The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
The Forum - On Line Opinion's article discussion area


RSS 2.0

Main Articles General

Sign In      Register

The Forum > Article Comments > Advancing equality > Comments

Advancing equality : Comments

By Fred Argy, published 4/5/2006

Australians care very deeply about inequalities of opportunity.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. All
“Equality” is a nice sounding word, but it could easily be struck out of our vocabulary because, really, there is no such thing. The left is keen on the dream of equality because it reduces us all to easily controlled “grey” people, and introduces a mediocrity more suited to their own intellectual abilities. Who else but the Left could believe that wealth, health and happiness is something that can be “distributed” by politicians?

The author’s claim that: “These people are “stuck on the basement” not by choice but because they have no easy means of escape”, needs to be treated with caution. They have been “stuck” there only since the mid-1990’s, says the author - since the years of Coalition Governments, when all the figures show that ordinary people have never been better off! It is more likely that they HAVE made the choice to stay in the basement while workers have had to be imported and these bludgers, whom Fred Argy believes should be given special treatment, have adjusted to a lifestyle of unemployment, welfare and general skiving. Those who do work in low paid jobs invariably have poor school records and would rather blame the boss for not paying them enough, rather than doing something for themselves by gaining qualifications that would get them better jobs. And, let’s not forget the increasing number of people, young and old, who are addling their brains with alcohol and other drugs to the extent that they make no positive contribution to society.

There is no need for “ordinary Australians”, to get “fired up”, as Argy claims they do, on behalf of people like that.
Posted by Leigh, Thursday, 4 May 2006 1:54:41 PM
Find out more about this user Recommend this comment for deletion Return to top of page Return to Forum Main Page Copy comment URL to clipboard
Leigh, by starting, as you have, with the premise that poverty, low income and joblessness are all (or for the most part) self-inflicted or reflect personal choice, you neatly assume away the whole problem of unequal opportunity and the role of government in levelling opportunities.

But your premise is untenable. All the literature (see my discussion paper) points clearly to the role that poor or dysfunctional families play in shaping a person’s early development and the big impact which education, health and education inequalities can have on income mobility. And the international evidence shows that government intervention can effectively lift mobility: people do respond to incentives and a government hand up. This does not mean
interfering directly with free, competitive markets or heavily regulating labour markets. But it does require active social policies which address the market imperfections which are distorting the distribution of incomes.

Leigh, if you are concerned about welfare dependence you should also be supportive of measures which strike at the root causes of self-perpetuating disadvantage – the unequal starts in life and the unequal access to quality public services. Even Brough, Howard and Costello are beginning to recognise the problem, with measures to improve parental performance and to rebuild our social infrastructure.

Fred Argy
Posted by freddy, Friday, 5 May 2006 9:06:07 AM
Find out more about this user Recommend this comment for deletion Return to top of page Return to Forum Main Page Copy comment URL to clipboard
Fred... could you reduce your rather wordy article to the form of some conrete steps which we can more easily relate to and then respond to ?

Let me ask the question.

What... do you want ?

Please give a few points. (not paragraphs :)

Government should..... (fill in the blanks)

Your point about Governments weighing up the economic return from social welfare programs is noted. Personally, I feel a lot more could be achieved by a social framework of higher morality. Of course, I speak as a Christian so this call might not be everyones cuppa.
I know one thing though. Many people of low socio economic status drink and smoke and many gamble. Getting rid of those things would immediately give probably $100+ more a week in the pocket.

I feel most approaches like yours, are treating the symptom rather than the cause, and chasing the horse after it has bolted.
The problems of families caught in poverty traps can be overcome by individual renewal and a wider social transformation towards a more 'country' attitude of helping each other. Though the best example of this is found in Acts 2:44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need."

Yes, it is a bit fraught with some danger if taken to the extreme, as some have done (Millerites) but in principle it is sound.

Even when a tax system seeks to address inequalities, it will probably only ever address the symptom, rather than the cause.

