Public: Welfare
Unemployment   (+5, -8)  [vote for, against]
extend unemployment insurance to cover long unemployed homeless and destitute

I'm not sure about how it works in other countries, but in the US there is a payroll tax that funds unemployment benifits for those who lose their jobs "through no fault of their own" such as being laid off due to lack of work. In some cases, you can even receive benefits if you are fired for cause. In order to receive benifits in any case, you must be seeking full time employment, and you must be able to document that you are making a real effort to find work. Now, some subset of the homeless and destitute are employable, or would be employable if they had a place to bathe, clean clothes, and an address/phone. Most of these people have had a job at *some* point, so their employers did at one point pay into the unemployment insurance system, so why not extend the eligibility of the unemployment compensentation system to cover those people? This of course would be no help to those who are not employable due to debilitating physical or mental disability, so a different solution would have to be devised for them, such as treatment/hospitalization.
-- JakePatterson, Jan 10 2002

The very fact of the intended recipients not having an address might make this difficult to implement. I applaud the sentiment, though.
-- snarfyguy, Jan 11 2002

snarfyguy, they would have to be provided a bank account into which to directly deposit the funds, which would be enough for them to secure housing. PeterSealy, do systems in Europe fund this exclusively through a payroll tax? And do they also require documentation that the (employable) reciepient is actually making a legidimite search for a full time job?
-- JakePatterson, Jan 11 2002

This may sound harsh, but you're talking about charity, not the role of government.

Charity is love. Government is force. Love cannot and should not be forced, and nor should goverment force you to give to what is charity.

Real charities don't have SWAT teams, or guns, or confiscate your belongings if you decide not to give to the cause at hand.

Bottom line: if you see a homeless person, offer him dinner or lunch. (I won't force you to, though)
-- lumpy, Jan 11 2002

Jake, how is giving a bank account to a guy with severe mental problems enough for him to secure housing? I understand that not all homeless have mental problems, but even for someone who's just down on his luck -- how does a bank account equal housing?
-- snarfyguy, Jan 11 2002

lumpy: Unemployment insurance is not charity, it is insurance against unemployment, which is paid for as a payroll tax, which ultimately means that it is indirectly paid for by the employed, as insurance against the possibility that they may lose their job through no fault of their own. There are other forms of manditory insurance such as automobile insurance, the idea being, the stability of the economy is maintained by making sure that there are not a large number of "accidents" which nobody can afford to pay for. If you are against all forms of manditory insurance, then I suppose that is fine, but I think lots of people would disagree with you, which is also fine. You can go ahead and vote Libertarian, and I will go ahead and vote Green, and lots more people will vote either Republican or Demecrat, and ultimatly nothing will change.
-- JakePatterson, Jan 11 2002

snarfyguy: I am not proposing using this method to aid those with severe mental problems, they should receive treatment (and I am not at this time proposing a specific method to pay for that), not employment (unless and until they become "cured"). Unemployment compensation is for those who are employable and seeking employment, fail to show that you are seeking full time employment and you end up having to pay the money back.
-- JakePatterson, Jan 11 2002

Social Security, Workmans Compensation, Unemployment all have their laws/ bylaws and restrictions.
There was an idea in the halfbakery a year ago perhaps which covered the same topic which you seem to be covering, emphasizing the addressee/(lack of) fixed address situation which leads to a loophole for laws/ bylaws and restrictions to say "Sorry Chump".
Benefits are extended for many people for a wide variety of reasons which I do not have sufficient time to cover. Many States - in place of written forms on a weekly basis now have phone calls made by recipient - with an occasional follow-up to recipient by State Employee - blahblahblah. Gotta Go.
-- thumbwax, Jan 11 2002

It goes beyond just the problem of not having a fixed address, many people who are otherwise employable have been living on the streets for years, and are thus inelegable to receive unemployment compensation since they won't have had any income in the last five quarters, or the last (however many quarters) get counted in whatever particular state that they are in. You could say that it is their own fault that they did not seek benifits when they originally lost their job or whatever, but just saying "it is their own fault" does nothing to solve the problem.
-- JakePatterson, Jan 11 2002

This is implemented in varying degrees in Europe but the problem remains the same for the homeless and destitute - not having an address, not being able to maintain a presentable appearance and ensuring that such people keep receiving benefit. Despite the best intentions people can still fall through the cracks.

In the UK we have Social Security, which kicks in after Unemployment Benefit runs out. Despite this not having an address, or at least an address that people will accept, can be a problem for homeless people. Some homeless people have day centres that they can use as addresses and in the UK homeless people can now vote. Benefit is paid in a form that be redeemed at post offices, removing the need for a bank account.
-- Aristotle, Jan 11 2002

I imagine people could now have the same problem in Britain, since benefits are stopped or reduced if you fail to take training or enter work experience programs after I think 6 months. If someone doesn't enter them because of alcoholism, drug addiction or mental illness, it's essential that they have some form of second chance. Otherwise they'll spend the rest of their (probably short) life contributing nothing to society, and we'll ultimately have to pay to bury them.

