To help poor people, give them money (Draft excerpt from Economics in Two Lessons)

Here’s another draft excerpt from my book in progress, Economics in Two Lessons. To recap, the idea of the book is to begin with the idea that market prices represent opportunity costs for the households and business who face them (Lesson 1), and then go on to explain why market prices won’t in general equal opportunity costs for society as whole (Lesson 2). A lot of the book will be applications of the two lessons, and this section is an application of Lesson 1.

As before, all kinds of comment and criticism, from editorial points to critiques of the entire strategy are welcome.

To help poor people, give them money

The problem of poverty is huge, in rich and poor countries alike. Around the world, nearly a billion people live in extreme poverty, living on less than $US1.50 a day. Even in the United States, on many measures the wealthiest country in the world, the Dept of Agriculture estimates that 14.5 per cent of the population experience food insecurity, defined as being ‘uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, enough food to meet the needs of all their members because they had insufficient money or other resources for food.’

Faced with images of the hunger and suffering caused by famines and extreme poverty, a natural and intuitive reaction is to send food. This reaction is often politically appealing in countries that happen to have large stockpiles of food, either because of unforeseen declines in market demand, or because of government policies such as price supports for farmers.

On the other hand, many advocates of development aid dismiss food aid as a short-term ‘band-aid’, and argue that the aim of aid should be to provide the ‘right’ kind of assistance, as measured by subsequent economic growth. Advocates of aid initially focused on economic infrastructure and industrial development, and have more recently turned their attention to health and education.

Similar debates have played out in the United States. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), better known as food stamps, has played a central role in US programs to assist low-income households since it was introduced in 1964. With cuts in other welfare programs, its importance has increased over time.

On the other hand, as with international food aid, the SNAP program is regularly derided as a bandaid approach. Liberals frequently point to education as the way to provide real opportunities for the poor.

Which of these approaches is right? Much of the time, neither. While support for health and education has a better track record than food aid, there is a growing body of evidence to say that, in both poor countries and rich ones, the best way to help people is to give them money.

To see why this should be so, ask: What would a desperately poor family do with some extra money? They might use to stave off immediate disaster, buying urgently needed food or medical attention for sick children. On they other hand, they could put the towards school fees for the children, or save up a piece of capital like a sewing machine or mobile phone that would increase the family’s earning power.

So, the poor family is faced with the reality of opportunity cost. Improved living standards in the future come at the cost of present suffering, perhaps even starvation and death. Whether or not their judgements are the same as we would make, they are in the best possible position to make them.

This is a straightforward application of Lesson 1. Market prices reflect (and determine) the opportunity costs faced by consumers and producers.

Exactly the same points apply in rich countries. Giving poor people assistance in kind, such as food stamps and subsidized housing, has a lot of political appeal. Not only does it meet an apparent need, but it appears to reduce the chance that the recipients will waste their extra income on luxuries, or on alcohol and tobacco. In addition, as in the case of the US food stamps program, it may also be possible to form a political coalition with producer interests, represented by the farm lobby.

Thinking in terms of opportunity cost, however, we can see that aid in kind almost inevitably results in waste. The opportunity cost of subsidized housing is the low rent paid for the house, while the opportunity cost of moving usually includes going to the back of the line. So having secured subsidized housing, people will stay there even if the house no longer suits their needs, because it is too big, too small, or too far away from a new job.

The same kinds of problems come up with food stamps. Families poor enough to get food stamps face all kinds of problems. They might, for example, need urgent medical or dental care, or be faced with eviction if they don’t make a rent payment.

Most of the time food stamps cover only part of a family’s food budget, so they are really just like cash. Families can meet some of their food bills with stamps, then use the money they save to meet other needs The opportunity cost of spending more on food is the alternative that can’t be afforded.

But it’s precisely when people need money most, to the point where they are prepared to live on a restricted diet, that the limits of food stamps start to bite. If poor families were given money, they could choose to pay the rent bill even if it meant living on rice and beans. That’s a hard choice, but it might be the best one available.

Unsurprisingly, then, poor people often try to change some of their food stamps for money. This is denounced as ‘fraud’ and used as a reason for cutting food stamps even further.

