Why work, when unemployment pays better and is more fun?


I had to stop myself gritting my teeth in frustration when reading this article.

Early in the Covid-19 pandemic, Melissa Anderson laid off all three full-time employees of her jewelry-making company, Silver Chest Creations in Burkesville, Ky. She tried to rehire one of them in September and another in January as business recovered, but they refused to come back, she says. “They’re not looking for work.”

Sierra Pacific Industries, which manufactures doors, windows, and millwork, is so desperate to fill openings that it’s offering hiring bonuses of up to $1,500 at its factories in California, Washington, and Wisconsin. In rural Northern California, the Red Bluff Job Training Center is trying to lure young people with extra-large pizzas in the hope that some who stop by can be persuaded to fill out a job application. “We’re trying to get inside their head and help them find employment. Businesses would be so eager to train them,” says Kathy Garcia, the business services and marketing manager. “There are absolutely no job seekers.”

. . .

There’s some evidence for the conservative argument that generous unemployment benefits discourage people from seeking work. Anderson, the jewelry maker, says her ex-employees told her they preferred to stay unemployed—even though you’re not supposed to collect jobless benefits if you’re turning down work. The American Rescue Plan that Congress approved last month provides an extra $300 a week in jobless benefits through Sept. 6. “There still will be some people who say, ‘I’m glad to take my $300 to $400 a week and stay home, rather than go out and work and earn $500 a week,’” BTIG LLC analyst Peter Saleh, who covers the restaurant industry, told Bloomberg in March.

. . .

Plus, some would-be workers may have lost their gumption. “I’m worried that after all this time that’s gone by, it’s going to be very hard for a lot of people to come back full time. It’s just asking an energy level that people haven’t had in a while,” says Garcia, the job counselor in California. She says a full-time job “used to be the gold standard,” but now employers are parceling out the work into part-time jobs to lure applicants.

Alienation from work is most common among the young. A Pew Research Center survey in October found that 53% of those ages 18 to 29 who are working remotely because of Covid said it was difficult for them to feel motivated to perform their duties. Only 20% of those 50 and older said the same.

On the social network Reddit, which skews young, a forum called r/antiwork has 264,000 members. It’s filled with comments such as: “You’re telling me I have to enslave myself to all these applications for hours on end, competing with my fellow man and woman, giving up my dignity just for a chance to enslave myself further so I don’t literally die? I’m not having it.” One Redditor posted a video of a home computer’s mouse that’s connected to a swiveling fan so it slides back and forth, making it appear the person is working.

There’s more at the link.

Dare I say that the problem is, people today aren’t raised with a work ethic?  My father started us young.  From the age that we were able to understand money and basic math, we had to earn our pocket money every week.  He “paid” us five cents for every year of our age (which, back then, was actually worth something).  Each of us had domestic chores to accomplish – mine were things like washing the dog, mowing the lawn (after removing canine land-mines), washing the car, and so on.  I could earn extra by doing extra chores.  Every time one of my chores wasn’t done, or done satisfactorily, Dad would deduct a “fine” from my pocket-money.  It didn’t take long for me to figure out that if I wanted money, I had to earn it!

The same went for my higher education.  My parents retired soon after I entered military service.  Dad and Mom made it clear that while they would help where they could, they couldn’t afford to pay my way through full-time university studies.  No problem – I completed my university qualifications through correspondence studies, and paid for them out of my earnings.  It took me ten years to complete my first degree (I was being called up periodically to fight a war, as well as working in the civilian world and dealing with major civil unrest, all of which were more than a little disrupting to my studies), but I got it in the end, followed by three more part-time and correspondence university qualifications.  I daresay my lack of full-time college experience didn’t do me any harm, and saved me a heck of a lot of money.  I also learned the value of time management and hard work.  If I didn’t get them right, I didn’t pass my assignments or exams.  Failure can be a salutary lesson!

Thus, when I read comments like those above from unemployed people who don’t want to go back to work, or Redditors who don’t want to “[give] up my dignity just for a chance to enslave myself further” . . . I find them infuriating.  How is it possible that these people have never learned the reality of employment?  The Biblical standard is and remains, “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food“, and “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat“.  What makes these entitled idiots think that anything’s changed?  When their benefits run out, and employers who’ve tried (and failed) to get them to come back to work find them applying for jobs once more, why should they take them back when they’ve already demonstrated their contempt for the work ethic?

