Thursday, July 11, 2013

Workfare is Detention for Adults.

And just as effective at getting the building cleaned.

This little meme has been going around and it's obvious to me that no one is really thinking ... really using those critical thinking skills that they always bitch at teachers for not teaching.

Should able-bodied do work for their money?

First indication this is silly: the implication is that people should only be paid for their work. Does that mean that, in order to get benefits, they now have to be given a government job, with all the benefits, rights and responsibilities ... which then means they aren't technically unemployed anymore ... which means that the right-wing demagogues who posted this are agitating for more people on the government payroll?

Are we as stupid as that?


I'm sure that some people who are out of work could do those jobs quite well and they should be able to apply for a government job if they want, but to fire the current workers in order to give work to the unemployed seems circular to me.

That's until you get to those who can't do the job ... then this idea is frankly nuts.

Have you ever supervised detention at school? When you have untrained or unwilling workers (even moderately unwilling), you get sloppy work and no attention to detail. You're worse off than when you began because now you need someone competent to go back and redo the job properly.

Of course, you also need more supervisors to check whether they've worked "hard enough" or done the job "well enough", meaning that you now are paying your current workers to be management and your new workers, too. And you still haven't really gotten the job done well.

If you decide to fire all of your current public works employees and replace them with unemployed, you haven't really accomplished anything except adding to your current problems.

The constant turnover of staff would be a nightmare and the logistical headaches of this idea make it unworkable. No business owner in his right mind would ever accept this idea.

But, hey, all anti-welfare folks, keep pretending you have a clue.


  1. If a person is capable of working, though, and if there are jobs available, shouldn't that person at least be required to provide proof that he has made an effort to gain employment, in order to continue receiving benefits?

  2. Sure. But this post is suggesting that welfare recipients should take over jobs that are already being done by somebody. If the job is being done poorly, then you fire the person and put in an unemployed person to take his place - in the smallest iteration of this, you would replace the bad worker with himself, just a week later. Only now, you'd be paying him as a welfare recipient rather than as an employee ... and that may, in fact, be costing you more.

    How is this an improvement?
    How is this saving money?

    It's probably better all around to just pay welfare and hope that the stigma is enough incentive. If it isn't, then the person would make a lousy worker anyway. Drop him from welfare and you will simply get him in other social services that are far more expensive.

  3. Actually, in many/most jurisdictions, public aid recipients DO have to be searching for a job, or engaged in something that will help them get a job (usually job training) in order to receive their benefits. Exceptions are made for parents of preschoolers, people with disabilities, and (sometimes) living in an area with an exceptionally high unemployment rate.