Friday, May 8, 2009

The Seven Best Unemployment Utopias

The best places in the world to be jobless include Spain, France, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark and Norway. All of those countries spend a large percentage of their GDP to provide jobless benefits. In fact, many European and Scandinavian workers celebrate losing their jobs by going on vacation. Belgium is an especially good place to lose your job because there is no time limits to benefits. No one has to worry about whether the government will extend benefits because everyone’s benefits are extended. The Danes are also generous in that they pay an unemployed worker 90 percent of his regular salary. One can almost hear the groans of the belt-tightening as unemployed workers head to the beaches of the Italian or French Riviera.

Of course, there is bad news, too. In spite of one’s desire to be unemployed in these overseas Utopias, you will be denied admission to the party. Work permits and visas are tightly restricted. For an employer, hiring anyone is expensive and so unemployment is high. The European economy is contracting at a more rapid pace than in the U.S. In Germany, for example, economic contraction is expected to be 6%, far worse than here in the hyper-productive United States. This means that those generous countries are likely to be behind the curve in world economy recovery, if it comes.

But for workers in those countries with universal government health coverage , unemployment isn’t as bad as all that.

Moi? Je parle Francaise! Hmmmmm….

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