Do my arduous work for whatever I feel like paying you… or starve

The problem with the world these days is that poor people won’t come and restump my house for a fiver. Nor will they pick my fruit for 10c a basket. I have to pay working class people actual wages to do these things.


Why should I pay a reasonable wage for this back-breaking labour?

That’s why I’m voting for Tony Abbott.

Not only does Tony’s plan basically give me a new and extremely cheap workforce that knows that if I tell Centrelink that they didn’t do what I told them to do then they will be cut off and can starve in the street – but it also enables me to avoid paying my present workers so much. What are they going to do? Quit and be forced to do the same work for even less? Ha ha.

I was a bit worried that Tony Abbott not actually being in government might be some kind of impediment to my plan to build a giant marble monument to Sir Bob for nothing more than the cost of materials and some gruel. But, fortunately, those idiots in Labor who I’d never vote for in a heartbeat anyway are promising to be just as “tough” on my potential cheap taxpayer-funded workforce:

Ms Gillard has already flagged the Government will toughen up welfare rules in the budget and says it will continue the process.

Oh, yes.

As for Tony’s promise to cure 60% of the disabled by forcing them back to painful work – what a visionary! We’ll see if any of them thank him. But I doubt they will, the ungrateful parasites.

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33 responses to “Do my arduous work for whatever I feel like paying you… or starve

  1. The working class wanting money for work? Perish the thought. My God working people being able to afford luxuries like food and clothes is ridiculous. But the working class has always been an ungrateful mob of bastards for the scraps the likes of the Abbott’s of the world throw to them.
    He would call it the trickled down economy. A bit like when he’s pissing on some f*&^%$# back and telling them it’s raining.

    Lets see, ummm Abbott on carbon tax fail. Abbott on boat people fail. Abbott on well anything, fail… Abbott thinks to himself, I know , as the light goes off (dim mind you) in the shallow recess of his mind. Lets attack the working class again. Hey a tried and tested method it worked for my mentor and all round nice guy John Howard, maybe it can work for me???(But not to much pay mind you)

    This is the start of things to come, as the peasants in NSW are soon going to find out. But you can change your vote I believe.

  2. Splatterbottom

    Put them to work making electricity windmills. That is a compromise both Tony and Julia can live with.

  3. The working class wanting money for work? Perish the thought.

    Lynot – where has Abbott proposed non-payment of working employees?From what I can see he’s effectively proposed the opposite of non-payment – he’s proposed that people work for their money.

    I don’t see why those who are able to work, but who elect not to, should expect money for nothing.

  4. So Jeremy, you don’t think there’s any slack in the system? No room for tightening up?

  5. narcoticmusing

    I don’t see why those who are able to work, but who elect not to, should expect money for nothing.

    How many, exactly, ‘elect’ not to work? Are you suggesting that if a person cannot get a job, they then qualify for the exciting new world of slave labour? Wow, I bet all those people ‘electing’ not to work will see the real incentives of that strategy! Screw fair pay for work done, lets just pay whatever suits the employer – there’s no conflict of interest there.

  6. “I don’t see why those who are able to work, but who elect not to, should expect money for nothing. “

    I don’t see why employers should be able to force workers to accept inadequate wages on penalty of starvation.

    I don’t see why taxpayers should subsidise employers who like to treat their employees so badly that such jobs are worse than no jobs.

    “So Jeremy, you don’t think there’s any slack in the system? No room for tightening up?”

    Newstart should be raised so it’s at subsistence level. It has not kept pace with inflation. The DSP should be raised so it’s above subsistence level.

    We should have a national dental scheme – it’s ridiculous (and, ultimately, more expensive for the rest of us) that the poor cannot get dental care before the problems get very serious.

    We should reform the way that Centrelink payments reduce when a person starts doing extra work – the present system effectively “taxes” them at a ludicrously high rate.

  7. I don’t see why employers should be able to force workers to accept inadequate wages on penalty of starvation.

    Under what part of Abbott’s proposal would an employer be able to force a worker to accept a wage less than the legal minimum?

    How many, exactly, ‘elect’ not to work?

    All able bodied people who are unwilling to accept a low paying job are electing not to work. They are electing to earn nothing and hold out for something better, rather than accept a lesser job. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, mind you, just that it is a matter of fact that they are electing to remain unemployed.

    Are you suggesting that if a person cannot get a job, they then qualify for the exciting new world of slave labour?

    A ridiculous straw man.

  8. “Under what part of Abbott’s proposal would an employer be able to force a worker to accept a wage less than the legal minimum? “

    The problem might be that “the legal minimum” in fruit picking, for example, is absurd.

