Why Are The Employed So Smug About The Unemployed?

Hear that? That is the sound of another self-righteous employed person complaining about the unemployed sucking up resources and driving the government deficit further into the red. Who cares employed people??  You guys aren't the ones who are struggling to find a job in this economy!

Several Truths About Being Unemployed

1) Few can live a comfortable lifestyle off of unemployment benefits which average $200-300 a week

2) The vast majority of people who are unemployed want to make more money, find jobs, and do something meaningful with their lives.

3) Our budget is headed towards a multi-trillion deficit, so who cares if we're going to spend another $50 billion to help millions of unemployed people survive for up to 99 weeks?

Budget Deficit Doesn't Matter When You Have No Job

The big debate over the Republicans and Democrats on the latest enhanced unemployment benefits is how the government will pay for the bill?  The Democrats say don't worry, it'll come from somewhere while the Republicans say cut spending elsewhere to not add to the deficit. 

Whatever the case may be, the budget deficit doesn't matter if you're struggling to survive. We'll have to provide for shelters and more public safety officers when crime creeps higher as desperation kicks in.

The ramifications of a budget deficit are only theoretical.  People say the government will need to raise interest rates to attract foreigner capital to fund our greedy spending. 

With higher rates by government, a crowding out effect occurs where efficient capital doesn't get directed to the private sector. Meanwhile, borrowing costs for citizens increase, also choking off investments. 

Refinance Your Debt Now

Last I checked, the 10-year yield is close to 1.73%, and foreigners are happily funding us.  Meanwhile, plenty of people are smartly refinancing their mortgages and saving money.

People say budget deficits are also bad for our children.  How can we live with ourselves knowing that our children are the ones who are going to fund our bad spending habits? 

We live with it just like we live with the fact that the older generation will happily collect their social security checks, while the younger generation continues to pay without expectations of anything in return!

Once again, all this budget deficit talk is just theoretical nonsense. It carries very little weight in determining whether or not we should help our fellow needy citizens or not.

Let's Care For The Unemployed

A portion of our paychecks are paid for by the employer.  This expense (unemployment insurance) is effectively calculated into a working person's total compensation. 

If the unemployment insurance expense is 6% per annum, one can assume that if an employer didn't have to pay this expense due to 0% unemployment, perhaps a couple percent of the 6% may lead to a higher paycheck.

So here is the thing for those who argue it's a bad thing to spend another $50 billion bucks extending unemployment benefits. Or arguing against the $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package during a pandemic.

Would you rather have the Federal Government pay or pass a bill to increase the unemployment insurance paid by employers by another several percent? If you choose the latter, prepare for MORE layoffs.

What's great is that even if you have investment income, you can still collect unemployment benefits. Unemployment benefits are tied to W-2 job income, and not to investment income.

Therefore, it behooves everyone to try and build as much passive investment income as possible for financial independence. It's not good enough to just contribute to your tax-advantage retirement accounts. You must focus on building up your taxable investment accounts and real estate portfolio.

Be Empathetic With Those Who've Been Laid Off

It continues to perplex me how vocal some employed people are about not helping the unemployed.  Unless you've been unemployed yourself, you have no idea what you're talking about!

When you're unemployed for an extended period of time you start doubting your self worth. You ask yourself what's the point of life if nobody is willing to give you a chance. You give up looking because you can't bare another non returned phone call or e-mail.  Each rejection is like a blade jabbed and then turned in the soul.

As I come to the end of this article, I realize why so many employed people are so smug about the unemployed.  The reason is they are very unhappy with their own jobs.

They can't stand the fact that someone is getting $1,200 a month to “do nothing” while they have to work 40 hours at their miserable jobs to only earn $3,500.  Miserable people like to make other people miserable.  The next time you see someone irrational complaining why helping others is a bad idea, just know that they are going through their own torment.

If you were happy with your job and made millions of dollars, don't you think you'd be more supportive of trying to help your brothers and sisters out? I think so!

Related: The States With The Highest And Lowest Unemployment Benefits

Want To Quit Your Job?

If you want to leave a job you no longer enjoy, I recommend negotiating a severance instead of quitting. Negotiate a severance like I did back in 2012. If you do, you not only get a severance check, but potentially subsidized healthcare, deferred compensation, and worker training.

When you get laid off, you're also eligible for up to roughly 27 weeks of unemployment benefits. Having a financial runway is huge during your transition period.

Conversely, if you quit your job you get nothing. Check out, How To Engineer Your Layoff: Make A Small Fortune By Saying Goodbye.

It's the only book that teaches you how to negotiate a severance. In addition, it was recently updated and expanded thanks to tremendous reader feedback and successful case studies.

Add to Cart

Start your own business 

If you feel you're not getting paid what you're worth and want to boost your income, start your own business online on the side! It used to cost a fortune and a lot of employees to start your business. Now you can start it for next to nothing with a hosting company like Bluehost for under $4/month and they'll give you a free domain for a year to boot.

