Right-Wing Clichés (#6): Work is the best route out of poverty

How many times have you heard a government minister say “Work is the best route out of poverty”? How would they know? They have never been impoverished nor have they been forced into a situation where they’ve had to work in a low paid job, struggling to pay bills and rent. David Cameron repeats the line often enough, but even when he was a student at Oxford, he wasn’t living in a cold, damp, miserable student house. He had the best accommodation money could buy. He didn’t have to go to his local Jobcentre and sift through loads of poorly paid, menial jobs that offer no future and, more importantly, the route out of poverty that he claims to speak of with such authority. His daddy had contacts. The Queen’s equerry even phoned Carlton Television and acted as his referee . How many ordinary people does that happen to?

If you’re a woman and you come from a working class background, the only ‘opportunities’ to make a decent amount of money are in the sex industry. More and more working class women are being forced into making these kinds of choices and perhaps worst of all, the message that comes from government and people like Catherine Hakim, who filleted Bourdieu’s concept of cultural capital to devise her ‘concept’ of “erotic capital”, is that if you’re a working class woman, you’re only good enough to be ogled, fondled and fucked in the car park by some grubby businessman for a tenner. It comes as no surprise to The Cat that Hakim works for the Thatcherite think-tank, the Centre for Policy Studies.

Work that pays the minimum wage (or less) actually locks people into poverty. If you are working in low paid job, you are forced to work endless hours of overtime (for the same amount of money) to make ends meet.This means you don’t have much of a life. It also means that you don’t have the time to look for work that pays more money. You may be in a zero hours contract or have been forced into ‘self-employment’. If you are, then you know that if you don’t work, you don’t get paid. You have to work even if you’re ill. The only thing that raises people out of poverty is greater access to opportunities. Under the present neoliberal system, the possibilities of this happening are small to non-existent, because the jobs that pay the best money are reserved for those people who come from wealthy and powerful families.

So next time you hear a Tory tell you that “work is the best route out of poverty”, you laugh and laugh hard, because he or she has no evidence to support their contention. One Tory told me that the working class were “richer” at the end of the 19th century than at the beginning of that century. Spot the logic fail.

David Cameron is the Queen’s fifth cousin.




Filed under Conservative Party, Government & politics

17 responses to “Right-Wing Clichés (#6): Work is the best route out of poverty

  1. John

    Cameron got his “job” at Conservative Party HQ reportedly after another telephone call from the Palace. It is clearly a very open question as to whether any of these Bullingdon Club characters have ever held a proper job, so what can they possibly know about work being the best route out of poverty – and, again, what do any of them know about real poverty?
    I don’t know about other people but I try to look into their eyes when they make such statements and the conclusion I have come to is that they can barely keep a straight face when they make them.
    They are having a laugh – not with the poor people involved but at them.
    Know your enemy!!!

  2. beastrabban

    Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    The Cat explains how, for most working people, hard work actually won’t lift you out of poverty because you slave all day in low paid jobs simply to make ends meet. He also points out how hypocritical this is coming from Tories like Dave Cameron, who has never, ever, had to work in a low paid job simply to get by.
    The cat also points out the logical fallacy in one Tory politico, who argued that at the end of the 19th century, the working class was wealthier than at its beginning. Now I remember when I was at school Channel 4 actually made a programme pointing out that for most people the opposite was actually true. As the Victorian age wore on, the working class were actually poorer, more malnourished and in worse health than they were at the beginning. This was a response by the Channel to Thatcher’s loud espousal of ‘Victorian values’, a notion still trumpeted regularly by the Tories. Remember John Major and his ‘Back to Basics’ campaign?

