Earn Black Belt Unemployment

By Katie Kieffer

Tae Kwon Do Black Belts

Black belt certification. Image credit: “Santa Fe Tae Kwon Do” by Amanda Quintana-Bowles on Flickr via Creative Commons.

“Take a look at this black belt I’m wearing people. You think anyone wants a roundhouse kick to the face while I’m wearin’ this bad boy?”

It’s time for unemployed Americans to embrace capitalistic martial arts. It’s time to talk like Rex from Napoleon Dynamite. It’s time to give socialism a roundhouse kick to the face.

If you aren’t already one of 14 million unemployed Americans, you’re probably concerned about joining them. The U.S. economy netted no new jobs in August. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Consequently, the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits in the first full week of September soared to a three-month high.

Unemployed people standing in line at a job fair.

Job fair. Image credit: “Waiting In Line For Hope” by Nathan Johansen on Flickr via Creative Commons.

When conservatives and libertarians find themselves without meaningful work—through no fault of their own—they feel distressed and mortified at the prospect of accepting temporary government unemployment assistance to get by.

Ayn Rand lends philosophical clarity to this dilemma. In the June 1966 edition of The Objectivist newsletter, she addresses the ethics of accepting a wide range of government assistance. She contends that it is morally acceptable to take government assistance when the government unjustly appropriates excess taxes, private property rights and free market opportunities from individual citizens.

“The victims do not have to add self-inflicted martyrdom to the injury done to them by others; they do not have to let the looters profit doubly, by letting them distribute the money exclusively to the parasites who clamored for it. … and they would not advance the cause of freedom if they left their money, unclaimed, for the benefit of the welfare-state administration.”

We’ve all seen the MasterCard commercials asserting that memories with family and friends are “priceless.” Rand asserts a reverse and equally reasonable claim: A government is unable to fully recompense citizens for usurping their intellectual freedom and economic opportunities. In other words, you can’t put a dollar amount on the damage unjust government policies inflict on hardworking individuals.

Hence, she allows capitalists to accept government assistance: “…so long as you fight against welfare statism (and only so long as you fight it) and are prepared to give up any of its momentary benefits in exchange for repeal and freedom—so long as you do not sell your soul (or your vote)—you are morally in the clear.”

I agree. Corrupt politicians destroyed the free market system in America, not you and me. Politicians and greedy corporate interest groups keep pushing to inject stimulus money into the economy. These short-sighted policies shatter the economy’s prospects for long-term recovery. The President proposes continuing unemployment benefits without matching this aid with long-term tax cuts and repealing anti-business, job-killing regulations (think Obamacare and Frank-Dodd). His jobs plan is a sure-fire way to keep people dependent on the government longer.

Bottom line, you can’t blame yourself for the fact that America does not have a thriving free market economy anymore. (Unless you repeatedly voted for politicians who ushered in anti-business government rules and regulations. In that case, then, yes, you are to blame.)

If you end up being cornered into accepting unemployment assistance against your free market principles, it will be difficult to maintain your integrity. It is far harder to stand up for the free markets while you are benefiting from the system than it is when you are independent of the system. The longer you stay on government assistance, the easier it will be to justify these benefits for the long-term.

You cannot control the government. You can only control yourself. Make a firm resolution to maintain your integrity while you are unemployed. Use this necessary evil of temporary public assistance as a launch pad to make yourself more financially and intellectually independent than before.

Entrepreneurship is a great way to do this. About 4.3 unemployed Americans vied for each job opening in July. Why not beat the odds at finding full-time employment with an existing company? Why not utilize your unique talents to create a job for yourself?

Obviously, it takes time and capital to start a business. While you are on unemployment, seek a dependable albeit imperfect situation that allows you to get off extended government assistance and simultaneously work on building up your own small business. You may find a part-time position outside your industry. You may get less sleep. But at least you will be able to survive independently while moving towards an entrepreneurial goal that will eventually utilize your fullest potential.

This is a tough route. You will be pursuing two jobs. You can pride yourself in knowing that you are attempting to use unavoidable government assistance to “advance the cause of freedom” and become self-sufficient.

Bottom line, don’t allow your time on unemployment assistance to weaken your integrity. Use it to strengthen your principles and earn a “black belt” in the free markets.

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