Lifters and leaners

I have a piece up at The Guardian looking at Hockey’s adaptation of the “47 per cent” line made famous by Mitt Romney. The focus is not so much on demolishing the claim (Greg Jericho did a more comprehensive job on this) but on the state of delusion that would allow Hockey to think that this kind of claim would be favorably received. After all, even Romney didn’t use the 47 per cent line in public: he was caught on video talking to rightwing donors.

33 thoughts on “Lifters and leaners

  1. I’m still scratching my head as to whether they actually believe the nonsense they put out or whether they think for other reasons (e.g. too much reading Ayn Rand fairy stories or being grovelled to by their toady staffers;) that they were, are and always will be the elect/illuminati/whatever of Australia. And so it is only the natural order of the world that they should impose their will on us by any means fair or foul – with all the rhetoric really being a modern equivalent of Jo and his ‘feeding the chooks’ line.

  2. The likes of Hockey, Andrews, Bernardi and
    Abbott are the spiritual descendants and inheritors of the Gauleiters of the brutal ‘thirties of last century last century (godwinned).

    But I don’t care. Hockey and Abbott are thuggish braggarts, Andrews a fanatic and Bernardi just a fantasist.

  3. The Abbott government is controlled by a small bunch of fanatics and they are out of touch with mainstream opinion. It’s a simple matter of mistaking disenchantment with the ALP with support for their wishlist – a wishlist they were too gutless to share with the electorate before the last election. It’s been quite an awe-inspiring show of mis-judgement and contempt for the electorate by a PM that was never popular in the first place.

  4. @Michael

    That’s what I struggle to understand. Before the election they were completely certain that there was no popular support for their agenda, so certain that they actively lied to cover it up and quite possibly did not even discuss it in cabinet for fear of leaks. It was likely at the nod-and-wink level.

    My feeling is that it’s a combination of saying follish things in an attempt to confuse the gulliable “oh, he seems to know what he’s talking about”, and facilitating the disinformation campaigns from Murdoch et al. If Hocket et al stand up and lie with a straight face it takes two steps to show they’re wrong: first establish that they’re knowingly lying, then show that what they’re proposing won’t solve the real problem.

  5. @Newtownian

    There’s no doubt that they believe it: it is the only explanation for their woeful selling of their budget. If you are a true believer you know (and every right thinking person would also know) that you are doing the best for the country, therefore there is no ‘selling’ required.

    It is very clear that Abbott, Hockey et al have been taken by surprise by the negative response, which is why they are becoming increasingly shrill and offensive.

  6. Brandis playing silly b-ggars over East Jerusalem shows where this psychosis leads, as with hassling Indonesia. There is a real world out there, they know not what they do.
    Morrison’s vile outlook also surfaces a lot as to asylum seekers… there are troubling pathologies at work with these brothers from the gutter.

  7. @Michael

    They are used to easily being able to manipulate public opinion .Younger people are onto their tricks and have lost faith. Old medias reach is diminishing. Baby boomers are dying off but still have most power .Its just a waiting game now . They need a big distraction -war drums are being banged now .

  8. @Michael

    The Abbott government is controlled by a small bunch of fanatics and they are out of touch with mainstream opinion.

    In the Guardian of June 2, Wayne Swan reports Health Dept data which shows that all the Liberal party’s recent leaders have come from four of the five wealthiest electorates in the country. So when they sit in their offices on a Saturday morning with a queue of constituents, what do they hear? Not much dissonance with what they believe, I bet.

  9. A right-leaning friend of mine was pointing out the other day that 10% of people pay the vast majority of income tax. My response was that clearly we had a very inequitable income distribution. Naturally he did not accept this:-)

  10. @John Brookes

    This point always seem to fly over their heads. They pay more because a) they are most able to bear the burden from an equity viewpoint, and b) receive the most benefit from the current collection of social institutions (such as financial disclosure laws, corporate law, the property rights arbitration system, the military, patents/trademarks/other IP, the RBA and macroeconomic stability, etc etc etc).

