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Abbott uses society’s vulnerable as means to an ideological end

It seems to me that it’s a core conservative tradition to use the most vulnerable people in society as a means to an ideological end. There are endless current examples of this: threats to pensions, restricted access to Newstart for unemployed youth, destruction of universal healthcare, proposed reduction of the minimum wage and a cap on that wage for the next ten years, all part of the Commission of Audit’s recommendations to the Abbott government prior to its first budget in a couple of weeks.

None of these measures will affect anyone as disastrously as they will affect the poor, and while middle class journalists on a good wage, some of whom are Abbott’s most vocal supporters, scream like stuck pigs about the flagged “debt levy” on incomes over $80,000, nobody much is pointing out the ideologically-based, systematic crippling of the lives of those who struggle hardest to keep poverty from their doors.

Conservatives seem to hold the ideological position that poverty is a moral failing, for which the individual is solely accountable, and if that individual has been incapable of taking care of her or himself and his or her family, they’ve no one to blame but themselves. If they do sink into a morass of underprivileged misery then they ought to be able to find ways to redeem themselves. If they don’t manage this feat, they obviously only deserve what little they get, and the conservative will do his or her best to take even that away.

This unexamined belief that the less financially fortunate are immoral and a drain on the prudent is, it seems, impossible to eradicate from the consciousness of the privileged and entitled, who lack any ability to comprehend context, and the myriad forces at work in society that affect the course of a life. This, coupled with the conservatives’ traditional love of a good clichéd stereotype, works to reinforce their sense of entitlement, and their contempt for anyone less blessed than are they.

The conservative disregard, some may even allege contempt, for those other than (lesser than) themselves, allows them to use rational agents as a means to an end, contradicting the Kantian position that to use others as a means, and not an end in themselves, is to flout the fundamental principle of morality. Perhaps this is nowhere as starkly obvious as in the current and previous governments’ treatment of asylum seekers. Both major political parties have, for many years now, used boat arrivals as a means to achieve political success, and not as rational agents deserving of consideration as ends in themselves. In this sense, the ALP finds itself on the same side as conservative politicians, something that should chill the heart of any ALP supporter.

There is no point in decrying the lack of humanity and compassion in conservative ideology. Both qualities are regarded as belonging to the bleeding hearts of the left, hindrances to freedom, obstacles to profit. So we find ourselves in the bizarre position of having a Human Rights Commissioner for Freedom, Tim Wilson, who recently claimed that McDonalds has “human rights to own property” and that “spending” is an expression of free speech.

It’s a dangerous situation when a Commissioner for Human Rights equates the ability to spend with the right to freedom of any kind, including speech.

It makes no sense to take any measures that prevent or discourage people from taking care of their health, such as co-payments for doctor visits for example. This will increase the pressure on accident and emergency departments, already stretched beyond their means, and result in people becoming chronically ill, at much greater expense to the taxpayer.

It makes no sense to continue to spend billions of dollars incarcerating a few thousand asylum seekers, for example, when there are many less expensive options such as allowing refugees to live in, work, and contribute to the community.

It makes no sense to waste billions on a paid parental leave system when the money could be much better invested in increased child care for parents who want to work, but find it difficult to access adequate care for their offspring. Good child care is also an investment in our future: children can benefit enormously from early education and socialisation, a child care centre doesn’t simply “mind” them, it educates them.

However, none of the above is of any consequence to a political party driven by ideology. Humans are, to such a party, a means to an ideological end, not an end in themselves. Obviously, it is much easier to treat the less financially blessed as a means to an end, and if you already believe poverty and disadvantage to be indicators of lack of morality and worth, why would you care anyway?

You may not agree with Kant’s categorical imperative, but there is something very dark about the Abbott government’s willingness to impose harsh circumstances on those already doing without in this wealthy country. It is easy, Mr Abbott, to make life more difficult for those without the power to protest. It is more of a challenge to work towards an equitable society based not on ideology, but common sense, and respect for everyone’s humanity.

Note: It’s with my tongue firmly in my cheek that I used the conservative image of Jesus.


