All the way with USAs – Should the unemployed pay their own dole?

Peter Saunders wants unemployed people to pay their own dole. In a recent paper for the Centre for Independent Studies, he suggests that unemployment allowances could be replaced with Unemployment Savings Accounts (USAs). Under this system workers would be expected to save enough to pay their own way when they were between jobs.

The idea of replacing unemployment insurance schemes with individual savings accounts has been floated by a number of prominent economists including Martin Feldstein, J Michael Orszag and Dennis Snower. Free market think tanks like North Carolina’s John Locke Foundation have also promoted the idea. Many supporters have looked to Chile, a country which is taking the individual savings account model from theory into practice.

Under most of the proposals, workers would make regular payments into a special unemployment account. If they become unemployed they could draw on their savings instead of claiming a welfare or unemployment insurance payment from the government. The accounts would be managed by non-government fund managers and deposits would earn interest. On retirement a worker would be able to withdraw their savings along with any interest earned. Because the unemployed would be spending their own money, there would be an incentive to find a job as quickly as possible.

While the idea sounds simple enough, there are a range of different models. It’s not clear which one Saunders favours (he plans to outline his proposal in a forthcoming paper). Part of the reason Saunders supports USAs may be because they would reduce the redistribution of income from the steadily employed to the intermittently employed. Australia’s non-contributory unemployment allowance system is more tightly targeted on the least well-off than the unemployment insurance systems of Europe and North America so the effects on redistribution are likely to be more significant. According to a research paper by the Department of Family and Community Services "Higher income groups in Australia get less from the welfare state than in nearly any other OECD economy".

Introducing USAs would transform the politics of poverty in Australia. It would create a far clearer division between individuals and families who can support themselves through the market and those who need to rely on government and charity. Along with American political scientist Lawrence Mead, Saunders argues that:

The key social division today is that between a self-reliant ‘middle mass’ and a state-dependent, marginalised ‘underclass.’

If that isn’t true today Saunders hopes he can make it true tomorrow. Along with other Centre for Independent Studies researchers, he hopes to make Australia a less egalitarian, more market oriented society. The new politics of poverty is one way of achieving that. Saunders would drive a wedge between low-paid but potentially self-reliant workers and those who rely most heavily on government help with income support, health services and housing. In Saunders’ preferred system lower-paid workers will receive less help from the better off — less help with health care, less help with education for their children and less help with family payments. The big winners will be high income earners who will save more in tax than they lose in benefits.

The problem

According to Saunders, Australia’s welfare state has four undesirable effects:

  • Loss of control – Governments confiscate our earnings only to give them back to us later in cash or services. Taxpayers lose control over how and when their money is spent. Their incomes are churned through bureaucracies which make their consumption choices for them.
  • Waste – Churning leads to waste. A significant proportion of taxes are lost in administration. Every new government program creates a new team of bureaucrats who spend much of their time (and your money) going to meetings, writing memos to each other, briefing politicians, and responding to parliamentary committees.
  • Erosion of personal responsibility – Personal responsibility is like a muscle, if you don’t exercise it, it wastes away. By protecting individuals from the consequences of their own actions, governments undermine personal responsibility. The more protection they provide, the less responsible people become.
  • Redistribution – The Australian welfare state transfers resources from people whose market position is strong to those whose position is weak. The health system takes money from people who are healthy and spends it on those who are sick and disabled while the income support system takes money from more educated and skilled workers and gives it to less educated and skilled workers who are more prone to repeated spells of unemployment.

Egalitarians won’t agree that redistribution is undesirable. But the first three or Saunders’ concerns ought to worry everyone. In most spheres of life consumers make better choices than politicians and bureaucrats. Waste undermines the state’s ability to improve the welfare of the worst off. And erosion of personal responsibility can mean lower levels of well-being for everyone.

A solution – USAs

Unemployment Savings Accounts would replace unemployment allowances with individual savings accounts. For employees the system might work something like this:

  • Each pay-day your employer would make a deduction from your wages and deposit it into your unemployment savings account.
  • You would have a choice of funds. Like super funds they would compete with each other for your business.
  • Once you reached a certain level of savings your employer would stop deducting money from your wages.
  • If you lost your job you could receive regular payments from your account. There would be a limit to how much you could withdraw each fortnight.
  • When you retired you could get your money back (plus interest) in either a lump sum or a regular payment.

Under this system, savings would replace tax funded welfare. Workers would have more control over the money they contribute. Funds could compete with each other by offering lower administration costs, higher returns, or even ethical investment policies. In theory, competition should lead to lower administration costs. While they would be tightly regulated, the funds would not be burdened with the accountability requirements of government agencies.

Because unemployed workers would be spending their own money there would be more incentive to find a job quickly. A lump sum on retirement could be used to pay off the mortgage, help a son or daughter with a home deposit, or take an overseas trip. Funds would not need to monitor the unemployed the way Centrelink now does. This would save on administration – on forms, and work and job search programs designed to deter people from claiming benefits unnecessarily.

Policy choices

While USAs seem like a simple idea, there are a number of choices we’d need to make about how they would work in practice. These include:

  • How much should workers save? – Should workers be forced to save enough money for several years of unemployment or only a few weeks?
  • Should workers with large families be forced to save more? – Should we force workers with a dependent spouse and several children be forced to save enough to support their entire family?
  • What happens when the money runs out? – Some of the unemployed will eventually run out of money in their accounts. Young people, the recently unemployed and women re-entering the job market may not have been saving long enough to fund their own unemployment. Do we keep a safety net income support system, allow people to run negative balances or just send to them charities?
  • Should the government chip in? – Should school leavers and other new entrants open their accounts with a balance of zero or should the government make a starting contribution? Should governments top-up contributions by low-paid workers?
  • Should savings be redistributed? – Economists J Michael Orszag and Dennis Snower argue that the government ought to tax the contributions of the rich to subsidise those of the poor.
  • What about farmers and contractors? – Should the scheme be restricted to employees or should other groups be forced to take part as well? For example, farmers could be forced to set aside money for drought periods instead of seeking support for government.
  • Should employers be forced to contribute? – Under some proposals employers would also be required to make payments to the employees savings fund. The rate of these contributions could vary between different industries.
  • What about tax? – How should contributions to USAs be taxed? If there are tax advantages, should workers be allowed to make voluntary contributions?
  • How much control should people have over their savings ? – Home buyers might prefer to put their savings onto their home loan instead of into their USA. Retrenched workers might want to spend their savings on a university course or some kind of retraining. Trades people might argue that they will become unemployed unless the government allows them spend their savings on new tools or equipment. Other workers might want to use their money as a wage subsidy rather than as a living allowance. How flexible should USAs be?

If the government did decide to introduce USAs, welfare groups would lobby for a system that allowed people to run negative balances and have any debt cancelled on retirement. They would want the contributions of high earners redirected into the accounts of low earners as well as large initial contributions by government. USAs could be part of a larger ‘asset-based welfare‘ agenda where government not only redistributes income but also redistributes wealth. New taxes on wealth could redistribute money from older, better off Australians into education, health, and unemployment accounts for young Australians. Government would control how much goes into each account and set rigid rules for how the money would be spent.

