Garrett Hoelscher says that paying people not to work causes more harm than good.
Imagine, says Garrett Hoelscher, a world where the unemployed were given free on-the-job training and encouraged and freely given the opportunity to look for another position. In this world, the most basic needs of our country could be met at effectively no cost to the American taxpayer. Roads and bridges would undergo repair in a timely manner, city parks would be kept clean, and countless government projects would be fully staffed, all the time. Garrett Hoelscher says this utopian idealism could be a reality if our leaders would stop paying people not to work and instead subsidize certain industries to hire workers who had experienced a layoff.
According to Garrett Hoelscher, the current unemployment system actually encourages many recipients to remain jobless. Suppose, says Garrett Hoelscher, that a person makes $10 an hour. His or her take home pay is approximately $7.50 an hour after all taxes are paid. This person must buy clothes for the job, furnish gas for a vehicle, and spend precious time commuting. Garrett Hoelscher says that these things add up and can put an individual at a net pay rate of $5 or less.
Unemployment pays approximately 55% of the worker’s hourly rate, netting him or her $5.5 an hour without ever leaving home, Garrett Hoelscher points out. What reason then does this worker have for seeking employment? It is estimated that 1/3 of the individuals counted in unemployment numbers are those who do not have the responsibility of a family to care for and may easily be able to maintain their lifestyle on unemployment wages with one major difference – they have more leisure time. Garrett Hoelscher also notes that continued qualification in the unemployment program does require that the individual is looking for work. Currently, however, there is no verification process, leaving the U.S. Government to rely on the honesty of those they are paying not to work.
Additionally, Garrett Hoelscher reports that other government programs working in conjunction with unemployment contribute to the problem. Many unemployed are eligible for food stamps or cash assistance. A number of these persons simply withdraw themselves from the workforce pool yet continue to “verify” they are seeking gainful employment weekly. Another issue is that these “jobseekers” are allowed to refuse employment if they consider it below their standards.
Garrett Hoelscher proposes that the United States terminate the current system and instead use taxpayer resources to ensure menial but important tasks are completed. This accomplishes two things: It uses taxpayer funds to assist individuals in learning a new trade if opportunities are unavailable in their profession and it regulates the unemployment system by ensuring those who are supposed to be seeking work are at least performing a service to the community that is supporting them financially. According to Garrett Hoelscher, the idea that the government should be paying the jobless to accomplish something in exchange for their wages is a common sense notion. If these beneficiaries were required to participate in the labor force as a condition of their receiving unemployment, many tasks would get accomplished with money that would otherwise be spend allowing these persons to do nothing, concludes Hoelscher.