I don’t know.  Maybe I’m just out of touch with the modern generation . . . but I suspect I’m rather more in touch than they are with cold, hard economic reality.



  1. It’s funny that those who don’t want to be enslaved by a job still expect the benefits of an income.

  2. All they need to do is move to Oakland, and self-identify as a POS (I mean POC) and collect the "Universal" Income.

  3. Peter,

    Work ethic is predicated on control of your own life. A majority of young people have grown up in a world where they are ignorant of the control they could have over their life. They didn't get it from their parents, school, or government. Those desired to control them, as it was easier and more profitable. Ignorance of debt is equally dangerous, and one step down that road will lock them down into that cycle.

    When payment of debt becomes a moral issue, when submission to law becomes a moral issue, most people want to be moral and will end up like the Caryatid under the Stone. To exit that system you have accept shame and privation.

    Your experience is not the guide to judge young people today. Africa in your time periods might as well be an alien planet for the concepts involved.

    I make allowance for ignorance with young people. They have been deliberately crippled in their minds. Guilt and shame heaped upon them that they don't even know they can reject. Fed upon by any kind of lender who knows a juicy rabbit on sight.
    Control systems layered on them to the point where they accept the tyranny of the mask or the tweet.

    Ultimately they don't know what they don't know. Look back through all your blog postings about propaganda, manipulation, conditioning, technology, et al. That has been applied to them. Your post here is another layer of guilt and shame for them. There will be a break point when there's nothing left to lose. They're far closer to that than you are. They don't have your considerable body of skills or even knowledge of what is possible!

    As a digression there's a reason so many antifa pros were sex offenders. There is no future for those guys. They have nothing to lose. They have no more fear. That's why they are effective, and we're gonna see it again, worse, next month.

    I understand the "Enjoy the Decline" crowd. They can't see themselves in a future, so why bother? That's not your view, and I'm not sure you are even capable of considering a future that does not involve you or your offspring! You have hope. They do not.

    That's why I don't point the finger at them, but rather those that crippled them and feed upon them. It's a huge penalty to come back from just to get to a zero based starting point.

  4. What makes these entitled idiots think that anything's changed?

    Things have changed — Liberals

  5. I think this is exposing the fundamental flaw in our economy that so many people are now long term in jobs at poverty wages. The gutting of the middle class into folks barely scraping by and the elites.

  6. it's not $300-400 per week on unemplyment, it's an extra $300-400 per week on top of the prior unemployment benefits, so more like $700+ per week.

  7. What happened to the work ethic? It got downsized. Or right-sized. Or put on zero-hours contract. Or made redundant. Or flogged off to pay the CEO another bonus. Or outsourced to China. Businesses don't care about their employees; they're "human resources" at best, and disposable pawns at normal. More and more people are waking up to this. Loyalty is a two-way street.

    1. Another site at the company I work for laid off roughly 50% of their workforce at the start of the pandemic (their business relied on aerospace heavily). Things have picked back up for them and now they're hiring again. HR said great, let's call some people back to work. Management said, nah we don't want those people anyway.

  8. It's $600-700 guaranteed weekly, with free housing (no evictions, remember?) and left-controlled cities are also subsidizing utilities.

    And often the same cities that subsidize utilities are also handing out free food or food-commodities.

    One wonders, where does all that money come from?

  9. 11 years ago I was laid off from a job and began collecting unemployment "benefits." If one assumed a 40-hour week, then said benefits were a little over $13/hour.

    Also assuming cost-of-living increases, I'm sure that it would be over $14 an hour now, plus there's the additional $300 a week on there right now which is another $7.50/hr….

    So yeah, they're making about $22/hour on unemployment right now, or about $45,000/yr. And all they gotta do is say on a form they submit each week that yes, they're still looking for work, and no one checks.

    I can see why they'd want to keep that instead of going back to work for $12/hour or whatever.

