I can’t name a time where I met an American who would rather have an unemployment check than the pride of having a job.Barack Obama
So says our supreme leader, President Barack Obama (mmm, mmm, mmm). At face value I find this a little hard to believe; however, since he’s the most accomplished wordsmith of our time I’m going to believe he meant what he said. Which is that he can’t name a time. Meaning the specific time. And that’s probably true. There’s no way he would remember the exact hour let alone minute, right? Oh, Mr. President.
This is true for me and it’s probably true for you. It’s probably true for the vast majority of Americans. But there’s also a huge chunk of the country that feels otherwise. I’m going to make some sweeping generalizations that should hold up just fine. I trust that you’ll be mature enough to understand that there may be exceptions.
About a block from where I work there’s a panhandler that’s been standing on the corner for a couple of months now. He has a cardboard sign and waves to everyone who passes. Why would he beg for money when he could feel the burning pride of earning a paycheck? I’ll admit that I don’t know his circumstances. It’s possible that his feet were glued to that exact spot and he’s can’t go anywhere. But what about the people who beg for a few dollars because they just need enough money to get a bus ticket to Carson City? Years later, these poor people still haven’t been able to get enough money for that elusive ticket. For some reason, they prefer a handout to a paycheck.
The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud estimates that insurance fraud costs us more that $80 billion dollars each year. This fraud includes workers that fake injuries so that they can collect a disability check (unaware of the pride they will be missing out on). There are tons of ways to commit insurance fraud, but it also includes arson and murder to collect insurance. If people are willing to murder in order to get a check without working, is it even remotely possible that they might do nothing in order to get a check without working?
According to the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries, state and provincial lotteries have generated $200 billion since their inception in 1964. The odds of winning are laughably small, yet people sink billions of dollars into lotteries. For example, the odds of winning $100 in last years Powerball were more than 1 in 12,000. The grand prize? More than 1 in 175,000,000. Why would people drop so much money on certain failure? You might naturally think it’s because people are attracted to the idea of getting a check without working for it. Once you consider the pride factor you will realize you’re wrong. The truth is…something…else.
Living in the great state of Nevada, let’s not ignore gambling. (I’m referring to gambling in the traditional sense and not the act of putting your kids in Nevada’s public schools.) The American Gaming Association reports that total consumer spending on gambling is nearly $40 billion annually. People lose their families, their homes, their jobs and more to the effects of gambling. They risk it all to get out of having to work to earn a paycheck.
You could go on forever with examples of what people will do to get out of working for a check. While this obviously represents a minority of the country, it’s silly to say that no one would choose to get free money when they could experience the euphoric pride that comes with earning a paycheck.
I initially thought the president was playing a game of semantics, but then I realized it’s probably simpler than that. In all likelihood he’s probably never met an unemployed person. I can’t imagine that the private beaches of Martha’s Vineyard or the golf courses of Hawaii are crawling with the unemployed. It’s still quite an accomplishment considering how many he’s created.