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Is PM Tony Abbott addicted to unemployment?

It is not widely appreciated that the right to work is one of the basic rights in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which Australia helped draft and signed up to in 1948. [1]

As a wealthy nation, Australia is not living up to its responsibility under that United Nations charter.

Sadly, politicians in the land DownUnder wander lost in a forest of magical thinking, where it is believed that a set percent of unemployment is OK and even necessary to increase growth and keep the economy on the rails.

The Prime Minister believes he can solve the problem by applying extra pressure onto youth, by removing income for 6 months at a time.

This is simply one arm of an attitude of vengeance and punishment, blaming the unemployed for a problem created by greed.

When Ned Ludd was whipped for idleness in 1779, he took revenge by destroying machinery that he blamed for his unemployment.

Later a movement sprang from Ludd’s action called the Luddites, comprised of people who were angry that their livelihood was being stolen by machines owned by the well-off.

New opportunities were being created by machines, but the wealth generated was not being shared.

Since those days it has been a race between the worker and the machine and the worker has been losing that race for many years now.

How far have we come since the whipping of Ludd, if government is still blaming and punishing the unemployed for being unemployed?

Official unemployment figures in Australia have currently risen above 6% and are not expected to go below 5% ever again [2], which as the population grows toward 40 million, will mean an ever increasing pool of unwanted people, many of whom may never be given the chance to work.

Rose-Marie Stampe and David Fryer in a recent article in The Conversation observed, “Clearly unemployment cannot be “solved” by unemployed people taking non-existent jobs and it is unreasonable to blame unemployed individuals for unemployment when there is no paid work.” [3]

Full-blown addiction to unemployment

In the real world, there is a much larger pool of under-employed people, as well as unemployed, some of whom end up homeless and too many homeless people meet a premature death on the street.

As a nation we pride ourselves on remembering those who served Australia in times of war, but it’s shocking to read that there are thousands of ex-diggers homeless in Australia. [4]

If we can’t even care for our ex-service men and women, it is no wonder there is such a bad attitude by politicians toward the unemployed.

Stampe and Fryer tell us, “The Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment is a term used by economists and politicians to refer to the level of unemployment, between 4% and 6%, considered necessary to prevent inflation taking off.” [3]

So is unemployment an evil that we must ignore for the sake of greed-driven economics, or is it an evil that we must fight in the name of basic human rights?

Those who do well in Australia maintain their bounty by essentially stealing from the unemployed and the homeless and this crime has grown year by year, until it has now become a full-blown addiction to unemployment.

How can we deal with a nation of addicts, as like many addicts, the addicted do not see themselves as having a problem.

The unemployed are kept in their place with a strict program that allows minimal scope for improvement.

The longer any individual finds themselves in the black hole of unemployment, the tougher it becomes to gain employment and skills are lost.

Job network agencies become the strong arm of the government to control the unemployed and are themselves addicted to unemployment for their government pay check.

Like vampires in the night, they feed on the suffering of the condemned unemployed.

Shuffling forms like conjurers cards, suffering is hidden in a glossy show of efficiency.

Faith-based organisations can be found in this feeding frenzy on the poor, taking tax-free loot for managing this fiscal addiction.

This system leaves people feeling humiliated and isolated, which serves the interests of the greed-driven economy, as it is much easier to control unemployed people who are isolated and disempowered.

With no hope of addressing unemployment through any current Government program, it is disturbing to know that the unemployment problem is about to get a whole lot worse.

Half of current paid work will be gone in the next two decades

Frey and Osborne in a study on employment and machines predict that half of current paid work will be gone in the next two decades, as robots march into the work place and replace workers. [5]

With no national plan to create full employment, we will see the national addiction to unemployment skyrocket, as the official unemployment level rises into double digits and drives up underemployment and poverty.

On the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, where there is a high level of youth unemployment, an initiative has been launched by Ted O’Brien of Generation Innovation, seeking to solve the problem.

