dinsdag 6 december 2016

Martin McKee over het vergeten belang van verzorgingsstaat en bestaanszekerheid - WRR Lecture 2016: Living on the edge

De WRR-lezing van Martin McKee over het vergeten belang van bestaanszekerheid is nu te bekijken op de site van de WRR. Ook vind je daar de tekst van de lezing en de dia's.

Uiterst belangrijk en actueel materiaal. Klik hieronder voor de lezing. En/of lees verder voor een korte samenvatting met citaten.



McKee begint met ons te herinneren aan het grote belang van wat er na de Tweede Wereldoorlog in de West-Europese landen gebeurde: de opbouw van de verzorgingsstaat, vanuit het toen allesoverheersende inzicht dat aan de fundamentele behoefte aan bestaanszekerheid van mensen tegemoet moet worden gekomen en dat de overheid daarvoor onmisbaar is. (De nummers in de tekst verwijzen naar de dia's.)
One of the greatest achievements of post-war Western Europe was to provide security for its people. We had collective security from external threats, in the form of NATO. But we also had security from internal threats. [2] These internal threats were summarised in the United Kingdom by William Beveridge as "the five giant evils" of society: Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor, and Idleness” and the struggle against these giants was the basis of the post-war British welfare state. 
The desire for security among politicians and the population then was understandable. People had lived through the depression of the 1930s and the Second World War. Many had direct experience of uncertainty. (...) Across Europe, politicians, from the right and the left, were establishing new systems that would provide security for their populations. So by the late 1950s, Europe’s leaders who had learned the lessons of the 1930s and 1940s were in power and were determined not to repeat the mistakes of the past. The state and employers took on many risks once borne by individuals and families. The resulting 2 security allowed people to look to the future with confidence, contributing to marked improvements in health and well-being. And this was based on a political consensus.
Maar toen kwam in de jaren 80 de Reagan-Thatcher revolutie. De lessen uit het verleden waren vergeten. De overheid was het probleem. Er moest worden geprivatiseerd en gedereguleerd en geflexibiliseerd. De verzorgingsstaat moest worden afgebroken. Bestaanszekerheid? Een luxe waar mensen wel zonder kunnen.

Dat alles liep uiteindelijk uit op de crisis van 2008.
It was much later that the situation really did change. The year was 2008, and the cause was a sequence of events far away. Banks in the United States had accumulated vast cash reserves and they needed to do something with them. The ingenuity of the bankers knew no bounds. High salaries attracted a new generation, with a new set of skills, into the financial services sector. Tragically, as we now know, many of the new generation had little idea about what they were doing either. [ 5] We had been warned. The movie, The Wolf of Wall Street, revealed a situation in which decisions were fuelled by liberal amounts of cocaine.
I don’t need to tell you what happened. [ 6] The movie The Big Short tells the story far better than I could ever manage. But the bottom line was that governments gave a very large amount of our money to save the banks, what we now term “welfare for Wall Street”, leaving none for the ordinary people. Many of these ordinary people had, until then, been coping. But only just. 
Overal begon de werkloosheid toe te nemen. Degenen die hun baan hielden of toch nog een baan vonden, werden geconfronteerd met de gevolgen van de liberalisering van de arbeidsmarkt. Lagere of stagnerende lonen. Het nul-urencontract vond ingang.
British employees of the sandwich chain Subway must agree that "The company has no duty to provide you with work. Your hours of work are not predetermined and will be notified to you on a weekly basis as soon as is reasonably practicable in advance by your store manager. The company has the right to require you to work varied or extended hours from time to time." 
In Nederland hadden we de sterke groei van de tijdelijke contracten en van de zzp'ers. En natuurlijk ook de nul-urencontracten, maar met meer beperkingen.

Met als gevolg toenemende armoede, ook van degenen met een baan. De term precariaat ontstond om deze nieuwe "klasse" aan te duiden. De term staat op zijn eenvoudigst gezegd voor: het gemis aan bestaanszekerheid.

McKee haalt dan eigen onderzoek aan naar de grote negatieve gezondheidseffecten van werkloosheid en precaire arbeidsomstandigheden en naar de er mee samenhangende toenames van zelfmoordcijfers. (En hij vermeldt dat in Frankrijk wel, maar in Engeland niet, zelfmoorden van werknemers als werkgerelateerd worden gezien tenzij het tegendeel kan worden aangetoond.)

Volgens de om zich heen grijpende neo-liberale fantasie zou deze toename van onzekerheid op de terreinen van arbeid, inkomen, huisvesting en voedselvoorziening (voedselbanken) onvermijdelijk zijn. Maar natuurlijk is dat niet zo.
Crucially, the institutions of society, and in particular government, can protect those whose lives are precarious, by both reducing the risk of a shock and by mitigating its effects should it occur, for example by creating safety nets. As has been noted, “a strong welfare state protects workers” from the consequences of employment precariousness.
Tussentijdse samenvatting:
So let me summarise so far. We have shown how the financial crisis and the subsequent imposition of austerity impacted on people in many ways. An estimated 5 million EU citizens lost their jobs between 2008 and 2010. Many others experienced reductions in income. Some lost their homes and while there is no system for collecting comparable data, surveys in countries such as Spain and the UK suggest that numbers of homeless increased by about 15% between 2008 and 2010. Others went without food. Their lives became more precarious. And as we have shown, this meant that not only were they are greater risk of misfortune but the consequences were worse when they experienced it.
And what we have described is just the tip of the iceberg. Many who have escaped these experiences live in constant fear of the future. Their jobs and income may be secure for now, but for how much longer? They can still afford their homes, but will this continue? And if they have to move, what will this mean for getting to work, for their social support networks, and for their children’s schooling? 
Waarna McKee een vergelijking maakt met de toestand in het Duitsland van de jaren 30, in de tijd van de opkomst van het Hitler-bewind.
We collected data on voting patterns in the five Reichstag elections between 1928 and 1933 and on a variety of measures of the economy. These included government spending and tax withheld from wages, hourly wages and economic output. By using small geographical areas of analysis, we were able to construct a dataset at the level of constituencies. Our analyses showed a clear association between the depth of austerity and the rise in support for the National Socialists. Crucially, what we were seeing was not simply the result of impoverishment. The very poor, a group that was hit hard by job losses, tended to turn to the communists. It was those just above them in the pecking order who turned to the Nazis, the group who had something to lose. 
En dan nog twee citaten uit zijn afsluitende woorden:
Anyone who believes in the enlightenment values of evidence and enquiry, of tolerance and mutual respect, and the more recent value of solidarity cannot ignore those factors that are driving politics today. And this means that we must understand the lives of those who see the world in a very different way from many of us here. 
But there is another reason why we should be concerned. And this is that our democratic systems are based on a social contract. And those with power should not use it to breach that contract. That can, as we know from history, have consequences for us all.
Anders gezegd: dat idee na de Tweede Wereldoorlog van die verzorgingsstaat als hoeder van bestaanszekerheid voor iedereen, is dat niet hoognodig toe aan een herwaardering? Heeft de sociaal-democratie nog iets meer te bieden dan de keuze tussen Samsom en Asscher?

Je vraagt je natuurlijk af of zo'n met wetenschappelijk onderzoek onderbouwde lezing sporen heeft nagelaten bij die ongeveer 350 toehoorders uit de sfeer van politiek, ministeries en adviesraden daar in Theater Diligentia in Den Haag.

Je mag hopen dat zulks het geval is. Want zo niet, dan hebben we na de volgende verkiezingen net als in de jaren 30 in Duitsland en net als nu in de Verenigde Staten een gevaarlijk man aan de macht. 

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