Saturday, June 10, 2006

The 'hardcore' unemployed

Isn't it good to see the Australian lumping the long term unemployed in with hardcore drug addicts and hardcore criminals. This is possibly the greatest example of Unspeak I have found so far. Through use of the word 'hardcore' The Australian frames the long termed unemployed as criminal lowlifes rather than the diverse group of people that they are. By using the word 'hardcore' the Australian seems to be hinting at erradication rather than training and skilling. We are dealing with people here not weeds or pests. The message is clear- the long-term unemployed are recalcitrant dole bludgers who cannot help themselves. This meaning-loaded description ignores the fact that many long term unemployed people are victims of structural reform to the economy that has been ongoing in Australia for 20 years. The skills they possess no longer apply to the modern Australian economy. Do these people need to be weeded out, or do they need to be re-trained?

Good to see the Australian's editorial position hasn't changed- tough on the poor, easy on the rich seems to be their mantra. People are poor because we haven't made life hard enough for them yet. It's an odd, heavy hearted sort of reasoning that propels them. It's the old Thatcher/ Hewson mentality that reaching back to lift up the poor drags the rest of us down. And you can throw in a bit of downward envy also- 'I work really hard and these dole bludgers get paid for doing nothing'.

This quote is worrying:

'On July 1, the long-term unemployed will be split into two groups, with "job shirkers" -- the people the Howard Government believes are not serious about looking for work -- required to participate in full-time work-for-the-dole programs. Another 7000 places will be available each year for employers to hire unemployed people who are not shirkers.'

How on earth do you identify a 'shirker', and how is excluding the demotivated and downhearted from training supposed to be of any benefit to these people, the economy or society in general.


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