Politics, news, libertarianism, Science Fiction, religion, sewing. You got a problem, bud? I like sewing.
E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)
Back to main blog
Jane's Blogosphere: blogtrack for Natalie Solent.
( 'Nother Solent is this blog's good twin. Same words, searchable archives, RSS feed. Provided by a benefactor, to whom thanks.
I also sometimes write for Samizdata and Biased BBC.)
The Old Comrades:
November 2001 December 2001 January 2002 February 2002 March 2002 April 2002 May 2002 June 2002 July 2002 August 2002 September 2002 October 2002 November 2002 December 2002 January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 August 2007 October 2007 February 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 March 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 October 2009 January 2010 March 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 April 2011 June 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013
Monday, June 20, 2011
Form over substance. A few days ago Phlip Davies MP suggested that disabled workers or those with mental health problems could get work more easily if they had the right to voluntarily opt out of the minimum wage.
"Given that some of those people with a learning disability clearly, by definition, can't be as productive in their work as somebody who hasn't got a disability of that nature, then it was inevitable that given that the employer was going to have to pay them both the same they were going to take on the person who was going to be more productive, less of a risk, and that was doing those people a huge disservice."
Within hours so much outraged commentary flowed out of newspaper columnists, charity representatives and politicians of all parties, including Mr Davies' own, that you'd think there'd been an outbreak of indignation dysentery.
Let us look at a few of the responses.
"A lower minimum wage if you're disabled? Not acceptable, sorry," says Lucy Glennon in the Guardian.
"It is a preposterous suggestion," MIND spokeswoman Sophie Corlett was quoted as saying in the Yorkshire Post, "that someone who has a mental health problem should be prepared to accept less than the minimum wage to get their foot in the door with an employer.
"People with mental health problems should not be considered a source of cheap labour and should be paid appropriately for the jobs they do."
"Philip Davies's comments are another obstacle to disabled workers being treated as equal," said Paul Farmer, chief executive of MIND, writing in the Telegraph. He added, "He has caused offence to many people who work with a mental health problem and those who want to work on an equal footing, yet struggle to overcome the stigma they face."
Jody McIntyre in the Independent was also outraged. His suggestion that Members of Parliament should work for less than minimum wage was not bad, though. Of the mentally disabled, he said "A strong test of any progressive society is how it’s most vulnerable people are valued for their worth, rather than pitied for their faults. Philip Davies clearly places little value on the role of people with learning difficulties in our society; instead of celebrating their diversity, he chooses to reinforce the discriminatory myth that people with learning difficulties are more of a risk to employers."
There was more, much more. After reading loads of responses I noticed something that they all had in common... as not having.
Not one response of all the many I read even tried to argue that Mr Davies was factually wrong. They were outraged, disgusted. They asserted what no one denies: that mentally disabled people are equal citizens and often prove to be hardworking employees, valued by their employers. But I could not find one article that argued that Davies' description of the way things go when a person with an IQ of 60 or a history of insanity seeks a job was inaccurate, or gave reasons to believe his proposal would not increase their chances of landing one.
"Philip Davies is right, of course," says Tim Worstall. "But so profoundly unfashionable that no one will say so". He then goes on to argue that Davies is right. His views will not be purist enough for some libertarians, but the novelty of reading someone bother to put forward a chain of reasoning when talking about this topic is a bit of a thrill. The fact that he bothers to think about what will actually happen to disabled people, particularly mentally disabled people, under various scenarios shows a thousand times more compassion than the people whose response is mostly concerned with their own emotions.
A quote from Charles Murray: "It seems that those who legislate and administer and write about social policy can tolerate any increase in actual suffering so long as the system does not explicitly permit it."
(Also posted at Samizdata, with comments open.)