Politics,Climate Change and Sundry issues

Politics,Climate Change and Sundry issues
for website listing my blogs : http://winstonclosepolitics.com

Monday, 7 July 2014

Why the excluded are still waiting - Eureka Street

Why the excluded are still waiting - Eureka Street

Why the excluded are still waiting

John Falzon | 
30 June 2014

Locked gateIt's always the big lie that must be tackled first. Otherwise the other lies look like the truth.

Terra Nullius is the big lie, for example, that allows all the other
lies that justify the invasion and colonisation of Australia.

Similarly, I recently read an apologist for the continued oppression
of Palestinians reciting the big lie that 'there's never been a

The big lie that the Government's review of welfare in the Mclure interim report is predicated on is that 'welfare' (read 'government' or 'social spending') is the problem and the market is the solution.

It reminds me of Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek's observation
that 'Society itself is responsible for the calamity against which it
then offers itself as a remedy.'

Pope Francis also has something to say about this:

Some people continue to defend
trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a
free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice
and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been
confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the
goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralised workings
of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still

When you've got a rich country like ours 'unable' to afford to ensure
that the more than 100,000 people experiencing homelessness or the more
than 200,000 people on the waiting list for social housing have a place
to call home, it is not a misfortune or a mistake. It is the sound of
the excluded still waiting.

When you've got more than 700,000 people unemployed and around
900,000 underemployed, on top of those who are set to lose their jobs
due to company closures, the dismembering of the public service and
government cuts to social spending — that is also the sound of the
excluded still waiting.

Let us not forget the woeful inadequacy of the Newstart payment, at
only 40 per cent of the minimum wage. Neither let us forget the single
mums who were forced onto the Newstart payment at the beginning of last
year, nor the working poor, for there are some who would like to squeeze
them even more by reducing the minimum wage and taking away what little
rights they have.

When the Government does a triple backflip and declares it is not
committed to the redistribution of resources recommended by the Gonski
review as a way to address the outrageous inequality that besmirches
education funding in Australia — once again, you loudly hear the sound
of the excluded still waiting.

The long, fruitless wait of the excluded for some of the wealth, some
of the resources, some of the hope to trickle down, is one of the most
audacious and sadly successful con jobs in modern history. It is not
misfortune. It is not a mistake. It is certainly not, as perversely
asserted by those who put the boot in, the fault of the excluded
themselves. Rather, it is an attack, sometimes by omission as well as by
commission, against ordinary people who are made to bear the burden of

As Francis points out:

As long as the problems of the poor are
not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and
financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of
inequality, no solution will be found for the world's problems or, for
that matter, to any problems. Inequality is the root of social ills.
That is why there is absolutely nothing unusual about understanding
this as an issue of class. And why Warren Buffett was quite correct when
he said: 'There's class warfare alright, but it's my class, the rich
class, that's making war, and we're winning.'

If the Budget and subsequent Government comments are anything to go
by the Government not only refuses to reduce inequality, it actually
wants to take from the poor to give to the rich.

We will not help young people into jobs by making them live on fresh
air and sunshine for six months of the year. We will not help them into
jobs by making them go to charities. We will not help people living with
a disability into jobs by reducing their income. We have moved to a
position where we condemn someone for not being able to get up the

If we really want to increase employment participation, whether for
young people, older unemployed people, people with a disability, single
mums or any other group that is locked out of the labour market, then we
will start looking honestly at problems in the labour market and set
about addressing its incapacities rather than pretending that the
incapacity, or unwillingness, lies with the individual.

We will build ramps rather than condemning people for not being able
to get up the stairs. And we won't sanctimoniously go on about the
ladder of opportunity while kicking the ladder away.

The simple truth is that behavioural approaches will not solve structural problems.

We do not have a 'welfare spending crisis'. We spend the second
lowest amount amongst the industrialised nations. We are not in the
throes of a fiscal crisis, but if we venture down the path of US-style
austerity we will be staring down the barrel of a social crisis.

As the 1975 Henderson Report on Poverty found: 'If poverty is seen as
a result of structural inequality within society, any serious attempt
to eliminate poverty must seek to change those conditions which produce

And as the groundbreaking 1996 Australian Catholic Bishops' Social
Justice Statement argued: 'In the main, people are poor not because they
are lazy or lacking in ability or because they are unlucky. They are
poor because of the way society, including its economic system, is

If we, as a society, really want to address the causes of poverty and
inequality, instead of, for example, extending Compulsory Income
Management, which is inherently disempowering and humiliating, we would
be guaranteeing income adequacy, housing security, education, health
and, now here's an idea ... jobs!

John FalzonDr John Falzon is Chief Executive of the St Vincent de Paul Society National Council and is author of The Language of the Unheard.

Locked gate image from Shutterstock

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