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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

going after the welfare state « Previous |
October 2, 2014

The Abbott Government's rhetoric is that they are absolutely determined to stop the trajectory that Labor left, which is debt going to $667 billion in 10 years, which is $25,000 for every man, woman and child. They won't give up on doing what is right to address the legacy that Labor left. We are paying a billion dollars a month every single month just to pay the interest on Labor's debt. Without change, that is ratcheting up to $3 billion a month.

The reality is not crushing debt and budget emergencies. Neoliberal philosophy holds that all welfare recipients are “bludgers” and all taxpayers are “battlers”. The Abbott Government's position is that taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for another person’s livelihood, particularly if that livelihood comes from pensions or other transfer payments.

The welfare state is the problem, not its beneficiaries. For neo-liberalism it is unfair that cleaner, a plumber or a teacher is working over one month full-time each year just to pay for the welfare of another Australian. Hence the rhetoric of lifters and leaners. The war that the neo-liberals in the Abbott Goverment are waging is the destruction of the welfare state.

That war explains the paradox of neoliberalism wanting to limit government, but the upshot of their policies being a huge expansion in the power of the state. Shrinking the welfare state is proving politically impossible in Australia so neoliberals have turned instead to using the state to reshape social institutions on the model of the market - a task that cannot be carried out by a small state. An increase in state power has always been the inner logic of neoliberalism, because, in order to inject markets into every corner of social life (including health, education and the arts) a government needs to be highly invasive.

Using the welfare state to realise an ideal of social justice is, for neoliberals, an abuse of power: social justice is a vague and contested idea, and when governments try to realise it they compromise the rule of law and undermine individual freedom. The role of the state should be limited to safeguarding the free market and providing a minimum level of security against poverty. They opt for a minimal welfare state, which aims to prepare people for the labour market rather than promoting any idea of social justice.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 1:36 PM | | Comments (11)


It is pretty obvious that neo-liberals, like Hockey, sees the welfare state as ‘anachronistic. It is the market, made up of competition and dealings between groups and individuals that is responsive to the needs of people.

For neo-liberals people need to take on the responsibility of privately managing their own health and education funding.

The Coalition are targeting any constituency associated with, relying or dependent on the state and public services. Corporations, excepted of course.

An "ideal" of social justice.. Well, they are trying to impose THEIR "ideal", aren't they?

I doubt whether poverty is an abstract concept to a person having to live under a bridge, though.

If Labor was elected tomorrow I would be willing to bet everything that Australia would have more debt in 4 years. That is the nature of Labor. All talk and excuses no real plan.

The Coalition seems to be doing a good job of increasing the debt with its increased security measures and its war in Iraq. Or haven't you noticed?

That's a different issue.

The Abbott Government's revenue continues to decline with the ongoing drop in the iron ore price. It was also the case under Labor, but the Coalition and its supporters said that was pure spin.

That drop in corporate tax receipts makes reducing the budget deficit that much harder, especially when the Abbott Government is increasing its expenditure .

The Coalition---Corman and Hockey --put the blame for the deterioration of the budget deficit (from $18.8 billion to $48.5 billion) on Labor, even though they have been in charge of the coffers for 9 months and been spending big--eg., the capital injection of $9 billion to the Reserve Bank.

What Corman and Hockey don't say is that half of the deterioration of $30 billion is due to the Coalition's decisions.

The Coalition talk about the long war in Iraq + Syria being a defence of civilisation--it could last years. So much for the budget surplus under the Coalition.

Economic growth under the Abbott Government is going to be low given the slow down in China's growth rate and its decreased demand for Australia's commodities.

Corman and Hockey will continue to blame Labor's bad economic management --eg., the budget deficit-- for this.

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