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  1. donohue2

    Meanness abounds xxxxxxx

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. abbottania

    Yet another good editorial. (Btw I’m rural and I have said the following ad nausem around the traps).. Despite ALL the neo-liberal conservative arguments to the latter.. 1929 taught us one thing.. If people have no money no one buys then it all comes down. This endless, tiresome discussion of justifying welfare payments..; how many government taxpayer funded initiatives give at a MINIMUM (probably orders of magnitude) $ for $ investment. “Welfare recipients” at the very least, (usually more if you include all the relatives, spouses etc) spend every $ they get to survive ?. They have loved ones doing numerous slave labour cash jobs, mostly in hospitality, who would never benefit from Abbotania’s disgusting PPL, (should one spend such sums, it is a no-brainier it should be put in child care) that for the masses result in a firing without notice if it happens. They basically do anything to survive to feed their children; with various parents taking turns if possible, to cycle work commitments; attempting to make sure they can all collectively sharing child care amongst themselves. How can one argue that welfare recipients are bludgers ?. Welfare has the BIGGEST return on $s because they spend EVERY $ and MORE into the economy. In fact I would go as far to say that welfare is one of the best economic stimuli around for a government !. Idiots…….My wife reckons assassination but I explained only disgrace will neo-liberalists martyrs thank you !. Looks like they might end up with their own Costigan just can only hope. Deluded idiots that unfortunately are also extremely dangerous. If there’s going to be another “Kerr’s, Kerr” then let it be ABBOTT !. Wonder if Peter Cosgrove is up to it ?. (isn’t it ironic how much Fraser is disgusted with the “liberal” party).

  3. Keitha Granville

    fabulous piece – how I would love to have the eloquence with which you write. I feel each word and think it as if it were my own as I am certain most decent thinking caring people in this nation do. It is also heartening as well as truly ironic that Malcolm Fraser is disgusted with the party he once led. I like to live in hope, we must live in hope.

  4. Wayne Turner

    Abbott is a puppet for big business promoted by his buddy aka boss Rupert Murdoch.Abbott struggles to put two words together most times without ums,eh,um,ehs.Keating got him in one – In my words: “Abbott is a moron elected by morons that believed the lies spun by the MSM”. Clearly in Australia: “The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter”.

  5. mars08

    …unexamined belief that the less financially fortunate are immoral and a drain on the prudent is, it seems, impossible to eradicate from the consciousness of the privileged and entitled…

    To be fair, I see and hear this attitude from far too many people who are barely qualify as middle class.

  6. Gilly

    It is called the Christian Ethic and comes from the Prosperity Gospel. A gross misinterpretation of Biblical idea of blessings. The blessings are couched in terms of financial success and consumerism. It originates from when it was only the wealthy could read. The miss interpretation comes from using biblical writings to justify self righteousness. as an explanation for their own wealth or good fortune. The passive (for want of a better word) or real blessings of love, peace, humility etc. were less recognisable in a physical world.
    So many who call themselves Christians are in truth blinded to the truth of the real blessings by a resulting religious bigotry towards others less well off as they are not blessed and so must not be good or in Gods favour.

  7. CMMC

    Lower-middle class spite and stickybeaking are the new grounds of statesmanship.

  8. Kaye Lee

    Wonderful article thanks Jennifer.

    “There is no monopoly on becoming a millionaire,” writes Mrs Rinehart, who has built a $20 billion-plus mining empire since inheriting lucrative tenements from her father, Lang Hancock, in 1992. “If you’re jealous of those with more money, don’t just sit there and complain. Do something to make more money yourself – spend less time drinking or smoking and socialising, and more time working. Become one of those people who work hard, invest and build, and at the same time create employment and opportunities for others.”

    I’ll just race down and tell the homeless guy who lives in the park that he too can become a billionaire. He should be pleased. And the lady down the road who, with three kids of her own, took in three more kids whose mother is dying from cancer. If only she would use her entrepreneurial skills she should be able to start up a profitable mine somewhere.

  9. lance

    Where’s the millionaire minister for struggle street
    why isin’t he rallying the convoy of the incontinent with lier lier lier placards

  10. Lee

    “This unexamined belief that the less financially fortunate are immoral and a drain on the prudent is, it seems, impossible to eradicate from the consciousness of the privileged and entitled, who lack any ability to comprehend context, and the myriad forces at work in society that affect the course of a life. ”

    This goes hand in hand with an unexamined belief in a superior being. Logic is useless against these people. They operate on feelings instead of facts. They are God’s chosen and therefore more important than anyone else.

  11. Hotspringer

    All poor are obviously “undeserving poor” who chose not to inherit wealth. Instead of wasting money on the poor, the disabled, the sick, the old, the unemployed, let’s let the private sector build work houses and create employment.

  12. Pingback: My doctor was ill… | Neil's Commonplace Book

  13. Eileen Dixon

    Where is Maggie, surely as our supposedly “first lady” she should be using her motherly instincts to want to protect the needy, does she have no say? I really can’t imagine Tony listening to any woman come to think of it. But she is strangely absent these days, and when she does make an appearance can’t say she looks happy and contented, What is going on? They are not living together are they?

  14. Möbius Ecko

    Just noticed the “Image courtesy of” that accompanies this piece.

    Is that the last of his brains flying out of his ear or another brain fart emerging?

  15. Vince O'Grady

    Very well said,

    Just one small omission and that is the Disability support pension. Seems that no one really cares about this class of people as they are not well represented in the community, but are a large proportion of the community.