It is market prices that determine the opportunity costs of goods and services for individuals and families. So, when people choose how to spend additional money, the opportunity cost of one choice is the alternative that could be bought for the same amount.

The idea that poor people don’t understand this is patronizing and wrong. The tighter are the constraints on your budget, the more important it is to pay attention to them. Poor people often have less access to markets of all kinds, including supermarkets basic financial markets such as bank accounts and face complex and variable prices as a result. Nevertheless, many of them manage to find highly creative ways of stretching a limited budget to meet their needs. Additional constraints, in the form of payments that can only be spent in particular places and on particular goods, are the last thing they need.

These arguments have been going on for many years, but resolving them has proved difficult, since there are usually many different factors that determine good or bad outcomes for poor families. In recent years, however, a combination of improved statistical techniques and careful studies of experimental program pilots have allowed an assessment of the evidence to emerge. Overwhelmingly, it supports the view that giving people money is more effective than most, if not all, forms of tied assistance in improving wellbeing and life outcomes.

http://www.thebaffler.com/blog/blaming-parents/

If the best way to help the poor is to give them money, what is the best way of doing that? In a market economy there are two possible answers. The one that has been discussed most is redistribution; that is, using the taxation and welfare systems to transfer some market income from the rich to the poor. More difficult, but arguably more effective is to change the structure of markets and property rights to produce a less unequal distribution of market income — this is sometimes called ‘predistribution’. We will come back to this issue later.

97 thoughts on “To help poor people, give them money (Draft excerpt from Economics in Two Lessons)

  1. One thing I learned a long time ago is that you don’t have to like the people to whom you provide assistance. If finding someone agreeable were the basis on which charity were provided…oh, wait, we are at that place now.

  2. Donald, Care ethics says exactly what you deny. That you do (and should) place above average weight on those you like – those close to you. It’s why all people show greater charity towards their own children to those equally deserving children down the street. Its also why we have nations.

    My own view is that care ethics is right but needs to be supplemented by deontological ethics that applies to those more distant. Its still a fact that we will give more generously to those close to us who we “like”.

  3. > I’m here to learn, like I said.

    Sure. But we aren’t here to teach you.

    If you can learn, that’s fine. I don’t think anyone doesn’t want you to learn. But “oh maybe this other guy I don’t know can learn something” isn’t a big part of anybody’s motivations.

    [one thing it’d be good to think about: if a person’s acting in honest good faith any mistakes they make are a result of limitations on their knowledge and judgement. Until they’ve overcome their own internal limitations their mistaken conclusions will be the genuine best they can do. You cannot expect to understand why your mistakes are mistaken — or even that they are mistakes — until you’ve grown past them.

    When you have the skills and knowledge to avoid a particular mistake, you won’t have to force yourself to see it: that mistake — at least — will be obvious to you. Until then, trying to force yourself to see it, demanding that people show you where you’re wrong and struggling to see how, is futile and even counterproductive. Like playing musical pieces or attempting skateboard tricks your skills aren’t up to.]

  4. @hc
    Actually, I am consistent with Care ethics. I have stated that it is not a necessary condition that you like the people to whom you (ultimately) give charity. You may well rank the charity you provide on a basis of family ties, relationships important to you, and fanning out to the more abstract charity of aid for homeless people (who it isn’t necessary to like), unemployed people (who it isn’t necessary to like), etc.

    In not so many words, I was trying to convey that we shouldn’t only give charity to those we have a strong affinity for, or a bond or some kind; and in more words, just because we give someone (whom we might not like) charity, we shouldn’t expect their gratitude as a necessary condition for that charity. I can pay taxes with the reasonable expectation that some of it contributes to unemployment benefits—and sometimes, the people who get it might not appear amiable to me. I still want unemployment benefits to be there for people who require it.

    Admittedly, I was being flippant in the second sentence, but I was quite precise in the first sentence.

  5. @hc

    I don’t believe that “taking money by force from one person and giving to another” infringes any liberties. It might do if you assumed that property rights were somehow god given, but I think they are a social construct and are thus open to such rules as society chooses – including taking them.

