Workfare – it works if you want to drive more people to crime


by Flying Rodent    
9:30 am - February 26th 2012

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You have to admire the grand strategy on the Tories. If I was committed to producing an economy that can’t even come close to employing everyone who needs work, I’d encourage young people to take up careers in crime too.

Put simply, firing everyone you possibly can and forcing them to compete for scarce jobs while cracking down on unemployment benefits is a masterstroke, if your aim is to crush all hope out of your opponents’ electoral base and empower your own.

So their new workfare wheeze is a devastating victory.

I mean, I’ve had some terrible jobs in shops, bars and restaurants. The first job I ever had paid £1.52 an hour in 1995; I’ve scrubbed urinals, hauled tables and kegs, mopped up more barf than I care to recall, scrubbed a bajillion ashtrays, hosed down bins and worked in pubs where you have a genuine fear that one of the punters might assault you at any second.

Of course, I’d go back to any of them in a flash rather than try to subsist on the dole, which is what makes Workfare so wonderfully vicious.

So now, we have millions of kids spilling out of school looking for their first job. Realistically, they know those jobs are going to be dire and drudgerous for the first few years, but at least they pay.

Confront these kids with bullshit like Workfare instead of a respectable start to an actual career, and they’re going to instantly clock that the British workplace is an exploitative scam designed explicitly to immiserate them for the benefit of others.

If I’d been put in that position at the age of eighteen, I might have started to notice that other acquaintances of mine were making good cash by cutting corners. Drug dealers, for example, can make hundreds of pounds a week tax-free by sitting on their arses playing Playstation. Countless criminal behaviours offer a quick buck, even if the long-term prospects are grim beyond description.

This set-up creates all kinds of benefits, if you’re an ideological fruitcake. It divides working class people amongst themselves and creates a massive tranche of undeserving poor; it encourages great waves of public resentment for people on benefits, since it’s easier to portray such people as layabouts and villains.

It’s really an impressive system, if you couldn’t give a damn about whether Britain is a pleasant place to live or not. If your ideal scenario is a country dotted by gated communities full of Croesus-rich suburbanites, surrounded by a great roiling ocean of resentful wage slaves and feral scumbags, then the present government’s strategy is working like a charm.

It just surprises me that our current model of capitalism – essentially, setting up a massive, heavily-rigged scam for funneling as much of its rewards to a wealthy minority as possible while keeping the majority of people on the verge of bankruptcy – is now the accepted norm.

You’d think that people would look at that and say, hey, this all looks kind of unsustainable and destined for disaster, doesn’t it?

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Flying Rodent is a regular contributor and blogs more often at: Between the Hammer and the Anvil. He is also on Twitter.
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Reader comments


You have to admire the grand strategy on the Tories.

Excellent article exposing their verminous duplicity on this matter.

Only thing missing from the strategy is a better name than workfare, something that makes it sound like a good thing.

How about……flexible….new ……deal?

2. someone whose comments will be censored any time now

I don’t think you’ve said SLAVERY enough. Sunny and the SWP won’t be pleased.

Remember, what the Salvation Army are doing in offering catering training is EXACTLY the same as the 19th century triangle trade in slaves.

Anyone else get the impression that a hate campaign organised via 140 character limits is going to be similarly limited in nuance?

@2 You forgot to mention snobs, the Tory focus groups explicitly stated that it was the far left and snobs the public didn’t like. You came very close to straying off-message.

When the DWP is effectively spinning against right to welfare, so much so that the argument for benefits as an entitlement is lost, and when levels are so low (when in long term unemployment how can a claimant live on £68 per week) and when claimants are demonised for their predicament – that is there in some areas 28 applicants for every job, is it any wonder if crime increases?

Another article that has not distinguished between the two systems. The one for the young which is meant to be about job experience and giving them something to put on their CV and the one called ‘Steps to Work’ for everyone else.

The thing is that even before the recession, there were large areas of deprivation in booming London. with high rates of unemployment amongst swathes of young people in particular locations, whilst tens of thousands of Eastern Europeans were taking the jobs that should (really) have been for our young people.
Why weren’t they trying to get a job in The Cumberland Hotel at Marble Arch when they lived in Tottenham or Hackney? Loads of people from overseas work there and the other West End hotels, doing all the menial jobs. And they live in places like Tottenham and Hackney too and get the bus and tube to work.
The ”workfare” argument helps ignore the particular problem with youth unemployment and the miserable CV culture.

This article is about the Pembury Estate in Hackney and the riots in august.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/aug/09/riots-pembury-estate-community-hackney

The ”workfare” argument helps ignore the particular problem with youth unemployment and the miserable CV culture.

There are a million serious faults in our working culture, not least of which is the simple fact that we haven’t had a government that is interested in full employment for decades. It looks very much like our economy has been structured with a requirement for significant unemployment, and not accidentally either.

Nonetheless, it’s right and just to respond to idiotic wheezes like workfare, and the suggestion that we should be more worried about an aspect of employment strategy that you find more politically convenient is… convenient.

Not too sure what you’re suggesting, if anything, should be done.

A full employment strategy, what would that be then? A keynesian-style mini-inflationary boom, to sneakily reduce real wages, without having to cut money wages?

A ‘British jobs for British workers’ policy, i.e., kick out them damned Poles?

A series of tax cuts to reduce the marginal cost of employing people and / or abolition of the minimum wage laws?

Also you seem to be of the opinion that crime is a legitimate pursuit for people out of work.

Also you seem to be of the opinion that crime is a legitimate pursuit for people out of work.

This is pretty straightforward, I would’ve thought. If you restrict people’s ability to make a living by legitimate means, you increase their incentives to make a living by illegitimate ones.

Further, if you force youngsters to bear all of the shittier aspects of low-paid jobs without offering them any of the benefits, you’re training them to believe that legitimate employment is an exploitative scam. That goes double when you actually are forcing them into an exploitative scam.

Not too sure what you’re suggesting, if anything, should be done.

If I knew what should be done, I’d be making good money telling people to do it. I’m just here to say hey folks – our current strategy is worse than ineffective, it’s actively harmful.

Also you seem to be of the opinion that crime is a legitimate pursuit for people out of work.

You actually read the article, and your brain somehow managed to extract that message out of it?

