Wednesday 17 January 2018

Last acceptable prejudice is judging the unemployed

Michael Noonan's 'allergic to work' comment exposes a common bias, writes Sarah Carey

Oh dear. A rare boo-boo from Michael Noonan. The king of the one-liner came out with a bad line, saying that we know that "some people are allergic to work". It was probably no coincidence that he said it to the Kilkenny Chamber of Commerce.

That sort of thing would go down well with employers who think that we should all be on Job Bridge, and grateful for the glory of "work experience" rather than earning a decent day's pay for a decent day's work. (Well, unless you're in IT or something). But accusing people on the dole of not wanting to work is one of those things you shouldn't get caught saying. Especially if you're a Fine Gael minister.

And that's not necessarily because it's untrue. We know that even at the height of the Tiger economy we still had a hard-core cohort of the unemployed. There are some people, usually those born into generations of dependency, who through a culture of low expectations and social marginalisation, will probably never work. They give up nice and early. And yeah, there'll always be those who want something for nothing.

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