Abbott abandons half the population

Tony Abbott’s latest move, floating the idea that people under 30 should be denied access to the dole, is clear evidence of why he should never be Prime Minister. For that matter, it’s an illustration of the weaknesses that made him a second-rate (at best) minister under Howard.

The political calculation is obvious, although the arithmetic looks dubious to me. The idea is to appeal to the anti-youth prejudices of the older voters who form the core of Liberal party support. But older voters are hard to shift in general, and the kind of people who would like this proposal are mostly rusted-on Liberals, though they might once have been One Nation types. By contrast, Abbott’s overt appeal to bigotry against the young will surely cost the Libs votes among this group at a time when their attitudes are still being formed

Coming to the policy merits, Abbott’s supporting “reasoning” if such a term can be justified is that this measure will encourage people to move to “areas where there are skills shortages, such as in the Western Australian mining sector.” We are talking here about the age group where most people start forming long-term relationships and having children (median age for first child is 29, and appears to be declining at the moment). And, even if they are temporarily unemployed, most people in this age group have made career choices that are unlikely to be consistent with a flit to WA to work in the mines. And, even with relatively strong conditions, I doubt that the demand for labor in the mines extends say, to a cry for hairdressers, or bartenders or shop assistants, to pick a few occupations at random[1].

This idea seems too silly even to come from a focus group. In fact, it seems about on a par with the ideas I come up with after a triathlon and a few glasses of muscle relaxant. I usually manage to refrain from communicating these marvellous ideas on the blog, let alone announcing them to the public at large.

fn1. ABS used to publish data on unemployment by usual occupation, but they seem to have stopped.

(H/T Nancy Wallace).

Update: More from Kim at LP

93 thoughts on “Abbott abandons half the population

  1. Jack Strocchi wrote: “Abbott’s performance confirms my suspicion that the parties on the Right of AUS politics – LP, NP & ON – have got serious issues with recruiting capable leaders. This seems a problem with both the type of people attracted to the Right-wing political “bridge” and the opinions of the base on whom they depend.

    True enough in general, I would suggest; but I really am starting to wonder (as one who has known Abbott very slightly over the last 20-odd years) whether there is a more personal explanation for Abbott’s carrying-on since the leadership fell into his lap.

    It seems as if he is deliberately trying to make himself look like a joke. Not least with the budgie-smugglers and so forth. When I had a tiny amount to do with him, he at least perceived the accuracy of Machiavelli’s warnings against undue bonhomie.

    Has he now got a serious alcohol problem or something? I have no idea, and two decades ago he most certainly did not have one. But, somebody must be aware one way or the other of What Makes Tony Run.

  2. “Poor old Monkey’s Uncle has got his paw caught in a jar and doesn’t know when to let go.”

    No, poor old Chris has been caught out resorting to a silly argument and now he won’t let it go.

  3. Oh and Chris, I have actually read Michael Thompson’s “Labor Without Class”, which was published several years ago.

    Thompson is actually coming at the issue from the exact opposite direction. He is not critical of the Labor Party for embracing market-based or pro-business policies, or for abandoning traditional socialism. He is mainly critical of the Labor Party for pandering to the ‘bourgeois left’ too much. Indeed, his book was endorsed by free-marketeer PP McGuiness. Thompson actually criticises the Labor Party for adopting economic policies that punish success (such as their 1998 tax policy).

    I can only assume that either you haven’t read the book (and are simply relying on unreliable talking points or assumptions about what it is about), or you assume that no-one else on this forum is familiar with the book and so able to call you out on it.

  4. Stop monkeying around.

    How on earth can Thompson’s book be claimed to be the exact opposite!!? Its subtitle is: “The gentrification of the ALP”.

    So, very clearly, for those who can read, my comment at #24 is reasonable.

    If you want to make some accusation – get some evidence. Throwing dust-up all over the place does not fool anyone.

    Where does Thompson take the opposite direction? I see no opposite direction to what I stated. The “opposite” direction is only in the imagination of Monkey’s Uncle.

    I do not think that Scott and Thompson are taking things in any opposite direction. They are explicitly addressing the ALP’s so-called gentrification and modernising.

    So obviously, as I stated:

    Anyone wanting to look at the substantive issues should look at the modernising and gentrification of the ALP explored by Michael Thompson “Labor Without Class” and Andrew Scott “Running on Empty”.

    Poor old Monkey’s Uncle has got his paw caught in a jar and doesn’t know when to let go.

