Monthly Archives: April 2012

They Sure Hate…

They Hate the Unemployed

Here’s an interesting experiment. A WA Greens Senator is attempting to live a week on $35/day.

WA Greens Senator Rachel Siewert is trying to live on $35 a day in a bid to highlight that the meagre dole was causing jobseekers to be sucked into a cycle of poverty.
Rachel Siewert has $12 in her wallet for the rest of the week.
She went shopping on the weekend and bought some basic food items and toilet paper totalling $53, but if she runs out of toothpaste, she will just have to go without.

This week Ms Siewert is living off the average weekly Newstart Allowance payment in a bid to highlight what she says is a system which makes it even more difficult for job seekers to get out of unemployment.

The $244 she started with on Saturday has quickly been taken up by the essentials.
While in reality, she will remain in her four-bedroom, two-bathroom house in the northern suburbs, $125 has been deducted from her budget to pay for the one bedroom unit in Bentley or Armadale, which would be all she could afford on Newstart.

Thankfully for her, the amount has been subsidised down from $185 due to the rent assistance that she would be eligible for as a jobseeker.

The rest of it makes for some painful reading on penny-pinching. Clearly this experiment is trying to highlight this figure of $35 per day.

According to a survey of 500 Australians conducted for the Australia Institute, the amount, when averaged, is $454 a week – about $65 a day.

When 500 people in a separate survey were asked how much unemployed Australians should get from Centrelink they settled on $329 a week, or $47 a day.

But the less-impressive truth is the Newstart allowance peaks at $243 a week – $34.70 a day.

”Most Australians have little idea what unemployed Australians actually get,” the executive director of the Australia Institute, Richard Denniss, said when releasing the survey results. ”They know what their own cost of living is and they think unemployed Australians should get something approaching it, but they would be shocked to find out what a Newstart recipient actually got.”

The $86 gap between Newstart itself and what Australians believe it should be exceeds the $50 increase proposed by a coalition of business, welfare and union organisations led by the Australian Council of Social Service. ACOSS says the increase would cost $1.2 billion a year.

Talk about disconnect. The first paragraph is interesting. People would budget for themselves $18per day more than they would for an abstract stranger. The second paragraph shows that the real figure the government is comfortable with is $12.30 meaner than what the average person dishes out to a stranger. ACOSS then steps up and tells the government it should do something about this gap but it too is $5-6 short of what people think is required.

There are 379 comments under that article, and it is surprising how many people are scornful of the unemployed for being unemployed, as if the unemployed are unemployed by principle. Clearly conservatives hate people they do not know, with as much hatred they can muster.

Think about all this for a moment. What the hell is it to you really if there were 10, 1000, or 10,000 dole bludgers out there, eking their lives out on 35 or 47 or 65 dollars a day? Especially if you are well off? What could it matter?

Now, conservative people? They want them shamed in public, made to work the most humiliating jobs. Why? One can only presume it is because it gives them some kind of sadistic satisfaction. And there’s a mainstream party out there who think this sort of thing is great. The really disappointing part is that the ALP ain’t doing much better than the sadistic psychos.

They Hate The Young

Amanda Vanstone had this opinion piece last month which was so odious I didn’t bother to read it at the time, but seeing that we’re talking about this kind of thing today, I thought I’d have a read and bring it up.

I have no quibble with the investment we make in higher education or in students. I just think that, to be fair, they should have to start paying it back sooner.
The full adult pension, including supplement, is about $19,000 a year. The minimum wage is just under $30,000. So why do we say to students, who get a massive loan at no real interest rate, that they do not have to pay back a cent until they are earning just under $45,000?

Now, if I cast my mind not too far, it is obvious to me that Amanda Vanstone is of the generation that got the Free Education from Gough Whitlam’s Labor government and didn’t have to pay *any* HECS, unlike the Gen-Xers. She writes a whole bunch of personal anecdotes about how some dude driving buggies in Rome taught her a life lesson but seriously, how can a person who didn’t have to suffer the HECS repayments ask this?

The comparison to a pensioner is a spurious apples and oranges argument because pensioners tend to already own stuff, while graduates do not, but it is better for the economy if they spent their money on those things, rather than be taxed as if they did.

