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Politics of envy: Feeding the rich in an entitled society

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The Australian Government has a tendency to help the rich while the needy live in dispair (Screenshot via YouTube)

It's about time the Australian Government started doing something to assist the poor and homeless rather than helping the rich, writes Noely Neate.

I WANT YOU to picture this. Just sit back and imagine this scenario for me and keep in mind how the likes of the Daily Telegraph or A Current Affair would portray this.

Two beautiful, blonde little girls – white, of course – turning up to school daily; hungry, shoes with holes in them and looking uncared for. Someone at school finally tries to contact the parents, worried about these kids as the poverty is obviously affecting them both physically and mentally, only to find out that Mum and Dad are away on a luxury holiday to Europe and the kids are fending for themselves at home with no money.

Worse, when the parents come back, they rock into the school's office, dressed in designer clothes in an expensive car, absolutely livid that the school has dared to report them to social services for neglect of their kids. They both work hard and deserve that holiday, how dare the school interfere and judge them?

Now, what sort of front page splashes do you think we would see?

‘SELFISH PARENTS DANGEROUSLY ABANDON CHILDREN.’

‘THE COUPLE GALLIVANTING ACROSS EUROPE WHILE CHILDREN STARVE.’

Of course, these “scoops” would be accompanied by pictures of the lovely, angelic-looking little girls just to elicit that bit more sympathy for them and anger towards the callous and self-obsessed parents.

This is your Government

Yet, for some reason, the decisions and choices as to how our Government is spending taxpayer money are not being reported on in the same manner.

This morning, the Financial Review had a piece titled ‘Tax cuts are no handout to the rich’. Well, of course, they would say that, as their whole purpose as a media publication is to write pieces that are of interest to those with money or interested in money.

What really grated, though, was this tweet which the Liberals also flogged:

 

That “silent thief” of tax bracket creep — won’t someone think of the “high income earners”? Cry me a river.

Ever since John Howard’s “battlers” and now Scott Morrison’s “aspirationals”, the Australian public have been groomed to think they “deserve” to keep the money they “earn”.

They want all the services that taxes pay for, like hospitals and roads and, of course, they want their private schools subsidised as well because “they paid tax so they deserve to have that choice”. Due to various governments flogging this “entitled” attitude, it has given permission for Australians, in general, to be basically self-obsessed and entitled, lacking in empathy and it is time we admitted this.

It must be awful finding out you are getting a pay rise only to discover that instead of 12K extra a year in your pocket, you will only get 8K extra. But you know what? 8K is still great. There are millions in this nation that would love to get an extra 8K per year — that would be the difference between the kids going on school camps, maybe the odd dinner out on the wedding anniversary or a weekend away at the beach for the whole family.

We are constantly told we need a surplus and we can’t afford to “waste” money. The Government has no money to help the homeless, raise Newstart, raise the pension or support community legal services — in fact, they are always looking for “savings” in these areas. Savings being the euphemism for cuts.

But the Government does have money to spend on tax cuts for those on high wages and big business.

Now, if everyone in Australia is supposedly equal, how can a Government justify giving wealthier people more money when we have people who are homeless, starving and living in abject poverty?

Worse. When this issue is raised, it is called “politics of envy”.

I am yet to see one political commentator ever call out a Government minister on that ridiculous line. Wanting to see taxpayer funds spent where it is actually needed is “envy”?

Now, I’m no economist and not great at mathematics, but even I know that poorer people spend every single dollar they get in their community. Which is good for the economy, particularly small business. So, raising Newstart would not only give these people some dignity, allow them to have a roof over their head and feed themselves, it would also give them the opportunity to probably update their wardrobes to try to get that job or get out of the trap they are in to move elsewhere for better job opportunities. It would be a win for the Government and the economy.

Even the Business Council of Australia, in their long list of what they think is great for the economy – namely themselves and big business – includes:

‘Increase the single rate of Newstart for those who have been on the payment for a long time and improve the ability of long term job seekers to find jobs and stay in work. We have supported increasing Newstart since 2011 because it is the right thing to do.’

Now, I am sure not all the members of the BCA are vampires, but they sure would not be advocating for this because it is the “right thing to do”, they are doing it because they know it is good for the bottom line of their business members.

Yet, this is something that the media barely raise and Government fobs off. Instead, all we hear is “Labor may not agree to the whole tax package that includes tax cuts to high wage earners”.

You know what? Labor should not agree. If this nation cannot afford to help those in poverty, then surely we cannot afford to give more money to those who have won the lottery in life. In what universe is that considered acceptable in a decent society?

That is the issue, isn’t it? People have been groomed to think if they have any wealth at all they deserve to keep all of it — they are not being selfish, they deserve it.

Well, you know what? You don’t. You got lucky, you got a job that paid well, you didn’t have misfortune that knocked back those aspirations. You should feel grateful that as a financial spiv, you earn more than an aged care nurse, who, I might add, works a lot harder, contrary to our Government and PM trying to make out like someone who has earned more “worked harder”. That aged care nurse is having “a go” and breaking their back doing it, yet doesn’t seem to be “getting” the same go.

It is time media and the ALP got a backbone and started calling this out. This Government and vast segments of our media either have a moral compass or they don’t.

Enough with politics of envy

I am sick to death of hearing, “well, just reporting what the Government Minister said…” — that is not good enough. Every time you flog that “politics of envy” line and focus on the game of politics instead of demanding to know why helping the most vulnerable in this nation is considered “politics of envy”, you are participating in the gaslighting of the nation. You are participating in the grooming of a selfish nation that feels it is entitled to garner wealth by stomping on the backs of those in poverty.

So many in this nation are homeless – with that figure rising – living below the poverty line, even though they may have two jobs, languishing on Newstart, not paying for heating on a pension or one pay cheque away from not being able to pay their rent or mortgage. It is about time these people were counted and demanding they “get a go” is not politics of envy, it is common sense. It is what a decent society does and even if you don’t care about being a decent person it is actually better for the economy as well.

No responsible adult squanders the household income going off on a luxury holiday leaving the kids starving at home.

Read more from Noely Neate on her blog YaThink?, or follow her on Twitter @YaThinkN.

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