My word, Trooper. You really are the absolutely end-product of this process:
http://sethf.com/essays/major/libstupid.php

“You’d think that people would look at that and say, hey, this all looks kind of unsustainable and destined for disaster, doesn’t it?”

Alas, I fear it’s perfectly sustainable. Most people have been poor in most places for most of history, after all, with a small minority of wealthy individuals doing very nicely out of everyone else’s labour. (There’s been the odd revolt to contend with, of course, but successful ones have been few and far between.) What we’re struggling to sustain are the innovations of the post-war era: a comprehensive welfare state, a government commitment to low unemployment, a minimum wage, redistribution via the tax and benefits system etc.

If your ideal scenario is a country dotted by gated communities full of Croesus-rich suburbanites, surrounded by a great roiling ocean of resentful wage slaves and feral scumbags, then the present government’s strategy is working like a charm.

You’d be surprised at how many people would find that to be an ideal scenario. Corey Robin’s “The Reactionary Mind” claims that the reason US republicans are able to get so many lower/middle class peeps to vote for them, and thus against their own interests is because they offer something he brilliantly calls “democratic feudalism.” In other words, dominion over your “lessers” in the private spheres of the workplace (middle-management tyrants) and the home (lockin’ down the wife and daughter’s ladyparts): “the most visible effort of the GOP since the 2010 midterm election has been to curtail the rights of employees and the rights of women.”
Robin points out that the U.S. stands alone in the Western world in the enormous size of its middle-management and supervisory workforce. “Every man a king!” sounds great, but who plays “the serfs”? That would be the usual roster of women, immigrants, and all those who stink of poor–well, poorer than the “little conservative king” handing out the pink slips. The hedge-funder gets the capital gains tax cut and the Walmart Assistant Manager gets to hold the livelihoods of dozens (and their families) in the palm of his hand–permitted to inflict an economic violence on each and every one that, in some ways, makes a public flogging look like a demerit.

(Cribed shamelessly from here:- http://exiledonline.com/conscience-of-a-radical-corey-robin%E2%80%99s-the-reactionary-mind/ )

So what do you do with NEETS who have hardly had proper jobs ever and may have gotten a couple of convictions, and who can’t even speak the kind of English that discriminating fuddy-duddy employment personel might think was a prerequisite?
The kind of people you see the police chasing around Hull and Lewisham on those reality cop shows?

What do you do with the hoodies coming into the job centre every fortnight saying they are looking for work, but you know are pretty unemployable?
Members of the Peckham Boys (London street gang) for example?
Just leave them go through the pretence that there’s ”just nothing out there”?

If it was ”compulsory training” the SWP etc would still be condemning it.

On the other hand, I fully understand why some people reject becoming the working poor, and would rather just be the unemployed poor … with the chance to make a bit on the side maybe.

Flying Rodent,

best article I’ve read anywhere in a long time.

I think that there is a general desperate need for scapegoats all over the place. The Americans with their culture wars seem to do much better. From masturbating teenagers to marauding Hispanics, the U.S. Right can easily conjure up the desired scapegoats on demand. Simon Kuper had a good article in the FT yesterday about this subject. Wilders frustrated that Muslims will not fulfill their role of blowing stuff up has turned his attention to Eastern Europeans, particularly the Polish. They have developed a website for people to report Poles for making a noise, doing Polish stuff and stealing my job. A Polish Muslim would obviously be a double bonus.

We have a similar problem with being blown up by a Muslim about as likely as Eric Pickles winning slimmer of the year. We need scapegoats and we need them now. Smelly teenagers are as good a scapegoat as any other. Especially since they are all potential rioters anyway.

15. flyingrodent

So what do you do with NEETS who have hardly had proper jobs ever and may have gotten a couple of convictions…

Who the Hell knows? They’re the product of the last few governments’ mad economic and employment schemes, namely – abandoning any notion of full employment in favour of cycles of punitive action against the unemployed. The very existence of so many people who have never had a job should be an excellent illustration of these programmes’ efficacy. I can’t see why
another round of crackdowns will suddenlt work, particularly in the middle of record unemployment/low opportunity.

What I am telling you is, it would be better not to intentionally produce another generation of workless kids.

If you want a ten-point plan on how to deal with the one we already have, there are thinktanks with all kinds of funky ideas in that direction, most of which closely resemble more aggressive versions the very ideas that have failed so dismally.

@ Larry,

if you need to consider yourself in some way intellectually superior, far be it for me to interfere with what is no doubt a necessary psychological boost to your low self-esteem.

And the beautiful thing is that criminals don’t get punished like the unemployed.

FR @ OP:

This is just fact-free rhetoric. Do you have any evidence that UK ‘workfare’ schemes are correlated with increased crime rates? And if they are correlations, whether the cause is ‘workfare’ UK-style?

The evidence available indicates that genuine workfare schemes in Australia, the US and Canada result in up to 50% of participants ceasing to claim benefits. We simply do not know where they go — into the black economy? Into crime? Or perhaps they were benefit fraudsters? However, given that said countries are not experiencing massive crime waves, it doesn’t look like crime, does it?

“that crime is a legitimate pursuit for people out of work.”

The main problem is this; the free market side of the conservative party think that the mechanism by which people get jobs is called a ‘labour market’ , and like other markets will always reach equilibirum in a natural state of affairs. Hence unemployment – or a surplus of workers – can only be solved by enabling the ‘labour market’ to reach equilibirum by removing barriers to the wage level dropping. This mean abolishing the welfare state, so people literally take what they can get.

The problem is these free market tories are too thick to realise that the labour market is not like the market for – say – salmon. Traders with unsold pieces of salmon can deal with things by reducing prices to clear the market, but unemployed people act differently. Salmon can’t go shoplifting or do some armed robbery. People can.

Hence if you are face with the choice between cleaning toilets for 50 pence a day, or a career in crime then guess what happens.

(Luis enrique – I am aware that actual economists know this and have written numerous pieces of literature explaining why the labour market isn’t like other forms of commodity markets – it is just that the tories party free market tendency doesn’t and makes the generalization from the textbook)

20. Dear Old Ted

.You’d think that people would look at that and say, hey, this all looks kind of unsustainable and destined for disaster, doesn’t it?.

