Sunday, June 2, 2013

Joe Hockey’s hack at welfare

By Jim Osborne.

Joe Hockey has called for an end to the age of entitlements in Australia recently on the Lateline television show.  He was on Lateline discussing a speech he gave in London, where he both boasted about Australia’s financial position and simultaneously spoke of the need for Australia to “compete” with our geographic neighbours, thereby cementing his position in the struggle to maintain our way of life in the camp which wishes to sell it.  Mr Hockey warned that the Liberal party will be looking aunt the whole range of entitlements, but after some quizzing from Tony Jones, it became apparent of Joe Hockeys prevarication regarding middle and upper class welfare, such as the private health insurance rebate for higher salaried people, that the Liberals costly vote buying “wealth-fare” would remain.  His sights were set on pensions, on raising the retirement age, on “entitlements” which provide a safety net, save people from becoming homeless and destitute and support people who are disabled or who are required to look after people who are disabled.i Hockey then hold of Asia, of all places, as a model which we should be looking towards, holding in hold regards Confucianist ideas on Filial Piety. Hockey says “Entitlement is a concept that corrodes the very heart of the process of free enterprise that drives our economies.”. Australia’s public social spending of 16% of GDP and by no means the highest in the OECD.ii It is difficult to see what Hockey’s problem is, considering that Australia was able to build a surplus with more or less, our current welfare system.
Is Hockey really attacking our entitlements? Hockey says that he was “shocked to hear that one of the policy promises of one of the main French Presidential Election candidates, François Hollande, is to bring the official retirement age back down to 60 from 62.”.  With regards to our expenditure he says “Other countries get by with much less.  Korea only spends 10% of GDP on public social expenditure with Australia at 16% of GDP, the USA at 20% and the United Kingdom at 23%.”. We can see immediately that countries such as Sweden, Germany and Denmark also maintain higher levels of social expenditure.  Hockey is pulling out failing economies such as the USA and blaming their issues on entitlements, whilst ignoring other countries which are economically well off, but has similar or even higher levels of public social expenditure, such as Australia.
The real issue is here perhaps isn’t one of expenditure, for if he was truly concerned about expenditure and representing the Australian people, then tax dollars going to those who don’t need it would be targeted before those tax dollars going to those who do. We would expect the negative gearing to go first.  A tax benefit to subsidise poor property investment choices by amateur property speculators.  But despite being all for “Free Markets”, and therefore against socialist support to pay for losses for private investment ventures, the Liberals (and Labor) are silent on this, arguing that this “Free Market” requires government funds to operate. We would expect handouts to private business to be cut, but this seems unlikely.  Hockey had little to say for the obscenely wasteful “nannies for mansions” plan of Abbott, or paying a rate of $75,000 per annum for an upper income earner to take maternity leave.  What the issue here is one of expectation, of lifestyle.
Australia’s future as an Asian nation.
Two boys rummage through garbage.
Hockey called upon our Asian geographic neighbours as an example and clearly indicated that his vision of Australia is along the admittedly sometimes brutal Asian model.  He is not alone, as recent activity by the ANZ bank and statements by other technocrats and politicians have suggested.  The never ending discussion of “The Asian Century” by business “leaders” and other technocrats and the need for us to “compete” with Asia has more to do with modelling our nations on a social order which is more amenable to plutocrats than it is to do with advancing our own civilisation.  The issue with outsourcing is really one to do with the relatively low value of Asian labour, which is in turn, related to the relatively lower quality of life that many Asian nations offer.  When they talk of “Asia”, you can rest assured that they are talking of China, of mainland Asia and South East Asia and India, not so much Japan which is perhaps the most Westernised.  We are told that they are geographically our “neighbours”, and therefore our future is tied up with Asia, but considering that cities like Berlin or Athens are roughly about as far from Shanghai as Melbourne is, it hard to see how Australia is tied up with Asia at all, considering that Europe, which is not considering converting itself to an Asian nation is actually more accessible to China and India.
What Hockey is pitching here is a social condition which our corporate masters desire.  One of abundant, cheap and subservient labour.  One where the cost of maintaining a first world existence and the comfort and dignity that this brings to the human conditions is stricken from their expenses and most of all, one where the “Free Market” rules for rank and file citizens, but “Socialist” support and favours are offered to the few who need them the least.  It is hard to see how Hockey can make such statements without himself considering the absurdity of his words.  The European nations who are burdened with debt, much like the USA or Australia, which is burdened with one of the higher private debt to GDP ratios on the world are still nevertheless the envy of the world.  Despite these Asian countries being held as a model of the future, the irrefutable fact is that the number of people seeking to leave these nations to move towards Europe, the USA, Canada or Australia is markedly higher than the number of people who want to leave the west to go to Asia to partake in their ‘superior’ lifestyle.