    • John

      The end of the 19th Century was 1899. A few years later when recruits were sought in Britain to send out to fight in the Boer War it was found that their general state of health was too poor for them to be of any use.
      It was this fact plus a young Winston Churchill’s realisation that Bismark’s social welfare and education reforms in Germany were necessary for a modern industrialised workforce. This is what led in the early 1900s to the introduction of compulsory school education, labour exchanges and primitive forms of benefit systems for unemployed workers.
      The Tories are just doing what they always do – taking the piss.
      They know they are lying but they are endeavouring to deploy the Big Lie tactic, i.e. if they just keep on lying for long enough, enough people will come to believe whatever they are saying and re-elect them into power.
      Orwell warned us about this in 1984, having experienced the use of propaganda techniques by Joseph Goebbels in the Second World War.
      UK politics is increasingly resembling Orwell’s dystopian world.

      • The use of repetition is an old PR trick. We can thank Edward Bernays for that. Goebbels developed it into an art form.Cameron is a PR man: he’s all surface and no depth.

      • maxwell1957

        Just to be tediously pedantic, may I point out that the last year of the Nineteenth Century was in fact 1900…the clue is in the term itself 19th century I.E. 100 years-19 times 100 equals 1900.
        There is no ” Year Zero ” other than the journalistic device of the headline.

  3. Eijnar

    Work does not lift people out of poverty,money does. I do not pay my bills with WORK but money.A top professional footballer “works” no more than a few hours per week,including training,yet “earns” as much in a few hours as I do in a year.
    This simple fact is continually ignored yet all major political parties support unrestricted mass immigration into Britain which massively increases the labour force and thus reduces the scarcity value of the labour they have to offer.And this labour is the only asset they possess so when they are forced to compete with ever increasing numbers of people in Britain they are forced to accept ever lower wages and conditions.I am sick of people pretending that immigration doesn’t cause poverty in Britain when it clearly does so for those who are already poor.
    It is really very simple,with several million fewer people in Britain than we do at present wages would be higher,unemployment a lifestyle choice,property would be cheaper due to millions fewer people requiring it and the standard of living of those at the bottom very much higher with the result that income inequality would be far less than it is today.The ultimate solution to ALL of the poverty and despair in modern Britain can be found in an immediate end to mass immigration.I have no problem with Nobel Prize Winners, Captains of industry and skilled doctors and scientists but to have a scheme set up to bring in an army of people to pick fruit or drive buses in the west midlands is simply not funny!
    And please don’t resort to the usual bilge that a) I am wrong or b) I am a racist for saying it as that piffle simply wont do! The simple fact is that if labour was in very short supply in Britain those able to supply it would be paid a lot more than they are and consequently have no problem with poverty,it is really THAT simple!

    • And please don’t resort to the usual bilge that a) I am wrong or b) I am a racist for saying it as that piffle simply wont do!

      “Usual bilge”? You’re a wee bit sensitive. No? I am going to tell you that you’re wrong. How did you guess? Immigration does not cause poverty. Poverty is caused by a lack of opportunity and being locked into low-skilled, low-paid work. If you think fruit-picking and driving a bus are examples of well-paid work. Think again.

      Since Thatcher conducted a widespread scorched earth policy with British industry, there has been a growth in service sector activity: this kind of work has never paid well. Britain’s chronic economic mismanagement cannot be blamed on immigrants but on the politicians who form governments. UKIP and the rest of the Right regard immigrants an easy scapegoat.I suggest you read some history for other salient examples of how minority groups have been targeted by nationalists.

      The real solution – and it’s not one that either you or the ruling class of this country wants to hear – is a universal guaranteed income.

      Are you a nationalist, “Eijnar”?

      • Eijnar

        How can you possibly state that the Right are using immigrants as a scapegoat when it is the Right that profits most from their presence! Who do you think benefits most from the collapse of pay and conditions caused by the super abundance of cheap labour? The employers and the landlords have seen their wealth sky rocket as wages have fallen and property prices have risen due to the ever increasing demand for housing.And do not think that the Labour Party’s part in this disaster has escaped me for it was the postwar Labour government that deliberately started mass immigration in 1947 and it was New Labour,and irony of the name is not lost on me,that went on to encourage more immigration into Britain in 13 years than had occurred in total in the entire previous two thousand years!

