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Pay people to not work

11 years in the EU

8 ½ years in IE

On the dole in Ireland

In the autumn of 2001 I'd gotten a job at a restaurant in Kilkenny. The chef asked me to get a tax number. Being American, I didn't expect one, but I had to go ask so that I could say I'd tried.

In the middle of 2010, my time in Ireland began to come to an end....

Instead, I got a PPS number — a Personal Public Service number. A tax number.

I worked various jobs until the summer of 2003.

That summer, I left Ireland until January of 2005.

When I returned, I visited the office of FÁS, the national employment agency.

They told me to go to the social welfare office.

I did so. To my great surprise, they put me on social-welfare payments.

I remained unemployed or underemployed for almost all of the next six years.