Sunday 7 November 2010

Crack that whip.

The militant wing of the Flowerpot Men declare their manifesto.

So the unemployed are to be employed by force. Sounds good at first, to those of us who pay for them.

God's Holy Badger
is upset by this. It's hard to see why. If they won't get up for work during the week, they won't be up in time for church on Sunday either. These are not your followers, Holy Beard of Cranberry. They are the followers of Indolence, the god of can't-be-bothered. If they are to appear in church then they have to get used to rising before the crack of noon without a hangover.

Then again, working for free is slavery and we abolished that 200 years ago. Then again, it's not really for free because so far, they're getting money for nothing. We who pay taxes don't owe those who take from us. They owe us.

Will it work? Well, as SteveShark points out, it worked in the USA. Those who wanted to work, worked. The absolute workshy simply opted out of benefits.

If you want a good job, get a job. Any job. Even if it's pushing trolleys around a supermarket forecourt or dealing with the mess left by the semi-evolved in public lavatories. Moving jobs is far, far easier than starting from scratch. I would say 'go self-employed' but it's not for everyone. It's not an easy option. I expect that my operation of two businesses with one employee (me) will drive socialists insane. How dare I be doing two things without employing five hundred admin assistants and diversity outreach smoking cessation phlegm-swabbers? No, self-employed only works if you're already established in the field and have customers lined up. Unless you can do something really dramatic, getting straight into it will be impossible.

Work experience counts. It really does. If your total work experience consists of a fortnightly bus ride to the dole office to sign your name, you're going nowhere. If you can say you spent so many months picking up litter, was always on time and was never reprimanded for missing a Starbucks cup or a casually discarded Fiat Punto, it will make a really, really big difference in a job interview. Even if the pay you had was crap. Even if it was zero. Employers are not looking for people on banker bonuses. They are looking for people who will turn up on time and do the job. That is all they want to hear about.

There are many who have no work and want some. Of those, many don't care too much what it is as long as it's not the dole. There are still people with pride in this country, people who know they could play the system and live on their backsides in front of the TV, but who don't want that. They want to put that bread on the table and say 'I earned that. Nobody gave it to me. It is mine by right, not by charity.'

There are also those who think that they have the right to live in comfort on the back of other people's work. Would I be distraught if I saw them dying in the gutter? No. Let them die.

An analogy. When I was teaching students, they came in many guises. There were the clever ones who would take what I told them and test it. They checked up, they came back with questions. I was happy to help.

There were those who weren't too bright but who tried hard. They put all their effort into learning stuff that, for them, was hard to learn. I was happy to help them. One of several reasons for my eventual redundancy was defending a student who was dumped with a third class degree. I knew why. He didn't. I almost ordered him to appeal. We won, I lost, although I don't really think I did. I wasn't the year tutor for that course in the following year, despite presiding over the only first class degree that course ever produced. Politics was new to me back then. I still had that naive belief in the honesty of science.

Then there were the bright ones who could not be bothered. And the dim ones who could not be bothered. I let both fall. Intelligence is not the test. It's what you do with it.

So it is with work. If you want to work, if you turn up as required and do a good job, you have prospects. Even if it means turning up at the public shithouse and leaving it gleaming at the end of your shift. It is a job well done and that is what the next employer wants to hear about. They don't care about your origins or your childhood or your family life. They care about 'Can you do this and will you turn up?'

But in the end, if the Coagulation are serious about this, they have to pay for the work. Properly. Only those who want out of the benefits trap will come along and they must be rewarded for doing so. Pay them above the benefits. Don't dock them pound for pound. Let them see a way out. Make sure future potential employers know that they did this voluntarily. Employers are not impressed by community service.

As for the leeches, let them starve. Life supported by someone else is not life. It's not worth their while continuing. Put them out of their misery. It's the humane thing to do.

Let them slip into the limbo of the damned. Where socialism's ideas provide the central heating.


Anonymous said...

