I want to share a story this week with all of you. Four years ago in 2009, I was laid off after working 20 years in several different positions continuously not to count the three summers I worked while in college. As many of you know, I'm a magician as well as an IT professional and I have been performing magic shows on the side at least up until the economy tanked four years ago. Most of my entertainer friends are still struggling to make ends meet, but fortunately my IT background has paid off in that I was able to find work again.
Enter the unemployment insurance which for the most part I was grateful to have, but I have to admit, it is nothing that I expected. First, I have paid into that fund for 23 years every paycheck with the understanding that it would be there when I needed it. Second, my business for the last 20 years has been above board and officially registered and when I was laid off, it was declared when I opened my claim. This is important.
Now here is the rub. So I file for unemployment and discover that while I have been paying this insurance for 20 plus years (and I know I'm not alone), there is a cap on the benefit which effectively cuts my pay in half because I'm not at or below the poverty level. So I've been paying forced premiums to the government for something that is undervaluing my income, and the one time I need it, it was nowhere near the level that I would have expected. I can accept this.
What I cannot accept though is the rest of the painful truth. This annoys me and it really made me quite upset. First, the rules that govern unemployment are rigged to encourage laziness and lack of initiative. Why you may I ask? You might be saying to yourself, "but they make you go out and apply for jobs? How could that encourage laziness?" I am probably in the minority today, but I actually wanted to show initiative and here is where my gripe is.
My side business of writing makes a few dollars a month not a lot. In fact the government decided that based on my returns that year, my side business generated $10 every two weeks. Now, I'm unemployed from my full-time job, and my unemployment benefit was already maxed out at least 50 percent below what my income was, so what does the law require? It forces the unemployment agency to DOCK me that whole $10 biweekly because my estimated side business income was $20 a month. So to add insult to injury, not only was my normal benefit way below what I was paying a premium to maintain, but now the government doesn't want to pay me the $10 every two weeks because they figured that was what my business was worth.
The frustration grows because I wanted to push my business while I was looking for a job meaning
I wanted to work TWO jobs. To do so, I wanted to convert my business organization to a limited liability corporation to protect the personal liability while doing my side business. I was told I was not allowed to collect benefits while forming a new entity. I pointed out it wasn't a new entity, it was the existing business I reported when I opened my claim. I just wanted to up the level of personal protection by converting its business structure. I was told again, no. You cannot form a new business. I said, "It's not a new business. It is the same business I opened in 1991. I just want to reorganize it and continue to operate." Again I was told no.
Here is what is frustrating to me. Jobs are few and far between regardless of what those irresponsible politicians in Washington say. One would think that the government would want to get us off unemployment and back to work as soon as possible. If one wants to work their own business while searching for a job, why is that an issue? My side business would never have prevented me from applying anywhere and for the record it did not. After almost a year I did find another job, but my family would have had a much easier time if I had been allowed to work in my side business while I looked. Like so many of you, I have been working two jobs for the last 10 years so that would not have changed while I was unemployed.
The government claims they want people to work, but their regulations and actions say something different. What I learned that summer was don't show initiative. Don't think outside the box. And for goodness sake, do not attempt to work unless it is for someone else.
It would be a better system if the government encouraged entrepreneurship, cut the regulations that is killing small business and encouraged people to be self -sufficient. Of course the danger is that it also divorces people from their dependence on the political hacks that run this country. The rules are not made for those who show initiative. No wonder this country is in the toilet. Politicians and bureaucrats are doing everything they can to flush us.
This over regulation has to stop. As I wrote eight years ago, time is running out if not gone already.
The worst is yet to come. We can stop it still, but it requires voting these people out of office and those that fail to lead in the future. Our political leaders need to be reminded they work for us and we are not their subjects. Otherwise, welcome back to feudal Europe. My how we come full circle.
Til next time…