    Of course my sort of thinking was popular in Australia in 1788.

  6. @hc

    You talk about belief and think of yourself as rational? Whatever.

    It is increasingly clear that you and people like rational liberal can’t or won’t understand motivated cognition; you seem to be in denial and can’t even see that it is quite clear to others who do understand the concept that your beliefs are based on your own individual self-serving preferences and are not rational.

    But I don’t think it matters any more because the people who have been foolishly voting for neo-liberalism are now waking up to the fact that they have been voting against their own interests.

    You won’t see this because you don’t get out enough.

    But here on the ground I see big changes taking place in the thinking of, and about the ‘poor’ people, and a more insightful realisation that they have given up things that are really important about life and living a good one and that it hasn’t make them happier.

    Those social climbing, money-grubbers who thought they were doing well, following all the rules for getting ahead, sacrificing their community involvement to send their kids to private schools, criticising the stupid and lazy who won’t budget efficiently, and feeling themselves to have superior genes and superior abilities, are falling apart now and finding that all those things have not brought them any happiness or satisfaction.

    The main thing that is challenging their beliefs and breaking their hearts, is that it has not been all worth it for their children who are not managing even to get a foot on the ladder despite all the sacrifices they have made in the name of the version of liberty that conceptualises taking responsibility for your society as being ‘forced’ to pay tax.

    Charity is an insult to a free human being; put yourself in that place and then tell me how it feels.

  7. @Julie Thomas

    I can offer some anecdotal evidence about all this. Firstly, I was educated in a state high school in Qld. Not THE Brisbane State High which is part of GPS (Great Public Schools). (NB. It’s pretty clear that GPS people think they are “Great” isn’t it? The correct useage would be “Greater Public Schools” which has a slightly different connotation though still somewhat elitist.)

    My ordinary state public school education in the late 1960s and early 1970s was excellent. My kids went to a state primary but then we became a bit worried about standards in the local state high (rightly or wrongly) so we sent our kids to a private school, though not a GPS school. Perhaps we deserve some criticism as class traitors, I admit this.

    However, my observation was that the education in my kids’ private high school was as good but no better than the education I got free at a public school. There was some information around to suggest that the standard public school education had declined somewhat (mainly because of starvation of funds and favoritism towards private schools).

    So, the final analysis is that I and my wife had to, or chose to, pay full private fees to get the same standard kids’ eduction for our kids that was obtainable public and free 40 to 50 years ago. This is what has happened. This is what neoliberalism has given us. Everything of a SOCIAL nature costs more (not cars, computers and TVs of course) than it did in the 1960s and 1970s but is NO better in quality. If this ain’t inflation and exploitation of working people then I don’t know what is.

    In terms of the changes you see, Julie, I unfortunately don’t see them yet. Maybe I am too insulated in my middle class enclave. All I can see still is that neo-liberalism getting worse and worse. I admit I am in a protected and cossetted class so it doesn’t hurt me too much yet. But poor people are hurting badly now.

    I can also see my twins now 21 (despite being ready to soon graduate with excellent profession qualifications) will struggle to get jobs. Graduate employment is getting harder and harder to get. And our economy is going into a nose-dive with the idiotic neoliberal austerity economics of Abbot and Hockey. My twins will also need my help (I feel) to pay of their HECs. It’s not fair they remain saddled with that when I and my wife got free tertiary educations. In addition, with house prices where they are, my twins can forget buying houses, flats or units for at least the first 10 years of their professional working lives. It will not be possible and would not be wise anyway. A crash has to come at some point.

    So all in all? “Things are crook in Tullarook,” as they say. The current young adult and youth cohort will have a tough row to hoe after the neo-liberals have destroyed and laid waste to much that was good about our economy, society and community. In the future, history will rightly revile the baby boomers (me included) as a most selfish, purblind and world-wrecking generation.

  8. @John Brookes

    I agree with the point you’re making but I suggest you might want to think a little more carefully about how you express it.

    To write ‘There are enough goods and services in the community’ is to suggest an unrealistically static view. Take just one example of a service: haircuts. Are there enough haircuts in the community? How many haircuts are in the community? Does the question make sense?

