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Showing posts from March, 2013

The Myth of Workfare

You hear this a lot these days: “isn’t it better that so and so is in work, even if it’s not their dream job? Isn’t it better they are working than sitting on their arse collecting dole?”
I find this quite insulting. It’s also hyperbole as of course it presumes the alternative to honest labour is idleness and sloth, ostensibly in front of the television (which ironically makes money from this). I don’t see the DWP chastising Jeremy Kyle himself, or the channels that profit from the ad revenue gained from daytime television.
It’s an ignorant assumption based on outdated religious values. The presumption is that work per se is homogenous and wholesome (and that non-work spreads idleness). Of course work is far from homogenous. There are many kinds of work at many levels and not all of it is necessary or even healthy. We don’t consider what is beneficial; we just assume that any work is, even if it’s unpaid or even if it’s in the most low rent retail venues possible.
The idea seems to …

The Golden Bullingdon

We impoverish ourselves in order to compete with countries already further down the road of totalitarianism.

We make people destitute and push them further from independence just to have a 'competitive' tax system that cannot meet the needs of the society, which is the one reason people pay taxes at all.

We implement cuts to vital services in a bid to preserve rates of lending and borrowing while decrying borrowing as precisely that which caused the problem in the first place.

We are a nation of sheep ruled by wolves who have inherited their fangs from generations of stolen land and money guarded by usury. The secret knowledge of money and its accumulation are kept from the poor who can't afford to join the club.

In a primitive land a shaman sees the sun beating down on the land. He feels its angry heat and petitions the tribal elders to sacrifice another goat. This is the only way he knows to sate the displeasure of the sky god who blinds all that gaze upon her.

In a mod…

Unemployment Application

Some seventeen year old in America built an app that aggregates news feeds (I typed that, I should know what it means). He's now sold it for a cool $30 million. He didn't do it alone; in fact while he built the thing he's had a lot of financial support from the likes of Stephen Fry and Rupert Murdoch. 
Now I don't want to denigrate this kid's work. Fair play to him for building something and selling it, even if it's for a ridiculous sum of money - especially for a kid his age. But he's had a lot of breaks other kids won't. His dad works for Morgan Stanley and his mother appears to be an international lawyer. Life isn't giving him lemons, it's giving him Sturgeon's eggs.
What does this tell me?
It tells me that I live in a world that has changed around me. A world that doesn't offer the same opportunities to people that find themselves out of work, never mind to disadvantaged people. Ironically while there are some systems in place for p…

Radio Bristol vs. DLA

I didn’t sleep well. Consequently I woke up ‘hanging’, in the popular parlance of the day, so I suppose hearing Mark fucking Littlewood, frog faced lead vocalist for the populist shriek combo, the Institute of Economic Affairs, spouting lies about disability benefits isn’t a good start. BBC Radio Bristol claim to be discussing welfare this morning so I’m tuning in with great trepidation. 
Already they’ve misfired inviting this libertarian shit stirrer on to an early and brief discussion about the changes to DLA. This was preceded by a soundbite from local Tory MP Chris Skidmore who disingenuously said these changes were about getting people back to work. This was not corrected, predictably, by the presenter: DLA is not an out of work benefit. Part of the reason many are scared about losing it is precisely because it helps them get to work. Instead we get the usual two pronged attack:
Moan about reassessing people. Fraud is less than half a percent, yet the aforementioned ‘th…

Skills

I've just been having a look at te training websites the Work Programme recommended (tabs-training.com, alison.com, and vision2learn.com). I was told there are loads of these organisations, but when I asked for a comprehensive list I was told by the Adviser that she didn't have such a thing, however I can be sure that there are loads, despite being given only three. 
Alison.com is a strange one with an equally strange name. It seems to be a bunch of higher education courses, but without the qualification. In other words you can be an 'amateur' student and do the learning for its own sake, just without the official reward. Not entirely sure what to make of it really, nor how I could use it on, say, a CV. The list of courses is not huge, but somewhat diverse - I could study for a 'diploma' in Human Resources, or Environment Science, or study Arabic (I'd prefer Mandarin, as it goes, but that's a personal thing).
The other two seem to be carbon copies and …

The Phone Call To Nowhere

Yesterday was telephone appointment time with Mrs Adviser at the Work Programme. With dismal predictability no one called so I rang them half an hour ago; they don't understand that it's difficult for me to have to sit and wait for people to contact me. Yet another waste of time. This is really starting to piss me off now because what can you say? 
I won't go through the whole pointless affair but it's the usual crap. I'm told that the Work Programme is a two way street but when I reaffirm that I'm interested in writing she tells me that she doesn't know of anything. I'm supposed to pick something that she is able to offer help with, but I don't have an answer. It's a stupid game: guess the one or two things they can help with and bingo! Pick something else and be labelled as non participatory. 
She tells me that she knows of loads of courses, but they are all basic level/NVQ stuff (they dont' fund above 'level 3' apparently - whate…

Useless: Coda

The lack of opposition to the government's retrospective legislation has revealed two truths:
1. Welfare laws, and therefore those that need them, are not worthy of the protection of Parliament. If that is not the definition of social divide, no that's not strong enough - economic apartheid - then I don't know what is. 2. There are not enough opposition MP's that understand the precedent they have unwittingly set. Some of these people are thick as pigshit. Those that did oppose are a sad minority - and that they didn't include the shadow welfare minister, nor a single Libdem, is a disgrace.
This is a watershed.