    How silly of Monkey’s Uncle to assume that I had not read these texts.

    I recommend that people read both texts. But please don’t try reading them in the “opposite” way.

  5. Prof Quiggin, I largely agree with your assessment that Thompson’s book is somewhat intellectually limited and no doubt of dubious merit as a work of political science. Although I am probably sympathetic to his general outlook, he does not make the case particularly well.

    I agree the notion that the working class is generally supportive of economic rationalism seems a fairly heroic assumption. Although having worked in blue-collar occupations for a significant part of my adult life (warehousing, nightfill etc.), I can say I have never felt too much need to censor my own views. Indeed, most of the people I have worked with do seem to have much greater hostility towards progressive social values than economic rationalism. The really crazy-brave option would have been to call some of them out on their racism, sexism etc.

  6. jquiggin :
    I don’t imagine he would agree with my review

    There would certainly be a good chance of that. I guess he would see such comments as demonstrating his thesis.

    Anyway, Thompson’s argument can be seen as echoing reactionary (psuedo-DLP) concerns – but, this does not mean it can be tagged as “intellectually limited and of dubious merit” or necessarily identified with the Liberal Party (which is the line once pursued by the Bulletin which presented Howard in a blue workers idiomatic singlet).

    Thompson’s position does not necessarily involve any criticism of ALP’s:

    market-based policies,
    pro-business policies, or of some

    ALP abandonment of traditional socialism,

    but it can be seen, in the hands of Martin Ferguson and co., as supporting opening Australia wide for nuclear industry or doing other obnoxious things (“to provide jobs for workers” etc etc).

    But rejecting that – does not mean rejecting the gentrification/modernisation thesis and the implied distancing by ‘chardonnay socialists’ and ALP careerists, from shop-floor perspectives.

    So as well as Quiggin’s;

    The obvious inference from Thompson’s book … is that he, and others who share his views, should join the Liberals.[the Burke and Richo effect? -cw]

    we are also getting the opposite – Liberals joining Labor {the monkey effect] – attracted by the gentrification/modernisation.

    So, as I noted at #3, Burke and Richo should join the Liberals, and our rather confused Monkey’s Uncle should vote labor.

    It is not necessary to see the gentrification/modernisation issue in the same terms as Thompson. A criticism of Thompson does not imply there is no problem with gentrification/modernisation.

  7. Chris, I suspect everyone else on the board has lost track of your increasingly tortured logic and desperate attempts to remould your narrative to fit in with the facts. It seems you are just muttering to yourself now. Best of luck.

  8. Chris Warren @24:

    This depends on your level of understanding and the quality of your interpretation. If you deliberately misunderstand then you will sidetrack yourself into inane gibberish.

    This is an old tactic – ignore the inconvenient and create a distraction.

    Settle down, Chris. (I presume your comment @24 was a response to me since it appeared directly after mine)

    The ‘no true Scotsman argument’ doesn’t imply that the qualities of the alleged offending member(s) of the group actually reflect upon the group. On further consideration, Freelander’s take on it could arguably be correct if you take the narrow view that ‘no true Scotsman’ has to be limited to a statement which includes the words ‘no true…’ in it.. but I still think it’s reasonable interpretation of your statement, regardless of how you intended it.

    I have no idea what you’re referring to by “inane gibberish” (I seldom write gibberish and then only deliberately).

    I’m also not sure what you meant by “a distraction” – perhaps you meant that I was distracted from the ‘more important’ stoush about economic ideology. The thing is, ideological blog debates about the role of government are both ubiquitous and interminable. Debates about the meaning of the ‘no true Scotsman’ fallacy, on the other hand, are rare flowers which should be enjoyed. 🙂

  9. @Tim Macknay

    IMHO, Freelander’s take on ‘no true Scotsman’ is entirely correct and is the only correct interpretation. There is something that makes you a member of a group. For example, belief in the Christian god makes you a Christian. Christians seem to promote the idea that they, the true believers, are more likely to behave in morally better behaviour and that they are morally superior to so called ‘non believers’. When someone points out the actual behaviour of typical Christians, frequently, outcomes the ‘no true Scotsman’. But the people are Christians as meets the definition. If they were atheists portraying themselves as Christians then they wouldn’t be ‘true’ Christians but they are not atheists but true believers. Likewise, no claim about Richo or Burke never haven’t been members of the Labor party was made. All that was asserted was that given the appearance of their existing politics. Someone noted that they might find it more appropriate to be in the Liberal party. The same could be said for Hayden. Membership of the Labor party is simply a formality, but being a member or being a supporter is typically to support a certain constellation of political philosophies and to eschew certain others. A person who embraces any of those certain others can be a member of the Labor party, but would be fairly open to the claim that they aren’t a true member. If however, someone made the claim that Labor party people are somehow morally superior in their behaviour and refuting evidence was brought to bear and they asserted that the people used as evidence were not ‘true’ Labor party people and those people did embrace the constellation and eschew the certain others, then this not ‘true’ Labor would be a ‘no true Scotsman’ argument. However, if the people were simply masquerading as Labor party people, even if they were members, then there would be some merit is saying they were not ‘true’ Labor people.

