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It’s time to stop blaming the poor

By The Say NO Seven

OPED: Originally part of a letter to the Editor, Australian Financial Review.

Everyone seems to talk about the cost of Centrelink payments. Very few consider the cost of not having them or the price of having them forcibly funnelled into the coffers of a select few corporates and their vested interests. It’s time to end that ignorance.

There are over 5 million Australians receiving government payments of one kind or another and we think it would be interesting and refreshing to see just one media outlet in Australia do the simple maths on the benefit of welfare recipients’ spending in the wider community and its relationship to the stability of local markets and the national economy at large.

Where does the money go? To whom? What does it do once it gets there?

Outside of the social cohesion and stability paying income support payments provide us all, what is the actual fiscal return on the 160 billion dollar welfare spend to the Australian public at large? Donuts and a kinetic massage for any reporter willing to take these questions on!

We would also like to see the costings and forcecasts, were this multi billion dollar spending suddenly curtailed or reduced through welfare austerity measures.

We would like to know what the dollar cost to the average working person and to Australia’s fiscal bottom line of the added fees and charges would be, were this bulk of local capital suddenly funnelled through a single corporation, like the one currently earmarked by the LNP to manage it all for us, at their profit?

We are also compelled to ask, just where is the ‘great fiscal burden and loss’ to the national economy the politicians are lamenting about and Murdoch media are constantly harping on about? What burden? What cost? Where is the strain or burden these dillitants say is created or being borne by the Australian public?

Isn’t it the case that the national welfare budget is not just supporting those families receiving welfare payments directly – rather that they are also supporting the recipients’ landlords, local farmers, shopping centres, remedial agencies, doctors, clinics, day care centres, social welfare workers, mental health nurses and services, car park operators, small businesses and so, actually supporting the lives of regular working people all across Australia to whom this money is ultimately being given, and given back to?

When viewed in this perspective, social security [welfare] recipients are in fact just third-party distributors of the welfare budget, they don’t keep payments, they spend them.

And unlike tax frauds and tax avoiding corporations, people receiving benefits actually pay their taxes. They contribute to the tax pool every day. A majority of recipients are also in part time or casualised work and so contribute to the economy via income taxes as well.

Yet all we see in media and LNP government rhetoric, is more one-eyed marginalisation, assaulting people on welfare payments as social burdens, without recognising the job they do, the role they play or the purpose they innately have in balancing Australia’s luxuries with its necessities. These people are not including them in the larger picture of Australian economy or viewing them outside the undignified view of ‘dependants’ upon it.

In media this week, the phrase ‘long term welfare dependency’ is being used as a slogan and slur yet again, when actual longer term dependency upon income support is simply an inevitable and unavoidable reality for many people with disabilities, for the aged or very young or anyone unemployable or whose life circumstances simply do not allow a scope for a life in paid employment. How is it their fault? How is this “damaging’ us when they remain, suppliers of the cash income we depend on too?

Our stay-at-home child and disability carers as well, are saving Australia a living fortune in costs that could and would otherwise be imposed upon taxpayers directly without benefit. So how much more do you expect of them? What is it exactly that you expect from recipients in general? Flagellating verbal gratitude stands on every street corner? Recipients bowing to you for the simple privilege of not living in a cardboard box and contributing to your social stability, welfare and social security?

It is also fact, that the majority of our national welfare spending budget heads to the aged and disabled. Often the most experienced and disciplined in need and in spending habits.

If we are to rein in their payments or place them onto CDC and enforce payments 30% below the poverty line, what are we going to do next? Do we make soylent green of them all in order to buy into the LNP ruse and lie that we will all somehow save a few dollars by doing so?

Surely it will cost us more as a nation financially morally and socially to allow living conditions of our most needy to deteriorate any further than they already have or worse; cost us more than money can pay in our abandonment of our principles and our people. Abject poverty is expensive!

