Enough of the parasitic capitalists' "something for nothing" culture

Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials
7 October 2013

This year's Tory party conference was already in election mode, 18 months ahead of the 2015 ballot. So, on the one hand well-off Tory voters were promised billions of pounds of state funding to buy expensive homes. And on the other, they were reassured that their taxes would not be "wasted" on "undeserving" claimants.

Hence the calls issued by Cameron, Osborne, Duncan-Smith and other Tory grandees, for an end to what they describe as the "something for nothing culture" - thereby announcing yet another turn of the screw against the poorest.

Beyond its electoral purposes, this sloganising is a threat for the working class as a whole. For all Osborne's boasts about the success of his policies in turning round the economy, the Tories are still announcing an escalation of the offensive against workers' conditions which started with the onset of the present economic crisis.

They rob the poor...

Despite the hardship they have already caused, in terms of evictions and rising rent arrears for the poorest households, the benefit cap and "bedroom tax" are here to stay. And this is because, for the Camerons and Osbornes of this world, and all the wealthy they represent, receiving welfare benefits is being guilty of getting "something for nothing" - a "crime" that should be punished.

Never mind that claimants have paid in advance for these benefits, often for many years, through their National Insurance contributions - and that many still do, since most welfare claimants are actually in work, albeit low-paid work!

As to Osborne's new "Help to Work" scheme, which is due to be introduced next April, despite its name, it won't help the long-term jobless find the kind of job which allows one to make a living. Nor is it meant to.

Under this scheme, one third will do community work for free, to "pay for their benefits"; another third will spend 35 hours per week filling in CVs at JobCentres (as if they had space for that!); and the last third will face a "mandatory intervention regime" - a kind of reinforced version of the "Work Programme", designed to force claimants into the first lousy, paid or unpaid, non-job, offered by private businesses.

More importantly, the contractors running this scheme will have more powers to strip claimants of their benefits and to do it quicker, if they fail to "co-operate" - i.e., if they object to this harassment! The government clearly hopes that many claimants will stop claiming to avoid this punitive treatment, while many others will just lose their benefits, due to the crazy hoops they will have to jump through. Thus Osborne will kill two birds with one stone - he will cut the jobless count and the benefits bill - to fund more subsidies to companies and the wealthy.

Giving them some of their own medicine

But it's not the jobless or the low-paid who are "getting something for nothing" in this society. It's Cameron and Osborne's masters - the bosses who underpay their workers to boost their profits. It is those who impose "zero-hours" contracts on the workforce, in order to avoid shouldering the ups and downs of the market or, even, to avoid having to pay National Insurance Contributions and sick pay. And it is the companies which pay millions to tax consultants in order to make the most of the long list of tax rebates and gaping tax loopholes created for them by the past Labour governments and enlarged since, by the ConDems.

Yes, the "something for nothing culture" is a feature of the way capitalism operates - looting and crippling the economy for the sole purpose of paying fat dividends to shareholders. The capitalist class takes everything from society but gives back as little as possible in return. And if the result of its parasitism is to create havoc in the economy and throw millions out of work, as it did in 2008, or to cause a deep slump as it does today, for lack of investment, what do they care? As long as they and their politicians rule the roost, they will always find ways of sweating the working class majority of the population even more, using the pretext of the crisis if need be, as they have done to justify their attacks over recent years.

The working class cannot allow its living standards to go down the drain, while the wealthy are getting more and more affluent. It cannot allow its jobless and low-paid members to be treated like criminals, when the only real criminals in this society are the capitalists who deprive the economy of jobs and productive investment. It is the "something for nothing culture" of British capital which should be ended, once and for all!