Yep, yes you would.

21. flyingrodent

This is just fact-free rhetoric.

Looks like you’re new to my writing, then.

My point is based on my own experience, both in working shitty jobs and seeing friends and acquaintences’ choices over the years. I’m extrapolating that out to other kids from working class backgrounds, most of whom won’t have had my good fortune to go to a reasonable school and enter the workplace at the start of an economic upturn. It seems broadly reasonable to me, but I’m happy to reevaluate if there are strong reasons to do so.

The evidence available indicates that genuine workfare schemes in Australia, the US and Canada result in up to 50% of participants ceasing to claim benefits.

That word “genuine workfare” – that’s an interesting modifier, there.

Anyway, okay. Even assuming this is true and that it’s backed up by solid stats, and discounting the fact that a large number of US claimants “cease claiming benefits” because the state withdraws them after a set period, here’s the key question.

Were any of these schemes brought in during record-busting financial crises with waves of redundancies and government cuts forcing young jobseekers to compete for even the lowest-paying jobs with millions of experienced workers who have been forced into unemployment?

Because that’s really the main issue, here. I think I make it clear in my post that I’m talking about the UK government’s entire emploment/economic strategy, of which Workfare is just one small but highly obnoxious part. I don’t think Workfare in isolation from other aspects of employment policy is going to fill the streets with burglars, but I do think it’s an especially offensive example of the government’s response to massive redundancies and I think that the overall strategy is going to encourage a lot of kids to seek… alternative methods to make ends meet. Like I say – if you intentionally restrict employment opportunities, many people are likely to innovate.

And even for those who do just stick it out, it’s still a stupendous insight into the Tories’ thinking. It’s precisely the kind of response I’d expect from people who have never stacked a shelf or mopped a floor, and who have never even struggled to pay a bill, let alone deal with long-term unemployment.

I don’t get why people fail to get their head around why people from eastern Europe etc will do jobs that “British workers wont”. It’s because to people from eastern Europe, the jobs are a good deal and it’s worth coming over for a couple of years to send money back home etc.To people who live here and have to be here long-term,it seems like slave labour so they – fairly understandably – say “you can stick your shitty job”. And to those who say they would rather do jobs like that (effectively for the long-term) than nothing, well, lets not pretend you have to actually do those jobs shall we?

Would you do a shitty minimum wage job – with no prospects – for an indeterminate time and still not be able to live properly? You wouldn’t? Oh.

23. flyingrodent

Would you do a shitty minimum wage job – with no prospects – for an indeterminate time and still not be able to live properly?

I’ve done it for years, and so have millions of Britons – it sucks. I was lucky, in that a smartarse like me will eventually get a better job somewhere else.

More crime means the right-wing media can scare more of the public into supporting the Tories with stories and reports on the increased crime rate and gives the Tories the opportuninty to engage in the macho posturing they are so fond of, with the usual “we will show criminals zero tolerance” “prison works” spiel.

The next move from the Tories will be to fully privatise all the prisons so that the more crime goes up the more profits they can make by incarcerating more people and of course getting to work for free while in prison.

The Tories will not rest until we are a mini-America minus the legal right to bear arms (funny how they never want to import that particular American policy). It’s win-win for the Tories, more crime means more profits and it wont be them or their supporters who are the victims of the increased crime, it will be the those who they despise the great unwashed.

The Tories dearly want more crime.

Amidst the hyperbole of slave labour and other emotive language there is a curious dearth of information of whether any of these schemes do any good. Not surprisingly the abuse of stats is much to the fore. We hear that 50 per cent of young people stop claiming benefits within 3 months of taking part. Great the scheme works. Except, 60% of young people stop claiming benefits within 3 months in any event. A strict reading of the stats would suggest that taking part in these schemes makes it less likely that the lucky participant will stop claiming benefits. Doing nothing returns at least as good results as the interventions.

Jonathan Portes a former UK Cabinet Office official had a good take on the current state of play with an interesting chart
http://notthetreasuryview.blogspot.com/2012/02/work-experience-does-it-work.html#more

I think the Left and the Right get it so wrong on the issue of unemployment because they imagine the unemployed as a stock. Whereas the unemployed in reality are a flow. The only stock are the long-term unemployed and that is the only area where any attention should be focused. Flows will take care of themselves.

@ flyingrodent

“the last few governments’ mad economic and employment schemes, namely – abandoning any notion of full employment in favour of cycles of punitive action against the unemployed”

In fairness, the steady 5% unemployment rate we had under Blair was a damned sight closer to ‘full employment’ than Thatcher’s average of 9%.

@ 19 Planeshift,

“I am aware that actual economists know this and have written numerous pieces of literature explaining why the labour market isn’t like other forms of commodity markets – it is just that the tories party free market tendency doesn’t and makes the generalization from the textbook”

What textbook are you talking about? What actual economists are you citing? Why is the labour market not like other forms of commodity market? Is it the ‘sticky wages’ thing, or what else?

28. So Much For Subtlety

6. flyingrodent

There are a million serious faults in our working culture, not least of which is the simple fact that we haven’t had a government that is interested in full employment for decades. It looks very much like our economy has been structured with a requirement for significant unemployment, and not accidentally either.

Well there are two things wrong with this asinine Pop Marxism. One is that of course every government would love to have full employment. The problem is no one knows how to bring it about except by politically unacceptable means – like abolishing welfare. The reason for that is obvious – which you also ignore – a lot of people on Benefits have no desire to work. You can’t get them off if they don’t want to come off. Thus they do not serve as Marx’s reserve army. They do not help keep inflation down. In fact they do little except ruin the country.

8. flyingrodent

This is pretty straightforward, I would’ve thought. If you restrict people’s ability to make a living by legitimate means, you increase their incentives to make a living by illegitimate ones.

Sure. And if a boy is so ugly and unpleasant he can’t get a girlfriend I am sure we would all agree that increases his incentive to rape instead. I don’t think that is justifiable. Nor do I think most people. Do you?

Further, if you force youngsters to bear all of the shittier aspects of low-paid jobs without offering them any of the benefits, you’re training them to believe that legitimate employment is an exploitative scam. That goes double when you actually are forcing them into an exploitative scam.

