Unemployment: What’s In It for You?

By Bill Maher

The Senate narrowly passed a bill extending long-term unemployment benefits in April, but the House didn’t, and it looks like they won’t. So, in the words of Susan Collins – a rare and vanishing hybrid Republican/human – “we’re going to start seeing another wave of individuals who will lose their benefits.”

As Politico points out: “There are 3.5 million people who have been jobless for more than 26 weeks… That’s nearly a million fewer people than 12 months ago but still a national problem of epic proportions...”

I can see why politicians have a hard time selling unemployment insurance to voters. What’s in it for you if someone else, who doesn’t have a job, still gets to eat? The answer is: It works out for everybody, because when you give a hungry man a fish, he doesn’t eat your hand. I call this economic theory “The Long-Term Walking Dead.” Three-point-five million is a lot of hungry people and, like it or not, if we cut off their food entirely, they’d still take 28 days to die. And they’d probably mess things up before that happened.

Here’s another way my theory – it’s good for everyone if people aren’t forced into cannibalism – proves out: Even though unemployment rates are high, and have been for a long time, crime is going down. According to an FBI report earlier this year, overall reported crime in 270 cities is down in all categories except rape. (And it’s thought that rape rates aren’t actually increasing; it’s just being reported more.) Robbery, down 1.8%. Burglaries, down 8%. Violent crime, down 5%. Homicides down 7%. And in case you think that’s only good news for the 47% of Americans Mitt Romney held in contempt – the Non-Builders of That – the ability to buy food trickles up, to the businesses that sell things like food. And that trickles up again – like blood in a horror movie – to all businesses. And that’s why arson – the preferred crime of the struggling small businessman – fell the most of all categories and is down by nearly 16%.

Yes, of course, it would be better if those 3.5 million people got off my couch, folded their blankets, washed their cereal bowl and went out and found a job – this isn’t a goddam hotel – but at least they’re not eating brains. And that’s good for everyone. Not just morally, but practically.