    All rather obvious, I thought. Hope that clarifies it.

  10. Or there is a better way to explicate ‘no true Scotsman’. When I say they are not a ‘true’ something it is not a fallacy. When someone uses the ‘true’ and I don’t like their use, it is a fallacy. Much simpler in application, and avoids what most avoid, having to think.

  11. If you go the ‘no true scotsman’ then you are claiming there is some set of attributes which are absolutely necessary for making the claim of is-a-scotsman true. That’s all and on the face of it probably reasonable. But in practice the ‘no scotsman’ is a ploy, the set of attributes ridiculously narrow, partial, and sometimes shifting such that no argument can be entered into. A true scotsman becomes those who the claimant admits to the treasured realm and no-one else.

  12. The no true is a ruse to try to avoid refuting evidence when you have made some refutable claim about desirable associated properties of being a Christian, a Scotsman or whatever. Having evidence refute your hypotheses concerning the associated desirable property you simply fold that property into the definition of being a [true] Christian, Scotsman or whatever. No ‘true’ Nazi would exterminate people. Magic now the Nazis didn’t exterminate anyone, by definition. The no ‘true’ is a great ploy for the religious. No ‘true’ member of the Roman Catholic clergy ever molested anyone. There you go, all Vatican problems solved.

  13. @Tim Macknay

    Those who reinterpret others statements, and then criticise the reinterpretation, generally come to grief.

    As you can see, #24 was not addressed to anyone in particular, but to those who play the reinterpretation gambit as a distraction.

    I have no interest in the Scotsman thing, it presumably arises from a misrepresentation and as pure distraction – no better than a ‘do you beat your wife’ tactic.

    On the other hand, the damage done by Belinda Neal, Grahame Richardson, Paul Keating, Brian Burke, Hawke and others is of great interest.

    However this has to be distinguished from a parallel take often expressed by DLP and associated sects (for example BA Santamaria “Who Rules Australia anyway?” – Weekend Australian, 30-31 December 1995, p9).

  14. Just to show how twisted the ALP is becoming. According to this [Dirty Site], Nick Sowden is now associated with Queensland ALP (at least in student politics).

    So the redneck rats and lost monkeys are coming on board?

    Will they sink the whole ship?

  15. Hello and thanks for the invitation to comment.
    Abbott does seem recently to have overturned a liberal core principle – that of small government.
    But since we can’t have small government anyway in result of the existence of the constitution and States perhaps he’s just decided to take another tack.

    So let’s look at one tiny jurisdictional aspect of canning the dole for 30s and under –
    The masters calling the shots in this country have relentlessly forged a generation or two of Australians, the vast majority of whose career expectations revolve around any sort of employment so long as it doesn’t involve raising a sweat or getting dirty hands.

    The education system seems dedicated towards turning out that sort of product on the basis of some policy dreamt up over forty years ago that Australia shall become a ‘service society’.
    The other side of that medal is that politicians, over that same timeframe have equally relentlessly driven Australian manufacturing and technical industries to perdition.

    This, of course, is an oversimplification of the total situation and does not refer to the minerals/energy/mining sector nor to the ridiculous situation where the sons and daughters of the privileged get to work (if such it could be called) in air conditioned comfort at head office with a ratio of about 2.5 chair polishers there to every worker out under the mid-day sun.

    The punchline –
    Queensland, today, is moving toward drafting legislation banning drivers younger than 25 from operating four wheel drive vehicles on our beaches.
    If they can’t be trusted with 4WDs on Sunday arvo – then what’s the future outcome when Abbott’s outcasts zip around the rim road of the open cast mine in those 50 ton trucks?

    Or would the Mad Monk get Centrelink to issue each one an exemption?
    Oh, I forgot – Federal law does override State when there is conflict.

    Easy peasy.

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