        And at no time did I suggest that fruit picking or driving a bus was well paid,I simply pointed out that we now have schemes to import people into Britain to perform these tasks.As regards your wonderfully socialist idea of a minimum income that would not do anything to reduce poverty as prices would simply rise to take account of the extra income,that is why the cost of everything in London is so obscene compared to the North of England.

        The only real lasting solution to the poverty endured by the low paid is to make what they have to sell,their labour,scarcer and therefore more valuable.You can either kill a few million of them off as the Black Death did,which created enormous prosperity for the poor and ended the feudal system. Or you can end mass immigration and therefore the constant addition to the nations pool of labour and therefore allow wages and conditions to rise to something nearer a decent standard of living.

        What you can’t do is defend mass immigration while bleating about the poverty caused by the people it allows to flood into Britain every year.The refusal to recognize that the basic Laws of Supply and Demand function in the British labour market and that endless additions to the Supply of labour inevitably drive down the price of labour and drive up the cost of housing is the mark of a person who is either stupid or hopes that everybody else is.

        My wife works as an Agency Care Assistant and has done so for over 25 years,during the last 14 years she has seen her actual pay fall from £12.45 per hour for Sunday night to £7 several years ago and at that level it has remained ever since.She supports me,I am disabled,and she works a MINIMUM of 62 hours every week simply to bring in just over £700 per fortnight so please don’t try and tell me that pay and conditions haven’t been driven down by mass immigration because it is simply not true.

        The only “scapegoats” in Britain are the Working Class who are constantly attacked as being lazy simply because they don’t relish working like a donkey to pay off the losses incurred by the bankers.

        Are you a banker, “buddyhell”?

      • You’ve got a one-track mind, eijnar. In fact, you haven’t actually engaged with my article. Instead, you’ve talked about your single obsession. And your last comment? If that’s meant to be a witty riposte, it’s a miserable failure.

        Labour government that deliberately started mass immigration in 1947

        Your grasp of history is also woeful. The largest mass migration in history occurred when India became independent in 1947 (Labour were in power) and millions were forced to migrate from India to Pakistan and vice versa. It seems to me that not only is your grasp of history woeful, you’re also dishonest. Indeed, your use of the phrase “mass immigration” betrays you. By connecting poverty to your single obsession, you’ve demonstrated the laziness of your thinking. Your argument, such as it is, is all over the place.

        With a name like “Eijnar”, I would suggest that you’re an immigrant. That is, unless you’re one of those nationalists who picks Nordic-sounding names to make a point.

        Immigrants contribute to this country’s economy by paying taxes, which is more than what most British millionaires and billionaires do. Immigrants do not create poverty in this country.

        I’d ask you to carefully consider your next reply, but I suspect that won’t happen. Critical thinking clearly isn’t your forte.

    • John

      The real problem is a coalition government which “rewards” millionaires and billionaires with tax cuts but penalises ordinary working people with an economy in which their share in real terms has been steadily reduced.
      It all started with Thatcher and Regan, and this trend looks set to continue for the indefinite future unless people in this country start to wise up and start taking a real interest in politics by demanding radical redistribution policies. If any of you ever listen to The Beatles any more, listen to the lyrics of “Taxman”, when they complained about a 95% income tax rate.
      Yes, there was a time when income tax rates in this country were that high.
      Now, the rich quibble if they have to pay a top rate of 40 per cent.
      Tax the rich and give the money to the poor. You know it makes sense.

      • I remember reading somewhere that when Francois Hollande proposed to increase the rate of tax for le mega riche, most French billionaires and millionaires admitted they should pay more tax. It was only a few like Depardieu who started squealing. The Tory press ignored those rich people who wanted to pay more and focussed instead on the likes of Depardieu. Thatcher and Reagan both inculcated the idea of supreme selfishness in the minds of many. It will take not only political change but a cultural intervention to transform attitudes.

  4. Reblogged this on Methusalada and commented:
    By Gum lad , thou art reit good wit words, I luved it!

  5. After doing some checking, I discovered that “Eijnar” was BNP. I suspected it when he started linking immigration to poverty but had no proof. I do now. If he leaves any more comments, they’ll go straight into the trash.

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