Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What's the Dole For?

In Australia people have the right to speak their mind freely: "All Australians are entitled to freedom of speech, association, assembly, religion, and movement". (See here)

If this applies to all individuals, in general, it also applies to Fairfax Media's Michael Pascoe, in particular.

Therefore, Pascoe has every right to write this:
"The social welfare lobby rightly claims that the present level of the dole is not enough to survive on - missing the point that it isn't meant to be". (See here)
It may be completely idiotic, but nobody can stop him from expressing it.

One, however, can try to limit the damage such idiocy can cause.


Consider the "social welfare lobby" remark. Just last year, in the trumpeted Canberra Tax Forum, Judith Sloan was quoted by ABC News as saying:
"JUDITH SLOAN, ECONOMIST: I do think that issue about the gap between the Newstart Allowance and the other pensions is an enormous one. (...)
"JUDITH SLOAN: We have to understand that the dole, unemployment benefits, Newstart, was there as a short term transitional payment, but if people are unemployed for a long period of time, the issue of adequacy really becomes important - and, indeed, their ability to successfully find employment becomes important. There is going to have to be something done.
"STEPHEN LONG: Let's put those views in context. Professor Sloan's no bleeding heart. She's a prominent libertarian economist: free market leaning, dryer than dry, a champion of labour market deregulation. If she's saying the Newstart Allowance is inadequate, demeaning and doesn't help people get back to work, sit up and listen. Comrade Jeff Lawrence, president of the ACTU, was amazed by his unlikely bed fellow." (See here).
Unless Pascoe intends to expose Sloan as an undercover operative for the "social welfare lobby" infiltrating business lobbies, I think this is another of Pascoe's "Ooopsie daisy" moments.


Which brings me to the second bit of Pascoe's opinion: the dole is not meant to survive on. Okay, Pascoe, if it is not meant to survive on, what is it meant to do? Say, the opposite of surviving? Let's see... to die?

To better achieve that goal, then, it is best to have no dole at all. The boss hands you a dismissal letter, and while you stand there in shock, he/she pulls a gun and shoots you point blank in the face.

Although sometimes I wonder, I don't really think even Pascoe would mean that.

But I do think that, if the dole is meant to do something, it is to allow people to survive on. If not, what on earth is it good for?

It may be legal to say otherwise, but, boy, it certainly sounds stupid.


In fact, the sheer lunacy of that posture is best exposed when one considers that the holiest of the holy men of Libertarianism and economic rationalism advocated a universal basic income:
"The assurance of a certain minimum income for everyone, or a sort of floor below which nobody need fall even when he is unable to provide for himself, appears not only to be wholly legitimate protection against a risk common to all, but a necessary part of the Great Society in which the individual no longer has specific claims on the members of the particular small group into which he was born." (See here. My emphasis.)


So, Pascoe, go ahead and express your opinions freely. But next time, for the love of God, use your brains.

PS, I'll leave the gratuitous "job snob" insult for another occasion.

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