Brand yourself online, connect with like-minded people, find new consulting gigs, and potentially make a good amount of income online one day by selling your product or recommending other great products. Not a day goes by where I'm not thankful for starting Financial Samurai in 2009.

Here's my step-by-step guide to for how to start your own website like mine in under 30 minutes.

Blogging For A Living Income Example: $300,000+
A real income statement example from a blogger. Look at all the income possibilities. CLICK the graph to learn how to start your own site in under 15 minutes.

86 thoughts on “Why Are The Employed So Smug About The Unemployed?”

  1. Daniel Rosenhaus

    A quote I feel is relevant, from John Steinbeck: “The problem with the working class (meant to include all of those who work) in America is they act less like exploited proletariat and more like temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”

    People in America have issues with lowering their standards, especially with our new economic realities. I have friends out of college that wouldn’t take a non-paying internship for the experience. And as much as they are bull shit (the whole non-paid internship thing is something I’m passionate about), doing that for 6 months will more likely lead to employment than bitching about not getting any paid job for those same 6 months.

  2. It’s because people have no idea what their government spends, so naturally they look at unemployment insurance and think it’s some insanely clever way to balance the budget–food stamps, too.

    Even though more than 10% of people are on food stamps, and roughly the same amount are receiving unemployment benefits, the cost, relative to the rest of this outlandish budget, is marginal. I’m all about balancing the budget, but I still realize there are plenty of other items that are more expensive and easier to cut.

  3. There will always be dead beats who try to take advantage of the system, and those who try and try and try and can’t get a job. I have a close relative who fell into the latter category. He literally applied to hundreds of blue collar jobs locally, in state, out of state, anywhere he could apply because all he wanted was to get a job. Sadly I think he was turned down a lot because of his age and with the amount of applicants, it wasn’t worth it to make a case for age discrimination.

    1. That’s sad for your relative, and I think that’s bullshit. It’s bullshit to discriminate against age, and I hope the state/federal government can help him out when he’s most in need.

  4. There is an old joke that goes something like this, a recession is when your neighbor loses his job and a depression is when you lose your job. Although that is supposed to be a joke it is very telling about many of us. If you are not affected, you are less sympathetic. Very few people want to be unemployed and should we punish the majority for the few. Could the government done more to create jobs? Yes and they should!

    1. It really is easy to be unsympathetic when you aren’t in someone else’s shoes. It’s easy to point fingers and say this and that, but until we know what it’s really like, we need to stop with our petty insults and smugness.

  5. I think it’s really sad that many people have little compassion for the unemployed. I was unemployed for a year after graduation and I know what it feels like, and I wasn’t even elligible for unemployment benefits. I hope jobs continue to be created so that we can get back to a healthy economy.

  6. This topic cuts to the heart of the matter. I am a white male who lives (exists) in a small northern city in Minnesota. There are not a lot of opps up here, and I have a cd/mi background. Nobody bothers me, and I walk/bike around town. I am not enamored of the system of capitalism, it favors the “silver spoon” types that are too much into themselves. Get some spirituality in your lives people! This life is temporary, the next one (should you believe in a higher power and an afterlife) will be much better………………

  7. The extension to unemployment benefits will provide assistance to unemployed Americans due to recession. It is now said that US economy has added 882,000 more jobs this year.

  8. Well, y’know, Sam… I think stress brings out the worst in all of us, even as sometimes it also brings out the best. Economic stress, which all of us are facing whether we’re employed or not, evokes fear, and fear breeds meanness and bigotry.

    IMHO that’s what leads to the kind of hateful talk and behavior we’re seeing in many realms, especially political and financial. At least, I hope that’s the explanation. The alternative (that there really are, objectively, a lot of hateful people living in America) is much less pleasant to contemplate.

  9. Kevin@InvestItWisely

    Hi Samn,

    I am a “Smug employed person” living in Canada — Well, I don’t really consider myself “smug” ;). Here are a few ideas I have for helping to lower the amount of unemployed:

    * Cut the red tape out. The IRS tax code and its cousins make things far more complicated than they need to be.
    * Level the playing field by reducing subsidies and legal protections that make it more difficult for new players to enter an entrenched playing field.
    * Restructure welfare and other social safety nets so that they don’t penalize people who seek to better themselves and seek employment. On the employer side of things, make it easier to do things like unpaid internships, or perhaps internships for room & board. In my view, getting some experience is better than getting nothing at all, and getting some money is better than getting nothing at all.

    In our current crisis, some structural unemployment is inevitable, as people don’t demand houses as much (for example) and shift their demands to other things. Reducing the barriers for people to gain experience and seek employment as well as reducing the barriers for employers to hire people will help reduce the unemployment rate.

