Monday, April 20, 2009

Non-Jobs Nonsense

In the midst of our new era of "change" in the US, unemployment rates are going up all across the country. Not exactly the kind of "change" that most people had in mind, but it's change none the less. Tomato, tom-ah-to, what are you gonna do? (See, that's why I like details. I like to know what I'm getting and I like to be clear about what I'm asking for. If you just ask for "change" you're opening yourself up to good "change" and to crappy "change". Guess which one we're working our way through right now?) But if we start doing things like they've done over there in Britain, I figure that we could have this whole unemployment thing resolved within weeks at the most! What could possibly go wrong if we started hiring people for jobs such as roller disco coaches, ceremonial sword bearers and the much in demand trampoline coaches. Wait. Those are jobs?

Correct. Not only are they jobs, they're jobs that folks get paid for! The Mail Online reports about an audit of local government positions which was done by the Sunday Times. The information about the various jobs was "obtained under freedom of information legislation" and the Sunday Times claims that it reveals several instances of jobs which "appear to be of questionable value." I like that phrasing. It's journalism's way of using a more polite way to say, "WTF is this?!"

I can believe that there are some positions which exist throughout any governmental system that are of questionable need, let alone value. But I think that I've always thought of it not so much as the job itself being of questionable value, rather than the person attempting to perform the job who is of definitive non-value. (I know that they didn't hire those 37 people at the DMV to just stand around and watch two other people do all of the work, yet that's always the scenario at every DMV across the country. It's like they're all practicing for when they get promoted to "Watching Paint Dry Supervisor" positions or something.) That is not the case in Britain. In Britain, it is most definitely the job.

Some of the local government positions that caught the attentive eyes of those at the Sunday Times were the likes of:
  • Trampoline coaches ("Jump!" There. I qualify.)


  • Skate park attendants ("Roll!" Qualified again! Man, I am good!)

  • Flower arrangers (For the government?)

  • A “befriending co-ordinator” (What? Like Facebook friending?)


  • A £15-an-hour yoga instructor. ("Sit! Hum!" Yep, qualified.)
In Newcastle upon Tyne (for those of you in the US, I couldn't tell you if that's a city-state thing or some sort of a, um, provincial-region thing....orrr....I dunno what it means. But they're bad there! That's all I know! Very, very bad!) they have employed a "breastfeeding peer support co-ordinator” whose purpose in life is to "give mothers advice on how to feed." Huh. You'd think they'd want to offer that sort of advice to the individual who is doing the eating. I know it doesn't sound all that complicated, but they're babies. They're new. They don't know. But if you're just the feedbag, how hard is that to sit there with a breast all lopping out and looking delicious (to the baby! Looking delicious to the baby! Geez.). Doesn't sound hard enough that there needs to be a job to help that sort of thing along.

Also employed (and at the rate of £23,470 per year) is a “composting supervisor” whose job it is "...to run a facility that turns garden waste into compost." Um, doesn't garden waste turn itself into compost?

But that doesn't even come close to comparing to the "part-time sword bearer and mace bearer." Their jobs are "...to clear the way for David Wood, the mayor, on ceremonial occasions." Wow. Your own personal mace bearer. I have got to get me one of those! How cool would that be? Pretty cool! (By the way, the mayor also gets not one, not two, not three, but four, "four chauffeur-butlers, collectively paid more than £60,000 a year." A butler would be pretty cool too. I'd definitely name mine Jeeves. Absolutely. What? They already have names when they come to slave work for you?! I did not get that memo. Or, at least, that's what I'm telling my new butler, Stan Jeeves.

"Tewkesbury council in Gloucestershire (See my explanation for Newcastle upon Tyne for what that means.) deemed it necessary to appoint a “falls prevention fitness adviser”, primarily to help elderly people." Fitness adviser? To help elderly people to not fall down? Here's a tip: Knock off the fitness! They're elderly! It says so right there! Unless they're Jack LaLane, no fitness! They're frail and weak.

Angus in Scotland has an undefined "bouncy castle attendant” for the low, low yearly salary of £13,000. (Those blow-up things for children's parties or drunken adult barbecues?) Falkirk has a part-time “toothbrush assistant” whose job entails "teaching nursery children how to clean their teeth." (OK, wait. That one might be legit. I think I had two of those when I was growing up. One of them I called 'Mom' and the other one I called 'Dad'. They worked for free. Thank God.) There is also a “cheerleading development officer”.
If I lived in Glasgow, it wouldn't be for long. Especially after I found out about the taxpayer funded “street mediator” "to deal with children hanging around on street corners" at the cost of £17,000-a-year. Even if I stuck around with that, I'd definitely be packing my bags or looking for ways to be deported after learning of the career opportunities available for one as a “chewing gum removal labourer."

You'll find that those of Windsor & Maidenhead in Berkshire "cannot do without the services of a “roller disco coach” every Saturday night." "Tendring council in north Essex has recruited a part-time worker to compare tea dances at a leisure centre." (Really? So, like 'Dancing With the Stars'? Only without 'Stars'? Do they have to shout like that Bruno guy? That'd be fun to watch. I could see the entertainment value in that one. Other than that, I couldn't find a shred of usefulness if I tried.) And in Redditch council in Worcestershire you will find that they have "...put a Punch and Judy performer on the payroll as part of a programme of summer activities." (Punch and Judy, according to Wikipedia, which I'll grant can be written to say anything that anyone bloody wants it to say, describes Punch as "The stereotypical view of Punch casts him as a deformed, child-murdering, wife-beating psychopath who commits appalling acts of violence and cruelty upon all those around him and escapes with impunity; this is greatly enjoyed by small children.")

While I was rather appalled at this sort of thing seeming to be widespread across Britain, I'm not from there and I don't live there. However, I would have hoped that there would be some sort of comparable outrage to that which I would definitely have if I did live there. As it is now, I'm not so much filled with rage as much as I am fear that these non-jobs will start appearing more frequently in the US as a result of "change". But when I read the article on the Times Online, I was surprised at the comments. First of all, there were only 10 comments. And of the measly 10, 7 of them were in favor of the 'non-jobs' and staunchly defended them. The other three comments were not necessarily against this sort of thing, though. (One person simply wrote "I know a chap who was a toilet inspector." I had no idea whether or not to classify that as 'for' or 'against' asinine jobs that waste taxpayer money.) Click on over to a story about Susan Boyle and find 48 comments.

::: sigh :::

A spokesman for the Local Government Association justified these positions by stating: 'From lollipop ladies to street cleaners and librarians, town halls employ people that provide more than 800 vital services that many local residents rely on to get through the day." Yeah, how we'd all make it through the day without our "lollipop ladies" is beyond me. Seriously, does anyone really wonder about the fiscal mess that all levels of government seem to be struggling with? Is anyone at all perplexed as to how things came to be as they are? It seems pretty obvious, yet it continues. Odd. Well, good luck with this one, Britain. You're going to need it.

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3 comments:

grannyann said...

Now I definitely need a Cheerleading Development Officer in my neighborhood. My granddaughter can take advantage of their expertise and I wouldn't have to drive her to cheer practice. Thanks for the infoooooooo

Ruth@VS said...

Thanks for the best wishes! Right back at you ... as you say, it's an easy way to get unemployment down. I didn't read this article online simply because I already know all about it and I didn't want to make myself even more angry! Yes, there is outrage at the number of non-jobs in existence, but watch them disappear in the next few years as we go bankrupt...

Mare said...

I'm hoping for an opening in the Underwater Basket Weaving Department. Perhaps something like Lead Weave Supervisor! If not, maybe I could be in charge of snorkels. Snorkel Inventory Control Director!