There’s two sides to this which the politicians are keeping very quiet about. Firstly, they’ve got to make some pretty deep cuts to public services, so if they can get benefit recipients to do some of those jobs, then they can do away with quite a lot of paid posts and get the work done for (virtually) nothing. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing rather depends on whether you are a council faced with making cuts, or a full-time, fully paid road sweeper (or whatever).

Also, if you make benefit recipients work full time, as is planned, then they won’t have the time to do any cash-in-hand work (for which of course they won’t be paying tax) on the side, so although these people won’t be paying any tax for their “community” work, they won’t be getting any money that they’re not paying tax for either. Again, whether or not this is a good thing depends on whether you’re the Chancellor of the Exchequer or a punter getting a good rate for getting your patio laid or your front room painted. The only problem being that, if someone is making £150 a week on the side, there isn’t much contest between that and £60-odd a week JSA

JJ said...

‘Even if it means turning up at the public shithouse and leaving it gleaming at the end of your shift’

What a lovely turn of phrase leggy! But you’re so right you know…yes, you really are. Here’s why. I began cleaning out my first toilet back in the early eighties. It was in the centre of Mansfield…a beautifully constructed underground toilet that I still think about all these years on.

My public toilet had a character and charm that enticed people from all walks of life…at times it would render me speechless with blissful enchantment. On my first day I cleaned and mopped, and then just for the sheer fun of it, I would do it all again – cleaning and a mopping, mopping and a cleaning leggy. My eyes are welling up even now as I write this.

There were times when I simply didn’t want to go home, I remember on a few occasions leaving my toilet early and on returning home the feeling of emptiness and longing for my toilet thrust me into hopeless despair…whereupon I would throw myself to the floor and sob hysterically into a pair of my freshly laundered Y-fronts. Just how beastly could life get – eh?

I know what you’re thinking…what about the clientele? Well, there was this one individual…a circuit judge no less. He would visit my underground haven, regularly paying generous compliments to my toilet as he ran one hand over the brass fittings and the other gently but purposefully over my buttocks. On one occasion he begged me to help him with his trousers, which I did, it just seemed so natural leggy. His buttocks had a pale smooth porcelain countenance about them. I’d forgotten on this occasion to replenish the toilet paper…so he asked courteously if I could assist in cleansing his bottom – with my tongue.

I was on new ground with this I must say…but after a faltering start…I knew I’d found my vocation. Beginning with short delicate strokes and meaningfully rotating my mouth I was soon into powerful lashing movements…back and forth, up and down, side to side and finally around…and around…and around.

I don’t often talk of these delicate moments…after all it was a long time ago…and I beg of you not to speak of them either.

Junican said...

The heinous excreta that is coming out of IDS's mouth is the same excreta that came out of his mouth when he was Conservative Leader - he cannot help it. He is out of his mind.


Think about the obscene amount of supervision and accounting and directing and checking in and out and no smoking and no eating, and health and safety, etc, etc. The ancillary costs will be horrendous.

The guy, IDS, is a walking disaster zone. the sooner he goes away, the better for all concerned.

You want a simple answer to youth unemployment? Easy-peasy - re-instate local authority 'direct works' departments.

banned said...

Quite so L-I, in an earlier age I worked in recruitment for a sales company, one of the guides I was given was to put the presently unemployed to the bottom of the pile, prefering anyone with any job at all.

banned said...

PS, by coincidence I am this evening checking on my various Youtube playlists, whip It was missing so Ta.

Mummylonglegs said...

I say
Gimme, gimme, gimme.
I do hope the screaming socialists don't decide to act 'in my best interests' and kick this idea into the long grass.
As for the ones that stand to lose their benefits?.
ha ha ha ha ha. Serves you right you lazy feckers. Payback for giving the real needy a bad name.
As for the poor fully employed bin men, grass cutters, paper clip counters etc, well, it might make then think twice about striking for even better pay and working conditions if they are aware there are millions lined up to take their place.

Wins all round, methinks.

Mummy x

PT Barnum said...

