In totally unsurprising news, the Australian government has open up a new front in the war against the poor. For those new to this game, this is not a war on poverty in the sense the government is trying to increase the affluence of everybody to get rid of poverty. This is the government actually targeting the poor and disadvantaged and trying to destroy them.
The latest salvo has taken the form of saying that people on welfare shouldn’t get money, they should get a card that controls what they can and can’t spend their welfare payments on. And when I say the government is waging this war, what they’ve actually done is roll out their proxy to present the case for what they want to do and what and see what the reaction is.
In this case their proxy was one of Australia’s biggest mining magnates, Twiggy Forest. Given that he had always seemed reasonable compared to the other billionaires telling the government what to do, this is more than a literally disheartening to hear him say “Listen povo, here’s how we’re going to humiliate you for your own good.”
And the Orwellian nature of his speech was creepy as well. When someone can repeatedly refer to taking away a disadvantaged person’s right to make their own decisions as “freedom” I wonder just how much freedom they want to impose on how much of the population. While this is being presented as Twiggy’s idea, not the government’s, Abbott and pals are barely bothering to conceal this lie. Abbott is standing right there next to Forrest as he spouts this plans and if that doesn’t tell you clearly enough this is where the Libs want to take the country, Abbott says lines like:
“…some of these challenges go beyond what government currently plans, but again, why shouldn’t we be challenged to think about what is currently doable?” And even more directly: “We are working urgently on this visionary report… to ensure as much of it as we can is implemented as quickly as we can.”
Hockey chimes in with: “The report is bold but it needs to win over community support and I fully expect that over the coming weeks and months”
In case you can’t decipher that barely concealed code, they’re saying “Hell yes we want to do this. We’re just scared it’s more electoral poison (on top of how we’ve screwed the pooch so far) so we’re having someone else throw it out there to give us plausible deniability. But if you morons lap it up it will be law before any of you can wake up to how evil it is.”
The danger here is it can sound so seductively reasonable when you’re not on the receiving end of it. When you tell hard working Australians is that all that’s happening is we’re stopping dole bludgers from blowing their welfare payments (which your tax dollars paid for) on gambling, ciggies and booze. Honestly, there are cases where it’s probably a good idea. If a family dependent on welfare is getting nothing because an irresponsible parent is blowing the money then a plan that stops this is good. But arbitrarily extending it to everyone is plain evil.
For those who still believe the dole bludger/job snob lie, statistics show that the unemployed outnumber job vacancies by 5 or 10 to 1 depending on your age, qualifications and where you live. So on any given day, it is literally impossible for 80-90% of the unemployed to get a job. That is the overwhelming reason people are unemployed, not that they are lazy. When you take someone who’s already in a tough situation and dish out punishment after punishment, what you are saying is “You are worthless. This is happening to you because you deserve it. You don’t deserve to survive because people who have always had what they wanted don’t like you and don’t care about you.”
I think I have worked out what the end game of all of this is. The one thing this government hasn’t taken the chainsaw to that they desperately want to is industrial relations. Abbott in particular wants to crush unions and give as many businesses as possible the right to take away any and all benefits from workers and sack people whenever they want. It seems clear that they are in the process of setting up unemployment to being close to a death sentence. Couple that with a world where a boss can make you unemployed on a whim and you have no protection, they can see their utopia where the ruling elite have everything they want and the grotty underclass will be grateful for any crumb their betters deign to allow them.