One of the great lies of the modern liberal is that in developed countries such as Britain unskilled and low skilled jobs are a rapidly shrinking commodity. Daniel Knowles of the Daily Telegraph was at it on 17 November with Our greatest social problem: there are no jobs left for the dim (http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/danielknowles/100118217/our-greatest-social-problem-there-are-no-jobs-left-for-the-dim/). He tried to explain away Britain’s growing problem of youth unemployment by arguing that the less bright, less educated British youngsters of today are unemployed because “Robots and Chinese people have taken over the sorts of jobs that 16 year olds could get without any qualifications straight out of school and work in for a lifetime. The only jobs left for the under-educated, or often just the less academic, are in service industries: serving coffee, cleaning toilets, stacking shelves. These jobs are not the first rung on the ladder. There is no ladder; no one hopes to work in Pret a Manger for life.”
There are several interesting aspects of Knowles’ comment. First, he assumes that offshoring jobs to places like China is something which cannot be reversed and the practice carries no moral opprobrium. Second, he makes the assumption that everyone wants a career rather than just a secure job which allows them to live independently. Third, he makes no mention of the role mass immigration has played in creating unemployment amongst the young, something which can only be explained by Knowles being of the generation which has been brainwashed into pretending that the ill effects of immigration do not exist.
Knowles’ ideas about the young could be as readily applied to British workers of all ages if one accepts his interpretation of the state of the labour market. He is right on the superficial detail that less well-qualified Britons British workers are increasingly being left without unskilled and low-skilled work, but wrong in understanding of why this is and his implied assumption that Britain’s economic circumstances cannot be changed.
The “we have to live in a globalist world” lie
Britain does not have to be, in the cant of the globalists, a post-industrial society. To begin with Britain still undertakes a good deal of manufacturing, albeit this has become across too narrow a range of goods. The base to expand industrial production is still there if only Britain’s politicians forsook the globalist fantasy and concentrated on protecting the domestic British economy, for example, by having a policy to be self-sufficient in food and energy or by making it illegal to use a call centre outside of Britain to serve Britain. This would necessitate Britain leaving the EU. Withdrawal from the EU would also allow Britain to re-establish control over immigration. Turning off the immigrant labour tap would force British employers to take on native Britons.
Such actions would place restrictions on what Britain could sell overseas and lessen the opportunity for Britons to work abroad, but it would be a case of economic swings and roundabouts . The swings of being an independent judiciously protectionist nation again would most probably exceed greatly exceed the roundabouts of other nations’ restriction. This is because the central lesson of economic history is that a strong domestic economy is necessary for a country to be economically successful. It is worth adding that Britons who go to work abroad today are, unlike the majority of foreigners who come to work here, amongst the better qualified part of the population. Consequently, any restriction on their ability to emigrate would be to Britain’s advantage.
Being more self-sufficient as a country also has considerable political advantages. There is less opportunity for diplomatic bullying, especially of small countries by the powerful. Domestically, the more things which are within the control of a government the greater the democratic control, because politicians cannot blame ills on international treaties and circumstances to the same extent. For example, suppose the controls over British financial sector had remained as they were before the Thatcher government’s relaxations, the present financial mess would not have touched Britain to anything like the same extent because lending by British financial institutions would never have got out of hand.
As for people not being prepared to do run-of-the-mill jobs for all of their lives, this is what used to happen routinely and, indeed, many people continue to do just that today. Nor is this something restricted to the unskilled. Any skilled craftsman – a builder, plumber or carpenter – or someone with a skill such as HGV driving will do the same basic job all their lives unless they choose to go to another form of employment. The fact they are skilled does not necessarily make the job intrinsically interesting , although it will be better paid generally than those in a low or unskilled employment. It is also a mistake to imagine that skilled jobs which are non-manual are generally fulfilling or prestigious. A country solicitor dealing largely with farm leases and conveyancing or a an accountant spending most of their time preparing final accounts are scarcely enjoying working lives of wild excitement while a The truth is most jobs, regardless of their skill level, are not intrinsically interesting to the people who do them, the interest in working arising from the money reward and the social interaction which comes with the work.
