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Europe. Is. Doomed. (x) - Poor UK

by In Wales Tue May 6th, 2008 at 07:09:39 AM EST

Well, who wants to work for a living?

An article in the Observer on Sunday tells us that:

More than two million people in Britain are forced to endure 'intolerably poor working lives' and subjected to daily exploitation and abuse from employers, a new report has found.

That's not how and where the City-Wall Street-FT-Economist axis of evil sees Europe Doomed, aint' it?... Diary is listed on the Anglo Disease ToC. -DoDo


Legal loopholes have resulted in employment practices becoming commonplace in the modern workplace that were once attacked as exploitative in the 19th century, according to the first report from the TUC's Commission on Vulnerable Employment. It found problems were particularly acute among those who worked in care homes, cleaning, hotels and restaurants, hairdressing and beauty, construction and security.

I gave evidence to this Commission when they visited Wales. Key concerns for us were around migrant workers being exploited, and also vulnerable workers who end up in low-paid and low-skilled jobs (especially shift working, temps or on contract paying according to hours and not to days worked), having no idea at all about their rights, and being too afraid to challenge unfair treatment for fear of being dismissed when they already had to live hand to mouth.

'While this commission expected to find poor treatment, its extent has stunned us all,' said Brendan Barber, the TUC leader. 'Worst of all, much of it took place within a legal framework that fails to prevent exploitation. Much exploitative treatment occurs because the law is not strong enough to prevent mistreatment, with employers using gaps in employment protection to treat staff badly.'

That's right, despite our various bits of legislation that are meant to be protecting people at work, exploitation and astonishingly poor terms and conditions are often entirely legal in the UK.

The report, 'Hard Work, Hidden Lives', has now been published (apparently, but I can't find it), highlighting the plight of those 2 million workers trapped between the dole queue and dead-end jobs. As the Sunday Mirror tells us:

Extracts from a report ... reveal that disabled people, ethnic minorities, immigrants and young people are among workers mistreated by ruthless bosses who exploit loopholes in the law.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "The report shows that we have a hidden workforce of people who work in conditions that should have no place in a civilised society. It's a disgrace."

It's a disgrace. An outrage. And who cares?

It reveals, said Barber, a hidden Britain where those providing the services on which society and the economy rely are trapped in a cycle of poverty and injustice.

As long as the economy keeps on running, we won't be lifting these people out of poverty, because obviously things are working just fine. And if the economy goes spiralling downwards (ie Europe is Doomed), then we'll just have to force these very same people to cut back further.

As Jerome says,

You see, Europeans, poor things, still don't understand that in order to increase living standards, you have to decrease them.

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Economy. Doom. Working lives.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Tue May 6th, 2008 at 07:35:05 AM EST
To get a picture of that 2 million, how many people are employed today in the UK?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue May 6th, 2008 at 08:08:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I should coin a new ET rule: don't ask what you can look up yourself. Applying it to mywself...

UK unemployment

April 16 2008 - The unemployment rate remained at 5.2% - down 0.1% over the quarter and down 0.4% on last year. 29.5 million people were in work in the period December to February according to the labour force survey (LFS). This is the highest on record, up by 152,000 on the quarter, and up by 456,000 on the last year.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue May 6th, 2008 at 08:10:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think we had the "Europe.Is.Doomed" moniker in mind for stories about unreformed, illiberal "Europe" by UK and US commentators, as in "Britain and Europe" (two separate entities).

Can the UK population be included in that series? It's a fair question, and I'm tempted to say yes.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue May 6th, 2008 at 07:52:12 AM EST
I.e., we talked about economies said to be spiralling downwards. I think In Wales's diary fits less into that line, but the connection with the last quoted line is perfect.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue May 6th, 2008 at 08:06:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well I was going to call it 'Working lives intolerable' or something and then realised that Jerome's comment summed up what I was attempting to say and so I shamelessly jumped on the Europe Is Doomed bandwagon in an attempt to get more comments...

I don't mind if it goes in EID or Anglo-disease.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Tue May 6th, 2008 at 10:50:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
While UK commenters continue the outpouring of drivel about the evident and inevitable Doom of Europe, the truth about the UK economy is less sparkling than they assume.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue May 6th, 2008 at 08:15:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd rather put it in the "Anglo Disease" series.

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Tue May 6th, 2008 at 09:00:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All of youse guys is doomed. Doomed, I say.

But, yeah, having worked as a temp in a warehouse in the US, this sure seems like an important face of the Anglo disease to me.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue May 6th, 2008 at 09:24:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It should be the 'City of London'-American model, not Anglo-American. The rest of us who live in the UK outside London still, you know, make things and do real work, not just shuffle numbers around on a computer.
by EvilEuropean (evileuropean@googlemail.com) on Tue May 6th, 2008 at 09:08:51 AM EST
By the same token there are lots of Americans who are not involved. Which is true.

However, the government/financial/corporate establishments of the UK and US are certainly involved. Call it "Anglo-Saxon" and abbreviate to "Anglo".

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue May 6th, 2008 at 09:17:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... gets stuff done are an essential part of the model ... after all, you cannot model an intestinal parasite without including the intestine that it is a parasite in.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue May 6th, 2008 at 09:26:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By that logic, you'd need it to be "City of London-Wall Street" Model.  Plenty of people in America who still make stuff and do real work, too.  Just as many as in Britain.