“Youth service organisations passionate about the need to break the intergenerational cycle of unemployment have thrown their weight behind a Sunshine Coast entrepreneurship initiative.” [6]

In the current economic direction of Australia and with this nations addiction to unemployment, the “cycle of unemployment” will only be broken if revolutionary action is taken to tackle the addiction.

Are there any politicians alive today who are prepared to launch a national debate and campaign of action to fight the nations addiction to unemployment and return Australia to a state of fiscal moral health?

Without revolutionary change, any program set up claiming to help the unemployed and youth will be playing the game of shifting pieces around the outside of the problem and will have to keep stepping back as the problem grows in size.

With the black hole of unemployment and poverty in neverending growth, we have a great recipe for a full-on Police State to maintain control of the victims of a nation of fiscal addicts.

Anyone who cares about the future of Australia will have a long hard look to see if this is the future that they wish to be living in, or gift to their children.

If the Fair Go is still alive as a national value, that would be a good place to start and look toward a future that includes real work with real pay for all able workers.

There will be pain as withdrawal kicks in, but what kind of nation is Australia when citizens are excluded and humiliated in unemployment and poverty, so others can have a larger share of the national pie?

Will PM Tony Abbott go into rehab, break his addiction to unemployment and return to lead Australia in a campaign for a Fair Go for real work with real pay?

For now, like all politicians and most of the nation, Abbott is lost in a forest of magical thinking, waiting for the good work fairy to wave a magic wand and solve the problem.

This magical thinking is also called the trickle-down effect and clearly, it’s a rather dried up and dusty creek.

Only when true blue Aussies wake up to the fiscal disease of unemployment addiction and decide to create a healthy society that really does include a Fair Go for all, will we find our way out of that magical forest of addictive delusions.

There are a million possibilities, if we will step beyond the limitations of greed and share the wealth of this nation through work and ensure that all citizens can participate.

If Australia is not willing to offer hope to the youth of this land, how many will wander off, like young Jake from Melbourne, to join organisations like the Islamic State, where they may have a sense of adventure, belonging and building a nation? [7]

It is all too easy to imagine a wash-back to Australia of a generation of young men and women who are sick and tired of being treated like idiots and want to build a real nation.

With so many young people being treated so badly and offered no hope, we risk seeing their rage turn back upon us.

If we will not act to build a real nation, then nation building may be done for us in ways we do not appreciate.

Should we revisit the spirit of Eureka that put the stars of the Southern Cross on our flag and complete the business of that revolution?

The politicians who lead the battle for a Fair Go will save Australia from a very dark future and may also save the World from becoming dominated by a collection of authoritarian governments.

We sing “Advance Australia fair” but are we ready to live it?


[1] See Article 23
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

[2] ‘Where’s the plan to confront technological change?’
Jim Chalmers 9 Mar 2015 The Drum ABC Online

[3] ‘How the unemployed ‘disappear’ and why it matters’
Rose-Marie Stampe & David Fryer, The Conversation, 12 January 2015

[4] ‘Thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans homeless’
Fran Kelly, Friday 6 March 2015, RN Breakfast, ABC Online

[5] ‘The Future of Employment: How Susceptible are Jobs to Computerisation?’
Carl Benedikt Frey & Michael A. Osborne, 17 September 2013

[6] ‘Youth groups back young entrepreneurs plan’
Nicky Moffat, 4 March 2015, Sunshine Coast Daily

[7] ‘Islamic State recruit declared ‘white jihadi’ identified as Melbourne teenager Jake’
Samuel Clark, 9 March 2015, ABC News Online

ABOUT Kim Peart ~ Kim Peart is a visual artist and space development advocate from Tasmania, now living on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, who once organised a conference on employment as one of the basic human rights as an event in Human Rights Week in Hobart. Kim is the director of Space Pioneers, which works toward a stellar economy based on the power of the Sun and resources of the Solar System, where poverty will be history and all Earth’s children will share unlimited creative opportunities. ~