Ah, crap, I’ve just got to write this. Other people have said it more elegantly. I’m quite disgusted with Ken, being the latest person I’ve listened to today whom I expected better of than to meekly support the agenda.
We’re getting rid of the welfare state. We’re creating a sub-minimum-wage class of work, and forcing those into it whom the market has failed. We are instead guaranteeing work in its most emphatic way, making any kind of income dependent on state-determined work. A nation where the fallback for each individual is not support from the government, but state slavery in return for a roof and food.
The irony of it is, as seems often with many attempts of this government to be progressive, it veers close to something valuable. Incentivising people whom the market has failed into forms of work that build skills and benefit the community makes a lot of sense. Facilitating the unemployed to join/create organisations that contribute to society and earn money – this is excellent. We also definitely need better ways to translate community need into practical jobs for people who need work. But the conditionality, and the structure of the package, is deeply insulting, backward, top-down and wrong.
There is a big, big, big difference between helping people to developing skills and working to benefit the community, and forcing people with no other options to take low-skilled public service non-jobs.
Others on this topic:
@RSAMatthew has an eloquent swing at ‘involunteering’ here:
I’m sure there are lots more.
A deeper theme (inarticulate) to develop later:
Current agenda seems to be to retract the market – creating a harder line between what is ‘work’ and should be part of the economy and what should be paid for and provided by ‘volunteers’. The personal and community spheres are desired to expand to fill their proper role, leaving a purer private sector.
The more intelligent approach is surely to blur the line – see Southwark circle and their integration of ‘paid for’ and participatory economic systems – and expand the community intelligently into the markets and job-work creation through community social enterprise, local budgets etc…
Involunteering is part of this shift, taking what should be economically rewarded work (work that contributes to the community). putting it in an expanded ‘volunteering’ and ‘unemployed’ category, with those workers still on ‘benefits’, rather than actually getting rewarded for the work they do.