    I am confident you could modify your choice of words to avoid this unrealistic implication without impairing your general point.

  9. @Ikonoclast

    The changes I see are happening all around the town. The changes are small and all over the place and probably only I can see them although youngest son who still lives at home says he sees the same thing in his friends.

    I think I mentioned in a thread that he has this gun loving friend who used to hate the Greens until my son gave him some truthful info about the greens policies, and now he hates David Leyonhjelm instead.

    I’ve been here in town, long enough and I’ve done enough ‘good deeds’ to have earned some respect, despite not being a church goer and being one of those greenies. They can see that I am not a raving ratbag or a communist and that I don’t want to take their way of life away from them.

    So recently I have started to argue with them during craft group and if they disagree – often they just change the subject lol – I google things for them to prove my point. That doesn’t always work because they distrust academic knowledge and there is a general disrespect for what ‘they’ say.

    But at the same time they know that they are supposed to send their kids to uni if they want them to be part of the economy and get a job. They hate computers and yet they know their kids have to have that knowledge. There are some difficult decisions for kids in regional areas to make and no clear path for them to take.

    We also have a growing number of young couples who are moving out here because they want to raise their kids in a small town with a small school. They want to be part of the community and are coming to the craft group and it is when we women of all ages, talk about raising children, that we find we agree on a whole lot of really important foundational things for what a good society looks like.

    I also see changes in the young relatives I have on my fb page; they are part of a sub-culture of 20 somethings who have never registered to vote, being free range libertarians – perhaps some sort of anarcho-libertarians – who knows? They each have hundreds of fb friends!

    They hate Tony Abbott and the sort of man he is; they say they are registering to vote next election.

    I’m well aware that I may be delusional though. 🙂

  10. @J-D

    Are there enough haircuts in the community? Yes there are. Let your hair grow.

    And don’t criticise my profligate use of commas in the above.

  11. @David Irving (no relation)
    Thanks for your comment David. It seems you are agreeing that there is a class of people called the “undeserving poor” If this is correct, but what moral reason should anyone be forced by tax to support them if they are undeserving? You can if you like, but I’ll choose to give my money to those who really can’t help themselves.

  12. @hc
    Thanks for your thoughts HC. I too have struggled with the notion of whether the unfortunate would get the help they need under a true laissez faire capitalist system. I could be wrong, but I choose to believe that people in general are a compassionate bunch and they would be looked after. My only evidence for such a belief though it that even now, as we are heavily taxed, people are generally extraordinarily generous. This view of people as fundamentally good though is in direct contrast to the collectivist/socialist view of them as needing “guidance” from an all-knowing ruling elite who knows what is good for all of us.

  13. @J-D
    JD, in my original post I pointed out that forced distribution which is a cornerstone of the socialist ideology has resulted in a host of failed societies. The mechanism is a progressive loss of motivation/productivity of the population. You’re telling everyone here you can’t even have a go at rebutting that? Are you serious? Harden up and have a go! How embarrassed you must be. We’re not presenting and defending PhD’s here.

  14. @rational liberal

    Why have you ignored my request that you explain why charity is rational? Are you unable to start from this statement and construct an argument that leads to this conclusion?

    And tell me why a free person should be forced to accept charity rather than be able to make their own way in the world without having to suck up to stupid people who happen to have more money? How can we poor people be free from the impositions of the rich who convince themselves that charity, this monstrous way of taking liberty from ‘unfortunate’ people, is a good thing.

    Have you read Adam Smith’s book “The Theory of Moral Sentiments”?

    He says ‘Nature, when she formed man for society, endowed him with an original desire to please, and an original aversion to offend his brethren. She taught him to feel pleasure in their favourable, and pain in their unfavourable regard.

    The reason poverty causes pain is not just because it can leave people feeling hungry, cold and sick, but because it is associated with unfavourable regard.’

    As he explains:

    ‘The poor man … is ashamed of his poverty. He feels that it either places him out of the sight of mankind, or, that if they take any notice of him, they have, however, scarce any fellow–feeling with the misery and distress which he suffers.

