Here's Why The US Should Adopt Singapore's Attitude Toward Unemployment Benefits

singapore girl

Photo: Flickr/Phillipe Put

As you may have heard already, the U.S. unemployment rate did not move from 8.2 per cent in June. Most of the mainstream media pointed to “weak job growth” as the leading factor.According to the Department of labour Statistics, employers added only 80,000 jobs this June. (June was the third consecutive month in which job growth fell below 100,000.)

And, of that 80,000, it is estimated that roughly about one third of those jobs are “temporary” positions.”

As we’ve heard again and again, the unemployment problem will be blamed on a number of scapegoats such as the Euro-Zone crisis, fear of tax hikes next year, and, of course, the uncertainty of this election year.

A jobless rate of 8.2 per cent basically means that about than 12.7 million people here in the U.S. looked for a job in June and still had no job at the end of the month. What you may not know is that the Department of labour Statistics “jobless rate” does not include the “underemployed”, people who worked part-time, nor discouraged workers who did not even look for a job.

This being the third consecutive month with a jobless rate at or above 8.2 per cent, can I be so bold to suggest that maybe the problem is the unemployment benefits system itself? Now, I am not calling anyone lazy or suggesting that there are plenty of jobs out there for everyone, but maybe it’s time to try something new?

Maybe there is a better way to handle this current predicament that’s more efficient than simply handing out checks for 99 weeks. Throwing money at a situation always seems to be the way our government likes to solves it’s problems, but we are now a country that is over 15 trillion dollars in debt. We simply can’t afford to act this way any longer. It’s time to try something new and I have an idea that the solution is one word: Singapore.

Yes, you heard me right—Singapore. I have been studying Singapore for a while now and was quite amazed with their take on unemployment “benefits.” I know I have relentlessly exhausted those close to me with this topic, and I apologise. But it is because I have become quite baffled as to how our system can be so backwards here in the U.S….

Now back to Singapore… Singapore IS the third richest country in the world and unsurprisingly it has a very different attitude towards debt than us here in the U.S. and our friends in Europe. It begins with antipathy towards public welfare. Their attitude can be simply put: being poor is your own fault. Citizens are obliged to save for the future, rely on their families, and not expect any handouts from the government unless they hit rock bottom.

The emphasis on family extends into old age: retired parents can sue children who fail to support them. In government circles “welfare” remains a dirty word. The government does run a handful of schemes directed at some of the needy, from low-income students to the unassisted elderly. But these benefits are rigorously means-tested and granted only sparingly. The most destitute citizens’ families may apply for public assistance; only 3,000 currently qualify of its population of about 4.5 million.

Laid-off workers receive no automatic benefits. Instead they are sorted into “workfare” and training schemes.

The government is leery of generous handouts and takes a dim view of European-style welfare systems, which they believe begets “laziness.” Singapore is also well known for its low tax rates, and I’m sure we all recall a certain Facebook founder who allegedly denounced his U.S. citizenship & claimed Singaporean citizenship right before Facebook went public in order to get out of paying the U.S. tax rate.

Finally, I say we should adopt Singapore’s unemployment “system” here in the U.S. as well as its tax structure before its too late. Because, what the hell else do we have to lose at this point?

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