Thursday, September 8, 2011

The dignity of work

There is dignity in work. Even the most menial job can give a sense of identity. Work gives that transient but satisfying moment of delight that can only come with a regular wage payment. A working household is an independent one, where the workless one is marginalised and economically irrelevant.

The number of households in the UK without a working adult has been trending upwards for decades. Since 1996, it has doubled. Certainly, there have been years when the number ticked downwards, but the trend has never been reversed.

So why have so many households effectively exited from the labour market? Certainly, the benefit system does nothing to encourage work. Family breakdown, and the marginalisation of men in family life has also played its part. No doubt, laziness has a role.

Nevertheless, a number cannot reflect the sense of humiliation that comes with being without work. It cannot capture that appalling sense of being left behind, as the rest of the working world busies itself with a sense of purpose.

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