    “All able bodied people who are unwilling to accept a low paying job are electing not to work.”
    …for an inadequate wage.

    NewStart is below subsistence level. If people are choosing not to do some work to live comfortably, perhaps it’s because they’re being asked to do hard work for crap wages that the government promptly takes from them anyway. Forcing them to take this even-worse option is hardly equitable.

  9. “I don’t see why those who are able to work, but who elect not to, should expect money for nothing.”

    Spare me the obvious it’s a joke Joyce. However, Abbott certainly believes in a minimum wage, the more minimum the better. I am old enough to remember the dark days of slave labour. No not in the darkest of Africa or the M.E. right here in the good ol Antipodes.

    What Abbott is effectively proposing is taking a bat to the working class, and people that are not able to look after themselves.

    The truth be known, Abbott doesn’t believe in social welfare period.

    The only effective thing Abbott could propose, is his own resignation. The man is a throw back to the industrial revolution.

  10. Seems to me, Jeremy, that your objection is less about the details of Abbott’s proposal than it is about the level at which the Australian minimum wage and NewStart allowance have been set (which is fair enough).

    As a hypothetical: if these were set at a rate you considered adequate would you still object to the work for the dole program?

    Lynot – I literally don’t understand what you’re arguing.

  11. If the wages were adequate for the work, and NewStart was at subsistence level and nothing more, then I don’t think you’d have a problem to address. Nobody wants to live in poverty – but people do get resigned to it if they think there’s no real alternative, and all that’s open to them is backbreaking work for next to no reward that goes nowhere.

    I don’t like the idea of employers getting cheap labour whose taxpayer payments they can effectively hold over their heads. (Nor should any other working people.)

  12. “Lynot – I literally don’t understand what you’re arguing.”

    Obviously not. This is just wedge politics. All of the arguments from Abbott are designed to do nothing but appeal to his base, and the working class half wits that vote for him.

    I have been working and paying taxes for over fifty years, I am now thankfully retired, should I have needed the dole or a handout after the first ten years of my working life, I would resent working for it. This is the thin end of the wedge.

    As an aside, It is now common for people that are employed working many extra hours for nothing. O/K if you own your own business not as an employee. Where does it all end?

  13. Onya Jeremy. Thank you.
    This attention seeking strategy has undoubtedly been inspired by the business council. A hoary chestnut used to suck in the most outstanding members of our society– Industry on the one hand, who love to intimidate and threaten the heinous, non-contributing, worthless, way beneath them and the average Joe who deeply resents having to pay tax and work hard in order to keep up the mortgages and car payments and who is stuck in the habit of thinking anybody on the dole is ipso facto a bludger who could get a job if they wanted one. For Rabbit and Gillard, it’s very classy to pick on the most financially and psychologically vulnerable members of society as a a means of arousing hatred and greed and envy and fear. I guess they needed to galvanise their support from all quarters. God knows there’s not enough people on either Newstart or the DSP that if either side lost their votes it would matter a row of beans.
    But it’s a guarantee that most Australians hate both working their guts out for greedy, pernicious employers and ‘dole’ bludgers who they deeply resent.

  14. “God knows there’s not enough people on either Newstart or the DSP that if either side lost their votes it would matter a row of beans.”

    That’s a good point, actually – anyone who thinks there’s a huge number of “dole bludgers” should ask themselves why people like Tony Abbott don’t care about demonising them. If they were particularly numerous, does anyone think he’d be so indifferent to their votes?

  15. “I don’t see why those who are able to work, but who elect not to, should expect money for nothing.”

    I can’t help but think this might have more to do with property investors, mining magnates and ex-pollies than the scraps thrown to those needing welfare.

    It is a question of scale, dollar for dollar your average joe on the dole does way more work than, say twiggy or gina…

    Take twiggy’s recent 6.3 billion valuation. Over a 40 year career at 80 hours a week with no holidays that averages out to about 75k an hour. On a dole bludging wage that is around 6 years. I reckon even a stoner could manage more than an hour of work in 6 years.

    And before you tell me that sounds suspiciously like a wage theory of value, comparing twiggy’s hour to a dole bludgers 6 years, let me say that is exactly my point. By demanding that if unemployed you must take whatever wage is offered you are removing their most valuable negotiating tool – that of walking away from the table.

    I would take a wager that twiggy would never operate in a market that forced him to negotiate in such a fashion. I would wager he would spend $20 million in propaganda advertising if he even got a whiff of being locked out of the negotiating process.

    It is always one rule for the rich and another for the poor.