Useless

We are living in one of the most insecure periods I have ever known. People don't know where to turn or even, quite literally, who to talk to. Perhaps it's naive to say, but you would think politicians would be a pillar of consistency in the lives of communities. A point of reference and support. Of course that's long been a myth, and last night's disgraceful performance from Labour in capitulating to Iain Duncan Smith's retroactive 'emergency' legislation proves the point. I'm sure he slept like a baby last night, in his father in law's ancestral million pound home, having got his way in rewriting both law and histroy. I'm sure those that fell foul of his malicious bungling, now denied any chance to get what they are owed, didn't. Some justice.
Not all the opposition disgraced themselves and you can find a list of those with the courage to vote with their conscience here. Notable by his absence on that list is Liam Byrne who seemed to spen…

UJM, IDS, IOU.

Everyday I try and use the Universal Jobmatch site, even though I claim ESA. I don't have a problem using the internet once a day just to see what's around; isn't that what they'd want me to do in the Work Related Activity Group (if I ever get that far)? Unfortunately it's still a giant fucking mess. In fact the quality of advertising is so lazy it beggars belief these are professional companies (even the recruitment agencies) using the site. It is like wading through treacle having to deal with that site. They haven't obviously bothered to sort it out and make it at least user friendly.
McDonald's has traditionally been the poster boy for crap jobs, hence the phrase 'McJobs', yet rarely do I see them actually use the DWP machinery to advertise. A good thing, I think, since working there would be the death of me. I couldn't handle the environment; I hate the food and even the threat of sanctions couldn't persuade me to lie thoroughly enough…

Two Stupid Stories

Recently there was a story about a gentleman named Paul Marshallsea from Wales who was 'caught' wrestling a shark while in Australia that was near to attacking kids in the sea. That's not the interesting part about this story for people like us, however. You see Paul was in Australia, apparently staying with friends, because he and his wife had been advised to take a break for health reasons. Paul had been working running a youth centre for many years prior to the involvement of the private sector and a boss culture that had led him to physical sickness due to stress. That he happened to be on the beach when a shark was spotted while on sabbatical is irrelevant. 
Unfortunately Paul's mistake was claiming ESA while away. He's paid into the system, so why shouldn't he. Upon his return, and having heard about his herculean sea-bound exploits, his new bosses decided that he wasn't genuinely off sick, but was larking about under the sun, despite the advice of h…

Continued BBC Bias

Yesterday morning, BBC Radio Bristol showed yet more anti-welfare bias. I've complained to them before about it, it does no good. I may complain again. I don't care if that makes me sound like a torrid little curtain twitcher, if we don't stand up for the truth about welfare and this awful government's propaganda then there's no point.
The discussion was actually about something else, but I tuned in at two different points, tuning out each time in disgust. The first caller was a lady recanting her experience claiming ESA as a wheelchair user. At the end she was asked - or perhaps told - that she must know people who are on the fiddle. Charming. Aside from an errant assumption that is easily debunked by simply looking at the facts, it's a rather nasty jibe at the character of the caller, unprovoked.
I tuned in half an hour later and the caller then was a local TUC rep who spoke about the cruel nature of the Bedroom Tax. Rightly so (solidarity with ALL those pro…

Shit Is Iain Smith

A few weeks ago, DWP fuhrer and arch fantasist Iain Duncan Smith was interviewed by James O'Brien on LBC radio. 
This piece is one of the most extraordinary glimpses into the unique psychopathy of the Tory attitude toward welfare, fuelled by big business and filtered through the singular zealotry of a former failed leader of the same party. We may never fully know what transformed the 'quiet man', in his own mind, into the raging ideologue he has now become, but this gives a few insights and lays bare much of his own rampant hypocrisy. The interview was conducted in the wake of the revelation that 1700 people had applied for 8 vacancies in a Costa Coffee in Nottingham, and a week or so after the DWP were spanked for their handling of their own disgusting workfare policy.
The first bone of contention is the nature of the work IDS claims is representative of now 'record' employment. He is confronted by the fact that the work is mainly part time. His response is both…

Commoditised

The sooner this system changes, the better. 
What can I say? I am drifting along with no help whatsoever from the Work Programme. Billions have been wasted on this farce and what have I - or even they to show for it? At the very least a bus pass would be of immense help to me; every journey I make costs me 10% of my total weekly benefit. It's simply unsustainable. Consequently I make one journey a week and that's to do my shopping. 
I've been told by the Salvation Army that they don't get any funding; this is apparently why their provision locally is in a musty old church hall. I have no idea if this is true; it may well be the case as they are working for the prime, JHP, and not the prime provider themselves. I suppose it is therefore possible JHP (who happily will provide your business with free staff) that the Sally has been used as bid candy. If that's true then it's unacceptable to treat charities in that way. However I've not got much sympathy for th…