Saturday, December 31, 2011

Entitlement and the Victimization Syndrome

Two of the most common problems facing our society in the United States, are the twin concepts of entitlement and the victimization syndrome. Overwhelmingly people believe that they are "entitled." Whatever it is they want, they are entitled to it. For example, this year one of the big issues with the U.S. Congress was the extension of unemployment benefits payments. With over 5 million workers unemployed for over a year or more, the length of time that unemployment benefits payments were to continue became a political football. Unemployment insurance is a federal-state program jointly financed through federal and state employer payroll taxes. This type of payment originated in 1932 in Wisconsin. See Wikipedia:Unemployment benefits. The maximum period for most states is 26 weeks. But lately, this time period has been extended throught Temporary Extended Unemployment Compensation (TEUC) program which provides extra weeks of federally-funded unemployment benefits to unemployed workers throughout the country who have received all regular unemployment benefits available to them. See United States Department of Labor. This is essentially a social welfare program. Because of the last minute dealing in Congress, the benefits now extend from 34 to 53 weeks. See Unemployment Extension in

Through the concept of entitlement, a program that was supposed to be temporary assistance to the unemployed has now become a long-term social welfare program to which a segment of the population has become entitled. The program does provide welfare relieve in the nature of a dole, but does nothing to improve skills, provide jobs or re-train the unemployed for the jobs that are available.

We have people who are really suffering from a lack to work opportunities. But at the same time, our country and the world at large is in the midst of a dramatic revolution in the way people work. We are quickly becoming a technology based society.

Even though I have a job, I am technically self-employed. The minute I stop working, I stop making money. There is no one paying me to look for work because technically I cannot lose my job since I work for myself. It would not matter how desperate my plight, I would not qualify for unemployment. But if I fire one of my employees, they are likely eligible for unemployment insurance payments.  In addition, the unemployed are treated as victims. It is not their "fault" that they cannot find work. It is the fault of our economy or society or whatever. Because they are unemployed, they are entitled to a job and therefore as victims they must be compensated even if they do no work. Anyone who opposed the extension of benefits was heartless and blind to the suffering of the unemployed.

It is interesting that one of the areas of unemployment that continues to trend down is state and local governments. See Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, News Release December 2, 2011. In other words, the government is taking money out one pocket and putting it in another. The loss of Federal jobs was lead by the U.S. Postal Service, which is not surprising given the competition. If you read the statistics and the explanation carefully, you will see that if I am self-employed and have no work, I am counted as part of the unemployed but I cannot get unemployment benefits. But because of the idea of entitlement, of course there are other government programs that I can use to get the welfare I am entitled to.

What ever happened to self-reliance and personal responsibility?

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