Friday, July 30, 2010

Infirm



I'm currently recovering from surgery, something which I undergo rather often, for complications related to this. Due to a combination of luck and whorish lack of principle I now have a 'job' - freelance writing - which I can organise around frequent hospital visits or bouts of illness, but it could easily have been otherwise. For a time, during a particularly nasty period of Crohn's, I got myself on Income Support (not Incapacity Benefit, having not paid enough in National Insurance, but in both cases a Doctor's Note was needed), as opposed to Jobseekers Allowance, which I was previously intermittently claiming, for the main reason that 'JSA' requires you to be available and ready for work at all times, which is a little tricky when one is sometimes bedridden. Although I had to be seen anew by a GP every few months to get another Doctor's Note, NHS staff are all bleeding hearts, as we know, so the DWP employ their own physicians. I remember the bizarre series of questions I was asked by the 'dole doctor' I was sent to in Lisson Grove, all of which seemed designed to ascertain whether I was unhappy rather than whether I had an incurable auto-immune disease, which I naively thought was the principal issue. Do you watch a lot of television? No. Do you walk? Yes. Soon enough I was back queueing up for JSA, then after a thankfully brief spell working from home, writing up transcripts of focus groups on piece rates, I ended up just about able to pay the rent from writing. If it hadn't been for the latter, I could very easily have faced being thrown off benefits due to frequently being unable to work, and hence left without income. This, by the way, was my experience under a system the current government considers excessively lenient.


This is as a preamble to a few links on work, illness and non-work, necessitated by the current government's impressively Shock Doctrine-following determination to use the financial crisis as a pretext for dismantling the remains of the Welfare State. A terrific, unnerving New Left Project piece on the government's attacks on the Undeserving Disabled; Third Class on a One-Class Train on Fairy Jobmother (a programme which I've managed to avoid, mercifully for my recovery); and a sane, sharp piece by Nina Power on the right to not work (with a thoughtful response from the Tomb). The coalition may be managing to convince people that 'scroungers' rather than the astonishing levels of public welfare for financial institutions are the main cause of the crisis - although how people can be so utterly stupid as to be fooled by such a transparent sleight of hand is beyond me - which makes these arguments all the more important.

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