The other night I was invited over to dinner by my parents, who – as they often do – treated this as their “dine out” night (they’re both retired and can afford to treat themselves to a meal out each week) and ordered a vegetarian curryfest from their favourite Indian takeaway.
As they often do, they ordered lavishly – and the leftovers were packed up to go home with me. I was walking down the hill to the bus stop, with the fragrant bag in my hand, when I noticed a man sitting against the wall with a blanket wrapped round him, having a smoke. Now, I like curry, but generally don’t eat it two nights running: and the food in the bag had never been taken out of the takeaway cartons. It was safe enough to share. So I asked the man if he’d like a curry, and when he said yes, handed him the bag, and went on my way. It wasn’t exactly generous of me (though I hope he enjoyed it) and was classically helpful/unhelpful: a good meal for a night for one homeless person, isn’t resolving the problem of people going to bed hungry.
On 10th December last year, I wrote a post entitled How Not To Help Foodbanks, in which I discussed why the need for foodbanks was rising and quoted Jason Kuznicki:
Do you want to give food? Add up its retail price. Take that money out of your wallet. Flush 90% of it down the toilet. Send the food bank the rest. You’re still helping more than if you gave the food.
Today is International Women’s Day, and there are many nice liberal articles about the reasons for the gender pay gap. Women get paid less than men. Jobs that are traditionally regarded as “for women” are also routinely paid less than jobs traditionally regarded “for men”.
Ever since I started working in IT I’ve been told that I make less than a man with the same skills. I chose to ignore that and focus on doing an awesome job, figuring I’d be paid what I was worth. I chose to believe that employers wouldn’t take me for granted and would reward my skills and abilities. In fact, I once had a boss who coached me to always ask for a pay rise and log my successes to ensure I always kept pace with the men in the company. I thought he was the norm – I thought all bosses wanted everyone to be equal and succeed.
Boy was I ever wrong.
While sexist conditions on work affect the average woman’s pay compared to the average man’s pay – when women take a couple of years off to have children, the work world is arranged so that this affects her promotion and pay prospects: the structure of work and career is fundamentally arranged to suit a man with a wife: a woman with childcare responsibilities may have to take part-time work or look for a job dependent on location and childcare affordability – the overriding factor is just as clear: women get paid less for being female. A women entering full-time work as a graduate will get paid less than a man who has also just graduated.
Filed under Economics, Women
The Scottish government has appointed four well-off men to advise on poverty issues:
The members of the new expert group are: Darra Singh, a former chief executive of Jobcentre Plus now working for Ernst & Young; Martyn Evans, chief executive of the Carnegie Trust and former head of Citizens Advice Scotland; Douglas Griffin, a former finance director at NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde; and Mike Brewer, a professor of economics at the University of Essex and a research fellow with the respected Institute of Fiscal Studies.
The four, who are expected to make an initial report to ministers by May, will advise on a “fairer welfare system” outside the union.
It is, after all, not the Scottish Government’s fault that Iain Duncan Smith has succeeded in associating his mantra on “fairness” with the reality of making the poor, the sick, the disabled, and the unemployed so much worse off than they need to be.
The Conservatives say:
We’re interested in what your[sic] think about benefits. That’s why we’re asking you whether or not you support two fundamental principles upon which our welfare policies are founded – many will say they don’t but many will also be in favour. Your responses will tell us what the majority think.
Go to their website, respond appropriately to their two leading questions (my answers were Yes and Yes because they so obviously want the answers No and No) and tell them what you think (300 characters maximum) in their open question:
- How do you think we could make the benefits system fairer?
Mandate a living wage: end workfare & other anti-employment practices: build enough council houses for everyone to have somewhere to live: fund welfare programmes to support the unemployed, disabled, and ill – the basic infrastructure of a civilised state.
They’re hiring at Dalkey Press!
…well, maybe not exactly hiring, since what they’re primarily looking for are unpaid interns, who, while striving to get to the paid job, must refrain while at work from:
Any of the following will be grounds for immediate dismissal during the probationary period: coming in late or leaving early without prior permission; being unavailable at night or on the weekends; failing to meet any goals; giving unsolicited advice about how to run things; taking personal phone calls during work hours; gossiping; misusing company property, including surfing the internet while at work; submission of poorly written materials; creating an atmosphere of complaint or argument; failing to respond to emails in a timely way; not showing an interest in other aspects of publishing beyond editorial; making repeated mistakes; violating company policies. DO NOT APPLY if you have a work history containing any of the above.
John O’Brien, the American director of Dalkey Archive Press and the man responsible for the advertisement, claims in response to a widespread angry reaction:
“So, the tongue-in-cheek advertisement was a call to apply for the internships (and the two possible positions) if you’re going to be serious and are ready; if not, then let’s not waste each other’s time. Usually this is couched in the sanitised language of ‘must be deadline-oriented, well-organised, ambitious’, etc. But as I think we’ve known for a long time, the age of irony is dead, and I’m a fossil.