    Studies have shown that families where everyone is unemployed raise kids who find it hard to get a job, so it’s important that people don’t get too dependent on receiving benefits, even if they don’t pay all that much. If there are no other options, then I can understand the need, but the emphasis should be on increasing those other options, not increasing the handouts.

  10. Bucksome Boomer

    I think extending the unemployment benefits is based on the current economy. If that means 2 years of benefits fine because the unemployment rate is still over 10% in my state.

    In good times, 26 weeks is great but not today. What really upsets me is politicians messing around with people’s lives to make a point. They have no idea what’s it like to try to live on unemployment and still keep your modest home.

    1. Good point Bucksome. Which means that a good proposal would be to have a specific link to the unemployment rate and unemployment benefits i.e. 4% unemployment (close to full unemployment) then 26 weeks, and 1% higher in unemployment we add 10 weeks and so forth. Makes sense!

  11. “It continues to perplex me how vocal some employed people are about not helping the unemployed.”

    Sam, the argument isn’t about not helping the unemployed. It’s about the length of the benefits. I say 99 weeks is preposterous.

    When they first started the benefits only lasted for 26 weeks. Then it was 52 weeks. Then 78 weeks. Now 99 weeks.

    Perhaps we should make indefinite unemployment benefits a reality via an amendment to the Constitution? What do YOU think is reasonable? :-)

    How did this country and its citizens manage to become the number one economy in the world in the absence of unemployment benefits? What happened in the 20th century that suddenly made unemployment benefits necessary, let alone indispensable? I know the answer to the first question. I have a theory for the second. But I’d be curious to hear your thoughts to both of those questions.

    It’s just like taxes, Sam. You give an inch and eventually it becomes a mile. Where do you draw the line?

    Thanks for letting me use your blog to espouse my self-righteous opinion. ;-)


    Len Penzo dot Com

  12. 99 weeks of unemployment is a sweet gig. The company I worked for in 2002 went belly up and I got 13 weeks unemployment that was extended to 26 weeks, I thought that was very generous. 99 weeks is really a huge number. I think there should be a time limit to unemployment to help force people into accepting a job.

    If people are poverty stricken there should be indigent support like welfare and SNAP (food stamps) but this should be decoupled from unemployment payments in my opinion.

    My list of how to reduce unemployment is easy and is listed below:

    1. Remove the permanent deferment of US companies paying corporate income tax for profits earned overseas, given them a 2 year window to pay this to the US government in full – this would help the deficit! Then, lower the corporate income tax rate on companies making profits within the USA to 15%. BAM, instant employment creating in mass!

    2. Make it illegal to have any public union for government workers. Following this, switch the existing pension plan from defined benefit to defined contribution. Hire people based on worker demand who will accept a job at lower wages. Federal spending will go down and employment will go up.

    3. Eliminate Davis-Bacon and other union legislation that forces wages paid on government projects at expensive union set levels – there will be more work done at lower wages.

    4. Eliminate the FASB provision that allows banks to mark to model and force them to mark to market within 6 months. When institutions start to go under let them and take the government money to boost up the FDIC funds to ensure all depositors are made whole. Let the bondholders and too big to fail institutions take their haircut.

    5. Unload Freddie & Fannie from the US government. Set a timetable and sell off the mortgage backed assets via an auction market over time.

    6. Plan for painful deflation but temper this with employment growth and an ultra solid floor under the economy that guarantees a good recovery.

    If the Obama administration got their heads out of their butts they may think about implementing some of these things. Instead it’s just extend and pretend and keep borrowing and hope it all goes away. Don’t look at the government policies, instead focus on Chelsea Clinton and her glorious wedding with gluten free cake and vegan entrees with the grass-fed beef on the side.


    1. That’s sweet you got 26 weeks of unemployment! I’d totally use that money to go to Cancun or something and live like a king for 2 months!

      Some great suggestions you propose. I like Freddie & Fannie though. We need them to grow 10X as large to buy up all the mortgages and get implicit guarantees by the government!

  13. I’m employed and the only reason I feel the way I do is because I know alot of unemployed people who are on unemployement, who are NOT looking for jobs, who keep hoping for that extension to come in so they can sit on the rear’s at home and do nothing! While there is people out there that really are trying to find a job and cannot get unemployement or an extension. That is probably the reason why so many that are employed have a bad attitude. That’s my reason anyways!

  14. Financial bondage

    never take being employed for granted. These days you never know how long a job will last. There are no guarantees. Life sucks like that sometimes.

  15. I’ve seen all the cases that Darwin talked about in regards to how people treat unemployment benefits. At one point, we need to say stop, this is not working and we need to think outside the box to fix the situation. I would not like to see our unemployment program balloon into a federal job bank (like the auto industry) where people are funded not to work for 20 years.

    The areas that people are struggling with need to be identified and resources directed to address those needs.

