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December 11, 2012



Spot on Post Thanks Chris


"we should regard out-of-work benefits not as something that "strivers" hand out to "scroungers", but rather as a form of insurance"

We ought to have some sort of national scheme...

You're right, of course. The real problem isn't people sponging off the state (which personally I don't give a damn about - I was on the dole once) but people spending their working lives trapped in what Tracy Shildrick calls the "low pay/no pay cycle".


There have always been scroungers and their characteristics have been consistent: they want something for nothing, they are cheating the rest of us, they're breeding like rabbits etc. But what is interesting is the way that their counterparts have evolved ideologically in recent years.

"Hard-working" used to mean putting in a 40-hour week. "Middle England" was defined by sobriety and moderation: knowing when to stop. The current tropes of "strivers" and "alarmclock Britain" imply something more stressed and desperate. Management bollock-speak has long trumpeted "going the extra mile" and "exceeding expectations", to the point where routinely working 9 hours for 8 hours pay is seen as merely passing muster.

This meme is not just about demonising the eternal scapegoat of the free-rider, but about insisting that the rest of us must work harder, despite the evidence that capital is already besting labour. I'd like to say that this is limited to the likes of the Tories' Britannia Unchained group, but the idea seems to have become embedded across the party spectrum.



Good comment

Just to add to the mix, I wonder whether the govt is vilifying "skivers" (it rhymes with "strivers", geddit?) because it is now a criminal offence to target racial groups for vilification.

Workers v Shirkers; Strivers v Skivers; how lucky the govt is to stumble upon this rich sloganeering potential.

Nasty, nasty Osborne.

alastair harris

your analysis is fine but why fall into the trap. Strivers and Scroungers are politicians and red top nonsense words. Provided you accept that benefits are really an insurance policy rather than a lifestyle choice then the distinction is easy.


You cost analysis has to include more than just the £71 per week.

You can argue HB is over paid, but that doesn't mean you can ignore it completely.

Now my evidence is only anecdotal, but I personally know of "scroungers" who are in work, but on HB, and have reduced their hours or accepted lower pay to deliberately fudge their HB.

And yea sure, you could argue that some do that because of the crazy prices, but not all, some really are just scroungers from my direct personal observations.

How you then turn this into a statistical analysis I have no idea, but you have to look at more than just the long term unemployed numbers and their £71 pounds to gauge how many scroungers vs striver's there are.


@fake - interesting points on HB. The obv diff between HB and JSA is the value of the former is dependent on where you live + family size whilst the latter is not. HB is also received when you are in work. So there are likely to be more odd v. high marginal tax rates at particular income levels/ family sizes/ geographic areas for HB claimants in work and thus more opportunities to be a rational scrounger.


I am amazed by how good the conservative propaganda is... The biggest scroungers in the UK are:

* The bankers and corporate managers who got colossal business subsidies to protect their very well paid jobs.

* The home owners who got effort-free tax-free capital gains of 10k a year and more for decades and for whose sake austerity is being extended, to ensure that interest rates stay low to keep house prices up.

The people down on their luck because of the profligacy of the categories above cost just a few hundred pounds a month each by contrast.


Good points.

By directly trying to resist this frame, you will strengthen it.

Compassionate people must create new, more powerful frames based upon empathy, cooperation and compassion.

See The Political Mind by George Lakoff for a how to guide, and a brilliant overview of the dire consequences of accepting conservative framing.

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