Re: Flexibility doesn't exist at lower income levels
"Except all the evidence is that they're not actually as stupid as you seem to think,"
No idea why you interpreted my post the way you did. We don't need evidence to prove that they are not stupid, because I certainly did not say they were. Less specialised roles don't mean they are stupid people. They just have less to bargain with because there are more employees to choose from.
Let's look at my own wife for a minute, who I certainly wouldn't call stupid at all. She used to work in a big hotel chain in London at the front desk. (Receptionist in other words.) The wage was meagre even after she had been working there for years and was made supervisor. The shifts, sometimes back-to-back double shifts, were long and often unpredictable. She's kind of a tough cookie and put up with it, but she has outlived a lot of others during her time, who didn't. If people quit, it took less than a week to have somebody new on the rota -- on minimum wage. If people moaned too much, they were shown the door and replaced just as fast.
She got by with her salary, but she couldn't make any savings, and therefore she couldn't risk losing the job and possibly spending a few weeks without any income. It's not a situation you want to be in. And while hotel/gastronomy is a tough area to work in, it's a piece of cake in comparison to other jobs, where people could be replaced even quicker.
Now take away sick pay, any holiday and pay, maternity leave and pay, minimum wage, and turn this into contract-based work... and sure enough that hotel will find plenty people willing to work longer for less. Extend that to other areas, and it's soon (even) more lucrative to claim benefits than to work your arse off. (And the employers will still find people willing to work for even less, because -believe it or not- some are not entitled to claim benefits and have no other choice. Those people, strangely enough, are also those seen to come here and "steal" jobs from Brits... but I digress)
Anyhow, my wife only managed to get out of there, because I encouraged her (and would have been able to support her, if she hadn't managed to better her situation). That's what *she* said, not what *I* think. No, she isn't stupid. (She had a bachelor degree to begin with, which turned out useless; and she has now managed to become an accountant doing weekend classes for several years. A "luxury" that she wouldn't have been able to achieve while working in that hotel -- not least because she'd have to work on weekends)
I wouldn't dare call people in low-skilled or low-income jobs stupid. The situation that they are in is often much harder and more complicated than we -privileged- contractors can imagine. Talk of politicians losing touch with reality...
If my original post came across like I'd consider myself somewhat better than others, I do apologise. I don't. I have worked my arse off to get where I am now, and that hasn't been an easy feat. But I have also had a fair bit of luck along the way, which not everybody is fortunate enough to have.
@Tim: If you want to call me a Marxist, fair enough. I think there's a lot of grey between black and white, but you're known to write in a provocative fashion, which we all appreciate and like.