Pre-budget season is well on truly upon us with the Indo wringing its hands about how the ‘welfare trap’ is preventing people from taking up jobs. We are told that people are not taking up jobs or extra hours as it will mean they would loose valuable welfare health and housing benefits and small top ups to their wages. Of course an entirely different way of looking at or framing this story is that poverty wages, high rents and expensive health care are preventing people from taking up jobs; but that’s crazy pinko talk isn’t it? Rather what is called for is ‘job activation measures’, which is media-speak for the disciplining and punishing of an ungrateful labour force.
The Independent doesn’t lower itself to actually speaking to an unemployed person or representative but rather directly quotes the ubiquitous ‘Mr Burns’ character Mark Fielding of the Irish Small and Medium Enterprise association, who maintains that the ISME ‘helpline’ is bouncing off the hook with petite bourgeois complaints about people refusing to work for less than the dole. The entire 1,000 word front page article manages (with great skill) not to mention the current crisis of mass unemployment, emigration, the collapsed economy, the austerity measures of the last number of years, the debt crisis or even the international economic situation. No we have unemployment because the dole is too high.