Hating The Poor And Vulnerable

05 Jul

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.

So …

… 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.


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2 responses to “Hating The Poor And Vulnerable

  1. Louise McCudden (@LouMcCudden)

    July 5, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    So you support workfare because it would be applicable to a fictional character you’ve created?

    It’s not being applied to a fictional character, first of all, a whole range of people, whether they match the description you’ve given to your stereotype creation or not, are being forced to do it.

    Secondly, forcing people to work is not the same as forcing them to work unpaid (by which I mean not paid by their actual employer, and not paid the amount legally deemed .the bare minimum possible to live on.)

    Thirdly, forcing them to work unpaid, say, cleaning up a local park, isn’t the same as forcing them to work for a big corporate private company who is profiting from the work they do (and it must be, or why would they pay anyone to stack a shelf? For charity?) can afford to pay them a minimum wage, and is effectively having their wage bill subsidised by the taxpayer.

    Fourthly, (related to the point above), the taxpayer – and I am one myself – is not getting a better deal; if you resent a person getting paid a subsidy to live in the form of benefits, why do you not resent Tesco getting paid a subsidy to employ people?

    Fifthly, there is evidence that some companies like Argo have actually stopped creating new paid jobs and are using workfare instead. This means there are fewer jobs and people will be on benefits for LONGER.

  2. kargosh

    July 5, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    I have no problem with people taking a short break from work and claiming benefits. The impact on the taxpayer is negligible and if a few months on £71 a week doesn’t terrify someone into never being unemployed again, they’re probably not going to find much in the way of work anyway.

    By the same token, I have no problem with the offspring of a tax-dodger living for a while on the trust fund that should have been paid in tax to the state to pay for the roads, police, medical services, all the other things they use every day – it’s roughly the same thing. You only get one life. It shouldn’t all be work, work and if you can take a break, good for you.

    Neither of these are very fashionable positions to take, but they’re at least logically consistent.

    What I do have a problem with is people who complain that they can’t do any of this because of mortgage / kids / work responsibilities and they have to get up every morning, alarm clock Britain, etc. You could live on the dole if you wanted (it’s a life of luxury, right?) but you choose not to. you chose not to for a reason – because the truth is that life on benefits is anxiety-inducing and grindingly boring.

    Don’t blame others for your choices and don’t accept it when they blame you for theirs.


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