Jeremy Schwarz's op-ed piece contrasting unemployment insurance and welfare makes several points that don't bear up under scrutiny ("Unemployment benefits are not like welfare," Dec. 21). He's correct that people pay insurance to protect themselves in case of an adverse event; however, workers do not pay for unemployment insurance. Unlike Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid, to which both employers and employees contribute, unemployment insurance is paid entirely by the employer.

Extensions of unemployment insurance unfairly change the rules of the game for employers. Employers pay a certain rate based on their history of terminating workers. A business that has never laid off or fired a worker in Maryland has seen its rates nearly quadruple in the last three years. Why? To pay for other employers' terminated workers and to pay for extensions to unemployment insurance.

When the government sets unemployment insurance rates based on paying unemployment for six months and then extends those benefits for months or years longer, it charges each employer more. This is like a life insurance company selling a 10-year term life policy and then increasing the term to 20 years, raising the premiums accordingly. The difference is that a consumer can choose to buy his life insurance elsewhere; the employer has no choice but to play by the new rules.

Renee Hamidi, Sparks