Steve Cisler on Wed, 30 May 2001 12:08:10 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> My favorite satire mag: The Onion

 Dot-Commers To Receive Unemployment Benefits In Form Of Stock Options

      WASHINGTON, DC--Offering unemployment aid with "a huge potential
upside" to the approximately 100,000 Americans who lost their jobs in
the New Economy collapse, the government's new eBenefits stock-option
plan is proving wildly popular among dot-commers.

Above: Laid-off dot-commers wait in line for their eBenefits at a San
Mateo, CA, unemployment office.
      "Instead of settling for a little cash to help them through
rough times, victims of the Internet crash have the option of
receiving valuable stock in a number of fast-growing U.S. companies,"
Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao said Monday. "In place of a
traditional unemployment check for a few hundred dollars a week,
laid-off dot-commers can receive stock options valued at five, ten,
even twenty thousand dollars."

      In lieu of traditional unemployment benefits, out-of-work
dot-commers have the option of receiving stock in their former
company, if still existent, or a mutual fund drawing from a diverse
pool of Internet companies. Among the companies offered are, "the world's largest online razor-scooter-accessory
retailer," and, "an oasis of information and
communication for informed and enlightened pet owners."

      Chao said 80 percent of unemployed tech-industry workers are
choosing the stock option, jumping at the chance to "double, triple,
or even quadruple the value of their unemployment checks."

      "This is an extremely exciting, innovative form of
unemployment," said Justin Reed, 27, one of 1,000 workers recently
laid off at eToys. "It's going to totally revolutionize the way people
think about government checks."

      Susan Reyes, director of development for the now-defunct online
sporting-goods retailer eZoomaboom!, agreed.

      "This is a radical re-imagining of unemployment and, frankly,
I'd be a fool not to get in on the ground floor of it," said Reyes,
leaning on the mailbox outside her San Jose, CA, home while waiting
for her monthly unemployment portfolio to arrive. "The future of
unemployment benefits is bright--really bright."

      While eBenefits recipients are not permitted to cash in or trade
their stock for at least a year, Reyes spends much of her ample free
time calculating her projected earnings at local coffee shops.

      "Before I signed up for eBenefits, I was living check-to-check,
stretching out my pitiful unemployment funds while looking for a new
job," Reyes said. "Now, my situation has completely changed. I've got
nearly unlimited future earning potential."

Above: Marcus Todd, founder of now-defunct clothing retailer, checks his eBenefits on his Palm.
      The unemployment package has proven so popular that a cottage
industry of eBenefits-related web sites has sprung up in its wake.

      " is the first company to offer a full range
of online services in tracking, trading, and projecting the growth
potential of state unemployment checks," recently re-employed
webmaster Sunil Parekh said at the site's launch party, held Saturday
night at the Masonic Auditorium in San Francisco. "This is going to be

      While a few laid-off dot-commers have sworn off the Internet
sector altogether, most say their experience has not deterred them
from trying again.

      "Excuse me, but haven't you ever heard of the concept 'buy low,
sell high'?" laid-off employee Shawn Bennett asked. "Well,
the market is at its lowest point in years."

      Bennett went on to note that today's tech companies are "leaner"
than ever.

      "Companies like and have
literally cut their budgets and payrolls by 90 percent in the last
year," Bennett said. "They're primed for profit after reining in
overspending and eliminating tons of dead weight by firing people like

      According to Chao, eBenefits was "a natural" under current
economic conditions.

      "While tech companies had no cash to pay into the unemployment
system, they did have ample stock," Chao said. "That put the
government in a unique position to offer this stock to the workers
themselves. Bingo. A New Economy way of looking at the old problem of
massive layoffs."

      Fans of eBenefits also point out that owning thousands of
dollars in stock has given laid-off tech workers the collateral needed
to procure additional loans to cover their day-to-day expenses.

      "At, we specialize in providing
pre-approved, no-questions-asked loans to recently unemployed
programmers, network administrators, and outsourced content
providers," company president and CEO Rodney Woods said. "Best of all,
you can apply online."

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