Joey Barton: I am siding with Cameron, it's a first
So, David Cameron and his cronies are saying that they are going to cut benefits for under 25s. I read the headline and I swear, everything in me wanted to be against this. I so want to shoot it down with some upper class-defying sentence. Unfortunately, I couldn’t – and that’s a first for me.
Cameron proposes to save up to £1.8bn a year, all through making new changes to our benefit system (cutting housing benefits to under 25s). As we all know, there have been cuts everywhere, a lot of them harsh. A lot of people’s lives are affected all over the country. I liken our country’s situation to that of an overspending household, a household that has bitten off more than it can chew. A household with credit cards maxed out.
Now imagine if that household was yours, maybe it is. What would be the first thing that you would do to get the debt under control? You would have to start cutting your cloth accordingly. We can do that in a number of ways but the essence stays the same, some luxuries and some privileges, even some everyday things, have to be sacrificed in order to ensure the long-term health of the household. “It’s not fair”, I hear some of you cry. I totally agree, it’s not. But this is the reality. It’s not about how we got here. I could be here all day writing about how the experts believe we got in this situation. This is not the crux of my argument; my point is to focus on how we pull together to get out of it.
I think it’s fair to say that almost every person residing in the UK has a reasonable understanding of the plight of our economy. And I would also argue that most, if not all, of us when pressed are actually happy with what this country provides us. Schools, a health service, roads, food, jobs, housing, safety, freedom of speech, justice, etc. We all know it could be a lot worse. It could be better – but let’s focus on the positives first. Look to India, Africa, China and Syria, and look to 96 per cent of the world’s population. How we do we compare? Seven billion people live on Planet Earth. If you are born in the UK and are unemployed and live on benefits, you are better off than 96 per cent of the Earth’s population.
Cameron, it seems to me, is basically saying that young people on benefits are trapped by the very system designed to help them. I agree. If a young person has a Job Seekers Allowance of around £53 a week and also receives housing benefit, plus benefits for having children, what is there to discourage them from sitting and waiting for a suitable job? Not much, really.
I think as a nation we have become incredibly snobbish. No longer wanting to do the perceived low-ranking jobs in society. Isn’t this how the immigrants to this country have benefited for decades? The average Brit turning our noses up at certain jobs has created a void, and fair play to others for rolling up their sleeves and stepping into that void, taking the opportunity to earn and progress.
Yes, everybody wants to have a great job that pays thousands a year. Yet I am aware that millions of people would be satisfied with being able to provide for their family. Still, it appears many of us don’t want to do the shitty jobs on low pay. The very jobs that get you in the game to progress and earn more. I can understand people thinking the way they think: “I’ll wait for something better with better pay.” See you in 15 years when you have totally lost the will to work.
Why not instead take a job, any job, and use it as a springboard? It’s through this rationale that Cameron’s alternative makes sense to me. Take that benefit away and all of a sudden, when faced with this situation, it’s surprising how the picky no longer seem so picky. No job now equals no money. It’s amazing how a fiscal-based reality check can make us humble.
We know that it’s positive for society to have workers. People who are unemployed are generally unhappy - they lack the sense of purpose that is essential to the human psyche. The unemployed’s self-esteem is low due to the constant rejection and humiliation of having to visit the dole office and sign on. Surely going out to do an honest day’s work leaves the person with a feeling of self-worth, rebuilds the person’s confidence and eventually takes away the over-reliance on anybody else. Not to mention the motivation to grow and do better.
These are strange times, very special circumstances. I agree drastic measures are needed during drastic times. There are jobs in our society that need doing, whether in a corporation or the local community, and there are people able to do them. If you don’t work, that shouldn’t be a life choice – it shouldn’t be the easy way out.
If you have any comments please tweet Joey: @joey7barton