No. If you force people into work and the usual Leftist suspects make the usual bulls!t claims about slavery and exploitation, the feeble minded among them may come to think of legitimate employment as a scam. If you shut up they would get some work experience, move into the world of work and we would all be better off.

I’m just here to say hey folks – our current strategy is worse than ineffective, it’s actively harmful.

Yeah. A pity you have no evidence for that.

29. So Much For Subtlety

15. flyingrodent

Who the Hell knows?

So you have nothing to offer except impediments to those who do know?

They’re the product of the last few governments’ mad economic and employment schemes, namely – abandoning any notion of full employment in favour of cycles of punitive action against the unemployed. The very existence of so many people who have never had a job should be an excellent illustration of these programmes’ efficacy.

No they are not. NEETs have been growing in Britain since the 1970s. It has nothing to do with the government’s economic schemes and everything to do with their education and welfare schemes. If we turn out ever larger numbers of yoof who have perfectly high self-esteem but can’t read, while giving them money to do nothing, they will do nothing. The problems of Britain have to do with welfare. Not with employment programmes.

I can’t see why another round of crackdowns will suddenlt work, particularly in the middle of record unemployment/low opportunity.

Well now is a particularly bad time to try anything, but given the enormous resistance people like you put up to trying it in better times, there really is no choice but to do it now we’re broke. But of course Britain has plenty of jobs for these people. If they chose to work.

30. So Much For Subtlety

19. Planeshift

Hence unemployment – or a surplus of workers – can only be solved by enabling the ‘labour market’ to reach equilibirum by removing barriers to the wage level dropping. This mean abolishing the welfare state, so people literally take what they can get.

So we are all on the same page then? Unemployment can be abolished if wages are low enough? Then the solution is to use the welfare state to top up wages to an acceptable level. That way workers get paid. Everyone is happy. What is wrong with this?

The problem is these free market tories are too thick to realise that the labour market is not like the market for – say – salmon. Traders with unsold pieces of salmon can deal with things by reducing prices to clear the market, but unemployed people act differently. Salmon can’t go shoplifting or do some armed robbery. People can.

I don’t think that Tories fail to realise this. What they tend to think is that most people are honest and so won’t go shoplifting. A claim for which there is some considerable evidence. You, on the other hand, seem to think the poor are amoral sociopathic scumbags who will only leave us alone if we pay them off. I don’t think there is any need to comment on that point of view. Except to point out that it is factually wrong – the more we pay NEETs the more crime they commit. Crime and welfare have risen hand in hand.

Hence if you are face with the choice between cleaning toilets for 50 pence a day, or a career in crime then guess what happens.

Most people clean the toilet. Because most people are basically decent.

But the small minority who wouldn’t, fine, jail them. We have a certain percentage of sociopaths in our society. Better running Apple than being in jail, but if that is not an option, better jail.

flyingrodent

Looks like you’re new to my writing, then.

You’re proud of it?

My point is based on my own experience, both in working shitty jobs and seeing friends and acquaintences’ choices over the years. I’m extrapolating that out to other kids from working class backgrounds, most of whom won’t have had my good fortune to go to a reasonable school and enter the workplace at the start of an economic upturn. It seems broadly reasonable to me, but I’m happy to reevaluate if there are strong reasons to do so.

So you admit that working a crappy job put you on the path to a better life, but you still want to deny this opportunity to other young people? Interesting.

Anyway, okay. Even assuming this is true and that it’s backed up by solid stats, and discounting the fact that a large number of US claimants “cease claiming benefits” because the state withdraws them after a set period, here’s the key question.

Let’s not discount it. Let’s look what happens to them when their benefits are withdrawn. Oh, until this downturn, they all got jobs. What a surprise.

Like I say – if you intentionally restrict employment opportunities, many people are likely to innovate.

So you would support a wholesale removal of regulations that restrict those employment opportunities?

And even for those who do just stick it out, it’s still a stupendous insight into the Tories’ thinking. It’s precisely the kind of response I’d expect from people who have never stacked a shelf or mopped a floor, and who have never even struggled to pay a bill, let alone deal with long-term unemployment.

Which is ironic considering that is precisely what I think about your proposal the poor will go on a mass looting spree like something from a zombie flick.

Ted Maul

Would you do a shitty minimum wage job – with no prospects – for an indeterminate time and still not be able to live properly? You wouldn’t? Oh.

Yes I would actually. And most of my family has done so. Because no job has no prospects. Even the worst job has better prospects than sitting on the dole. Such jobs are a stage in most people’s lives. For too many people the dole is a permanent lifestyle choice.

flyingrodent

I’ve done it for years, and so have millions of Britons – it sucks. I was lucky, in that a smartarse like me will eventually get a better job somewhere else.

It is just that everyone else is too thick to benefit or what?

31. flyingrodent

So Much For Subtlety: if a boy is so ugly and unpleasant he can’t get a girlfriend I am sure we would all agree that increases his incentive to rape instead.

Zoiks, Scoob – the electorate expects the government to bust its backside to create jobs and, in hard times, to provide a minimum income for those it can’t find employment for. It’s part of the contract between government and governed, in this country.

Now, go search the major parties’ manifestos for their pledges to provide everyone with regular sex. If you can find mention of it, I’ll agree that this isn’t the single most idiotic argument that I’ve ever had to respond to at this website.

One is that of course every government would love to have full employment. The problem is no one knows how to bring it about except by politically unacceptable means…

This would be an acceptable explanation if there was any evidence that any British government of the last thirty years has even made the vaguest effort to find employment for the entire populace. There isn’t any that I’m aware of, but there’s plenty to suggest that they’re perfectly happy to justify significant unemployment by attacking the unemployed.

The reason for that is obvious – which you also ignore – a lot of people on Benefits have no desire to work.

What proportion of the 2.7 million people unemployed – including the, what, maybe 70% of that who have been made redundant in the last few years – does this cover? And, given that I’m very, very clearly talking about how to prevent the next generation of kids coming out of school becoming long-term unemployed, why are you so keen to talk about the current crop?

So you admit that working a crappy job put you on the path to a better life, but you still want to deny this opportunity to other young people? Interesting.

