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Putting the unemployed to work
by Larry Wilson
Dec 20, 2010 | 719 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
There are millions of Americans out of work and drawing unemployment checks until they are able to find jobs. Some even have run out of unemployment entitlements and are simply penniless and probably homeless.

Many people think that no one should receive any unemployment money at all. If they’re out of work they’re out of luck apparently. These are the true scrooges in our society.

I believe people should get unemployment benefits, but those benefits should come with a payback of sorts. By accepting unemployment benefits society is presuming these people are available for work. If that is true, then they should be able to do work of some kind until they do secure that next job.

Many governmental entities are laying off workers as they no longer are collecting enough revenue to pay them. The jobs these workers were doing simply are not getting done or at least not being done in a timely manner. The one caveat to my plan would be that no unemployed worker would be allowed to work for the same governmental agency that laid them off. A laid off city worker could work for the county or parish, but not the city.

I think the unemployed should be required to do some sort of work for their unemployment benefits. Let’s say a mechanic is unemployed. The various governmental agencies have vehicles needing maintenance, but they had to lay off the mechanics who did the work. Why not require qualified people who are drawing unemployment benefits to work half the day for various governmental agencies doing what they are trained to do and the other one half of the day looking for work?

Every governmental agency has a human resources department. These people could be the ones responsible for scheduling the unemployed to do their half-day work duty. The unemployed would be required to sign in each day. They would be given time off for an unpaid vacation, during which they would still receive their unemployment benefits but no “vacation” pay as such. The unemployed also would receive sick leave without jeopardizing their unemployment benefits.

The naysayers will say that this involuntary servitude. There are those who would say there are liability concerns. Still others would say that the unemployed have no health care.

These unemployed are being paid jobless benefits. In so doing, the unemployed also are saying they are available for work. If they don’t perform for their unemployment they don’t get their benefits. There is no free lunch, ladies and gentlemen.

As to the liability and insurance, the unemployed go to emergency rooms throughout the country if they are sick or injured so that is not an issue. Their medical situations would be handled and I’m sure the various governmental agencies would have their creative imaginations stimulated enough to come up with another plan for less expensive medical coverage.

Government agencies are similar to private businesses with the various departments needed to make them function. I can’t think of a job that couldn’t be performed for government agencies by an unemployed person drawing jobless benefits.

When the government started to receive enough revenue to hire more workers an unemployed person would have every right to apply for the various positions as anyone else. They would not receive preferential treatment for that job because they had performed work for the government. If there was a stipulation that the laid off worker had preference for the job, then so be it.

Another benefit for the unemployed of working for the government is they would be able to stay sharp on their skills and work ethic. If a person has no job skills then training programs like Job Corps could be used to augment their skill levels. While pursuing training, people would still receive their unemployment benefits and not be penalized for having any job skills. If they refuse training or don’t work up to standards then their unemployment benefits could be cut off.

A benefit to governmental agencies would be that the work of the agency would continue to be performed in hopefully a timely manner.

Maybe the biggest benefit to the unemployed worker would be that they would retain a higher level of self-esteem and not just sit around worrying about their future.

Larry Wilson is a 50-year resident of Sparks and a retired elementary school teacher. You can contact him at
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