It seems that even when you’re rich, you never can have enough money coming in regularly. Bloomberg.com recently reported that when the recession hit in 2008,
“According to U.S. Internal Revenue Service data, 2,840 households reporting at least $1 million in income on their tax returns that year also collected a total of $18.6 million in jobless aid. They included 806 taxpayers with incomes over $2 million and 17 with incomes in excess of $10 million. In all, multimillionaires reported receiving $5.2 million in jobless benefits.”
If you’re asking yourself whether or not the nearly 3,000 upper class households who received unemployment compensation were entitled to it, well, let the record show that of course they were. “Because unemployment benefits are insurance, funded with taxes paid by employers, the program isn’t need-based like welfare.” But a few questions come to mind after reading about the jobless claims of 3,000 millionaires.
For one, if I was reporting over a million dollars in income on my taxes, would I file for unemployment compensation after losing my job? Secondly, does the revelation that a few thousand millionaires filed for UC at the start of the recession in 2008 say anything in regards to the upper class’s obliviousness to socioeconomic polarization in American society today? In other words, how out of touch would I be in the same situation, and how completely unmindful of the economic hardships experienced by lower and middle class families are they?
It seems perfectly reasonable to me for the American government to keep the policy it has adopted. Anyone that pays into unemployment insurance, should, in fact, have the right to demand and receive unemployment compensation when needed. But if I was so fortunate to be among the population of people who make more than 1 million dollars a year, you could count me out from being amongst the people in that population who would file for UC when the recession terminated my employment. It just wouldn’t feel right to me. Unemployment insurance was implemented to act as a safety net during troubling economic times. Sure, the recession warrants its exercise, but not for everybody. Making over 1 million dollars a year strikes me as a safety net for five families.
Keep this in mind: “The Census Bureau last month reported the country’s poverty rate rose to 14.3 percent in 2009, the highest level in 15 years.” The Bloomberg report even went on to reveal that over 8,000 households reporting between $500,000 and $1 million in income filed claims for unemployment insurance, an amount of benefits totaling nearly $53 million. I used my calculator to figure out that around 176,000 households could have received $300 for one week, had 8,000 households not collected $53 million in unemployment compensation.
If I were in the same situation as those millionaire filers, I would have considered it my duty as an American citizen to relax knowing that I had plenty of money to live on until I found a new job and let the taxes I paid into UC go to a family that lives check to check; a family who really needs the money. It’s morally-motivated common sense, for without an understanding of our role or part to play for the betterment of humanity, we’re quite literally headed toward a dystopia.