Zero-hours contracts, criminality and incoherence

I’d like to correct a bit of clumsy language I perpetrated this morning on the train, kept deliberately terse so I could post it to both Facebook and Twitter. Here’s what I wrote:

I think I’d rather be a criminal than take on a zero-hour contract, or spend life in a temp job. More self-respect.¬†http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/06/david-cameron-britain-dockers-line-up-back

I re-read it just now, and it looked like I’d meant that I think people on zero-hours contracts or temporary contracts had no self-respect. That definitely wasn’t what I meant. I was very upset by what I’d read in this article, and wanted to convey the idea that I think I’d feel happier as a criminal than as someone working on one of these contracts because at least a criminal is accorded the recognition of having locks used, and guards employed against him. Zero-hour contracts appear to be the modern equivalent of serfdom, and so, are strong messages by society that the signatory of such a contract is regarded as next to worthless.

This is a horrifying notion – the idea that a fellow citizen can be denied the rights of civilization: health care, a pension, self-sufficiency – simply because he or she is not lucky enough to be a member of the plutocracy or to have skills sufficiently rare in this overpopulated time that there is a significant demand for them.