davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
[personal profile] davidgillon

The title is what I was called on Twitter yesterday by Times columnist Libby Purves for challenging her article supporting the one by Rosa Monckton in The Spectator advocating that disabled people be paid less than the minimum wage (she's specifically talking about people with severe Learning Disabilities but seeing as a) LDs are a spectrum and b) you're setting a legal precedent the issue is much wider). Purves' article was shocking in its savagery, lashing out at anyone who refused to support Monckton and who argued disabled people are worth an equal wage. She's the only person I've ever seen defend that Tory social neanderthal Philip Davies MP, who even other Tories think is beyond the pale. The one thing missing from Purves' article, any opinion from a disabled person...

As for Rosa Monckton, the fawning over 'friend of Princess Diana' by the BBC was stomach-churning. Perhaps more relevantly, she's the Honorable Rosa, daughter of a Viscount* and married to Dominic Lawson, who is the son of Thatcher's Chancellor, Dominic Lawson, and former editor of both The Spectator and the Sunday Torygraph. She does have a reason to be talking about this, a daughter with Downs Syndrome, so that's her own daughter she's arguing is worth less. But someone whose Twitter profile claims "Champagne is the answer" and is the former chief exec of Tiffanys, never mind the family connections, is arguing from a position of significant privilege**

The argument has been very heavy on the 'we're parents, we have to advocate for our children, we know what's best', which they might have a better chance of carrying off if they weren't trying to shut down disabled people attempting to comment, and apparently completely ignorant that there are a lot of very eloquent LD self-advocates, never mind the whole history of parents campaigning for what they want and not what we want that's wrapped up in the Autism Speaks/Actually Autistic campaigns.

So I've been thinking about this view that we should be paid less than the minimum wage, and I think it comes down to a conflation of two separate problems:

First the idea that disabled people aren't as able, which is an aspect of workplace disability discrimination (and wider social discrimination). This is grows out of the (illegal) demand we all be identical cogs in the production machine. It's based on a presumption of incompetence and defending the right of employers to that view.

The second is a presumption that worth and dignity can only proceed from having a job - that's clearly visible in Monckton's piece. It's probably not entirely coincidental that this has come out in the wake of the Green Paper on Work and Health which preaches a similar view. The reality of disability is many disabled people can't hold down a job. Whether you're averbal, or can argue eloquently is irrelevant. Our worth isn't defined by holding down a job, our worth is equal whether we do or we don't, whether we can or we can't. Society fails disabled ppl when it devalues us over our employment status. And that's what the pay less than minimum wage argument does.

Worth determined by job? An identical cog in the machine? Disabled people worth less? A refusal to challenge workplace disability discrimination?

We've misread the whole discussion.These aren't the views of concerned parents. they're the views of hardline Tories.

*A friend just pointed out her brother, the current Viscount Monckton, was sacked as vice president of UKIP and has views on gay rights so extreme even UKIP would be embarrassed.

** I wouldn't normally make a point based on class privilege, but in this case I think it's central to the discussion - Monckton can afford for her daughter to be paid less, that's not necessarily true of families or individual disabled people in more straitened circumstances.

Date: 2017-03-08 09:45 pm (UTC)
sovay: (Psholtii: in a bad mood)
From: [personal profile] sovay
advocating that disabled people be paid less than the minimum wage (she's specifically talking about people with severe Learning Disabilities but seeing as a) LDs are a spectrum and b) you're setting a legal precedent the issue is much wider).

No. That is the entire point of a minimum wage. It is the absolute baseline of money that people can—at least theoretically, it's not possible here and I don't know how it is in the UK, but let's just agree that conceptually it's supposed to work this way—live on. It's hardly enough to begin with. You don't get to lower it further, and you don't get to lower it further in ways that suggest that a person who can't do a full day's worth doesn't get to count as a full person. What the hell.

Our worth isn't defined by holding down a job, our worth is equal whether we do or we don't, whether we can or we can't.


[edit] This whole argument makes my skin crawl. It sounds like just the sort of concern-trolling legally-enabled discrimination the Republicans would love to import. And it astonishes me utterly that anyone would argue for their own child to be financially disadvantaged and, thanks to capitalism and the way it skews our perceptions of net worth, socially devalued. Furious that the social institutions don't exist to take care of someone who will never be self-supporting in a society that predicates the right to exist on the ability to hold down a job, that's a reasonable response. But then you work on building the social institutions, you don't cut your child to pieces to fit them in around the edges of the inequalities of the institutions that exist.
Edited (subject-verb agreement) Date: 2017-03-08 10:08 pm (UTC)

Date: 2017-03-09 02:29 am (UTC)
sovay: (Sovay: David Owen)
From: [personal profile] sovay
The National Living Wage is the legal minimum for anyone over 25 and not in the first year of an apprenticeship and is £7.50, the National Minimum Wage is age related and can be as little as £4.05 if you're under 18, or £3.50 if you're under 25 and an apprentice.

And she's arguing to pay disabled people under that?

Thanks for the numbers. I hadn't known there was an age-related component; in the U.S. it varies by state, but only a few have a youth/training wage that differs from the state minimum. (Which can vary substantially itself—there's a $5 difference between Georgia and Massachusetts. Don't live in Georgia.)

There was a line in Monckton's article about people not in work spending their life "sprawled on the sofa" that caught quite a few people's attention.

*goes off to read original article*

*top of head blows off*

*reassembles head before replying*

"Services are closing, and day centres barely exist any more, so what lies ahead for people like my daughter? Unless the law changes, they can expect a life spent in the shadows, slumped on a sofa, eating the wrong sort of food, watching daytime television. This is not about the right to a minimum wage, it is about the right to have the human dignity that comes with work, and with being included."