    I’ve been helping unemployed people get jobs. People who are over 50 are struggling because they are competing with younger workers who cost less. It is painful for me to see people in their 20s and 30s turn down high 5 figures jobs and stay unemployed when the older folks are struggling to get an interview.

    I can’t pass on the job opportunities because not everyone have the required skills. 2 of my clients have been looking for 4 months and made several offers to unemployed applicants. They were turned down. These are well paying jobs that I would jump on for my brother if he was qualified.

    People who are struggling include the older executives who have gone through rounds and rounds of interview with little luck, the blue collar workers who only know how to do one thing for the past 30 years and the combat veterans coming back with disabilities.

    There are people so ill prepared and incompetent that they’re not competitive in this environment.

    The world is changing rapidly. Our work force need the motivation and retraining to make themselves relevant for the jobs that are available now in the US. There are people who want to move up and better themselves but cannot afford the training at the moment.

    One local manufacturer spent 8 months searching for someone qualified to run his new $1.5 Million machine and ended up importing someone from India. Why? because this Indian worker invested $3,000 and took the training course in the US. 95% of his classmates were non US citizen. What did he get for that investment? A blue collar job at $145,000/yr. There was a competition to hire those students because they were the only ones who knew how to run these machines that cost millions to invest in.

    These are the types of opportunities that we need to retrain our people for.

    Several companies who were starting to bring back manufacturing jobs to the US have shut down their efforts last year and reinvested back overseas. Some small business owners are reassessing their costs for 2011 with healthcare and planning additional cuts. If additional layoffs are on the way, throwing money into unemployment benefits is not going to solve the long term problems.

  16. Danny @ Frugal Quack

    I think those who vehemently oppose federal funding in any and all its forms are usually those who are quite prejudice in nature. I have never talked to or witnessed a conversation with someone who (wasn’t) prejudiced and was FOR federal funding. They hate it, like a fat kid hates green beans and broccoli.

    Which is just plain sad. Because usually these are also the same people who were born on third base and think they hit a triple. You know what I mean. They look down on those less fortunate like they want or chose to be that way. Yet, if they were in the same shoes, they could never ever survive because they’ve been spoiled all their lives and don’t know how to hustle.

    But mostly it’s old fashioned prejudice that forbids them from supporting (any kind of aid) to help those who don’t have a rich daddy.

    I know several families that have money, good money. And their kids are some of the MOST irresponsible people I have ever met in my life. Not too mention I’m referring to kids that are like 40 years old. lol. Not 12.

    But these are the same people who turn around and scoff at welfare. As if they are too good for it. but they’re not. They’re classless, irresponsible jack wipes through and through.

    The only difference is they’re jack wipes with money.

    Rant over…whew! Sorry, I went a tangent there. lol.

    1. Danny, good rant, and you probably have a point about people who are naturally prejudice in nature.

      “Same people who were born on third base and think they hit a triple.” Now that is an awesome statement! Never heard of that one before! Thanks for that!

      Best, Sam

      1. Danny @ Frugal Quack

        No problem, Sam. I think the quote originated about W. Bush. At least that was the I heard of it. lol.


    2. I was born poor and still don’t agree with the fed government dumping money into programs. There are inefficient (bureaucratic waste) and don’t do the job they’re intended to do (to get people working). There is no real accountability or encouragement. It’s like hitting a nail with a screwdriver. You might get it in but it’s really inefficient. I think a better model would be something like what’s done by Habitat for Humanity. Where the person getting something puts sweat equity into it for themselves and for others. Something where people work along side each other.

  17. myfinancialobjectives

    I think a lot of people view the unemployed in a bad light for exactly the reason you stated: They think they are getting $1,200 a month do “do nothing”, when in reality, they are trying so hard to get a job!

    On the other hand, a good friend of mine was looking for a suitable job for months when finally he just decided to get something part time. There is something to be said on both sides of the argument. A lot of people could probably get part time gigs until they are able to get back into their full time work. Does my friend like working at Home Depot right now? No, but hes going back to school for his Masters and still applying for more full time jobs. Like I said, the argument can go both ways.

  18. There is another cost to cutting unemployment benefits. According to an article in this weeks “Economist” some unemployed switch to social security disability once they lose their unemployment benefits. Then they leave the workforce and become a drain on the budget until they die.

  19. I can totally see employed people being bitter about their current jobs (if they don’t like what they do or feel underpaid) thinking unemployed people getting government checks have it better than they do. I suspect these employed people have probably never been unemployed either as it’s easy to throw blame and negativity around if you’ve never been in the other person’s shoes. Sure there will always be some people that abuse the system but I agree that the majority of the unemployed want to be working and earning reliable, higher income than what comes with an unemployment check.