The Asian model just doesn’t work the way we would like in Australia, and the masses of Asians who wish to leave these countries to move here is the most compelling proof there is.  The debt burdens which the western nations share are not due to individual and different circumstances, but more to do with the one over arching commonality between them all, a monetary system based on debt, profligate lending practices and a vicious circle consumer driven growth mentality.
The Sale of the Century
What is really at the heart of the matter is that there are elements within our society, exemplified by Hockey’s speech, who do not wish to bear the cost of maintaining our civilisation.  The inherit value in the societies that Anglo/Europeans have created for themselves is being sold off, and we are not to receive any of the proceeds of that sale.  The fact of the matter is, even in economically crippled Greece, children are not trawling through garbage to survive and those who are unemployed can still generally keep a basic standard of living which we would consider liveable, even if it means that landlords allow tenants to live rent free, a growing practice there.  White Western nations simply maintain a high standard of living, which results in higher costs, a cost which people who live within these nations are generally happy to bear, provided that the expenses of maintaining such a nation are handled competently, a rare event these days.  But to our multinationals, our corporations and technocrats, this lifestyle is seen purely in financial terms, and when viewed purely in financial terms, it is more expensive and therefore cuts into profits.  So these institutions without borders and without loyalties see the benefit from selling this lifestyle which we have built and created from ourselves, to a lower cost, cheaper and less desirable one.  Of course, we do not expect Joe Hockey or any of the Liberal’s business mates to offer to lower their standard of living.  We would not expect government subsidies to the mining industry such as diesel rebates to disappear any time soon, or for a mining tax to be brought in to fund the advance of our nation.
We are not competing with Asia directly, but rather having to ‘compete’ in order to satisfy the requirements of business owners, who have no loyalty at all to the nations which provide them the standard of living they seek to buy with their wealth.  An Australian worker doesn’t “lose” his job, but more accurately, someone in upper management decides to offshore the job, even if employment in Australia is still profitable for the business, as it often is.  When the ANZ offshore jobs and make record profits, they are not off shoring because business isn’t viable here, for if business in Australia wasn’t viable they wouldn’t be making profits.  But they are.  Off shoring means GREATER profits, which Australians can only provide by reducing their standard of living to one that is envied by no one.
There is truth that there is an entitlement mentality, but we can see that mentality not just in pensioners, carers and the unemployed, but in speculative investors who demand that we burden and pay for population growth through immigration to build their market, through government hand outs and bail outs to support failing business and other subsidies.  We see that entitlement mentality in CEO’s who believe that are entitled to cheaper labour and to circumvent taxes.
Our entitlement system is broken, not because we have one, but because our politicians have used it to buy votes, because the very same politicians who spout the virtues of the free market and self responsibility are more than eager to give money to those who supposedly practice this, quite a contradiction.
What Welfare is for
Welfare is distinct from entitlements, a subtlety that has evaded Hockey.  Welfare is a cost borne by society in order to provide a minimum standard of living, a safety net.  Welfare is what stops our citizens who have been subject to misfortune having to watch or join their children scavenge through the tip to earn a living, as witnessed in the nations which Hockey wants us to follow.  Welfare ensures that our fellow citizens do not need to die from preventable medical causes, starve to death or die from exposure.  It provides a basic standard of living suitable for a civilised white society for those who due to circumstances beyond their control are currently not able to finance it.  Welfare or course, should be the exception and not the rule.  We do this, not because people are entitled to a free ride, but because it is better for us all to have people be able to feed themselves in exceptional circumstances, than have to rob or steal from us to live.  Because it is better for us to live without the social problems that people who slip through the cracks can form

Entitlements are a different beast altogether, being that which people believe they are entitled to, because of their virtues or actions.  Those entitlements which are earned are fair enough, but we are referring to unearned entitlements.  That being a paid nanny, tax subsidies for property speculation, tax breaks for corporate entertainment and parliamentary bonuses and quirks.