Like most, we are very much in support of fraud reduction and accountability of all services – however this is true only for us, when and where the same is balanced with equal and active focus and recognition of the need to target the issues of corporate welfare, ministerial entitlements rorting and wider tax avoidance scams our lax tax law permit. Issues that, when it comes to the real dollars and cents count, cost this country far more in capital loss and moral fortitude than any welfare recipient or welfare program ever could.

What’s good for one section of the community is good for all … or its not good..at all.

The simple fact is income support recipients are fellow and equal human beings, and a such, have an intrinsic value in and worth to this country – every single person from every single walk of life; every different need set. For people on welfare payments, this is also true as it relates to the wider community and taxation. We pay taxes on everything and we are basically just the middle men in the distribution of a portion of the collective taxes. We make daily decisions about spending of those taxes we receive in benefits, decisions that the government cannot or would not trust itself to address – and ought not to! In the main, we do that exceedingly well, despite the hype.

It is clear after months and years of intentional targeting and media and government bullying, that the LNP simply want to end that role and purpose Centrelink recipients have held for so long. They want to remove our value and usefulness to society as anonymous distributors, and as their own reports conclude will occur under forced income management, they want to create dependants, a generation of people incapable of self regulation, decision making and self management.

They wish to alter or to end the policy of our fair and relatively anonymous tax distribution system, and instead seek to control it and the cash economy in Australia and are willing to do or say anything to anyone standing in their way.

They are using the media and the manipulation of people’s prejudices against welfare recipients as a mask and scapegoat to do it.

Don’t let them.

Time to wake up.

So informed, you are responsible.

This article was originally published on The Say No Seven Facebook page.


15 comments

  1. Jane Boswell

    Finally someone telling the truth, we are not a burden, we do keep the economy going, because we do spend our money and we do pay tax especially GST on everything. The other thing that everyone forgets is that all of us on so called welfare contribute our time back as volunteers, without us volunteers, there would not be an economy in Australia

  2. Clean livin

    In fact, where does any money go. The trail back is interesting. Consumer/Client- Retailer-Supplier-Manufacturer-Primary Industry-Suppliers to Primary Industry, and around we go…., AND TAXED AT EVERY LEVEL,!!

    Tax being one of the many that Governments can think up.

    Income tax, business tax, GST, to name but a very few. Add State taxes and local council rates, etc

    What’s left goes into the bank for a rainy day, or overseas to investors.

    Bottom line? The Government gets most of what it prints back thru tax, and what’s left is personally saved in the banks, or invested!

    The rich get richer, and the poor ……..

  3. Clean livin

    In fact, where does any money go. The trail back is interesting. Consumer/Client- Retailer-Supplier-Manufacturer-Primary Industry-Suppliers to Primary Industry, and around we go…., AND TAXED AT EVERY LEVEL,!!

    Tax being one of the many that Governments can think up.

    Income tax, business tax, GST, to name but a very few. Add State taxes and local council rates, etc

    What’s left goes into the bank for a rainy day, or overseas to investors.

    Bottom line? The Government gets most of what it prints back they taxes, and what’s left is personally saved in the banks, or invested!

  4. Keitha Granville

    When is someone going to DO something about inequality? There was no mention of making corporations pay the tax they owe in the budget last night. Plenty about the crumbs being scattered to low and middle income earners but nothing about those not paying anything !! I pay my tax every hour I am earning, I pay on the pathetic 1% interest on my few hundred dollars squirrelled away in a bank, I pay on every basket of groceries I buy. WHY do some people get to pay nothing ? WHEN is someone going to do something to fix that ?

  5. Matters Not

    This Budget is all about effecting a significant change to inequality. Here’s an example:

    Average total earnings for employees is running at about $62,000 a year. Mr Morrison is promising such people a tax cut of $540 next financial year – although it won’t reach their pockets until August 2019.

    Allowing for generous wages growth of 3.25 per cent a year, that $62,000 would turn into $77,600 in seven years’ time when the final leg of Mr Morrison’s radical plan kicks in. By 2024-25, that person on average total earnings would still only be getting next year’s $540 cut.

