After my recent post about competition in the health service and the way in which privatisation of public resources perpetuates a low-wage economy in which the working poor are systematically exploited, along comes Conservative MP Philip Davies to show that the depth of the Right wing’s nutjob economics knows no bounds. He’s obviously competing with Francis Maude and John Glen for the title of the Conservative Party’s most obviously out of touch representative.
I won’t go over the story in detail – he’s far too famous now to waste the space – but I love the concept that the disabled and people with mental health problems shouldn’t be “forced” to work for sweatshop wages, but they should be offered the “choice” if they want to.
Choice? What choice is it between starvation and the coppers on offer from the fat cats who would jump at the chance of a pool of even cheaper labour? What choice do the poor ever, ever have in the face of the self-serving machinations of the rich and powerful?
And of course, it comes at a time of vicious attacks on that other vulnerable sector of society, the retired. Public sector pensions, they bleat, are far more generous than those in the private sector. No one seems to be posing the corollary: why are pensions in the private sector – and again, only for low and middle wage earners – so stingy? Why has the financial services sector reneged on so many promises to those investing in their pensions while continuing to pay mammoth bonuses and – yes – obscene pension pots to the executive classes?
It seems that the exploitation of the weakest in society will, indeed, carry on apace: and hell, the country voted for it. We need our own “Arab Dawn”, methinks.
Update: I found some blogs supporting Davies’ approach, including this: http://nhs999.wordpress.com/2011/06/17/philip-davies-and-the-mob/
In reply, it seems to me that if the argument is that accepting lower wages would make the disabled more “employable”, that suggests they are “unemployable” in the first place. However, that is to accept a simplistic right-wing economic definition of employment, when it is actually so much more. Employment is a social contract between employee, employer and society in general. In terms of what anyone can offer to society by being employed, no-one is less “employable” than another. Therefore, as a society, we must make the commitment – and make employers make the commitment – to being “disabled blind” when it comes to employment.