“This is my ‘official’ reaction to the hornet’s nest.”
I bet he’s the kind of man who wants you to laugh at his “jokes”, too.
Portnoy Publishing also reacted:
Portnoy Publishing believes that people who exploit those desperate enough to work for free just to get a foot in the door, regardless of the industry in question, ought to be ashamed of themselves.
We don’t give away our books for free, why should we expect people to work for nothing to help us make those books?
And of course, there’s now an @DalkeyIntern on Twitter:
Assume that you will begin to be evaluated as soon as your application arrives. And also assume that you will be one of the unpaid interns until you are ready to take on all the responsibilities of a position. Incomplete applications will not be considered. Also, sleep is for the weak!
On 31st October, funding for my post at a charity where I had worked for eight years came to an end: I was facing redundancy.
In my last week at work, I went to have my hair cut. (This is a good plan before job interviews: plus, it made me feel better.) I told the hairdresser who was cutting my hair that I was being made redundant, and she pointed out “Well, you can always get temp work in the Christmas rush!” which was an excellent point (and it was a good haircut, too).
At least, I thought it was an excellent point. But there’s not necessarily going to be much paid temp work on offer this year:
High street names such as Tesco, Argos and Superdrug have taken on young people who work for free for six weeks while claiming their benefits.
And critics fear staff at Jobcentres are under pressure to put more people into the programmes – when they could have been given jobs – to meet strict Government targets.
Under Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith’s back-to-work programme, young people do up to 30 hours’ unpaid work a week. Placements can last up to eight weeks and they only receive travel expenses in addition to their £53-a-week jobseekers’ allowance.
If you’re a couple whose annual income is £125,000 a year after tax, even if you have five children (three more than Iain Duncan Smith will allow a low-income family, one more than he has himself), you’re richer than 95% of the UK population.
If you have the kind of money that lets you spend £125,000 on one meal, you’re one of the super-rich. In the class war, you’ve won. Ben Spalding has a victory feast for you:
Costing £125,000 for four people, or £31,250 per person, the menu for what will be the world’s most expensive Christmas dinner menu has been devised by London chef Ben Spalding, who has completed residencies at restaurants including The Fat Duck in Bray, Gordon Ramsay’s Royal Hospital Road and Per Se in New York.
In 2011, analysts at Credit Suisse found that 29,000 people globally – nearly all of them men – own net assets worth more than $100m. As Chrystia Freeland, author of Plutocrats and former editor of the Financial Times, discovered in researching her book about the global super-rich, they are different and they are almost all men, and if they are married
these women are managing the households of their wealthy husbands – often a complex task – and pursuing philanthropic ventures. Not many are doing a job of their own despite being highly-educated themselves. In 2005, according to the book, just over a quarter of taxpayers in the top 0.1pc had a working spouse. Continue reading
I would think anyone who’s ever been seriously ill for however short a time could understand why the Tory/LibDem plans to send sick people out on unpaid work placements is such a horror.
The denial of benefits to people who need them to survive, on the grounds that the austerity programme inflicted by George Osborne needs those cuts, is terrible enough. George Osborne claims that sick, disabled, and unemployed people “enjoy a lifestyle” that people in work are unable to. I’m unsure what the man who seems to routinely buy a standard train ticket but take a first-class seat knows about the “lifestyle” of people who depend on benefits: my guess is, only what he reads in the Daily Mail.
“The Conservative party, the modern Conservative party, is on the side of people who want to work hard and get on,” says Osborne – providing they’re not under 25, or living in a high-rent area, or disabled, or falling into debt, or a single mother, or demanding a living wage.
Tonight at 7pm the 16th Edinburgh Independent Radical Book Fair begins – 24th to 28th October, opened by Richard Gott:
The book fair celebrates themes, writers and small, independent presses which may be neglected by more mainstream festivals. Every year it brings to Edinburgh a mixture of readings, book launches, film screenings, exhibitions and workshops.
There are many reasons for going along to the Out of the Blue Drill Hall any day of the week (the coffee and cake are only two). During the whole of the alternative book fair, Owen Logan has a photographic exhibition based on Flammable Societies: Studies on the Socio-economics of Oil and Gas.
I find there are 10 Starbucks coffee shops within an energetic walk of where I live. That’s quite a lot, since apparently they make not a jot out of having so many shops across the UK. Starbucks has been operating in the UK for 13 years, but apparently we’re a sadly unprofitable country, according to their CEO Howard Schultz, who says
“We don’t pay income tax because we are not making money there.”