Don’t think getting kicked off the dole for six months at a time is just some character-building kick in the arse for lazy stoner punks – it will apply to all adult jobseekers under 30 who receive Newstart, the vast majority of whom want to work. Some of those people will have children to feed, clothe and educate while they themselves seek employment, but even those that only have themselves to look after will essentially be consigned to half-lives of desperation and poverty if the Newstart demolition is passed.
Removing the base of the social safety net might save some dollars, but the pressure on society and the state of a new underclass of disenfranchised, impoverished and increasingly desperate people will outweigh it significantly. Most unemployed are that way not through choice but through a combination of factors including economic climate, location, legislation, market forces and plain bad luck. Take away the one thing they can count on to fill their fridges, their prescriptions and their petrol tanks (yes, Joe, in their cars) while they look for work and you run the very real risk of turning good people who need a break out onto the street, placing pressure on already overworked public hospitals, welfare agencies and NGOs and perhaps turning them into desperate criminals, placing undue pressure on their victims, their families, the police and legal system and everyone else who has to deal with them.
People without work should be afforded a basic allowance to enable them to live while they look for work, not punished as part of some unjustified austerity drive. If paying unemployed people a basic wage is too expensive or frivolous for this government, perhaps they’d like to reconsider their baffling, dogmatic contempt for the rapidly-growing renewable energy market as embodied by their fear and loathing of the RET and the carbon tax, their propping up of the dinosaur that is coal as exemplified by their teaming up with a nakedly self-serving coal-miner to scrap the mining tax, or their general coddling of billionaires.
Whether we like it or not, welfare for the unemployed needs to be a non-negotiable fact of life in a wealthy nation, for the simple reason that there are never enough jobs available for all eligible workers to have one at the same time. It needs to be that way too: if capitalism is to function at all and as growth is a desired facet of capitalism, there must always be a pool of available labour to enable that growth. That means that there must always be a small percentage of the population unemployed, ready to pick up the jobs that arise in a growing economy. It is the duty of a capitalist state to ensure its labour pool can sustain themselves while they’re between jobs (of course a minority will just toke up and slack off, but I’d like to see how their malfeasance stacks up next to the rorts of our esteemed elect), not use them as pawns at the behest of a small and unduly noisome cabal of self-interested arch-consevatives.
So sign the petition, go and march, hassle your MP, get loud.
Welfare isn’t a handout, it’s just a hand. And taking it away is pretty much a fisting.