    He is mortified upon both accounts; for though to be overlooked, and to be disapproved of, are things entirely different, yet as obscurity covers us from the daylight of honour and approbation, to feel that we are taken no notice of, necessarily damps the most agreeable hope, and disappoints the most ardent desire, of human nature.

    The poor man goes out and comes in unheeded, and when in the midst of a crowd is in the same obscurity as if shut up in his own hovel.’

    Does Smith recognise that there are undeserving poor you think?

    In the Wealth of Nations he wrote:

    ‘A linen shirt, for example, is, strictly speaking, not a necessary of life.
    The Greeks and Romans lived, I suppose, very comfortably, though they had no linen. But in the present times, through the greater part of Europe, a creditable day-labourer would be ashamed to appear in public without a linen shirt, the want of which would be supposed to denote that disgraceful degree of poverty, which, it is presumed, nobody can well fall into without extreme bad conduct.’

    What would a linen shirt be today?

  15. @hc
    You know what “frugal comfort” means? It means you can afford to turn on the heater every second night in winter. It means you have somewhere to live, but you attempt to fix the leaking roof yourself and don’t do it well, because you’re scared that if you complain to the landlord he’ll evict you and you can’t afford a tradesman’s fees. It means jam tomorrow, but never jam today.

  16. @rational liberal
    Every Western country practices large scale forced (that is, through compulsory taxes) redistribution. We are also the most economically successful set of nations on the planet. QED.

  17. @Collin Street
    Thanks for your note Collin Street. I’ve asked nothing of anyone on this blog in relation to teaching me and I’ve in good faith tried to answer every polite challenge thrown to me. Your post therefore makes no sense. You make some good points, but they’re not relevant to the circumstances.

  18. @John Brookes
    Thanks for your note John.

    @Julie Thomas
    Ha ha…to an extent Julie, to an extent for sure. Comes from first hand experience and I see aspects of it in Australian politics and society. It concerns me greatly. Don’t forget how many tyrannies start….the population is offered something for nothing, get used to it and then naturally clamor for more….it never ends well and I would hate to see Australia move even a little down that path. Sure, we’re a long way away ATM, but the slide always starts somewhere…

  19. @Nevil Kingston-Brown
    We are Neville…and we’d be even stronger if we practiced forced distribution less. I see trend of bigger, more intrusive government. It’s making us progressively weaker.

  20. @rational liberal

    In your original comment you made a series of unsupported assertions. You’re telling everyone here you can’t even have a go at making an affirmative case for your conclusions? Are you serious? Harden up and have a go! How embarrassed you must be. We’re not presenting and defending PhDs here.

  21. @Julie Thomas
    But Julie, free human beings can choose how to respond to charity. They can choose to be grateful, insulted, motivated…your problem is YOU choose to believe it is insulting and that gives you the right to tell other people what to do…by force….Now THATS motivated cognition….hahahahaha!..BTW, I give to charity voluntarily because it makes me feel good and harms no one else – does life get any more rational than that? Last thing, I used the moniker “rational liberal” because i knew it would wind up certain types of people. I TRY to be rational, but don’t always succeed. Thanks for your posts. i enjoy them tremendously.

  22. hi All,
    Thanks for all your posts. I learned a lot. There’s evidence in the psych literature that although “conservatives/right wing” very rarely become “democrats/left wing”, the opposite happens under particular conditions quite readily. That is, when the chips are down, property and physical safety under threat, lefties turn into righties and see the value of competition, loyalty to the group/family and freedom to keep the fruits of their labor. They do that, or they don’t survive. Which one will you be? Let’s hope we never get there. Good-bye and good luck.

  23. @rational liberal
    No, I don’t believe there’s such a thing as the undeserving poor. (Clearly your irony detector is broken.)

    I do, however, believe that there’s such a thing as the undeserving rich.

  24. @rational liberal

    Oh he’s gone!

    So many questions and so few answers from rational liberals. Sigh.

    Never mind, I’ll keep talking to you, rational liberal, and asking questions because I am going to print out this exchange and post it on the notice board at the local pub and the post office and I can’t see any of my neighbours being impressed with your rationality or your liberality.

