Proper Job

They’ve done a proper job on you and me. What used to be a steady wage, for steady hours, now is rare. Well, actually, so’s any hours, any money, anywhere.

Our staple daily bread is dead as we regress at pace and all our damned-fool Power Tools can offer in response is to debase us with a nonsense and start pushing instability as normal to the point of formal policy and even as a patriotic diktat.

They have stitched us up a beauty now this status quo submission is repackaged as a duty – they don’t even tie a bow on anymore. Not now the poor and getting poorer have to take what they can get and keep their hungry little mouths closed and their empty hands behind their heads and smile like they are wise enough to passively accept that someone’s got to make the sacrifice. And who else could the bleeders get to prop them up for nearly free if not the likes of you and me?

Oh, yeah, they’ve really done a number: either seedy plunderer or plundered victim be.

They want to keep us busy fighting every other mucker over every sorry scrap in an exhausting competition for a life whose very dignity is on a knife-edge constantly. That way they figure we’ll be far too frenzied, tired, weak and humble, we won’t have sufficient strength to grumble when they send the robots in.

For then, the ones who work for zip will just have even less of it and we’ll be truly free to be and do and have eff all some more. By now we really ought to recognise the final score: that modern leisure is for those who can afford to have the pleasure and the ones who can’t can, by their own lack of means, go to the wall. As though the greedy, crony bastards cannot wait until the day comes when they don’t need any citizens at all.

What is this ‘full employment’?

What is ‘full employment’? Does it really mean anything?

Apparently this has never really been quantified because economists who believe in it in the first place vary quite markedly in their definitions – from 0% to think of a number. Well, apart from the obvious fact that some people are unlikely ever to work, it sounds vague to me. Like that other indeterminate phrase: ‘make work pay’, it could mean a lot of things and probably not at all what we might assume or like it to mean.

Like the theory that says the fuller the employment, the higher the inflation which is hinged on the supply-demand theory which hinges on the ‘free’ market which hinges on more and moar and every man for himself. Sadly, the supply-demand paradigm didn’t settle at observation over lengthy periods of time, some interesting charts, useful analysis and sensible application. The musings were deemed so wonderful that whole economic models were created upon which people would henceforth be named consumers and would now be expected to fit their behaviour to the blueprint. It’s like a nature-nurture paradox: people are greedy for more therefore let’s make people needy; create demand so supply can go up; increase supply so the price can come down; decrease the supply so the price can go up…

Governments and ‘capitalists’ lapped this up and decided that this was indeed a most fruitful model and so set themselves about using it to justify, manage and manipulate the economy until people were consuming any old gratuitous crap from a very deep and wide pool of mass exploitation. And, to this day, the faithful and the blind still see this very ridiculous, unsustainable and unethical ideology as the saviour of the problems it helped so much to create. Now, I know I’m no economist – I probably just proved that – but building the entire economic structure on what looks like a massive umbrella Ponzi seems to me to be not only top down capricious artifice but myopic and confused, too. There’s nothing natural or healthy any more (if there ever was) about the cycles in our economic structure. It is macromanaged and micromanaged with pure cynicism.

But I digress… What is ‘full employment’?

Is full employment when everyone, willing and able, has access to a full-time job that is in and of itself a sufficient means by which to live well, keep children, save a bit and contribute taxable revenue? Is this full employment objective possible any more? And, if it is, why would we need a scheme to kick in to guarantee it? The jobs either exist or they don’t. Is full employment actually necessary? Or even desirable? Aren’t there enough of us yet to do three.. ish days each without reducing our living standards? Isn’t that the traditional pitch of those who sell us grand technological dreams of automation? After all, many more people work to live rather than do live to work and working so hard and for so long is only necessary because it costs so much just to maintain the most basic of standards. Where is the guilt-free leisure we were promised?

Is full employment when everyone does whatever cruddy job they are given and/or takes whatever they can get and requires Social Security because it’s still not enough to live a decent life?

Is it everyone being kept busy doing anything, no matter how lousy, futile or (self-) destructive – and without proper financial reward, as a way of keeping certain demographics in line?

Does full employment mean you have to be engaged in an activity which has been officially defined as employment because the prevailing ideology extols it as the only way to prove one’s worth to Society?

Where does full employment place our familial carers? What is being a mother and particularly a lone parent, if it is not a 24/7, on-call occupation? No main political party addresses this – I’m not counting that tax-break for married couples tripe – extending free or at least affordable child care is a lovely idea except that it appears to be being expanded mostly to provide somewhere for adults to store their children while they justify their monetary worth and contribute to making the country look like it has full employment. Why is bringing up children being relegated to a job that other people must be poorly paid to do? Wouldn’t it be cheaper to offer payment to the parent? Isn’t that providing a real choice? Is that too something for nothing for modern politicians, because I’d call it common sense.

Everything is inflated, from the value of assets to the importance of growth. Growth in what? More crap we don’t need, more greed and more poverty. Poverty may be the most sustainable supply-demand commodity since fossil fuels. Oh, and bubbles. We love growing bubbles.

How does this employment-inflation measurement work if the figures available are based on full but underemployment? Everyone working but no one earning enough to buy anything because prices for basic goods are beyond reach? That’s a lot of people depending on a very small tax pot. If full employment has to be achieved through subsidised serfdom then it is surely not an economy but a protection racket?

