Saturday, 2 April 2011

Something For Nothing

There I was, sitting with a perfectly nice group of people, eating homemade soup, discussing economics, recycling and religion and pleasantly daydreaming away when the subject turned to the lottery. “They just buy these things,” said the BACP accredited counsellor, “as a way of getting something for nothing. It's another example of their sense of entitlement.”

And not for the first time I’d just love to bung one of these smug counsellors into the life of the people they so casually, so comprehensively, so intelligently disapprove of and spitefully pity.

Why Oh Why Oh Why would anyone spend a third of their weekly income on lottery tickets? Are they just hooked on gambling and living in a dream world? Are they pig ignorant? Why don’t they just pull themselves together and get a job?

Take a look at this. The DWP are tricking people – that’s tricking people - into losing their benefits and, despite living on £30 a week, people aren’t getting a job instead. Are they mental, or evil or just plain contrary, or what? Why will people go hungry and become homeless instead of getting a job? Do they choose to do this?

I’ll make this really simple:
People are becoming homeless and desperate rather than get a job
because they can’t get a job.

The reasons for this are varied but if we have any real belief in the actualizing tendency then it’s a given that there are factors in peoples lives that get in the way of them moving towards actualizing.

Here’s another simple fact:

Job seekers are being punished.

A friend who was until 6 months ago a senior analyst for a well known private company, now is forced to spend 10 hours a week in the offices of A4E job searching. This is to support him, apparently. In fact it’s making his life a total misery. He sits in compulsory 2 hour long pep talks from ex-Nike minor executives who tell him and all the other ‘clients’ that age and sex have nothing to do with anything. My friend began to challenge these spurious assertions and soon learned that this enters his file under ‘motivation.’

Job seekers are being punished.

Another friend was told to work in a Caribbean food store. Her qualification? She’s mixed race. When she said she knew nothing at all about Caribbean food or retail and in any case didn’t want to commute for 3 hours a day (which would take her working week up to 45 hours, 15 of which she wouldn’t be paid for) to work on the minimum wage, her benefits were cut.

I’d love to bung that counsellor into a food store, on minimum wage, with the resources that long term unemployed people have, for 45 hours a week, for the rest of her smug life and see how long it takes her to turn to the lottery as a way out of an endlessly hopeless round of punishment and drudgery. As it is, she’s not fit to work with the long term unemployed, and the only consolation I can find from the whole shebang is that running a prestigious private practice, she’s never likely to actually meet any. 

You may be interested to hear that her husband paid for her counsellor training and she inherited her parents substancial estate. Something for nothing indeed.

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