Orwell om arbetslöshet

A Kind of Compulsion, The Complete Works, vol. X, artikel 82, s. 122-127.

En artikel om arbetslöshet i Le Progrès Civique 1928. Under kriget hade soldaterna matats med budskapet att de stred för civilisationen och för ett land ”fit for heroes to live in” (Lloyd George), och med löften om att högre levnadsstandard väntade dem när kriget tagit slut.

Alas! As Eldorado did not materialize, it was necessary to think up something at once, before the ex-servicemen had time to find out that they had been decevied […]

And that is why the Governement rushed through the Unemployment Insurence Act in 1920; under this act any worker in regular employment could choose to pay a sum of money which would indemnify him should he lose his job.

[…] It should be pointed out straightaway that this has nothing at all to do with charity. It is, in fact, a kind of insurance. […] It is also worth noting that the unemployment benefits do not err on the side of generosity.

This needs to be stressed, because there is a ridiculous story in the Conservative press which states that unemployment is due only to the laziness and the greed of the workers. […] And the inventors of this story have coined the word ‘dole’ for unemplyment benefits. […] The belief that the unemployed represent a veritable army of sybarites enjoying themselves on money begged from the charity of the taxpayers is widely held by the comfortably-off in England.

How, after all, can one live on 18 shillings a week? The reply is simple: one does not live, one just avoids dying. […] Given this sort of income, what can their meals consist of? Bread and tea, bread and tea, week in, week out. […] A poor family, in the situation I have just described, lives herded together in one room in some stinking slum in London, Manchester, or perhaps some Welch mining town. […] In winter, it is almost impossible to heat the one shabby room properly. The man cannot buy tobacco. Beer is out of the question.

So ‘idleness in luxury,’ as the Conservative newspaper say in righteous indignation, turns out to mean, on closer inspection ‘a state of near starvation’.

Projekt: The Complete Works of George Orwell


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