It’s not something you hear many third graders aspiring to, but believe it or not, it’ll be a reality for some of them. It’s an idea that is gradually poisoning the economy and creating a stark divide between taxpayers and tax-claimers. This begs the question, is welfare as a career move really sustainable?
Welfare itself is not the enemy. It is actually a system designed by the Australian Government to encourage people to work. Somewhat of a half-way house between unemployment and employment. A review into the system described the purpose of welfare as ‘a range of payments to individuals and families to provide support at times when individuals cannot support themselves’. It is there to support those who cannot work and should be affordable and sustainable both now and in the future and across economic cycles, according to the Australian Government. That’s all well and good, an admirable idea, but unfortunately, it is not always the reality in Australia both now and going forward. It must be mentioned that when I vent about the destruction of welfare in this country, I am not referring to those who genuinely need it, simply those who genuinely take advantage of it; the welfare warriors.
Now if you’re someone who knows someone that is a welfare warrior, or you are a welfare warrior yourself, then you’re probably thinking that this article will be a bitter pill for you to swallow, and you’re right, it will be. Get out while you can. As personally offensive that a hard hitting blow at welfare bludgers is, it’s about time something changed. According to the Daily Telegraph, Australia is spending a historic [almost] $190 billion annually in welfare payments funded by taxpayers.
In the past year, 240 million welfare payments have been paid resulting in eight out of 10 income taxpayers now paying the nation’s welfare bill. That gives eight out of 10 Australians a reason to be sceptical of arguably Australia’s most destructive contributor to our economy. Adam Creighton, the Economics Correspondent for the Australian says that Australia does not have a problem with poverty but rather an addiction to welfare. A couple with two children currently receives an all-time high of $37,190 a year, entirely funded by taxpayers. Now I don’t know about you, but when I signed up to spending an estimated total of 23% of my life at work, I didn’t exactly expect to be funding any Facebook Centrelink rants, goon parties or bad smoking habits.
All annoyances aside as to where our tax ends up each week, this trend is fast becoming detrimental to the society that we live in and is serving a purpose far from the one originally intended. According to The Conversation, money is currently being handed out in a way that doesn’t always value alternative social contributions such as volunteers who care for others. For a system that is designed to improve things, the figures aren’t looking too good. The percentage of Australian population that depends on Welfare has risen from 2% to 14% in the last 33 years. This is a real problem. People are learning that there is money there for the taking, and in order to make the most use of it, they are increasingly doing less and less with some people identifying as fourth generation welfare dependents. This notion confirmed by youth unemployment at an all-time 14.4% high. Our land of opportunity is fast becoming the perfect backdrop for Bruno Mars’ song, LAZY.
So then, how do we fix it? The Productivity Commission’s working paper notes that “In contrast to most OECD countries, in Australia eligibility for payment does not depend on a person’s employment record and the rates of payment are flat and means-tested, rather than being at least partially linked to a person’s earnings.” This would be a great place to start; A review on eligibility so that the people who genuinely need welfare are receiving it. This would need to consider the vast array of welfare warriors exploiting the system. From the young and unemployed with no history or intention of getting a job, to the self-funded retirees who pay no income tax on their super earnings. It would definitely not be the first review into the system with good intentions. While it may not be an automatic fix, it would hopefully weed the needy from the dodgy. Something that is long overdue.
It’s food for thought and again begs the question, is welfare as a career choice sustainable? The answer is no; get a job.