Posts Tagged ‘unemployment


Online services for the jobless

It has occured to me in the past that I should be doing more here to provide a service for other unemployed people. As this is such a problem these days a blog like this would be most useful if it served as a kind of hub for people looking for work. Well, I think this can be considered a start.

I received an e-mail during the week from a crowd who published this article online. In their words, it’s 100 Tips, Tools, and Resources to Help You Survive Without a Job. They argued that readers of this blog might find it interesting and I agree. Most of the services and information comes from an American perspective, but much of its appeal is universal and and of value to people on this side of the pond. I think I’ll link it in my blogroll later. In the meantime, enjoy it here.

I’ve been too lazy to examine every link listed (though they have listed me so they can’t be that bad). If anybody finds anything illegitimate let me know, though it all seems above board to me.


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.


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.


Rejection letters are now advising to give up all hope of getting a job

I received a letter this morning in response to a job application at a Carlow radio station. As I made the application many months ago I had long since abandoned any chance of getting the job, so I was somewhat surprised to get this letter.

Sure enough, it was the usual “thank you for your interest, we’ll keep your CV on file” bullshit. It did, however, offer some explanation on why I wasn’t offered a position. “In light of the present economic climate we have decided to fill the position from within our existing staff,” read the letter. Well, in light of the present economic climate, I can’t help but feel this is a massive slap in the face. Not only do we face massive competition for jobs from the thousands that have been hurled onto dole queues in recent times, we now have to contend with the few positions that are available being filled in-house.

Fair enough, the writer of this letter was only being honest. Radio stations are facing a loss of revenue just like everyone else and they have to watch their own bottom line. All the same, a bit of diplomacy might have helped. Is it too much to expect some consideration for those of us who have been most affected by this recession. I would have felt better had the writer of this letter never bothered their arse to send it to me.


who we are and what we do

A notion occurred to me yesterday while reading the Christmas gifts supplement that came with The Irish Times. Aside from the self-serving fantasy that I (or seemingly anyone else) can actually afford such wonderful things, I was forced to contemplate our jobs and what the say about us. Towards the end of it they had a vox-pop feature where they ask people what their ideal gifts are, and what they’re going to buy, etc. It was a typically fluff piece to end a typically fluff free magazine.

What I found interesting was that each person interviewed was identified by name and job. It was all “John Murphy: IT consultant” and so on (I can’t give precise examples as I left the rag in my sister’s car when she gave me a ride home. She’s going to be pissed at me now for leaving shit in her car again). The use of people’s careers as a measure to judge them suddenly stuck in my craw.

I don’t think I have ever read a vox-pop type feature where they don’t point out what it is that each person interviewed does. Along with their name, their job is almost certainly referred to, and I’m asking myself why the job? Why not one of the many other facets of a person’s life, such as marital status, how many brothers or sisters they have, or even their yearly income. On occasion ages might be used, but this is almost a rarity. There might also be occasions where the publication in question is aimed at a specific audience, and mentioning the respondents’ job is redundant, but these are really the exceptions that prove the rule. When I was involved in student media we regularly ran vox-pops in the campus newspaper. Obviously, it was pointless for us to mention that interviewees were students, but we would always mention what they studied.

The reason for this isn’t hard to work out. More so that their age or marital status or annual income, an individual’s job is the most useful – if unfair – measure for strangers to assess their personality. When someone expresses an opinion, it’s natural to want to what perspective that opinion stems from. And if someone tells you they’re spending €500+ on their wife’s gift they must expect you to be curious as to what made them so affluent.

The problem with this is that in conveys a sense that a person’s job is a measure of their values. This in turn creates a further problem for the thousands that have been hurled on the dole queues. It used to bother me when women on Winning Streak would say, “he’s unemployed at the moment,” when asked what their husbands do. It seemed to imply they might find a job by the end of the episode. But I understand it now. If what we do is seen as a measure of our worth, those of us doing nothing have to face the prospect of worthlessness.

On a cheerier note, the interview on Wednesday went well, so it looks like I’ll have a couple shifts every other weekend. I don’t really consider it a “job”, but for now it’ll do.


Adventures in Social Welfare

I got my first rent allowance cheque in the post this morning. This was surprisingly prompt as I only submitted the necessary documentation on Thursday. I must admit a high level of satisfaction with my community welfare officer and her possibly gay assistant. They seem to genuinely want to help people and get things sorted as quickly as possible with minimal fuss (much unlike the snotty, non-phone answering, “so t’is free money you be wantin'” attitude of the social welfare office).

This being said, applying for rent allowance is not an easy experience. In fact, so awkward and painful is it that I can say I truly earned the money. The application process involves getting the relevant form signed by Dublin City Council, who in turn make you fill out their own little booklet so I can be put on the housing list (a truly arbitary exercise as I clearly have a house). This booklet must be stamped at both the tax office and the social welfare office, and of course each party requires copies of IDs and various proof of addresses. Add to this the difficulties of getting my landlord’s signature as he was on holiday and getting an additional copy of my birth cert as the orginal had gone missing (true to Murphy’s law, it has since turned up). The birth cert issue is particularly annoying as the city council, after initially insisting I provide a copy, didn’t even bother looking at it in the end.

The most heartbreaking episode, however, occurred when I did all this and brought the completed form back to my community welfare officer. When she saw that my last job was as a hack she told me of her son and how he wants to become a journalist, and how she’s trying desperately to discourage him. “I’ve got so many journalists on my books it’s not funny,” she tells me.

No, it’s not.