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Monday, April 05, 2010


The unemployment business

An interesting juxtaposition. Last night I watched Up in the Air, the movie in which George Clooney plays a sympathetic character whose job is to fire people. Of course he's only sympathetic because he isn't really the one doing the firing; that's the company executives who are never seen in the movie. Clooney is just the guy delivering the news, and his major interest in the job is racking up frequent flyer miles. I presume there are companies like the one Clooney works for in the movie, but again, delivering the news isn't the real problem, and the news (layoffs) itself isn't the focus of the movie (which is not a criticism of the movie, which was quite good, although not "best film nominee" material in my view). Clooney's company made money off of unemployment, but didn't contribute to it.

Meanwhile, another side of the "unemployment business" hit the news this weekend, and if you want a realistic picture of the vultures who not only make money off unemployment, but make things worse in doing so, you can read all about Talx, the company whose despicable business is contesting unemployment claims (30% of all claims in the country). I didn't realize, and perhaps neither did you, that the amount companies pay for unemployment taxes depends on the number of workers they have laid off, so the more such unemployment claims they can successfully contest, the better their bottom line. And if something benefits their bottom line, you can bet they'll be pursuing it, no matter the cost. That's where Talx comes in, with their arsenal of dirty tricks designed to maximize the number of workers denied unemployment benefits, and hence maximize the profits of the companies which employ them, and of their own.

Capitalism at its "finest."

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