Work for the Dole — Crooked Timber

Faced with a sharp rise in unemployment since 2008, the Con-Lib government in Britain has diagnosed an epidemic of laziness, and announced measures to push the “work-shy” back into jobs. In particular, they’ve announced that those deemed not to be looking hard enough for work will be forced to undertake unpaid part-time work for community organizations.

Stripped of the punitive rhetoric, this is a cut down job-creation scheme, partly paid for by the unpaid labor of the participants. It’s hard enough to make job creation work well as a counter to unemployment, without adding in this kind of thing.

Australia has been there and done that. Following the discovery in the late 1990s that it played well with focus groups, John Howard (conservative PM) introduced a program explicitly called Work for the Dole and targeted initially at the young unemployed. It was a political success, but didn’t have any evident effects on unemployment. This evaluation of Work for the Dole and other programs suggests that it performed much less well than the explicit job creation and wage subsidy programs it replaced. Strikingly, given that the UK government is supposed to be on an austerity drive, the cost in the late 1990s was $2000-3000 per participant (around 1000 stg), on top of the benefit payment for which they were working.

But at least Howard’s moves came quite a few years into an expansion when it could credibly be claimed that there were jobs available for people willing to look hard enough. For a government that is busy creating unemployment to start attacking the “work-shy” requires a truly impressive level of hypocrisy.

Posted via email from John’s posterous

61 thoughts on “Work for the Dole — Crooked Timber

  1. @Steve at the Pub
    SATP says on unemployment benefits…
    “Being paid money for nothing is rather a bludge, and for those who have a spine, rather hard on the pride”

    This is where we differ markedly SATP. This is not money for nothing. This money helps to keep a person on the bus or train looking for work. Fares cost money. Id rather they looked for real paying work than work for the dole because its not real work and it isnt ongoing work. People who are unemployed need to be able to pay the minimum to live frugally (and that is all they can do) and to still have the free time to sercah for meaningful employment not useless schemes such as “work for the dole”.

    I dont want to see people working for the dole. I want to see them able to work at getting real employment in meaningful jobs.

    I want them to be able to afford to get to the interview and to keep themsleves barely housed and their family fed Steve at the Pub.

    What do you really want to see – your narrow moral judgements imposed on all unemployed so they are bashing away at some rocks in a roadside ditch? I bet you wouldnt want to see a bigger government to implement and manage such a wasteful scheme either?. You cant have your cake and eat it too. You cannot bash the unemployed unless you employ unemployed bashers.

    Really and truly irksome this line of thinking you indulge yourself with and if I may say so demonstrates less understanding of economics than the average second semester uni student. Perhaps its best you stick to working costing beer.

  2. Furthermore SATP you imply people who are in recipt of unemployment benefits, which they dont have to work for currently are lacking a spine…

    Gross. Absolutely gross and unnaceptable. People really are tiring of the “Im right Jack, I dont give a stuff about anyone else attitude” and you are a prime example of the me, my, indivualistic, darwinian approach to life (except humans are like monkeys – we live in tribes – you anmd your individual abilities are not all that matters).

    I doubt you even realise you are a walking cliche of what not to aspire to SATP. Id class your attitudes to the unemployed as a form of bullying anti social behaviour.

  3. Alice, you really cannot read for comprehension can you.
    My first observation has to stand. Unless you can prove otherwise, you are indisputably stupid.

    Do no project your prejudices & ill-thought out rot onto me. I stated that recieving money for nothing is unpalatable for anyone with a spine.
    Perhaps in the past you have had no conscience about accepting such payments, & are prickled to know that this makes you a lesser character. Deal with it.

  4. @Steve at the Pub

    It would be best if you stayed-out of other peoples mirrors. If you cannot see a link between the dole and unemployment, then you will also not see that ones philosophy about the dole is linked to ones philosophy about unemployment.

    So you just repeat your own error.

    Presumably, judging from your effort above, you also see no link between what causes the dole, and what causes unemployment.

    So you just triple your error.

    The dole is obnoxious, unemployment is obnoxious, work for a min-wage is what we want – and much less rednecks.

  5. @Steve at the Pub
    In fact you are quite wrong Steve – I have never received unemployment benefits in my life, however, it doesnt prevent me from objecting to ill thought out pat phrases and cliches about the unemployed such as “receiving money for nothing is unpalatable to anyone with a spine”.

    Unpalatable it may be to many to have to receive unemployment benefits in a cyclical downturn but I am in complete disagreement with you that working for the dole restores a problem of “spinelessness” which would appear to be a medical problem, not a cyclical problem and has nothing to do with economics.

    In fact I think working for the dole is a complete waste of the unemployed’s time whereby people could be using that barely adequate welfare resource to assist them to continue seeking to genuine paid obtain work and to assist their families. Im sure many in receipt of unemployment benefits would see it the very same way. Its an unpalatable necessity not the result of “spinelessness” Steve.

    I also agree with Chris Warren – we do need less rednecks with their pat empty pub phrases with a blame the victim mentality concerning those who are unemployed.

    I do not project my prejudices on to you SATP. You sadly parade your own here in full glory.

  6. Alice, you’ll have to cease coming unarmed to a battle of wits.
    Your ability to think your comments through is in inverse ratio to the number of comments you post.
    Do you think it will ever happen that you understand what you are writing? I don’t need to engage you on this site, as there are mental underachievers aplenty right here in my town.

  7. @Chris Warren
    Exactly Chris – SATP has degenerated to the entirely personal attack at 7 – the first major symptom that he doesnt even recognise his own bitter and deep (and extremely spineless I might add) prejudices against those who are unemployed in our society.

  8. SATP many unemployed people would jump at the chance of earning a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay. Sadly, work for the dole schemes rarely offer that possibility. Instead, they take an allowance like Newstart, which is not a wage and was never intended to be one, and make it conditional on participating in make-work schemes that produce little of real value. They are the complete antithesis of a normal market-based employment relationship and the fact that conservatives are so enthusiastic about them suggests their purpose is pretty much entirely punitive.

    There is no shortage of useful work that could be done in our society. If we want the unemployed to do it, let it be on the same wages and benefits as other people engaged in the same kind of labour.

  9. Yes Ken Lovell, you said it all in a nutshell.
    If being on the dole and working for the dole are such blessings, why the slowness in getting on this alleged gravy train, for those who like a bit dole bashing?

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