  20. I wrote an article recently about the 99 weeks. It was balanced, but seriously, if 99 weeks isn’t enough, how long is reasonable? 5 years? At some point it just becomes a permanent welfare gig. Here are some key problems:

    1) The truly desperate – these are people that simply cannot find anything, not even minimum wage jobs. The local economy has been decimated and they have tried everything. I feel for these people. They may have to move to find work, if they can afford it. There are jobs in this country, but perhaps not where you live. Terrible but true.
    2) The “waiters” – these are people who had relatively high paying jobs and were laid off with severance, then a lower paying unemployment which runs for 2 years now. I know them, and you may too. They actually get decent offers, in some cases, 6 figures. Yet they turn them down because it’s not “what they used to make”. In some cases, eventually they land something after a few months and go with it. But if it weren’t for extensive UI, they’d be accepting jobs more quickly. There is ample data to back this up and even Krugman the king of the lefts admitted as much in the NYT editorial.
    3) The scammers – gotta love these people. and yes, I know many second hand through friends and family that relay their frustration over the audacity of these people. They don’t work, never really have worked and have no intention of working, but were able to snag a job or just get laid off and collect each time the extension gets longer and longer. Example – a guy who does only seasonal work. he works in winter, gets laid off, collects unemployment and lives with mom so overhead is low. He’s done this for decades but now he’s getting paid for 2 years without working. Next, the pregnant mom about to deliver who planned on staying home and not going back to work anyway. So, she was laid off and never intended on working, at least until the kids make it into school, but now she’s living off the public dime for 2 years. It’s gravy. And get this – when the senate was debating the extension, she said she was “getting screwed” by the Republicans. SHE was getting screwed.

    So, it’s a mixed bag. There are the truly unfortunate, those that are being pickier than they should be, and dirtbags. When all unemployed get painted with one brush, that’s unfair. But let’s stop pretending that “everyone out of work is struggling”, etc. It’s “many”, not everyone. Out of every crisis comes scammers and the entitled and this recession is no different. I’m thankful for my job everyday. But callin’ it like it is.

    1. Hey Darwin, thanks for your thoughts. I really think it’s the very few minority who give unemployment insurance abuse a bad name.

      If people want to abuse unemployment insurance and live off poverty level wages and be happy, then by all means, go for it.

  21. @ George
    Agreed, “milking” is a loaded phrase indeed, which goes back to tautology #1: Few people can live a normal life under unemployment benefits.

    @ Free Credit Score
    I’m not sure how hard it is to take a job that’s beneath someone if that someone is going to get evicted or starving. I’d do anything. Heck, I’d write non stop on this site and drum up business if I had to to survive.

    1. While “milking” may be a loaded phrase, I’m pretty sure it’s not the first loaded phrase being used here. ;) (like “smug employed people”?)

        1. It isn’t looking down on people who don’t have jobs. I feel bad for anyone that is unemployed and is truly working hard to find a job. It is the many many people who are milking benefits and just collecting checks for doing nothing. At 99 weeks it is welfare, plain and simple. Stop being lazy and go take care of yourself and your family.

  22. “Milking unemployment” is such a loaded phrase when the unemployment benefits in the US are a fraction of one’s former salary (what are they, 25% if you’re lucky?). If you have a house payment, then that unemployment check will very likely go entirely for the mortgage payment and the income tax on the benefit.

  23. The hardest part of being unemployed is taking a job that you feel is “beneath you” and that’s why I think so many people are unemployed for years and milking unemployment rather than broadening their job search.

  24. Unemployment is there for a reason; when a person becomes unemployed through no fault of their own. Pretty much everyone has access to it, so there’s no need to feel angry when people need to use it. Those being smug may one day find themselves in that very same position. However, if a person has been on unemployment for over a year and has given up searching for a job, then that’s a different story. Their needs to be an incentive to move off unemployment, and usually that motivation is the termination of benefits.

    1. You make a very level-headed statement. People forget that there are millions of people out there, through no fault of their own are unemployed. Maybe they weren’t the best employees, but in normal times they certainly didn’t desire to be fired. This economy has done a doozy on many folks.

      The termination of benefits is good enough motivation to find something within a 99 week time frame I agree. I would work at In N Out burger if I had to!

  25. “99 weeks is not a gap. It is being lazy.”

    say you’re laid off by industry. if you’re resourceful, you could always become a teacher, right?

  26. Sam,

    I’m all for unemployment benefits and think we should have them.

    You are focusing on all the wrong reasons why people are against it. It’s not about the deficit (though it’s not helping it) as what’s mentioned in the MSM. My beef is with three factors:
    – There are truly people gaming the system. My own mother being one of them! Some of the thought process is I “worked” for it, I deserve my insurance.
    – 99 weeks? Why not go for 3 years, or wait lets go for 10 years. There has to be a point of it’s for a stopgap not an entitlement. It starts becoming a way to transfer wealth. A method to give from the haves to the have nots. Studies have shown soon before the benefits run out, people somehow find a job. You want more of something you fund it and this is exactly what we are doing funding more unemployment.
    – The biggest factor IMHO is this administration is doing nothing to help create private sector jobs and if anything making it worse for small business owners. Can’t get a job if businesses aren’t hiring. The focus is on the wrong side, giving more money to unemployed instead of trying to create jobs. Giving unemployment checks does nothing to help improve the economy in the long run. It’s a temporary high. With everything they are doing they are making it VERY difficult for the small business owner.

