I didn’t realise this ’til now but in BREAKING NEWS…
In April an Australian Senator pretended to spend a week as a dole bludger.
LIVING off $17 a day may sound impossible to most people but Greens senator Rachel Siewert will do just this for a week, in an attempt to highlight the struggle people on the dole face.
In this context, Senator Siewert is a bit like Christopher Hitchens: The Drink-Soaked Ex-Troyskite Popinjay For War needed to actually undergo torture in order to understand that water-boarding is not. fun. For her part, Siewert discovered that having a very small income does tend to make life a little. bit. difficult. (NB. The stunt of going on the dole for a week is an old one: I can remember a Democrats Senator doing it once back in the ’80s.)
Of course, the Senator’s week of poverty was intended to help promote the Greens’ campaign to reward shirkers with an additional $50 per week of unearned income. Or to put it another way: to ensure bludgers would continue living under The Poverty Line.
Well, that’s what the policy wonks at the Melbourne Institute tell their fellows anyways. In their latest report (March 2012), the scienticians at the Institute calculate that a single person with no dependents and a weekly income of $470.36 is on the poverty line; the maximum allowable Newstart payment, on the other hand, is $303.10.
On 26 June 2012 the Senate referred the following matter to the Senate Education, Employment and Workplace Relations Committees for inquiry and report.
The adequacy of the allowance payment system for jobseekers and others, the appropriateness of the allowance payment system as a support into work and the impact of the changing nature of the labour market.
No doubt the inquiry will prove to be an exciting development in the struggle for economic justice and social equality.
Of course, the Greens aren’t the only ones who think the unemployed should be punished with poverty for their work-shy ways. Labor too is firmly committed to maintaining a reasonably-sized pool of surplus labour, the useless mouths useful as examplars of what happens to work resistors and those who fail to worship at the feet of The Economy.
Last month, according to The Age, “PRIME Minister Julia Gillard faces a growing push from Labor MPs to raise the dole, with warnings it is so low that people are being forced into poverty and even turning to crime.”
Which — as well as ignoring the existence of the underground economy — I assume is expected to be responded to as though it were some kinda revelation rather than as a perfectly predictable and completely unremarkable fact of life.
Speaking of poverty, KRudd’s wife Therese Rein recently snuck on to Australia’s Rich List. Her rise was dependent on the decline of the welfare state and the privatisation of state employment services. The massive expansion in state subsidies to the charity industry — dominated, naturally, by religious institutions — has also enabled folks like Toby Hall to ascend to the pinnacle of the industry, from which vantage point the former stockbroker likes to lecture the poor on good behaviour.
If so many people weren’t made so rich by the poors, I’d advocate some kinda Final Solution.
See also : Dole bludgers, tax payers and the new right: constructing discourses of welfare in 1970s Australia (Verity Archer) (February 12, 2010).