I was laid off – without warning, without even a second thought to my livelihood, in the middle of the week. After looking for work and floundering, I applied for and received the paltry sums that the UI provided and was barely able to pay any bills, let alone make a living. The amount of finances that one receives from the UI does exactly what they are meant to do – provide a cushion, not a solution. That safety net is there to catch people between employment opportunities, but it’s full of holes. Sure, it will catch you initially, but the seams wear over time until you finally fall through, helpless.

This extension passed by the Senate just allows a few more seams to be sewn. Alternatively, there are those who believe that people actually want to be on unemployment.

Republican Senator John Kyle of Arizona said, “…continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them [the unemployed] to seek new work.”

This notion that unemployment arises from unemployment insurance is ludicrous. It’s as if tornadoes occur because I buy tornado insurance, or the ground shakes because I have earthquake insurance.

The fight to defend the principles of the UI will continue even past this recession. Politics will get in the way of sound economic policy, and the ones who suffer the most will be those who are already suffering. This Senate vote is a step in the right direction. What’s a mere $33 billion compared to the trillions awarded in big business bailouts anyway?

 

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