My mum is a victim of the right wing populism that is propagated by certain media outlets that stigmatizes people on benefits. It’s one of the biggest things that makes me angry in today’s society. Let’s have a look at the reasons why some people feel the need to characterise those on benefits as feckless and lazy.
Like most people, I’m on social media pretty much 24 hours a day, except when I’m in bed. I find lots of things on social media that I don’t necessarily agree with but things like this generalization make me angry. People forget how much money and how powerful television channels actually are. I speculate that the people shown on this programme are not feckless and lazy and downtrodden like the way they are portrayed. I speculate that some very powerful television executives have exploited these people in order to portray benefits claimants as the stones at the bottom of society’s river.
If jobs were easy to come by, I’m sure many more people on James Turner Street would be employed. The problem is, there are relatively little jobs for people that the education system has left behind. There are little jobs for the people that capitalism has left behind. We are constantly faced with people crying out for new houses, new schools and hospitals; for more doctors and nurses in our hospitals and ultimately, for a better world for our children to grow up in. But the society we live in nowadays doesn’t quite work like that anymore. Once upon a time, before Thatcher and Blair’s neo liberal reign of terror, the government identified what people needed and invested money into it, seeing the returns of investment through full employment (admittedly though, this was mainly men!) and therefore full, progressive taxation and national insurance contributions. Our neo liberal society does not work this way anymore, instead, the profit-making business’ needs are put before the people’s. Why have so many public sector jobs been lost? Why have private companies essentially got a free reign when it comes to employing people? Because they can. People need jobs so that they don’t have to live the way we saw people living in Benefits Street and private companies need labour as quickly and efficiently as possible. That’s why we see things like zero hour contracts more and more often.
There is work to be done in this country, but how can that work be done if the government keep pandering to huge multi national companies and their needs? It’s inhumane. It’s disgusting how neo liberalism will put the needs of private companies before the needs of the people. How can anyone treat a fellow human being in this way?
How can anyone say paying tax for people to live the way they do in Benefits Street is ‘sickening’ because of the way they live? Have you ever lived on benefits? Have you ever found yourself threatened with eviction because of your bedroom tax arrears? How could you believe that people on benefits actually want to live that way? How can you assume people are lazy and feckless? Doesn’t everyone want to work? Labour, as in work, is not valued enough in this country by the private companies that essentially run the country. They exploit people and pay them what they can get away with legally. Look at McDonald’s. McDonald’s is the second biggest company in the world and regularly make billions of dollars in revenue, yet they employ most of their workers on zero hour contracts and pay them barely over the minimum wage. Why should people work for companies who clearly don’t value their labour?
The sickening thing for me is, that people in 2014 might actually live in the way that is portrayed by Benefits Street. Benefits Street, I speculate, has been grossly over exaggerated, but it isn’t too far from the truth. People are living hand to mouth and turning to crime. I watched in horror as “Black Dee” discussed possible funding options to pay her rent arrears and discussed whether or not people would sponsor her to stop smoking for a week. The true tragedy, the really sickening thing here is that people can’t afford to pay their rent. Rent is clearly too high, why should people be demonised for something they can’t do a lot about?
Capitalism and the neo liberal socio-economic model has a lot to fucking answer for. Not only has it created completely entrenched inequalities in society but it has completely transformed the way people think about their fellow human beings. Not fifty years ago, we lived in a social democracy where there was a collective, community spirit and people looked out for each other. Now, we’re on a crusade against the poor, the people who need those of us who are privileged to look out for them are instead looked upon like dog dirt on the bottom of society’s trainer. Why? So that the rich in this world can look out for their own, the privileged elite, an example of how neo liberalism works. Whilst the rich bankers continue to destroy this country, the privileged elite look for people to scapegoat for these problems.
Let me ask you who caused the economic crisis. It was not people who live on James Turner Street in Birmingham. It was not immigrants who come to this country in search of a better life. It was not the young people who are facing a disproportionate amount of cuts and are disproportionately unemployed. It was the entire neo liberal agenda who fucked the entire world over. It was the capitalist system that fucked everyone over. It was the anonymous banking officials who earn six figure sums of money who almost destroyed the entire country at the click of a button. I want everyone who reads this to remember that when you call benefits claimants lazy and feckless and should go and get a job. The capitalist system we live under has well and truly fucked these people over.
Sometimes I see things like this and I wonder, perhaps Karl Marx was right.