Service Workers Deserve More

They’re all around you, often invisible. Not just the waiters and clerks and hotel desk workers, but the bussers and housekeepers, janitors and phone crews. They’re the people who make the world hum all around you, and they’re supposed to be as unobtrusive as possible while making your life as easy as possible. They are […]

The Erosion of Worker Benefits

My father and I were talking the other day about the immense gains the labour movement made in the 20th century; not just at the start of the century when they fought child labour, exploitative working conditions, long hours, dangerous facilities, and other abuses, but also the introduction of benefits like pensions, health insurance, paid […]

Depicting Need for Assistance as Moral Failing; Benefits Scroungers, Welfare, and the Media

With the economic downturn in the United States has come a dramatic increase in the number of people relying on or needing government assistance to survive. This has meant growing pressure on a shrinking safety net being attacked with cuts from the federal government on down. Congress has made some benefits extensions in the interest […]

Going After Disabled Adults Just Wasn’t Enough: The US Right Threatens Disability Services for Children

The US right has been railing against welfare and social programmes for decades, but it’s become more daring and much more audacious in its attacks on public services. It senses that the economy has created a weak point, an opening for conversations people would not normally entertain, finding them offensive and horrific. Politicians have gone […]

Where Does the Line Between Vital Services and Charity Lie?

Starting in the Bush Administration, there was an increasing push in the United States to privatise the provision of welfare programmes from education to food assistance. The administration popularised the idea of ‘faith-based charities’ that could provide services so the government wouldn’t have to, and promoted a sort of ‘every person for themselves’ approach to […]

The Benefits Trap

I’ve often noticed that many people who have never had to rely on government benefits, or who have never come into close contact with those who do, do not really understand how benefits work. This is not terribly surprising. It’s hard to understand an experience you haven’t lived and there are lots of things I […]