Hockey and the unsophisticated argument

Joe Hockey, as I heard on the radio recently, is claiming that his recent ‘horror’ budget is fair because each Australian works one month a year to pay for welfare. Interestingly, he is not revealing how many weeks a person works to cover generous far-reaching tax concessions which significantly benefit the wealthy. Greg Jericho of The Guardian recently wrote that ‘billions of dollars in revenue … is forgone each year due to exemptions within the taxation system’.  He also relays that a recent IMF assessment of the failing Italian economy led to the IMF’s concern of the misuse by government of tax concessions that were vulnerable to lobbying. Jericho wrote that ‘the IMF working paper displayed that Australia actually has a greater amount of tax expenditures per GDP than Italy or many other advanced economies’. [1]

tax expenditure

Consequently, Hockey’s media grab reveals explicitly that his approach is a one-dimensional simplistic assessment, emotive and seeking to blame disadvantaged people for their situation. Like one friend recently made note, ‘rich people tell the middle class to blame the poor’.

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Economics impoverish the vulnerable in society

In Australia, economic impoverishment is what single parents, unemployed, carers of the elderly and disabled experience usually through no fault of their own. Support of family and friends often fall away when circumstances hit. So, without the support of a caring extended family, and the attitude conveyed in the meager support payments, there is the reinforcing of the demoralised valueless position that is a stigma for those who are already the most vulnerable in our society.

Surely, this is akin to the scourge of ostracism of the Middle Ages where the unlovely dwell impoverished on the outskirts of society. A society cannot consider itself sophisticated while this occurs especially in the midst of an increasingly rich country where it is only the rich who are getting richer.

 

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Unfounded Anxiety in the Coalition Government

More than any other quality, the Coalition is marked by a false anxiety. Hockey’s statement that we are at the end of the age of entitlement is a confusing one, particularly when this government is obviously acting contrary to this strategy. The only exception is when it is actually those in need of support who, in the eyes of Abbott, Hockey and their colleagues, must be fully to blame for their own misfortune. This is the same government who took away low and middle income superannuation initiatives to give even more to the superannuation support of the high income earners. This is the same government who wants to provide a not only a new welfare regime in the form of parental payment leave  (which is a good idea) but wants to make a gold plated version of it.

This is at a time once again when the overlooked are, you guessed, overlooked. The older workers who have worked all their lives and are now unable to acquire work mostly because they are over 45 years old, along with carers who have had to sacrifice their livelihoods, and often at the prime income generating portion of their lives, to care for those who are unable to care for themselves. This is at a time when single parents and their children are living below the poverty line.

 

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