At the other extreme, USAs could be part of move to a libertarian welfare model where governments stop redistributing income or providing services like health care. Under a libertarian model workers would receive a large tax cut and a brochure or fridge magnet advising them to start saving in case they lose their job, get sick or want to send their children to university. Compulsory superannuation would be abolished but anyone who wanted to stop work before they died would also be strongly advised to keep setting money aside. People who found themselves unable to save enough to provide for themselves and their families would be directed to private charities and reminded that ‘social justice’ is an oxymoron.

More likely we’d end up with a model somewhere between these extremes. It’s unlikely that the National Party would ever support a scheme which expected farmers to pay their own way through droughts. And few politicians or bureaucrats would trust people to save voluntarily for unemployment, sickness or retirement. Contributions would end up being compulsory and individuals would probably have little control over how much they saved or how they spent their money. The current welfare system would almost certainly remain as a safety net. Once an unemployed worker had exhausted their savings they would apply for a means tested income support payment. Many of the most disadvantaged would never save enough to escape the welfare system. For them, life would go on much the way it does today.

Are USAs a good idea?

The kind of USA system we’d end up with after the lobbyists, fund managers, politicians and bureaucrats had finished arguing would be a complex hybrid of compulsory private savings, the current welfare system, and the existing superannuation scheme. The system could become even more complex if policy makers decided to create additional accounts for health and education. USAs would probably not solve Saunders’ problems of loss of control and waste but they might succeed in reducing voluntary unemployment.

Under the most likely USA models, taxes would only fall by the amount saved on paying and administering income support payments to the short-term unemployed (the fraction of the caseload with the lowest administrative costs). Governments would probably not force people to save for more than six months of unemployment. Top-up allowances or tax benefits for dependent children would supplement withdrawals from unemployment accounts. Payments to the aged, single parents and people with disabilities would continue to make up the bulk of social security spending.

Workers whose risk of unemployment was low would, in effect, be forced to increase their retirement savings. Unless policy makers allowed workers to shift their savings onto their mortgages (assuming they have a redraw facility) the new system would give them little additional control over their income.

It is not clear that USAs would reduce waste. Unless the existing social security system was slashed, we’d end up with a more complicated system supporting teams of fund mangers, lawyers, accountants and investment advisers. People who are confused by their mobile phone contracts and superannuation options would have even more choices to make. The system would create a new group of lobbyists eager for media attention and a fertile field for marketers and advertisers. Naturally, there would need to be regulators and industry bodies. The industry would provide new job opportunities for retiring politicians and government regulators looking for a career change.

The major benefit of USAs would be their effect on job search behaviour. Workers would have more incentive to stay employed and to find work quickly when they became unemployed.

Anti-egalitarianism and the new politics of poverty

Before the long economic boom after World War Two and the rise of the welfare state, many ordinary working families experienced deep poverty. During the Great Depression thousands of families found themselves destitute through no fault of their own. In this political environment anti-poverty activism went hand-in-hand with the struggle for economic equality. The new politics of poverty is different. While egalitarians will always want to improve the position of low-paid workers, people who are most concerned with absolute poverty are satisfied once destitution becomes rare. Their attention then turns to issues of social order — crime, illegitimacy and welfare dependence.

Thanks to economic growth and the welfare state, destitution has become rare. But for egalitarians influenced by thinkers like John Rawls the struggle goes on. Rawlsian egalitarians aren’t so concerned with reducing the well-being of the most well off as they are with maximising the well-being of the least well off (if an increase in inequality improves the well-being of the worst off then they’ll support it). This puts them at odds with utilitarians who don’t care who is made better off as long as somebody is. It also pits them against libertarians (influenced by thinkers like Robert Nozick) who regard market outcomes as fair and government redistribution as inherently unfair.

The conflict between egalitarians and anti-egalitarians is far clearer now that absolute poverty is rare in societies like Australia. Peter Saunders is against equality — not just equality of outcomes (which many egalitarians oppose) but also equality of opportunity. Saunders likes to think of society as a game of Monopoly — if one of the players succeeds in driving the others in bankruptcy there’s no problem so long as everyone obeys the rules (players don’t get to choose the rules). For Saunders’ analogy to work some players would have to start with a big pile of property and a fat wad of cash while others would have to start with nothing. Perhaps in the this version it might also be possible to privatise the bank. The banker would hold an auction and the tray full of money would go to the highest bidder. What could be unfair about that?

Egalitarians don’t stop worrying about the interests of low-paid workers just because they’ve managed to climb out of absolute poverty. They are not exclusively concerned with the interests of the small minority of people who spend most of their lives dependent on welfare. What anti-egalitarian activists like Saunders hope to do is drive a wedge between the welfare dependent non-working poor, and low-paid workers. Saunders wants the low-paid to identify with the wealthy. He wants to make them advocates for cuts to education, health and income support – programs that can benefit them and their families (at the expense of higher income earners).

In contrast to the old egalitarian politics,the new politics of poverty is focused on the ‘underclass’ poor, not low-paid workers. It focuses on people whose lack of income seems to be due to their inability or unwillingness to abide by reasonable social norms. In the new politics of poverty, poverty is not an economic problem — it’s a social and psychological problem. Like crime, the new poverty appears as a problem of self control and moral character. The underclass poor are unwilling to work in tedious low-status jobs — they prefer welfare. Men father children they refuse to support. And drug abuse, alcoholism, domestic violence, and petty crime are rife. Who wants to pay taxes for this?

USAs would make the distinction between occasionally unemployed workers and the more disadvantaged long-term unemployed much starker. It would be easier for activists like Saunders to foster an ‘us and them’ politics where welfare recipients are portrayed as malignant parasites who live off the earnings of ordinary working people. Dependency politics would drive egalitarian issues off the agenda. Workers who voted to cut welfare hand-outs would discover that they had also voted for cuts to health care and education.

On their own USAs wouldn’t stop government spending on the welfare dependent poor. And they wouldn’t generate personal responsibility among people who rarely engage in paid work. What they might do is force low-paid workers to spend more than they do now to protect themselves against poverty due to unemployment. Money that better paid workers might once have paid in taxes would end up as personal retirement savings. And money that more vulnerable and lower paid workers might once have spent on their families would now substitute for welfare payments.

There are individual savings account models that have positive effects on the distribution of wealth. Despite the likely complexity of politically feasible savings account models, they are worth looking at. The Centre for Independent Studies may have inadvertently renewed the debate on asset based welfare.

Find out more:

Saunders, Peter (2005) ‘Six Arguments in Favour of Self-Funding: Part II in a three part series ‘Restoring Self-Reliance in Welfare’.’ CIS Issue Analysis No. 61 (pdf).

Orszag, J. Michael; Snower, Dennis (2002) ‘From Unemployment Benefits to Unemployment Accounts.’ IZA Discussion Paper No. 532 (pdf).

Orszag, J. Michael; Snower, Dennis (2002) ‘ Expanding the Welfare System: A Proposal for Reform.’ CEPR Discussion Paper No. 1674 (summary).