Either you’re unaware that Workfare is a bullshit scheme that doesn’t provide either prospects or a decent wage, or you’re intentionally pretending not to. Either way, you’re talking obvious nonsense.

It is just that everyone else is too thick to benefit or what?

I’m lucky in that I’ve always been good at communicating – that’s a marketable skill in the modern era. Not everyone can get jobs bumping their gums for a living, and are looking for jobs that require different skills. This is obvious, surely.

And that’s as much as you’re getting for now – if you want full responses in future, you could try keeping your screeds to at most the same length as the original post.

@28 SMFS: I’m pretty sure if what said ugly lad is after is sex, rather than power, then increasing incentive toward paying for sex is FAR more likely than resorting to rape. But don’t let me get in the way of a crap argument.

33. flyingrodent

if a boy is so ugly and unpleasant he can’t get a girlfriend I am sure we would all agree that increases his incentive to rape instead. I don’t think that is justifiable. Nor do I think most people. Do you?

Oh God, I’ve just noticed that this is even stupider than I’d first thought. SMFS seems to think that I’m arguing that burgling TVs from people’s houses and shoplifting are awesome and/or totally justified.

I think that shows how much attention you were paying there, geezer. Did you stop and have a bit of a think before you started bashing this out, or did you just pick up the basic premise and run with it in a moment of high passion?

34. So Much For Subtlety

31. flyingrodent

the electorate expects the government to bust its backside to create jobs and, in hard times, to provide a minimum income for those it can’t find employment for. It’s part of the contract between government and governed, in this country.

OK. But it is not really relevant is it?

Now, go search the major parties’ manifestos for their pledges to provide everyone with regular sex. If you can find mention of it, I’ll agree that this isn’t the single most idiotic argument that I’ve ever had to respond to at this website.

That is not relevant either. Your argument is that if someone is deprived of A, they will take it by force. A here being money. Why is it crap to say that it is just as stupid to say A is sex? The major parties do have general and vague commitments to encouraging regular sex. Tax breaks for married couples and the like. But it is irrelevant.

This would be an acceptable explanation if there was any evidence that any British government of the last thirty years has even made the vaguest effort to find employment for the entire populace. There isn’t any that I’m aware of, but there’s plenty to suggest that they’re perfectly happy to justify significant unemployment by attacking the unemployed.

Well it has been a long time since they realised that there was no politically acceptable way to achieve full employment. But of course they would love it if it were to happen. They just are not brave enough to court the bad media from forcing people to work.

What proportion of the 2.7 million people unemployed – including the, what, maybe 70% of that who have been made redundant in the last few years – does this cover? And, given that I’m very, very clearly talking about how to prevent the next generation of kids coming out of school becoming long-term unemployed, why are you so keen to talk about the current crop?

2.7 million? Surely not. The long term unemployed probably represent people who can’t be bothered looking for work. Most people cycle in and out of benefits until they get a stable job. So we should copy the American system and just cut them off all together after six months.

If the next generation of children see that the current crop have an enviable life style, they will seek to acquire it. The way to prevent them is to not let them.

Either you’re unaware that Workfare is a bullshit scheme that doesn’t provide either prospects or a decent wage, or you’re intentionally pretending not to. Either way, you’re talking obvious nonsense.

Except Workfare is not a bullshit scheme without prospects. It does seem to help. We shall see at any rate. Not that it is nonsense. Your bullshit dead end jobs turned out to be neither bullshit or a dead end. Well not a dead end anyway. You moved on to better things – and your willingness to work in said dead end jobs probably had something to do with it. It worked for you. So why are you so implacably opposed to letting it work for others?

I’m lucky in that I’ve always been good at communicating – that’s a marketable skill in the modern era. Not everyone can get jobs bumping their gums for a living, and are looking for jobs that require different skills. This is obvious, surely.

So you bullshitted your way out? Well it is a skill I suppose. But you really think that there is no other option for people who are willing to demonstrate they want to work so much they will work a dead end job for little pay? I would have thought a good reference from the successful completion of such a scheme was a very powerful signal to an employer. Why don’t you?

And that’s as much as you’re getting for now – if you want full responses in future, you could try keeping your screeds to at most the same length as the original post.

33. flyingrodent

Oh God, I’ve just noticed that this is even stupider than I’d first thought. SMFS seems to think that I’m arguing that burgling TVs from people’s houses and shoplifting are awesome and/or totally justified.

It is a thin line between going from what is natural to what is justifiable. You can’t blame a Gay person for being Gay if it is his nature. Nor can you blame a thief. I have no idea what you mean by your argument but it is a cigarette paper width away from saying that it is all the government’s fault.

35. Chaise Guevara

@ 34 SMFS

“It is a thin line between going from what is natural to what is justifiable.”

First time I’ve heard the is/ought gap described as a thin line.

“You can’t blame a Gay person for being Gay if it is his nature. Nor can you blame a thief.”

Ok, but assuming* that flyingrodent is right about the factual statement that workfare drives people to crime, are you saying he should lie about that fact for fear of implying that crime is justifiable under your terms? That we should never, ever discuss the causal reasons for bad things people do? Because that’s the implication I’m picking up here.

*If you disagree, feel free to treat it as a hypothetical.

@5 damon.

How do you know that Tottenham and Hackney youths didn’t apply for jobs at West End hotels?

Perhaps the immigrant workers had extensive hospitality experience on their CV, unlike the local youths/

Perhaps Tottenham or Hackney youths never go to the West End. Many don’t even leave their own borough. They might not even know these hotels exist, or if they do assume they’d only hire the middle class.

SMFS – Rape is largely about power. There are many rapists who have had wives and a string of girlfriends. It is nothing to do with looks.

@35 You missed where he implied that being a thief is somehow inherent to someone’s nature. Ie that people are born thieves.

39. Chaise Guevara

@ 27 Planeshift

“Rape is largely about power. There are many rapists who have had wives and a string of girlfriends. It is nothing to do with looks.”

Conjecture here, but I believe misogyny can be a component factor (i.e. the rapist wants to assert power over women because he hates them). If a man has been unsuccessful with the opposite sex that could lead him to misogyny, and obviously looks affect your chances in that respect. So looks could be an indirect factor.

