Foghorn Phibbs: to save our economy, we should let our youth work for peanuts

I found this blog from our old friend Harry ‘Foghorn’  Phibbs  on “Right Minds” (it’s a bloody awful name), the new Daily Mail blog site.   Phibbsy reckons he’s gained exclusive insight into the cause of youth unemployment. He tells us in the blog title that “The minimum wage is pushing up youth unemployment”.

He says,

Youth unemployment has nearly reached a million. It now stands at 991,000 the highest since the current method of measuring it was introduced in 1992. For the population generally the unemployment rate is 8.1% while for the 16-24-year-olds it is 21.3%.

I suppose we can blame that on the last government? No? Yes.

It is perfectly reasonable for the Government to point to the Eurozone crisis and the terrible legacy of the Labour Government which was only thrown out last year. But the more relevant point is what the Government is going to minimise the problem given the economic reality we are all aware of.

It was inevitable. When all else fails, reach for the sticks marked “Labour” and “EU” and get stuck in.

Now is the time for some serious exploitation of Britain’s youth and here is Foghorn’s rationalization,

The last thing that they should be doing is pricing teenagers out of work. Given the lack of economic confidence businesses should be encouraged to give youngsters a chance rather than be discouraged by having the cost of doing so pushed up. Yet on October 1st the  Government increased the minimum wage. For adults it went up to £6.08p an hour. For 18-20-year-olds to £4.98p, for 16 and 17 year olds it is increased to £3.68 while the apprentice rate goes up to £2.60p.

Ah, but what about those youths who don’t live at home? What about students? How can they afford to exist – especially if they have children?  Pah! Wassamatta you? You crazy? Because, according to Phibbs,

Many young people who live at home would prefer to get started into employment choosing low pay rather than no pay.

So how many young people did Foghorn speak to? Were they all living “at home” or were they “living at home with their parents“?

He (sort of) supports this thesis with data that he extrapolates from a Low Pay Commission report that he doesn’t actually link to,

Even the Low Pay Commission, the Quango which recommends the level of the minimum wage has said: “Recent research has found evidence that in difficult economic circumstances the level of the minimum wage may have had an impact on the employment of young people.” Others would regard it as blindingly obvious. Its chief economist Tim Butcher adds: “We do know recessions affect young people as employers operate first-in, first-out and look for people with experience.”

Notice how he uses the word “quango” here.  It’s as if to say, “Look, even the quangos that I hate agree with me”.

As one might expect, the news was also seized upon by the Torygraph.

Indeed, it appears that only the right wing press have spun this in such a way as to suggest that youths should work for peanuts.  The Morning Star, as you’d expect, takes an altogether different line.

So who’s right? Well, the Tories have been gunning for the minimum wage for some time. When the National Minimum Wage was introduced, the Tories fought against it tooth and nail. For them, workers are there to be exploited. If they could get away with it, they would make people of all ages take jobs that pay less than £1 an hour. In truth, no one can survive on the minimum wage and the only way people can survive is to apply for tax credits which are, in themselves, a problematic. Many people who get tax credits find, somewhere down the line, that they’ve been ‘overpaid’ and are then forced into even greater hardship.

People need to be paid a living wage. The wealthy, like Phibbs, refuse to see this because they are entirely selfish and wilfully ignorant of the needs of others.

And you wondered why the country is in the state it’s in?


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Filed under economic illiteracy, Economics, Media, neoliberalism, Tory press

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