    All you’ve got is all ideological stuff and it doesn’t make sense to them any more because we the people are seeing what small government really means and it is affecting those people who have been so irrationally angry about government taxing rich people and so foolishly voted against their own interests.

    You may want to comfort yourself that there are only right and left but this is not so, there is a large centre and they are looking back to the vibe that was happening – 🙂 – in the 60’s and ’70’s and Tony’s tradies and Howard’s battlers now have kids who are not doing as well as they ‘should’ be.

    It is very clear now that small government means fewer services and that it will make life more difficult not only for the poor, but for the poorer.

    Just one example.

    A service that provided support for new mums who do not have any family support handy, had it’s funding cut. If we all had a mum available, as I did when I had my first baby, funding for services such as this would not be required. But when people have to move to get a job, they leave behind grandma’s and aunties and all sorts of family support that is not provided by charity or that invisible hand in which you seem to place such blind faith.

    Do you think that all mothers come hard-wired to look after their babies ‘properly’ and that children just naturally grow up to become good adults who take responsibility for themselves if they make the right choices or poor people if they make the wrong choices?

    And actually when the chips are down, people who are part of a cohesive, diverse, community will have the best chance of survival.

  25. An evil capitalist and a compassionate leftie are walking down the street when they come across a homeless man. The evil capitalist gives him 5 dollars and tells him to come and see him about a job. The compassionate leftie pickpockets $10 from the evil capitalist, gives it to the homeless man and tells him where to find the dole office

  26. Julie/JD …..I imagined you two would be the only few here with no sense of humour….

    JD, your lame attempt at return humour (dreams?) makes you a double loser. No prizes for second in the real world. But you could pat yourself on the back and tell yourself it doesn’t matter.

  27. @rational liberal

    What was the funny thing you did?

    I took you seriously and went to the trouble of writing this for you.

    Why would your capitalist pick a homeless person? Is this your idea of *good* charity?
    Lots of people who do have a home or a rental property want a job.

    You’d need to give most homeless people a lot more than $5 to get them ‘job-ready’ as they call it in the industry. Very few homeless or long term unemployed are ‘normal’ or capable of working and living in a way that would make them good employees; it takes a lot of years of abuse about being lazy and stupid to turn people, mostly men, into a homeless poor you know.

    Let’s take just one example of the many things that need fixing in people who have not been able to construct their ‘self’ into a respectable individual or managed to fit into a respectable community; teeth. If you look closely at a homeless person and I’m sure that is something that you are not motivated to do, you will not see a lot of nice white teeth or in fact many teeth at all.

    Often the teeth that are there are rotting and the person lives with constant pain and the consequent quite serious health problems that come from having rotting teeth and bad gums. Drugs, particularly alcohol which is the cheapest drug and makes a lot of money for those who sell it, dulls the pain, physical and emotional and existential.

    Do you know much does a dentist cost? Do you think poor families just neglect their kids teeth or is that they don’t have the money to send them to the orthodontist. Schools used to provide basic dental care but apparently those rational liberals with a tax fetish don’t think this is worth spending public money on.

    But if you came across a younger homeless person, they are more likely to still have more teeth although they won’t be white and straight. The younger homeless person will be more likely to be an ice user so they will have bad skin, probably sores from picking themselves and will need some support to be able to manage the cognitive problems that are created by ice.

    What jobs do you think there are for young people with no references from a well connected family, no contacts or experience, no idea how to behave ‘properly’ because they have never interacted with a functional family, never mind the sort of superior family that a ‘rational liberal’ would be part of.

    This young person will possibly be mal nourished, probably from early childhood because the fake food that has made so many people so fat is so cheap and easily available. The mother of that family or the loose collection of people who live together in rental properties that never are homes, is ignorant of the need to choose ‘good’ food and desperate to try and provide her family with the things the things and experiences that everybody else seems to have. So she buys what they like and what is the cheapest.

    And so it goes…..

    What did I do to make my previous comment into a link?

  28. No one objects to your values Julie. Indeed some endorse them. I think that people dislike having them forced down our throat simply on the grounds that you think they are a good idea. You can paint such critics as heartless liberals but some may think of you as a fanatic who has the view that the only reasonable transfer to the poor is one that is set by the tax code.

