The Lie of Opportunity

Stephen Laidler was laid off on the 14th of November. He put on a suit and printed a sign saying “Employ me please”. The media loved his “proactive” attitude and his photo was published nationwide. In a matter of days he had five “definite” job leads.

While we support Mr Laidler’s efforts to find work, the media response is reflective of a false narrative that we need to recognise and combat.

This is the false story of opportunities told by those who don’t need them to those who don’t have them.

The young man I saw on Cuba St the other day sat on the bricks, dejected. A wound on his face, he held a sign, written in cheap vivid, on cardboard ripped from a discarded box. His sign too, was asking for a job. Yet, he doesn’t make the news.

He, and others with similar signs, have not made the news. They’ve been there for more mere days, they’ve been there for months. They cannot afford suits, comfortable shoes and professionally printed signs. They can’t apply for hundreds of jobs on the internet. They don’t even have a home to go back to. They don’t make the news.

No, the news for them is that their wants are not valid. That they have no control. There are campaigns to actively discourage people from helping them, because they will only make the wrong choices.

The news for them is to be avoided, demonised. We must “be wary of strangers asking for money”.

Yet, this man, out of a job for less than a week, he makes the news. From the point of view of the young man on Cuba St, Laidler has everything EXCEPT for a job. He makes the news for being “proactive”, for “not mucking around”. His skills and experience are displayed to the country.

Oh and don’t forget to mention his phone number! We wouldn’t want him to miss out on all those opportunities he is creating!

The job leads are already rolling in.

Who tells these stories? Who lets the media promote the lie that the best person will win? Obviously it is those that benefit from this deception. Only the richest 10% of households in this country are better off due to rising inequality.

90% are worse off. The media isn’t talking for the 90%, they speak for the 10%. Those at the top, have the power of money, to make this false narrative the norm.

Mike Hosking tells us that “hard workers have nothing to fear”. He advises us: “no matter what the rules, good people get ahead.”

Why do they tell these tales? Why tell the story that those at the bottom are lost, and it’s their own fault for being there? Because that makes you happy to have what you’ve got. It makes you thankful to be able to afford those clothes. To live in that flat and drive that second-hand car. You’re not at the bottom. You’re smarter, you’re better, you’re more sane than them. Pity them for their mental weakness, their addictions, their bad choices.

You are told to be happy with what you have and know that you could have more. Just be better, make the right choices, the opportunities are there. They want you to stand alone. To be quicker, smarter, more brave than your peers. Alone you will climb. Maybe one day you will have the wealth to be altruistic, to give money to the poor.

But not directly to them, oh no! They are poor because they make the wrong choices. Give your money to the ones who know how to help them. How to teach them to be quicker, smarter, more brave than their peers. You can save the good ones. Just stand alone and rise. Those who are worthy will learn to climb like you have.

Bullshit. It’s a lie.

As Lenin put it: “Capitalists are no more capable of self-sacrifice than a man is capable of lifting himself up by his own bootstraps.”