  11. Do 10% pay the “vast majority of income tax” or of all tax? I doubt it. The upper income earners are very, very deft at avoiding tax. And the middle 80% pays a lot of tax by virtue of numbers.

  12. The funny thing is on the first day of the current parliament, Joe Hockey told the opposition. “I know you’re excited on the first day. This is your best day in opposition, trust me.” Doesn’t look like that now. Opposition is probably a better place to be in June 2014 than it was in November last year. Then the Coalition was full of strut in the wake of an election win. Now, they’re stuck selling a “stinking carcass” of a Budget regarded by voters as fundamentally unfair. Just like Work Choices was. Cuddly Joe couldn’t make Work Choices sound fair. Nasty Joe, telling us we’re all leaners who need to tug the forelock to lifters like Gina Rinehart, won’t stop the carcass from stinking

  13. The people who are now protesting wildly about the effects the budget is likely to have on them personally are being bitten by the rabid dog they willingly took into their homes not so long ago.
    They tenderly, many of them eagerly, groomed its attractively coloured stop-the-boats coat and were persuaded that the only suitable food for this creature and the whole household had to have lashings of open-for-business sauce on it. (No one ever complained that it had a distinctly odd aroma. They’re now not pleased to discover that the stale smell was cigar ash.)

    Unless someone finds a way to leash or cure or otherwise disable that extraordinarily nasty dog, Abbott, Morrison and the rest of the immoral crowd will be able to revive the worst, rather than the best, instincts of the Australian electorate again and again. Maybe the newfound interest in proclaiming the fair go as an Australian virtue might lead some – hopefully many – voting citizens to extend that fair go a bit further than the end of their own backyard. Otherwise they’ll let themselves be led into the same stinking mess all over again.

  14. I’ve never seen a budget so ignorant of Australian history and so disastrously out of step with the national character. It’s no surprise to me that Hockey and Abbott are migrant kids. The notion of a fair go has deeper roots than either of these buffoons are aware of. The popular rejection of the budget is suggestive of a reassertion of the old idea of a fair go, one in which one person’s success doesn’t give them the right to kick the tripes out of anyone with less security, wealth or power. A fair go means that everyone gets enough of what they need for a decent if humble life. These characters drank Spencerian misinterpretations of Darwin in their mother’s milk; they imagine themselves as a new ruling elite, totally justified in their elite status because…well, they’re just better than the rest. Fuck ’em.

  15. On the skill of “selling bottle tops” and “selling The budget”.

    Collecting and selling bottle tops in a mineral resource poor country under a trade embargo is an economically sensible business activity; the success of the bottle top selling businessman or woman is measured by his or her profit.

    To the best of my knowledge, the economic problem, which is to be solved by The budget, has not been discovered as yet. Offering a solution to a problem, which does not exist, creates a problem. (Business people know that too, although it is not known to all managers and their advisers and consultants).

    It seem to me persisting with ‘selling The budget’ would not make sense to a successful businessmen or woman. It does make sense to a ‘successful manager’, defined as a manager whose subject specific incompetence is more than compensated by favourable relative prices. Not every manager is that lucky.

  16. The ABC must have been still leaning too much: the efficiency review reckons another nip and tuck of $50 million bucks would help the organisation to straighten up again…

    Speaking of leaners, not lifters, Australia as a country is a real leaner when it comes to the AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming) issue: anyone else noticed that May 2014 was the hottest May on record in the NASA GISS monthly temperature data? If we lean backwards any further, we can kiss our a**ses goodbye :-0

  17. jungney :I’ve never seen a budget so ignorant of Australian history and so disastrously out of step with the national character. It’s no surprise to me that Hockey and Abbott are migrant kids. The notion of a fair go has deeper roots than either of these buffoons are aware of. The popular rejection of the budget is suggestive of a reassertion of the old idea of a fair go, one in which one person’s success doesn’t give them the right to kick the tripes out of anyone with less security, wealth or power. A fair go means that everyone gets enough of what they need for a decent if humble life. These characters drank Spencerian misinterpretations of Darwin in their mother’s milk; they imagine themselves as a new ruling elite, totally justified in their elite status because…well, they’re just better than the rest. Fuck ‘em.


    don’t forget our boy from the country that was so incapable of give and take,they took around 500 days to finally get together a government.
    he arrived fully formed.