40. Chaise Guevara

@ 38 Cylux

“You missed where he implied that being a thief is somehow inherent to someone’s nature. Ie that people are born thieves.”

Well, from a deterministic perspective that could be true. Which isn’t the same as saying that a child born to thieves will be a thief, of course.

41. Chaise Guevara

@ Cylux again

Sorry, I phrased that badly. What I mean is that if you think someone’s personality is determined by their genetics and their circumstances, without a third component of some kind of free will that allows genuine choice, then you can easily argue that nobody really deserves anything, good or bad, based on their actions, because ultimately your choices are predetermined.

I hasten to add that I don’t think we should adopt this philosophy into the legal system, because it’s unworkable from a societal viewpoint.

Richard @36

How do you know that Tottenham and Hackney youths didn’t apply for jobs at West End hotels?

Maybe they do, but they’re not getting the jobs. The problem could just be this wretched CV culture we are stuck with. There have been West End hotels for hundreds of years and have always been staffed by people coming in to work from working class neighbourhoods.
The same with the City of London. There have always been thousands of working class jobs in the City. All the postroom and catering jobs and just manning the buildings. The people who did them came from the near-by East End and places like Tottenham. But you never needed a poxy CV to get an interview.

As for people never leaving their borough, yes that is a part of the problem with the long term unemployed. There is a hard core of people who just don’t want to be in a low paid crap job, which is completely understandable. If you offered people factory jobs at minimum wage, many of the innner city unemployed youth just wouldn’t be able to stick it.
Can you imagine trying to get unemployed Tottenham youths into a mini-bus at 6am to take them for a days work picking vegetables an hour’s journey away in the countryside of Essex? It just couldn’t happen. But Eastern Europeans would do it.

Maybe (just maybe) there comes a time where you stop paying people JSA if you think they aren’t making any effort. Was the guy who got shot by the police in Tottenham signing on as unemployed? If you’re in your thirties and have hardly had a regular job, is it right to still be being paid by benefits? I’m not sure one way or the other completely.
Maybe you have to keep paying out to prevent an eruption of crime and rioting.

SMFS,

This is pretty straightforward, I would’ve thought. If you restrict people’s ability to make a living by legitimate means, you increase their incentives to make a living by illegitimate ones.

Sure. And if a boy is so ugly and unpleasant he can’t get a girlfriend I am sure we would all agree that increases his incentive to rape instead. I don’t think that is justifiable. Nor do I think most people. Do you?

Oh hello Captain Non-sequitur.

33. flyingrodent

Oh God, I’ve just noticed that this is even stupider than I’d first thought. SMFS seems to think that I’m arguing that burgling TVs from people’s houses and shoplifting are awesome and/or totally justified.

It is a thin line between going from what is natural to what is justifiable. You can’t blame a Gay person for being Gay if it is his nature. Nor can you blame a thief. I have no idea what you mean by your argument but it is a cigarette paper width away from saying that it is all the government’s fault.

suggesting something may happen because of some other thing != justification for it happening.

HTH.

@37: “Rape is largely about power. There are many rapists who have had wives and a string of girlfriends. It is nothing to do with looks.”

Likewise, theft is largely about coolness. As is robbery, which is also about power. Generally, people don’t steal things or mug passers-by because they are hungry and starving. They just have the peer pressure for “I also want that big flat screen TV”.

Sure, sometimes there are people who steal something to eat, but that is mostly not about having enough money to buy food; it’s about priorities for how the money is used:

If you go and steal food, and use your money to get drugs, the worst that can happen is a symbolic slap on the wrist by the court system. If you go and use your money to buy food, and steal or rob drugs, you’re into serious trouble. Someone is very likely going to have your bones broken or put a knife in your lungs. Quite different, and surely motivates you to choose right.

46. flyingrodent

But it is not really relevant is it?

I’d say the issue of government provision is fairly relevant when discussing government provision of benefits, yes. Attractive young women, for instance, haven’t volunteered to have sex with anyone who asks them nicely, far less promised the entire population that they would do so. British governments, on the other hand, have explicitly promised to increase jobs and employment opportunities.

Why is it crap to say that it is just as stupid to say A is sex?

To pick just one point – you can survive quite cheerfully without sex. You won’t survive cheerfully without food, shelter or clothing.

But anyway, this is all a fairly shallow attempt to divert us away from the efficacy of workfare and onto yet another tedious debate on personal responsibility. Let’s just say that, if a government radically cut regulation of the rail industry while blithely ignoring warnings of serious crashes resulting, and serious crashes soar by 150% in the next five years… No Prime Minister is going to avoid criticism by pointing out that he wasn’t personally driving any of the trains that crashed, or for designing a faulty junction box.

On other matters: Let’s skip over the bit where you respond to an invitation to focus on current school-leavers rather than the long-term unemployed by… focusing entirely on the long-term unemployed. Oops.

Workfare is not a bullshit scheme without prospects… Your bullshit dead end jobs turned out to be neither bullshit or a dead end.

Yet again, for the umpteenth time – I got paid enough to live to a minimum standard for doing my bullshit, dead-end jobs. I could eat and there was a little money left over for socialising. My bullshit jobs came with a possibility of greater responsibility and advancement.

You don’t get paid for doing workfare – you are in fact forced to do workfare in order to continue receiving benefit payments that amount to a fraction of the minimum wage. That is, you are compelled to do workfare or face the possibility of not eating and being made homeless. There is no possibility of greater responsibility, nor is there any possibility of advancement. In fact, there’s almost no possibility that it will even end with you getting a fucking job at all.

There is no comparison between “A job, however shit” and “workfare”. The latter is not a job.

Now. How could you have missed this important difference between “actual work” and “workfare”? Either by a) not paying any attention and running your yap regardless or b) pretending not to understand this, for reasons that are unclear.

It is a thin line between going from what is natural to what is justifiable etc. etc.

TL;DR. If you can’t say it in a couple of paragraphs, I’m going to stop responding.

47. Roger Mexico

So Much For Subtlety (#34)

I have no idea what you mean by your argument but it is a cigarette paper width away from saying that it is all the government’s fault.

So you have no idea what flyingrodent means, but you are sure that it is nearly identical to what you would have liked him to say?

