Maybe you’ll be old one day too

Hockey pension_pe

“Treasurer Joe Hockey has signaled a further increase in the pension age, more welfare means testing and co-payments for medical services in a speech in Washington delivered as the budget takes shape”.

And it’s not if we didn’t see that one coming.  For quite a while now Hockey has been “priming his audience” with stern lessons about how we must “end the Age of Entitlement”.  Hopefully it’s not just those least able to defend themselves who will be at the top of the Liberal government’s agenda.  To date the cuts already announced, and often surreptitiously, do not instill me with a great deal of confidence; cuts to welfare groups including the PCYC, cuts to legal aid for Aboriginal people and has begun dismantling the GP super clinics, to name but a few.

But surely when Hockey spoke about the ‘Age of Entitlement’ he was referring to the upper income brackets, those with plenty of cash to splash on luxuries such as multiple investment properties and private this and that. . . but perhaps not.

But let’s admit it, we have been forewarned. . .

From April 2012,

Despite an aging population and a higher standard of living than that enjoyed by our children, western democracies in particular have been reluctant to wind back universal access to payments and entitlements from the state.

Quite right and bravo, Joe!  Obviously Hockey was on the cusp of announcing that he didn’t support his boss Credlin, Abbott’s fervent desire to pay ‘women of calibre’ $75,000 for bonding time with bubs.  Or perhaps he was referring to the cancellation of all upper class welfare and other lurks and perks.

But of course not.  These are the same people who add, and substantially to Liberal Party coffers. . . they are therefore a no-go zone.

The Daily Telegraph was clearly stunned to learn:

Senior government sources have confirmed that Australians over the age of 70 are also almost universally securing free or discount medicine ­because they qualify for ­taxpayer-funded concession card schemes.

A stunning 94 per cent of Australians over 70 qualify for either a pensioner concession card or a seniors health care card for self-funded retirees.

The growing number of older Australians claiming discount medicine under the PBS is a challenge for the government because 78 per cent of the cost of scripts claimed at chemists under the PBS is going to concession cardholders.

Hell, we can’t have that!  The luxury, the profligacy – *gasp* discount medicine!  Perhaps we should go back to “the good old days” and have pensioners cut their heart tablets in half to make their prescriptions last that little bit longer.  Pensioners also receive free hearing aids, plus “low cost” batteries, discounts on public transport, plus on electricity.  OMG the world’s gone mad!  It’s all the pensioners’ fault.  We have to stop it now – we simply cannot afford these oldies and their draining the dollars from “hard working Australians”.  How much was that again that Brandis was going to cost us for his new library?  How much was that again that Abbott cost the taxpayer because he didn’t fancy staying the $3,000pw temporary Canberra residence, the house that he had originally chosen?

However, and in the real world, it is important that politicians at least make a semblance of keeping their promises, and it is understandable that at times some do get broken or bent in the process of having to re-jig a government in that particular political party’s own image.  Gillard certainly paid the price for her poorly explained price on carbon, the JuLiar tag being the result.  So I wonder what the public will make of this plethora of broken promises coming from the Liberals?

In a pledge, an absolute guarantee Tony Abbott said on the night before the 2013 election:

“No cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS.”

And election eve pledges are certainly ones which need to be believed as these are the promises on which many people base their voting decision.  To sneak into victory based on a series of known falsehoods is deception at it’s worst.

Under the radar

A lot of great words are written on internet sites but unless they are to be found in the mainstream media sites they usually slip under the radar of everyone’s attention. I found a couple of pieces written mid and late last year on the Essential Vision website that come under that category.

These are reproduced in part or in full below. We start off with Groups better off under Labor or Liberal Government which poses the following question:

Q. Do you think the following groups of people would be better off under a Labor Government or a Liberal Government?

 

Better off under a Labor Govt

Better off under a Liberal Govt

Makes no difference

Don’t know

Difference

(Labor minus Liberal)

Pensioners

36%

20%

29%

15%

+16

Unemployed people

41%

14%

29%

15%

+27

People with disabilities

36%

16%

30%

17%

+20

People and families on low incomes

44%

17%

25%

13%

+27

People and families on middle incomes

26%

33%

28%

13%

-7

People and families on high incomes

11%

54%

21%

13%

-43

Single parents

39%

16%

29%

16%

+23

Average working people

32%

27%

28%

13%

+5

Large corporations

9%

57%

20%

14%

-48

Banks and other financial institutions

9%

47%

27%

16%

-38

Small businesses

21%

37%

26%

16%

-16

Families with children at public school

38%

19%

28%

15%

+19

Families with children at private school

14%

44%

27%

16%

-30

Recent immigrants to Australia

35%

17%

30%

17%

+18

Farmers and other agricultural producers

19%

32%

31%

19%

-13

Respondents were substantially more likely to think the following groups would be better off under a Labor Government – unemployed, low income families, single parents and people with disabilities.

They were substantially more likely to think the following groups would be better off under a Liberal Government – large corporations, high income families, banks and financial institutions, families with children at private schools.

