A general record of my ongoing battle with all forms of nonsense.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Tory MP says disabled people should be forced to work in labour camps for starvation wages, then sold as meat for cattle feed

That, in itself, wasn’t very interesting. But what is very interesting was the reaction from normally intelligent, critically thinking people who read the words “disabled” and “minimum wage” together and jumped to a huge number of crazy conclusions before actually understanding what Davies was saying.

No I'm afraid he didn’t.

Er, no he’s not suggesting we should treat disabled people any differently to anyone else.

(Edit: @josephbush has since clarified that there was an element of sarcasm in this tweet.)

Davies was saying that:
  • Some vulnerable people were suffering as a result of the minimum wage legislation.
  • Disabled people were an example of a group that was affected particularly badly.
  • We shouldn’t be standing in the way of people trying to find work if they consider this legislation to be a hindrance.
This isn’t rocket science. The economy isn’t exactly booming right now. There are many people willing to take minimum wage work and the employer can take their pick. Employers will naturally take the person who is best able to do the job. Anyone less able than anyone else applying for a minimum wage position simply won’t be able to get a job – denied employment by law.

Davies doesn’t suggest that we should allow only disabled people the freedom to negotiate their wages. The conversation has moved on by this point. He’s clear that his argument applies to anyone who sees the minimum wage as a hindrance:

"My view is that for some people the national minimum wage may be more of a hindrance than a help.

"If those people who consider it is being a hindrance to them, and in my view that's some of the most vulnerable people in society, if they feel that for a short period of time, taking a lower rate of pay to help them get on their first rung of the jobs ladder, if they judge that that is a good thing, I don't see why we should be standing in their way."

The disabled were used as an example of a group that is harmed, nothing more.

He’s also not saying anyone “should” work for less; he’s merely defending their right to do so if they are unable to find higher paid work.

Work doesn’t just provide money, it provides self-esteem. It provides you with the pride in knowing you are sustained by your own work rather than charity. In my opinion, nobody should be denied this right simply because they are unable to sell their time for more than minimum wage.

The outrage caused some of the most preposterous tweets I’ve seen:

Davies said:
“some of those people with a learning disability clearly, by definition, cannot be as productive in their work as somebody who has not got a disability”
Now you could interpret this as saying a person with a learning disability is never as productive as someone without, but I think it’s unlikely that this is what was meant. What Davies likely means is that a learning difficulty is likely to make someone less productive rather than more.

If a job requires learning, then someone who finds it difficult to learn will be less productive at that element of their job.

If they are equally productive in the skill of learning, they haven’t got a learning difficulty. As Davies said, this is true by definition.

You might be ideologically opposed to allowing people to freely negotiate their income. You might get angry. You might have other reasons for thinking Davies is a cock (like voting against gay rights for instance).

But before criticising anything, I encourage you to read and understand what is being said.