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Richard Rider

Almost everyone who received pandemic unemployment benefits is now a criminal

Government programs — especially giveaway programs — are notorious for poor management and lax oversight. There are few incentives for government “public servants” to ensure the legitimacy of need for recipients.  Indeed, giving away more taxpayer money results in a bigger agency operational budget and higher pay for supervisors.

But with the coming of the pandemic, federal and state unemployment agencies have outdone themselves.  Incompetence and massive theft have risen to breathtaking levels.  The mindboggling bill for this widespread fraud will go to American taxpayers and to our progeny (via the soaring national debt and the accompanying inflation).

The history of unemployment benefits has always been anti-employment. It’s amazing how many people would magically find a job the very week that their unemployment benefits ran out.  This has been going on for decades.

The lesson is obvious — if you pay people generous unemployment benefits, you’ll have more unemployment.  You literally get what you pay for.

Unemployment “eligibility” is established by state agencies.  The feds simply piggybacked their giveaway on state payments. The state politicians had every incentive to pay out benefits to as many people as possible, because the far larger federal windfall would flood the state with “stimulus” money that otherwise might go to other states.

Let’s start with massive theft by actual thieves.  Billions and billions of unemployment benefits were paid to California prisoners (and probably billions more to prisoners nationwide) — dishonest folks who spotted the easy money and went after it with gusto.  Without any state watchdog oversight, the money was gleefully paid out by Sacramento bureaucrats.

An even far larger fraud is now coming to light — international online thieves filed massive bogus, unchecked unemployment claims. The amount they’ve stolen is huge but unknown.  One questionable analysis in Forbes claims the federal cost comes to as much as $400 billion — half of all federal benefits paid out.  I’m pretty sure it’s less. But no one knows yet for sure.

It appears that most of those stolen federal funds went to international crime syndicates.  That can’t be good.

BTW, the federal government is still using COBOL — a computer language I studied in 1967 while in college.  These days this deeply flawed programming language is easily hacked, and terribly inefficient.  Most states switched their unemployment operations out of COBOL to far more efficient computer languages in the 1980’s.

I’m aware of only ONE state that is still using this ancient computer code. Need I name the state?

But I digress.  Last but not least, we come to the millions and millions of Americans who are now criminals, thanks to our runaway “free money” policies.

When the pandemic hit, everyone panicked.  The DC politicians (including President Trump, the GOP and the Democrats), chose to support an unemployment program that provided super-generous benefits (combined with state unemployment).  The only dispute between Democrats and Republicans was who could give away the most money.

One result: For low to middle income Americans — and especially part-time workers, they ended up making more AFTER they were laid off from their jobs.  A part-time worker who made $16K annually before they were laid off would now receive about $32K in California — without payroll deductions such as social security.

Okay, okay — it was the panic of the moment.  But two problems quickly emerged:
1.  Most states were ill-prepared to dispense money to so many people.
2.  There was next to zero effort to check the unemployment applications.

Honest people who initially filed for their unemployment benefits soon realized what a sweet deal they were getting. As a result, very few blue collar workers sought employment.  Indeed, too often they REFUSED to come back to work, so they could keep getting the free stuff. Moreover, more and more recognized the advantage of working off the books — unreported earned income PLUS free cash from government.

The law on unemployment requires recipients to continuously seek employment, or to be actively learning a new trade.  While the law was not enforced during this madness, this job search requirement was and is the law.  There are literally MILLIONS of job openings, while millions choose to remain unemployed.

That means that over time, just about everyone receiving unemployment these past 16 months was not seeking a job — at least for several months when jobs were readily available.  And that is a criminal violation. Most lied on their “update” applications, and state bureaucrats understood it was a lie — but no one cared.

Few if any unemployed individuals will be charged for this fraud. After all, the government FACILITATED and ENCOURAGED this massive filing of false claims.

We ALL know such criminals.  They are our friends, our family, our church members, our former co-workers — and perhaps even OURSELVES.  We don’t for a moment think of such fraud as a crime, but it is.  Just because a law is not enforced does not mean the forbidden act is now legal.

Both millions of employees AND employers are now part of a crime wave that no one is willing to put an end to.  It’s a crime against our nation’s children, and their children, and their children, etc.  Our progeny are the ones who will be stuck with paying the annual interest on the national debt — forever.  It’s also guaranteed to be reflected in higher rates of inflation — which EVERYONE pays for.

Soooo, what have Americans learned from the pandemic?  The number one lesson today is that, more and more, it pays not to work. Or at least to work in the legal economy.

BTW, this new mentality is laying the groundwork for a Universal Basic Income (UBI) — income paid to perhaps 80% of adults regardless whether or not they choose to work.  Like all such programs, the initial monthly payment will be rather modest, but will grow over time. It will be the new “entitlement.”  No one has a clue how to pay for this.

But again I digress.  Of course, the solution to this crime wave is so simple, it hardly bears putting it in print.  But here it is — STOP PAYING PEOPLE NOT TO WORK.  TODAY!

Sadly, neither major political party wants to be ones to cut off this incredibly harmful anti-American addictive drug we call “unemployment insurance” or “stimulus.”  And even more sadly, apparently the American voters don’t want it to end.  I find this widespread mentality to be more than just unsettling.