wealthy ex-MP pontificates about the unemployed

it's pronounced 'Portaloo'

Sighs. So here an ex-Tory gets paid to waffle on about the jobless... because, as you know, a person who's never been out of work - and who get's very well paid to do various media things - and has been in Government and so has consequently read a report or two, and has even read a couple of books by American right-wing 'political scientists' (whatever one of those is) is going to know all about it. Obviously.

I should go through this whole article paragraph by paragraph but here's a few of my quick comments and thoughts on it...

He starts very loftily with a quote from Sir William Beveridge: The state “should not stifle incentive, opportunity, responsibility,...” Good start there, except the state of today, and in Major's day and in Thatcher's day - pretty much does everything it can to stifle everything it can.

Portillo laments that 5 million (which he quickly in the same sentence revises down to two and a half million) haven't had a job -ever, especially under Labour - implying it's all Tony Blair's fault - when in actual fact the problem was started long ago under Thatcher, When she destroyed great swathes of British industry, and systematically crippled the Unions making it near impossible for many to fight for better pay and working conditions etc. The effects of which we're still suffering from today - particularly as NuLabour carried on with her vision instead of doing anything to reverse it. But their pay masters were never going to allow that anyway. (Look to who funds the parties - with their hefty donations and who does the most lobbying to see who really runs the country - because it sure isn't the Politicians.)

"The workless have been immune to programmes of training and mentoring."
No well, (and I speak from experience and from other friends who've been forced onto these "programmes") -that's hardly any surprise - because all these schemes are only ever done on the cheap, the training (if you can call it that) available is only of the most cursory and rudimentary level - providing Mickey Mouse qualifications that no employer has even ever heard of - let alone has much use for. In fact all these courses are designed to do - is massage the jobless figures and make the lives of the unemployed that extra bit miserable and depressing. Oh, and to create a few jobs for either the sociopathic or the well-meaning but ultimately clueless middle-class-guilt-ridden person. But god forbid that at any time should anyone from the Department of Social Security or any MP or whatever should ever take the trouble to actually ASK the unemployed individuals what it is THEY need to get into work? God forbid that they should ever provide funding for real training with real qualifications - because let's face it, those things are expensive compared to begrudgingly handing out meager subsistence-level benefits however long term. Portillo mentions the reform of the educational system, er, yes. Indeed. It's been reformed so that unless you come from a nice wealthy middle-class family - you are forced into taking out crippling loans which will leave you steeped in debt for a large chunk of the beginning of your working life, of course that's if you're lucky enough to have a working life. Most of these reforms have only benefited the middle-classes and excluded the working classes altogether, as the middle-classes have hauled up the ladder of opportunity after themselves. So well done there then.

Portillo then goes on to write a rather weird section back-handedly praising while simultaneously condemning the social reforms John and Ted Kennedy made for black people in the 60s. Apparently, according to this right-wing political commentator (and nearly-racist) Charles Murray, all the welfare provisions for the black poor has totally ruined their lives. I don't quite understood what the intimation here is - is he saying they'd have been better off if they had been left to starve? Or saying maybe if they had got together and rioted more? Surely the black people were poor because they had nothing - they were brought into the US as slaves - given their freedom - which in most cases just meant the freedom to starve to death. But then right-wingers, (who you can guarantee have never experienced poverty or endured real hunger in their lives) are always advocating that the poor have their welfare payments taken away from them - because it will be good for them. Somehow.

Yeah, somehow I'm getting the impression that right-wing commentators are in love with the idea of cheap labour - and the more poor there are, then supposedly the more they will compete and undercut each other to provide ever cheaper labour for rich right-wing company owners etc. So they can get even richer. Not much else concerns them. After all that's exactly how it works in parts of the world where there is no state welfare provision. Oddly enough - the mass poverty doesn't go away there either. But the rich always get richer.

(Nowadays there's lots of talk of getting people to work for their benefits, instead of -oh, I don't know, maybe giving them a proper wage to do that work they'll forced to do. Obviously that thought hasn't occurred to anybody.)

All of which surely goes to prove that all Right-wingers are -let's face it, just complete dicks. Their simple-minded posturings don't really bring much of worth to the debating table. That right-wing commentators exist at all is only testament to the fact that a majority of people will happily pay to hear what they want to hear.

Oh, Portillo's retarded article rattles on - but doesn't begin to address any of the real complexity of the issues surrounding the unemployed which should include:-

  • regional variations. There are whole areas of the UK where one main industry was closed -a coal or steel mine, a major manufacturer that moved abroad - etc.) that have never recovered. Nothing replaced the loss.
  • the minimum wage and the working poor, along with the grim fact that millions in the UK are in work and are not the least bit better off for it financially or even 'spiritually' (Portillo likes it when the poor rely on religious faith. Is it because it's cheaper than paying out welfare I wonder?)
  • In work benefits - should the State be subsidizing companies that can't or won't pay their employees a living wage?
  • he mentions immigration but leaves it ambiguous as to what he really thinks about the issue (maybe the tip-toeing is because he doesn't want to be seen as racist?).
  • the fact that the UK has allowed the financial sector to overshadow and dominate the economy here - rather than finding a balance with the good old fashioned methods of making and selling actual stuff (it's as if we just couldn't be bothered to do that here - not now we're all so post-industrial - instead we let China and India etc. to make things for us - because labour over there is so much cheaper... erm.)
  • which brings us to the issue of ever increasing globalisation, whereby what could and should be local jobs get outsourced aboard.

But once again with the usual tiresome 'blame the victim' stance these articles always take - again and again the big elephant in the room gets ignored - the grim stark fact that maybe, just maybe there's so much unemployment around because... because... *gasp* hold on to your hats - this will shock you... because there are far, far many people around than there are jobs for them to do! *gasp again*

I know!

I'll say it again - to let it sink in.

There is so much unemployment around simply because here are far more people than here are jobs for them to do.

Once we face up to this constantly and consistently ignored fact, then we can genuinely start to tackle the problems, maybe with ways that have never even been tried before. Ones that stand a chance of working. But until then - everyone is just going to go round and round in circles doing the same things  having the same arguments and deploying the half-baked methods that get us nowhere -over and over and over...)

Oh well - I guess it keeps Portillo and his ilk in work doesn't it? Writing all this ill-thought out nonsense for the people who pay to hear what they want to hear -rather than what they NEED to hear. But don't ever let the unemployed have a voice... Oh no.

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