    They are an easy mark to attack.

    I have one more thing to say.

    Whilst the Gonski report into Education funding took over a year and produced its main report and several others commissioned by the enquiry, this document appears to have very little substance and was produced in about 4 months.

    Yet they report on 15 major areas of policy. (one of which is Gonski). It seems to me as if this is a document which has been rewritten several times by the Neo liberals and this was the opportunity to roll out this ideological based report from those Neo Liberal think tanks.

    The chair of the report was the chairman of a corporation who under his leadership massively increased debt and decreased shareholder wealth. hardly the person to be lecturing Australians.

    What experience does he have to enquire into sophisticated and complicated Policy issues? I would suggest NONE. And what they have done is a precipitous and badly put together grab bag of rubbish. Not suitable to hand in as a first year student. at University.


  16. Fed up

    That great depression took out small business, I believe harder and quicker than it did the worker. Many also made fortunes out of it. Onassis for one.

    It took spending on a world war, to finally bring it to an end.

    Yes, at the end of the day, money has to be spent. Better to do that at the beginning.

    After crisis we have had since the great war, it has taken longer and more money to get people back to work, Save the jobs in the beginning makes sense. Also save many businesses I believe.

  17. Murphy

    LNP are just smelly sock puppets, followers of coward bully tactics.

    Right wing IMF currency wars have been raging out in the open since Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya. Listen to the Paul Keating interviews and note reference to IMF rewarding violent regime change to the winning rebels in Indonesia. The recession we had to have was true. Had we not submitted to offshore hegemony interests, we’d have experienced at the very least, another Gough Whitlam regime change moment.

    Austerity is the IMF philosophy, hammer the poor. Abbott is just doing as he’s told, as do all good slaves to there masters.

  18. Paul Sims

    Heya Folks … more of the working class are on the verge of joining the really poor, because work is drying up. Already out here in WA, a fair number, across the trades and within professional ranks, are now unemployed, or facing it. They are the one’s carrying big family debt … so, no income, or appreciable benefit, will quickly turn them towards being poor. The days, when nearly every 5th person was making $100 k on the mines, or whereever, appears to be over. So … what is this government up to? Well, to start, I think their agenda will be to sub-divide, and trade off not making cuts in some areas affecting the above group, if everyone agrees to the Debt Levy, the cost of which will be imposed on anyone earning $80k or over.

  19. xiaoecho

    The Government deliberately held back the commission of audit until just before the budget to cause maximum distress and fear in the community, so that when the less severe budget is revealed the government can be seen as relatively benevolent.
    If this had happened in a personal relationship it would be recognised for what it is — MANIPULATIVE ABUSE

    Could there be a more blatant example of a government using the people of Australia for their own ends?

    We have a psychopathic government.

  20. sir pistofalot

    Slowly and Methodically this Clown of a PM aka One term Tony is doing a marvellous Job of Putting His Feet in His Mouth, Even His Liberal Party Colleagues are Making Noises, Every one should be contacting their Local LNP / NAT mp letting them Know we Did not Vote for a Lying Incompetent Government , One Term Tony Needs some Popularity Polls , FAT CHANCE LOSER

  21. The Doc

    If Gina Hancock Rhinehart’s father had been an ‘ordinary Aussie block’ and not been able to stake a claim for mineral deposits, she would never ever have become a millionaire let alone the billionaire she is, she began her wealth accumulation from a position of strength. If she had not had the mineral claims she would not have been able to resuscitate the family business either. Therefore, she cannot state that anyone can become a millionaire. Although, I must be honest, if it were revealed that Gina was now worth 1 or 2 million Dollars I would be so pleased – welcome to poverty Gina.

  22. Fed up

    Look at the date on that poll. End of March.

  23. Fed up

    That explains Abbott, out with stunts every day this week., The biggest one, was the Audit report. Yes, nothing but a stunt.

    When one looks at history, it has been about slogans and stunts from day one.

    The process has continued since taking over the government,.

    So much for the adult government, that would act in a moderate, methodical…………..manner

  24. rick5591

    There is only one thing that needs to be done about this abomination of a government, and that is its removal. If the Opposition has the numbers in the Senate it must veto the Supply Bill and force the government to an election. It was a good enough tactic for the conservatives in 1975, and its good enough now, with even more justification. The Australian people need to remember that governments only exist for the well-being of the people, not vice versa. The Budget is a full-frontal attack by the Corporate State on the people. So people take back your sovereign power and cease complying with this group of sociopaths.

  25. Brian

    Great blog.
    I’ve often wondered why they also have no compassion for the disabled and their carers, now it makes sense.