    I’d be interested to know whether you ever voluntarily give much to help the poor. Or are your principles only strong when others are forced to abide by them because you think they are a good idea? Honesty appreciated.

  29. How are they forced down your throat hc?

    I don’t think you aright wing people are heartless. I think you are ignorant; deliberately ignorant and so blinded by your faith in your ideology that you cannot see your hypocrisy.

    I’d say that you significantly misunderstand leftie psychology because you think everyone has motivations that you can understand. Perhaps though, leftie psychology is something that you are not currently qualified to understand because your current fundamental assumptions about human nature are wrong?

    Honestly, hc I am one of the poor. I am on a disability pension and I live in a regional area that has one of the lowest income levels in Australia. Most other people who live in this small town that is so small it doesn’t even have a postal delivery, are also over 50 and are on a pension.

    I certainly do give to the poor. Youngest son has been living with me for a couple of years while looking for a job and to run a car needed to get into town for interviews and for work if he ever gets one, newstart is not enough to live on so I give him what I can.

    I am appreciated in my community despite it being known that I am sucking at the teat of the taxpayer and forcing good free people to pay tax and even worse it is known that I am a greenie.

    In fact, I am so much appreciated that I have received invites to the Mayor’s breakfast – the mayor is in the next larger town – we don’t have a mayor – for my services to the community. I’m currently working on getting computer lessons for the old people in town who need to contact centrelink.

    We could do these groups at the local hall; that would help the hall which needs repairs but we need the council to pay for the internet connection an d councils have no money when we get small government. I point that out all the time at the PO and the pub.

    It is a good thing that we have to pick our mail up at the PO because that is the way we get to know each other. And these days I walk into the PO and talk to my also poor right wing voting neighbours and make fun of the people they voted for.

    And you know what? They laugh too now instead of being grumpy.

    That do it for you?

  30. I wonder how many homeless people have been given jobs by employers who happened on them by chance in the street. It would make an interesting research project.

  31. Before this thread closes I just wanted to note Marcia Langton’s recent essay in The Monthly, I am not sure whether I agree or not, but she certainly gives reasons to not rush to condemn the idea of limitations on what can be purchased and limitations on cash for vulnerable people, including but not limited to Indigenous people:

    “Recently, I was driven to comment that the Greens prefer their Aborigines “drunk and stupid”. One of the party’s senators, Rachel Siewert, had frothed in the media that the government was planning to “force” Aboriginal communities “into using an authoritarian cashless welfare card”. She elaborated on this with more fear-mongering: “The Healthy Welfare Card is income management on steroids, authoritarian action has not worked in the past and will not work in the future.”
    ….
    What solutions do the Greens and inner-city progressive “luvvies” have, apart from arrogantly and heartlessly accusing these leaders of being “assimilationist”? The simple answer is none.

    They have never encountered scenes like this, a regular occurrence at ATMs in poorly policed towns (that is, most in rural and remote Australia that have large Aboriginal populations):

    A woman goes to withdraw cash and is met by a line of male “relations” who threaten and intimidate her for money. This is the only ATM in town, so in order to obtain some cash for shopping, the woman pays an amount to each man. The men promptly head to the pub, and the woman is down one or two hundred dollars. Her children and other dependants will go hungry before the end of the fortnightly payment cycle.

    “Those who object and say that special circumstances apply to first Australians,” Forrest concludes, “are in fact applying their own soft bigotry of low expectations.”

    The cost of enforcing compliance would be enormous, and moreover largely ineffective. In these circumstances, the smart card approach makes good sense. It gives people the power to help themselves.”

    http://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2015/may/1430402400/marcia-langton/health-and-welfare

  32. Ivor :
    @P.M.Lawrence
    This makes no sense.
    What is your point?

    Sorry for the delay replying.

    Taking those in reverse order:-

    – My point was to back up my original assertions that those people typically live on other resources as well as their small cash income. I did this by showing that the material you offered in rebuttal not only doesn’t rebut it, it actually supports it (apart from also misusing “living on” their small cash income to misdescribe “living with” it).

