Unemployment Roadblock: People v. "The System"

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jul 24, 2009 4:43 PM GMT
    Speaking to the issue of state managed welfare programs—more specifically, “Unemployment Benefits”—I’m curious to know the position others take.

    From a personal perspective, I find myself at ends and conflicted with a government funded/tax-harvested means of supporting those without stable employment.

    I’m able to recognize the simple fact that there is an expressed NEED for welfare in cases often involving families with children, or critically ill heads of household—not confined to either; reasons expanding.

    HOWEVER, my concern calls to the ways in which states determine and verify the distribution of these benefits. There are NUMEROUS instances in which the system is being abused, where people become comfortable guiltlessly feeding from the hands of taxpayers.

    I volunteered for a consulting firm here in Berkeley, which worked closely with many state-run, and private research firms—studying communities, various demographics, etc (on this issue). Conducting this research, I’ve met MANY recipients of welfare who [for years] collect their checks with a heavy sense of entitlement. Many (NOT ALL) engage in daily routines, which often times DOES NOT include searching for work.

    Is welfare to blame? Are people to blame?

    My primary question, put simply, is this: if welfare is a fact of life, then how can the qualifications be changed—admitting people into the program—to save money and provide help where it’s needed? How can progress be monitored throughout?


    Before I move on: stop. This isn’t Republican rhetoric, this is simply a real concern I have and one which warrants discussion. In no way am I casting blame, being vindictive, judging, etc…I simply want to create discourse.


  • creature

    Posts: 5197

    Jul 24, 2009 11:35 PM GMT
    If you give the money away too easily, you're not helping to stimulate work ethic. After all, if life is good — why change it?

    So by presenting challenges to access of money, you force people to find other means to secure finances. Hopefully those alternatives do not include illegal activity.

    I think some of the best progress mankind has made is due to present and imminent danger. New tools and talents are made and honed. You learn a little something about life and yourself when forced to take a new direction. Actually, it's not just mankind. Other living organisms behave similarly. It's about survival.
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    Jul 25, 2009 1:11 AM GMT
    so you rather see people starve and be living on the street, your comfortable watching little children go w/o food, shelter, medical care?
  • creature

    Posts: 5197

    Jul 25, 2009 2:22 AM GMT
    Um... no?

    The challenges that I have spoken of refer to those that encourage skills training and job seeking, and discourage parasitical exploitation of a system that is needed for those who truly need the crutch of the Welfare program.

    I'm all for the Welfare program. Nothing in my previous post suggests otherwise.
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    Jul 25, 2009 2:06 PM GMT
    sfinboston saidso you rather see people starve and be living on the street, your comfortable watching little children go w/o food, shelter, medical care?


    I hate it when people don't read.
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    Jul 25, 2009 2:33 PM GMT
    TheGuyNextDoor saidI certainly understand your concern as I have seen this problem go unmonitored as well in more than a few states. I think this is what they call a Cluster Fuck. What's to be done about it is the real question for which I wish I had the answer.


    Cluster fuck is exactly what I would call it. Welfare and unemployment benefits cannot just be removed entirely. I have seen too many friends and family get "let go" from jobs when it was entirely not their fault. Personally, I feel that lazy, incompetent, unmotivated people are the problem. If a person is on welfare, they should have no problem showing a social worker why. Individuals receiving governmental assistance that don't need it obviously have something to hide, and declare invasion of privacy when their lifestyle is threatened. Perhaps random audits of how these people are living would be in order. Anyone agree?
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    Jul 25, 2009 2:42 PM GMT
    I've seen people use food stamps to buy beer (illegal).
    I see the same types of people "hanging out" on the street corner, walking the walk and talking the talk...........talking nonsense and happy they received "the check".

    Last I heard, cigarettes cost almost 9 bucks a pack. Is that figured into the monthly cash assistance?

    Sometimes I wonder...........Do some of these people ever read a book, or go for a job interview?..........all that time doing nothing.

    Ironically, some of these people are proud to say they reject the "system"...."working for the man"........Ain't it nice when the system is giving you cash?

    A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

    State assistance is needed for families and people who have fallen on bad times, but come on..........not as a way of life.
  • mustangd

    Posts: 434

    Jul 25, 2009 3:01 PM GMT
    i agree with the consensus that welfare should be intended for those who truly are in need of assistance. i have to balance that with a question, with populations increasing, technology replacing labor, and our government allowing the loss of jobs through u.s. corporations moving overseas by means of tax evasion, what are we expecting for the future? i mean, i hear a lot of people making the comment "this isn't right" and they aren't wrong, but, the true cost of living in the u.s., the chain weighted inflation index notwithstanding, is and has been between 5% and 10% for several years now. wages have not kept pace, in fact we now see wages falling. if we believe that man will inhabit earth for untold generations, then we have to face the facts, that our capitalistic system is doomed to fail. why? there will be too many people, too few resources, and technology will have supplanted too many jobs, what is everyone supposed to do to feed and shelter themsleves? don't get me wrong, i do not support idleness at the expense of those working, but my question is, what do we expect of the future?
  • NickoftheNort...