  26. Alan Smith

    Why does everyone keep saying the Rhinehart/Abbott/Murdoch government is driven by “ideology?” They are driven by a pragmatic drive for profits for their own in-group, nothing more. There is no more “ideology” in what they are doing than a shoplifter claiming he is striking back at society, or Jack the Ripper claiming he was doing God’s work by killing prostitutes.

    However, let’s remember that something like 52% of Australians voted for him last year. This either means that this percentage of the electorate are either of such low intelligence that they do whatever the Murdoch press order them, or that they are too stupid to understand the coalition’s platform… or that they felt that their aspirational aims might be served by taking money from conservation and education and flinging it at the rich (the well known, and proven illusion of the “trickle down” effect.”

    Sure, Abbott has broken a lot of promises, but really there are not too many surprises. Anyone who has lived through the Howard years knows exactly what the coalition’s platform is… screw the poor, neglect the environment, and featherbed the rich. The Mad Monk made it plain that this was his agenda, by phrases such as “Australia will be open for business” etc…

    Previous surveys as to the demographics of political views suggest that many of those that voted this way were members of the very groups he is now screwing… the aged, the lower-middle class “mortgage belt,” advocates of the traditional “nuclear family,” “battlers” close to retirement, etc… maybe it’s a case of getting the government they deserve.

    Perhaps they might now realise that a more careful scrutiny of exactly what they are voting for is in order next time they are asked to exercise their democratic rights.

  27. Stephen Tardrew

    A wave of sadness comes over me having worked for years with the marginalized. Those who are qualified, yet put up with poor wages and conditions to help deliver services to those in need, feel completely invalidated and demoralized by this state of affairs. Ever seen a homeless kid try to survive on the youth allowance. These people are beyond the pale. More of the same old victim blame. I have seen so much unnecessary suffering only to be told that their trauma is going to be increased in the name of saving the wealthy from any burden to participate in democratic fairness. It is beyond belief that the PPL is going to be introduced while all those living on Newstart are living in real poverty.

    Not only do we learn empathy; reciprocity we also have mirror neurons and there is now evidence that a moral sense is present between the ages of three and 10 months suggesting that morality is in effect innate. In effect Darwin comes to the rescue challenging those who see natural selection as purely competitive advantage and survival of the fittest. As Darwin pointed out the most successful species are those which cooperate.

    “Time and again, the moral sense of right (preferring helping puppets) and wrong (abjuring hurting puppets) emerges in people between three and 10 months of age, far too early to attribute to learning and culture. Morality, Bloom concludes, “entails certain feelings and motivations, such as a desire to help others in need, compassion for those in pain, anger toward the cruel, and guilt and pride about our own shameful and kind actions,”

    One must then assume that those that lack compassion have, in some sense, learned to ignore their primal drives through sociological conditioning thus turning off fundamental drives towards moral concern for those who suffer. It is telling that those who espouse religion would turn to such cold and heartless treatment of others. In effect it would seem that dogma plays against our innate capacity for compassion. Time and again I propose that those who think they know are just plain ignorant for there is always more to learn and these experiments completely change our perspective on moral development. Morality therefore has inevitable adaptive value. If we think about it, it seem common sense that we should feel care and tenderness towards others and our environment otherwise we will destroy the biosphere and eventually take our species to extinction.

    Morality is not a human construct it is an innate attribute that we must learn to amplify if we are to survive as a species. What does this say about neo-Darwinist, neoconservative self-interest and greed? I am sure you can work that out.

  28. Lee

    “The Government deliberately held back the commission of audit until just before the budget to cause maximum distress and fear in the community, so that when the less severe budget is revealed the government can be seen as relatively benevolent.
    If this had happened in a personal relationship it would be recognised for what it is — MANIPULATIVE ABUSE”

    I agree – in a personal situation this is considered a toxic relationship. I’ve ended relationships where people treated me like this.

  29. cartoonmick

    They seem to be all over the place with their decisions, saying they have mandates to do various things, changing their minds, drumming up fear with the audit report, all with an underlying theme of take from the poor to benefit the rich, and shrouded in secrecy to try and cover their tracks.
    Mind you, the previous government weren’t much better.

    The solution would be to have a government (and opposition) full of Tony Windors, one of the most decent pollie we’ve seen in decades.

    Anyway, back to the current situation. Part of the problem is depicted in this cartoon . . . . . .

    Editorial / Political

  30. Mark

    This is the formula ,make health more expensive, this will push many poor people to die earlier and obviously not make it to the answer government spends less money .Simple as that But I found it very offensive when last week on the ABC daytime news , a thread came on the screen this is not the way to talk to hard working people whom have labored for 50 years plus and have paid taxes, and their weary aged bodies reflect the frail phase of life they are entering. Hockey and the rest making these statements should be ashamed of themselves. But do they care? They wont be waiting to turn 70 to collect their pensions .

