Sometimes you get caught up in a pointless exercise. It happens so frequently on Facebook that it is hardly worth commenting on, but this exchange (edited and not a little redacted for politeness and brevity) happened over the past 24 hours after I posted a link from The London Economic reporting the proposed 32% raise that a report has recommended for English Judges. I thought about redesigning the exchanges into a more objective article, but, heck, that would have damaged the narrative.
The original post on facebook went like this:
“If you get a job your universal credit will drop by £2000 or more, unless you get a job as a judge and you’re up for a £60,000 increase on what you already had.
I’m sitting in the Bridgwater Foodbank writing this. Seems that austerity is hanging on rather nicely here.”
My Facebook behaviour
My timeline is entirely public. I can’t be bothered with fiddling about with any settings because I never post anything on Facebook that I wouldn’t be happy to stand in the street and announce, anyway.
“C” often pops up on my timeline. I encountered him on a ‘local’ forum, a place that was intended to host debates. C eventually left the forum. Not sure why. He was already a facebook friend, and hangs around my non-forum activity. Others also contributed to the three, but thats the redaction and editing I was speaking of.
C: So are you saying all unemployed people should get a massive hand out? Or people that work should live on the bread line? Which one? Surely if you have a job, then a cut of benefits is not only perfectly acceptable, but is a necessary? As why would anyone work, if it’s given out for nothing??
S: C, As I said, this afternoon I have been in the food bank. I spoke to a man, mid-40s, who missed a Job Centre appointment. His sanction? May be two months without benefit. Tell me, if you missed a meeting at work, would you expect not to be paid for two months? Please try to see past your own horizon. This OP was an ironic comment on two news stories that I think need conflating, humorously for effect. There’s really no need to get all huffy about it.
C: In this day and age, any person from any background can become what they wish, is this not a true statement? If you are clever enough, and work hard enough, yes, even someone like me, can become a judge, and this in essence is the point, why I do not look at their pay and think it’s unfair, or feel jealous, the policy is to get people off benefits, and into work, something we should all be glad of, the existence of food banks and poor living standard are a different matter, not to do with another’s pay, we do not want a system of “race to the bottom” where the answer is the just throw money at the less well off, at the expense of the well off, it doesn’t work, we do need a fair system, but not one where work doesn’t pay better!
And as for your man missing his appointment, I know there could be any number of reasons Simon, but I have to get up every morning for work, and I am expected to make it at a certain time, why can’t your friend? After all, he has no job, and lots of time on his hands, is there any excuse? (apart from anything serious, which a phone call could be made)
S: A few unordered responses.
My friend has nowhere to live. Literally nowhere. He is a single man and the housing situation is such that as a single man he is at the bottom of every list. He has no money. He has is very mentally ill. He has the clothes he stands up in and little more. Sure he can get a job… but first he has to bee allowed to become human again. And again, you’re late for work: is your income stopped for to months?! How would that work out for you? (And, please don’t say something trite like, “Well, it will teach him a lesson”. It would be a poor employer who took that line with someone.)
As I have already stated above, the juxtaposition of judges’ salaries with the food bank and universal credit was to demonstrate the irony. There was never any hint of jealousy, which you are the only one to have raised.
Universal credit is not just to get people back to work. It is also a welfare net. There is within it’s structures a capacity to permit people who are of ‘limited capability for work’ to be given a slightly different deal. The welfare we all need to extend to others is (or should be) implicit within our benefits system, but UC is poorly designed so that many people lose out massively before they can even get their feet onto any ladder of hope.
I too work, like you. And yes, you and I could have become judges. But not everyone can. It is an existential condundrum, perhaps, but some people are not as able as others to do different roles.
This race to the bottom, and people well off giving to people less well off. Isn’t that the mark of a civilised society? Just think about it… £60,000 EXTRA on your salary, and a damned good pension to boot. Why shouldn’t some of that be used to help others? And, since there is no guarantee that it will be given philanthropically, why not increase the taxation for such people so that our welfare state can cope? (Ooo, scary socialism…!)
Or perhaps look at it differently, lets step away from those right at rock bottom because how you write suggest to me that you don’t really care about them. Let’s suggest we give lots of police officers a bit more, or any other public servants. They haven’t even received 4% increases in their incomes. But judges get 32% how does that work? How is that just (ironeee!)?
Why are you so triggered by this, C?