There’s a few young guys currently hanging out in the streets of Mullum asking for money.
They don’t look particularly drug-addled or destitute. In fact they seem well fed and in reasonabe mental health. It has challenged my sense of compassion not because I never give money to strangers but because they don’t look like they need it.
And while I never reached the low-point of street begging, in my early 20s I was certainly grateful to the Salvos for furniture and clothes, the Hare Krishnas for healthy cheap food, and yes – the government for providing the funds to allow me to study music.
This year’s Anti-Poverty Week kicked off October 14 and co-incides with a new report by the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) which claims one in eight people overall and one in six children live below the internationally accepted poverty line.
That equates to 12.8 per cent of us.
While the report lays into our meanness given ‘years of unprecedented growth and wealth creation,’ it is also scathing of changes passed in the Senate last week which will result in over 100,000 sole parents on the Parenting Payment being between ‘$60 and $100
a week poorer from January 2013 when those with children over eight years of age are dropped to the lower Newstart Allowance.’
Will this report make a difference? Unlikely. That’s because collectively, our attitude generally is to demonise those less fortunate and aspire to wealth.
One of the most powerful – and evil – conservative narratives is that there is a section of society who are moochers that willingly suckle at the wealth the rest create. It plays into an incorrect assumption: that the poor like being poor and don’t want to aspire to better themselves. Instead they are labelled lazy and dumb and that’s their fault. It also ignores mental health issues.
Not only are they somehow a threat because they may multiply, they must be punished and suffer with less and less. Given that logic, anything that can’t exist without assistance (like tax breaks), should be allowed to fail. Goodbye big oil, coal and auto... and the rest.
Tax breaks for über rich individuals and corporations is obscenely disproportionate to whatever crackers you throw at the poor.
Subjugating the disadvantaged – who you know nothing about by the way – reflects our distrurbing collective psychopathy (lack of empathy).
It all fits neatly under the banner of ‘neo-fascism.’