Feldstein, Martin (1998)’Unemployment Insurance Savings Accounts’ NBER Working Paper 6860 (summary).

Kock, Udo; den Butter, Frank A. C. (2001) ‘Can individual unemployment savings accounts resolve Okun’s equity-efficiency trade-off?’ SERIE Research Memoranda 2001-26. (pdf).

Carrington, Don; Jordan, Jonathan (1998) ‘Savings & Loans: Reforming Unemployment Insurance Through Competition and Compound Interest.’ John Locke Foundation (pdf via Heartland Foundation).

Brunner, Lawrence; Colarelli, Stephen M (2004) ‘Individual Unemployment Accounts’ The Independent Review, v. VIII, n. 4, Spring 2004 (pdf).

Conerly, William B. (2002) ‘Chile Leads the Way with Individual Unemployment Accounts.’ National Center for Policy Analysis Brief Analysis No. 424 (pdf).

Vroman, Wayne (2003) ‘Unemployment Protection in Chile’ Urban Institute (pdf).

Mead, Lawrence (1992) The New Politics of Poverty: The Nonworking Poor in America. New York: Basic Books (Amazon).

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Stephen Bounds
Stephen Bounds
2022 years ago

Peter Saunders seems to think that unemployment benefits are analogous to super. In fact, the differences couldn’t be more stark.

Unemployment is more frequently a problem for young people than for the overall population. Typically, youth unemployment figures are 5-15 percentage points higher than the average national unemployment rate. Without support from parents or relatives (more common than you would think), a system of USAs immediately plunges youth into poverty since they will have little or no accrued savings.

I agree that there needs to be an incentive to keep periods between work as short as possible, but I would rather see the implementation of a HECS-style loan system rather than USAs. This maintains a safety net for low net-worth individuals while retaining an aspect of personal responsibility.

If all money received by an individual is paid back to the government once they return to work, arrangements for the payment of this support could be more flexible.

For example, rather than the forced reduction in payments at a 50% or 70% withdrawal rate as income rises, individuals could choose the amount they wish to receive, with a far looser cut-off.

meika
2022 years ago

With people like Saunders you’re forgetting that Conservatives actually enjoy inflicting pain, its why torture is making a come back with our petroligarch triumphalists in power. Pain is a sign of order, and therefore good.

They basically think the sovereign is a sadist and any non-sadistical behaviour by the sovereign is unnatural, leads to disorder and moral corruption.

Any sovereign consumerism which does not inflict pain in the name of the sovereign is not real and therefore morally dangerous.

If, by a happenstance of history, the economy is currently the person of the sovereign then the market is duty bound to inflict pain. Anything else is evil, spending sovereign wealth on anything other than the military parasite (like education, underclasses over-produced by our oil economy, or cultural activities [like orchestras or family farm units] is inherently wrong.

If you can hive off/destroy these other activities using concepts like ‘waste’ then they will, just don’t point at the military or other uniforms.

Arguments about this or that fashion (like waste, efficiency, productivity, scary china coming…) are simply vehicle for the spread of the house of pain.

Slavery was the best form, mindless robotic living where people worry about the market not liking them, and this worry is labelled choice, is an acceptable compromise in the circumstances where democracy is allow to exist (damn it).

Saunders is an ascetic.

Pain is the lord.

meika
2022 years ago

the real probelm is of course that as destitute poverty disappears the economy is incapable of inflicting real pain, and substitute pain must be generated by fear and loathing

its not a wedge, its not a tool to fool us

it is the hammer of pain itself

joy is a crushed fingernail

bliss is blaming the victim

orgasm is their suicide

meika
2022 years ago

Go read the Dosadi Experiment by Frank Herbet and

Cameron Riley
2022 years ago

This is using government coercion again to take the money of workers from them – just not as tax. This is an authoritarian response to what is a collective need. There is a place in a wealthy society to decide there is a level of poverty no-one should fall below. That is a collective responsibility, not an individual one.

If Peter Saunders wants people to re-enter the labor market as quickly as possible, we can lower the tax rates for lower and middle income earners, so they get more money in their hand for each hour worked. Employers could also raise wages and salaries to make long term unemployment even less desirable.

I dont like these paternalistic responses. It is wrapped in the rhetoric of “individualism”, “savings” and “self-reliance” but they are all predicated on forcing people to do something through the government’s monopoly on coercion.

Al Bundy
Al Bundy
2022 years ago

“For Saunders’ analogy to work some players would have to start with a big pile of property and a fat wad of cash while others would have to start with nothing. Perhaps in the this version it might also be possible to privatise the bank. The banker would hold an auction and the tray full of money would go to the highest bidder. What could be unfair about that?”

What loaded bollocks. Saunders was simply showing the difficulties in defining a ‘fair go’ against the competing priorities of egalitarianism, meritocracy and liberalism, and merely used the classic board game to clearly illustrate his point. I must have missed the point where his position went from where he starts the game with a trilateral consensus:

“that it would be fair to give each player the same amount of cash with which to play.”

to your interpretation above.

At any rate, your reference to the board game sounds to me like another theory based on the tired old leftist shibboleth that says, ‘there’s a finite amount of wealth in the world, and the role of government is to redistribute that wealth in a fair and equitable manner.’

In the real world of consumer capitalism, motivated and hard working people are building NEW hotels and utilities and money – creating real value and wealth and substantially improving their chances of grabbing a slice of the pie for themselves.

Which brings us to the folly of this argument about welfare. After all, this is really only a bastardisation of, ‘from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs.’

Of course, history has proved this ideology to be an exceptionally silly foundation on which to base an economy. Nobody sticks up for the Soviet ideal anymore.

Sadly, we don’t have to look to the Big Dead Bear to identify the continuing failure of this Marxist nonsense. Cradle-to-grave welfarism has perpetrated the blight of intergenerational unemployment and its attendent social symptoms in many Western countries including Australia. And the Good Intentions Paving Company ™ exacerbates the problem with public(ly subsidised) housing and, unbelievably, big pots of gold to those with the least means who can knock out the most kids.

A system that bribes its citizens into poverty like this is broken, Don. Broken. It doesn’t encourage ‘equality of opportunity’ any more than the Sirens encouraged sound navigation in the days of Jason and his argonauts.

Which brings us back to Saunders. He’s coming up with some alternatives, which is a terrific start.

As you rightly point out, the issue is not the savings in tax dollars – not directly at anyrate. Where you run off the rails is when you say:

“The major benefit of USAs would be their effect on job search behaviour. Workers would have more incentive to stay employed and to find work quickly when they became unemployed.”

Yeah, sure, there is an element of returning responsibility to the individual. No bad thing in itself for the sorely tried taxpayer. But, no, it’s not the major benefit at all.

You see, responsibility is actually the price tag – the cheque you have to write if you want the benefit. The benefit – what you get if you pay the price – is freedom.

