The Unemployment Trap

The Unemployment Trap: Is it Better to Stand on Your Feet Than To Live on Your Knees?

Is unemployment not working?
For the great Economist Maynard Keynes promised full employment,
As government benefits were not to help those in need,
But to pump prime an economy as seed funding,
As consumer spending is cyclical,
Yet the real wealth of nations requires social stability,
An ability to recognise that employment and unemployment follows boom then bust,
Markets rise and fall at the cusp,
As many fall between the cracks,
Or fall between the tracks,
For always there were cracks in the system,
As it goes off the rails,
Blaming government policy,
Or insufficient demand,
Yet it is important to understand,
Not all managers are good leaders,
And not all leaders are good managers,
And fewer still know the meaning of real social cost.

Australia was a prime mover enshrining
social justice in social policy,
Ushering in the Welfare State,
For the protection and promotion of social well-being,
A principled platform of…
Equality of opportunity,
Equitable distribution of wealth,
Public responsibility for those unable to avail themselves of the right to a good life.

What is a good life?
Quality food,
Secure shelter,

To pave a pathway out of …

For the greatest self-loathing is poverty,
For one is valued by what they have
not who they are!

The philosophy of welfare is measured by the values of society,
In the beginning it was universal coverage as a right to dignity in life,
Their means were never tested,
All have the right to welfare as a safety net,
Then unemployment rises,
Means testing arrives,
And budgets are cut,
Rhetoric slips into public discourse,
As social stigma becomes the silent stick…

‘Dole bludgers rorting the system,’
‘System pays for those too lazy to work’,
‘A waste of public money’,
‘Welfare to work’
‘Work for welfare’
‘Mutual obligation to earn the right to life’
‘Mothers getting a free ride’

As public responsibility becomes the burden of responsibility,
And users pay is the dictum ‘you must pay for what you use’,
Those who have – can use more,
Those who haven’t – access less,
Cross subsidisation is sold off as ‘public assets’ becomes ‘private property rights’,
Flexible markets free fall to lower real wages and conditions,
Unemployment is deemed a cost of automated production rather than a market failure,
Perceiving taxes paid to welfare as non-productive liabilities,
Higher taxes on the system is a drain,
Is economic rationalism to blame?

What of unpaid mothers working full time to care for children?
Send them to work they say,
For raising children is non-productive it doesn’t pay,
But what of Gross Domestic Happiness for the next generation?
Are people more productive when they are balanced and happy?
Everyone works for future happiness,
This is the incentive,
A futures option,
But what if the option doesn’t pay?
Is it taken away?
People will elect for a new way,
Revolution or evolution is what they will say.
For it is a salient creed that everyone owes a debt to society,
Even though public taxes paid for the assets,
And democracy represents the public will,
The right to the good life becomes a life with fewer rights,
And new workplace bills,
But no Bill of Rights?
As a class apart is the dividing line,
A class above or a class below,
Winners or losers?
Winners celebrated as role models,
Losers socially ostracised and marginalised,
Excised from the joys of an equal life,
Harassed by the ignorant words
‘just get a job.’

Yet for many unemployment is a loss of face,
Many classified when asked ‘what do you do?’
Many laugh off their silent scream,
They take drugs to cover low self-esteem,
A poor education renders them unable to read between the lines and agendas,
A square peg in a round hole they find,
Have another wine as you feel so cold,
You have a work choice …
You may choose to sink or swim,
As this world draws a line in the sand,
You are with us or against us,
Included or excluded,
Responsible or irresponsible,
For to win you must jump through hoops to be worthy of income,
Control forces compliance,
Compliance takes away self-reliance,
As self-determination is stonewalled,
In favour of clicking YES to terms and conditions,
if NO you are refused permission to pensions.

This democracy affords no life choice only a role play scripted by unquestioned economic imperatives,
Sign the contract and lose freedom of speech they won’t say,
Bound by clauses and laws to enforce,
For how is work choice a life choice when forced?
Is the purpose of life to work or contribute to excel and expand innovation and infinite possibilities?

Why is there no life at work?
Just the rhythm of monotonous routine,
Suppressing the sanity of humanity and calling it professionalism,
For there is no choice about what you do,
Employees are not shareholders,
They are paid to work not speak out of line,
Do as you are told is the mantra of the model employee,
When does the citizen’s voice offer a real choice?
As the true election of freedom,
As you serve other interests not your own,
Playing a role without a goal,
Just watch the clock to go home,
Don’t be alone,
For no-one actually cares about your fate,
You have missed the boat it’s too late.

I have worked in 400 workplaces,
The majority were sad places,
Impassive faces,
As many were not doing what they choose,
There was no real work choice or fair play,
They did not jump for joy to go to work,
They worked for mortgages but still they lose,
1 in 4 have mental illness,
Stress is a nightly bedfellow that is killing us,
Work life balance is eroded as employee power is denuded,
The balance of power shifts in favour of profit,
The working poor,
Slave wages,
Not advertised in the paper,
Leaving a paper trail of silent resignations.

Labour is a cost of production it is not the value of citizenship,
And this ship is sinking,
As Greece slips and slides into depression,
Europe’s economic zone dis-members,
The US sub-prime masks the greed and corruption in money lending,
As bail outs were a waste of public money,
That was not for the public good,
As the economic system is a slow landslide ending the boom with bust,
For the rust of greed stains the incentive to work,
In reality the system is not working,
The environment is plundered without a second thought,
People do what they are taught,
There is no deeper thought of a better way.

So at last I wish to say,
Society must make room for visionaries,
For philosopher’s asking meaningful questions,
Invest in peace education as the real Gross National Happiness (GNH),
As strong families care for the next generation,
For my time is not wasted on finding a plausible future that sustains,
That refrains from unhealthy externalities and injustice,
A future that engenders equality, meaning, hope and human potential,
For these are the pillars of a stable enlightened society,
For we are here to live to our full potential,
And that is not typing what is rote,
For the creative commons must be free to speak up.

Money is not the marker of success
nor does it inspire you to reach your peak,
It is to be a successful human,
For that is the golden globe to reach for,
And this comes from values and integrity,
From kindness and generosity,
For no-one would fall between the cracks,
If we sought to serve society as ourselves,
When giving was valued higher than taking.

Yet many are left on the shelf their potential unrealised,
Or packing boxes in a factory,
For self interest is where lies are paraded as security,
Human potential is the opportunity when best interest becomes the surprise,
To learn it was never about work,
It was to discover the meaning of an incredible life,
The excellence in living on purpose,
And this is the purpose of this poem to you,
That I am not a commodity standing in line with my hand outstretched,
I am a person of value desiring to work full time for the highest good,
And if that doesn’t fit the box,
Then I will fall between the cracks,
For it is better to stand on my feet,
Then live on my knees.

by Susan Carew (13/8/2012)

Mohandas Gandhi

“If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.”