Posts Tagged ‘dole

18
Feb
09

Dermot O’Leary can go fuck himself

I was interviewed yesterday on the lunchtime show on 102-104FM regarding this blog, where I accidentally proclaimed that I’m joining the Socialist Party. I’m not. I don’t have a problem with Joe Higgins and co (in fact, Clare Daly has helped me out with a couple of pieces I’ve done in the past), but I’m not a socialist. I am, despite my present condition, a believer in the Capitalist model, just as long as it’s even slightly regulated. The reason for my unintended commitment to Marxism was that I was thrown by the question (enquiring if I might enter politics to see if I can do a better job than the current shower), and I suddenly recalled sentiments I expressed earlier in the day as I read the papers and began to suspect the socialists are right.

Economists with Goodbody stockbrokers are warning that the economy will shrink by 6% this year, and in response the government should cut social welfare payments (which seems like a good opportunity to recall my opinion on economists. For all that people like O’Leary know, we’re better off investing in an online casino than following their advice). Naturally, I was pissed. It’s not that I’m concerned with my own pocket, at least not primarily. The issue I have with this is the signal it sends out, and what it says about the capitalist’s thinking in this crisis.

Earlier this month the government faced anger (and will probably go on to face strike action) from lower civil servants over their cost-cutting pension levy plan. In practise (and it seems Lenihan didn’t quite realise this) the higher-paid civil servants will be less affected by the levy than the rank-and-file. The burden for fixing this recession is placed squarely on the lower-paid worker. And now, in the report titled A Rocky Road Ahead by Goodbody economists Dermot O’Leary and Deirdre Ryan, the idea is to cut support for those most affected by the recession by reducing dole payments by at least 3% (as well as cutting grants for students, which again are offered to those from low-income families).

The article that covered this in yesterday’s Daily Mirror highlighted that every 1,000 on the dole cost the state €11 million. This to me sounds awfully like the repeated language used in the media last year to highlight what a burden on the taxpayer the civil service is. It conveniently pastes over the fact that the unemployed, as with the civil service, are not the ones responsible for the recession. They are, in fact, the victims of it.

And what do we do with those who are responsible? Well, they get €7 billion bailouts, legislation guaranteeing deposits, and – if they really screw up – nationalisation. All necessary, perhaps, but it does kinda suggest Marx was right.

As for the suggestion by Dermot O’Leary that unemployed people wouldn’t lose out due to a general fall in prices, people are losing out as it is. I know many people (myself included) who are being kicked out of their homes because the can’t meet mortgage and rent costs. To tell these people that they can save 5% on a bag of carrots is highly insulting.

Anyway, I want to thank 102-104FM for their interest in this blog and what I’m trying to do here. I’m still not quite sure what it is that I’m trying to do here, but I appreciate the support.

20
Jan
09

Do they annoy people just for fun?

The social welfare office has been dicking me around again. When I went to collect the dole today the lady in the post office told me there’s no money there for me. So off I goes to the office to see what’s what.

Apparently there was some complication with my file during the week. They lost some letter they were supposed to have, but this wasn’t a major issue, they said, the money was sent out. “Well, tell that to the girl in the post office,” says I. “No, you don’t understand,” replies the woman (who I must admit was quite nice about it), “it’s been sent to a different post office.

So, for no real reason and without feeling the need to tell me, these guy saw fit to send my payment to a different post office. I mean, why? Do they do these things for a laugh? Maybe they think I need the exercise. God knows what part of north Dublin my payment will be in next week.

04
Dec
08

Classism in a recession

Yesterday was sign-in day at the social welfare office, which meant filing up with my Finglas brethren to prove to the government that I still exist. I’ve come to hate going to the social welfare office. Not because of the snotty staff or the frustrating bureaucracy (though these are certainly issues), but because it involves interacting with my neighbours. Yes, I admit it, I’m a snob.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t feel any embarrassment about being unemployed, like it’s below me or something. I grew up in a fairly working class environment, so I can usually feel at home in such environments. But the proudly ignorant prattle of Finglas’ residents, with their borderline retarded accents, is destroying my faith in humanity. I really don’t think I can take much more tracksuits or gaudery jewellery before snapping.

Of course this is my problem and I have to deal with it. I don’t expect anyone else to tolerate my prejudice. I mention it only because it has gotten me thinking about Ireland’s class-structured culture in these recessionary times. For as long as I’ve been aware of such issues we Irish have been telling ourselves that we don’t have a major divide between the working and upper classes. It was a stick for us to beat those uppity English fuckers. It was also clearly a lie. Our class structures may not be as pronounced or overt as that of the English, but it’s certainly there. And we don’t have any right to be self-congratulatory just because England is more honest about it.

I’m not sure if it was always there or if our classism was a product of our recent affluence. As we concerned ourselves with designer labels and how much our property was worth (regardless of whether we intended to sell it or not), did it become easier to look down on people? Where once we saw the salt of the earth did we suddenly perceived chavism? Maybe a level of classism was always there, but became more streamlined during the celtic tiger years, or maybe there was no change at all and we’ve always been this way. I don’t know the answer to this. I can’t remember back that far.

If there was a change, what facilitated it? I always got the impression that the working class were seen as the source of much of Ireland’s racism and homophobia, which obviously became a major issue as the country became more culturally diverse. However, this is a fallacy as far as I can tell as the upper middle-classes can be as equally racist and homophobic as anyone else, or at least that’s been my experience. Maybe we can lay the blame with the working-class themselves, as un-pc as it may be to say it. Did they replace their previous honest, hard working ethic with one that was far uglier in the eyes of outsiders?

Whatever the truth, what happens now is going to be interesting. Are we going become more understanding and less judgemental as we become more frugal and thrifty? Will we become less likely to whisper, “typical,” when we see young fellas smoking joints on the bus (based on actual events)? Clearly not, if I’m anything to go by. Conversional wisdom would suggest that if our class culture is a product of the celtic tiger, it will be reverted now that the tiger has truly deserted us. I really hope so. I hope we (me especially) will recognise that scumbags belong to all classes. I’m afraid, however, that I’m just not convinced it’s going to happen.