  16. Abbott is just reading from the playbook of conversative policies 101.

    What’s the context for this?? Record low unemployment, record high particiption rates- OMG! dole bludgers!!!!

    I think it’s fair to say that Tony’s disapproval rating on the preferred PM metric may be the main consideration here. No one ever lost support for bashing the ‘dole bludgers’.

  17. If the wages were adequate for the work, and NewStart was at subsistence level and nothing more, [...]

    Can you put some numbers on these ?

  18. “This is just wedge politics. All of the arguments from Abbott are designed to do nothing but appeal to his base, and the working class half wits that vote for him.”

    ++

    Sad thing is, it will work, pity the Government doesn’t have the balls to cut back on middle class welfare, the welfare that the recipients don’t require. No, stick it to the poor, there’s votes in that..

    Watch Gillard (the former Socialist) jump to Abbott’s tune. They make me sick, as do the people who support Abbott’s stance. Selfish pricks!

  19. The reason I’m (sort of) defending Abbott on this is that the reaction by many here smacks of tribalism to me. It doesn’t seem that Abbott’s proposal is being weighed on its merits and rejected, it seems like it’s just being rejected out of hand.

    Why is it selfish to want more robust mechanisms to ensure the dole is only paid to those who really need it?

    Why is it bastadry to try to get the disabled back to work (where, incidentally, they will almost certainly achieve a better standard of life)?

    Why is it unreasonable to expect the long-term unemployed to temporarily fill unskilled job vacancies if they want to continue receipt of taxpayer-provided welfare?

    These all seem like sound proposals to me provided they are implemented as a genuine attempt to improve our economy and society with proper safeguards to protect the needy. Yet the reaction of most here is knee-jerk opposition on what appears to be purely ideological grounds.

    Presenting a work-for-the-dole proposal as nothing but a nefarious way of drumming up cheap labour for bastard employers is quite obviously an deliberate attempt to paint the policy in the worst possible light. To distract from all other legitimate aspects and goals of the program in favour of propogating a manichean cartoon.

    Fortunately I don’t think the electorate behaves the same way. There have been countless incarnations of the work-for-the-dole proposal and, just like the others, I suspect the Australian people will weigh this one up on its merits and see if it looks like a reasonable option.

  20. “Why is it selfish to want more robust mechanisms to ensure the dole is only paid to those who really need it?”

    It isn’t necessarily selfish, I’m not only criticising Abbott but why aren’t they attacking middle class welfare?

    The answer is simple – Votes

  21. It isn’t necessarily selfish, I’m not only criticising Abbott but why aren’t they attacking middle class welfare?

    The answer is simple – Votes

    I haven’t looked at the numbers, but I’d be willing to bet there’s a LOT more voters who are “poor” than “middle class”.

  22. narcoticmusing

    Mondo, to your first point, it is being rejected, not out of hand, but in the context of knowing Abbott’s policy decisions in the past and overall stance on welfare. Ie. there is a distinct belief his plan will not be ‘fair’ but overly onerous and likely border on cruel. Certainly, policies introduced when he was Minister reflected that view.

    As for the rest of your points, the answer is, it depends. I’ll elaborate.
    Why is it selfish to want more robust mechanisms to ensure the dole is only paid to those who really need it?
    First, because these mechanisms aren’t there for the middle class that really DO NOT need the money, and yet, the poorest amongst us have to work the hardest for every cent.
    Second, because there already are mechanisms to ensure need. Indeed, in many cases those mechanisms are overly onerous and are not balanced to equip people to get back into work but doom them.

    Why is it unreasonable to expect the long-term unemployed to temporarily fill unskilled job vacancies if they want to continue receipt of taxpayer-provided welfare?

    1. We live in a capitalist, self-interested, arms length bargain world. This means all power to negotiate should be available to both parties. One party should not have basic subsistence held over their head – this is called economic duress and is illegal – yet this proposal appears to seek to sanction economic duress against the most vulnerable in our community.

    2. It is one thing to ask someone to fill and unfilled vacancy, but you should still pay them a ‘fair’ wage for that work – in other words the market value for that work. NOT THE DOLE. To pay them the dole which is below minimum wage is not reasonable, it is slavery. Now, even if we assume they aren’t going to be paid the dole but some other wage – it should be a reasonable wage for services done, fully compliant with minimum wage laws. Courts have been working out reasonable wages for a long time.

    3. If you can’t recruit to a position, it might suggest the market value of that labour is higher than you are offering. Thus, paying them less because you can use economic duress is counter to the market demand and can potentially skew wages for that entire sector.

