By Joe Montero
When talking about the new cut to the JobSeeker payment, social services minister Anne Ruston said: “This is about getting the balance right,” when talking about the new cut to the JobSeeker payment. What balance? She isn’t clear about what she means.
It wouldn’t be far off the mark, to suggest that John Howard’s ‘life choice’ accusation still holds. It means that the unemployed are spongers on society.
It’s a thought bubble comes easily to those accustomed to someone pouring their Champaign and serving them their caviar. They had never had to face not knowing where your next meal is coming from. Hardship for them is deciding where to fly off to on their next holiday.
Australia’s government is made up of people like this, who only socialise with people like themselves. They and haven’t the faintest clue about the real world outside their narrow circle. They look down their noses at those they see as less than themselves. They see them as no more than a resource to exploit. Their view of the world is a bigoted class one.
They see no shame in pushing down those less fortunate than themselves and happily oversee the slashing of JobSeeker. They make it even worse, by imposing more dodgy schemes, designed to penalise. The evidence says that they do not provide jobs. They just help their mates make millions out of the network of private providers, brought in, to milk government funds.
To top it off, they are setting up hotline for people to call in and dob in the unemployed. This has gone so far that even employers are sounding out a warning, saying it will lead to abuses.
The government doesn’t care. It has returned to the strategy of blaming the unemployed. They are said to at fault for their situation. The implication is made that they deserve to be treated badly – all for their own good of course. This will teach them to go out and get a job, it is implied.
And they are setting up hotline for people to call in and dob in the unemployed. This has gone so far that even employers are critical and saying it will lead to abuses.
What is this but the modern version of the line attributed to Marie-Antoinette: “Let them eat cake?” The comment was made in response to a statement that the people have no bread, meaning food. It revealed a staggering lack of understanding, and the remoteness of her world from that of the French people.
The French Revolution sorted this out. She got her head cut off.
Our present gentry sees the world through a similar prism. Maybe they won’t get their heads cut off. But they do deserve to be brought to account in some way.
On the other side of the tracks, the reality of being out of work is going without the basics.
As Van Badham wrote in the Guardian on 24 February: “Would you believe that one woman on the dole could finally afford to see a dentist?! A dentist! Another planned to buy glasses so she could see! Someone went really off-piste and allowed herself a meal every single day, while a single mother with two kids was even able to stop living in her car”.
It would be a great thing to see, the Minister and her mates making do with $357.50 per week. This is how much they say is good enough for the unemployed.
This aside, the reality is that there are fewer jobs than those looking for them.
A growing portion of what were once full time and permanent jobs are giving way to casual part time ones. It means less take home pay. It means, a vast army of partially unemployed, trying to survive on little.
Australia has seen the rise of cheap labour. It goes a long way to explain why wages overall have remained stagnant in recent years. Important exceptions, of course, are the salaries of big company COE’s and politicians.
The purpose of cheap labour, is to pull down the income of all wage earners
The message put out is that this is necessary to fix the economy. Wrong. Decades of the same, has contributed to the under performing economy of today.
Something is now starting to dawn on a lot of people. We can’t rely on a bunch of overfed toffs to put things right. This means we must rely on ourselves, working together to build alternatives.
Doing this is far more than begging for a few crumbs. A movement of thousands upon thousands is needed. It would accept nothing less than a fair go. For those who work and contribute to building our society in needed.
This movement would insist that we must look after each other and take care of those who are worse off. This is how we must relate to those out of work and others marginalised in our community. We all have a right to live.
If the Social Services Minister and the others of the same mindset don’t like it, they are best getting out of the way.
By continuing to go down the path they are on, they may well be creating those who will make sure this happens.