Posts Tagged ‘Employment Skills’

Young Turks Show that Welfare Does Not Make People Lazy

November 22, 2015

Okay, this is another video from The Young Turks news programme. I thought this one was well worth posting up, as it tackles and disproves the right-wing, Conservative assertion that welfare payments make people lazy. Presented by John Iadarola, the show presents the findings by Harvard and MIT of a study of the effect of cash transfer programmes in seven countries. This shows that by and large such payments do not affect how hard people work.

In fact, they may even encourage people to work harder. Two of the studies were of programmes in African countries, in which the recipients were paid while learning new employment skills. In both of these programmes, the recipients worked even harder than before. This included a programme in Uganda, in which women were taught basic business skills. This resulted in the women working 61 per cent harder.

The programme also mentions the effect of a welfare programme in Canada, in which a whole town was guaranteed a basic income through ‘negative income tax’. Despite having a fixed income, everyone continued to work as hard as before. The only exceptions were new mothers, who chose to spend more time with their newborns, and teenagers. Iadarola points out that both of these are probably beneficial. Certainly for the babies, and also for teenagers, who could use that time to study for college. Here’s the programme.

Now I realise that this applies only to welfare payments made to people, who are already working. But nevertheless, this is a powerful blow against the Tory and Republican ideology that claims that welfare makes people lazy. The whole of New Labour/ Conservative welfare policy is based on this idea. After all, the Tories introduced their harsh requirements for the unemployed to spend all their time looking for work on the grounds that if they didn’t, those poor, hard-working people on whose behalf the Conservatives so despise the unemployed, would be upset by having to see their closed curtains in the morning as they all had a long lie-in.

And then there’s IDS’ plan to cut benefits made to people in poorly-paid jobs, and give them a ‘job coach’ to encourage them to go for better paid work. That’s scuppered by this finding as well.

And you can imagine heads at the Daily Heil exploding over the news about the Canadian town, whose new mothers were able to spend more time with their babies due to the government granting them a fixed income. Since forever and a day it seems the Mail and other right-wing rags have been criticising women for daring to go to work, rather than staying at home to look after their children. This is part of the paper’s general anti-feminist bias. Now they should be delighted that, if women are given a guaranteed income, more of them will take time off to care for their children. But as it involves people being given money by the state – ordinary people, that is, not hard-working multi-millionaires like Viscount Rothermere – you can feel their hackles rising from here. The paper and its proprietor clearly believe that only the rich should be allowed to avoid paying tax. It’s why Lord Rothermere is another one whose non-dom, despite having lived all his life in the UK. And as for women taking time off work, rather than leaving work altogether, they really resent that, as it means that firms have to pay them for not working, as well as keep their jobs open and find someone else to do the job while they’re off lazing about, not having sleepless nights feeding their baby, changing nappies and cleaning infantile vomit off of everything.

I was told by a friend of mine with a background in economics and finance that a number of European parties, like the German Social Democrats, have advocated policy of a national wage – a payment everyone gets in order for them to live, and live decently. The experiment by the Canadians seems to show that it’s a good idea.

Which means that this is one finding you definitely won’t see published in the press.

And the study as a whole definitively shows that when IDS, Osbo and the rest of the carrion-eaters over at Tory HQ start going on about how lazy the unemployed or low paid are, they really don’t know what they’re talking about.