Monday, April 12, 2010

'Real Work' Is Not Only 'Paid Work'

Jane Clifton's article on beneficiaries ('Suck It And See', Listener, Apr 10-16, 2010) is an insult to people in general and a wrong-headed interpretation of what work is. She makes the common mistake of equating 'work' with only 'paid jobs', and denigrates those whose 'work' is unpaid as less than human.

Her article is an insult to those who are attempting to make a contribution that reflects their own skills and abilities in the places they see a need, whether this work is remunerated or not.

She equates all work of worth with work that is paid for by employers, an extremely narrow definition that excludes the very real and rewarding contribution that all people can make when they choose how, when and where they contribute.

Jane refers to beneficiaries who are not 'structurally unemployed' or who have not been irredeemably damaged by society (a group perhaps much larger than she realises) as an, "…elective underclass of bludger…", and proceeds to insult them, as if by doing the work they want to do, work not offered by an employer or well remunerated, makes them 'indecent', 'dishonest' and uninterested in, "…providing for [their] family."

After dehumanising, "…such people…", she then proceeds to the next step of persecuting them with the cry of there being a, "…good case … for putting them into work gangs…", and pleading that, "…such people need a prod…".

Dehumanising and persecuting are the features of '-isms' that make for racism, sexism, ageism and all the grouping of persons into 'other' categories where they are considered less than ourselves and eligible for persecution. This performance should be beneath a person of Jane's intelligence and standing, and for a supposedly fairly 'enlightened' magazine, such as the Listener, to give it a voice, is disappointing.

Perhaps Jane might want to think about how there might be a bit more to life (and work) than just the work that is valued by the dollar, and use her public position to publicise how we might make a society where the value of work is according to how well it fulfils the potential of people, not just how well it exploits them (and the Earth's resources) for the few that employ (and own) them.

[Jane's full article won't be online until 24 April 2010, but hopefully, when it is, you will be able to see it here:]


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