There’s a big difference between politicians doing something, and politicians making it look like they’re doing something. What looks good for us, isn’t always what’s good for us. The image we are sold is can often be dissimilar to the product we end up with.
For instance, social distancing laws have created an image of police protecting politicians, instead of the police protecting the people. Look at how famously the police have broken their own social distancing rules while enforcing the will of the political class.
Another example is the sleight of hand when it comes to taxation, the important social welfare safety net and healthcare. Governments like to tell you that they’re providing for the people, when for the most part, all they’ve done is take from the people to provide for themselves.
The government takes money from one pocket, puts it in the other, and we all applaud them for it. This is after they’ve taken their cut for giving us the privilege of rights, freedoms, and access to services. If, and it’s sometimes a big “if”, they consider us eligible.
If I’m coming across as an extreme sceptic in the benevolence of government programs, it’s because I am, and for good reason.
I grew up in a government owned house, on a government housing estate. I come from an abusive, highly dysfunctional home, where my family never broke out beyond its dependency on government programs. My parents were decent enough people. My mother did the best she could with what she had. My father didn’t do a whole lot, but our house was always clean, and food was always on the table. While they seriously missed the boat when it comes to parenting skills, they were neither drug addicted nor negligent of their responsibilities as citizens. My parents were stuck in the welfare cycle, couldn’t get out of it, and in the end, gave in to the idea that they never would.
In 2015, not long after my father’s death, I learned he had a criminal record. The news wasn’t all that surprising. He was a proud man. Reason enough for why he never spoke of word it to anyone for over 40 years. He didn’t fear work or fear having to work. He’d convinced himself that his multiple run-ins with the law as a teenager in the 1960s, made him unemployable. The only job I remember him having was a four year stint in the army reserve during the mid-late 1980s.
My father may not have gone to prison, but the social system, and the broken family he came from put him in a psychological one. While partly of his own making, this psychological prison was enabled by politicians who benefited from keeping him locked down in the “benevolence” of the welfare state.
Though both my mother and father had worked off and on, neither of them ever held down a full time job. My mother worked once in the 1970’s, but as she tells it, my father held her back from continuing, because he was concerned about how much what she earned would impact his social security payment.
The system enabled, and funded my father’s dysfunctional way of life. (In some ways he was probably a victim of the unintended side-effects of Whitlam’s Welfare reforms.)
He was a die-hard Labor voter, and he opposed communism, even though he lived on welfare for the majority of his life. When, in later years I questioned Labor initiatives, and their policy platform, he always vehemently defended the hands that had led, housed, healed and fed him for decades.
It was murky subject matter. Still it taught me that Marxist justifications for the welfare state rarely, if ever raise people up. These justifications come undone, when welfare dependent citizens like my father, are paid in similar ways to an aristocrat. They enslave, rather than liberate. One person is chained to the state for their livelihood, while others are condemned to a life of servitude in order to provide for it.
Like an aristocrat, in order to provide for a particular standard of living, the wages of workers are garnished. The only social contractual obligation is loyalty to the political party who pays the most, and asks the least amount of questions.
Thus the government takes on the role of patron. The worker takes on the role of serf. The welfare recipient takes on the role of aristocrat. This benefits bureaucrats, politicians and political parties because through government dependency they can create voters dependent on them for everything. Through the generational welfare dependency cycle, government takes over the role of extended families, and church charity. By default the government becomes a god.
I’m not advocating against social welfare safety nets. I believe in hand-ups, not hand-outs. Work for the dole, TAFE, tax offsets like the family tax benefit, pensions, or a basic Medicare system all have reasonable justifications for their existence.
Any program proven to be helpful, as opposed to harmful, should be given an attentive eye, complete with the checks and balances of review, and reform, for the sake of empowering successful initiatives.
No true conservative fits the uncaring, heartless straw man created by greedy Marxists, whose own sense of entitlement rivals that of those they seek to tear down.
Compassion and good government demand a manageable, life affirming answer to the perilous, unsustainable bubble of the welfare state. It should remove itself from enabling the cycle of welfare dependency, with the aim of liberating the people they’ve made dependent on it. This is Magna Charta, where economics and civil liberties go hand in hand.
The popularity of Donald Trump is largely because he looks to empower people, not his political party. This is proven by the way in which his own party seems to always be playing catch-up, unsure of what to do with him. He challenges the status quo, and has been able to keep himself beyond the bipartisan, stagnated swamp of cozy “business-as-usual”, governmental control.
Trump understands that there are times when the government needs to get out of the way.
In contrast, Australian politicians seem clueless. Labor leader, Anthony Albanese wants to extend Scott Morrison’s Job keeper and Job Seeker COVID-19 lockdown compensation, way beyond the initial six months allocated for it.
This isn’t a policy that helps Australians. It’s a policy that benefits the federal Labor Party. What Albanese really means is that Labor plan to politicize any COVID exit, shifting the language, and purpose of Job Seeker/Keeper from “covid countermeasures compensation”, to a pay rise for people on welfare benefits, who don’t have a legitimate exemption.
In his first major public appearance in months, Anthony Albanese should have been insisting on the return of civil liberties. He should have been calling for a way out of the police state, instead of advocating the kind of welfare dependency that benefits the welfare state.
Scott Morrison doesn’t get off easy either. Add China’s chest beating to Leftist calls for COVID-19 countermeasures to be permanent, and the Prime Minister is facing a damaging political storm. If Scott Morrison thought that he could avoid having to make Trump-like decisions, he was wrong. How he answers China’s belligerence, protects Australian sovereignty, and how he restores civil liberties post COVID-19, will be the defining of his Prime Ministership. If he fails here, and Labor continue to remain tone deaf to the Australian public, Morrison may not see a second term as P.M.
First published on Caldron Pool, 13th May, 2020.
©Rod Lampard, 2020.