"Milking The System"

by Chris Bodenner

A reader writes:

Regarding the last recession story, I couldn't help but be struck by the reader's attitude. It was the same one echoed (if not explicitly) by at least 3 or 4 otherwise decent people I've encountered in the last couple months: The recently laid-off simply feel defeated by the prospect of looking for work when unemployment paychecks will keep them happy enough lounging around the house, watching trashy talk shows, and walking their dogs.

I'm all for government intervention to aid those unable to find work, but I've been utterly dismayed by the effect the recession seems to have had on so many able-bodied young workers in America. I fear that hundreds of thousands of previously comfortable middle-class workers now appear perfectly happy to make the equivalent of $25,000 a year in unemployment, essentially mocking a system that so seldom investigates their claims of looking for work -- because damned if they're going to put in a hard day's work in the service industry or work some entry-level position now that their former job disappeared.

The reader doesn't say any of this, because s/he can appease his/her conscience by saying no work equals more time for friends or family, but it appears rather bogus to me. We as Americans have become so devoted to striking it rich that the idea that we might have to do something not quite so satisfying to put food on the table becomes terrifying. Not when government is there to bail us out. What gets lost in the discussion about a recovering economy is that even when jobs come back, they won't be quite as appealing as they once were. And in the meantime, too many laid-off workers -- a good many of them who love to decry America's "socialism" -- are busy milking the system for all it's worth.

I've grown rather disgusted with those who once had it all now unwilling to do the dirty work the nation's poor would kill to have. This comment isn't very eloquent, I know, but I'm struck by the fact that this reader comment was worthy of posting on its own. It at least deserves a comment from Andrew or one of the other bloggers, because what it truly reveals is the stark reality that cushy jobs often get deservedly slashed, and the outcome is far too many Americans blaming their misfortune on a bad economy and relishing the free money they're about to receive. I've never heard anything like the last few months, and it makes me worry about the future of our workforce.

I'm out of work, without health insurance, filling out applications every day, and I'd kill for 30 grand a year doing what I love. But in the meantime, I'm working my tail off under the table in a warehouse, putting my health at risk with heavy equipment -- not visiting the friends and family I love so dearly.

I can relate to a lot of this. Do other readers have good examples of undesirable jobs you took between steady employment?  And not just stories of "look at the crappy job I had to put up with," but rather lessons or personal insights gleaned from a miserable job experience (see Anagnorisis). I'll post any emails that are original, thoughtful, and don't veer into white whines.