Monday, 20 September 2010

Deborah Orr Can’t Quite Put Her Finger On It…

The International Monetary Fund is pulling no punches, warning that while a double-dip recession remains unlikely, Europe and the US still face a massive jobs crisis.
Or a massive welfare state crisis. Your mileage might vary…
Talk of "a jobless recovery" has been around for some time, and the report hints that such dire predictions may come to fruition. There has been a decline in what is called the "employment intensity of growth"; essentially, increased output is being achieved with the use of fewer workers.
It’s called progress. Also, automation.
Such divisive efficiency will increase the already yawning gap between the haves and the have-nots – as high now as it was in 1928-29.
‘Divisive efficiency’..?

What, we should cripple our efficiency in order to provide non-jobs? Are you serious?
It may seem odd, now, to shift from the macro considerations of global employment trends to the relatively micro issue of children and care.
No more odd than the concept of ‘divisive efficiency’, Deborah…
But another report published this week, this one undertaken for the previous government by the Social Policy Research Unit at the University of York, deserves to be given close attention.

Researchers tracked, over a three-year period, 3,872 children who had been "looked after" by local councils at some point in 2003–2004. It concluded – contrary to the received wisdom of recent decades – that abused or neglected children should be returned to their families only with "extreme caution", even taking into account the manifest failings of the care system itself.
Is that because these 3872 children were from the very worst families, perhaps? The ones for whom nothing could be done?
The chancellor, George Osborne, has come in for much criticism, after announcing his intention to shave another £4bn off the welfare budget by targeting the "lifestyle choices" of the unemployed. Of course his rhetoric is populist and unhelpful.

I mean, leaving aside the idea that because something’s ‘populist’, it should be shied away from by all right-thinking politicians (which never seems to be a problem with left-wing causes, does it?), just why should healthy people regard being kept by the taxpayer as a worthwhile alternative to earning a living?
One of the distressing things about York University's findings on the deleterious effects of keeping children in unstable birth families is that they immediately make previous policy ideas look sentimental and backward-looking, involving the invocation of almost magical qualities in the marvels of hearth, home and parental caress. Yet this misty view discounts all that is known about the life-long disadvantages that are imposed on children when they spend their early lives in deprivation at home. It sets them apart from the mainstream, dislocates them profoundly, and leaves them without resilience.
And whose fault is that? The government, for not shelling out yet more sums of money on them? The taxpayers, who understandably resent being taxed to the hilt to support the families of the feckless?

Or the people who keep having children they cannot support and don’t even really want?

Take your time and think about it, love…


Oldrightie said...

Orr is a princess among the chatterati and dumb.

JuliaM said...

She does indeed seem to be so...

Anonymous said...

contrary to the received wisdom of recent decades

Curious how the idea that families might be better at bringing up children than the state is just received wisdom. God forbid that that might be supported by rather a lot of research.