Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Tough luck! Kicks the poor to death

Australia is urged to adopt a United States-style welfare system, [?] cut welfare spending [social services spending] and encourage people to help themselves in a book on poverty published today.

The book, by Peter Saunders and Kayoko Tsumori, of the Centre for Independent Studies, says only 5 per cent of Australians are poor, not 13 per cent as claimed recently by the National Centre for Economic Modeling.Consequently, they say, poverty in Australia is a small problem that can be targeted and solved - and the solution lies in policies that encourage self-help and personal responsibility.

"The self-help strategy ... seeks to solve the problems of the poor without confiscating other people's money in the process," the book says. It urges Australia to cut taxes and welfare benefits, and adopt the US philosophy that poor people are "the authors of their own fate".

[So then do they advocate that corporate welfare should be cut? And what about other people's money? Where did they get it? Off other people? Maybe off the poor people too? You idiot! What happened to good will? What happened to Interdependence? What about the sick, disabled and mentally ill people? What about people who can't find a job? Do they spend their time stealing off the rich now? What about going to jail for that? If that be the case then what about 60,000 taxpayers dollars a year to keep desperate people in prison for stealing? ]

Under US welfare reform, sole parents are cut off benefits after two consecutive years and are entitled to income support for a maximum of five years over their lifetime. (Limited benefits are available for unemployed people.) The numbers on welfare fell by 58 per cent between 1996 and 2000.

But the head of the Social Policy Research Centre at UNSW - also named Peter Saunders - said the US reforms were implemented during full-employment years. The test would be evident in the downturn.

"US welfare reform has been successful in moving people from low-income benefits into low-income work," he said. "If we go the American way with welfare we'll have to go the American way with wages and cut at the bottom end."

A spokesperson for Justice Action Mr Tom Cruiser said, "Most welfare recipients are volunteers or help out in other ways like raising taxpayers. Lots of them are disabled, marginalised, poor, disadvantaged or excluded from mainstream work. Some are judged by their age and criminal history forever."

Social Policy Research Centre: "Social policies would have to change to include everyone and then welfare would still be required for the weak, sick and unfortunate people in the community. Government responsibility comes before personal responsibility because the government sets the rules and take the taxes."

Mr Tom Cruiser: "God helps those who help themselves but those people do not have complete control of the environment. The book states that " Only 5 per cent are poor". That's flawed, and definitely depends on what you call poor? Does that statement encourage people to help themselves? "

"Cutting welfare spending does encourage people to help themselves get into jail when they don't make it. Welfare funds don't come from confiscating other people's money. "

"Everything we have ever known is taxed and people on the dole pay it. So by the time they eat, drink, gamble, buy clothes, and raise their family the government has the money back while these people are getting on their feet."

"I didn't mention what the government mined out of the country in royalties and kept for the government to help the community survive did I?"

By Noplace Tolive 27 November 2002

ED: Did they mean you're rich if you got a loaf of bread?