Money for nothing creates fools' paradise
By Andrew Bolt, Herald Sun, February 25, 2009 12:01am
NEVER have we handed so much free money to the reckless, careless, brainless and plain lazy.
Not good at all. Rewarding fools risks making us all dumber.
Go through just the recent handouts.
Don't work? Poor because you gamble or drink? Never bothered saving in your life?
Here, have a $1000 "stimulus" cheque from the Rudd Government's $10.4 billion bag of December handouts. Oh, and there's another $900 coming to you in a fresh round of handouts, in case you've already splurged the last lot.
Didn't bother insulating your house? Here, let the Government spend another $4 billion doing that for you, too, and for free. Free to you, that is.
Didn't insure your house or contents, now burned in Victoria's fires, and thus skipped the 20 per cent insurance levy for the fire services that tried to save you?
Never mind! A quarter of the burned out did the same, so have $10,000 from the Bushfire Appeal Fund as downpayment for a new place.
Would rather go to work than look after your toddlers? Let the Government give you an even bigger childcare subsidy, ripped off the parents who raise their own.
Roll up, roll up, roll up, all you who never studied, never put your head down, never saved, never dared, never thought for yourself and never sweated.
We have free cash for you all, extracted from the wallets of the people who did.
Oh, stop frothing. Yes, I know that most of the poor are virtuous, not drunks or pokie addicts.
I know that for many it's not their fault they're not rich - and even to their credit, since they chose to serve as priests, teachers, nurses or police.
Yes, I also know we are healthier when the rich help the poor, and that the burned-out deserve our compassion, whether they were insured or not, which is why I've donated plenty.
But even deserved charity has its price, and the price of all this free money may be an infantilising of a people once famous for their self-reliance. And a rewarding of precisely the behaviours that drove people to need help in the first place.
We don't like to say such things aloud for fear of seeming too hard on poorer Australians who are usually excused as "disadvantaged" - as if they were just unlucky, and held back by forces beyond their control. You know, by society. Or bastard bosses.
And we're all in the game of treating the rich as plain "lucky" - or even selfish. Not like "real Australians".
Most of us secretly know all this is nonsense. Ours is a society where most people of average intelligence or better can succeed, at least financially, by doing stuff so obvious that it's a cliche - studying hard and working harder.
And even leaders of the Left know that what most holds back the poor is not bad bosses or a rotten society, but bad choices, reinforced by bad parenting or other cultures of failure.
That is why, for instance, Labor is as keen as I am on early intervention programs to catch children while they are still young enough to learn what Nobel laureate Prof James Heckman identified as keys to getting ahead -- motivation, self-control, far-sightedness and the need not to splurge today what you'll need tomorrow.
It's also why the poor tend to stay poor, even after their handout. It's why the poor are also most likely - as the surveys show - to be fat, smokers, or the kind of parents who don't speak enough to their children, or nicely enough, either.
It's also why Aborigines in semi-tribal cultures can never hope to have the riches that are actually produced by middle-class "white" ways.
BAD habits of mind hold people back most, and encouraging those bad habits with free money - no matter how virtuous the motive -- can hurt more than help.
So how much will we pay for the free money we now see being dumped by the truckload? Let's study a few clues.
The Rudd Government's "stimulus" handouts went not just to the virtuous poor, but to people made poor by gambling, drinking and never saving -- people who were then told to spend their windfall rather than save it.
And spend they did, in ways that explained exactly how they qualified for the help in the first place.
News item: "NSW punters gambled an extra $500 million last month, prompting claims the Federal Government's economic stimulus went into poker machines."
News item: "Broome police say the Federal Government's new one-off welfare payments are being used by alcoholics to pay $170 for a carton of beer in Kimberley communities."
This free cash to the feckless can't be healthy in a country where already we have middle class parents demanding the rest of us pay for their child care. Where any Australian who breaks laws overseas screams for our (free) help. Where we now import South Pacific fruitpickers rather than make our own unemployed work for their dole.
It can't be healthy when every week brings yet more examples of people now demanding as their right the help for which they should be grateful, even astonished.
News item -- an ABC interview with a fire victim offered the free use of a house: "They've said to me there's a house available in Nagambie, would you go to Nagambie? I said no, I have nothing for me in Nagambie . . . They don't care what they do with you."
In fact, each week also brings more examples of people demanding as a right the kind of help some should never have needed at all.
News item - interview with a Sydney mother of children charged with gang violence: "The mother of 15 . . . said she and her youngest children were hiding out, too afraid to go back to their Rosemeadow home because of threats made to her safety. She said the Department of Housing had failed to find her emergency accommodation so that she and her family could escape the violence . . ."
Give these "disadvantaged" people more free money. Free money for more public housing to escape the violence their children helped cause. Free money for not working hard. Free money for each of the children they can't support. Free money none of them earned.
AND do it while we feed this poor-you myth that those who pay for all this free money are the real bludgers, the real embarrassments with their success, their educated accents and that too-prissy prudence.
News item - letter to The Age: "Will all (bushfire-affected) families receive the same dollar-value assistance from money donated by the public, with (the insured) potentially making a profit after their insurance claims are paid? Surely not."
(Surely yes, in fact, which is one small mercy.)
News item - ABC-TV interviews an unemployed single mother and long-time drug addict about her six children - one disabled - now being raised by a lawyer: "The two older girls . . . come across to me as a little bit stuck up. I don't know whether it's from the (private) school that they go to or what it is . . . They don't want to come home, so the Department of Community Services have actually ruined my life by taking all of my kids."
Hey, give that woman free money, too. She's "disadvantaged", right? And not a bit stuck up.
There you go, darl. The least you deserve. And the good news is, there's more coming from where that last lot came, so spend like there's no future.
Wow, how did that get past the editors?