    See my other comments on Consumerism Commentary.

    1. Why not 3 or 5 years worth of unemployment indeed? 99 weeks sounds just an arbitrary number as 150 weeks.

      You should be proud of your mother “gaming” the system. She’s probably worked decades, and to get some money back through unemployment sounds fair to me.

      This administration is “doing nothing” to help create private sector jobs is quite a harsh statement. Taxing small business out the wazoo doesn’t create jobs is right. Why do you think the government DOESN’T want to help create jobs?

      1. “Why do you think the government DOESN’T want to help create jobs?” Factually
        I have no idea. Maybe because no one ever owned or ran a business in the
        administration? I mean they just had to get the healthcare bill passed, they had
        to get finreg. The stimulus bill really didn’t include much job creation (I believe
        15% of it) it was mostly tax cuts, and helping other fed/state programs to be fully
        funded. Would you not state they vilify businesses and rich people? After all they are usually the same.

        There are conspiracy theories on the subject, I would rather not believe them.
        Even if they are true, I would rather look at the net result.

      2. The issue with my mother is a whole other topic. It really comes down to
        she doesn’t have enough money for retirement (she’s 62 and already collects SS)
        and I will most likely will have to assist her in her elder years.

        1. Well no actually I thought I had to support only my own children? Now I may have to
          support my mother? That obviously puts a lot more financial stress directly on me,
          because of their lack of financial planning (my father is deceased). It’s not like
          my family could not properly save for retirement. They choose not to and
          spend it instead.

          If I had unlimited funds (ie say a NW of 10 mil+) supporting my mother wouldn’t be in question. I don’t have that NW at the moment. Meanwhile my mother doesn’t
          see any issue with her retirement funds (or lack thereof). To put it into
          perspective, my wife and I have more savings in our retirement than my mom.

          Again a whole other topic and in my case could be a blog post.

          Semi-related to this, why are the people who are financially responsible get
          penalized, while the ones who don’t save, don’t have proper emergency funds, or
          overextend themselves get rewarded???? There should be failure. Failing, while
          very painful, is a “good thing”. It almost makes you not want to do the right things.

  27. I’ve seen firsthand far too many people taking advantage of the system. Covering the gap between jobs is fine, 99 weeks is not a gap. It is being lazy. Period. Whatever you subsidize prepare to get more of. We are subsidizing unemployment, and many people have no problem continuing to collect their check for doing nothing.

    I’ve talked to small business owners and this is an actual conversation that they have had more than once:
    “You’re not hiring are you”
    “Not at the moment”
    “Good, can you sign this saying I came looking for a job”

    If you are out looking for a job, I promise you can find one in less than 2 years. Extending unemployment further is a joke. If this makes me a smug employed person, so be it.

    1. Derek, but why do you care that others are getting unemployment benefits? How does that affect you? Have you looked inside as to what it is that tears you up about others getting unemployment benefits?

      1. It isn’t getting unemployment that is the problem. I said covering the gap is fine. Extending unemployment indefinitely is the problem. As you pointed out a few comments up free money is a farce. It is coming out of someone else’s pocket. Again as you pointed out when the money runs out people will go and find a job. There is no reason for them to collect others hard earned money for doing nothing for 2 years. 6 months would be plenty.

        1. But it ain’t other people’s hard earned money, it’s just money from this big vat called the government and its deficit. Did any of your money go to them? If so, please tell me how much b/c it sure is hard to tell.

        2. If that is your opinion, then it is free money. But you just said that doesn’t exist. The deficit can’t keep growing at the rate it is right now. We will all suffer enormously if this continues forever. We are spending as much on interest as we do on national defense. The well being of the country is at risk. If nothing else you and I will pay for it in inflation.

          Also, I grew up seeing lots of people live off of welfare (including in my extended family) for no other reason than that they are lazy. This affects my thoughts on this subject greatly, and is probably why I have very little patience for people trying to get something for nothing.

  28. I think @Money Smarts has it perfect!

    If you can’t find a job for 2 years, then you are doing something wrong. Either the job you are looking for doesn’t exist, you aren’t qualified, or you can’t interview.

  29. I don’t think anybody wants to be unemployed either,

    It’s people like @ Paul above who throw out the term “Free Money” which piss me and others off.

    There’s no such thing!

  30. It may be that the employed look down on the unemployed for the same reason the healthy avoid the sick, or try to rationalize why their illness is probably their own fault…deep down inside we all fear becoming one of them.

