The new thing right now is to blame everything on the unemployed. The idea pushed by the rich and powerful that they cost so much to the country that they are the reason why the crisis is lingering. It’s nothing new to blame the poor and the minorities: wanderers were blame for everything throughout the Middle-Ages and so were the Jews up to 1945 in Europe.
Today, however, anyone actually interested can check the numbers on every government websites for they are obliged by “Evil Brussels” to publish them and they would find out that the money dedicated to unemployment benefits is always way less than the money given to private companies so to encourage them to keep buying State’s assets. Like the railway in England.
Also, anyone with a memory will remember that the banks and their recklessness have sunk economies, not the poor and the unemployed. The hole in the State’s treasury in most “Western” countries which “justifies” austerity comes from the £500 billion bail-out given to the bank which they don’t even have to pay it back. Not from the few millions given to council housings and job centres.
I have always been amazed how even the working poor themselves are ready to believe that idea that welfare state is responsible. The whole speech about the working vs the unworking on all right-wing tabloids and media is working wonders. So much that even the Left is using it now because now even the poorer, the most unsecure, the ones whose work life-line is holding by a thread – it takes nothing now for a law to pass so the minimum wage they are living on is abolished – even these people say out loud that we should abolish benefits because all unemployed are “happy to live on it”. They are not simple-minded, they just believe anything Rupert Murdoch and co’s press will write.
What the neo-classical vox populi deliberately ignores is that people are not on benefits because they want to but because they need to. Unemployment is not a situation where people like to be in. You don’t thrive in unemployment: you are nothing but a name, you lost part of your identity, you don’t contribute to society, you are a pariah, you have to be helped like a sick person but a sick person has been struck by fate whereas you “must have done something wrong”, you lack social interactions and intellectual stimulation, you don’t have a sense of purpose anymore. It’s a physical and moral degradation, the biggest source of depression and suicide, and, except for some bastards loved and cherished by the tabloids and Channel 4 for they confirm their views, no one is happy to be useless. But for Paris Hilton and most rich heirs and heiresses, of course.
The reason why some people are not in a job and stay on benefit is mainly because work doesn’t pay anymore so they have to make a decision between poverty and decadence in a job or barely making it on benefits. What would you choose?
We have reached a situation today where the State, following its mission to protect its citizens, is still being more or less honest and fair whereas most of private companies have come to treating their work force as disposable “resources” that bring nothing. The State benefits are taking hundreds of criteria into consideration to ensure that unemployment doesn’t mean instant and extreme poverty. Benefits have to allow people to get back on their feet after they lost their living.
Whereas companies would rather be spending millions lobbying ministers, governments, sending corporate lawyers at huge expenses to ensure that the minimum wage doesn’t go up, or better, gets abolished completely, and to deregulate the job market so they can decide the fate of workers with a click of their fingers. The Zero Hour contracts the unemployed are forced to take in England is nothing but modern slavery for private companies where people work for free as their decreasing State benefits have become their pay. The State is paying the wages of the employees used and abused by private companies and everyone thinks it’s normal.
Before I am accused of being anti-corporation, I know many companies are doing the right thing. The multi-national firm my mom works for is actually doing everything they can to make sure their employees are happy and healthy, they pay internships and work-experiences fairly but they are not the ones you see cosying with ministers and put on a national pedestal by governments. It’s like the Left is ignoring them to make a point and so is the Right.
The reason why some people are living on benefits is because having a job is not a guarantee to being able to survive whereas being on benefits, weirdly, offers more security and hope to unemployed people.
So how do we fix it?
The solution we advertise the most and the one applied the most right now is to cut the benefits. There is this idea that abolishing benefits will put people to work as if cutting benefits would suddenly create 15 million jobs in Spain. CEOs say it would because the companies would not have to pay social charges to finance them anymore. The truth is these charges are nothing next to the hundreds of billions of Euros, pounds and dollars these companies and banks are sitting on at the moment, greedily waiting for the State they loath to fix the problems so they can invest again. Cutting these charges will not make them abide by their very own definition of capitalism which is to take risks, invest the vast sums of money they are keeping tightly against their chest right now and create jobs. They have the money but they are waiting for something to happen and cutting benefits will not suddenly get people back to work, whatever they want us to believe. Even studies commissioned by various governments (widely discredited and disregarded by ministers who asked for them themselves) say this is not the solution.
What abolishing benefits will do is throw millions of people of all classes, races and backgrounds into extreme poverty whereas the richest will get even richer thanks to the Stats intervention in their favour. However there is something people tend to forget: human beings are animals who will do anything to survive. Extreme poverty is exclusion of the “civilised world”, it’s reducing people to nothing in a society where everything costs, even being born.
Willingly pushing people to extreme poverty will harm social peace because nowhere at no time in history have people put up with it for too long. Even in times of no social media and world communications have people organised and rebelled. Social unease then unrest will increase and when people have realised that their democratic state has indeed sold them out, they will not see it as theirs anymore and will try to harm it (by voting for the fringe parties) or overthrow it. But in a world where politicians have not visions, no convictions, I’m not surprised there is not long-term dedication.
The other solution is therefore to ensure that people can live of their job, not by making the State pay the wage of private sector’s employees, like in England, but by making sure companies pay their workforce enough for them to actually live. It has been shown again and again that people whose work is paying fairly are more prone to like it, are more dedicated, more productive and happier in general. And someone who is happy and secured is someone who will buy more as well. Someone who works for hours to get nothing in return and with no prospect will not even try because there is nowhere to go, no point whatsoever.
We are born on Earth, we have no choice and yet are told to pay for food and water. We are then told that a job will give us money for that so we get a job and what should we do when this job we do for hours, day in day out, doesn’t help us pay for that food and water?
When mentioning it to most big corporations, they shrug it and tell us that having a job should be enough as a reward and satisfaction. People should be happy that companies are here to grant them with a job to begin with as if it were selfless from them to employ us. It’s not their fault if they money they grant us is not enough. It’s the State, we should complain to the State, even if they have dismantled it. We should realise the companies are a force for good and we should work just for them just for the sake of it.
A job is to “make a living” but today, listening to the richest CEOs, it’s like jobs are just becoming a way to keep “lazy people” busy between breakfast and dinner so they don’t have time to think too much. The image we are made to believe is that big bosses are doing the world a favour by maintaining social stability through the jobs they grant to the common men. How dare we ask for money then?
How have we come to this? How can a CEO believe that he’s the force for good in the company and all his employees should just be happy to be working for him for nothing? How is it possible for companies to genuinely believe that their workforce brings nothing, only managers create wealth? How can democratic states not only praise these people but make sure the law is increasingly on their side? It’s Ayn Rand all over again. No wonder they all praise her work as the one of messiah.
I feel like we are stuck in a vicious circle of levelling down. Benefits should be abolished and pay should go down to allow private companies to “flourish” but who is benefiting then? What’s the point of companies making profits if the majority of people don’t see the benefit of it? Where is all that money going then? We all know but we don’t really mention it because we don’t question the force for good Reagan and Thatcher’s understanding of capitalism is, whereby the living standards of everyday people is irrelevant for a ruling class that doesn’t seem to be able to grasp the looming disaster of their inward, short-sighted, profit-centred and selfish vision of the world. It’s not democracy, it’s plutocracy.
If it’s only about the money, like they like to say, at the end of the day, the people will not go with what is easier but with what allows them to survive. If benefits paying better, people will “choose” unemployment. It’s not benefits we have to change but pay altogether.
Atlas will drop the world, the world will drop on him.
Make work pay or face unrest.