A Facebook post complaining about the incompetence of the Job Seekers’ Allowance and several other benefits infuriated me today. It infuriated me because the individual complaining about JSA had no real right to in the sense that he should have seen such a benefit as a gift, a lucky token at the fact that he is too damn uptight to get a job “below him”.
JSA is intended as a short-term solution. To help those in the most desperate need who have no other alternative unless they are to live on the street and starve. It sounds extreme but it should be. Benefits are not an entitlement just because the jobs available do not take your fancy. It is for an emergency and it is people that do not treat it as so that give all those claiming benefits a bad name.
After I finish my NCTJ after graduation, I was fully prepared to work for free at any newspaper or magazine that would take me. This meant I would need money and I was fully prepared to work nights wherever I could get work: be that in a supermarket, a warehouse or a bar. It didn’t really matter as long as I had money coming in to support me.
I sound judging but this savvy social media user is consistently posting status in regards to the apparent stupidity of those working in the job’s centres and those in charge of giving him his benefits. He also continually posts statuses stating his disbelief and dismay at the fact that the job centre doesn’t understand why he won’t take up a ‘menial’ minimum-wage job. So what if you’re a graduate? So what if you have experience? The job market is as competitive as ever and not everyone can get those awesome start-up jobs that they want. That’s the way the world works. Even for the people that are truly incredible at whatever it is they do.
The fact that there are jobs open to someone and they have refused them because they think they are not good enough shows what is wrong with this society. This sense of entitlement that we deserve more. We do not. We are lucky in the UK to get what we do, and though it isn’t perfect, it is better than many other countries across this planet. You were lucky to be born into a family in the UK. That’s all it is. Luck – not entitlement.
If there are jobs available, no matter how menial you deem them to be, you take it. You take it because it’s better than nothing and you take it because it is better than the JSA. Especially when you are someone who has no outgoing expenses or other people relying on you like children or someone you must care for. When you are in a situation where you are basically free from constraints and responsibilities (you live at home with your parents, you do not have children, you do not have bills, you do not have rent to pay, you do not own a car, the list goes on) then you take any job you can because JSA for you is not an emergency, it is an excuse not to try as hard.
Just because you went to university, and just because you feel you are too smart for a job does not mean you are above it. You are no better than the person next to you in that job centre, or the person on the bus going to work. If you are not desperate or if your situation is not so difficult that you are actually in crisis then you do not deserve that JSA. It sounds harsh but I speak to a lot of people.
I have met people who deserve those benefits because it’s their last choice: either down to disability or to the fact that without it they can’t afford to feed their families or themselves while they are between work or because they can’t afford their rent without it. Truly difficult situations that nobody would wish themselves in. I see people who refuse JSA and other such benefits because they do not think they are struggling enough yet, because they know they haven’t exhausted every option.
And then I see things like those Facebook statuses and I talk to people who feel entitled, not because they deserve it, but because they refuse to take options that they feel are not suited to them.That is unfair. That is unfair to all those people who do need JSA and other benefits like it. That is playing the system and complaining that it’s not good enough even though you aren’t trying hard enough.
You are not owed anything. You are just like the rest of us and sometimes it is necessary to swallow your pride and get over yourself a little. If there’s a job, take it. You can look for another while you work. Don’t make excuses or cover the fact that you’re not trying hard enough with the difficulty of the system.
JSA is a safety net for those who are falling, it is not a cushion for you to weep in because you feel you’re not getting what you are due.