  31. Don S

    “It is more of a challenge to work towards an equitable society based not on ideology, but common sense, and respect for everyone’s humanity.”

    You missunderstand Tony. He has found through life the basic principle that it is easier to destroy than build and has continued to use this as a means of getting to where he is.

  32. Dan Rowden

    I generally appreciated this piece, but I have to say I wish we on the Left would cease this silly habit of using the term “ideology” pejoratively. It’s an absurd misuse of the term.

  33. mars08

    Paul Sims:

    …Already out here in WA, a fair number, across the trades and within professional ranks, are now unemployed, or facing it. They are the one’s carrying big family debt…

    Paul, you make that sound like it’s a BAD thing. Don’t you understand that they are being “liberated” to seek a better life?????

  34. Stephen Tardrew

    Admitted Dan however non philosophers tend to go for general usage. What would you suggest I generally use dogma. Be interested to know.

  35. Royce Arriso

    Hi Dan. Could you elaborate on how ‘ideology’ is used inappropriately? Can’t speak for anybody else, but I picture the ideology of today’s hard right as a metaphoric rule book of uncompromising rigidity, not a million miles from those used by the old Stalinists right-wingers so loathe. Extremes meet! Would welcome any correction. Cheers, RA.

  36. Dan Rowden


    We’ve fallen into a habit of using the word “ideology” as though it automatically and inherently means something bad. Stating that some organisation’s actions are ideologically based and driven, as though that were, in itself a bad thing, is utterly stupid. It indicates the speaker has no idea what the word really means.

    The problem is the content and nature of a given ideology, not that an ideology exists and is enacted, per se.

    1. a system of ideas and ideals, especially one which forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy.

    There is no naturally bad connotation to the word, but, as with this article, it is being used pejoratively, which makes the speaker look significantly ignorant. Frankly, things would be better for the Left if Labor got its own ideology sorted out, such that it presents as a coherent and meaningful base structure from which socio-economic policy may be derived. It’s Labor’s drift into an ideological nebulae that has so many Labor traditionalists worried about the future. I’m one of them and I’m fairly freaked out.

    I mean, if policy isn’t arising from a well conceived, argued and believed-in ideology, from whence it is arising? Polls? Political whimsy? Lobbyists? Vested interests of various kinds?

    Anyway, I hope that clarified what I’m talking about.


    “Dogma” is an interesting choice of word and may well be applicable in certain contexts, but ultimately I think all we need do is respect the meaning of words and stop using them wrongly. Having an ideology and working from it is, to me, unequivocally a good thing. As I said before it’s the conceptual and value content of an ideology that we can express concerns about. Berating anyone just for being ideological is daft.

  37. little guy

    my wife comes from a very wealthy family,i am a staunch socialist,blue collar worker.At family gatherings the bile and bigotry that comes from her father,brothers and uncles is truly amazing.They have no regard for anyone but themselves,the women in the family have no voice and just serve food and clean up after these clowns,As you could imagine i am not often there much, australia will suffer greatly if this pathetic excuse for a government serves out two terms, labour needs a strong voice,shorten is not it.

  38. Stephen Tardrew

    Thanks Dan for a well considered answer.

  39. Fed up

    Program now on ABC 1 on religion and our PM

  40. Fed up

    I do not see any problem using the word ideology. I do believe this government is acting out of their ideology and personal prejudice, What they keep well hidden, is what their ideology is.

    Yes, ideology can be based on good or bad beliefs.

    When ones ideology, gets in the way of good and prudent governance, that becomes a worry.

    I like the word dogma, when talking about this mob. Dogma to me has a religious overtone to it.

  41. Veloaficionado

    There’s something uncanvassed in this piece. It’s the reason that the idiot right (my term) seem to hate the poor, marginalised and “not-them” enough to form active plans to unwind decades of social progress, mostly achieved by the left of politics, but also by the enlightened, usually old-guard, of the right, or rare philanthropists therein.

    It’s fear.

    As mentioned above, it’s the fear of the lower-middle class ‘aspirant’ voters of becoming like the hoi polloi they see around them – not having enough money to afford the status symbols of the debased ‘ideology’ of success that is constantly preached to them: material possessions and rarified experiences, or facsimiles of wealth, in abundance, and hence, fulfilment as a human being.

    As Kim Day (?) said in ‘Kath and Kim’ : “I want to be effluent!”

    You’re already there, dear.

    By attempting to destroy and debase real attempts to advance general well being, by handing public goods and services to rich mates to ‘administer’ on our behalf, they’re attempting to reinforce some diseased Victorian gesturing at a ‘patrician’ control of welfare, with any corruption and inefficiency simply the price of doing business. Consultancy fees, elevated executive salaries and so forth.