(a) What a way to characterize your own child. I understand her daughter has Down's, but does this woman believe that nothing she has said about her daughter will ever get back to her?

(b) What a way to characterize people who don't work the nine-to-five. I don't know, maybe people who didn't have to leave the house every morning to get food on the table would rather spend the day on the couch watching daytime television. I know I spent a lot of days on a couch staring at TCM after my health crashed in 2006 and I was in constant unmanageable pain and had to leave grad school and couldn't hold down a job; I had no physical stamina and my concentration was shot and I slept two hours a night if I was lucky. But you know what else people do when they aren't working? They read. They garden. They do art. They go outside. They play games. They talk with friends. They spend time on the internet. They write. And sometimes they lie on the sofa and that's all right. Human dignity does not come from having your nose to the grindstone 24/7. It comes from people recognizing you as a human being, which that paragraph is doing a pretty bad job of.

(c) I was so burned about the "life spent in the shadows" and "eating the wrong sort of food" that it took me a minute to ask: being included in what? She's aware that the workplace isn't the only community on the planet, right?

As it happens I spend most of my life sprawled on the sofa (as sitting is difficult), and it doesn't seem to have stopped me challenging their logic.

Well, obviously yours is a special sofa!

I am sorry you're having to deal with this.

Date: 2017-03-09 08:43 pm (UTC)
sovay: (Psholtii: in a bad mood)
From: [personal profile] sovay
They have carefully framed research that shows non-working life is unhealthy.

Unless, I imagine, you have loads of money and can afford to spend your non-working time writing pseudoscience.

So when Monckton calls only a working life a valid life, she isn't talking as a concerned parent, she's spouting party dogma.


Date: 2017-03-09 09:01 pm (UTC)
sovay: (Psholtii: in a bad mood)
From: [personal profile] sovay
"curtains/blinds still shut at 11AM" is very much a Tory/right wing press meme.

Thank you for the clarification. So like most dogwhistles, it's nonsense as regards the reality of people's lives and a microsecond's thought will furnish a counterexample (you have a job—it's graveyard shift and you spend your days asleep and your nights working hard, but sorry, your curtains still look shut-in and anti-social!) but offers license and plausible deniability to the bad behavior of the people whose ears are perked up to catch it. We're having a similar thing right now with the supposed opposing costs of healthcare and iPhones, thanks to professional idiot-in-public Jason Chaffetz. When called on it, he merely disclaimed the iPhone part of the statement; he did not apologize for the rock-solid, cruelly wrongheaded underlying insinuation that the only reason poor people can't afford healthcare is that they splurge on undeserved luxuries instead of taking care of themselves.
Edited Date: 2017-03-09 09:05 pm (UTC)

Date: 2017-03-11 10:34 pm (UTC)
sovay: (Lord Peter Wimsey)
From: [personal profile] sovay
I'd seen the Chaffetz thing. There seems to be a small-minded evil that's positively cherished in right-wing politics of late.

Who spends that much of their life wanting to punch down?

Date: 2017-03-08 10:26 pm (UTC)
hilarita: trefoil carving (Default)
From: [personal profile] hilarita
God, yes. This ticked me off in two dimensions, as you noted: 1) disabled people are worthwhile whether or not we work. Some can work, some can't work at all, some can work a bit. But we're all worthwhile.
2)if disabled people can work, we are bloody well worth paying properly. I really don't want someone to turn up and say "your disability means you can't work as hard as other people, you're worth paying less". I can either take fewer hours or not, but I'm bloody well getting the same hourly rate for the equal work I'm doing in those hours.

Date: 2017-03-09 12:19 am (UTC)
sovay: (Sovay: David Owen)
From: [personal profile] sovay
I can either take fewer hours or not, but I'm bloody well getting the same hourly rate for the equal work I'm doing in those hours.


Date: 2017-03-08 10:35 pm (UTC)
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
From: [personal profile] rmc28
Gosh, how dare people be angry about things that affect them.

I'm here to hang out with the "Furious People"

Date: 2017-03-08 11:37 pm (UTC)
capriuni: Text: If you want to be a Hero, be Good to the Storyteller. (Default)
From: [personal profile] capriuni
(If you're not angry, you're not paying attention)

Meanwhile, here's an article I posted to my Tumblr page, last May, about how this almost happened to me: “Sheltered Workshops,” the so-called “Dignity of Work,” and the Special Ed. school-to-workshop pipeline (I also included links to relevant bits of American law, if you're interested).
capriuni: Text: If you want to be a Hero, be Good to the Storyteller. (Default)
From: [personal profile] capriuni
Thank you!

... I can't say I was particularly pleased when than realization clicked into place, but...

Let's just say this grin is me bearing my teeth.

Date: 2017-03-09 11:27 am (UTC)
lilysea: Oracle (Oracle: wheelchair fighting)
From: [personal profile] lilysea
Paying disabled people less is even more appalling once you take into account that disabled people usually have *higher* medical bills...

Date: 2017-03-19 09:21 pm (UTC)
green_knight: (Activism)
From: [personal profile] green_knight
You're probably right about the bulk of things, but there's also (collected from a number of people)

- clothes and shoes you can put on yourself/that work with a wheelchair/that fit your physique
- cleaners if you can't scrub or hoover
- special diet/meals out if you need to eat regularly/easy to prepare meals if you can't stand/sit and chop things
- adapted hotel rooms (can't just crash on a friend's sofa)
- booking trains and taxis rather than travelling on a whim & shoestring
- any assistance technology that makes your life better, e.g. an e-reader for larger print, gadgets to pick things up, open cans one-handedly; an extra-loud doorbell...
- mobile hairdressers, pedicures, massage to keep you functional...

... and all of these things add up, too, and they're necessary.


davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
David Gillon

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