Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Jobless Benefits Nearly 2 Years Now!

When unemployment compensation extends to 99 weeks, is it time to declare it a "permanent entitlement"?

Millions of Americans have been forced to rely on unemployment payments for extended periods as the nation struggles through its longest period of high joblessness in a generation, and critics are taking aim, saying that the Depression-era program created as a temporary bridge for laid-off workers is turning into an expensive entitlement.

About 11.4 million out-of-work people now collect unemployment compensation, at a cost of $10 billion a month. Half of them have been receiving payments for more than six months, the usual insurance limit. But under multiple extensions enacted by the federal government in response to the downturn, workers can collect the payments for as long as 99 weeks in states with the highest unemployment rates -- the longest period since the program's inception.

Six months is 26 weeks. That was the old measure of what was considered the usual length of time that it would take to find a new job. A modern measurement of how difficult the "Job Creation" situation has become is that we now pay jobless benefits nearly four times as long -- almost a full two years.

And yet we know that there are thousands of unemployed being dropped from the lists of those considered actively looking for work -- a handy statistical tool that allows the administration to claim that the unemployment rate is better than it actually is. How bad is our economy? Look on the labels of practically everything you purchase. If you can find anything "Made in the U.S.A." count yourself lucky.

You can pass all the "Jobs Bills" you want that merely extend unemployment benefits and that will not alter the fact that America produces less and less stuff. It will take a hell of a lot more "Avatars" earning billions to make up for the financial drain, the stuff coming in versus the money flowing out.

How much of this situation is the Progressive drive to kill off the free enterprise system through a combination of weakening the dollar, preventing the use of American resources (especially energy), and the aggressive push for "globalization" is fodder for thought and I will let you do your own pondering.

But until Washington realizes that it cannot create real "stuff producing" jobs, and that it can only impede the real economy unless it decides to get out of the way, there is no reason for optimism.

Worse, turning over one-sixth of our economy (health care) for federal bureaucrats is not going to help one little bit. It will be the straw that breaks the back of the economic camel.

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