    Posts: 1416

    Jul 25, 2009 3:48 PM GMT
    Social assistance programs will, generally speaking, attract people who will abuse them. This "evil" does not (IMO) mean that we must end such programs. Instead of ending welfare measures, we can change its details, its enforcement, and its surrounding culture.

    Changing the details in this case means evaluating the specific programs and how they intend to reach their targeted populations, such as the discussion of families with children and persons suffering from illness. To assist such families, you can create separate assistance programs that target them (in a sense, governmental child support in the former target). This doesn't solve the problem of abuse, as individuals may want to take advantage of such support and claim more than they have any right to. That's where we get into enforcement.

    I don't know, well, just about anything about the US assistance system other than generalities; but, I suspect the bureaucracy that distributes assistance and ensures that it is not abused is overworked and underfunded (this is certainly the case in Norway where government assistance is much more entrenched). Managing a system that may reach millions of people and may require in-depth evaluation of most, if not all of them, requires lots of workers and resources if you want it to be effective at its job (if not necessarily cost-effective in the short-term; you can sell it as a preventative measure taken in order to curb abuse). In addition, there will likely be a lot of instances where civil servants won't be able to directly oversee the enforcement of the assistance's rules (such as the example of a fellow using food stamps to buy alcohol). These instances may be mitigated by changing the culture surrounding welfare.

    By changing the culture, I mean changing opinions about welfare and spreading concrete information about it. Now, changing culture can be trickier than government institutions as it's easier to become ham-fisted and bungle influencing people's opinions. It is still necessary if you want to reduce people's willingness or even wantonness in taking undue advantage of such programs. One element is to increase trust in government and that it will be there for people in hard times; this trust can reduce the survival incentive to hoard as much of the pie as one possibly can. Another element is to stop culturally treating government assistance as some ad hoc program that may be removed (and that therefore does not need be learned about as it's only temporary) and to instead acknowledge it as a permanent or semi-permanent governmental institution; part of this includes disseminating specifics about, for example, the food stamps program to gorcery retail workers so that they can securely curb the abuse of food stamps.
  • coolarmydude

    Posts: 9190

    Jul 25, 2009 3:58 PM GMT
    The problem with welfare is that there is no way for some of the recipients to get out of it. Some states have trade skills programs to enable working class poor welfare recipients to learn a marketable skill, like carpentry or welding, in order for them to get a good paying job. Some people are welfare recipients because they don't have the intellectual capacity to get a good job and have health issues that prevent them from learning/using trade skills for employment. For some, you can bring them to the water trough, but you can't make them drink from it.

    When I lived in Ohio, there was a dirt-poor family that lived above me. They lived horrible standards of living. The middle-aged couple had an adult retarded son and a tween girl that was learning how to be a good up-and-comer on the Jerry Springer Show. Their occupation was collecting aluminum cans and welfare checks. It was sad when the man of the house told me he used to be in the Marine Corps. What a damn shame. I chose to believe that he was just saying that because he knew I was in the Army. Anyways, after nonpayment on rent, water bills and an outstanding electric bill of almost $1000, they got evicted by court order. And they had the nerve to blame the landlord of being a rich person putting down poor people. Oh, BTW, they entered a sub-lease by the previous lesser without consent of the landlord, as required by the lease agreement.

    The answer is that there is no utopian solution to eliminating welfare or deadbeats. It's not in our capacity to throw people to the curb and have them fend for themselves. Also, that will likely increase crime and they will end up in jail where taxpayers have to support them anyway. The only solution is to teach them how to fish as opposed to giving them a fish. Provide them with marketable skills that will help them get out of poverty.


    There are other issues, such as poverty versus working class poor. People can have full time jobs and still not make ends meet, even if they live by modest means. You can't expect people to live miserly in a consumerist society. Education is the key to reducing welfare. Plain and simple.
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    Jul 26, 2009 4:15 PM GMT


    When I did meals-on-wheels volunteer work I met large numbers of mentally ill people on welfare or recurring unemployment benefits if they could hold a job for more than a few months.

    People I knew made cutting remarks as these illnesses aren't apparent and often the person in question behaves like anyone else on the street - and often not, LOL!

