Friday, 27 June 2014

Helping people into to work.

I am fed up with pseudosociopolitical tropes.

I was reading this article on Al Jazeera entitled "Is there a war waged against British youth?" by Yiannis Baboulias.  The simple answer is 'Yes' but I stopped reading half way through because my ADHD symptoms cannot read waffle and junk for very long.  I'm sure the article is good and I am not lambasting Yiannis for bad journalism.  The article raises some good points which need discussing.

In the article Yiannis states "A recent survey shows that some 54 percent think that today's youth will have a worse life than their parents."

It was soon after this I couldn't read any more.  A few remarks about median incomes, inflation, unemployment and pensions and I was just reading more words about a situation which in my opinion is so misunderstood and misrepresented I can't stand to keep reading mile after mile of what is essentially an erroneous argument based in a false paradigm.

In essence people want a believable, sustainable, reasonable life.  They want that for their children too.  But somewhere along the line we have constructed the cultural illusion that we want life to 'improve' at every turn.  It is the same self-defeating trope as companies needing to increase profits to 'stand still'.  I call it a trope partly because of the use of the word in modern parlance (an often overused plot device) and partly because of its literal meaning from its Greek roots (derived from the verb τρέπειν (trepein), "to turn, to direct, to alter, to change" see Wikipedia Trope).  It seems we invent a way of seeing the world and repeat it often enough that we begin to believe it is the world.  The 'trope' is the device that 'turns us away' from the general reality we are trying to understand.  I am struggling to understand the deeper issues and causes of right-wing versus left-wing politics.  It is obviously a large and complex subject but one consistent error (of many) on the right seems to be to see a general problem, find a particular case as an example, create a solution for the particular case and justify applying that solution to the general case.  Sanctioning the unemployed being one prevalent example.  The consequence of this is devastating.  The left tries to argue against the form of the solution but cannot win the argument because they have engaged in the false premise (trope) that the example has some validity relevant to the general solution.

So what is a pseudosociopolitical trope?

It is a false conceptual model of society used to justify a political policy.  A good example is that people claiming benefits are somehow failing to look hard enough for work.  I put it that mildly to avoid inviting claims of hyperbole.  In any set of people there are some who are stronger than others and some that are more intelligent; there are people with more limbs than others and there are people with better circumstances.  So there is always a range of attributes.  In any modern society there is always some unemployment - it is inevitable and apparently necessary.  In the UK unemployment is not statistically severe (it may be for some individuals but that is a different issue) by any measure.  And yet it is cited as a major problem.  For most individuals who are unemployed it is a problem.  Interestingly the 'benefits' paid to the unemployed are not a problem because they are actually a cheap way of maintaining the surplus workforce needed for the level of unemployment required to maintain tension in the employment market.  But the concept of the national debt (another complex pseudosociopolitical trope) is used to suggest that 'expenditure' on the 'unemployed' is adding to the debt and therefore any policy designed to reduce that expenditure is beneficial.  The next step is to illustrate the false construct with examples of unemployed people who are languishing on benefits (Ian Duncan Smith's bizarre cognitive nonsense) and to justify 'helping' them off benefits as if this will reduce the national debt.

This approach is a fallacy.  With 100 people and 80 jobs it is inevitable that the 20 people without work are not going to be the most well endowed with functionally useful attributes.  It is then suggested that if these wasters got off their behinds and did what the 'employed' people did then they would have jobs too.  This is the specific case turned into a generalisation.  Take one person who performed certain actions and got a job and conclude that anyone who takes those actions will get a job.  This 'cognition', this conceptual model, this argument is evidently false if one understands the bigger picture in which the events are occurring.  It is remarkably narrow minded and unintelligent.  It is, in fact, stupid.  If there are 100 people and 80 jobs then there will always be 20 without work.  There are many possible and differing solutions to this problem but the incredibly 'short logic' argument illustrated here is not one of them.  The whole idea that there are unemployed people causing the national debt is a pseudosociopolitical trope.  It is consequentially deducible that the false idea of 'helping' people into work is inevitably going to fail and the evidence supports that conclusion.  The tragedy is that when it doesn't work the narrow minded cognition hits dissonance resulting in the increasingly familiar phenomenon of "cognitive dissonance".  The consequence of which is to feel anxiety which is interpreted as the problem getting worse rather than the solution being wrong, with a net result that they try harder to 'help' people into work.  A one way downward spiral to hell.

A cautionary note:  Helping an individual find work in a specific case is a good thing - but it is not a general solution.

The idea of helping people into work is akin to helping everybody win at musical chairs.

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