  10. Sloth is definitely an issue here, but so is the alienating nature of modern jobs, greatly exacerbated by the lockdowns. It is extremely unrealistic to expect a young person to stay motivated throughout the day while siting at home, often alone, manipulating symbols on a screen. Work has never been pleasant but the past year has brought into sharp relief the meaningless nature of most office jobs, which create nothing of real value and are basically superfluous. And thanks to the Great Panic, which was engineered by their elders, young office workers in the big cities are now deprived of the company of their coworkers, which is often the only pleasant and motivating aspect of their jobs, aside of course from getting paid. And if the government (thanks to laws passed by their elders) will pay them for not working, why should they work? Incentives matter.

  11. Worth noting is that there have always been people who regard those who actually work as suckers, and I suspect that r/antiwork is basically made up of those people. As to why there are so many people on it, well, there's a lot more people with internet access these days.

  12. Entitled. That's the problem. The schools are teaching trash and teaching them everyone is entitled to everything for nothing.

    And the unrealistic unemployment entitlements don't help either, as you noted.

  13. Sir,
    You mention that you wonder what these people will do when their benefits run out and employers have already been shown the depth of their contempt…

    This presumes that the benefits run out in the first place.

    Check six: The UBI is almost here.

  14. "One Redditor posted a video of a home computer’s mouse that’s connected to a swiveling fan so it slides back and forth, making it appear the person is working."

    Only fucking Millennials.

  15. Yep that's the problem with "kids theae days".
    It's not a problem that the youth are raised in broken homes with absent parents.
    It's not a problem that the youth have been lobotomized by marxist indoctrination schools.
    It's not a problem that the youth were forced into higher "education " that taught them nothing and enslaved them to a lifetime of debtor servitude.
    It's not a problem that you boomers sent all the jobs you could overseas and wrecked the jobs you couldn't export with unlimited immigration for low skill and h1b for high skill positions.
    It's not a problem that you inflated the currency to worthlessness, making our meager wages from terrible jobs have a fraction of the purchasing power that you had.
    It's not a problem that you've bubbled the housing market to a level that precludes the young from home ownership.
    No, the problem is the work ethic of the youth. Why won't these darn lazy kids get off their butts and report to the soul-killing make work wage slave jobs to earn 1/4 what they should be earning before driving their neutered econocars through the savage-filled wastelands where cities used to flourish to get back to their 200 square foot plastic life pods?

    Yeah the kids are messed up. Do you blame the child or the parent who raised them?

  16. The issue isn't that people are lazy or lack worth ethic. The issue is people can do math, and like Magson said above, $45k/year for staying home is a strong incentive to stay home. Many people don't make $22/hr working, and have no interest in going back to work for a smaller net at the end of the week.

    Add on top of that a lot of more motivated folks are doing that plus some cash on the side stuff and you would have to be an idiot to go back to a full time job that takes all your time AND still pays less money than staying home.

    Start to rein in the out of control entitlement payments and you will see people start to go back to work. Cap the "bonus" benefit total to the same as a full-time paycheck from before, and then start to enforce the rules on stopping payments to people refusing to go back to work.

  17. A local industrial plant has numerous openings available…livable wage and benefits…no one they can find can pass a piss test.

  18. You are all missing the true problem. There is a pit of time worked in a week that results in less money than unemployment and the $300 "free" money.

    An example: You work at $20 an hour, and get $250 a week in regular unemployment. In California, 75% of your wages reduce the amount of unemployment paid. When you work 17 hours and make $340, your benefits reduce to zero, and no longer qualify for the $300.

    Working half time 20 hours a week brings in $400 gross. Less social security taxes of almost 10% nets about $360 a week. Unemployment benefits would be $550. Working half time means you lose almost $200 a week. 30 hours a week means $600, less the 10%, around $540, so you work 30 hours a week, pay for transportation, child care, and lose money. Working full time,only brings in $800 a week,so your working full time for about $2 an hour. Does that make economic sense? So unless you get a reliable full time, all the time job, making big bucks, why work?

    So gaming the system, and working under the table, seems to pay off big time. Of course once you start cheating, you are vulnerable to exposure, the same way illegals are. You can't protest abuse, because you are now vulnerable. Who do you complain to when your "employer" doesn't pay you, when you "didn't" work.

    The system relies of us being honest. We are being paid to lie. This does not end well.

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