I can see the Law of Unintended Consequences about to kick in.

If someone lacks the work ethic to do a week of labouring for no additional money, they may well choose to opt out of the benefits system altogether. Which leaves them two choices for getting money: the black economy or crime.

So an entire edifice of monitors, auditors and clipboard wielders will be created, while the real hard cases will simply step sideways beyond their reach.

Baying for the blood of the workshy and scroungers is alluring and therapeutic, but this solution flies in the face of normal human behaviour.

Snakey said...

There are also those who think that they have the right to live in comfort on the back of other people's work.

Yeah, they're called the government.

Danny said...

before we start putting the collective boot into those 'indolent leeches' let me draw your attention to the real villains, those crooks spivs like george, dave and their ilk are protecting so fastidiously.

quoting from an article by the fantastic journalist jon pilger:

"The theft of £83bn in jobs and services matches almost exactly the amount of tax legally avoided by piratical corporations like Rupert Murdoch’s. Without fanfare, the super-rich have been assured they can dodge £40bn in tax payments in the secrecy of Swiss banks. The day this was sewn up, Osborne attacked those who "cheat" the welfare system. He omitted the real amount lost, a minuscule £0.5bn, and that £10.5bn in benefit payments were not claimed at all. The Labour Party is his silent partner..."

"There is no other way now," says pilger..."Direct action. Civil disobedience. Unerring."

Anonymous said...

LI, I enjoy your blog immensely which contains endless nuggets of truth and common sense. I'd like to know your thoughts on people who find themselves in my present position (and I am assured that I am not unique) - I am a lawyer (so there goes any sympathy vote, I know) made redundant late 2009 as a result of Mr Brown's property bubble deflating. Prior to that I had turned up dutifully every day since 1988 to do the job, which by your reckoning gives me some prospects, and did my academic training whilst working. After that period of time I would have thought that if I was not up to my job I would have been found out so feel that I can assume that I was up to what was required. Since being laid off I have searched for work daily and come up with nothing on the basis of either "we would love to employ but can't pay you what your experience and status requires and if we did we would be worried that as soon as something better comes along you would clear off" or "you live too far away and on what we are prepared to pay you you could not possibly relocate". I have a wife who works and a daughter just starting secondary school so relocation on my account would necessarily leave my wife seeking work. (I am sure, of course, that this has nothing to do with being in my mid forties.) One of your commenters suggests that if you are out of a job then your CV goes to the bottom of the pile anyway, so on that basis I appear to be on a hiding to nothing as well. So, after twenty years in a profession, latterly paying higher rate contributions into the state machine, and doing everything by the book I am now surplus to requirements. I am presently living off assets, in effect the deposit for my next property that I will now never buy, but these are not infinite. I would rather be using that resource to generate some income and the only option I seem to have right now is self - employment, something I've never done before. You do seem to counsel against this option too, which seems to leave trolley collecting or toilet cleaning. I don't want this to sound like a whinge beacuse it isn't. Life can be rubbish and this is my first experience of the down side caused by unemployment. But I would be interested in your views on the "white collar" unemployed who do not perhaps fit neatly into the "let's target these layabout spongers" box.

sixtypoundsaweekcleaner said...

I know someone who is married to a convicted paedophile. They have both been on benefits for the past ten years or so. Neither shift themselves to get a job, always citing that it's not worth it, they get more in benefits than a job could ever pay them. Neither has worked much or paid into the system, unlike another acquaintance of mine who has worked all his life, been a higher rate tax-payer, but who now is in his late fifties, crippled with arthritis in his spine and can't work. The only benefit he gets is incapacity. I'm surprised he gets so little. He is in constant pain every day and sees little to live for. The current benefit system seems so unfair. Those rewarded well are those who milk it for all it's worth and those deserving get nothing.

Anonymous said...

As I understand it, compulsory community work (which I seem to remember has been suggested in the past) will only kick in if the claimant is deemed not to have been trying to find work. This, however, presupposes that there is work to be found. Here in the North East of England the biggest employer is the public sector and there just isn't sufficient private sector investment to replace those jobs. I think that you can only target the feckless when there are enough jobs to go round and now isn't that time.