    Despite knowing in our minds that it isn’t true, our hearts want to believe that we live in an ultimately just world, that good things will come to those who do the right things, and misfortune will fall upon the unworthy.

    In our own minds, “opposing” someone or something puts us on the moral high ground

  31. I wouldn’t say that I’m smug about the unemployed, but at some point I don’t think that you can allow unemployment benefits to continue indefinitely. At this point you can get unemployment for up to 99 weeks – that’s almost 2 years! If you can’t find a job during those two years, I’d have to say that something is definitely wrong. You’re either not trying hard enough, not taking jobs that aren’t up to your “standards” or the benefits you’re getting from the government are adequate to finance your desired lifestyle.

    I’ve seen both sides of the coin on unemployment. I’ve known friends who were just unmotivated to find a job because while their unemployment check wasn’t as much as the check for their day job, it was enough to cover their expenses -and still allow them to stay home and veg out every day. It was enough to allow them to be comfortable (granted he was single and without dependents – and living in a cheap apartment).

    On the other hand there are truly people that need help to cover the gaps while they try to find a job. In many cases, however, I think the people that are truly motivated to find a job often find one in short order. 2 years? That’s more than enough time to find a job.

    1. What’s wrong with 2 years of unemployment? For the first year, we are hopeful to find that optimal job. In the 2nd year of search, we end up taking the suboptimal job if we can’t find something great.

      Your friend who is unmotivated, well there it is. After 99 weeks, he’s DONE! No more lazying around. Now he needs to find something, and that’s what he’s gonna do.

      1. Two years is just too long in my opinion. At some point it stops being a safety net as it’s intended and it becomes a form of welfare. People start thinking that it’s their right not to work – and still collect a check every other week.

        Do I want people to get some help when they’re going through tough times? Sure. Do i want it to continue for 2 years – or longer? I don’t think so – I think 2 years is more than enough time for someone to find a job – 6 months to a year should be more than sufficient.

        At some point having so much time available for unemployment means that there is disincentive to work and no urgency to finding a new job. And I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect others to be responsible for their own welfare – and to find a job no matter how “below them” or deameaning it may be.

        Unemployment is a safety net – not a right. Besides, there are other agencies and charities that fill in the gaps once unemployment runs out. I know this first hand as my parents went through tough times in the past where there was next to nothing coming in – and we had help from social service agencies/food shelves/etc – and we got back on our feet in much less than 2 years!

        1. Society is best served when someone does a job that fits their skills and abilities. If you have a Doctor working at McDonald’s, that’s a net loss to the economy imo. Searching for 2 years to find the ultimate job is not out of the question.

        2. If the person has been responsible and made their own emergency fund that is fine. Otherwise they need to feed themselves so they should go get a job. There is nothing stopping them from looking for the “ultimate job” while they are doing something productive and taking care of themselves.

        3. Hi,

          I see lots of comments that you should just “get a job.” Well, having been laid off during the tech bubble burst in 2001-ish, and being unemployed for the next 51 weeks, I can tell you that’s just rubbish. Seriously. :)

          1) I was an IT professional of 12 years experience at the time.
          2) The jobs that didn’t reply wanted to get cheaper labor than what I was being paid, hence very tough to accept such positions.
          3) The other jobs would all tell me I was “overqualified” which I came to realize was the brush off phrase of that time period.
          4) Yes, I did try to finally apply to restaurants and just anything, and yes I was always “overqualified.”

          Sorry, but when the system works contrary to what you believe it does, then you have these mistaken assessments of reality. Having lived through it already once, I find I can no longer begrudge the unemployed, unless I truly know they are choosing to be that way.

  32. I think saying that “no one” wants to be on unemployment is also a generalization, when the very fact that we have these stereotypes is because there are the few who DO want to be on unemployment and milk it for all it’s worth. Just wanted to point that out…

  33. I think both employed and unemployed workers are pretty darn frustrated these days. As mentioned previously, raises and bonuses are rare anymore, as is appreciation. Where I used to work, many people were laid off so the work could be done by less expensive, overseas workers. It taught the employees that your knowledge base did not matter, but that you were really just considered a monthly ‘cost’. A cost that was way more expensive than in a lot of other regions of the world, so you know you can lose your job at any time too. It is all very demoralizing.

    Regarding the unemployed, I have seen both sides of the coin. I have seen employees that lost their jobs and then ended up doing something they truly love, even if it is for less money. I have seen those that stay on unemployment because they can’t make much more working. I have seen people take advantage of the education benefit that the unemployment office offers and have started whole new careers. The bottom line is, there are many unemployed who are really trying hard to become ‘productive’ citizens, and some are coming out happier than they were before. Others are really struggling and now getting food stamps. But I don’t think anyone wants to be on unemployment.