The “there are not enough low skill jobs” lie
Nor is it true that unskilled and low-skilled jobs are diminishing. The large majority of jobs today, require little or no specialised training. Very few retail jobs involve a detailed knowledge of the product; driving a vehicle other than an HGV comes with the possession of an ordinary driving licence; undertaking a routine clerical task can be done almost immediately by someone who is literate. Until the advent of general purpose robots which can do most of the jobs a human being can do, there will continue to be a plentiful supply of low-skilled work. (http://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2011/07/01/robotics-and-the-real-sorry-karl-you-got-it-wrong-final-crisis-of-capitalism/)
The existence of low-skilled or unskilled work has a positive benefit beyond the work itself. It provides a means of independent living for the least able. In Britain the average IQ is 100. The way that IQ is distributed – in a good approximation of normal distribution – means that 10% of the population has an IQ of 80 or lower. An IQ of 80 is thought by most experts in the field of intelligence testing to be the point at which an individual begins to struggle to live an independent life in an advanced industrial society such as Britain. Without low-skilled and unskilled work the low IQ individual is left with no means to live an in independent life. That means in all probability a heavy dependency on benefits with a likelihood of antisocial behaviour because they cannot live a life of norm al social responsibility. Full employment is a social good which goes far beyond the overt material product of the employment. The nationalised industries may have had a significant degree of over -manning in strict
The “ immigration does not lower wages or take jobs from Britons” lies
The immigration aspect of British unemployment is particularly potent. Since 1997 the large majority of new jobs in Britain have been taken by foreigners , with those coming from Eastern Europe being particularly drawn to low-skilled employments, viz.:
The ONS figures show the total number of people in work in both the private and the public sector has risen from around 25.7million in 1997 to 27.4million at the end of last year, an increase of 1.67million.
But the number of workers born abroad has increased dramatically by 1.64million, from 1.9million to 3.5million.
There were 23.8million British-born workers in employment at the end of last year, just 25,000 more than when Labour came to power. In the private sector, the number of British workers has actually fallen. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/election/article-1264333/GENERAL-ELECTION-2010-Under-Labour-nearly-UK-jobs-taken-foreigners.htm l -8th April 2010).
The situation has not changed since the 2010 general election. In November 2011 there are 147,000 more foreign born workers in Britain than there were in November 2010. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/jobs/8894148/Extra-150000-foreign-workers-in-Britain-as-unemployment-rises.html. )
Most of the immigrants to Britain who have entered employment since 1997 have taken low-skilled jobs: -
In the first quarter of 2011, around 1 in 5 workers, or 20.6 per cent, in low-skill occupations were born outside the UK. This figure has increased from around 1 in 11 workers, or 9.0 per cent, in the first quarter of 2002.
This represents an increase of 367,000 non-UK born workers in low-skill jobs, with 666,000 in the first quarter of 2011, up from 298,000 at the start of 2002. Over the same period there was little change in the number of workers in low-skill jobs in the UK, which stood at around 3.2 million. However, the number of UK-born people in low-skill jobs fell from 3.04 million to 2.56 million.
There were also increases in the percentage of non-UK born workers in each of the three higher skill groups, although the increases there were not as large as that in low-skill jobs. Low-skill jobs are those that need a basic level of education and a short period of training, while high-skill occupations normally require a university level of education or extensive work experience.
The 1.7 million increase in the number of non-UK born workers is comprised of:
• 88,000 from EU 14 countries ((Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden)
• 585,000 from EU A8 countries(Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovak Republic, Slovenia)
• 1,010,000 from rest of the world countries Looking at workers at each job skill level, the majority of workers at each level were also UK-born, at 79.4 per cent, 87.2 per cent, 87.6 per cent and 86.1 per cent in low, lower-middle, upper-middle, and high-skill level jobs respectively.
Majority of workers born in EU A8 countries in low-skill occupations As there was a rise in EU A8-born workers in low-skill jobs over the last decade, it was also the case that workers in this group tended to be in low-skill jobs. In the first quarter of 2011, of all those born in EU A8 and working in the UK, 38.3 per cent were in low-skill jobs, while only 7.8 per cent were in high-skill jobs.
Majority of workers in the UK are UK-born Looking at all workers in the UK, the majority were UK-born. However, over the last decade, the number of UK-born workers fell by 223,000, while the number of non-UK born workers rose by 1.7 million. As a result, UK-born workers as a percentage of all workers fell from 91.5 per cent at the start of 2002, to 86.1 per cent at the start of 2011. (http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171776_234559.pdf)
Those are of course only the official figures. There will also be a substantial number of immigrants taking jobs by working in the black economy.
If the 1.7milliion official count jobs filled by immigrants since 1997 had been filled by Britons, UK unemployment would be officially around 900,000 today, not good but still vastly better than what we have. The vast majority of the jobs taken by immigrants could have been done by Britons because they are low-skilled or unskilled. This gives the lie to the idea that the movement to a service dominated economy would mean a famine of jobs suitable for the less able and more poorly qualified. The wilful destruction of much of Britain’s manufacturing and extractive industries in the 1980s and the later offshoring of jobs dealt a severe blow to British employment opportunities, but it did not in itself mean large numbers of Britons would be unable to find work. It is the permitting of mass immigration which has brought that about.