    We're both curious, ucla_matta, about what the ratio in percentages were for abusers compared to those genuinely in need of those benefits.


    lol, we feel, in light of recent events, that corporations are the biggest welfare recipients on the planet - what's worse is they also downsize and create........welfare recipients!

    -Doug of meninlove
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    Jul 29, 2009 3:37 PM GMT
    There is a cheating culture that makes it very costly to ensure that business dealings as such are clean. This problem isn't just in the welfare system, it's everywhere else including corporations, attorneys, accountants, financiers, doctors, etc. To deter cheats you've got to hire people to investigate everyone, and that's cost-prohibitive. For example, redeeming food stamps for cigarettes, that's cheating the system. Can you hire enough people to go over the books of every business that redeems food stamps, and make sure that these people are honest too? Reforming government programs will help a lot (for example, replacing cash completely in the welfare system by traceable vouchers), but ultimately you're going against better technologies for cheating, and the costs to taxpayers will keep going up.

    In a way you can say the mafia is more honest about the finances of their operations because their bosses expect full accountability. In our system dishonest people get away too easily, laws are too lenient, and there are too many advocates who work against prosecuting cheats efficiently.
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    Jul 29, 2009 3:45 PM GMT
    I don't understand how people can get outraged over abuse of $900 a month by a poor person and yet not give a shit about the millions people don't pay by cheating on their taxes.

    The welfare queen is a myth, created by Ronald Reagan when he ran for President in '76. If you can find any statistics on welfare abuse that would help the discussion. Otherwise it is just anger over hypothetical abuse.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jul 29, 2009 4:44 PM GMT
    Anger at fraudulent abusers is part of human nature: we're repulsed by the little turds spinning in our toilet. We lack the ability to perceive the titanic garbage barge we float on.

    Subsidies for tobacco farmers?

    18,000 corporate tenants in a single house in the Cayman Islands?

    Oh, god, how I wish I could be angry at the guy who smells like piss "getting out of looking for work". Yes, let's fix it, but let's get really angry at the big stuff.
  • Timbales

    Posts: 13993

    Jul 29, 2009 5:07 PM GMT
    People, like electricity and water, usually take the path of least resistance.
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    Jul 31, 2009 2:47 AM GMT
    I too used to get pissed off at the "welfare queen" and yes it's true that there will be some abusers of the system. But what about those who are truly in need of the assistance? I know several people in my apartment building who have been out of work for over a year now - the first time for them in over 20 or more years. Not because they want to be unemployed, but because that's the reality of their world. Should we not provide assistance for them?

    And how come we often talk about this and never talk about the corporate greed? Those corps that also gorge themselves at the trough of public assistance?
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    Jan 25, 2010 1:56 PM GMT
    I thought unemployment was an "insurance" That is we all pay into it just in case we get layed off or lose our job. In my 30+ years of working, I have used it once for about 6 months (the limit at the time) it took that long to find a job.

    So I see unemployment as something different than "entitlement" programs, because you pay into the system. Also I think unemployment is usually run by the state as opposed to the federal government.
  • MercuryMax

    Posts: 713

    Jan 25, 2010 2:07 PM GMT
    Ok, well since I got out of the Air Force, I've been unemployed, I even moved back to my homestate to find a job. Honestly, I've thought about begging for a job from anyone on this site, I really have. I've been getting unemployment insurance since december. I hate being jobless and I didn't even want to sign up for unemployment insurance. However, I need it to pay the pertinent bills that I can with it. I have been looking for a job, every week. I've had a couple of interviews and a couple of calls. Nothing has panned out yet. I even had one guy tell me, "you're kind of overqualified for this job, and you would probably leave as soon as you found a better job, and well we're looking for someone who will stay on." And that was for a janitorial position at a post office. So its not like I'm being choosy about where I apply, it just is really hard to find work right now.
  • MercuryMax

    Posts: 713

    Jan 28, 2010 2:21 AM GMT
    Starlite:

    Thank you, I appreciate everything you've said.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 28, 2010 3:19 AM GMT
    Don't worry guys, I'll fix the welfare system.

    I was a food stamp caseworker for a few months before switching to the nursing home department. It is ridiculously easy to abuse the system, and people know it.

    Unemployment is also a joke.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 28, 2010 3:34 AM GMT
    MercuryMax saidOk, well since I got out of the Air Force, I've been unemployed, I even moved back to my homestate to find a job. Honestly, I've thought about begging for a job from anyone on this site, I really have. I've been getting unemployment insurance since december. I hate being jobless and I didn't even want to sign up for unemployment insurance. However, I need it to pay the pertinent bills that I can with it. I have been looking for a job, every week. I've had a couple of interviews and a couple of calls. Nothing has panned out yet. I even had one guy tell me, "you're kind of overqualified for this job, and you would probably leave as soon as you found a better job, and well we're looking for someone who will stay on." And that was for a janitorial position at a post office. So its not like I'm being choosy about where I apply, it just is really hard to find work right now.


