About the Author
Opinion Archives
E-mail Scott
Scott's Links

The moral component of unemployment benefits

By Scott Tibbs, January 15, 2014

Here is a thought-provoking blog post by Pastor Tim Bayly on unemployment benefits.

Before even getting into the discussion of unemployment benefits themselves, it's important to point out that the federal government does not have the constitutional authority to have an unemployment benefits program. If we're going to have unemployment benefits, they should be managed and funded entirely by the states. This is one more area where our federal government has overstepped its enumerated powers in violation of the Tenth Amendment.

I do not have a problem with unemployment benefits themselves, but it is necessary to examine this from a Christian perspective and from a practical perspective. Offensive as some people may find this statement, paying people not to work does reduce the incentive to find work. Someone who has used up his benefits might need to take a job he does not want, but it is always better to be working than collecting money for not working. Furthermore, taking a job you feel is "beneath" you can be a rewarding experience and a way to shatter self-worship and pride.

From a Christian perspective, it is one thing to help people who genuinely need help and are unable to find a job. It is another to spend billions upon billions of dollars on a system that reduces the incentive to be a productive citizen. Note that the Apostle Paul says in II Thessalonians 3:10-13 that someone who will not work (someone who does not want to work and avoids work) should not be helped by the Church.

We can debate the economic impact of unemployment benefits, but the societal damage done by incentivizing sloth (not to mention the damage done to the human spirit by such policies) does not get enough discussion. Even with the Tea Party wave that brought many Republicans to Congress, there is virtually no discussion of the federal government's authority here. Both topics need to be discussed a lot more.