Economic Bullying at its Finest

[The UK’s chancellor] Kwasi Kwarteng will tighten benefit rules for part-time workers, requiring them to work longer hours or take steps to increase their earnings.

Just as the world wakes up to the bounty of a 4-day week, the UK government decides to crack down on part-time work by reducing the financial support available to low-income households.

I’ve said in my books and in New Escapologist that most people don’t work by consent but are “economically bullied” into it. I’ve sometimes wondered if that expression is too much, but here is a government who fully admits to this withdrawal of support being an attempt to “grow the labour supply.” Which is a nice way of saying “let’s starve them out.”

They want to trim our means to escape overwork so that they can “fill vacancies” and get back to growing the economy. Without getting into the weeds over whether this can even work or not, whether the current part-time workforce is fit or qualified to fill this apparent abundance of vacancies, it’s a clear example of the sort of economic bullying I’ve been talking about.

To deal with the “problem” posed by the Great Resignation, of people taking charge of their own destinies as best they can within the confines of The Trap, the government are removing a line of recourse. As of next week, people will only be able to work part-time on the government’s increasingly authoritarian terms. As if it weren’t hard enough already to stay alive in any way other than a full-time job.

There’s many reasons to work part-time and it would be nice if the leaders of one of the world’s richest countries would recognise this. Maybe your mental health cannot support the burden of full-time work. Maybe your physical health can’t either. Maybe you want to use your time to build your own business (inventing your own “vacancies” and “growing the economy” on your own terms). Not that there’s anything wrong with idleness, but we know that most part-time workers have something else going on.

The government’s attack on part-time workers is consistent with the current (and general) Conservative idea that the UK’s economic problems are the result of regular people not toiling hard enough. It has nothing to do with decades of Tory corruption or their costly mismanagement of the pandemic or their gradual destruction of public assets, naturally. And nothing to do with many working-class people already working multiple jobs to make ends meet.

It’s perfectly convenient for them to peddle the lie that we’re not working hard enough. They have little interest in improving the world (or even in “building back better” or “levelling up” or whatever they’re trying to fob us off with now) and plenty of interest in serving themselves and their friends in business. I honestly try to see the case for right-wing ideas, but what is the point of even having a civilisation if you’re not going to let it serve the majority? What is the point of sucking up all the money to serve the 1%? What is the use of shoving almost everyone into pointless consumer economy work that exacerbates the climate crisis? What’s the endgame?

Blocking an important route to part-time work is at odds with the way the world is now alert to more humane modes of work, such as WFH and the 4-day week.

“Economic Bullying” is the correct term and this is economic bullying at its finest. And now that I’ve learned not to mince my words, let me say that if you live in the UK (or England really), I strongly advise you to vote these cunts out as soon as the opportunity arises.

The Good Life for Wage Slaves is available directly from happy-go-lucky, part-time publishers, P+H Books.

Major Success in 4-Day Week Campaign Trials

From the BBC:

Many UK firms taking part in a four-day working week trial have said they will keep it in place after the pilot ends.

More than 70 firms are taking part in the scheme where employees get 100% pay for 80% of their normal hours worked.

At the halfway point in a six-month trial, data shows that productivity has been maintained or improved at the majority of firms.

I suppose it’s possible that the firms who signed up to the trial were already predisposed to the benefits of a shorter work week. But this does feel positive, doesn’t it? That people might be waking up to the deleterious health effects of full-time jobs and the ridiculous demands they put on life. Maybe the taboo is broken at last? Maybe we can be honest about the cost of full-time work?

[The campaigners] said that employees had benefitted from lower commuting and childcare costs and claimed that a parent with two children would save £3,232.40 on average per year or roughly £269.36 per month.

Why has it taken so long, folks? Why? Why? Why? The sums could be done on the back of an envelope but instead we need to have practical trials and lightbulb moments in the year 2022. But, hey, we’re getting there. We’re getting there.

Tired of the everyday grind? There’s a shoulder to cry on in The Good Life for Wage Slaves.

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