    By comparison, someone on $200,000 in 2024-25 would receive a $7225 tax cut.

    Yes it’s all about making significant changes to inequality. The evidence is clear. The numbers are there for all to see. Indeed, as to be expected, the current inequality will be significantly magnified. That’s what happens when you head towards a flatter tax system

    http://johnmenadue.com/michael-pascoe-budget-2018-the-middle-australia-tax-cuts-are-a-con/

  6. etnorb

    So much for any “thing” in this bloody typical liberal budget for the unemployed, Pensioners or persons on low incomes! But, of course, this inept, lying mob of obscenely over-paid, so-called “liberal” politicians (?), cannot be seen to be assisting anyone except ALL their obscenely wealthy industrialists, mining barons, pastoralists, business owners etc. Otherwise all these poor “unfortunates” may have to forgo their next Rolls Royce or overseas holiday etc. Bloody liberals, bugger the needy just help out their mates! Cannot wait for Labor to win back office at the next election. I know that even they they not always been seen to do the right or proper things, but at least they have the underprivileged, Pensioners etc in their sights & always offer more to help them than the liberals have ever done.

  7. New England Cocky

    “Long term welfare dependency” surely refers to the about $150 BILLION PER YEAR government gifts free, gratis, and for nothing paid out to the undeserving wealthy and corporates in the form of tax rebates, tax concessions, investment allowances and other tax minimising procedures. Now the Turdball LNP misgovernment wants to increase these gifts with further tax cuts to the banking industry that is demonstrating in the Royal Commission that they have defrauded customers as a matter of standard operating procedure.

    Perhaps it is time to “Tax the Rich”.

    Every $1 spent in an urban regional economy increase the general turnover in the town by about $7. Obviously the same principle applies to welfare payments within Australia.

  8. OPPOSE THE MAJOR PARTIES

    Turnbull’s $200bill Class War. The combined value of Turnbull’s implemented and planned corporate tax cuts ($68bill) and personal tax cuts for the rich over 10 yrs ($140 bill) is $208 billion. This effectively means the rich and corporations will not be contributing to the pay down of national debt from which they have had the greatest benefit and biggest slice and only the poor and low income earners will be paying down the debt.That is what this is all about. Letting the poor and low income earners pay off the debt and giving the rich and corporations an exemption from doing so. However you may wish define this, it is most certainly a CLASS WAR.

  9. Jaquix

    You only have to look at the terrible time people had during the Great Depression, in the 1920s and 1930s. America particularly hard hit because they had an almost nonexistent level of benefits and so people literally starved. If they had all been given a modest wage, it would have all been over so much quicker.
    Australia got through the GFC in good shape, the only developed country in the world to do so. That was because Rudd government were very brave and instead of reining in spending as the Libs would certainly have done, they spent on school halls and other things, and that made all the difference.

  10. Miriam English

    The conservatives and the mainstream media attack the poor for a few reasons.

    Firstly, because they can. Bullies gain warped pleasure in attacking those who can’t fight back.

    Secondly, as a diversion. Look over there at those stinking dole bludgers! Don’t look at our mates the giant corporations who skim obscene amounts of money from our economy. Don’t look at us LNP politicians and media barons filling our pockets with all the public money we can put our grubby little hands on.

    Thirdly, the most perverted ideology ever to mess with the human mind: puritanism. It makes suffering through work a good and noble thing, idleness the devil’s playground, and pleasure wicked temptation. It inverts the natural incentives of a healthy mind, and excuses, even encourages, cruelty. It works really well to keep the gullible and the poor working in factories, but was never really applied to the wealthy, perhaps because wealth was partly seen as the reward for work. Of course, wealth really came mostly from inheritance, good luck, or swindles, but that wasn’t discussed in polite company. And if you were poor then you were doubly culpable. You “obviously” didn’t work hard enough, and if you were unable to gain paid work then you were even more lazy, thus undeserving, unworthy. Puritans define us by our work, not by our humanity. By this accounting, someone who doesn’t work is less than nothing; helping them is wrong.

