Mrs Happy and I just returned from our family Christmas vacation at Disney. On the plane trip home I had the chance to talk to a lady who had spent the last two months with her daughter in Orlando on vacation. It's amazing what you can learn about talking to strangers. I discovered that as well in my January trip to Orlando. What did I learn this time? I learned all about the scam known as extended unemployment benefits
Happy: You've been in Orlando for two months visiting family? You don't look old enough to be retired.
Stranger: I'm not retired. I was laid off my job. I've been collecting unemployment benefits for the last two months.
Happy: I'm sorry to hear that. What kind of work were you in?
Stranger: I worked for a utility company. It was a union job. They paid everyone too much and always wanted more and more. They wouldn't take any concessions so they had to lay off people based on seniority. Everyone there is lazy. They get paid for just sitting around and doing nothing. When I worked at an airline as a union worker, they paid $40 an hour. If the budget money wasn't spent, they would lose funding for the next year. So people would get paid pretty much for doing nothing, just so the funding wouldn't dry up the next year.
Happy: That reminds me of government budgets. If they don't use all the money they are allotted, they wont get the funding for the following budget. It's ridiculous. Did you know, on average, a government union worker gets paid 45% more than the equivalent private sector worker when you factor in all benefits? And you wonder why our government is going bankrupt.
Stranger: I used to believe in unions. Now I don't. They just encourage lazy overpaid employees.
Happy: So you've been on vacation for two months?
Happy: Don't you have to submit a form every week to the government that says you've been looking for a job as long as you're getting unemployment benefit checks?
Stranger: Yes. I do. But nobody in the government checks up on it. I'm not worried. I'll find a job when I get home. It's been nice just getting a check while on vacation.
And you wonder why America is going bankrupt. Obama and Congress are trying to come to an agreement on taxes. As part of that agreement, unemployment benefits would be extended for another year or more. Instead of promoting work, Washington promotes free vacations by lazy people mooching off the backs of the productive. By prolonging unemployment benefits they prevent people from caring about getting a job. I hear it over and over again. Why work when the money comes free? For some people, extended unemployment benefits helps put food on the table, even though local private charities are more than capable of handling the role as government bread winner. For millions more, extended unemployment benefits are a reason to celebrate by going on vacation on the backs of hard working tax payers.
Prolonging unemployment benefits prevents people from tightening their belts, tightening their expenses and searching for a job. It prevents the sense of urgency needed when looking for a job. Many people can't find a job. But many more people don't care and have no desire to look because they're getting free money. They paid into a safety net, not a free vacation fund. If they want eight weeks of paid vacation, they should move to Europe, which is crashing and burning under a mound of debt. All that free money will eventually be paid back through higher interest rates and lower growth rates. For every dollar paid in extended unemployment benefits, more than a dollar in taxes will have to be collected or defaulted on or printed in the future. More than likely it will be a combination of all three. That means we sacrifice future growth and jobs so the unemployed today can enjoy their free extended vacation in Florida today.
Nobody wants to look for a job when the government is giving them a free ride. Eventually, the economics will implode on itself. All you have to do is look to Europe to see where America is heading, fast. If you want to put a million people back to work today, take away their vacation fund and make them look for a job.