And lumpy: it's not charity. It's justice. Everybody has the right to life. Many people consider it morally all right to steal if you're poor and hungry (a number of Christians leaders have claimed this, and there's a similar precept in Islamic law, as well as being an important principle for numerous anarchist thinkers). Especially if your poverty is not your fault.
-- pottedstu, Jan 11 2002

As Aristotle says, we have pretty much this system as described: National Insurance contributions are taken directly off of your wages, entitling the payee to Unemployment Benefit in the event of redundancy; your entitlement is dependent on how much you've paid; but there's Social Security to take care of those whose contributions don't measure up. So, baked, but a worthy idea, nonetheless; kudos to you, Jake.

BTW, government is _not_ force, lumpy - at least not in any country that wants to claim it's a legitimate democracy. It's primarily management and administration - making legislative and executive decisions regulating the relationships of individuals or groups to each other and to the state (and vice versa). And just as companies are bound by Health and Safety regulations, etc., to maintain the working environment to a certain minimum standard for anyone agreeing to abide by their rule, the authorities need to maintain a certain standard of living for its subordinates, if only to avoid riots and revolution. I don't think a minimum comfort level of food and shelter is too much to expect in exchange for my 'signing the social contract', so to speak; why should I recognize my 'duties' as a member of society if society is trying to give me a bum deal by not keeping up its end of the bargain? If you don't want someone to take what they need, when they need it, from wherever is most convenient, then you've got to give them some guarantees. If not, don't complain when the wage slaves and beggars decide to take social justice into their own hands.
-- Guy Fox, Jan 11 2002

I got to side with Lumpy. I can't believe that some of you think it's ok to steal if you're hungry.

What moral relativism! If you can steal, you can work! You can also ask people for help, nicely.

Lumpy is correct in describing government as force. No law is enforced by saying "pretty please". It's enforced at gunpoint and under threat of force.

Socialism is the only way goverment officials, the taxpayer, and the underprivileged all go to Hell. The goverment steals. The taxpayer doesn't act out of love, and the underprivileged take what was not given freely.

Here, here, Lumpy.
-- seal, Jan 11 2002

Well-intentioned, but:

- Not everyone who is searching for a job is employable. While the usual crew here at the halfbakery is a polycompetent lot, there are some [note: "some" not "all"] people who are omnidumb. No matter what training they receive, no matter what job they are given, they will not perform at an acceptable level.

- Many jobs that will employ marginally-capable people won't pay enough to meet basic living expenses. A $6.00/hr job in a large metro area will not cover housing, food, clothing, and minimal health insurance. This problem is exacerbated by the government's typical all-or-nothing welfare strategy: once you get a job, you don't get state aid. You go from having the government provide all your needs to providing none. It would be better if you could pay your own way for what you could afford, and have government aid for the rest. Of course, nationalized health care would eliminate a big burden. But that's another discussion.

- Not all unemployed and homeless people want to participate in what passes as mainstream modern American social life. We've made it pretty much impossible to opt out of the media-frenzied, money centric, professionalized, corporatized, do-nothing-without-a-license way of life without going the homeless and penniless route. It is a subtle yet vicious form of fascism to label people who have ideological opposition to the modern Western model of adult personhood as necessarily mentally ill [or as stupid or incompetent]. I'm not saying that there isn't legitimate mental illness (and legitimate vocational imcompetency) among the homeless/jobless. I am saying that reliance on those explanations can, intentionally or not, be like glossy paint on rotten wood.

I repeat that JakePatterson's idea is well intentioned.
-- quarterbaker, Jan 11 2002

qb, you deserve some sort of award for "polycompetent" and "omnidumb". Fabulous.
-- waugsqueke, Jan 11 2002

seal: The government is not stealing if it takes taxes with the consent of the population. Since it is impossible to reach agreement on a level of taxation everyone agrees on, democracy allows taxation to be set at a level the majority is comfortable with. If you don't like it, move to Afghanistan.

It's also nice to see a Koranic principle called "moral relativism". So that's why we were fighting those damn liberal Taliban.
-- pottedstu, Jan 11 2002

Quarterbaker's on the button with this - it's a good idea in essence and call it what you like, income support, social security, dole, unemployment insurance, whatever, some form of it should be available in all modern democracies (along with nationalised health care) because it's the humanity behind such systems that should be aspired to. In fact, the big mistake that's being made here is too much emphasis upon the "fair" concept of such a system. Must be actively looking for work, must have a permanent address, must have paid into the fund at some point. ie must NOT be utilizing the system as a way of life.