    None of this connects with reality. The economy is deliberately run so that the level of unemployment deters workers from asking for wage rises or better conditions. Most of the poor people I’ve met work many times harder than the average wealthy people I’ve known. A friend told me not long ago, “I never knew what busy was until I retired.” Many of the unemployed people I know work harder than the employed people I’ve met. I am much more busy now than I ever was when I was employed.

    And as is pointed out in the article, the money from the unemployed and pensioners goes straight back into wider society, in effect redistributing taxes back to the working people. It stops crime and sickness and bloody revolution from disturbing our society. It keeps the wealthy safe.

    But, with the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) we will soon see massive, unplanned unemployment. We need to stop these peurile attacks on the poor and work on ways to make our society safe. That’s something this collection of dithering numbskulls in government seem utterly unable to do. As with climate change they prefer to deny such problems exist. We’d better hope the Labor party is better equipped to plan for the future. It’s rushing toward us at an unnerving rate.

  11. PK1765

    They have forgotten the purpose of social security… it isn’t to aid the poor BUT to act as an automatic economic stablizer… that is to maintain aggregate demand when there is a downturn in the private sector to stop the spiral downwards of job loss and Business closures… to avoid another Great Depression. It is to aid workers and Businesses!!

    To explain what an economic stablizer is I quote the following extract from attached link from Dr Ellis Winningham (who also worked with the Federal Reserve in the US).

    People believe that welfare, food stamps and unemployment insurance are programs designed to help the poor and unfortunate. They are not.

    That belief is the product of politicians redefining these programs with the intent to create an issue where no issue really exists. In other words, they purposefully mislead the public for political gain – votes. The macroeconomic intent of welfare, food stamps and unemployment insurance is not to help the less fortunate, but rather, to help the entire economy avoid a major collapse in aggregate demand.

    Hence, welfare, food stamps and unemployment insurance are automatic stabilizers for the economy and most nations employ automatic stabilizers.

    An automatic stabilizer provides a floor through which aggregate demand cannot fall. If we look back to the great depression era, we can understand this point. Should the economy stall or experience a downturn, without an automatic stabilizer there is nothing preventing a large collapse in consumer spending. Spending can go into a free fall and when it does, unemployment can rise dramatically. Welfare, food stamp and unemployment insurance payments provide a means to maintain some level of demand preventing that free fall. Let us consider everyone’s favorite program that they either love to hate or love: food stamps.

    When recipients of food stamps spend these dollars on food, those dollars in turn pay labor. Labor in turn goes out and spends their paycheck buying clothing, food, gasoline, toothpaste and a myriad of goods and services. Let us now assume that food stamps do not exist. Without food stamps, grocery stores would experience a severe contraction in spending and so, lay off workers to stop the fall of income.

    When those workers are laid off they lose their income and so, stop buying clothing, gasoline, toothpaste and a myriad of goods and services. In turn, clothing stores, gas stations and other businesses experience a severe contraction in spending and so, lay off workers to stop the fall of income.

    Like a virus, the spending contraction spreads across the economy, unemployment rises dramatically and a recession or depression occurs. Food stamps obstruct that condition. In conjunction with welfare and unemployment claims, the economy has some stability. Thus, we aren’t subsidizing moochers. Such a ridiculous statement is the product of political nonsense. We are, in fact, preventing those not receiving food stamp, welfare and unemployment assistance from becoming unemployed. In other words, the “moochers” are ensuring that you, the responsible hard worker has a better chance of not ending up in unemployment lines. So, we understand (hopefully) the stabilizer part, but what about the “automatic” part?

    When the economy stalls, job creation halts. Some businesses begin to shed jobs at this point. In other words, lay off workers. These workers then apply for food stamp, welfare and unemployment assistance. So, more people are now receiving assistance from these programs. That increase in recipients and resulting payments causes the federal deficit to automatically increase.

