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Dialogue:______read aloud in pairs

A: Do you think that the class system still exists in Britain... I mean, is there an

upper, middle and working class?

 

B: Well, I think the terminology is a bit out of date. You see, many top managers

regard themselves as workers. That said, there's definitely a group of people who

are disadvantaged and you'll find them living on welfare benefits such as income

support.

 

A: Do they have jobs?

 

B: Yes, many of them do, but their employers don't pay them a living wage. It's a

scandal, because many pizza parlours, pubs and burger bars are really being

subsidized by the Government.

 

A: How come?

 

B: Because nobody would be able to accept jobs in these places if they didn't

have their incomes topped up by the state.

 

A: What would happen then if state benefits were cut completely?

 

B: You'd get an underclass of people who would be forced to turn to crime in

order to support themselves and their families. Such a group probably already exists.

There's probably a good argument for raising income support.

 

A: But surely, if you raise benefits too high, people wouldn't bother to work.

Once the level of the benefit is higher than their take-home pay, why should they do a

job?

 

B: Precisely, but the answer isn't to remove benefits from those who really

need them. The solution is to compel all employers to pay a minimum wage. Then you

will increase the incentive to work and the state wouldn't be subsidizing businesses

which wouldn't otherwise be viable.

 

A: You mean these enterprises couldn't exist were it not for exploitation of the

workers.

 

B: Well, some of them could probably survive, but their profits would certainly

be lower. A lot would depend on the level at which the minimum wage is set.

 

A: Of course, there's nothing to prevent burger bars from moving to other parts

of the world where labour is cheaper.

 

B: But, who cares if they do? As long as there's a market for fast food in Britain,

someone is going to set up shop. There may even be an increase in co-operatives

where employees and customers have a share in the profits. Do we really need big

conglomerates running our economy, when really "small is beautiful"?