    Of course, they don’t really believe this: it’s just a slightly less blatant looting of the public treasury that third world dictators routinely engage in, but with a mild sop to middle class lefties to sugar it over.

    All this, it’s an overcompensation for the envisaged shame of not having enough, of being dependent on someone’s charity, of never trusting one’s neighbor to help when needed, and hence, the need for as much surplus wealth as possible so that you and yours never have a danger of going without. As such, it’s a direct contradiction of the true message of Christ that so many of them pretend to believe in.

    J.K. Galbraith: “The modern conservative in engaged in one of man’s oldest pursuits: the search for a superior moral justification of selfishness”

    It’s a toxic ideology that not enough know enough about, enough to rebut: and people like a Tim Wilson and Andrew Bolt (he’s got to be a joke) actively try to suppress the ugly underneath of. Calling money and it’s deployment ‘free speech’ is a bonehead Tea Party trick that will, with a slightly more educated electorate, see them and their poisonous rhetoric undone.

  42. strobedriver

    Reblogged this on Geo-Strategic Orbit and commented:

    Whilst this is a very good and articulate article there is an historical issue with poverty that might be of interest to the readers’ of this article. Prior to the Great Depression (GD) of 1929 poverty was thought, at least by the elite in the USA and elsewhere in the West, to be somehow of ‘God’s work’ inflicted on those that were essentially ‘lesser beings,’ or had some sort of moral ineptness, or in simpler terms they were morally bankrupt and/or stupid. Then along comes the GD and many, many rich people who were of inherently ‘good character’ became poor, so therefore those that were in poverty couldn’t all then be labelled to be of a morally questionable nature, could they? If rich people become poor then it must be something else (perhaps the economy) that has thrust these otherwise decent people into the morass of poverty. Hence poverty became redefined as having causal issues rather than moral ones. Of course the political backlash to that was consecutive American presidents investing in getting the poor out off their situation/s : the New Deal being one such program.

    It seems that it will take something like this to change PM Abbott’s opinion of the poor (which I would argue he gained from John Howard’s political and religious ideals) as staunch Conservatives such as Abbott are unwilling to admit to the failures of the capitalist system until an economic catastrophe strikes and their political base shows sign of deep strain/s ( a good example of a political base fracturing and there being a change of policy would be Work Choices for Howard). It is however, abundantly clear that Abbott sees the poor in Australia as the ‘problem’ and not the economy that has placed them in their dire straits.

  43. Ron Cashmore

    In response to Labors Asylum policy,pure and simple they were wedged by the conservatives fear campaign and when they wanted to implement the so called Malaysian solution they were stymied by the unholy alliance of the Greens and Cons as they were with the original carbon trading scheme.

  44. pv

    I think we need to be careful as not to put neoliberal and conservative into the same sentence. Whilst they may appear the same or similar, in fact they are not. Neoliberal ideology places values on individual freedoms and responsibility while the conservative ideology has less value on individual freedom and places more value on authority and status. The government has a greater role with conservatives as opposed to neoliberalsim.

  45. Guy

    I don’t know how you can claim Abbott doesn’t care for the poor, vulnerable, or needy. He’s trying to make more of them and keep them that way,

  46. Matters Not

    Yes Dan Rowden it is a considered response. And congratulations for that, but the response is not without its ‘difficulties’ So let’s start a ‘conversation’. You wrote:

    It indicates the speaker has no idea what the word really means

    Frankly, neither do I, in much the same way as I have no idea of what words such as ‘gay’, ‘fairy’, ‘decimate’, ‘haircut’, ‘base’, or if you like words such as ‘hockey’ or abbott really ‘mean’.

    Even Wiki is confused when it comes to ‘ideology’. (lol):

    David W. Minar describes six different ways in which the word “ideology” has been used:
    1.As a collection of certain ideas with certain kinds of content, usually normative;
    2.As the form or internal logical structure that ideas have within a set;
    3.By the role in which ideas play in human-social interaction;
    4.By the role that ideas play in the structure of an organization;
    5.As meaning, whose purpose is persuasion; and
    6.As the locus of social interaction, possibly

    Perhaps it might be useful to look at ‘words’. Are you suggesting that humans are simply the receivers of ‘meanings’ that are somehow transmitted by words? If so, then why is it that the same words apparently transmit different meanings to different people? Or could we have the ‘cart before the horse’?

    I may be in error, but you seem to suggest that words have ‘meanings’, that are somewhat set in stone. To me that’s problematic. Let me explain. As I understand it ‘words’ are ‘human constructs’. ‘Words’ were created by humans to communicate ideas. ‘Words’ didn’t create themselves. They are a ‘product’ of the human endeavour, and in themselves have no life of their own.

    The notion that ‘words’ ‘evolve’ or take on new ‘meanings’ is fanciful They have no life of their own. They are not independent beings. Rather they are the playthings of humans.