    1. Good point about the employed being darn frustrated as well. And given there is a high level of frustration with employed folks, they take it out on those unemployed folks who are probably even more frustrated.

      I don’t understand why people actually think people want to be unemployed.

      1. “I don’t understand why people actually think people want to be unemployed.”

        Simple – Motivated Reasoning. It stands to reason that those people who want to be employed are employed, hence, those who are unemployed must want to be that way. You can always work the fry bin at McDonald’s right? Of course, that’s all hogwash, but that’s the bite of motivated reasoning. That’s what “they” say, and you’re emotionally attached to “your” answer, so it all must be the truth, right?


  34. I’ve been unemployed collecting a check and employed at an unhappy job. Neither experience means I would justify GIVING away money for doing nothing. Just because the government spends money they do not have now, in the future or has done so for years will justify more of the same. We do have alternatives to more free money. Telling a generalized sob story about what will happen with the currently unemployed doesn’t prove you are TRULY helping them with more cash.

    1. More free money is a farce. There is no such thing as free money. It comes from someone else’s pocket. Even printing money generates inflation, which erodes buying power for people.

  35. Sadly, I think it’s the abuses of the few that are causing the many unemployed to get a bad rap. Many of my family members and friends own small businesses, and I hear stories about the unemployed looking for work, getting an offer, only to never be heard from again simply because they don’t WANT to get hired. (Same goes for those who work only long enough to be able to go on unemployment again. Yes, people have simply “walked out” before, only to file unemployment claims 2 weeks later.).

    As long as there are gov’t programs to help those in need, there will be those who abuse it, and unfortunately that will create negative stereotypes. Many people genuinely need the help, many people don’t but take it anyway, and many others live off of it. It’s tough to tell who’s who sometimes, but I only hope that the cost to everyone is worth it for those who truly need it.

    Your neighborhood “smug employed person.” :)

    1. Yes, the abuse of some give others a bad wrap, and that’s unfortunate. Therefore, we shouldn’t be so smug to others!

      Good to see you alive and kicking on your blog sabbatical btw!

  36. Mike - Saving Money Today

    I think a lot of those employed people are just lashing out because they’re tired of living on the edge. They may have a job but it may not pay them enough to maintain their lifestyle. Salary increases have been small or non-existant for many workers in recent years, yet the cost of living continues to rise. They’re paying more in property taxes, more at the grocery store, and more at the doctor’s office. They’re living in fear that one more cost increase could put them over the edge. And so the thought of supporting someone else who is out of work through higher taxes sets them off. It’s not always easy to look past your own self-interest and see the big picture.

    1. Would it be safe to say you disagree with the Obama administration raising taxes on Americans in 2011 to help pay for programs such as unemployment and government work projects then?

      1. Mike - Saving Money Today

        My comments weren’t necessarily from my own point of view…just what I see as a reason for so many people resenting unemployment.

        Personally, I wish we didn’t have to pay any taxes but that’s not happening. I am all for programs that help people in need and in fact I think that’s where more of our tax money should be going. But I think there’s so much waste in government that we could do a lot more good while spending less if we could could out all the “pork” but again I don’t see that happening.

        1. Mike - Saving Money Today

          Self interest. They all have their own pet projects that need funding and if they start looking to cut someone else’s wasteful projects then they might see their own cut right along with it.

    2. Mike, I agree that people are living too close to the edge–too close for comfort. They probably fear that they will be unemployed and try to distance themselves from that as much as they can. Often people put down what they fear the most–trying to reassure themelves that it will never happen to them. Unfortunately, when businesses are ready to hire they often don’t want to hire the unemployed. No wonder people fear losing their jobs; it’s like descending into a bottomless pit.

      I wonder if people who are against extended unemployment benefits would be for re-training or re-education programs. That would have to for jobs that actually exist, like in healhty care.

      1. Samurai, I am a liberal and we do see the waste. However, we would need quite a few changes to fix this without harming people. Food stamps for someone who has fallen upon hard times is a good thing, food stamps for people who refuse to work is bad. Now how do we determine which is which?

  37. I try to be a little more balanced. I think it’s horrible for people to be out of work, who want to work.
    And we should always lend a hand to people who need some help.
    But, our government needs to learn the power of priorities, just like we’re learning to do in this bad economy. So, if unemployment compensation is the priority, they have to take it from another part of the budget.
    Where I get smug is the multi0year, multi-generation of welfare abusers, who aren’t even trying to get a job because it interrupts their drug and alcohol binges. I think I found a great place in the budget to fund unemployment comp.

    1. Jon - Free Money Wisdom

      Matt, I agree with you. Although, I don’t get smug, I get disgusted. More government help = more problems. As the proverb goes you “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” The government wants power and they want to encroach more and more into people’s lives. Unfortunately, what many do not realize-or want to realize-is that what the government touches crumbles.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *