Vomit: What’s (not) Great About Unemployment Insurance

I was surfing around looking at stuff when I came across Penelope Trunk’s Brazen Careerist website.  This is a site where all kinds of people blog about Gen Y job search and career management issues.  I found a post called 10 Things To Do When You Are Unemployed, and thought “I’ll check that out, I’ve written about that stuff before.”

The first line just about made me puke:

I am lucky enough to be able to survive quite comfortably with the unemployment checks that come in every week.

Oh my gosh.  Did Joshua really just admit that he is thrilled to be living on the dole???  He goes on to say that he had a tough job at a hotel, and needed to take a break.  His words: “I have taken the time off to do the things I love to do.

You have taken time off?  Dude, you are about to lay out 10 things that you are doing while the Government (I mean, my) tax dollars pay you to just chill out.

Fortunately, in the comments there are a number of people who say “shouldn’t GET A JOB! be #1 on your list?


But you know what?  This is the system, and it’s easy to find loopholes and opportunities for abuse.

Later, in one of his comments Joshua writes:

I was lucky enough to be prepared for lay-off and saved enough money throughout my jobs. I was always told by my parents, “jobs are never secure. Always be prepared for downsizing or a lay-off. Save as much as you can and you won’t regret it.” I am not trying to brag, but why am I being faulted for being financially responsible?


Because you said “I am lucky enough to be able to survive quite comfortably with the unemployment checks that come in every week.

What that says to me is “I’m living off of your (tax) money. Have fun, sucka!”

Viva la dole!

16 thoughts on “Vomit: What’s (not) Great About Unemployment Insurance”

  1. Okay, I had to go read the article. And with your warning, I made it past the first line. I didn’t have a problem with #1 being “Build a business” instead of “look for a job.” As an entrepreneur, I am completely behind that. I was even willing to (maybe) go along with #2 Travel. But he lost me at #3 Have More Sex. Not that I mind sex, but when “look for a job” didn’t even make the list, I have to wonder about his priorities.

  2. Great post. Unbelievable that people put such little thought into something, BEFORE they write it for all the world to see. If I ever do something that stupid, I hope someone like you is there to call me out.

  3. I am not going to go read the original post because I am already more familiar than I want to be with Penelope Trunk and I already know that I dislike Brazen Careerist fairly intensely. (I do not think it is at all representative of Gen Y, by the way. It is simply Ms. Trunk’s latest method of moving investors’ money from their pockets to either her own or the trash. Check out her own blog for the backstory.) Anyway, I just wanted to point out that unemployment checks are not “the dole” and are not funded in any straightforward sense by “our” tax money. From ‘Policy Basics: Introduction to Unemployment Insurance’ by the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities, 10 November 2003 (www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=1466): “The unemployment insurance system is funded by taxes paid by employers on behalf of their employees…. While both the federal and state taxes are technically paid by employers (although in a few states, the employee pays part of the state tax), economists generally regard the tax as falling on employees. The theory behind this is that the dollars employers use to pay the tax are part of overall compensation costs, and would otherwise have gone into employees’ paychecks.” Furthermore, unemployment checks are typically quite inadequate. In reality, the young man in question is living on his savings and whatever he is being paid by gigs like writing for the Brazen Careerist. The attitude he displays may be his in truth, but even if not, it is certainly the kind of cocky nonsense that Ms. Trunk and the Brazen Careerist prefer. The Brazen Careerist is really a sort of tabloid (which would make Penelope Trunk a Rupert Murdoch wannabe, which would make sense).

  4. Are we merely enjoying the sin of judgment on this blog or are we actually posting articles that contribute to helping people with their job search. Maybe some think its helpful to point out others failings just for the sake of feeling superior but if there is no lesson other than “we’re better than that person” it’s not helpful to anyone and it’s actually destructive to anyone who smugly makes the judgment and anyone who joins in judging.

    I love the informative articles on this blog but find these judgmental rants in very poor taste.

  5. @Gary – um, I guess we’ll enjoy the sin of judgement. Hello. This is my blog, I can write whatever I want. Just like anyone else, including you on your blog.

    I’m taking a position on something that is illegal, or at least unethical. Anything wrong with that? I’ll follow up with a post about the other side of UI later.

    With regard to “posting articles that contribute to helping people with their job search,” I’ve been doing that for the last three years. I’m not going to write another 7 things you should do post, it’s been done a gazillion times. There’s plenty of information. I’m using my blog as a communication tool to things that are on my mind and sometimes that’s not a 7 things post… sometimes it’s taking a stance on morals and ethics.

    @Helen – great points – I agree that UI is NOT the dole… I wrote that tongue-in-cheek because it seems that is how this guy is using it. As mentioned, I’ll write another post on the positives of UI.

  6. I am always a bit mistified as to why people think that living off unemployment is a good thing, but let me throw another fly into the ointment. I am of a group that aren’t eligible for unemployment because my former employer doesn’t pay into it. I am not faulting them; they are exempt, but for those who are in my situation (and that would of course include self-employed people as well, I believe) finding someone who is taking it as an opportunity to “take a break” is a bit disheartening.

