Thursday 12 March 2009

Two Columnists, Two Outlooks, One Basic Problem…

First, Alice Miles looks at the increasing demand for jobs facing the older generation (who are keenly aware of the need to provide for old age care that never seems to reduce, only increase in cost), and the difference between them and the younger generation, as she found on her visit to a Job Centre:
Sitting for a day with the advisers, I was struck by how young most of the claimants were. And how fit and able-bodied and capable of work. The computer flickered all day with jobs that they could do - bar staff, drivers, packers, quite a few decent NHS posts, none of it well paid but a lot better than the £60 a week jobseeker's allowance.
But that’s the problem, Alice. If they can get £60 a week for doing nothing, plenty of people reason that there’s no point in doing something for a little bit more than £60 per week. Especially when you can earn money on the black economy as well..
So the young shouldn't worry about the older employee who wants to work a little longer. They should worry instead, I would suggest, about the younger person who foresees a life supported by their taxes.

Grandad elbowing his way into the queue for a job isn’t going to be the problem, this is:
Give me any day the 65-year-old who wants to squeeze a few more taxpaying years out of his profession rather than the 16-year-old I met recently, slumped on a sofa with his father. Darren had left school, tried a few local supermarkets - amazingly none of them offered this sulky young man a job - then he'd joined an EMA course. That's the education maintenance allowance, payable to children of 16 and over if they stay in education or training. Many payments were late last year, because of computer problems.

And what happened to that course, asked the support worker visiting the family, encouragingly. “The EMA never got paid,” his father replied aggressively. Darren had only joined the training course - an EMA course, note, not a practical painting and decorating National Vocational Qualification or an Employability and Work Skills course - to claim the benefit.
Meanwhile, Daniel Finkelstein views the increasingly gloomy outlook for the UK economy:
We are insolvent. Out of money. Financially embarrassed. Strapped. Cleaned out. We are skint, borassic lint, Larry Flynt, lamb and mint. We are lamentably low on loot. We are maxed out. We are indebted, encumbered, in hock, in the hole. We are broke, hearts of oak, coals and coke. It doesn't matter whether money can buy us love, because we haven't got any.
When do you think this situation is going to start hitting the Darrens of this world?
The central fact of British politics in the next ten years, and perhaps longer, is not hard to spot. British politics isn't going to be dominated by interesting debates on the future of capitalism. It isn't going to be the stage for a revival of interest in democratic socialism. It isn't going to play host to the interplay of competing ambitious projects. No. We're in for a hard slog. Because what British politics is going to be about in the next ten years is living with the consequences of the State being broke, of the Government running out of money.
And those consequences are going to be harsh for the Darrens of this world. I hope…

And not just the Darrens and other underclass, shirking jobs entirely.

They also need to be made very, very harsh for the many middle-class people in non-jobs’, the Diversity Outreach Co-ordination Communication Directors, shuffling endless paper, holding endless meetings, and producing meaningless stats but nothing of real value.

But it seems that this hasn’t yet hit home to the politicians:
I don't mean to make a meal of this. It's just that sometimes when I listen to the political debate, I wonder if everyone is still connected with reality. They're all busy announcing new schemes and White Papers or dreaming of tax cuts and so forth, and no one seems to talk much about the cash. La la la la (fingers in ears). The Conservatives occasionally bring it up, a little gingerly. They think the problem is going to land on their plate, after all. But they are also worried about being seen as gloomy, so they try not to bang on about it.
And sadly, they need to step up to the plate and begin asking the awkward questions, the ones they fear to ask because they will be branded ‘the nasty party’ again.

Because Britain can’t afford this level of state expenditure on ‘non-jobs’ any longer.
But things will be grim for the Right, too. Many Conservatives have lived in a dreamworld. Cutting spending would be easy. Cutting tax is a moral necessity. They are about to find out just how difficult it is even to control the amount Government pays out. Consumers of public services have rising expectations and most of the services are labour intensive. Both these things keep pushing up costs, even if government does nothing.
He’s right, consumers do have high expectations of public services – but those aren’t met by having a ratio of 5:1 backroom staff to frontline operators, where 2 or 3 out of those backroom staff are employed in, basically, ‘make work’ jobs.

The customer doesn’t care, and will care even less in the future as the necessary cuts are made, whether an organisation has an ‘inclusive social policy’, or features high on any of the ‘corporate responsibility indices’ touted around government and private industry, or supports ‘Black History Month’.

They just want their hospitals cleaned, their bins emptied, and their roads maintained. It’s what they pay their tax for. It’s ALL they pay their tax for.

Who’s prepared to tackle this? I don’t think it’s Dave. Is it?


Anonymous said...

Tangentially: it's not difficult to see where Labour's rock solid 30% in the polls comes from and it includes Darren, his father, the JobCentre apparatchiks and the Diversity Outreach community. While we're about it, don't expect more than the odd squeak out of the Conservatives if their non-reaction to this scandal is anything to go by.

AntiCitizenOne said...

I think the answer to inefficient government is the citizens dividend.

If the government gets less, you get more. On aggregate I think it would restore the balance as every citizen would have a stake in efficient government.

Anonymous said...

AC1 has it.

Cut the state by £10, give £5 back to the taxpayer, and spend the other £5 on paying down government debt. Easy to present, and any fule kno that the savings can come from non-jobs.

One day the taxpayer can get the other £5, but in the meantime his first fiver can restore savings and stimulate the economy, generating more taxes to split as above.

A virtuous circle. Darren's working class neighbours, who actually work, will be delighted.

JuliaM said...

"'s not difficult to see where Labour's rock solid 30% in the polls comes from and it includes Darren, his father, the JobCentre apparatchiks and the Diversity Outreach community"

True. They get their votes the old fashioned way - they buy 'em...

"On aggregate I think it would restore the balance as every citizen would have a stake in efficient government."

But it would shift power away from the State. So it'll never see the light of day, sadly.

"Darren's working class neighbours, who actually work, will be delighted."

How much longer before Darren's virtuous neighbours see the writing on the wall, and emigrate....?

North Northwester said...

Julia : " How much longer before Darren's virtuous neighbours see the writing on the wall, and emigrate....?"

It's already happening - want to guess how many expats blog about Blighty? .

It's a fair few, and we've lost their votes and their door-knocking skill though not their good wishes. A number of lovely my links and lovelier followers are expats