Welfare Cards Propaganda…

It’s a sad week when politics in Australia gives me two things to get pissed off about.

Congrats I guess…

This time around, it’s the idea of a cashless welfare card that’s got me fuming.

What’s happening is that the Government is looking at implementing these cashless cards in an effort to stop, among other things, drug abuse, alcohol abuse and gambling. Right here we have a perfect example of a government that feeds a bias-based lie to the public and tries to pander to them by coming up with a “solution” to a problem that doesn’t exist. What I’m talking about is the idea that people receiving government pensions or other payments are blowing it on booze, drugs and gambling. While I couldn’t find the specific statistics regarding gambling or drugs, I COULD find them about alcohol. According to this government study, Australians on welfare payments may be spending as much as  $17 dollars a week, or $34 a fortnight on booze. Now, if we look at the same study listing what those receiving a wage or salary  spends on  alcohol, you’ll note that it is up to $41 per week. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t $41 per week more than what the welfare recipients are spending a fortnight? Yet, it’s apparently the folks on welfare that need to be protected from themselves.

The stereotype of a welfare recipient as a probable addict is sadly a stereotype that isn’t going anywhere soon. What shits me is that it’s being used to bring in something that has only worked in South Africa (but more on that a little later).

Among a lot of other good points, the Australian Council of Social Service had this to say:

“Beyond some limited success with people who have entered into income management arrangements voluntarily, the evidence points to the scheme being unsuccessful in achieving the stated aims of preventing people from spending the money alcohol, gambling and drugs, or getting people to buy healthy and fresh food.”

I bring this point up in particular because by being put on a cashless card, many people will have less opportunity for fresh food, not more. Many markets, such as Adelaide’s Central Markets for example, use cash only.  What this means is that the Central Markets lose customers and revenue due to customers not having the cash on hand. It also harms the welfare recipient as they are forced to pay more for the inflated prices of fruit and vegetables at supermarket chains. Some might argue that because the card can’t be used for alcohol or other items that have been “prohibited,” that there will be more money for fresh food. That’s one possibility. Another possibility is that a black market of sorts will appear for goods on the prohibited list. This is because what is being proposed is not  treating the behaviours, nor the causes of the behaviours.

People do not suddenly become alcoholics or addicts simply because they’re on a welfare payment. Alcoholism is a condition that can be treated, as is addiction. Instead, we have an “income management” which has been shown to be costly and largely ineffective in the instances where it has been implemented involuntarily. The key word there is involuntarily  as it has been shown that people that sign up for this kind of income management tend to do better than those that are forced into it. So the Government, in all its brilliance, decides to implement these cards in “disadvantaged communities,” pretty much all of whom have said “we don’t want this.”

Now, as if I haven’t said it enough, this has been shown to be almost universally ineffective, except for that one case in South Africa. Now from what I’ve picked up, there was one core difference:

You could actually access cash in the South African example.

The welfare card was just used as a transaction method. There wasn’t people being banned from buying items deemed contraband. Effectively, the government is telling people that their method is successful by presenting an example where the key change they are trying to push isn’t applicable. I really wish that I could say that I’m surprised with this, but I’m not. This is a CLASSIC example of how the current government work. They try to justify proposals with examples where key differences aren’t addressed. Instead, they try to obfuscate issues by throwing examples that don’t actually address what people are wanting to know. Right now, that “civil disobedience” thing is looking rather good right now as I’m tired of criminally insane megalomaniacs making decisions in Australia’s name.

Southern Howler, signing out in disgust.

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~ by southernhowler on March 26, 2015.

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