Of course, if we followed this guy’s plan and just mailed people checks, we wouldn’t have this crisis in collecting unemployment benefits. But I digress.
Over the last couple of weeks, as new unemployment claims number in the millions and are literally off the charts, there have been a spate of articles and columns about the difficulties many, if not most, people have signing up for unemployment benefits (even if you manage to sign up, there is still a significant delay in receiving the money).
There are several reasons why it’s so hard to get unemployment benefits easily and quickly:
- Updating these systems for the 21st century is expensive. That’s why many systems are still optimized for Internet Explorer. State governments don’t want to or can’t afford to update these systems. Many of the systems are still written in COBOL; others require faxed information.
- Because politicians don’t file for unemployment, most don’t have any experience using the system. When politicians have to use a system, it usually improves, but when they don’t, it usually decays.
- Forty years of crappy ideology don’t help either. Most Republicans and too many Democrats just don’t like unemployment benefits. Moreover, even when they recognize there are circumstances that require unemployment benefits, they are overly concerned with ensuring that the undeserving don’t get benefits. On top of that, there is usually a ton of paternalism added as well, in the form of requirements (have you spent a certain amount of time looking for work–which is a nonsensical requirement in this economy).
The point is none of these ‘features’ are accidental or unexpected. The system, both by structure and design, is supposed to be hard to access–because the ‘undeserving’ are the ones accessing it. Now, millions of Americans, who never thought they would be in this position, get to see what our system is really like.
Meanwhile, in Germany and Canada, it’s possible to receive the government wage subsidies (similar to those in Sanders’ proposal) in a matter of days or hours. That, too, is by design.