Wednesday, April 14, 2004

“Welfare State”?

Lately, the Oz seems to have been running another one of its campaigns-on-an-issue. This time, the theme is “Welfare State”. As would probably be expected, the CIS's Peter Saunders gets a pretty good run – his tired old invocation of the US, with its ultra-low minimum wage as having lead to much lower unemployment, is left unchallenged. (Of course, the US unemployment rate is currently higher than Australia’s).

As for the rest, the sentiments may be different, but the clutching on to false pieties is the same. Two men, one 47 and the other 49, are extensively vox-popped. “Bill”, the 47 y.o., who is on a disability pension (not the dole) hits tabloid paydirt with this one:

But if the young people and people like myself really tried and got off their behinds, you know, there is work out there for people to do.*

“Bill” has put his money where his mouth is – well, sort of – by working as a $6 per hour trolley-rustler at a local supermarket. What was that about Australia’s minimum wage being too high, Peter Saunders? Oh, that’s right – if someone’s mankey enough to be on the disability pension, but un-mankey enough to be pushing supermarket trolleys around, then it should be anything goes, eh? Yet another win-win situation for the boomer-ocracy – one less award-wage job, and a bit of extra smokes’n’booze money for “Bill” (who, because he is on the disability pension, and not the dole, gets to keep almost all his extra earnings).

And so he should, apparently according to Labor family services spokesman Wayne Swan, who claims as vilification the notion that recipients of the disability pension are there because it is cushier than, and pays better than the dole:

The growth in disability pension has been from mature-age women. They are people, like nurses, whose bodies have worn out. It is far from being the stereotypical lazy boozed-up male workers.

Oh really? So nursing has suddenly become a bone-crunching occupation over only the last decade or two? I’m not saying nurses don’t work bloody hard – they do, and I know this because my mum was one – but this fact doesn’t give Wayne Swan license to invent a whole new sub-pandemic of occupational disease.

The truth, of course, is that these days just about every baby boomer wants to retire early. And why wouldn’t they? With house price inflation having made their wages of recent years look distinctly ordinary in comparison, all it takes is a little co-payment from the government, courtesy of a sympathetic doctor (= the disability pension), and early retirement’s suddenly very do-able.

Don’t ask me why “the stereotypical lazy boozed-up male worker” isn’t supposed to be eligible for this. Chris Cole, 49 y.o., is on the dole (not the disability pension), and looks to be the hard-drinking sort. He also looks like a bloke who (i) wouldn’t be chirping ecstatically to a newspaper about getting paid $6 an hour, and (ii) doesn’t own his own place.

Which, in a nutshell, is the trouble with the dole. It catches only the most deserving – and then treats them as the least.

* Rebecca Di Girolamo “Pensioner Bill works it out, day by day” The Australian 14 April 2004 (no URL)

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?