    Simply, ‘words’ are created by humans to convey ideas and then other humans take these ‘constructs’ and apply them to other notions.

    To suggest that ‘ideology’ remains somewhat sacrosanct has its problems. (BTW, I’m not sure what meaning you give to sacrosanct, mainly because the meaning given over time has changed).

  47. Dan Rowden

    Matters Not,

    The word/term “ideology” carries the same primary usage/meaning/definition in all major dictionaries. I’m not much interested in some academic’s desire to make it more complex than it is.

    As for received meaning – no such thing exists in any context whatever. I’m also aware that language evolves over time and thus accepted usage. I am, however, a steadfast opponent of linguistic evolution that results from constant misuse. There’s so much of that happening nowadays it’s scary in its implications.

    If you wish to live in a world where the functionality of language is completely nebulous and where no-one need give a rats about what words conventionally intend – and use words with an established meaning in a different way, then more power to you. I do not. I have no idea how effective communication could be possible in the world you seem to be advocating.

    Let’s all burn our dictionaries because they apparently don’t have any use. Yes, I know I’m probably extrapolating from your point but I’m doing it to further my own.

  48. Sabrinna Valisce

    Yes. It is all too easy for a person who is not physically disabled, mentally disabled, has no psycholigical illness, has not been in a natural disaster, has not had serious long-term illness, has not had serious long-term injury, has not lost their family and family support, has not lost all they’ve worked for in terms of things, money & / or career to never even think of these things let alone understand them!

  49. randalstella

    “If you wish to live in a world where the functionality of language is completely nebulous and where no-one need give a rats about what words conventionally intend – and use words with an established meaning in a different way, then more power to you. I do not. I have no idea how effective communication could be possible in the world you seem to be advocating.”

    Who advocated that, or anything like it?
    ‘Ideology’ has as checkered a history as ‘dogma’, or ‘propaganda’. The development of adverse ascription is an historical process, not a failure to check with “the” dictionary. Better dictionaries try to record periods of common use of words. No dictionary should omit a contemporary use of ‘ideological’ as unrealistic or inflexible ‘dogma’ – much as I would object to being called ‘ideological’ by the current crop of shallow ‘a-political’ knuckleheads and liars.

    Please see, for one example, Owen Barfield: History in English Words. It would be available for purchase via the usual internet suppliers. And if you have a hard head, it is probably available to be read off these infernal screens which now pass for windows to the universe. What a torture to render wonder.
    Giving reference to a book does not mean I agree with everything in it. By now dogma is surely for dangerous dickheads. That is, I cannot condone it: please see ‘condone’, to see how adamant I am on this point. On important things with social implication beyond the immediately personal, the notion of forgiving (and forgetting) now carries the strong suspicion of having to allow incorrigibility to reassert itself all the more, if it wields power – Abbott succeeding Howard, and the Catholic extreme Right now running Government.
    Rudd, for example, acted as if Howard’s LNP could be treated as an anomaly to the true Aussie spirit: please see ‘anomaly’. You’ll need more time for ‘spirit’.
    I can well understand if you are bad humoured about all this,or ill-disposed. But reaction is not consideration.

  50. M. Lefebvre

    I agree with a lot in the article but in the first nine months of life a human being does not need childcare or education it needs a parent/one primary fellow human who loves him/her and is there for them the majority of the time. There are studies that show that not having this leads to bigger economic costs. The Abbott government is thus using financial incentives to encourage this. This is appropriate for low income parents but for high income the better way would be to educate about the value (and costs of not) and support people such that they can find a way to feel confident and joyful parenting.
    It is a poor society that can’t afford for their new citizens to have this. Or is it a sign of the depths to which materialism has brought us. Or the distance some people have moved from there own humanity and instincts that they think other people would be better carers for their babies.

  51. Dan Rowden


    I can only really return to my point that there is nothing inherently negative or pejorative in the meaning of the word “ideology”. Historical misuse or false attribution of the meaning doesn’t change that for me.

    Was the Whitlam Government ideological or not? That question is, of course, rhetorical, but apparently it’s ideological reality is now a bad thing, even though the word – ITSELF – contains no negative connotations. The term is essentially value judgement neutral until it contains content that may be judged from a particular political, moral or social perspective.

    I would be utterly happy and content to be called an ideologue because if it weren’t true I wonder what sort of empty-headed dolt I’d be. The fact is everything that the Rudd/Gillard Government tried to achieve with respect to education, health and general social reform was – gasp – based in ideology. The best of any Labor Government is always derived from that very thing and the worst when it’s absent.

  52. Fed up

    Has anyone said, the word “ideology” carries either positive or negative concept. Nothing wrong with the word.

