Basic Income: A Human Right

Today’s Independent Australia has an article by Duncan Storrar, about yet another cruel practice adopted by the Turnbull Government to target the poor. This time, a man who bravely tried to overcome his disability and work in a job was punished for his courage. When he tried to get back on the DSP, he was told “No, you’ve been working. Apply for Newstart”. As everyone knows, Newstart is not enough to live on, not even close. This poor soul had to leave the home he had managed to keep for a number of years. He has lost his beloved pet, and has gone backwards in several other ways.

This outrage rivals the incident in 1982, when Lew and I were told by Gympie Social Security: “You can’t get the Dole; you’ve been farming”, as well as the “raid” they conducted on our farming property in 1989, to tell us to sell up and return to the City (where Lew was unable to function owing to severe complex PTSD). The government were quite happy then, as they apparently are now, to target the poor and sick in our community. It is especially egregious when these efforts are directed towards people whose disability was State-created, as Storrar’s article points out.

It will probably take many more decades for our welfare bashing government to realize that people don’t choose to be poor. That there simply aren’t enough jobs to go around.

Perhaps it is time to revisit that theory all management students learn, Macgregor’s Theory X and Theory Y.

“Theory X assumes that individuals are base, work-shy and constantly in need of a good prod. It always has a ready-made excuse for failure—the innate limitations of all human resources. Theory Y, however, assumes that individuals go to work of their own accord, because work is the only way in which they have a chance of satisfying their (high-level) need for achievement and self-respect. People will work without prodding; it has been their fate since Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden” (The Economist, October 6, 2008).

No prizes for guessing which type of “manager” inhabits the Australian Government.  Wouldn’t it be great if a trial of Basic Income could be conducted here, as it is in Finland, Ontario and Scotland? Anything you want to know about it can be found here.

Scott Santens’ blog explains the whole idea of a Basic Income. It seems counter-intuitive to believe a Basic Income would get people off welfare and grow the economy. But a few moments’ thought may change the minds of even the most ardent welfare basher. Just imagine for a moment what a world without Centrelink/Social Security would look like. Everyone in need would have a Basic Income. Those who are likely to spend it on the wrong things may be offered the chance to use food stamps instead. I’m not advocating anarchy here, just asking if the Government can try putting faith in people, instead of always assuming that those reliant on welfare are out to scam everyone.

My late husband worked harder than anyone I knew. He even sacrificed sleep when something needed to be studied, explored, or written about. Each job he tried and failed at was one he passionately believed in, and fought to succeed in. When inevitably his chronic, complex and severe disability prevented him from success, he fought with everything he had to overcome these problems. With a DSP, he was finally able to have enough to live on (just), and spent his life working on scientific projects, horticulture, computer programs he invented, and many other activities. He was incapable of idleness. Nevertheless, people with whom we routinely came in contact were quick to judge him as a dole bludger. He was so intelligent that people, including my family and his family,  couldn’t understand why he was unable to hold down a regular job.

His disability never prevented Lew from striving. He was an inspired teacher. Those students who wanted to listen achieved wonderful results academically. His Year 10 Science and Maths students, during the one year he managed to teach full time at Kenmore High, later achieved OP1 scores at a higher rate than their peers. The Education Department would not grant Lew his Teacher Registration because he could not yell at the kids to keep them quiet. Don’t believe me? Ask the Deputy Principal who told him to “stand in front and yell at the kids”. When he was finally granted a DSP, Lew managed to do some one on one tutoring in Maths and Science. His students invariably topped the class. What a tragedy, when someone who doesn’t fit the mould expected by Centrelink, is told to apply for a demeaning and soul destroying work for the dole program, instead of being given a chance to find their own way out of poverty.

Kenmore High







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