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80 years ago: Require work to get unemployment benefit

12:57 AM, Apr. 14, 2013  |  Comments
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Each Monday, we turn to a day in the newspaper's history for a look at what the Editorial Board found worthy of comment. We will preserve the punctuation and capitalization of the original editorial column. Here is what we wrote on April 15, 1933:

State Unemployment Relief Fund

The state legislature is contemplating legislation providing for raising a fund of $5,000,000 for unemployment relief, through the levy of an additional surtax on incomes, and by taxing dividends. The project is not so ambitious as that of the La Follette administration, which backed a bill to raise $17,000,000 for a similar purpose, but many people will begin to inquire, if the bill proposed becomes a law, where the money is coming from. Few incomes witin the state of Wisconsin today can stand an additional surtax, and the revenue derived from taxation of dividends may not be so large as the lawmakers expect, because dividends have become comparatively scarce. Furthermore, any proposal to tax dividends is in effect double taxation, because incomes received are already taxed once, under the income tax law.

A fairer method of raising the $5,000,000, and a surer one, would be the enactment of an emergency sales tax law, terminable, perhaps, at the end of two years. Through a sales tax, every resident of the state would pay a little - not enough to seriously affect his resources - and the money would be available much more quickly, and perhaps in larger amounts, than under the surtax on incomes and the tax on dividends.

Whatever plan is adopted, we hope the state will provide that every able-bodied man receiving relief for himself or his dependents under the new law, shall perform some service to the state in return. The Record-Herald does not believe in the "dole" system, whereby unemployed persons receive assistance from city, county or state without working for it. Such a system tends to make paupers of unemployed men, destroying their self-respect, when most of them would much rather do something, in the way of work on some public improvement, in return for the aid received.

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