  18. and then there is the unfortunate concatenation of a certain religious ideology on the front bench that every one is tippy toeing around.

  19. I was gobsmacked at the crude nativist argument @15 (A migrant can never understand Straya!) of which Pauline Hanson would be proud. Then even more gobsmacked when it was taken up and heartily endorsed @19. Since noone else seems willing to speak up against it, I wish to record my complete disagreement with this line of argument (Shades of ‘Obama the sinister Kenyan’ from the US Tea Party) and my disappointment that this should be a point of view accepted here.

  20. @Helen
    Helen, like it or not there are people around the place whose sense of Australian history, culture and character is informed by the engagement, over time, of generations of family members. It does make a difference at all kinds of levels. Those of us with longer histories tend to be more invested and frequently better informed about sustaining Australian democracy because we are aware of the price paid by our families in prior struggles for freedom and decency. You might inform yourself about the Jindyworobak Movement before tagging ethnic Australian nationalists as “crude nativists”.

  21. I admit that as the mere grandchild of migrants I am an inferior being and I tug my forelock to express my humble gratitude that those whose families have been here longer deign to interact with me at all.

    The obvious solution to our problems is to restrict participation in public life to those whose ancestors have been here for more than three centuries. They’d soon get everything sorted out.

  22. Ah, The Sandpit is currently closed so I’ll proceed here at risk of being off topic although I reckon I could make a case for the topicality of my argument.

    JD: you didn’t actually follow up my reference to the Jindyworobak Movement, did you? Had you done so another entirely honourable meaning of the term ‘nativist’ would be apparent to you. YouI’might also also care to read the family history of Henry Reynolds to better understand what I’m talking about:

    It is a not uncommon story.

    The issue of authenticity has been brought into sharp focus for me by the irritating habit of my local Federal Liberal member, another ten pound pom, issuing glossy ANZAC day commemorative material every year and then standing around sniveling about the ANZAC sacrifice as if he has a personal investment in the matter. He doesn’t; it is mere populism just the same as Abbott’s and Gillard’s for that matter.

    Do you know any First Australians? What about people with Aboriginal heritage who don’t identify? I’d warrant not because you don’t have the family connections to inform you of who came from where in this country. There’s more to being Australian than either ‘Man From the Snowy River’ romanticism or meaningless cosmopolitanism.

    As a matter of active identification, which is what counts, when was the last time, if ever, you took a stand against the despoliation of our national estate other than giving a few bob to someone in a koala suit? Locating yourself within an historical landscape counts, as any Englishman or Irishman would tell you. Have you been to the Myall Creek Massacre Memorial? If so, what did you feel when there? If you haven’t been there, why not? You’ll have been to St Paul’s Cathedral and the Eiffel Tower, I guess, so why not Myall Creek? Does the bush scare you, leave you unmoved, does it have no history for you, is there not a presence you can feel?

  23. @jungney

    I already admitted my inferiority. I even tugged my forelock. Was that not grovelling enough? Is there some more profound abasement I should properly submit myself to?

  24. @J-D
    JD, your readiness to ‘tug the forelock’ and admit your inferiority illustrates the difference between true born Australian native sons and daughters and tourists.

  25. @jungney

    I think it’s unfair to attribute an arrogant incapacity to admit inferiority to true-born Australian native sons and daughters and also unfair to attribute it to tourists.

