THE LEFT’S insistence — with its vested political interest in addicting lazy people to welfare — that all claimants of unemployment benefits are legitimate, or that it’s “disrespectful” to question them, has been torpedoed by an explosive feature in Murdoch titles; they insist it’s too expensive to prosecute rorts, or that enforcement costs would outweigh monies paid. Here’s a radical idea: let bludgers who won’t work claim welfare. But there’s a catch.
Some will argue that picking on two silly, young, and indisputably bone-lazy girls is mean, cruel, or — God forbid — unfair.
But like snakes, rodents or other vermin, where there are some, there are usually more.
Before I raced out the door this morning, I caught an article in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph (and republished across the metropolitan Murdoch mastheads) that has had me simmering with anger for most of the day; returning to my desk tonight I see the Tele has also editorialised on the story of two self-entitled examples of an army of lazy, self-indulgent bludgers.
It’s about time Australia confronted reality — and the army of insidious socialist activists who slap down dissidents with abuse and lawsuits — and accepted that a huge problem exists where the so-called “age of entitlement” is concerned; based on a study quoted in the Tele that was compiled from federal government figures, that age seems to fall between 15 and 29, and the number of its cohort appears to be increasing.
So-called NEETs — young people “not in education, employment or training” — are a double-edged sword; it has long been known, and shown, that school leavers and recent graduates are among those who find it hardest to secure work, and the recent OECD Investing in Youth report found 580,000 Australians in the 15 to 29 age bracket are NEETs: an increase of 100,000 in eight years.
It found 41% of those want a job and are actively looking for one, and we have absolutely no quarrel with those people (or their claims upon the welfare budget) whatsoever.
But it also found 40% (or more than 220,000 young Australians) were “inactive and unwilling to work,” and — in what is either a cake-and-eat-it-too formulation or simply something they think will pull the wool over reasonable people’s eyes — another 19% claimed they wanted a job but weren’t looking for one.
At various times over the years, this column has proposed entirely reasonable measures to help unemployed people (and particularly, young Australians starting out) that will, more to the point, do something about the shameful fact that 40% of all government expenditure is allocated to welfare payments and the attendant culture of entitlement that sees too many undeserving people erroneously think that not only does society owe them for their existence, but that taxpayers should be obliged to bankroll their indolence.
The latest idea — or, more particularly, the latest variant of an ongoing idea — that I have been discussing around the traps has been the concept of a two-year period of compulsory national service, an indenture that carries with it the ability to complete a fast-tracked apprenticeship in carpentry, plumbing, electrics, or some other essential trade in which Australia is facing a chronic shortage.
The thinking is that school leavers can go straight to the armed forces or the emergency services and acquire state of the art, on the job training, and emerge not only with a qualification they can use throughout their lives but also with two years of regular employment, the discipline it confers, and the remunerative benefits that accompany it behind them.
Predictably, those of a more conservative bent I have spoken to think the idea is workable, even if it needs tweaking; those of a more leftward inclination think forcing people to work (never mind if they are wilfully unproductive charges upon the state or not) is an unbridled outrage that should be likened to Nazism and Fascism.
Yes, there are those who cannot work — those who, by dint of psychiatric or physical injury are unsuitable for regular employment — and I have never advocated forcing this group off welfare if they don’t work.
But for the hundreds of thousands who simply refuse, it has long been the position of this column that their refusal should be met with the termination of their eligibility for welfare payments altogether: and whilst this may seem harsh, it reciprocates the action of the bludger who refuses to engage with the contract of mutual obligation that exists between the society and the individual.
I have, however, had another idea. More on that shortly.
Those readers who peruse the articles I have linked today from the Tele will learn the incendiary stories of Ashley Whiting and Amy Arman (pictured, above), who make few bones about the fact they are prepared to “work” only if it demands little or nothing from them, and only if they are nevertheless paid.