    4. Many of these jobs will treat individuals like companies, this is not appropriate. For example, picking fruit and being paid per acceptable piece, rather than per hour or just per piece. By making it per accepted piece the employer, who is responsible for the quality of the fruit, can rig the contest against the employee.

    Presenting a work-for-the-dole proposal as nothing but a nefarious way of drumming up cheap labour for bastard employers is quite obviously an deliberate attempt to paint the policy in the worst possible light.

    No, it is outlining very significant social risks that will be forced upon the most vulnerable in our community while the wealthier parts of society reap more in welfare without any such need to justify it (consider how many hand outs are not means tested for example).

    If you really want to save money, equip people to work. Set up systems that encourage, empower and equip. Destroying the last semblance of their humanity by making them slaves will not reduce your costs.

    I suspect the Australian people will weigh this one up on its merits and see if it looks like a reasonable option.

    If only they are allowed to. You assume that they will be given an objective and truthful representation of the scheme, which they most certainly will not. They will get a representation that demonises the poor and says, “hell yeah, lets force em to work for nothin’”

  23. I haven’t looked at the numbers, but I’d be willing to bet there’s a LOT more voters who are “poor” than “middle class”.

    I bet there are a LOT more voters who aren’t on the dole as opposed to those who are.

    Poor is a relative thing, not many Australians are that poor, Australia has a large middle class and the working class do OK (relatively speaking) the real poor are the ones who depend on benefits, the ones Abbott is after.

  24. Mondo: These all seem like sound proposals to me provided they are implemented as a genuine attempt to improve our economy and society with proper safeguards to protect the needy.

    Mondo, with respect, you are talking about the Hon. Tony Abbott, MHR. Do you really believe in your heart of hearts that any of this is his intention? Everyone here is calling bullshit because that’s exactly what it is. He knows he’s been looking bad lately with the carbon tax debate, and the whole “Bob Browns Bitch” thing, and suddenly remembers that the success of the Liberal Party is almost wholly due to their ability to get one section of those at the bottom of the socio-economic hierarchy to beat up on the other. This is absolutely not about policy, it is a cynical vote-grabbing, media-changing exercise, pure and simple. And one with some very nasty implications, as Jeremy outlined in the original post.

    As others above had pointed out, if Abbott or the Coalition were genuinely concerned about the amount of welfare payments the government makes, they would start with the much more significant middle-class welfare that gets shovelled through the economy every year. But Abbott won’t do that, of course not, because it is not in his political interest to do so. This is not about policy. It is about how fortunate we are that two country Independents decided to stand between the Office of the Prime Minister and this utter, utter clown.

  25. Yours is a long response Narc so I’ll focus on the bit that I think forms the crux of my disagreement with you:

    It is one thing to ask someone to fill an unfilled vacancy, but you should still pay them a ‘fair’ wage for that work – in other words the market value for that work.

    While I completely agree with this statement, I actually think it undermines your larger argument.

    If a dole recipient is able to work as a fruit picker (for example) under a work for the dole program, then they must also be able to work as a fruit picker outside the work for the dole program, where they would receive minimum wage.

    So why would a person accept the dole at less than minimum wage when they could go out and work and receive the minimum wage? Why are they electing to receive less money than would be available to them from the sale of their labour?

    Calling them ‘slaves’ is somewhat hyperbolic since they are all free to leave the dole program and engage in higher paying work at any time. They are not ‘bonded’ to the government or employer, in fact they are free to do whatever they want including not working and receiving income at all as a result.

  26. Mondo, with respect, you are talking about the Hon. Tony Abbott, MHR. Do you really believe in your heart of hearts that any of this is his intention?

    Do I believe that he is genuinely trying to improve our economy and society? Yes – wholeheartedly. I don’t think it’s very realistic to believe that he deliberately proposes policy that he knows to be bad.

    Abbott is an opportunist like all politicians, sure, but I think he believes in the policy positions he puts forward.

  27. Apologies, the last line in my comment above should read: They are not ‘bonded’ to the government or employer, in fact they are free to do whatever they want including not working and receiving no income at all as a result.

  28. “Sad thing is, it will work, pity the Government doesn’t have the balls to cut back on middle class welfare, the welfare that the recipients don’t require. No, stick it to the poor, there’s votes in that..: ”

    Indeed it does and will.

    “Calling them ‘slaves’ is somewhat hyperbolic since they are all free to leave the dole program and engage in higher paying work at any time. They are not ‘bonded’ to the government or employer, in fact they are free to do whatever they want including not working and receiving income at all as a result.”

    There is nothing hyperbolic about the term wage slave. It is still alive and well in many countries of the world, and would be still here, if not for the union movement. The conditions workers enjoy today didn’t start last Sunday. It has been fought for over many years and people have died and starved to death, for the cause of a fair go.