The Saunders plan could be a first step to a future society in which the term ‘dole’ is remembered alongside other egalitarian failures at a ‘fair go’ – like the White Australia Policy. That society will be awake to the fact that it really can function without the handbrake of universal welfarism. Furthermore, when able-minded and bodied people no longer believe they are the inevitable victims of their own colour, parents, economic background etc etc, then they too can exercise their free will to participate in the economic miracle that is the Western economy.

That (in italics) is the real benefit.

Rafe
2022 years ago

Stop telling lies meika, how many non-left people do you know personally to make such an absurd claim about people like myself? This site is supposed to be used for the give and take of opinion, not for ventilating your ignorance and prejudice.

meika
2022 years ago

I was talking about Conservatives who seek order through pain, like Mugabe, Stalin, various Tsars and Stalin-wanna-be Saddam. Above everything else.

Conservatism is neither left nor right. Neither pro market nor anti, just look at the Catholic Church.

Conservatism is a fascination with order, and maintaining control over it, preferablly to one’s good self as sovereign.

Pain, visible pain, is a sign of success. Without Pain there is no apparent success.

Conservatives will turn on the market should it continue to alleviate pain.

I am pro market like Brad Cox, like Stephen Mayne, but unlike Steve Vizard and the headmaster at Melbourne Grammar re Tattsal share allocation.

Brad Cox at
http://www.old.netobjectdays.org/mirrors/www-stja.transit-online.de/documents/Autoren/BradCox.htm

I am not on the left.

If you think I am you are flogging a dead horse.

Fighting the last war. etc etc etc

I and pro market, it just has never been really tried.

Gummo Trotsky
2022 years ago

I’ve just taken a quick squiz at the Saunders article on USAs. I did a fast forward to the conclusion; I might go over the rest later, once I get over the hilarity occasioned by this botched metaphor:

“Like the Old Man of the Sea who implored Sinbad to help carry him across a stream but who then refused to get off his back, the welfare state started out as a reasonable and manageable strategy for relieving hardship, but has become increasingly onerous and parasitic on our whole society.”

Then again, maybe I won’t.

PB
PB
2022 years ago

Perhaps you should disclose on what source you rely on for your income. Meika? No self-interest in your bizarre opposition to this notion of personal responsibility? There’s more than a few of us out there who are mightilt pissed off with subsidising the lifestyles of lazy, blame-shedding tossers such as yourself. Get a haircut and get a job, and stop whining.

meika
2022 years ago

PB

good to see that the labour theory of value hasn’t completely faded away in the population.

but then we are genetically biased towards attribution theory, and labour theory of value is just a version of that…

in the future there will only be the dividend and the dole, in fact, they will be the same thing

USAs, super, dole are deckchairs

PB
PB
2022 years ago

I’ve news for you- the dole, supporting parent benefit, the DSP, all are dependant on the goodwill of government and the willingness of the population to be subjected to usery to support their continued existence. That goodwill is dissapearing fast, and welfare is set to go the way of the dinosaur. Far from being an entitlement, welfare is enforced altruism; it’s about time the bloated beast that is the welfare state is put out of our misery, and this part of social policy handed back to where it belongs, charity.
BTW- you can insure for unemployment/income loss now. I see no need to make it compulsory, and same goes for medical insurance. I don’t use any of these services and never will, and I’m buggered if I can see why I should pay for them. Freedom includes the freedom to live in a skip and eat garbage if you choose to not support yourself.

derrida derider
derrida derider
2022 years ago

I’ve always thought that those plausible-sounding arguments for compulsory retirement savings accounts don’t stand up to close scrutiny (for reasons too complex to go into here). But the idea of USAs doesn’t stand up to even casual scrutiny.

Cameron’s arguments above on this are sound. But on top of these, there is the effect on incentives. If you’re not willing to pay people who have no money left in their accounts you’re gonna get an awful lot of destitution come the next recession. And if you are, its pounds to peanuts that most of those currently chronically welfare dependent will continue to be so dependent – in fact, they will have *less* incentive to take a job because as soon as they do their effective wage will be cut by the compulsory contributions, on top of normal taxation (not to mention superannuation). This same argument, BTW, applies to HECS type schemes for unemployment accounts.

BTW, Orszag & Snower – the economists most closely identified with this idea – are not conservatives at all. Which just goes to show that conservatives don’t have a monopoly of dumb ideas.

David Tiley
2022 years ago

Geez we’ve brought some charmers out tonight. You know, I have a superstition which I am prepared to reveal to you anti-government anti-sharing self interested thugs, whose language tends to prove Meika’s point about pain.

It’s a bit like that old idea that whenever you say you don’t believe in fairies, somewhere in the world a fairy dies.

I can’t help thinking that there is a weird cosmic mechanism invoked by people who refer to social benefits as usury, or the unemployed as parasites, or who think we can’t afford social welfare, or that the poor should look after themselves etc etc etc.. Each time they say it, they increase the likelihood that something dreadful will happen in their own lives.

Then they too will lose everything, and come to realise just why we have a shared system of welfare, and just how brutal it is to dole that out with contempt.

Taxes are not your money, taken from you by force. That money would not exist if we didn’t have a society. When you pay taxes you pay for the entire edifice of the civilisation, handed down to you by your forebears, from the tar on the road to the discovery of Neptune. Our obligation is to build the structure more, and better, to hand something down to our children which they in turn will pay for to build… it’s called progress, that great engine of capitalism.

Society is a dirty big insurance company, the very biggest. I give my money, as you all do, so that collectively we get a society to live in. I don’t question whether I give is more than I take out, because I know that at various times in my life I take out more, and I live with the risk that I might have to take out a lot.

An insurance company is a great analogy. It does allow us to explore the point at which our commitment does not match the benefit, and which benefits are necessary to our psychological wellbeing.

Now, can we go back to responding to the very thoughtful post of Don Arthur’s, and honour his work by thinking carefully too?

PB
PB
2022 years ago

Odd that you use the term give, which at least implies consent. Tax is removed by force, and it is my money, earned by my effort and as a reward for my skill and ability. Duties and goods taxes are at least somewhat discretionary- except for manipulating the system through avoidance and income reduction, income tax has no voluntary component, except to not earn any income. Insurance is a voluntary means of limiting liability and loss, and bugger-all to do with any level of government. Like VSU, if the current taxation system is so fair and reasonable there should be no need to keep the compulsion provisions in the Tax Act, as people would voluntarily kick in. Likelyhood? Zero, including the most ardent social justice advocate. Strange how the biggest fans of “wealth redistribution” are entirely dependant on its expensive, inefficient and wasteful machinations for their survival.

Al Bundy
Al Bundy
2022 years ago

Dave,

I hope you’re not including me in labeling the unemployed as ‘parasitical’. That’s certainly not my intention at all. Hell, I was a part of Keating’s army myself once.

My point is that welfarism appears to me to be bad policy. It’s like morphine – at first it provides relief. But, left unchecked, it can create entire generations and communities caught in a dead end poverty trap. Never mind the taxpayer – it’s not good for the recipients either.

I’m far from convinced the Saunders model is perfect. Don does present some salient points that don’t appear to have been addressed by Saunders.