    – If that doesn’t make sense to you, I regret that, but it is actually quite logical. Perhaps a concrete historical example from our own under-developed world past might help clarify it. Consider the better off Irish peasants of two centuries ago who owned their own land (my maternal ancestors were probably among these). It was practical for them to live off their own cabbages, potatoes, cow’s milk and pigs, while raising and selling a small amount of cash crops to provide for needs supplied from outside. Contrast that with the lot of those even poorer, who had to pay rent to landlords: they survived in much the same way, although with less as they had to work on the landlord’s land to work off the rent or had to grow more cash crops to sell to pay it (cottiers and gombeen men mediated that then in arendator fashion, much like tax farmers who organised cash advances and putting out work as well as collections); those even poorer people notionally had even higher incomes, just not higher disposable incomes, and scarcely used any of that to live on at all; the slightly better off were better off with lower incomes but lower burdens overall.

    To end, some years ago in the Spectator Petronella Wyatt cited a Hungarian curse she had heard through her mother’s family: “may you live off bread bought in the market”. The significance was that it was wishing that the accursed would have to eat through their savings by not being able to grow their own food and having to pay cash for it instead. That illustrates the norm in places that aren’t fully cash economies. (If all else fails, think back to the very recent tradition of chooks in the Australian back yard.)

    Ivor :
    @P.M.Lawrence
    This makes no sense.
    What is your point?

    Trying again.

    Sorry for the delay replying.

    Taking those in reverse order:-

    – My point was to back up my original assertions that those people typically live on other resources as well as their small cash income. I did this by showing that the material you offered in rebuttal not only doesn’t rebut it, it actually supports it (apart from also misusing “living on” their small cash income to misdescribe “living with” it).

    – If that doesn’t make sense to you, I regret that, but it is actually quite logical. Perhaps a concrete historical example from our own under-developed world past might help clarify it. Consider the better off Irish peasants of two centuries ago who owned their own land (my maternal ancestors were probably among these). It was practical for them to live off their own cabbages, potatoes, cow’s milk and pigs, while raising and selling a small amount of cash crops to provide for needs supplied from outside. Contrast that with the lot of those even poorer, who had to pay rent to landlords: they survived in much the same way, although with less as they had to work on the landlord’s land to work off the rent or had to grow more cash crops to sell to pay it (cottiers and gombeen men mediated that then in arendator fashion, much like tax farmers who organised cash advances and putting out work as well as collections); those even poorer people notionally had even higher incomes, just not higher disposable incomes, and scarcely used any of that to live on at all; the slightly better off were better off with lower incomes but lower burdens overall.

    To end, some years ago in the Spectator Petronella Wyatt cited a Hungarian curse she had heard through her mother’s family: “may you live off bread bought in the market”. The significance was that it was wishing that the accursed would have to eat through their savings by not being able to grow their own food and having to pay cash for it instead. That illustrates the norm in places that aren’t fully cash economies. (If all else fails, think back to the very recent tradition of chooks in the Australian back yard.)

  33. @ZM

    If people choose the welfare card; there is no problem; if it is forced on them, it will make life more difficult.

    Humbugging is only one of the problems in those very diverse communities where the traditional respect for women and the traditional laws that governed men’s behaviour are no longer enforced and white men have not provided any alternative way to live than this male dominated hierarchical individualistic selfish and greedy economy.

    Marcia Langton has made quite a few changes in the way she thinks about how her people can survive our ‘settlement’. I expect she has a long way to go yet.

    I read the monthly article until I read this: “Forrest advises that the card would need to be introduced sensitively and that individuals with “existing addictions to alcohol, drugs or gambling would require professional support”.

    And then I just cracked up at the thought of Forrest understanding ‘sensitively’. Have you every listened to this mean and fully understood how lacking in sensitivity he is, or is it that he lacks the ability to understand that his idea of sensitivity is the same sort of faux concern that guided the early Australian racists as they sought to smooth the pillow of the dying race.

    Where are all these sensitive psychologists, social workers to come from?

    They lost a society; what they need is to construct a society and a way of life that can incorporate the essential spiritual beliefs of their traditional culture and provide them with something meaningful to do with their lives.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s