Sometimes I like to go back in time to look at ancient history in order to help better understand the scope of issues we have today. I find it helpful in many cases to look at ancient Assyria. Why? Let’s look at this example… do the unemployed really have it that bad today? Please understand, I am not saying unemployment is easy and that it doesn’t cause hardship; because it absolutely does. But when we compare our social safety net today to the one in place in ancient Assyria (which really had no such “safety net”), all parties would draw the same conclusion- thank goodness no one today is seeking assistance from the Assyrian Department of Labor.
In ancient Assyria, the bigger issue was not so much unemployment but rather not enough available labor- mainly because the administrative policies at the time were not exactly geared towards encouraging “social justice”. In fact, the term “social justice” was basically unknown ( just as were the terms “weekends”, “lunch breaks”, “family time”, “time to sleep”, “vacations”, “overtime pay- but overtime did exist”, “unemployment benefits”, “benefits”, etc etc etc.
It can be observed that the Assyrian administration did successfully coordinate a fairly efficient and low cost operation, most closely akin to systems in place in modern day China. The scope of social assistance available at the Nineveh department of labor can best be depicted in the graphic below.
See this link for information regarding the Assyrian middle east peace process.