2 minute read

I totally expect people to be offended by what I say here. It’s a given, especially on a day like today, when we as Americans celebrate Martin Luther King Jr’s mission to liberate people from oppressive practices which were prevalent in his day and ensure civil rights were granted to all people. His goal was to remove the oppression prevalent in his day.

The thing is, we still have oppressive practices. In one way or another people are tied down in what they can and cannot do. What irks me many times is how that oppression is manifest.

Last year there were a few months when I was out of work. For a while there I was worried about providing for the basic needs of my family so I called the unemployment office in Utah. As somebody who was self employed for eight years, I knew I paid a lot into the system and I also knew that my employers over the years had paid large sums into the system. With a sizable family to support, I figured that the system was supposed to provide some basic standard of living so people could subsist while looking for other employment.

I was wrong.

Apparently there is a maximum amount a person is allowed to have when they are unemployed. In Utah at the time, it was just a little over $400 per month. Which leaves me wondering, why do we even have this program? Oh, and I forgot to mention. That’s pretax.

That’s right.

You are taxed on something the government took from you via the tax system. It’s counted as income and so they take taxes from it again, as if you had earned it as part of your job now, instead of recognizing that they took it from you to begin with. Something that you are supposed to rely on for basic living, and now, instead to add insult to injury, they take from you again…to support you when you are in need?

My family scrimps and stretches our food budget and we live on around $500 a month to feed all of us. $400 pretax wouldn’t even cover that. Federal and State unemployment money is a joke.

After looking at the options, requirements and what we were looking at from them, I turned my back on it. What? Turn my back on $400 a month when we were in financial straights? Yes. The amount of paperwork, tax consequences and the overall pain in the neck that it was was not worth $400 a month to me.

I would have rather spent my time looking for a job and living off what savings I had than to deal with the bureaucratic red-tape and who knows what other federal and state consequences would have come with accepting money from them.

And now, on this day, Martin Luther King day, when we celebrate civil rights for all people, I can’t help that we’ve created multiple systems where people work to provide for their families and are in turn vilified and demonized by the very people they support with their effort. We’ve just created our own system of slavery where people who are willing to work pay for the goods and services to help others in an inefficient system that does little to actually help people when they need it.