23 July 2008

Jeffrey Lewis Anti Folk Complete History of Punk Rock (Dole Scum)

I was gonna write about Purnell's 'Dole Scum' and why...
said scum refuse to work forever in shitty jobs for less money than they get on benefit (seems obvious enough) but Polly Toynbee has beaten me to it and written about the amazing fact that most DO stick such crap jobs (which says something about human nature that the right-wing will never understand). And Johann Hari has explained why nobody in their right mind would want a life on benefit (well not if they have a decent alternative) and Chris Dillow has explained how stigmatising the poor is all counter-productive anyway. So instead here's a better use of 8 minutes - punk rock explained by the genius Jeffrey Lewis - 'dole scum' hero of many.


  1. As usual, with these sorts of proposals, there seems to be little clarity on what they are for. Are they intended to foster skills that that will enable people to get back into work? Are they intended as an 'incentive' - aka a punishment - for people to get off benefits and into work? Or are being done for the 'moral improvement' that work represents for otherwise idle people? I doubt that the government has a clear view as this is policy designed to appeal to its right wing supporters who are dfecting to the Cameron.

    If it's for moral improvement then we should also be conscripting the idle rich onto these schemes. Personally I have no problems with people being offered genuine experience that will improve their opportunities to get proper employment. But any such experience with training should be properly accredited. But the thing that should be challenged is that living on benefits is a pleasurable thing that people would choose to do even if they had other choices. Having experience unemployment during the Thatcher years I know that for the bullshit it is.

    The other point is that if this 'community work' is useful work that needs to be done, then those who do it should be paid at at least the national minimum wage. By paying sub-minimum wage for this work you are in effect taking work from those who could be employed to do these jobs at minimum wage. You are in effect, increasing unemployment.

    All this just confirms my belief that there is no substantive difference between the Tories and Labour on questions of economic policy and that one should vote on the basis of civil liberties.

  2. You've been quiet as of late.

    Anyway, there are two 'right wing' attitudes to welfare. You deride the Mail/Express approach (quite rightly) but ignore the more sophisticated free-market-liberal approach that says it's the high marginal withdrawal rates, the conditionality and the perverse incentives that do the damage, not the simple fact of redistribution.

    The ultimate conclusion being that we ought to have a CBI-type welfare system.

  3. In any event, they're only looking at half the equation - and there's no way a Nulab or Tory gummint will do anything about the other half.

  4. MW: I've been on holiday for a few weeks. A CBI would be wonderful but alas neither Labour, Tory nor Lib Dem seems interested. GB's obsession with means testing is just depressing.

    As a society where 25% of the wealth resides with the richest 1% and where the poorest 50% have only 6% of the wealth, we have to ask ourselves is it not possible to redistrbute just some of this wealth to ensure everyone has a minimum income standard - around £16k - just 60% of the average income of £24k. When the rich go around avoiding £42bn in taxes every year, is it really the cost of someone on £60 a week we should be worrying about?

  5. Stephen: I really wonder how many of the 4.5 million voters that have deserted Labour since 97 (probably even more now) will vote Tory?

    I certainly don't see this policy being a vote winner. I really believe people have deserted Labour because Labour have lost purpose - not because they have been 'soft'. As you rightly argue, with more prisoners than ever and less on the dole for many decades, Labour has not been 'soft' on anyone.