  26. I suppose it might seem unfair. My point, though, is that there is a strong ‘nativist’ tradition in Australia which was profoundly informed by engagement between Aboriginal Australians and non-Aboriginal radicals, non-conformists, members of the IWW, communists, socialists and others.

    People like Brian Manning ( showed younger Australians how to fight; his love of country reflected Aboriginal sensitivities and his desire for justice remains emblematic.

    There are many other such ‘nativists’, quite a few not born here, whose work and lives embodied a distinctively Australian egalitarianism combined with a passion and deep respect for the landscape. There are some, like the artist Ian Fairweather, born in Scotland, who deserve recognition as a nativist because such love for the landscape and his engagement with Aboriginal art forms. I’d also mention Roland Robinson, a man of my acquaintance who lived in a hut on Lake Macquarie with a dingo, whose poetry and other works introduced me and many others to a specifically Australian aesthetic of the bush along with a fiery contempt for all those Australians who looked the other way or otherwise failed to take up the injustices served up to Aboriginal people.

    What I’m getting at is that there is a strong Australian nativist tradition that derives from a deep love of the bush and an engagement with Aboriginal culture. People within that tradition are standard bearers of an older democratic impulse than most recent immigrants are even aware of. I’d put good money on Gillard never having heard of the Jindyworobaks, mores the pity.

    As an aside, I’m delighted that both my kids will next week attend an environmental conference in Canberra during which time they will stay as guests of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy on the front lawn of the old Parliament House. Now, there’s continuity of nativism for you.

  27. @jungney

    Engagement with Aboriginal culture and deep love of the bush are both things I have no wish to disrespect. I see, however, that you now acknowledge that those traditions are accessible to migrants (at least some of them) just as they are to children of migrants, grandchildren of migrants, great-grandchildren of migrants, and so on.

    Your earlier remarks gave the impression (whether you intended it or not) that there is an automatic correlation between openness to the traditions under discussion and ‘generation time’ in Australia. You can see that I’m not the only person who took exception to that.

    I expect you’re right that most recent immigrants have never heard of the Jindyworobaks, but I submit that’s because most Australians have never heard of the Jindyworobaks, independently of how long their families have been in the country. Conversely, I suspect that traditions that are familiar to most Australians (but which are those? is Anzac one?) are also familiar to most recent immigrants.

    If you had written ‘it would be a good thing if more people in this country were more familiar with some of our nativist Australian traditions, including engagement with Aboriginal culture and love of the bush’, you wouldn’t have received the sort of reaction you did (at least, not from me, and probably not from anybody else). What raises hackles (as it should) is the apparent suggestion that having grandparents born here (or is it great-grandparents?) automatically puts that sensitivity ‘in the blood’, and nothing else can do the job.

    And it doesn’t help when your first response to me is to construct an imaginary version of me, one that you can’t support with evidence, just so you can knock it down again. That really does make you look like somebody whose first concern is a demonstration of personal superiority.

  28. Graeme Innes on lifters and leaners

    Disability is a normal part of the diversity of the human experience, and the life of our community. But it’s not viewed that way. Fuelled by sensationalist journalism such as that of the Daily Telegraph, running front pages comparing slackers (disability support pensioners) to slouch hats (soldiers), calling us shirkers and rorters, we are demonised and diminished. The pictures of so-called slackers were actually South American backpackers on holiday, and of the 45,000 “slouch hats” who returned to Australia, 20% experience mental illness. The Tele gets it wrong on so many counts, and trashes the disability brand, but people with disabilities are the ones who pay the price and wear the damage. The Tele pushes us back into the leaners corner, despite our best efforts to leave it.

  29. More from Graeme Innes

    Mr Innes rejected as ”facile” the Abbott government’s use of the ”Ming Dynasty concept” of ”lifters” and ”leaners” to describe those who contribute to the economy and those who depend upon the state.”We all move from one role to the other dozens of times a day,”

    In various ways we all start and end life as a “leaners” – excepting those that believe in the delusion that they are warriors.

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