But if Saunders achieves nothing else than to get the dialogue going on future directions with regard to welfare, then I reckon he’s doing alright.

mark
2022 years ago

PB, if you aren’t willing to contribute to Australian society what makes you think you have the right to call yourself a “citizen”?

yobbo
2022 years ago

Paul contributes to Australian society by running a business that employs people. What do you do?

PB
PB
2022 years ago

And we pay company tax, payroll tax, fuel excise,gst etc etc, and collect about 5-6 million dollars a year in duty and gst on behalf of the commonwealth. I fail to see a worthwhile return for most of this- government spending is the only true example of Friedman’s fourth type of spending- spending other people’s money on goods and services that won’t be utilised by the spender- in this case, cost and quality are irrelevant. I am quite happy to fulfil my responsibility as a citizen; the only actual responsibility of a federalised government is security, both internal and external, and I’d happily kick in more to increase the budget of the ADF, AFP, Customs, Immigration etc (but so no valid reason why these organisations could not be privatised and run more efficiently). All other spending, including welfare, health, education and the arts, are discretionary, and not an essential function. Being a citizen doesn’t include a mandatory requirement for altruism towards your fellow citizens.

David Tiley
2022 years ago

Al – no, I’m not. And I agree that raising the issue is valuable. And I can cite you ugly examples of welfare dependency. The question is whether this model should dominate the policy – and indeed whether welfare dependency is best dealt with by the present mechanisms.

To move on – “Being a citizen doesn’t include a mandatory requirement for altruism towards your fellow citizens.” Yes it does. Of course it does. You climb on the shoulders of the past, and owe our forebears a vast debt, encoded in our very language, in every single thing you do every day which is more elaborate than living naked in a cave.

The notion of voluntary here is simply meaningless. You and I were born of this exchange, would not exist apart from it. The form of the arrangement is a political decision, and so is the level – and I simply loathe the GST as well, and it may well be that the system oppresses you as an employer – but the existence of some sharing is embedded in the idea of a society.

Why would anyone say the society is obliged to provide security, if not the other stuff? Why draw the line there? The form of the argument that says I should help to pay for your security is the same as the argument for everything else. Isn’t it?

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

PB wrote:

“you can insure for unemployment/income loss now”

Yes you can. But read the fine print on the policy. You have to register with Centrelink in order to claim it and be in receipt of benefits. And you have to have been involuntarily terminated, rather than having resigned or finished a contract. In other words, for your $30 a month, the restrictions on eligibility are even more stringent than those for receiving the dole.

PB
PB
2022 years ago

I think you will find this is only because of the existence of the public system, and the interference in insurance by government- same as there are limits on payments etc on private medical insurance. Society cannot exist withour security, internal and external- look at Somalia, and to a lesser extent PNG sometime; a society can exist, and thrive, without a welfare system- in fact the most comfortable current societies have little or no “social justice” programs and low tax scales. The welfare society is a failed experiment that has virtually bankrupted nations daft enough to employ it in not much over forty years, and has created a burgeoning industry in dependance. Human nature is to look firstly to self and family- this idiocy puts these factors last- you get to spend on yourself and your own what’s left after the state has redistributed what it sees as a fit contribution.

“Being a citizen doesn’t include a mandatory requirement for altruism towards your fellow citizens.” Yes it does. Of course it does. You climb on the shoulders of the past, and owe our forebears a vast debt, encoded in our very language, in every single thing you do every day which is more elaborate than living naked in a cave.”

Our forebears managed without a vast, creaking, inefficient and expensive welfare system, and managed very well; dependence is a virtual guarantee of stagnation and regression rather than advancement, personal and societal.

I think you’ll find that a basic tenet of altruism is that it be voluntary- why else would there be a widely held view amang net contributors that net recipients are “bludgers”, “parasites” etc? The tsunami appeals show we are a generous nation; we do not, however, like being stolen from, even if the theft is performed with the best Robin Hood intentions.

Stephen Bounds
Stephen Bounds
2022 years ago

PB, you say: “In fact the most comfortable current societies have little or no “social justice” programs and low tax scales. The welfare society is a failed experiment that has virtually bankrupted nations daft enough to employ it in not much over forty years, and has created a burgeoning industry in dependance.”

Could you provide examples of what you consider both “comfortable societies” and “welfare societies”? It’s hard to evaluate the truth of your statements without concrete examples.

derrida derider: Why would a HECS-style system with effective marginal tax rates of 37% (assuming an additional 20% clawback on top of a 17% marginal tax rate) be less of an incentive to work compared to the current system, which has effective marginal tax rates as high as 102%?

PB
PB
2022 years ago

Singapore, Japan and to a lesser degree the US for starters. Australia should be streets ahead of any of the Asian capital economy nations, as it has natural resources as well as a small, generally well-educated population (albeit transport costs are high-artificially in many cases). What it has that keeps it a third-rate economy is a plethora of over-regulation and a third of its population drawing from rather than contributing to its economy. Welfare spending is a vicious circle, and an expanding one- government (and wlfare agencies) have a vested interest in a large, dependant population- how serious is Centrelink going to be in pushing people back into the workforce, when success would see the need for their department shrink accordingly? (Disclaimer- I have worked for the Commonwealth, and am fully conversant on how budget estimates and “savings” are formulated).

meika
2022 years ago

helped grub out some merlot today

Boss said Vizard’ is a parasite, I said no, no, thought he was funny once, now he is just a sad joke

Gummo Trotsky
2022 years ago

Ah, Japan. The country where, if you really want a job on the Tokyo Underground system, you go to the one high school in the Tokyo Metro area that provides the vocational training. If it’s a job on the rural trains you’re after, there’s another high school for that. See Underground by Haruki Murakami.

Alternatively, you can go the salariman route; permanent tenure, even if the company has no real work for you to do so you spend all day sitting at an empty desk, staring out the window – do those guys still exist? They used to have a special name for them. There’s one for the guys who work themselves to death too.

Ah, Japan.

The US to a lesser extent eh? Whether you’re comfortable in the US depends pretty much on how many jobs you have to work to lift your above David Ricardo’s minimum price for labor. From what I’ve seen of the place, life could be pretty comfortable there as long as you only have to work one job and better yet, none at all. But then the idle rich are with us everywhere, aren’t they.

Just leaves Singapore. Who wants that one?

yobbo
2022 years ago

So basically what you’re saying is that the tax-rate should remain above 50% because not having a boring job is a fundamental human right?

Newsflash Gummo: Plenty of people in Australia work boring jobs too. The difference between us and other countries is they aren’t forced to pay tax to fund people like you to sit around on your arse and complain about other people’s boring jobs.

I’m currently in Japan at the moment. There is more culture, variety, great restaurants, theatres, cinema, music of all kinds, and any other thing you can think of than in Australia.

How do they manage it all with a tax rate below 20%?

I guess that Japanese people prefer to just go about their lives instead of whingeing about it all the time.

My friend Nori, who is Japanese, is a law graduate that decided he didn’t want to practice law. He wanted to be a novelist instead.

But does he sit around on his arse all day smoking bongs like “aspiring writers” do in Australia?

