A bit of a convo about the poor and workfare on twitter last week and a blog explaining my position was promised but wasn’t forthcoming because I have a newborn in the house and any quiet moment I could get to myself was spent quietly, or tidying, or sorting out paperwork, or sleeping.
Before you have your first child people tell you to store up your sleep but we aren’t hibernating mammals and sleep doesn’t work like that.
… When workfare and related topics of social welfare reform rear their heads certain things are bound to happen.
First there is an accusation of hating the poor and vulnerable. I don’t hate the poor, I hate that they are poor and would like them to have more money so that they can contribute to society’s unspoken contract. Then someone, let’s call him Arthur Pitworker, turns up. Arthur has worked 20 years in a coal mine paying his dues and contributing to society and now he has been thrown on the slag heap and all he wants is to collect his dole and keep his dignity while he looks for alternate employment without being put on some sort of half arse scheme that insults him, his intelligence, his experience and the fact that he has contributed. Well good on you, Arthur. You understand how things should work. You have paid in and now you want to take back what you have paid in and you want to work. Unfortunately the money you paid in has been spent, invested, bought, sold, appreciated, depreciated and spent on redundant missile systems over the years to the extent that the money you are taking out is, in fact, the money I am putting in. I don’t begrudge you that. When I get to the point where I am taking out the same will have happened to my contributions and it’ll be our children and grandchildren who are contributing that money. That’s how it’s supposed to work.
Unfortunately there are a couple of other people in the equation. Reece School-Leaver and Eustace Scrounger. Reece has finished school or college and can’t get a job. Not the job he thinks society owes him for getting reasonable grades. He’s not going to work in McDonalds for instance, he thinks he’s better than that. Fortunately for him he still has a room in his parent’s house, electricity, water, internet and food paid for and if he needs some spending money he has the government to fall back on. They’ll give him at least 100 Euros a week so he has some money in his pocket. They’ll give him more if he goes into some sort of further education, but there are no jobs with his current qualifications, so he doesn’t bother with that.
Eustace has never had a “job” as such. He has a house on the council with rent allowance, money from the government, a free washing machine every 3 years and financial assistance where he can finagle it on incidental expenses, like when his wife has a kid and he needs a new pram or pushchair, he gets a bit of extra money because he can’t work because his leg hurts when it rains he has a note on his from an overworked doctor who didn’t really examine him. He does work occasionally, when he isn’t in the pub, but he does it black or keep it’s under 20 hours a week so he doesn’t impact the money he is “due” from the government.
It’s people like Reece and Eustace that make the impact on tax payers like me and former tax payers like Arthur. We resent them. We resent their money for nothing attitude and we resent the fact that they don’t get society’s contract: Society pays out because people pay into society.
As a result of Reece and Eustace the truly poor and vulnerable do start to get hit quite badly when money is tight.
That’s why we want people like Reece and Eustace to be made to go out to work, even on workfare, so that the poor and the vulnerable aren’t impacted.