The time I was repaying my HECS really sucked. I wad fortunate in that I was repaying it with a job I was trained to do, but it still hurt not to have that bit of money. What it taught me was how difficult it is accept one’s education as having a concrete dollar value. But be that as it may, it incenses me that somebody who didn’t have that experience thinks that these back of the envelope calculations are sufficient justification to make these ambit, loaded political claims.
It’s not just in Australia that the old conservatives are trying to scare off the young from education through taxes. here’s an article in The Economist.

AS I begin this post, the president is across town buttering up University of Iowa students with promises to keep federal student-loan interest rates low. The College Cost Reduction and Access Act, a measure from 2007 that, among other things, lowered the interest rate on federal student loans from 6.8% to 3.4%, is set to expire in July. Messrs Obama and Romney both have come out in favour of supporting an extension of the subsidy for student-loan debtors.

This sort of giveaway may be good politics, but it’s terrible policy. Extending the programme just one year would cost $6 billion. The measure is promoted as a way of making college more affordable, but it will mainly benefit those well out of school, many of whom are relatively well-to-do, mid-career professionals, such as your indebted correspondent. There is a movement afoot to get the government to forgive student-loan debt entirely, and when compared to this, the cost of the scheme to keep student-loan interest rates low looks quite small. Stilll, it’s bad policy for many of the same reasons it would be bad policy to forgive student loans.

Look, maybe they’re right and it’s bad policy, but here’s the thing. Wall Street and the big end of town are getting 0.5% interest charges from the Fed. Why is it even remotely fair that students continue to get slugged with even 3.4%, let alone 6.8% in the current economic climate? What makes the students magically immune from the GFC fallout? It’s easily arguable the big end of town are far more capable of dealing with tough times through the high salaries and established assets and savings compared to university students – and they’re getting 0.5% interest rates!

You wonder about the brains of these conservatives.

They Hate Foreigners

Here’s the latest on Asylum seekers.Ever since the ‘Malaysian Solution’ melted down thanks to the High Court, it’s been weathering the storm of bad press and spin ever since. Even so, if the Liberal Party had any heart, they’d negotiate so that the government can do its proposed Malaysian Solution in exchange for being able to do it Nauru Solution when (I’m pointedly not going to bother saying ‘if’) they get in power.

But no. Tony Abbott has put his kaibosh on any understanding over the legislation and keeps carping that Julia Gillard’s government can’t stop the boats. Well, no, she can’t because Tony, you won’t let her. It gets sillier than that with this:

The Coalition spokesman for border protection, Michael Keenan, welcomed the government’s response but said the potential for a repeat of the tragedy remained until people smuggling was stopped.

Good God. Have they no shame? No embarrassment? I know one needs a thick skin to be a politician, but this is breath-taking.

Oh, look, there’s another boat!

I’m wracking my brains as to when exactly the Liberal Party started playing dirty pool in divisive race politics. Malcolm Fraser as hated as he was in his heyday didn’t stoop to such depth and has since departed the party he led. I don’t remember a single moment where Andrew Peacock or John Hewson saying anything that seemed unseemly; it really did start with John Howard and somehow he’s entrenched it into the Liberal Party culture that it’s okay to play subtle dog-whistle race-baiting. There are days I look at Gladys Berejiklian and I think there’s hope yet for the Liberals and their acceptance of ethnicity, but most days I feel like the Liberal Party has allowed itself into the company of xenophobes.

In case you think I’m just talking out of my rear end, here’s an article you should look at.

Mr Abbott wants to link in the minds of former Howard battlers the asylum seeker issue with a growing population, tapping into community anxiety about urban congestion and water scarcity.

He’ll run these two arguments in parallel, but invite voters to make their own connection with unauthorised boat arrivals and a growing population.

Shadow Attorney-General George Brandis falsely claimed this week that there has always been bipartisan support for immigration, air-brushing from history John Howard’s shameful effort of 1988 to harvest votes by claiming there was too much Asian immigration.

Senator Brandis went on to say that the Coalition wanted a return to the immigration levels achieved when it was last in power, as if this would lead a lower population figure by 2050 than 35 million.  Yet in the last year of the Howard government, net overseas migration was 232,800 – much higher than the 180,000 per annum assumption that Treasury used in the Intergenerational report in arriving at a projected population of 35 million by 2050.

It’s chicken or the egg whether the race-baiting politics of John Howard works because the electorate is racist already, or whether the electorate allows itself to give into their inner xenophobe because there are politicians that enable them. Still, the stench of Xenophobia hasn’t gone away from modern conservatism, and you wonder how in their god’s name they pretend they can have any moral high ground in any of these kinds of policy areas.

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