Placing God first in life, is like an open door to a future, individually and nationally.
Posted by BOAZ_David, Friday, 5 May 2006 9:34:45 AM
Find out more about this user Recommend this comment for deletion Return to top of page Return to Forum Main Page Copy comment URL to clipboard

I totally agree that there is a correlation between a dysfunctional upbringing and success or otherwise in life. But, people can escape and make good; those who do, do so on their own without government charity.

If some can do it, most can do it. So, unless you deem those who don’t do it as morons, I find it difficult to accept your contention that my ‘chose not to’ premise is untenable.

The ones left behind have already wasted the opportunity of the same public education (with free books etc. if necessary) equally available to all Australians. And despite your Third World view of Australian facilities, they have the same right to make use of health, education and public services which we all have at our disposal.

We are talking about a burgeoning sub-culture now into a third generation of no-hopers who have never had a worker in the family. You could offer them any means of breaking the cycle you can think of, and they would not budge. We already have all of the people who were willing to train, learn and work. To give the kids in question a real chance in life, you would have to remove them from their parents before school age. There is no point in recognising the problem (dysfunctional parents) unless you get rid that of the problem.

As for my concern about welfare dependence, I assume that welfare payments would continue to flow for many generations to come, along with the cost (you don’t mention it) of your taxpayer funded schemes to help the un-helpable. Probably cheaper to leave things the way they are!
Posted by Leigh, Friday, 5 May 2006 4:00:26 PM
Find out more about this user Recommend this comment for deletion Return to top of page Return to Forum Main Page Copy comment URL to clipboard
One suggestion to reduce the number of people growing up in "welfare dependent homes".

Treat the ability to earn an income and support yourself as a favourable factor in residency disputes. Not the sole deciding factor, just a factor to be considered when "the childs best interests" are determined.

Our current family law system is resulting in significant numbers of children unnecessarily having as their prime carer someone who is unable (or unwilling) to support themselves and their children.

We might find that a few more of those parents currently stuck in poverty found some opportunities that they can't see right now as a by product.

Leigh, good points although leaving things the way they are seems to be making the problem worse. I wonder if the author has considered the de-motivating impacts of a tax/benefits system that in some cases leaves middle income earners little better off than those living off the system (regardless of the cause).

I've often wondered how much my outgoings could be reduced if I had more time to grow more fruit and veges, shop around more, cycle more places, get rid of those train tickets (over $1,200 per annum), maybe live somewhere where housing was cheaper (with room for a bigger garden as a bonus) etc.

I'm not planning to drop out yet but one day I might just do the maths (after some bright spark finds a way to take a bit more from me to give to those who don't have much) and find that I might be better off with an easier job.

I agree that it will take money to fix the problem, what I'm not so sure of is that I want to give yet more for this. As they say "I already gave at the office".

Posted by R0bert, Friday, 5 May 2006 6:32:52 PM
Find out more about this user Recommend this comment for deletion Return to top of page Return to Forum Main Page Copy comment URL to clipboard
David’s asks: what exactly is the problem and what do I want to see done by governments? To reply in 350 words is hard. You should read the 100-page discussion paper but I will attempt a brief response.

The problem in a nutshell is that those starting their job careers in the bottom 50% do not have the same chance of moving into the top brackets as the top 50% and this is due less to differences in intelligence, ability, motivation and more to parental circumstances and inequalities of access to key employment-enhancing goods like health and education. .

Leigh doesn’t see it as a problem and wants to adopt a laissez faire approach. David accepts it is a problem but blames it all on lack of “morals”. I don’t see how this can explain more than a tiny bit of it.

I see it as a real societal problem and attribute a good part of it to the imperfections of markets and a policy response which relies too much on passive welfare and not enough on active social intervention by governments. I want governments to start addressing the root causes of inequality rather than go on doing what they are doing – i.e. compensating the losers from time to time through the tax/transfer system and in the process distorting incentives and adding to welfare dependence.

The active social intervention I advocate includes early intervention but much much more.
Fred Argy
Posted by freddy, Sunday, 7 May 2006 11:05:30 AM
Find out more about this user Recommend this comment for deletion Return to top of page Return to Forum Main Page Copy comment URL to clipboard
  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. All

About Us :: Search :: Discuss :: Feedback :: Legals :: Privacy