This morning I saw a headline suggesting that the Morrison government was proposing to make people wait longer for welfare. Before reading the article, I presumed that this was an admission of their economic failure. After all, haven’t we heard on multiple occasions that the best form of welfare is a job? Therefore, one would presume, that if people are having to wait longer for welfare, the government is suggesting that people will have to wait longer for a job.
However, I was wrong. Apparently, it was a proposal to increase the waiting time for people who had savings from a few weeks to six months. So much for if you have a go, you get a go. Ok, ok, I know that having no savings doesn’t necessarily mean that one isn’t “having a go”, but in the prosperity gospel according to Saint Scomo, surely punishing people who’ve saved runs contrary to one of the Commandments…
Anyway, it did get me thinking about the whole ridiculousness of the slogan “the best form of welfare is a job”. I know that I have previously suggested that one might as say the best form of medical treatment is not to get sick, but I suddenly realised exactly how vacuous the phrase actually is.
Ok, I’m a little slow…
For those equally slow, let’s take this a step at a time, and let’s oversimplify so that even National Party voters can follow.
Let’s imagine that it’s your child’s birthday and instead of giving him a present you tell him or her, “The best form of birthday is Christmas!’ When he or she asks where their present is, you reply that they’ll get their birthday present on Christmas.
“Isn’t that a Christmas present,” they ask.
“No,” you reply, “it’s the best form of birthday present because everyone gets one.”
Yes, that makes no sense, but it makes infinitely more sense than the Coalition’s attempt to use the ambiguity in the meaning of the word “welfare” in order to hide their lack of empathy… (While Scottie did reach a new level of absurd with “unfunded empathy”. While any increase needs to be funded, empathy is an emotion and, therefore, free. Would the phrases “unfunded patriotism” or “unfunded frustration” make any sense?)
When the Liberals suggest that the best form of welfare is a job, they are using the word “welfare” in a way that suggests that the health and happiness of someone unemployed would be better if they were to have a job, rather than “welfare” meaning financial support given to someone in need. While this is obvious enough, it’s only when we stop and use the word “welfare” in the question and replace the ambiguous word with something else that we get the full subtext.
“Will you be increasing welfare payments to the unemployed?”
“We believe that the best way of improving their situation would be to get them a job.”
“So how will you be getting them a job?”
“By telling them that if they have a go, they’ll get a go.”
“But what about the ones who still don’t get a job? Will you increase welfare payments to them?”
“No, because only a job will help them. Giving people financial support when they’re out of work is no substitute for that.”
“But what if they still don’t get a job?”
“Look, unemployment support is only meant to be a temporary thing, so if people don’t get a job, it’s their problem.”
If one were to apply this to other areas, it could make life a lot simpler. For example, next time someone comes asking for a charitable donation, instead of scrambling for your spare change, just say to them, “The best form of charity is for everyone to be a billionaire.”
Ok, it makes no sense, but they’ll probably just presume that you vote for the Coalition and are unlikely to ever want to help anyone in need.
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