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Thursday, Sep 20, 2012, 1:01 pm

British MP Joins Romney in Telling Poor to Try Harder

By Nyki Salinas-Duda

Street performing is a good way for youth to pay for transportation to job interviews, suggested a British MP.
(Wende Thompson / Flickr / Creative Commons)

While speaking at a youth event in Kent, British MP Damian Collins argued that unemployed young people should accept substandard pay and look into street performing.

According to the UK’s Metro newspaper, Mr. Collins suggested that youth simply forgo university and take low-paying apprenticeships, saying, "A businessman I know told me: 'I would much rather get a school leaver at 16. Get them to do an apprenticeship for two or three years.'"

Apprenticeships in the UK pay about $4.20 per hour; whereas the minimum wage for under-18 employees in the mainstream workforce is close to $6 and the minimum for 18-to-21-year-olds is $8.05.

Collins then went on to impart a story about a former employer who busked for the train fare to get into London while he was looking for work. According to the Guardian UK, this remark was an apparent response to MP Stella Creasy of the Labour Party, who recently highlighted the difficulty of finding a job without money for transportation.

More than one million youth in the UK are unemployed, according to the TV show on youth unemployment Battlefront, which organized the Kent event.

Former Labour Foreign Secretary David Miliband chastised Collins, adding: “For the Tories to say: ‘Don’t bother getting an education, go out busking,' that is not a serious solution.”

Collins downplayed his comment hours after they were published in the Guardian, saying he simply “gave an example.”

But Collins’ remarks come at a time when the governments and corporations alike are faulting the unemployed for their situations, rather than the economy.

Mitt Romney’s elitist speech at a private fundraiser, surreptitiously recorded in a video released Monday by Mother Jones, has caused a firestorm. Romney described 47 percent of Americans as government moochers. "My job is is not to worry about those people," Romney said of those receiving government benefits. "I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

Such sentiments seem to be a theme recently for the 1%. The world’s richest woman, Gina Rinehart, told the poor to forget fun in an August interview:

If you're jealous of those with more money, don't just sit there and complain… Do something to make more money yourself -- spend less time drinking or smoking and socializing, and more time working.

Nyki Salinas-Duda is an Assistant Editor at In These Times and a freelance writer. She holds a BA in Latin American history from the University of San Francisco.

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