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What the Hell is Success, Mr Green?

A cap on total benefits received by a family that has already driven people into (or further into) poverty is hailed as a success by the man now committing to a further reduction in that cap. This is reality: the redefining of terms to fit an agenda baked into the minds of the media manipulated masses. Not just a success, but a 'real success'; telling you that this is something you can take to the bank, unlike the incomes of the poor.

"“By making sure that those people who are out of work are faced with the same choices as those who are in work, the benefit cap has been a real success,” he (Damian Green) said."

In a way that's true, but only because of the degree of in-work poverty that now exists.

But what choices does Mr Green want the poor to face that they aren't already facing, and if this sort of 'tough love' is helpful why not apply it to colleagues in Parliament? Maybe they would perform better or make better choices (at least when it comes to paying themselves eye watering pay rises or taking out frivolous expenses claims for antiques and house-flipping).

The poorest already face the reality of choosing whether to eat, heat, or feed their kids. They have to send their kids to school with bigger holes in their bellies than on the shoes they can't afford to replace. What choice is being championed here and how does it help them get out of that situation?

How does this kind of poverty, directly attributable to income cuts, get fixed by further cuts? Is this government or homoeopathy?

He continues:

“By lowering the cap today, we are ensuring the values of this government continue to chime with those of ordinary working people and delivering on our commitment to make sure work pays more than welfare.”

The values of a group of people with no special claim to authority other than the dubious outcome of a media driven election. As if authority over others can be justified on the basis of a notion of shared values. What are these values? They are noteworthy by their absence. This is a popular trope: assert the notion of values, as a desirable trait in oneself or one's society, but never articulate what they are. It's used effectively - unfortunately - against outsiders (eg Muslims, refugees, war orphans): ie these people are incompatible with our values. I think we can all guess what those values are from the behaviour of successive governments, this one by no means least of all.

Does work pay more than welfare? Is this an admission of the failure of the concept of wage labour? It is predicated on the idea that no one will work if they can claim welfare instead so by making welfare so pitiful that option is stifled and made unattractive. But that presumes an admission of the undesirable qualities of wage labour, that we have to bully people by making the alternative (surely a false dichotomy: the choice should never be work or starve) so awful. And yet these are the same capitalists who, in the next breath extol the virtues of work as the great panacea when they cut the incomes of the sick.

Wages are determined by factors that have nothing to do with welfare. Indeed the latter is an important function of the modern industrial capitalist economy as seen in places like Britain and it shows the ignorance of the Tories who tinker with this at their (and certainly our) peril. A small reserve army of labour is required to keep wage bills low and to keep the working classes that are employed in line: this is your fate, they say, if you lose (ie quit - at least to their eyes) your job. You will end up in poverty hell and that is your punishment.

Of course it's also important for the Tories to be seen to deliver on their commitments - that alone is worth more than a functioning society because it makes them seem credible. In fact the more dysfunctional our society, the greater the value of that credibility.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday, Green reiterated this point, saying: “By the far the best long-term route out of poverty is to have a job

Fatuous. I would imagine inheriting a vast windfall is probably the best way out of poverty. It's also the best way into the Tory party. Considering the amount of in work poverty that exists. According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (chart below) more than half those in work are also in poverty. I find it impossible to accept that Mr Green doesn't know this, which makes the idea of Tory authority all the more odious: unjustified authority depriving people in the community of the means to live. This is not just abhorrent it is murderous.

Green said: “Each statistic represents a person who has moved into employment and can now enjoy the security and dignity that work brings.”

There is no way this can be verified. At best it would be assuming evidence based on anecdote: a claimant would have to say they are starting work as their reason for ending the claim, but that alone wouldn't constitute proof. In fact the DWP won't check. I suspect most people use this reason, even if it's not true, because it's the most expedient and acceptable answer, given if only to get the DWP off their back, which may well be why their claim is ending anyway. 

 To assume people are moving into employment is just intellectual dishonesty. Who can blame people for ending their claim this way? I've done the same thing myself.

As for security and dignity? The evidence speaks for itself. Given how the Tories have treated the notion of a minimum wage I think we can reasonably and assuredly dismiss their idea that work = dignity. There's nothing dignified about forcing people to sell their labour in a rigged marketplace, one they have no control over anyway (if they did, they'd hardly need to be in that position in the first place).

PS: apropos of nothing, fuck Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton.

(Quotes from here)


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