I can only assume he refrained from giving a (rhetorical) good kicking out of pity.

flyingrodent and others:

I’m honestly beginning to wonder whether SMFS is an individual or some kind of automated reply script – something like

function generate-reply {

read (post) {
for (term in right-wing-buzz-points)
generate (easily-refutable-dacre-canard)

if (length & tone < "tedious") then
insert-callous-assertion-about(poor OR youth OR unemployed)
}
if (adds-nothing-to-discussion & simply-offends-to-generate-reply)
then (submit)
}

@48
pmsl, I thought it was Sunny doing the stereotypyical Daily Fail/NOW reader for a while!

50. Chaise Guevara

@ 48 bluepillnation

That’s a completely unfair representation of SMFS!

You forgot: insert (paranoid-theory-that-positive-social-trend-will-destroy-Britain-forever)!

@Chaise, don’t make it funnier, already pmsl!

What we’re looking at here is something which began as a justification for petty political revenge – in this case crippling the unions for their perceived role in throwing Heath’s Tory government out on it’s ear by destroying the largely nationalised heavy industry that drove the UK economy – transmogrify into a national pathology. A pathology whereby people of a certain political stripe *genuinely believe* the crap that the early-’80s vanguard were spouting.

It’s really simple – when you have a working-age population that’s roughly 2-3m larger than the number of available jobs, accusing those not fortunate enough to have one of simply not trying hard enough does not compute. Knowing that the number is largely down to deliberate policy-making to disenfranchise and demoralise the working class while allowing a bunch of grafters to make a fortune from the ruins and cheering on that policy is pretty damn heartless. Essentially forcing their kids and grandkids to work for free for that same bunch of grafters with the other “option” being homelessness or malnutrition should be well beyond the fucking pale.

That for some people it clearly isn’t is why I call it a pathology.

@52, grafters??? I insert grifters…
you are right though, all humour aside in your original post, & my/chaise’s reaction, it is indeed pathological.

The wealth accumulators of the Thatcherite bent are only getting or maintaining the riches they have acquired through impoverishing the rest of us – they have started to degenerate below even plutocracy, they are really no better than kleptocrats like – for example – Robert Mugabe…

ps slavery policies are worse than forcing JSA claimants to undercut us, so-called captains of industry can legally use the rehabilitation of offenders act as leverage to make you redundant, and use a convicted murderer, rapist, mugger & burgular to do your job for £2 per week, while the rest of us pay approximately £1500 pw to keep them productively gaoled…

who says slavery doesn’t pay, when some corporations can get away with that!

@53 – I meant in the perjorative sense (i.e, a criminal), but either word will do!

@50 – That’s an insult to my professional pride! I abstracted that function into the “easily-refutable-dacre-canard” module, along with “make-fatuous-reference-to-non-existent-sepia-toned-past” and several others…

As a ‘trot’ and someone described as a left-wing extremist and militant I decided to try and find out if the right wing media are willing to engage in a debate based on the facts around welfare and ‘workfare’. To do this I sent the following message to the Telegraph, Times, Sun, Express, Mail, Guido Fawkes, Tim Montgomerie:

Here is a challenge to you – print or at least provide an objective summary of the following documents:
ESA Sanctions Official Statistics
http://statistics.dwp.gov.uk/asd/workingage/esa_sanc/esa_sanc_feb12.pdf
Housing Benefit and Council tax benefit statistics
http://statistics.dwp.gov.uk/asd/index.php?page=hbctb
The exchange in the Lords on Youth Unemployment
Hansard columns 678,679 14 Feb 2012
The design of the Work Programme in international context
http://www.nao.org.uk//idoc.ashx?docId=af024e10-cbae-43e3-aadf-7460a0248a06&version=-1
SOCIAL SECURITY ADVISORY COMMITTEE MINUTES 12/11 December 2011
http://ssac.independent.gov.uk/pdf/minutes/07-12-11.pdf
New appeals proposals
http://ilegal.org.uk/index.cgi?action=display&board=reformnews&thread=4534&page=1
Needless to say this challenge to you is being copied around the web.

If they refuse to engage, and it took the Telegraph literally seconds to delete the message I sent to them, then it shows they are unwilling to engage with anything other than DWP briefings and this can be used to turn the debate around so we can see who the real anti-democrats are.

56. So Much For Subtlety

35. Chaise Guevara

Ok, but assuming* that flyingrodent is right about the factual statement that workfare drives people to crime, are you saying he should lie about that fact for fear of implying that crime is justifiable under your terms? That we should never, ever discuss the causal reasons for bad things people do? Because that’s the implication I’m picking up here.

The problem is I am objecting to the assumption he is right. I don’t think there is a link between poverty and crime. Nor do I think that workfare will drive people to crime. So of course I am saying no such thing.

37. Planeshift

Rape is largely about power. There are many rapists who have had wives and a string of girlfriends. It is nothing to do with looks.

I doubt it has everything to do with looks, but if rape was driven by power, older women would be more at risk. So would richer and more powerful women. In reality rape is most common among poor women of prime reproductive years. Suggesting that sex does play a role.

Not that it matters. Except in so far as it may be of interest to Chaise in his quest for an unpopular truth we all have to lie about.

38. Cylux

You missed where he implied that being a thief is somehow inherent to someone’s nature. Ie that people are born thieves.

No he did not. He objected to flyingrodent implying it.

41. Chaise Guevara

I hasten to add that I don’t think we should adopt this philosophy into the legal system, because it’s unworkable from a societal viewpoint.

Not even if it is, you know, true? Proven scientifically?

43. ukliberty

SMFS,

Oh hello Captain Non-sequitur.

Pleased to meet you. But it was not a non-sequitur.

44. ukliberty

suggesting something may happen because of some other thing != justification for it happening.

No but it is close. As I said.

57. So Much For Subtlety

46. flyingrodent

British governments, on the other hand, have explicitly promised to increase jobs and employment opportunities.

And they have done so. Repeatedly. It is just that our ferals have no interest in them so they all go to Romanians and Poles.

To pick just one point – you can survive quite cheerfully without sex. You won’t survive cheerfully without food, shelter or clothing.

Which is irrelevant. You have to work very hard to go without food or shelter or clothing in the UK. That is not what we are discussing.