No, he works 12 hours a day in a mail sorting room in order to save money – so he can buy an apartment for him and his fiancee, which will then allow him to take back his old part-time job as a short-order cook and give him more free time for writing.

Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and the US make Australia look like a pathetic backwater in comparison. Why do you lefties insist that we remain the poor cousins of the English-Speaking world with our ridiculously overbloated welfare systen, taxation regime, foreign trade restrictions and protectionism?

There are so many countries so close to us that are showing us the way to do it properly, but we ignore them because people like Gummo find the Tokyo Subway system aesthetically unpleasant?

Give me a fucking break here.

People like you make me sick. Australia is my home and I love it, why do insist on making it so shit that choosing to live here is the equivalent of giving up life to live in a monastery?

Why do all my friends travel to Hong Kong and the UK to further their careers, being forced to leave all their loved ones at home?

So people like Gummo and David Tiley can make shit art that nobody likes, and be paid for it by hard working, respectable people that’d really like nothing more than to bash their pretentious fucking heads in.

You’re fucking parasites. People like you are the reason I gave up my education, because I couldn’t stand being surrounded by such a bunch of hypocritical wankers.

I fantasize about meeting such people in an empty street and beating their heads into a pulp. Chardonnay socialists like Gummo and Tiley are the worst kind of plague on Australian society.

Cant you all just start your own little socialist state somewhere in Australia, and leave the rest of us the fuck alone? It’s not too much ask, is it? After all, you’re continually bitching about all those stupid people who voted for John Howard, why would you want to live in the same country as us anyway?

PB
PB
2022 years ago

Admittedly it can be uncomfortable in the US and Japan if you’re a lazy, feckless git who feel you’re owed a living; Singapore’s prbably a better alternative- at least it’s warm. Vagrants and bums tend to be treated like parasitic scum rather than victims of capitalism, however, unless they’re mentally ill or disabled, in which case numerous charities look after them (except in the US, where the idiotic idea of “care in the community” originated, and caused poor bastards having psychotic hallucinations to be tipped out into the street, as being detained in a hospital and treated was an infringement of their rights. Left/liberals have achieved a lot in the last forty-odd years, pity it’s nearly all been disastrous).

David Tiley
2022 years ago

Ah, now we persecute the insane. In those tedious moments when we are not ruining characters by helping people and inventing global warming.

What social or economic problem is not the product of the left PB?

And that remark about aspiring novelist with a bong is contemptuous of a number of bloggers.

And Yobbo, I truly do not like to open a comments line to find out that someone is fantasising about bashing my head in.

Can you understand why that is unpleasant? And what the rest of us think about you when you do it?

matey potatey
matey potatey
2022 years ago

Just answer the question Dave, what do you contribute to society ? I noticed Paul answered, I haven’t seen yours.
Please do tell. I can hardly contain my anticipation…..

David Tiley
2022 years ago

First, I contribute my real identity to blogs.
Second, I keep a civil tongue in my head.
Third, I am a person who objects to the sarcastic tone in that remark.
Fourth, I am a partner, lover, parent, grandparent, cyclist and blogger.
Fifth, I stand up for what I believe in.
Sixth, I respect the people I argue with, until they do the sort of thing you are doing now.
Seventh, I work on films, for pay and in my own time. Some of the things I have written have had audiences of over a million people. Other scripts have helped to stop people like plumbers hurting themselves.
Eighth, I have a variety of office jobs and pay taxes.

So, since you think I should justify myself by your criteria, what do you do to contribute to society? You might like to start with your name.

PB
PB
2022 years ago

Please explain how you “help people”? Producing dull, pretentious and hackneyed prose, ugly self-indulgent installations and daubs, and repetitive, boring fillums which are avoided like Jehovahs Witnesses, telling people they are victims, everything about their lives is someone else’s fault and they needn’t concern themselves with their own welfare and making sure the most feckless and sociopathic among us know their rights inside out but have no concept of their responsibilities doesn’t seem terribly helpful to me, but then again I’m not a social worker, an art critic or a polemecist who makes a good wedge out of scary scenarios predicting the end of the world.

David Tiley
2022 years ago

I have worked on health and safety films. I take it you know what they are.

I also notice that you have taken one phrase out of my self-description and used it to launch an abusive rant.

It is hard to imagine a motive that isn’t nasty.

anon
anon
2022 years ago

I like Australia too. Hope you don’t come back, yobbo.

PB
PB
2022 years ago

Yes, and I’ve had dealings with OH&S spivs who try to sell you cheesy signs at three times the going rate, so “you comply with all the regulations”. How many state government members have interests in safety supply companies (and for that matter, pool fencing companies, bicycle helmet manufacturers and all the other palaver that appears from no-where?) I wasn’t referring to you personally, but liberal/leftists in general. Many actually believe they are acting in the interest of people and society in general, and in good faith. Pity they often exascerbate a problem rather than resolve it. As illustrated above, there are also many who’ve jumped on the social justice/ wealth redistribution/ peril reduction/ enviro-bothering/ preservation of culture etc etc bandwagons for their own ends, and have profited well from their “activism” and “commitment”.
I don’t think I’ve projected any hatred on this matter, but I will certainly put my hand up to contempt- I think abusive rant is a little hyperbolic.

Mark Pollock
Mark Pollock
2022 years ago

This was an abstract and quite pertinent discussion until the name calling started. But that aside…

David Tiley is quite right about society being a “big insurance company”. However, like any insurance company it makes sense to keep the premiums as low as possible – while making sure that the cover is still adequate. I think everyone agrees that paying taxes is the price for a civil society but surely the question is how to make sure that the tax is paid and used efficiently.

A mechanism like a USA (unfortunate name, surely there is something that would be more acceptable to the haters of the great Satan) is really only a state solution for something that individuals should be doing anyway. And if anyone actually looks it is what young people are doing. Work a bit, party a bit, work a bit more, go travelling or surfing. That was what most of my mates and I did until the real work came along.

The real problem with such a scheme is that it really only applies to low income earners. If they were forced to save a meaningful percentage of their take home pay then it mightn’t leave enough to make work worthwhile. And then you have to add in the administrative costs. A HECS like system would be a disaster. If I had access to something like that when I was a young tearaway I would have maxed it and declared bankrupt – try suing someone on the dole for fun.

I fear the current system is probably the best we are going to get.

terry pritchard
terry pritchard
2022 years ago

“Cant you all just start your own little socialist state somewhere in Australia, and leave the rest of us the fuck alone?”

Fuck yes! when can we start?

How bout this: you guys can all go and run fuel stops in the Outback til your self-righteous, small-business-loving hearts burst, whilst the rest of us can inhabit a decent society that insists on a minimum standard of living for its disadvantaged. “Bong smoking dole bludgers” are in the vast minority of welfare recipients. You’ve clearly never had anything to do with anyone with a disability that prevents them from working, have you?

Meanwhile, while you’re in your outback fuckwit utopia (of my invention), i should point out that since you don’t want to contribute (or benefit) from a decent society… YOU CAN’T FUCKING VOTE!!

Nabakov
Nabakov
2022 years ago

Shorter Yobbo: I want to kill people that don’t share my beliefs.