Why not?

All systems like this pay a bare minimum, scarcely a living wage as such; the enforcement of eligibility is where the money is wasted. Anybody that wants to live exclusively on such a system - good luck to them. Nobody should resent people living off the state if that's the quality of life they choose, anymore than anyone unemployed should sneer at someone with a job. Enforcing a "correct" way of life beyond basic human morality is ultimately doomed as it undermines a society's very stability.

And people fiddling a system like this? In the UK, last year, benefit fraud was between £2 and 3 billion. Money unclaimed by people eligible for state benefit was over £4 billion.

and as for all that government force rubbish. Where we're from, for the most part, Government is democratic, Humans are empathetic. It's the "for the most part" bit that's the worry.
-- notripe, Jan 11 2002

"Moral relativism"? Well, actually, "ethical relativism". I go by the principle of the Aristotelian Mean - that the virtuous course of action lies between two vices, one of excess and one of deficiency - rather than the absolutist idea that something is just plain wrong in any and all circumstances because morals are some sort of universal truth like the Third Law of Thermodynamics. Stealing is wrong? Why? Because God says so in the Old Testament? He also told us not to kill, in no uncertain terms, but while I'd tend towards stretcher-bearer pacifism in a war against even a truly heinous regime like the Taliban, even the most committed conscientious objector would, I think, have a job convincing the world that never, under any circumstances, can the taking of a life be justified.

The fact that morals conflict - not killing versus not preventing genocide when you have the power to do so - is just symptomatic of the fact that they are based on mores, generated on a cultural level and imposed by society, rather than ethics, generated on an individual level. They vary between societies and subcultures and there may be a lot of common ground, but they are generally inconsistent and incomplete and may even be incompatible with an individual's own ethical code. Stealing is wrong, but when the alternatives include working for people that strike you as Evil Incarnate, I think you're entitled to look at all your options. As qb said, that can be why people are jobless and homeless - their rejection of society as absolutist and hostile. They don't trust it. I certainly don't trust it to tell me what's right and what's wrong. Ethics is a matter of personal judgement, not the decree of authorities, political or otherwise, and, by my book, it's OK to steal if you're hungry. I've just never been that hungry, although I have been pretty damn hungry and pretty damn poor. I dread to think what the situation is like in America, without the benefits system we have here and, personally, I'd rather pay the high taxes and national insurance contributions which I can now afford easily, than just accept outrageous levels of poverty, here or abroad. A few freeloaders are a small price to pay for *social security*.
-- Guy Fox, Jan 12 2002

// even the most committed conscientious objector would, I think, have a job convincing the world that never, under any circumstances, can the taking of a life be justified. //

You're right, Guy. I do have a tough time with that one.
-- waugsqueke, Jan 12 2002

There is a difference between "unemployment" and Social Security and Public Assistance. Those who are the most destitute (i.e., mentally ill who are homeless-- so they may not even realize they're homeless...) have programs available to them, but because of funding issues they aren't as widespread as they need to be. Once someone who is mentally ill can get on meds and get trained they're capable of doing some kind of task and holding a job, or living in a halfway house. As for others who may be unemployed for long periods of time there is usually a reason they're unemployed. Although there are jobs out there not everyone can hold those jobs because they require specialized experience or training. Once agian there are public assistance programs to get people retrained with new skills to hold jobs they couldn't otherwise have, but due to funding issues those programs aren't as large as they could be. We're a society of workers. No-one wants to be known as someone who is unemployed; there is a horrible stigma to being unemployed. So to go back to the original hypothesis, "unemployment insurance" may not be the solution to the question of taking car eof long-term unemployed or homeless, but our tax dollars are already going to programs which cost just as much to aid those who need it.
-- katz, Sep 15 2003

It's always amusing for those of us in civilized nations to watch you USAnians struggling to invent the wheel.
-- BunsenHoneydew, Dec 04 2010

My favourite solution is to give a basic allowance to anyone who asks for it.

Drop all the convoluted means testing, cutoff periods, requirement of evidence of being unemployed and actively seeking work, medical certificates for incapacity, etc. Just take care to stop anyone abusing the system in blatant ways, such as by claiming twice.

This would immediately reduce the "poverty trap", where there is a strong disincentive for unemployed people to accept low paid work, as the loss of benefits and of time to meet one's own needs directly, and the costs of working, can make one worse off than when unemployed.

I was once unable to work for a particular employer for a time, and made a claim for income support. Before I could be paid, my employer was contacted and asked for a letter confirming that my employment had been officially terminated, even though I had been a casual employee. That effectively meant I couldn't go back to work there; another instance of the perversity in current systems.

I suspect that governments don't do this because it is too simple, and would reduce their ability to meddle - which is another reason why I like it.
-- spidermother, Dec 05 2010

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