The point isn't about who makes what but rather about the dominant ideology: Who makes the rules, and who benefits from them?

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue May 6th, 2008 at 09:50:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That dominant ideology does not hold sway over everyone in the UK.
Its better to have a more defined definiation of your enemy. The dominace of the CIty of London with to the Anglo disease, and the sway that it has over the financial media is real.

After all, we could call it the North American-European model....that would also be correct, but it papers over a more complex picture. The Anglo-Saxon model does the same. It is to general, and ignores more complex picture.

It also ignores how tied up the UK economy is with the rest of the EU. 2/3 of out trade is with the EU, large chunks of it are owned by other member states and vice versa. AND the same regulations on trade that apply to the UK apply also to EU other member states.

The 'masters of the universe' reveal on their own importance, the financial press jump in on it, and it seems as if EuroTrib has been sucked into it. Dont over play thier importnance, at least in the UK. To know your enemy, you have to identify it....and identify it correctly.
I would go along the 'City-Wall Steet-FT axis of evil' ;)

I live in Sheffield, and the City maybe a couple hundred miles away but ideologically, its on another planet. It may hold sway over the economy in some ways, but in others, its ignored.

I for one welcome the finacnial meltdown. It will put paid to the myth of a service eonomy. UK manufacturing will benefit both from the decline in the value of the pound, and the fact that Europe.Is.Not.Doomed. We can sell you things, while the yuppies feast upon each other! Everyone ones.  

by EvilEuropean (evileuropean@googlemail.com) on Tue May 6th, 2008 at 10:10:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You are right of course (and methinks some here who'd place Britain outside Europe would need to read your comment over and over).

But "Anglo Disease" is a special allusion to the The Economist-coined term "Dutch Disease", describing a national economy where one sector got too much weight (in that particular example, gas). The City-Wall Steet-FT-Economist axis of evil is also supported by most of the upper, political, and media classes of the respective countries, and government policy, in that sense we can speak of national economies.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue May 6th, 2008 at 10:21:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that your comment is true in some respects, certainly in the fact that many people (especially outside of London) don't follow the same ideology which is responsible for these problems. But it still affects the whole of the UK.

For a local example, consider Hammerson's redevelopment of a big chunk of Sheffield city centre under the name of 'Sevenstone'. It is huge new 'public-private' development in which the city council is effectively abjuring its responsibilities to a corporation. The ideology of the 'Anglo-Saxon' model is everywhere, tending opinion towards the idea that the market is always more beneficial and more munificent than the public sector ever could be.

Member of the Anti-Fabulousness League since 1987.

by Ephemera on Tue May 6th, 2008 at 12:10:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... disease in the US ... its not what the disease is, but what suffers from the disease.

The CoL/WS disease is naming the disease itself, but for this particular case, naming it the Anglo Disease is a superior label, since one persistent defense mechanism by The City and Wall Street will be to say, "yes, we are in deep shit, but those Europeans are cruising toward even deeper shit ... uh, any time now ... well, not right now, but soon ..."

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue May 6th, 2008 at 03:42:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We could call it "Financial Capitalism Model" and be done with it.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 6th, 2008 at 10:10:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or Financial Feudalism...

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Tue May 6th, 2008 at 01:16:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It would be nice if somebody calculated the Gini coefficient for the ancient Greek and Roman economies as well as medieval societies. It would be nicer if it turned out to be better than in some countries today...

Member of the Anti-Fabulousness League since 1987.
by Ephemera on Tue May 6th, 2008 at 02:20:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How do you account for slavery?

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 6th, 2008 at 04:50:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Negative income, hmmm...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue May 6th, 2008 at 04:56:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know, but that is definitely my point!

Actually, you could technically count a slave's food/clothing/housing provision as income, though it wouldn't come up to much.

PS I did find this, but my knowledge of economics isn't enough to appreciate if it is really what I meant.

Member of the Anti-Fabulousness League since 1987.

by Ephemera on Tue May 6th, 2008 at 07:41:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Um, I think you would exclude the slave from the calculations entirely, as an item of 'capital' ... or the ancient equivalent thereof.

Seriously. At least in certain circumstances, a slave is an investment that must be maintained, rather than someone that can simply be sacked and forgotten about. This is interestingly brought out in a passage I saw quoted in G.E.M de St. Croix's 'The Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World', referring to the institution of slavery in the US. In this passage, a traveller noted that in a ship being loaded, the black slaves were all throwing the objects into the hold, and the white Irish were at the bottom, catching the stuff and moving it about. On enquiry, he was told: 'No one cares if the Paddies get their backs broken' - because they were hired by the day, and no loss resulted if they were injured permanently. It was different for the black slaves, item of property, chattels ... who, ironically, and unbelievably from our point of view, were better off than the paid labour ...

by wing26 on Thu May 8th, 2008 at 09:06:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
oh yeah ... I want to add that, according to the historian I have quoted, the majority of production in the Ancient World was still carried out by free (mostly peasant) labour. So, in calculating our Gini coefficient or equivalent, we should perhaps not be too disturbed by excluding the slaves. But again, as pointed out by the same author, the societies of the Ancient World such as Greece and Rome are properly classified as slave societies not because most people were slaves (they weren't), but because a major part of the economic surplus that accrued to the wealthy came from slave production.
by wing26 on Thu May 8th, 2008 at 09:12:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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