But honestly Yobbo, killing them one by one isn’t very cost-effective. Why not just leave a backpack bomb in an inner city cafe or something?

PB
PB
2022 years ago

A taxing question, Tel, if all the small business types and tax exiles bugger off, who’s going to pick up the tab for your welfare payments? There’s going to be an awful lot of you, what with no business to regulate, products and services to tax or even sleazy dealers to flog you foils and gram baggies- after all, if you’ve got no cash and there’s no dvd players to burgle, you won’t get gear on tick. As to M. Pollock’s idea of working for a limited time, taking off and then returning to work, well and good; you are, however, having your lifestyle subsidised by those who keep working (and paying tax) the whole time. Unfortunately, a sizeable number adopt this lifestyle as a lifelong existence (my douchebag brother-in-law for example, who’s 50 odd) and work long enough to get Centrelink off their backs then fuck up until they get sacked- a sling for a wrongful dismissal is gravy, but doesn’t always come up; the return of any tax paid at the end of the financial year pads it out anyway. These bastards are fit to work, and have never paid tax (except for excise and GST) their entire useless, non-productive lives.
As if asked before, if it’s such an all-get-out whoop-it-up wonder of an equitable system, why do contributions have to be extracted under threat of prosecution and penalty?

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
2022 years ago

jesus christ some of you guys need a valium
and you’re not doing don’s fairly detailed piece any justice

sophie rose
sophie rose
2022 years ago

hmmmm what an interesting and productive discussion this was until ridiculous assumptions made by Yobbo and PB! It appears to me that U have both had UR individualistic heads up your right wing arses for far too long if U believe that the unemployed are the greatest users of Australian welfare. How about pensioners – U know those old buggers who have worked for the past 40 years to end up with a minimum fortnightly payment and a rising prescription bill. Or how about those single parents who are recieving family benefits because they are putting themselves through University while raising their children? Oh and how about the mentally ill? They are recipients of disability allowances, along with those who are blind, deaf, amputees and wheelchair bound? – I’d like to see the both of U tell the individual with cerabal palsy to “get off their arse and do something?” What about those who are alos on disability payments due to business owners such as yourselves cutting corners when it comes to safety resulting in missing limbs and intellectual disabilities?
Your attacks on D. Tiley are particularly offensive and i thank the lord that You are in fact miles away in Japan rather than here in Australia. And on that note Yobbo your quote….”People like you make me sick. Australia is my home and I love it, why do insist on making it so shit that choosing to live here is the equivalent of giving up life to live in a monastery” if Australia is as good as you believe it to be, why arent U here trying to make a difference in social policy rather than raking in a small fortune teaching English to a group of spotty faced teenagers?
I feel great regret when i read such uneducated and viscious attacks on these “lefties” as U put it….all I can say is lets stand on a table waving our red hankies in the air and declare war on the narrow minded Australia fleeing expats who believe we still care what they have to say!!
VIVA LA REVOLUTION!!!

PB
PB
2022 years ago

At least the public education system filled you in on the benefits of socialism, even if it failed in spelling and syntax.
There’s notyhing vicious in my sprays, just logical points made based on reason, not emotive outbursts based on ideology. People injured in accidents, especially work-based ones, are covered by insurance and compensation. The truly disabled need to be cared for, and recieve more assistance from volunteers and charities now than they ever get from Centrelink timeservers. Unemployment as a lifestyle is neither reasonable or sustainable; no-one is owed a living, particularly during a time of labour shortages. Current pensioners? There’s not much that can be done with the whiny old gits, but superannuation will kill off the age pension in another decade or so, except for sponges who’ve never earned and paid into a compulsory fund. Single parents should rely on the other parent of the offspring for support, and find a job as soon as possible; all of the females with young children that I know work, and have no problem with childcare etc. There’s an awful lot of excuses made for people who are too bloody lazy to support themselves. Nominate one current nation where socialism is a success, or even has a viable future.

lmbrjk
lmbrjk
2022 years ago

I find it rather obtuse that somebody criticising others for their ‘ridiculous assumptions’ ends their post with ‘VIVA LA REVOLUTION!!!’.

Yobbo is currently on holiday in Japan, not ‘teaching English to spotty faced teenagers’. Even if he was, it still boggles the mind that somebody out there believes that being on the dole in Australia is morally superior than finding work overseas. It reminds me of deadbeats in the Australian arts community who have been migrating to the UK and Europe since the early 1970s because the evil Australian Government wouldn’t fund them to the extent that they would like.

Yobbo may be miles away in Japan, but I reside in Tasmania, a welfare nightmare somewhat closer to home. One in three households is dependent on some form of welfare. I can tell you that the end result of the welfare state in a small population like Tassie’s is one where fewer people work, because nobody really has to. The fewer and fewer people working have to pay more and more tax to support more and more bludgers and anyone with any get up and go leaves. Those that stay behind watch the economy slowly roll towards oblivion. It also doesn’t help that downing eucalypts in the Tarkine and damming the Franklin river drives nosy mainlanders apeshit, hence we are not allowed.

The thing that really puzzles me is that lefties always act like we can’t survive without welfare and government-run utilities. If this was the case, how did people survive prior to the 1960s/1970s? It’s not enough that the left has to kill people with kindness, they have to kill the rest of us too.

Greg
2022 years ago

I grew up in an area where the only provider of electricity was unregulated and can tell you something about what happens under those conditions, including the story of the nuclear reactor that never got built. Most of my working life has required me to pay for my own health care, separately from the taxes – 3 kinds – to pay for others. I’ve been taxed for unemployment all my working life and until recently never benefited directly, only by the knowledge that should the need arise, I could meet my rent or mortgage, a condition finally met here in Australia, and I thank – who? Whitlam? for the dole that kept my partner and me fed and housed for two of the five months I was out of a job. I’ve got “free” health care now, too, or at least as free as finding a bulk-billing doctor and carrying major medical insurance makes it, not to mention life insurance and disability insurance, all of which were at least a pre-tax benefit at group rates back in the States, a condition that the vast majority of citizens there cannot attain. Small businesses are significant drivers of local economies, but they can’t pay well and don’t usually offer many perks, in Australia or the U.S., or anywhere, really, even Japan, law graduates working 12-hour shifts in a mailroom notwithstanding (that being a personal choice, if not perhaps the result of not enough law jobs or an insufficient qualification). The USA’s sound, aside from the details yet to be worked out, like something I’d happily join in on. I’ve been taking personal responsibility for my life for many years and there are still many to go. As the welfare state declines, even to the extent that the few supports existing in the States are being removed, I expect taking personal responsibility will be my only hope to stay warm and dry into old age, but I still won’t complain my taxes are too high. Paying for others is part of the deal – because they’re paying for me, too, if I ever need it. Sure, we used to get by without welfare. We used to have work houses. Soup kitchens haven’t passed away yet, either, and the compassionate conservatives would like to see more of them. Debtor’s prison anyone? What puzzles me is the hatred of the poor, so often expressed as either “my taxes, my taxes” hand-wringing or fist-shaking or as “damn lefties” as if all poverty was created by Democrats/Labor. Perhaps those anti-social justice advocates should have finished school before opening their little chip shops or corner groceries, but thanks for employing a few people. Please don’t make them sign AWA’s.