    What I am saying it is Abbott’s ideology and prejudices that drive him. I have no idea what that ideology is, or how extreme.

    The little I a seeing, scares the daylights out of me. It is the not knowing, the fact it is hidden that concerns me.

    The decisions, that are being made, do not appear to have anything to do with the budget or economy.

    The hard deciosons are NOT being made.

  53. Sabrinna Valisce

    Only 9 months? I would have said, the first year minimum, preferably the first four years. Surely, 9 months is too young for a baby to be without either parent around, and in care, for 1/3 of the time.

  54. Matters Not

    not much interested in some academic’s

    A singular possessive! Can you state who you believe that academic to be?

    I am, however, a steadfast opponent of linguistic evolution that results from constant misuse.

    Welcome to the club, because so am I. And I agree it’s scary in its implications.

    As for:

    have no idea how effective communication could be possible in the world you seem to be advocating

    Dan, I’m not advocating anything, just describing a ‘reality’ as I see it. It’s happening. And there’s so sign it’s abating. In many ways I’m on your side.

    While I agree that ‘words’ have a commonly accepted ‘meaning’ in a particular historical location, I also understand that people give different meanings to words over time.

    Take ‘decimate’ as an example. Even the ABC and its ‘reporters’ seem to have no understanding that ‘decimate’ originally applied to the killing of one in ten of defeated Roman legions. Nowadays, it’s randomly used to ‘describe’ almost anything that involves ‘death’. Sometimes the ‘word’ used under-describes the ‘devastation’ while at others it’s ‘over the top’.


  55. randalstella

    Once ‘positive’, these terms have been turned adverse.
    The adverse sense tends to take over as the common sense. Resisting that takeover does not mean refusing to acknowledge the newer, pejorative sense.
    I use ‘dogmatic’ as ‘inflexible and not open to argument’. I would not use ‘ideological’ as in the title of the above article because of its reactionary connotations. It is a matter of discernment specific to the word – a sense of what is fair and accurate ascription, a bit beyond what words can convey.
    You cannot tell whether ‘ideology’ will end up like ‘propaganda’ – but it is on the way.

    For all the notions wrapped around a Modern use of ‘evolution’ – unfortunately peddled by the later Darwin – history is not ‘fair’ and not necessarily intelligent. ‘Progress’ is a very mixed bag. The history of words is no different. No term gains some sacred immunity from history.

    There is an intensely uneducated journalistic culture.So important are they that they have very limited reading;and just jabber among themselves to confirm misconceptions and misattributions. Journalism is entrenched in banalities, as if shorthand to truth. It makes it easier to lie. Populism is deception.
    Why do they use ‘demise’ for any ending – of a contract, a career, an industry? It was once colourful reference for a significant finish; a metaphor from death. Now it is compulsive, for being shorthand; because what the journalist says or writes must always be important. It is stupidity made as if compulsory to intelligence. It is the industrialised mind, the one that can stomach working for Murdoch. I agree with Matters Not and Dan Rowden, discernment is a moral thing. This orientation is made to look strange and stuck-up by populism’s swirl of identifiers.

    Quite aptly, LNP politicians still use ‘fulsome’ as if it means ‘genuinely generous’ – although they have been specifically and directly advised. It shows a mind-set. Education is their enemy; and common parlance shaped as their weapon..
    Football commentators refer to ‘laconic’ players, as meaning ‘casually skilled’. Try telling them otherwise. These knuckleheads are generally more Right-wing then Abbott. They confine their significant terms to those hacked into submission – and know not their absurdity.

    ‘Conservative’ is entrenched as if especially fitting for destroyers, warmongers.

    Modern popular culture is so obtuse and untrustworthy as to use indiscriminate labels to honour itself as uniformly smarter and more moral than The Past, The partial truth reigns, by vernacular. In this finalisation of historical awareness, populism enters through the next breath.
    I recommend the Viennese satirist-journalist Karl Kraus, whose vocation it was to send up every slogan. He will annoy you.

  56. Andy

    I think Abbott has a conservative side (e.g. royal titles, monarchism, idea of family) but I think what was referred to as “conservative” in this article was actually Neo-liberal.

  57. Terry Charlton

    Rhino’s Rabbot

  58. Fed up

    Love this mob. They want, no demand the lowest paid workforce available. At the same time, they expect the same people to survive on nothing. Do not support, making life more equitable though the taxation and welfare system.

    Looking at that budget, there has been a great amount of spending power removed from the economy. All at a level, where one would expect most to spend their full income.

    We see that poor paid workers have now had their Sunday shift allowances decreased.

  59. Joe Banks

    May I respectfully suggest that everybody put semantics to one side and concentrate on the discussion about how to bring down the LNP. So long as everybody has an understanding of what the writer is getting at, who gives a shit what words they use.

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