What is behind the rise of the working poor? As James Plunkett says, it makes for a lousy whodunit. No single factor is to blame. Much as you might want to point the finger at the government, at least some of the evidence shows that these are long-term trends that have been gathering pace for a while. The recession and the stagnation which followed simply gave them a boost. In-work poverty started increasing before the recession and it looks as though it will continue long into the recovery.
It seems that our economy and, to be fair, those of a number of other western countries, can no longer create enough jobs that pay well enough to keep people off benefits. The stereotype of the work-shy dole scrounger is out of date. These days, someone poor and on benefits is more likely to come from one of those hardworking families the government keeps telling us about.
5 responses to “The uk economy can no longer create enough jobs that pay well enough to keep people off benefits”
There’s another way of interpreting this, supporting an argument that is especially destructive to the Conservative orthodoxy on benefits: the benefits system and culture has developed as a massive form of State subsidy for otherwise inefficient service industries. It allows business to depend upon a flexible, low pay workforce. In this interpretation, the marginalised poor are not the products of failed Capitalism, they are a symbol of its success – that is to say, an expression of its unrelenting power over workers and government.
Just for a laugh find yourself a Tory (the bottom half of any Daily Telegraph page is a good place to find them) and deploy this argument.
I think it’s very plausible! This argument seemed to have suddenly entered into the mainstream in the US when there was a big outcry over Wallmart organising food drives for their (slightly better off) staff to donate to those who weren’t earning enough to feed themselves…
“In this interpretation, the marginalised poor are not the products of failed Capitalism, they are a symbol of its success – that is to say, an expression of its unrelenting power over workers and government”
and suddenly we’re faced with a neo-marxist spectacle of capitalism eating itself.
Or, following Deleuze and Guattari, Capitalism as always already a body-without-organs over-filled with mutant desires and assemblages – whatever next? We can’t read the dialectical runes. And there was no golden age (see this exercise in naivety by Douglas Carswell MP: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/douglascarswellmp/100252257/the-economy-is-growing-the-free-market-isnt-thats-worrying/ ).
I think it’s much more sinister than naivety! There seems to be a trend for anarcho-capitalist ideas to be gradually creeping into the thinking of the Tory right…