    So then, we understand the concept of automatic stabilizers and we also understand that it is dangerous to intentionally cut food stamps, welfare and unemployment insurance, especially in a downturn. By cutting these programs in, say, a recession, you will only deepen the recession.

    https://www.facebook.com/ellis.winningham/posts/1101878273204353

  12. OPPOSE THE MAJOR PARTIES

    Turnball’s $220 bill class war.

    The post above needs revising. It says the following:

    “Turnbull’s $200 bill Class War. The combined value of Turnbull’s implemented and planned corporate tax cuts ($68bill) and personal tax cuts for the rich over 10 yrs ($140 bill) is $208 billion. This effectively means the rich and corporations will not be contributing to the pay down of national debt from which they have had the greatest benefit and biggest slice and only the poor and low income earners will be paying down the debt.That is what this is all about. Letting the poor and low income earners pay off the debt and giving the rich and corporations an exemption from doing so. However you may wish define this, it is most certainly a CLASS WAR.”

    Turdball admitted in Fed Parliament today that the total value of the corporate tax cuts would now be $80 billion over ten years not $68 bill as he previous has stated and as referred to above.This means the total outlay or revenue loss for the planned 2nd and 3 rd stages of the personal tax cuts, which will mostly benefit the rich and where even millionaires get a tax cut of over $7,500, and of the corporate tax cuts, is $220 bill not $208 bill as stated above.

  13. johno

    Thanks folks. I saw a doco on a pomi bloke who researched and wrote a book re the income/ happiness parallel. He came up with the figure of $70,000. Below this happiness declines and above a person won’t be any happier. Interestingly I heard a similar senario in the US and the figure was $80,000 for men and $100,000 for women. Of course there will be many exceptions to this rule but it gives an insight into money and income. Why do people want to earn more and more? Power and/or ego because it can’t be happiness.
    My conclusion from this is to tax the rich to the hilt and increase newstart and lowest basic wage etc. We need a level playing field for everyone.

  14. Miriam English

    PK1765 excellent comment! However, I don’t think those in the LNP have forgotten this information; I think it would be complete news to them. Despite their much-vaunted expensive “education” I fear they actually learned very little. They merely received introduction to a network of “in-crowd” people. They certainly give very little indication of being knowledgeable, but even worse, they are strongly, irrationally puritanical. We have little hope of a fair or progressive society while regressive puritans are in power.

    johno, very good point. Poverty can make people unhappy, but beyond a certain, surprisingly low threshold, more money doesn’t make a normal person any more happy. The need for money is a sad result of the way our society is arranged. Unfortunately some people absorb the lies from advertisers of superficial symbols of status and become fixated upon them. Those poor fools become rats trapped forever on a treadmill of their own conditioning. They think money makes them happier when it actually makes them increasingly dissatisfied with everything else. Money is like a drug: the more you have, the more you believe you need.

    Everybody thinks they are just barely getting by.

    Those of us who live below the Australian poverty level feel like we’re just making ends meet, even though we have levels of wealth and luxury that would make 90% of the people on Earth weep for joy.

    Those who have good incomes and can afford a few so-called “luxury goods” still feel like they are scratching to survive and struggling to pay the bills, and feel angry at the mega-wealthy.

    Those who are among the very wealthy in Australia still feel like they are only just staying afloat — their property rates, their kids’ public school costs, business costs, payments on their mansion, and holiday homes, and the kids’ cars and the mandatory overseas holidays all amount to scary numbers, and they feel like the money is slipping between their fingers… if only they could be as wealthy as [insert name here], then they’d be able to relax. In truth it’s all illusion; they never can.

    My understanding of this brings me great peace and happiness. Freed from the rat-race I concentrate of things that really matter to me: learning, creating, helping people, and building relationships with friends and family. Money is just an annoying tool that I have very little use for, or need of, beyond maintaining my position on the slowest treadmill.

  15. Pingback: Conversation bewteen our SNSAdmin and Mr Rick Wilson MP.

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