Statements that they will “never get a job” and the admission they wouldn’t know how hard it is to get a job because they don’t try are not the sentiments of people who are serious about taking responsibility for their lives.
The complaint of a student that she doesn’t get paid for attending classes would be ridiculous were it not so frightening in terms of the mentality it highlights among some sections of Australian youth.
Whilst these girls no doubt indeed enjoy “chilling at Maccas (sic),” bush-bashing in their old Barina or having Centrelink cover their rent for them, the hard reality is that “Centrelink” isn’t paying — every hardworking family and business that pays tax is footing the bill.
As I have repeatedly insisted in this column, there is no such thing as “government money.”
Accordingly, it is simply unacceptable that the rest of us should be expected to support people like this pair who flatly refuse to get off their arses to help themselves: and as I said at the outset, where there are some — just like an infestation of vermin — when it comes to welfare bludgers, there are invariably others.
This latest report suggests upwards of 350,000 people under 30 have deliberately elected to live off the taxpayer; it is a situation that is just wrong, and cannot be tolerated: a point compounded by the fact that some in Australia complain that Indian and Chinese migrants who pack supermarket shelves, staff petrol stations and clean buildings are “taking our jobs” when those jobs are given to foreign workers for the damning reason that Australians turn their noses up at them.
So what do we do?
Orthodox conservative positions have historically centred on making compliance with the requirements to receive unemployment benefits so onerous as to force the bludgers off the dole and into a job to avoid them; certainly, taxpayer-funded training programs and vocational schemes such as Work for the Dole ostensibly have merit. But in reality, none of this has made a shred of difference.
The Left offers no such obstacles, other than the requirement to fill in forms claiming to have applied for jobs and a means test so tight that you have to be just about on Skid Row to qualify. If you have worked for many years and find yourself out of work, Labor’s regime basically requires you to fritter away everything you have ever saved and earned to qualify for the pittance that is the dole. But for those who have never been bothered to work in the first place, such concerns are irrelevant.
And it remains the case that as meagre as the dole is (I believe about $590 per fortnight at present, including the maximum amount of the bits and pieces that can be added to it), three or four recipients can pool their resources to run a modest household in a very modest rental property (replete with a beaten-up Barina if desired) on about $5,000 per month between them.
Maybe the solution isn’t to kick them off the public purse at all — with the feigned outrage of the Left this would entail — but to leave them on it.
Maybe the solution is to give Newstart and Job Search Allowance applicants the option to declare themselves “unwilling to work” — and to create a special category of benefit for them.
Maybe if they’re paid 50% of the rate received by actual job seekers, this would kill off the “grievance” that they’re better off on welfare than in a job, whilst avoiding the predictable ranting from pinkos that evil Tories are booting people off welfare and into poverty.
After all, claimants would declare themselves unwilling to work. Nobody would force them.
And maybe the savings could be reinvested in higher benefits for those who are actually serious about working as soon as they can nail a job of any description: people who work have obligations that continue even after their last job ended. As an emergency measure, today’s dole payment is of next to no use with essential basic expenses, let alone other obligations that may not be easily abandoned or postponed.
Those savings, if even half of the 350,000-ish who clearly can’t be bothered are honest about it, would be in the order of four or five billion dollars each year: nothing to be sniffed at in a budget context, either, at a time Australia is running $50bn annual deficits.
With half their payment disappearing overnight as the price for getting the rest of the world off their backs, lazy vermin like Ashleigh, Amy, and their hundreds of thousands of fellow travellers might actually get the message that if they want more from life, the answer isn’t to bludge off the hard worker — but to get off their own arses and to do something for themselves.
The world doesn’t owe anybody, and it owes less to the able but unwilling than it does to anyone else.
Making them jump through hoops, threatening to cut them off and showering them with more of the same hasn’t worked.
Perhaps the ticket is to halve the amount these leeches are paid — and, quite literally, to starve them onto the job market.
And really, anyone who feels sympathy for these self-inflicted disaster stories is not quite right in the head.