It is not only unskilled British workers who are being squeezed out. Certainly in London where I live, the building trade has been taken over by foreigners, especially those coming from Eastern Europe. The takeover has been achieved very simply: the immigrant plumbers, carpenters, painters and builders have been willing to grossly undercut the wages of the British craftsman. Despite supposed shortage of midwives, British midwives cannot find posts in Britain (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/8889007/Student-midwives-struggling-to-get-jobs-despite-shortage.html) and there are examples of skilled Britons being sacked as foreign companies bring in staff from their own country ( http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/2125178/huawei-accused-racial-discrimination).
For most of the decade from 2000 politicians of all stripes and the media refused to accept that immigrants were lowering wages. Around 2010 they began to accept what the laws of supply and demand should have told them, more people seeking work equals lower wages and poor non-money conditions of work. (http://www.allbusiness.com/labor-employment/compensation-benefits-wages-salaries/12699472-1.html). This was deeply ironic because following Blair’s election as Labour leader, the left liberal fraternity religiously espoused worship of the market.
The “Britons won’t do the work” lie
Phone-ins, social networking and the individual experience of those around you tell the same story: there are very large numbers of Britons desperate for work, often any work, who just cannot find any. Again and again people tell of how they have tried for dozens, sometimes hundreds of jobs without getting even an interview. Media reports of employers getting large numbers of applicants for even menial jobs are a regular feature( http://www.londonlovesbusiness.com/25-people-chase-every-job-in-some-areas-of-london/423.article). Many new graduates are finding that they have been sold a pup about the increased employability of those with a degree and are lucky to find any sort of job. ( http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2011/jan/26/fifth-graduates-unemployed-ons).
It beggars belief that British employers are employing foreign workers because they cannot find suitable people. Even if there was a problem with the attitude of young Britons, for which I see no evidence for as a general problem, it would not explain why older workers with a good work history are being overlooked. The most likely explanation is that British employers find foreign workers are cheaper and easier to lay off when they want to.
It is also true that where large numbers of people are needed, gangmasters will be used and these are often foreign and only recruit people of their own nationality. There is also the growing practice of foreign companies in Britain bringing in their own people (http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/2125178/huawei-accused-racial-discrimination). There is also the possibility of corruption especially where public service organisations are concerned, with foreign agencies and the British people doing the hiring enter into a corrupt arrangement whereby the Britons ensure foreigners are recruited and receive a kickback for that from the foreign agents who supply the labour. The foreign agent gains through the fees for finding and supplying the foreign staff.
During the Blair/Brown bubble years there may have been an element of Britons unwilling to do some of the menial low paid jobs, but in our present dire financial straits that cannot be the case now even for low-skilled workers. Moreover even during the Blair/Brown bubble , the rapidly rising property prices and rents and falling wages often made it impossible for a Briton who had social obligations such as a family to support to take those jobs because they would not provide a means to support the family. Most of the immigrants who came in, especially those from Eastern Europe, were young men with no obligations beyond supporting themselves. They are able , even on the minimum wages, to save a few thousand per year and that money in their own country is worth multiples of what it is worth in Britain. Such immigrant workers found that they could work for a couple of years in Britain and save enough to buy a property in their own country. (Give Britons the chance to go abroad and earn enough to buy a house in Britain and you will be trampled in the rush). In short, there was never a level playing field between British and foreign workers.
The obligation of democratic governments
The first responsibility of a government in a democratic country is to promote the well-being of its citizens above those of foreigners. To take the view, as successive British governments have in practice taken since 1979, that immigrants are, in effect, entitled to the privileges accorded to British citizens is to render British citizenship null and void. To think of the world as a single marketplace with labour, goods and services drawn from wherever is cheapest or most immediately available, is to reduce Britain to no more than a residence of convenience which can be used for the purposes of the individual without any concern for Britain as a society. That is what Britain’s politicians and her broader elite are dragging the country towards. All sense of nation has not been lost ye, t but Britons are increasingly seeing themselves as abandoned by those who are supposed to wield power on their behalf and for their good and are in desperation increasingly looking for their own advantage without regard to the effects of their behaviour on the society they live in. .
If Britain had a political elite which acted as an elite should do in a democracy, they would cast aside the globalist fantasy and begin to rebuild a stable British economy and with it a much stronger and more settled society. They would recover Britain’s sovereignty by withdrawing from the EU. They would end mass migration. They would allow Britain to re-industrialise behind protectionist barriers. In doing those things they would produce a situation which would allow Britons to be employed in jobs which were secure and paid well enough, even at the unskilled level, to live a normal family life because Britain would become a high wage economy. This would be because even the least skilled in society would have a value , for the unskilled work would still need to be done and there would not be an immigrant army to do it . This would either put a premium on those willing to do the unskilled work who would command higher pay or the unskilled work would have to be done as incidental work by those doing more skilled work, for example, cleaning the workplace in addition to being a draughtsman. A fantasy? Well, it is what happens in Norway , a very high wage economy.