Is full employment about having any old job or about everyone working because there actually are enough decent jobs? Is it full-time employment or just people looking for work all the time? Is it about finding fulfilling occupations or being fully exploited? Whose world is it that citizens are seen and treated as merely another commodity, subject to the choreography of supply and demand by the powerful and whimsical; to be cynically reduced to an abstract variable on a rickety old framework?

Can we not concentrate on creating a world in which ethical sustainability replaces an economy where a new phone choice every few months, securing an arms contract or finding it cheaper to buy a new t-shirt than wash one is considered successful and progressive? Does an economic recovery really have nothing better to offer? These days we gorge on trifle with our circuses and seem to have quite forgotten the comfort and nutritional value of a good loaf. You can bung nearly anything on top of a wholesome base. I’m sure we would be better off starting our models from ground level. Models which prioritise ethics, sustainability, cohesion and peace of mind. An economy which is a principled means to a commonly beneficial end rather than by selectively dubious means for very exclusive ends. That sort of recovery would feel like progress.

The Right Question?

The first question on the last edition of the BBC’s Question Time was:

    “Why should some people get more than £500 per week on benefits when I only earn £450 a week working 46 hours?”

Well, derr, I don’t know… Maybe you’re not very good at your job? No, of course, you’re good at your job! Hmm… Maybe it’s because you have an exploitative boss? Perhaps you should ask him or her. They will probably cite Government, tax and employment regulations, reduced profit margins and tell you that the Economy makes this a hard time for business etc…

Whatever this chap’s personal circumstances, or those of his boss, it is shocking that £450 for 46 hours of work a week – 46 hours! – is under this magical £26,000 and is becoming acknowledged as not enough for an average family to live on in 21st Century Britain. Either the cost of living is ridiculously high or wages are too low. Take your pick, but it’s both really, isn’t it?

Quite frankly though, dear Reader, I cringed. I mean, for Pity’s Sake!  What the hell is wrong with people? Why do they ask such ridiculous questions?

Given current context, the notion implicit in the question is that it’s the fault of those pesky lower levels, draining the ‘good’ citizens of their hard-earned dosh. Christ! If only being employed was all it took to create ‘good’ people, eh?! Well it’s not! Besides, we’ve all worked with that type who are paid well in spite of the fact that they rarely pull their weight and are just clever at looking busy and we all know people who work damned hard and don’t get paid at all.

We also know that half of the benefits bill goes on pensioners. I’m not complaining, by the way: it’s what they were promised and most of them have even been fortunate enough to be able to contribute their share to The Man. We know that most of those in receipt of housing benefit and those who receive tax credits are in work. And we know that Disability Living Allowance is not remuneration for work but an extra, assistive income that also happens to help many of the disabled find and maintain some measure of employment. We know there is insufficient social housing. We know there aren’t many decent jobs. We know most employment is short-term, casual or zero-houred. We know that most jobs are poorly paid. We know that the ‘workfare’ scheme promotes slave labour. The Government knows all this. The Media knows all this. All politicians know this. How come the general public doesn’t? Do their brains ignore or misplace their critical thinking skills? Are they so fazed, shocked and/or brainwashed that they can’t see through the couriers and their layers of bull?

Make work pay? Yeah, right. Doublespeak.

Rational interpretation: provide employment that remunerates labour with an amount sufficient to live comfortably, save a little bit and still have enough to contribute some tax.

Government’s interpretation: reduce benefits to a level that’s completely inadequate so that even the crappiest, worst-paid job is better than the dole.

Never mind that ever-decreasing numbers of taxpayers have to top this abysmal wage up because it’s not enough. I know! You couldn’t make it up, could you?

Does the public not get the simple fact that Government sets every single benefit available at the lowest rate it can get away with? No benefit covers the things for which it’s been designated and the incredible rise in Life’s basics means it covers less and less each month. There are very, very few who deliberately choose such a lifestyle. You see, Cameron and his cronies say: “‘Welfare’ shouldn’t be a lifestyle choice” but he’s in charge and his government is doing a magnificently shoddy job of providing any alternatives. So: whose choice is it, exactly? Tragically, this attitude is not held exclusively by the Conservatives, for there are prominent MPs within Labour who spout the same view. It’s difficult to wholly discern Labour’s motives: whether they be populist and therefore cowardly or consumed by Blatcherite ideology.

Why is it so difficult to grasp that there are not enough houses; that rents are extortionate; that there are hardly any decent jobs with the hours and pay to cover a life worth living? Why is it so difficult to grasp that the poor, the infirm, the underemployed and unemployed didn’t and never do engineer such a hostile climate? Is it so hard to fathom that policies and economic practice are divined and applied by the Government and not the poor? Yes, those representatives, to whom we gift the authority to run our country in all our interests.

It’s infantile – ignorant, simplistic and shallow to moan about benefits being capped at £500. Wouldn’t the man in the audience have served himself better – and us, therefore – if he had asked: “What are you going to do to really ‘make work pay’ because I only get £450 for 46 hours of work?” This would at least have shifted the onus upwards to those in charge: to where it actually belongs.