Let’s just say that, if a government radically cut regulation of the rail industry while blithely ignoring warnings of serious crashes resulting, and serious crashes soar by 150% in the next five years…

Why would we bother? It is irrelevant. It is government regulation that has caused this massive screw up. We need to reduce said regulation. Then we might get more job creation.

No Prime Minister is going to avoid criticism by pointing out that he wasn’t personally driving any of the trains that crashed, or for designing a faulty junction box.

Yet again, for the umpteenth time – I got paid enough to live to a minimum standard for doing my bullshit, dead-end jobs. I could eat and there was a little money left over for socialising. My bullshit jobs came with a possibility of greater responsibility and advancement.

And these people get JSA. Did you advance or did you switch to another job?

There is no possibility of greater responsibility, nor is there any possibility of advancement. In fact, there’s almost no possibility that it will even end with you getting a fucking job at all.

You do not know that. Shelf stacking at Tesco’s does not look promising but it does not mean you cannot advance. Nor is what Tesco’s do necessarily the same as what Mind does.

Now. How could you have missed this important difference between “actual work” and “workfare”? Either by a) not paying any attention and running your yap regardless or b) pretending not to understand this, for reasons that are unclear.

Because everyone else is denying there is a difference. If there is none, then we can stop this argument now – because no one is being displaced from a real job and replaced by a child on workfare. Two different things.

TL;DR. If you can’t say it in a couple of paragraphs, I’m going to stop responding.

Says the guy who claims his only skill is bullshitting. If you did not write so much – most of it irrelevant – I would not have to reply to so much.

58. So Much For Subtlety

46. flyingrodent

Yet again, for the umpteenth time – I got paid enough to live to a minimum standard for doing my bullshit, dead-end jobs. I could eat and there was a little money left over for socialising. My bullshit jobs came with a possibility of greater responsibility and advancement.

So to quote from the original article:

“I mean, I’ve had some terrible jobs in shops, bars and restaurants. The first job I ever had paid £1.52 an hour in 1995; I’ve scrubbed urinals, hauled tables and kegs, mopped up more barf than I care to recall, scrubbed a bajillion ashtrays, hosed down bins and worked in pubs where you have a genuine fear that one of the punters might assault you at any second.”

1.52 an hour was enough to live on was it? Enough to go socialising after too? When was this by the way? 1963? So by all means, tell us about the prospects of advancing from scrubbing urinals. Hosing down bins. Being beaten up by the punters.

Or was it perhaps that you got a better job in some other line of work?

What I like about these threads is that we get a constant stream of OP who say that working these crap jobs helped them, but that it is wrong for other people to do it too. Bizarre.

59. So Much For Subtlety

47. Roger Mexico

So you have no idea what flyingrodent means, but you are sure that it is nearly identical to what you would have liked him to say?

No. I mean what he meant is ultimately unknowable to anyone but himself and God. I can only work on what he said. What he said was what I said he said. Which is getting close to a justification of theft.

I can only assume he refrained from giving a (rhetorical) good kicking out of pity.

Or you could assume you’ve failed to understand some simple and clear English. You know, like you did. And so the sensible thing would be to ask. Which you did too. A pity you did not learn some humility first. Then you wouldn’t look so silly.

60. flyingrodent

SMFS: What I like about these threads is that we get a constant stream of OP who say that working these crap jobs helped them, but that it is wrong for other people to do it too.

You know damn well that nobody is talking about preventing people from getting crap jobs. I’ve explained the difference between paid employment and workfare numerous times, so even if you’re too lazy to investigate it yourself, you’ve got no excuse for “accidentally” misunderstanding the topic this badly.

I don’t mind responding at length to people who post long lists of points and questions, but I’ve got no time at all for repeating myself to people who intentionally refuse to address the actual topic under discussion. Life is far too short.

@60

Good on you. Every time you reply, the kiddie who wrote the SMFS script thinks he’s won.

Someone thinks they’re clever, just because they’re trolling old-style – but the truth is that none of the bridge-dwellers on here would have lasted five minutes on Usenet and Slashdot circa 1999.

44. ukliberty

suggesting something may happen because of some other thing != justification for it happening.

No but it is close. As I said.

So what?

Flyingrodent didn’t justify crime.

So what’s your point?

I don’t think there is a link between poverty and crime.

I’m sure regulars are well aware you don’t think there is a link.

why am I constantly having in my mind the fact that Adolf Hitler targeted disabled people FIRST???

what happened to disabled peeps, eventually happens to the voters of such policies…

why do I for one constantly think disabled peeps are targeted FIRST, Hitler & his henchmen did that, AND AT THE END OF THAT FASCIST FAILURE, the peeps that voted for those policies ended up swinging from a lampost, BECAUSE THEY HAD ALREADY SACRIFICED THEIR CHILDREN AS BULLET CATCHERS, yet they proved they lacked the backbone to make the ultimate personal sacrifice…

…& it was Hitlers henchmen that had the ropes deployed. SMFS, IF U TRULY EXIST, do you want that future, for you. Your ideological bribemasters would be happy to oblige, YOUR INCOME RESULTS IN LESS “PROFIT” FOR THEM.

@63

why am I constantly having in my mind the fact that Adolf Hitler targeted disabled people FIRST???

what happened to disabled peeps, eventually happens to the voters of such policies…

Well, as one wag observed in another thread, over the question of ‘what are we supposed to do with these people‘ (NEETS, long term unemployed etc) -

“Well judging by history the solution to such obstacles were a showcase Olympic games, propaganda campaigns in the press and ultimately extermination camps.”

Bit worrying that by the end of summer we can strike two of those three things off the list…

@63, cylux
of course it is worrying, what is more worrying – especially for me – with family members who are disabled/neets or future neets, is the fact they have expanded the timescale, you can do worse by manufacturing consent if you wait a little before the next stage, make it legit by not going out on blatantly obvious murder sprees, because peeps think that it’s somehow OK if peeps quietly starve/get maliciously criminalised a few at a time. When it happens to their family & friends, it is already too late, they gave the mandate…

67. Chaise Guevara

@ 65 Cylux

“Bit worrying that by the end of summer we can strike two of those three things off the list…”

I think I can say with confidence that we won’t be seeing extermination camps.


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