PB
PB
2022 years ago

Greg, I have two degrees and a post-grad qualification; was taught Keynsian economics, and actually believed it worked until I saw it in action. One of the mosr influential thinkers that has shaped my economic views was a Finance Minister under a Labor government, and I regard the current Liberal/National coalition as an unholy blend of wet social democrat fiscal illiterates and agrarian socialists, both pandering to rent-seekers of every hue. No-one has mentioned work-houses or punitive measures against anyone, even though the current system heavily penalises the productive. We oppose rewarding laziness, lack of self-control and lack of personal responsibility. There is little that is done by any state anywhere that is performed with any regard to cost, quality or punctuality of delivery. I’m yet to have a response to my request for an example of a successful socialist state. Surely there must be one somewhere. Also no-one said that poverty was created by the left, but poverty is only relieved by the creation of wealth, not by lame “wealth redistribution” policies. As probably the most leftist of all US Presidents is rumoured to have said “you don’t make the poor rich by making the rich poor”.

matey potatey
matey potatey
2022 years ago

The ‘poor’ get help from charities, to which I generously donate (‘donate’ for those not familiar with the concept means that they don’t take money from me with the threat of incarceration if I don’t comply). Being a compassionate sort of guy I donate to 6 assorted charities. I don’t think there is a single person I know who wouldn’t give some of their own to help out someone who GENUINELY needs it. That seems to be somethnig which is heavily impressed on the national character of us Aussies.

However, this bargain does not extend to those who are too lazy, stupid or apathetic to contribute smoething useful back in the equation. Australians have a pretty good understanding what constitutes a fair go, and you will probably notice that a lot of us here are sick and tired of subsidising those in the community who do not feel the need to contribute anything back.

In summary: cut welfare, and charities pick up the difference. Not only will those who genuinely need help get it, it will help break the cycle of welfare dependence.

Now, smoeone asked what I contribute to society. For what it’s worth, I am employed as an electrinics engineer. I enjoy my work and get the satisfaction of knowing that something I like doing benefits a lot of people (since you like to put it in numbers, one of the products I helped create is used by over 5 million people A DAY throughout the world). Working on average a 56 hour week, I would like to put even more time and energy into my job, but unfortunately the extra tax I would have to pay for all the overtime just doesn’t make it worth doing. Not to mention that my other part-time job is in a certain Reserve arm of the defense forces (East Timor peacekeeping operations, anyone?). I probably don’t need to elaborate on how this job contributes to your society.
Someone also asked for my name, I really don’t see why that is important. If you don’t believe I really exist that is your problem.
Oh yes, I am also a partner, parent and pay taxes. Big deal.
Sarcasm is a form of expression. Deal with it.
And I normally do keep a civil tongue in my head when I am dealing with normal people who understand normal logic. If a dog repeatedly barks at you, do you A) yell at it to shut up or B) calmly explain your point of view to the dog, while stressing that you do sympathize with his need to express himself ?
If you can bring yourself to answer truthfully to the above, you will probably understand the frustration myself, PB, yobbo and others feel when we try to engage is some sort of rational discourse with you and your ilk.

rollo
rollo
2022 years ago

I thought the original post was interesting and had some good alternative thought behind it, though it seems a fundamentally optimistic thing to consider under the circumstances, since its underlying premise is the persistence of the current social/economic order in pretty much its present form.
The bit in the comments about bicycle-helmet laws etc. being a liberal/leftist hampering of social freedom is hysterical. Those laws are a product of captialist bottom-line logic and nothing else. They’re masked and driven into law by appeals to sympathy, but the impetus behind them comes from insurance companies – agencies not known for their selfless dedication to the public good, meddlesome or not.

Sarcasm is a form of denial-of-participation in communication. It’s a sealing off of the dialog, it reconfigures the context from dispute to assault. It signals terminus, no more back-and-forth of logical thought. It places the interchange in an escalate-or-abandon mode.
Deal with that.
I have a wide range of postures and actions to draw on when confronting a barking dog – none of them include reasoned argument or barking in response.

Alex Prior
2022 years ago

As everyone seems to be declaring their occupation in a fairly defensive way in this discussion, let me start by saying that I am a self-interested employer: when times are tough we take the loss and keep the staff on. This way we emerge from a recession much stronger, and recover faster, than our competitors, because we have not destroyed our human capital.

Clearly, although there is the odd degree in economics about, there is no degree in marketing.

The basis of a consumer society is people who have the money to buy things. A welfare state is one of the under-pinnings of the consumer society that I love to sell things to. I suggest any first year marketing text book for the chapter on the history of consumer society.

And for those who are happy to spend on security, but not on welfare, try http://www.un.org for their macroeconomics and finance section. The work of many fine economists proves that spending on welfare is far more cost-effective than spending on police and prisons.

So, the welfare system proposed has two problems:
1. It would withdraw money from the current economy (BAD)
2. It carries a risk of lowering the discretionary spending of part of the population (BAD)
3. It carries the risk of the need for increased spending on security, rather than on preventive welfare (also bad for the economy).

PB
PB
2022 years ago

“So, the welfare system proposed has two problems:
1. It would withdraw money from the current economy (BAD)
2. It carries a risk of lowering the discretionary spending of part of the population (BAD)
3. It carries the risk of the need for increased spending on security, rather than on preventive welfare (also bad for the economy).”

How would not taking funds from existing taxpayers withdraw money from the economy? Surely those untaxed earnings would be spent or invested. Those previously reliant on siphoned funds from other taxpayers would have to take on paid work, and become taxpayers, increasing both discretionary funds and public revenues.
I’ve had this argument that welfare is a form of “preventative security”, reducing crime rates caused by desperation, put to me by Centrelink boohoos and social workers with whom I occasionally drink and insult, and it reinforces my proposition that it is a form of protection racket- “pay tax to fund welfare, or these underpriveliged will mug you or steal your dvd”.
Utterly fatuous- it implies that welfare recipients have no morals whatsoever, which is insulting, and is idiotic because the bulk of property crime is committed by people already in reciept of public benefits.
Keeping good staff on through tough times is a necessity if you can afford it, it not only builds loyalty but try hiring anyone who’s any good during a boom. Welfare recipients might be good to sell to, as they are time rich, but they’re income poor- they could buy more and use more services if employed, and create demand for new services such as childcare, garden maintennance etc. I can’t see a great deal of logic in your argument. How do you propose to handle someone who is fit and able to work, but refuses to do so because they don’t like working? Should other people who work, even though they don’t particularly relish their toil, subsidise the other’s sloth?

yobbo
2022 years ago

Nabakov: People can hold whatever beliefs they like. Its when those beliefs are turned into legislation that destroys the economy that it becomes a problem.

There’s no reason why socialists couldn’t all move to a certain city and enact any kind of voluntary city-wide socialist laws they like.

But what they actually do is pass one stupid law after another, so the whole country has to suffer for their stupidity.