    Unemployment insurance used to be used as a bridge to “get you by” until the next opportunity came along, or so I am to believe. It was not designed for those who “just need a break” or for those unwilling to work anymore but for those who need it.

    When does real satisfaction from a job well done come into play? When does accepting help when it is needed, not when it is convenient, have the opportunity to be monitored? If you can work (and are looking for work) or can’t work then I have no problem with accepting help. When it is used just for a personal break, then it seems to smack of injustice.

  7. Hi Jason,
    Perhaps one could say the same thing about that older busisness associate of yours who retired on Social Security; they are living on the “dole” also. Maybe we should get rid of Social Security and give the money to those well-qualified executives on Wall Street who have really worked hard out on the golf course, do you suppose??

  8. @Juli – I have a feeling #3 is more about a Brazen Careerist theme (to get more search engine results) than anything else…

    @Maile – I’ve thought a lot about his post and mine since I read his, and my thought is that what he wrote isn’t necessarily bad… but it certainly should have been reworded in a way that says “I’m in a job search, and starting a business… and I have some extra time and a need to do some stuff I’ve neglected when I had my job. Here’s the list…” That way his statement isn’t going to come across as brash… just my opinion.

    @Helen – just read your very thoughtful comment again – I agree with everything you said about BC, PT and UI! Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    @Barry – very intersting dynamic, I hadn’t thought about that with regard to UI and those ineligible.

    @John – interesting analogy but it seems the purpose of SS is quite different than the purpose of UI.

    I’m not against the government helping.

    I’m not against people paying into a system and then getting money back out when they need it (or, qualify).

    I’m not even against people who might not even deserve it but definitely need it getting help.

    I’m not against SS, and I definitely hope it’s around so when I retire I can count on a couple thousand bucks a month, or whatever the amount is, based on what I paid into the system. Whether it’s around or not is up in the air, isn’t it?

    I don’t liken UI OR SS to “the dole” (my reference to it above was not meant to say that all UI is DOLE, rather, the way this guy wrote his post, it seems like he’s living fat off of the gov’t – I mean, me).

    You lost me at the wall street execs…

  9. Whoa, whoa, whoa, and furthermore, whoa.

    I was laid off in January and have been searching for a job ever since. However, because training professionals are usually cut first in this economy, I have a lot of equally talented competition out there. I am now on my extended federal benefits, and I make no apologies for it.

    Companies pay into unemployment. When they cut my job and others’, they knew that we would be applying for unemployment. The laws surrounding unemployment require all of us to apply for at least 2 positions per week.

    I don’t love being on unemployment, but I can’t deny the benefits of having this time off to work on things that I put on the backburner before, namely, my physical health. I would choose to go to work everyday, but in the meantime, yes I am enjoying the mental, physical, and emotional break. I recognize that this is one of the few times in life I will have this amount of time off. Just because I’m not sobbing into an alcoholic beverage doesn’t mean I’m a bad person.

  10. Like Lawgirl, I’m on extended Federal benefits. I’ve been searching for a year. The competition is heavy for the few Recruiter jobs that are being filled. I don’t love being on unemployment either. Lots of misconceptions about UI (unemployment insurance). So Joshua is “living quite comfortably” on UI. Unlikely. But he is doing a good job of making a mockery of the system and in the meantime anonymously making himself and possibly his generation look bad. I thank God every day my two Gen Y kids are employed and their thinking is not like that of Joshua. But then, if they did think like that I’d have to go all Bill Cosby on them and say, “I brought you into this world, I can take you out!”.

  11. I agree with the use of the word “dole”. UI was designed to help people from sinking while they find a new job. That makes sense. It was not meant to give anyone a subsidized vacation. If you are on UI you should be working diligently to find a new job or to create another stream of income. If you are doing the bare minimum of applying for 2 jobs a week (don’t overexert yourself on the 30 minutes that takes) you are on the dole.

  12. @ Rand: If you’ll reread my comment without the dripping sarcasm, judgment and disgust you applied to it the first time, you will see I said “at least.” What that meant, since you seemed unable to understand it, is that by law you have to be applying for jobs. Most people apply for as many as possible, not just two.

    Now, back to your ivory tower!!

  13. @ Lawgirl: Sorry, I do not have an ivory tower. Rather, I have built a company that employs people. If I lose my job, I do not get UI – as a business owner, I do not qualify, but I still have to pay UI taxes on myself. I am happy if those taxes go to people who are using them to keep themselves afloat while working full time at getting a new job. I am less than impressed when my taxes are a vacation subsidy.

    While this may upset you, my post was directed to the general discussion and not to your post specifically. I did, however, appreciate the lack of civility and ad hominem attacks. Apparently I hit a nerve.

  14. Hi All,

    I have read these comments with interest because I have a family member struggling to find work and who is not eligible for unemployment benefits due to working as a freelancer. The situation is not to be taken lightly in this or any other downturned economy and I see so many of your responses realize that. I have a question that perhaps someone out there can answer…Is there ever a case when someone like a freelancer without work for an extended period of time actually can collect some kind of monetary assistance? Freelancers pay all their taxes. Do some freelancers also pay their own unemployment tax into the system so they can collect benefits at a later date? I would love some clarification so I can help my family. Thanks a lot.

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