Monday Message Board

It’s time for the regular Monday message board, where you are invited to post your thoughts on any topic. Civilised discussion and no coarse language, please. My suggested discussion starter: Back to school?

42 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. Tom Davies,

    I used the descriptor ‘German Right’ as a matter of substance, not nominal designation (note also my pointed reference to Mark Latham). The simple fact is that any real Left government would not have a bar of welfare-as-punishment – for among other reasons, a full employment policy goal obviates the need to even consider it.


    So you’re endorsing 18 y.o. guys (/girls) being cut off the dole if they don’t agree to work in gay (/straight) brothels? If not, please explain where you draw the line, and why (Here, I’m assuming for the sake of the argument that brothels are perfectly legal – they are in Vic; dunno about WA).

    Splat Guy,

    You presumably think it’s fine for someone to be coerced to work in a café being paid *illegally* low wages (see ), but not to work in the stomach-churning sex or funeral industries. Call me old-fashioned, call me a dole bludger, but *my* stomach churns, more than anything, at government complicity with illegal employment contracts.

  2. Centrelink could well modify Dean Swift’s “modest proposal” along lines proposed by Yobbo.

    Unemployed persons could be offered the choice of eating other unemployed persons, or alternatively being on the menu.

    What elegance: a permanent solution wedded to a principle much valued by proponents of consumer sovereignty.

  3. “If whole-language really was so bad, then why are there kids who gone through the system all their lives ending up at university and taking on responsible and complex jobs in adult society?”

    Only 30-40% of people go on to university, in any case, they tend to come from higher socio-economic families where reading is common, and if reading problems crop up they are solved early. It’s the ones who come from poorer homes who have the worst reading skills, and they should be taught to read via the best way, which just happens to be phonics. You’re also aware that a significant fraction of children reach high school without being able to read properly, and that this is unecessary?

    “The worst thing about education is that those like William who know best can receive funding from the Federal Government to set up a school.”
    The worst thing about education is teachers failing to do their jobs properly, and failing their students and their parents. If you doubt this is happening, ask anybody leaving high school about Australian history, geography, or our how our government works.

  4. I believe in a guaranteed minimum income paid through welfare for all who want it, regardless of whether they choose to work or not. So don’t tar me with the ‘sex slavery’ brush. But I see no logical reason why people who believe in ‘mutual obligation’ should treat sex work any differently from other work, to be fully consistent with liberal principles. If sex work is not illegal then it’s work and shouldn’t be subject to special ‘moral’ considerations in work tests.

  5. Jason, that works provided the guaranteed income is below subsistence, so forcing people to work for a top up wage but on the other hand allowing everyone to price themselves into work. It’s just that there are huge transitional problems, which is why I favour using the Kim Swales approach as part of a transition to it (and, indeed, proceed beyond that to a situation where the income is obtained from owned rather than government resources, a modernised analogue of Chesterton and Belloc’s Distributism).

    Katz, taking your irony at face value for a moment, that wouldn’t actually work. A rope frays at the end, so removing the poor physically would tend to generate replacement poor. The outcome would depend on the multipliers involved.

  6. I didn’t propose anything, Katz. I simply pointed out that Paul’s use of the word “slavery” was grossly inappropriate.

    Like Jason, I support the minimum income/negative income tax plan proposed by Milton Friedman and the Australian LDP.

    That doesn’t mean, however, that I think anyone has a “right” to a income provided by the taxpayer – merely that it would be a much more effective taxation/welfare system than what we have now.

  7. Yobbo, you still haven’t answered my question.

    Jason, because of your response no. 29, I’d ask you the same question. In a situation where prostitution was the only option (and remember this is a hypothetical where you can’t use outs such as “I’m too highly skilled, the possibility would never arise”), would you support Centrelink cutting off your benefits if you wouldn’t take it?

  8. Helen
    For the record I see no reason why we couldn’t pay everyone a guaranteed minimum income that is considerably above subsistence regardless of whether they choose to work or not. So the answer is yes under my ideal system, because I might choose to take the lower welfare which is still considerably above subsistence. You really should ask this question of the mutual obligationists who support harsher welfare terms because they want to promote job participation as an ‘intrinsic good’ in itself i.e. to promote conservative values and are now hoist on their own petard because of this sex work example. As a utilitarian I am in favour of some terms and conditions on welfare assistance only insofar as it’s necessary to minimise levels of moral hazard that might make a welfare system unsustainable ( i.e. because everyone goes on it). But a wealthy society can support some people who choose to be deadbeats if they’re willing to trade thst off in return for a slightly lower income. I see no inherent utilitarian interest in everyone being on a regular job. And equally I see no reason to stigmatise some jobs over others (and I mean stigmatise in terms of public policy) as long as the job is legal.

  9. I wonder what any lurking sex workers might think of the implicit assumption behind so many of the ‘progressives’ commenting here that their profession is inherently ‘degrading’? I’d guess they’d be feeling pretty insulted and discriminated against.

  10. No, Helen. I would not have to take it.

    Assuming I refused the job and the government cancelled my welfare payment, there are several other things I could do:

    I could move in with my parents or a friend until I got back on my feet.

    If I had no parents or friends, I could panhandle on the street or wash windows at an intersection for cash.

    Failing all else, I could seek help from a charity organisation.

    But then again, how much does the job pay?

  11. Jim, what browser and OS are you using. Is anyone else having problems with the menu/links column?

  12. Responding in my capacity as ‘anyone else’ rather than ‘Jim’:

    Yes. The grey veil is where it should be when you are on a page for a specific post. But its left edge (the black line) jumps to way to the right when you return to the home page. IE with Windows.

  13. Helen, you may be interested in this I have just cut and pasted from Jerry Pournelle’s latest mail:-

    I’ve pasted it in verbatim since I don’t know which bits will be acceptable to this blogging software. Anyway, the Daily Telegraph is reporting that something very like your not-so-hypothetical is happening right now in Germany, because it was too difficult to frame regulations for a bureaucracy that would have avoided these issues.

  14. I am using Microsoft Internet Explorer with Windows 98. Also happens with AOL and Windows XP. As James Farrell notes, only seems to happen on the home page, looks fine on this page.

  15. It’s the insurance advertising banner that’s pushing the sidebar to the right. The problem should correct itself once the article it’s in has scrolled off the bottom. [Expletive] I.E.

  16. John —

    I also have the problem with the vertical line separating blue from white background on the righ-hand side of the page in fact falling in the middle of the right-hand column of text.

    I am using Internet Explorer 6.0 running under Windows XP.

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