This Halloween, the only monster we need to worry about is Scott Morrison. Monster Morrison with his hands symbolically around the necks of the poor, the vulnerable, the jobless and the worker; slowly choking away every last drop of personal agency. Morrison is a monster with a hunger to leave us in an apocalyptic world of collective depression, begging for mercy.
Personal Agency – an Unequal Power
Personal agency is something many people have never thought they would lose. Until now. That is, the individual power used to influence and act upon in our daily lives. This power and agency in a civilised society is expected to be common place and a power shared accessed by us all.
It is the power to access housing. The power to afford a variety of basic nutritious foods, access to suitable clothing for all climates. It is the power and autonomy to make personal decisions about purchases, who you engage with, where you would like to go and the freedom to decide and access an avenue to your chosen life’s path, without constraints imposed upon you by another.
Personal agency is an unequal power. Many individuals within minority groups and in many instances as a collective do not have equal access to personal agency. Racism, Able-ism, Sexism, Homophobia and Transphobia are all enabled in society, by those who believe these derisions are justified and create an enabling environment for them to thrive and create an unjust society for many.
Scott Morrison is legislating his way to enable an environment of an unfair and unjust society for many.
Monster Morrison Suffocating Personal Agency
Throughout various Parliaments, Australian Governments have attempted to legislate away this unequal power of personal agency. Previous Governments have, with the good intention attempted to stamp out an enabling society for inequality, discrimination and harassment at least on a macro level. However, inequality, discrimination and harassment exist as a daily occurrence at the micro level; in overt and covert forms and it goes unpunished.
The intent of previous Governments who legislated against inequality, was essentially to allow people to just breathe. To allow people to just to be who they are and to be accepted as a whole person as afforded to others who belong to the mainstream groups in society.
In stark contrast to Governments who have attempted to tackle inequality, Scott Morrison is leading a Government to use its power to suffocate the personal agency of the poor, the vulnerable, the jobless and the working class. He is doing this by legislating to enable inequality, discrimination, and harassment at the macro level. In turn, this creates an enabling environment for these derisions to occur.
The suffocating of personal agency has become so wide reaching it is almost a smothering of collective agency.
Robodebt: With no rhyme or reason or evidence produced for the claims of debts owed; Monster Morrison is smashing personal agency to smithereens so that people feel completely trapped and helpless and it is driving vulnerable people to suicide.
Cuts to aged care: Monster Morrison is not only destroying the personal agency of those who are still able to enact it; but aged and vulnerable people are suffering this loss of autonomy without dignity or compassion and are suffering cruelty every, single day.
Cashless Welfare – By taking away one of the very basics of personal agency – the choice to consume and where to consume, Monster Morrison is targeting the jobless (and possibly soon pensioners) and forcing them to carry a visual symbol to push them out of the ‘Normals’ and into the ‘Stigmatized’ group by default (to use Goffman’s social stigma).
Newstart: By refusing to raise Newstart above the poverty line, Monster Morrison is suffocating personal agency and autonomy, by forcing already vulnerable people, to literally starve. To not have the personal means to access a variety of basic, nutritious food. He is taking away their autonomy by forcing them to live in precarious and unsafe situations as these are the only types of accommodation they can access. He is not affording the jobless on Newstart the dignity to be able to afford personal hygiene items and in doing so is suffocating their personal power and self efficacy. His personal judgement that the jobless are passively welfare dependent, is a cause of unnecessary depression, anxiety, suicide and other associated harm.
Mutual Obligation: Through Monster Morrison’s ingrained belief that the jobless do not want to work; he passes a judgment that they require supervision by way of compulsory attendance in exchange for a safety net. Morrison destroys the personal agency of the jobless through breaching when his inadequate Newstart payment prevents a jobless person access to transport to attend a compliance interview. He destroys their autonomy, so they cannot be unwell, have a cold, or other illness, to take a day off, or they lose their payment.
Registered Organisations Ensuring Integrity Bill: The Unions are the major kill for Monster Morrison in this Halloween themed take on his destruction. If he can terminate the hero of this plot – the Unions, he can asphyxiate the personal agency, autonomy, dignity, personal value, personal power, locus of control and personal safety of every single worker in the country.
Monster Morrison’s Weapon of Choice – Paternalism
Like all things scary on Halloween, be they hockey masks, clowns in sewer drains, flesh eating dolls, or people dressing up as John Howard – Monster Morrison uses Paternalism like a sharp knife to stab and slash at the safety net that holds the most vulnerable in society.
A Government governing for all of society ensures there is a safety net. A safety net catches a person falling and that person is usually able to bounce back up and land on their feet. They can then walk off freely into a life they have the autonomy to build. This is not the safety net of the Morrison Government. The safety net built by Monster Morrison is woven together by paternalism.
In his book, New Paternalism, Supervisory approaches to poverty, Lawrence Mead describes Paternalism as: “The close supervision of the poor.” For this to emerge as an idea, a judgement that poor people do not have the capacity to be responsible with their own personal agency, personal power and autonomy, must have been made first. Morrison makes that judgement in spades.
Judgement is the basis of paternalism. The powerful inflicting paternalism onto others have a set of values or beliefs they believe are the preferred basic foundations of society. A judgement is formed about those who do not align with that set of values or belief. The powerful then set up measures of intervention and supervision for those people in society whom they deem do not measure up to their expectations. The separation of ‘Normals’ and ‘Stigmatised’ is now engaged.
Monster Morrison tries to justify his gigantic knife of Paternalism by wrapping it up in the Harm Principal. He argues that the poor must be supervised and controlled to prevent harm to themselves and others. However, Monster Morrison is the one inflicting all the harm.
A Nation in Collective Depression
Monster Morrison’s paternalistic and punitive interventions to control those who do not meet his values and belief standards, are now wide reaching.
There are so many jobless across all ages and genders, so many people in precarious and insecure work, so many young people unable to get a start in life by way of training or apprenticeships, so many workers underemployed, so many workers facing an increase in dangerous work conditions, so many vulnerable in poor quality care, so many disabled and frail persons, forced onto job search instead of pensions, so many homeless people, so many with letters of demands for money with no proof of debt raised and so many people income managed and unable to enable their basic right of personal power of purchase choice.
Monster Morrison’s destruction of personal agency is now impacting on so many individuals. This is now resulting in a marked increase of personal recounts of the negative effects such as anxiety and depression and heart wrenching personal recounts of parents or spouses losing children or loved ones to paternalism induced suicide.
Whether directly a victim of Morrison’s paternalism, or indirectly through emotional contagion supporting and listening to the voices of the vulnerable, we have entered an era of collective depression.
How do we Slay a Monster like Morrison?
Demand a serious safety net
Demand and insist on the narrative that people want to work
Demand financial penalties cease within Social Security
Demand work for the Dole and PATH cease immediately
Demand Private Job Active Agencies are abolished. Outcome Based Funding is abolished and replaced with block funding
Demand Newstart is lifted above the poverty line
Demand Job Creation. Demand Job Creation. Demand Job Creation. Demand Job Creation. Demand Job Creation. Demand Job Creation. Demand Job Creation.
Demand people with a disability, the sick and those with terminal illness are afforded the dignity of a pension
Demand the eradication of harsher punitive measures for areas with high Indigenous populations
Demand that Cashless Welfare Card ceases immediately and is voluntary only
Demand the funding of preventative programs
Demand RoboDebt is dismantled immediately
Demand Aged Care is fully funded and in abundance in the Public system
Demand the rights and autonomy of Unions in all workplaces
Finally, put the Liberals, Nationals and One Nation LAST. Always.
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