    Your above statement is typical of reactionary right wingers, attitude being, If you don’t like it then “F*&^Off “and work for some other bastard or don’t work at all. If only it were all that simple.

    At the end of the day if H.M.’s opposition had their way this would all be a non issue. It is an anathema to their very ideology to have social welfare period. To deny this very salient fact borders on the barking mad.

  29. narcoticmusing

    Mondo, are you suggesting that a person should uproot their entire family – at great cost to themselves – for a job that has no security of tenure and pays, in the best case scenario, minimum wage? You wouldn’t even pay back the moving costs. You wouldn’t get to see your children. While I agree people should travel to work, they should also have some degree of choice and bargaining power.

    What you suggest is to strip away their ability to enter into a fair bargain through economic duress.

  30. narcoticmusing

    And I’d argue that there are different versions of ‘bonding’ as you put it – holding their ability to feed themselves and their family over their head is as good a bond as any, so yes, I think it is apt to compare it to slavery.

  31. Mondo, are you suggesting that a person should uproot their entire family – at great cost to themselves – for a job that has no security of tenure and pays, in the best case scenario, minimum wage?

    If there is no work for them in a particular region then yes – they need to move (just as you or I would need to move if we could not find work locally). The alternative is to stay unemployed and on welfare – is this really the outcome for which you advocate?

    What you suggest is to strip away their ability to enter into a fair bargain through economic duress.

    We’re all subject to economic duress narc. I can envisage many scenarios where I might take a low-paying job because it’s the only viable option to me at the time. It’s certainly preferable to trying to support my family on the dole.

    Anyone who finds themself out of work is “under economic duress” so I don’t see why this is an argument against placing conditions around dole payments to the long-term unemployed.

  32. Mondo: Abbott is an opportunist like all politicians, sure, but I think he believes in the policy positions he puts forward.

    I agree, I’m sure he does believe in what he is saying. But of course he’s not telling the whole story, and what he is saying is motivated first by political gain, and only second by what he thinks would be a good outcome for the country. Again, if he really believed that reducing government welfare was a noble goal, or that welfare dependency was harmful, then he would first talk about removing any number of middle-class welfare measures which ultimately end up costing the government much more. But he would never do that as he knows it would compromise the political gain that has to be made first, so he instead talks about tougher measures for people on the dole. Much easier, much safer, and you never lose votes stirring up ideas about “dole bludgers”. It’s as transparent as it is cliched. If Gillard came out with it, I’d be saying exactly the same thing.

  33. narcoticmusing

    Mondo, I see where you are coming from but I put to you that economic duress is different from simply having to take a lower paying job. You are talking from the point of view of someone that isn’t in this system. I agree we need to help people get out of it, but a system that demands forced labour, even for pay, is not democratic. No court would ever force labour, so why should our government be able to? So even where you have a contract to say, paint a wall, a court cannot order the person you paid to paint that wall – only to ensure the wall is painted. Why? Because to forced labour is exactly that.

    You also seem to believe (correct me if I got this wrong) that most long time unemployed choose to be that way or wish to be. I certainly know of examples of people in that situation and I do my best to lead them to water (it is hard to get them to drink though, I agree). However, I also know people in the other side who tirelessly try to get work and accept anything and still end up overall, unemployed. I won’t go into details on either side, but my point is, it is overly simplistic to just assume that most long term unemployed are choosing to be that way. Certainly, to make this policy viable, it would need to be at least a significant proportion that are choosing this.

    I should point out I am very much in favour of encouraging people back to work, including DSP recipients (with the caveat of course depending on their capacity). I am a huge believer in the social and psychological benefit of working and earning your own, being independent etc. I think this is often under-rated in policy discussions.

    However, I do not believe a policy negotiated by employer groups, for employer groups, will be in the best interests of employees. There is an inherent conflict of interest both by those encouraging this policy and by those political point scorers willing to run with it. Sure, we don’t have the detail and as SB will testify I’m a stickler for that, but I am very concerned that this does not at all equip people back to work and instead forces unfair work and conditions upon them with no right to due process or recourse.

    I would finally say that if the rationale is about fairness – about working for the money you get and making sure only those that need it get hand outs – then you need to advocate for a cut to middle class welfare, for increased taxes for the rich, increased corporate tax for large organisations and reduced tax for small business etc etc. These are where the big bucks are and where the real re-distribution of wealth fairness rationales come in. Not picking on the most vulnerable minority who are not empowered enough to even articulate themselves to an MP in order to fight or resist such things.

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