The hard-working and well-intentioned can find themselves quite easily caught in the poverty trap.


JJ said...

Please think carefully on this

Jay – You are completely correct about community work only kicking in if the claimant does not fulfil his/her part of the signed contract in looking for work.

1. Each claimant has a booklet to fill in which shows what effort has been made to look for work and make appointments for job interviews. Should this not be done to the satisfaction of the job centre advisor, then the case is referred to the manager and the claimant is warned that they can and will lose benefits, and in many cases benefits are withdrawn.
2. Each claimant is obliged to look through local papers, go on the internet (if they are computer literate) make at least 3 phone calls each week to prospective employers and finally – use jobcentre terminals for local vacancies. If claimants do not do this, they can and will lose benefits.
3. Every six months more in depth interviews are carried out, where an intensive job search is carried out by the advisor…anyone turning up late for this series of interviews will result in loss of benefit and in many cases benefits are withdrawn.
4. When signing on normally job centre advisors will, time permitting, carry out job searches for the client. If a suitable vacancy/s comes up the client is given a print out and is expected to apply for that vacancy…if they do not, irrespective of excuses, they will lose benefits. That also includes any other benefit they may claim, such as housing benefits. This usually causes disruption since the claimant has to be means tested all over again in order to receive previous benefits.

Job Centres do not treat benefit claimants with kid gloves.

It would help of course if the government made practical courses available to claimants, bricklaying, plumbing, painting and decorating and IT. No such courses exist. There is no help for those capable of starting their own businesses either…there was at one time, but these were scrapped without reason.

These proposals by IDS do nothing for those genuinely wanting to return to useful employment…they merely provide cheap labour for local authorities…and do not provide useful skills for the job market.

Please bear this in mind - that the vast majority of claimants are doing all they can to find useful employment.

Count your blessings that many of you have not found yourselves in this situation...and perhaps never shall.

Leg-iron said...


This was created by a guy who cleans toilets for a living.

If he keeps it up, he'll one day be an artist who used to clean toilets. Despite the best efforts of the 'know your place' brigade to slap him down on his blog.

It can be done. The trap can be escaped. It's not easy and it's not painless but it is possible.

Anon 14:11 - I was made redundant in my forties too. Returning to employment had exactly the barriers you describe. And yes, it is about your age. You, as I was, are too old and too qualified to be paid pennies and too young for early retirement. Nobody wants us.

I used my redundancy money to set up on my own. The killer is 'tax on account' because in the first year, you pay tax on this year and tax on next year.

In the first year of self-employment you are building a customer base and doing 'sample' jobs for low cost, just to get known. Your total first year income is likely to be low.

If you don't have a backup (redundancy money) you are stuffed by double tax at the end of your first year.

Then the tax office will moan that so many small businesses fold after one year. They are doing it!

It is not an easy option. I did it but if it hadn't been for that redundancy backup I would have been out of business at the end of the first year.

One thing in my favour was that the entire department was shut, leaving me as the only one in the area willing to handle horrible samples. That was down to luck.

That situation might not work in every redundancy case, which is why I urge anyone considering it to look really hard at what might happen.

If you can make it work - go for it.

Just remember, the government is only there to get in your way.

Anonymous said...

LI - Anon 14.11 here. Thanks for your input. The age/experience aspect is becoming all too clear. My statutory redundancy settlement plus a stunningly generous 50% after two and a bit years amounted to £1,700.00, (and they though they were doing us a favour) so not much seed corn there. Still, I am not totally skint so will have to put some assets on the line and make it work!! Thanks for the tip on the tax position.

Kitler said...

None of you seem to get it.

If you sign off the dole you immediately become liable for council tax.

You try paying £100+ a month to the council when you have zero income.

If you are on the dole they hound you for your time. If you come off the dole they hound you for your money.

You can't win.

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