    Mercury dont feel bad. And I know exactly what you're going through as I am still going through the same thing ever since I got out and moved to my home state to care for my mother. Despite being technically labeled 60% disabled
    I have looked for work and jumped through various hoops with the so called VA transitional program, but was told because of my military background for jobs as you have stated im "overqualified"... Most of these jobs coming from VA referrals themselves or jobs that have veterans preference.

    I guess my point is that theres a huge disconnect between these agencies and as someone earlier put it earlier , a big clusterfuck. Keep your head up and dont give up. If you can do odd jobs. Temp agencies even help too.

    As far as this post goes I think something should be done to make it so people aren't in the situation where they are making more off of unemployment than they would at a minimum wage job. I know mimimum wage has been raised in several states but the thing is inflation pretty much kills that.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 28, 2010 4:28 AM GMT
    I remember watching The Devil Wears Prada, and seeing this amazing scene that really seemed to sum up the way some people approach employment, and the whole outsourcing "they took *our* jobs" idiocy. Just pretend the other girl who would take Andy's job is in India:

    Andy Sachs: She hates me, Nigel.

    Nigel: And that's my problem because... Oh, wait. No, it's not my problem.

    Andy Sachs: I don't know what else I can do because if I do something right, it's unacknowledged. She doesn't even say thank you. But if I do something wrong, she is vicious.

    Nigel: So quit.

    Andy Sachs: What?

    Nigel: Quit.

    Andy Sachs: Quit?

    Nigel: I can get another girl to take your job in five minutes... one who really wants it.

    Andy Sachs: No, I don't want to quit. That's not fair. But, I, you know, I'm just saying that I would just like a little credit... for the fact that I'm killing myself trying.

    Nigel: Andy, be serious. You are not trying. You are whining. What is it that you want me to say to you, huh? Do you want me to say, "Poor you. Miranda's picking on you. Poor you. Poor Andy"? Hmm? Wake up, six. She's just doing her job. Don't you know that you are working at the place that published some of the greatest artists of the century? Halston, Lagerfeld, de la Renta. And what they did, what they created was greater than art because you live your life in it. Well, not you, obviously, but some people. You think this is just a magazine, hmm? This is not just a magazine. This is a shining beacon of hope for... oh, I don't know... let's say a young boy growing up in Rhode Island with six brothers pretending to go to soccer practice when he was really going to sewing class and reading Runway under the covers at night with a flashlight. You have no idea how many legends have walked these halls. And what's worse, you don't care. Because this place, where so many people would die to work you only deign to work. And you want to know why she doesn't kiss you on the forehead and give you a gold star on your homework at the end of the day. Wake up, sweetheart.

    Wake up, Americans. You're not so special, they aren't *your* jobs, and people in other nations deserve a chance to lift themselves out of poverty if they're willing to work harder and for less.
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    Jan 31, 2010 12:17 AM GMT
    abelian0....you are an IDIOT!

    I don't know what's worse, your argument or the fact that's it not even your argument. You had to steal the quote from a stupid movie.

    But its easy to have that attitude at 27. Let me guess, still living at home, or still receiving parental support? Or better yet, you work as a assistant store manager at Abercrombie & Fitch or the Gap?

    Tell you what, when you finish college, finish your Masters in Computer Science, work a few years, only to find out some hack in India is taking your job because he can be paid 1/5 the salary, the come and talk to me about who deserves those jobs more.

    Until then, try to practice some empathy for your fellow citizens who are going through this transition.

    Your bleeding heart for those in other parts of the world just rings hollow.

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    Jan 31, 2010 12:58 AM GMT
    "There but for the grace of [insert higher power here] go I." Here's what I know. Welfare is necessary. Why? So Americans don't starve. So that way if someone is making minimum wage, they can still get foodstamps to help defray the cost of food. Unemployment is necessary. It helps pay the bills in between jobs. Similar to another poster, I view this as insurance.

    Here's what I also know. People are greedy. Of all walks of life. I would compare a welfare abuser to a corporate CEO who gets paid a ton of money and then does layoffs while getting a "bonus." Each is foul in their own way. I expect enforcement of both, and am not going to get too upset about it. I try to just live my life the way I should, and not worry too much about how others live theirs.

    Karma sucks. Choose well.