Public Servitude


The proposed new five-pound note, feat. Winston Churchill, will include his “blood, toil, tears, and sweat” quote.

The current British government are obsessed with hard work. Obsessed with it.

It’s not enough for them to supposedly work hard for their public’s interests but every other Brit — including children, the elderly, and disabled people — must also work their fingers to the bone.

Iain Duncan Smith’s Social Justice Strategy damns a million welfare recipients as scroungers. George Osborne announced a budget designed to help “hard-working families” and “those who want to get on”. And now Michael Gove is proposing longer school days and shorter school holidays. These Tories are true enemies of liberty.

When are we to find the time in which to nourish ourselves? When will we read good books? When will we cook? When will we fart around?

Needless to say, we at New Escapologist are not fond of hard work for the sake of itself. We advise you to turn your back on the politicians’ work-and-austerity speedball. Ignore it and it will go away. It’s not a real thing.

Public servants ought to be be just that. Don’t let them get above their station by telling the rest of us how and when to work.

If we must have a Churchill speech bubble on the fiver (and why not fiscally revere a pig in a hat?) I suggest this one:

The rest and the spell of sleep in the middle of the day refresh the human frame … We were not made by Nature to work, or even play, from eight o’clock in the morning till midnight.

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Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at

5 Responses to “Public Servitude”

  1. Bev says:

    Nothing more depressing than a “hard working family” to me. Picking up your kid in the dark at daycare, then getting home to cooking (subsistence variety cooking), cleaning, helping with the infernal homework that comes home starting in the earliest grades, baths and bed. Then get up and do it again. Oh, and you’d better have your kids in a couple of after-school activities each, or they’ll be screwed up.

    I used to walk home through a park where a bunch of street-type people used to hang out at a particular picnic table beside the river. They usually had some beers and they were always telling stories and laughing. I found it ironic that the highlight of my week was when we went out to lunch at a pub with an outdoor patio. Couldn’t drink or properly relax because we had to go back to work, but that was the best part of my week, and it was just an ordinary day for these folks.

  2. Mark says:

    Well said, Bev.

    The good old “Hard Working” prefix has been parroted by on-message Tory politicians for some time now. Not only does it revere work for its own sake, but, of course, it further serves to encourage us to despise and distance ourselves from those whom we see as the others; the equally notorious “shirkers”.

    And we should be clear that when these politicians say “hard working”, what they really mean is “long working”. In an era when new technologies are allowing us to be more efficient, we nevertheless apparently are expected to work increasingly longer hours and for more years too until we finally retire.

    The sad thing is; I observe all too many workers who endure these long hours and suffer limited time with their families blithely regurgitating the same “hard-working / shirker” doctrine…

  3. Heh. Your observation of the park people reminds me of the tale of the tourist and the Mexican fisherman.

  4. Hi Mark. Yeppers. Strivers and Skivers. It’s a real attack on the life of leisure.

    I’m becoming extremely sympathetic towards the idea of post-scarcity anarchism.

  5. Anna says:

    In Australia the politicians have this phrase, ‘working families’ that they parrot on about at any given chance. All public funds, apparently, need to go out in support of our ‘working families’. ‘Working families’ are the backbone of our economy! The new tax will be bad for ‘working families’! How are the ‘working families’ going to cope with the rising cost of childcare?! Etc. It just goes on and on. It’s really frustrating because there are many citizens who are not part of a ‘working family’, and therefore no one is meant to give a shit about them. Either because they are not a ‘family’ (ie they are a couple, or single, or any other permutation of human existence) or because they are not working! And our government has a very limited view of what constitutes ‘working’. Even those working 9am – 5pm, 5 days a week probably don’t work long enough hours to consitute ‘working’ in the government’s eyes anymore.

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