Those were interesting figures. They show that respondents think most people will be better off under a Labor Government, yet the polls tell us that most people will be likely to vote in a Liberal Government. It is interesting too, that most people think that families on a middle income will be better off under the Liberals. Is the Liberal trick of handing out middle-class welfare now entrenched in our psyche? Is it now expected of them?

But the big question is, why are people likely to vote in a Liberal Government when they clearly believe that most of us would be better off under a Labor Government?

Is it the public perception of Julia Gillard? Do public perceptions carry more weight than what voters consider to be essentially good for the majority of Australians?

The above results suggest a very firm yes.

Moving now to the second piece, Labor’s Woes by Jonathan Tasini:

If you offer people two options to choose from–vote for a lite version of political ideology or the real thing–most people will vote for the real thing. It’s an emotional reaction–not entirely rationale. And, therein, my friends, lies a big problem faced by Labor.

I thought about Labor’s problem this morning after reading a fine column by Ross Gittins, entitled, “Prejudices rule when judging Labor”. I think Gittins misses, or under-emphasizes, two very important points. But, let’s start with what he gets right:

“The conundrum is why so many people could be so dissatisfied when almost all the objective indicators show us travelling well: the economy growing at about its trend rate, low unemployment, low inflation, rising real wages, low government debt – even a low current account deficit”.

That is correct. We got it good here (see: US unemployment above 8 percent, for example). Hang on to that thought for a moment…

And:

“Similarly, only the one-eyed could believe an Abbott government would have much better policies. It’s likely to be less populist in government than it is opposition but, even so, Tony Abbott is no economic reformer”.

Yup. The Empty Suit, leader of the Coalition, is vapid, entirely void of anything to say that is either true, new or useful about the future.

It gets even more bizarre. The Empty Suit, and his shills in business, are so craven, they resort to the Big Lie, as Gittins observes:

“So, for instance, a favourite commercial tactic at present is to search for, and give false prominence to, all stories that portray our almost-dead union movement as a threatening monster about to engulf big business.

Boosting productivity equals making industrial relations law more anti-union. End of story”. [emphasis added]

Ah, yes, the Big Labor fear campaign. Again, The Empty Suit is fully engaged with the American Disease–the Big Labor threat figures prominently in the US where Republicans use it at every turn, even though “Big Labor” is, representing 7 percent in the private sector and maybe 11 percent overall, more like “Big Labor”.

The Prime Minister also has a host of other issues, not the least of which is sexism in politics–there is always a higher barrier women have to leap over when it comes to the judgement of the chattering media and know-it-alls (see: Hillary Clinton–after all, though she may have actually believed in it, her vote for the Iraq War was, at least, partially driven by the conventional wisdom that, to run for president, she had to look “strong” i.e., appear to be willing to spill blood like a man…well, that didn’t work out too well but I digress).

But, Gittins sidesteps two really fundamental points. First, remember where we started? That given the choice between ideological “lite” and the real thing people opt for the real thing. So, for example, if you run around harping, stupidly, about the need to have a balanced budget, which Labor is doing, you sound just like The Empty Suit.

For the love of God, there is no friggin’ debt crisis or even a serious debt problem–as Gittins points out. The end result of sounding like The Empty Suit–government spends too much and needs to cut back–is that (a) it leads to bad policy and people losing their jobs because of an obsession with cutting public sector jobs and (b) voters actually start believing the nonsense.

And voters are inclined, then, to vote for the real thing–because The Empty Suit, and his chorus of ideological midgets, actually hate government.

Second, and to the bigger point–and a bit wonky. People vote not based on reason, but emotion.  It is a huge–fatal–mistake to hang on to polls that say Labor’s actual policies are supported. That is a path to defeat.

May I suggest people read “The Political Brain” by Drew Westen. Here is the upshot:

“In politics, when reason and emotion collide, emotion invariably wins. Elections are decided in the marketplace of emotions, a marketplace filled with values, images, analogies, moral sentiments, and moving oratory, in which logic plays only a supporting role. Westen shows, through a whistle-stop journey through the evolution of the passionate brain and a bravura tour through fifty years of American presidential and national elections, why campaigns succeed and fail. The evidence is overwhelming that three things determine how people vote, in this order: their feelings toward the parties and their principles, their feelings toward the candidates, and, if they haven’t decided by then, their feelings toward the candidates’ policy positions”.

The political types, and the wonky types, might not like that. But, if you ignore what people emotionally feel, you are dead politically. And, it seems like this is what Labor is banking on to save its bacon–once people focus on how great are policies are (see: carbon pricing), all will be good.

Nope.

I ask, how good is that article? Knowing that visitors here are widely read, I also ask has anybody ever seen it before?

My guess is a probable no.

Isn’t it a great pity that excellent articles are being written in the Fifth Estate that slip under the radar into oblivion? Isn’t it also a great pity that this will continue to happen? Isn’t it also a greater pity that such hard-hitting, truth-telling articles will forever be drowned out by our hysterical, manipulative, dishonest, sensationalist, gutless, unfair and unbalanced media in this country?

Has there ever been a greater need for the Fifth Estate to join forces? If we don’t, a lot of what we write will continue to slip under the radar.