read more: Boston Herald Article

[password]I have a friend – let’s call her “Christine” – who was laid-off recently from her job as CFO of a small company in metro-west.  Christine, a mother of three, is what I would call comfortably middle class – a CPA from a top university who is married to a small business owner.  She and her husband don’t buy expensive clothing or take fancy vacations, but they drive a mini-van and an SUV, are members of a country club, and live in a nice Colonial-style home in an affluent Boston suburb – we’ll call it “Sudbury.”

Like many professional moms of school-aged children, Christine is conflicted about what comes next.  She’d like to keep working and contributing to the family economically, but not if it means sacrificing the flexibility she enjoyed at her previous job.   What’s a mom like Christine to do?  “Maybe I’ll just relax and collect unemployment for the next 99 weeks,” she said (only half-jokingly) over a glass of wine last week.  And why shouldn’t she?

In July, President Obama signed legislation reauthorizing extended unemployment benefits of up to 99 weeks.  If almost two years of unemployment checks aren’t enough, Senator Debbie Stabenow, D. Mich, is co-sponsoring a bill to provide an additional 20 weeks of benefits to “99ers,” — folks who remain out of work even after their 99 weeks have expired.  The July extension will add an estimated $34 billion to the federal deficit, to say nothing of the cost of Senator Stabenow’s bill.

The clamor to further extend unemployment benefits comes at a time when America’s professional class feels under siege from costly government programs.  “Old Money” and nouveau-riche “dot-comers” may not feel the squeeze of bailout after government bailout, but people like Christine – people without “family money” or trust funds for their children’s education – certainly do.

Let’s face it:  accountants, lawyers, doctors, and small business owners have become the target of socialist slings and arrows from Washington.  This is not a good thing. For when people start to believe that the private sector exists, as Dan Henninger from the Wall Street Journal recently wrote, for the sole purpose of funding the public sector, our collective entrepreneurial spirit withers.  And people like my friend Christine begin to ask themselves why, after decades of “paying into the system,” they shouldn’t take a couple of years off to hang out at public expense. It’s “the Europization of America,” and it’s coming to a town near you.

If you are bothered by the image of Christine collecting unemployment checks while driving her kids to soccer practice, volunteering with the PTG, and squeezing in a few tennis matches at the club, relax.  Christine didn’t make the rules; she simply plays by them. Eventually, Christine will go back to work and help support not only her own family but also those who depend largely on the government.  But for now, this “Real Housewife of Sudbury” is bellying up to the public trough and taking a long, cool drink.[/password]