The criminality of poverty and unemployment.

Hope is so precious a thing. We carry it, often without knowing, often without even a smidgeon of awareness of how much we need it, how much we crave it. Only when it gets taken away do we fully comprehend the nature of it. Only when you are bereft of its embrace, when every trace of it has fled, do you truly understand what you have lost.

For we all live with it, to one extent or another. Hope for a better tomorrow. Hope for a decent future for our kids, our family, our friends. Hope that our hard work, our determination, those long hours will pay off one day. Hope that when (gods forbid) times get tough, that you will have people to rely on, to give you a hand up, to be there when your own hopes starts heading for the door.

Hope that the world isn’t the cruel, heartless place that our media and entertainment often paint it to be.

Yet despite how precious this commodity is to nearly all of us, we have a government desperate to tear that hope from the clutches of those who need it most. We are witnessing, with passive eyes, people being robbed of something far more valuable than money. For when you are thrown on the unemployed heap because of market forces, budgets cuts or another host of factors out-with your control, you find yourself ostracised from those deemed worthy of compassion.

Your hope is too valuable a thing for a scrounger such as you to have it. You cannot be trusted with it. You might get complacent. The government might have to substitute your existence for a relatively short time. Paid taxes for years? Well that was then, when you were a decent human being but now you’ve allowed yourself to become unemployed. You are scum, a cheat, worthless. You are not worthy of compassion, of respect, of decency. You may not be specifically responsible for your current situation but your unemployment has just revealed your inner scrounger.

Beg at the table for your scraps, mut, and if your begging is not up to speed, or if we take a sudden dislike to the way your eyes move or the cadence of your voice, then we’ll send you to bed without supper. It’s probably more than you deserve.

You may have kids to feed, you may not. We don’t much care for your situation because these people who are dependent on you are guilty by association. They’re probably scroungers too. What a sad, pathetic wretch you are. Your family is nothing but a burden on decent, hard-working taxpayers. You have some nerve coming here, begging for a handout once more. But a month of no treats seemed to have taught you some manners at least. It’s good you’re learning to respect your elders. It’s good you’re learning who’s in charge around here.

Don’t have a family? Just starting out? Finished university but haven’t worked hard enough to secure one of the billions of jobs that we keep telling you are out there? Tough. You’re obviously too stupid to do anything of serious consequence. How did you get your degree anyway? Did you draw it yourself in crayon? What do you mean you want to work in ‘sectors relevant to your experience and expertise’? What utter cheek. You’ll go hungry if you keep this up. Actually, you’re blatant disrespect has angered me so no treats for you for four weeks. Come back when you’ve learned to accept what you’re given. Come back when you stop getting above yourself.

How was that experience? Humbling I hope. You look a little less cocky, a little gaunt. That’s a good thing. Now take this and sod off. Yes it’s shelf stacking. Engineer? Don’t be ridiculous. Stack the shelves like a good little worker. Other people would be damned grateful for this. Yes, it is a zero-hour contract. You’re getting cheeky once again. Take it or I’ll stop your treats completely. Yeah, that’s what I thought. I know what’s good for you even if you don’t.

Next.

And so it continues. The parade of the hopeless and those whose hope is torn or beaten from them by the humiliation of finding themselves out of work.

But what the fuck do these people matter? They’re poor after all and everyone knows that allowing yourself to fall into poverty is the biggest sin there is. If we had our way we’d criminalise it too. Can’t have the proles walking around in rags without consequence after all.

Rich people tell me that. And they must know what they’re talking about because wealth is the measure of the human soul.

Is it not?

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