Tuesday, 9 November 2010

A modest proposal

What sort of work will Iain Duncan Smith's army of serfs be set to? It's reported to be necessary but unglamorous labour:

Scroungers to clear rubbish for £1 an hour

The feckless unemployed will be forced to take part in a punishing U.S.-style 'workfare' scheme involving gardening, clearing litter and other menial tasks for just £1 an hour in a new crackdown on scroungers.

As gloatingly reported in the Daily Fail. There's just a little bit of a problem with this policy - it takes work opportunities away from employers and self-employed people in the private sector, who might otherwise do some of this necessary stuff for a living wage:

There are lots of people who work as street cleaners, toilet cleaners, gardeners and other unglamorous and poorly paid jobs. If these policies go ahead, they will lose their jobs. No employer in their right mind would pay £6 or £7 per hour to employ street cleaners if they could get an unemployed person to do it for free.

Comments donpaskini. This is a bit of a problem when you're expecting the private sector (already being hit by a hefty VAT increase) to replace the jobs lost by the -at least - 610,000 public sector workers you'll be throwing out of work.

My solution - leave the street cleaners who still have a job to earn an honest bob and 'volunteer' some of the army of unemployed to perform the sort of unnecessary, but glamorous, jobs that would otherwise just waste taxpayers' money. For example, why pay somebody an undisclosed, but no doubt generous, taxpayer-funded salary to be David Cameron's personal photographer, when some random unemployed person could come along and take a few snaps for next to nothing?

Nobody loses out seriously. The professional photographer might be a bit miffed, but as someone with the skill and contacts to get such a high profile gig in the first place, this person should find it easy to find alternative work (e.g. a commission from David Cameron to take pictures of David Cameron, paid for with some of David Cameron's own considerable stash of cash). OK, some of the pictures taken by an unskilled claimant might catch the PM with his eyes shut, chop his head off or be a bit shaky but, hey, didn't he remind us that we were all in this together? What better way for Dave to show that he's just an ordinary bloke like the rest of us than to sacrifice his slick professional photos in favour of the sort of dodgy holiday snaps that grace normal people's photo albums.

If the photos of David Cameron were no good, nobody would really care anyway. And if, after a bit of practice, a hitherto unskilled person developed into a half-way decent photographer, then we'd be addressing the skills shortage, one job at a time. And the headlines would get better:

Scroungers to photograph millionaires for £1 an hour

The feckless unemployed will be forced to take part in a punishing Hello Magazine style photo-shoot involving menial tasks like taking pictures of a brilliant Old Etonian with a taste for the good life for just £1 an hour in a new crackdown on scroungers.