Competing With the Welfare Economy

Australia has a long history of appeasing the aboriginal population with money that they have to do nothing to obtain.  And guess what?  Sitting around and getting drunk and watching TV is easier than working for a living:

Artist Bernadette Tjingaling has been on CDEP longer than she can remember.

The 34-year-old was busy cleaning up at the Merrepen Arts Centre at Nauiyu when The Australian visited.

She was helping to prepare for the community’s annual arts festival, which will be held later this month.

Like many others in her community, Ms Tjingaling was forced onto the work-for-the-dole program when the Howard government abolished CDEP last year. She is one of the few in the community who works in exchange for her welfare payments.

Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin has reversed the previous government’s decision to abolish CDEP, but Ms Tjingaling said that after months of being paid a little over $200 a week for doing nothing, many people in her community did not want to go back onto CDEP, let alone undertake full-time work in local industries.

“Everybody used to work here,” she says, pointing around the arts centre. “When Centrelink came back on, everybody got lazy staying home.”

Now, would the “shocked” progressives in the audience please raise their hands?  Anybody you know who would be surprised that getting paid to do nothing–even a pittance that just gets you by–is preferred to working?

And its really interesting after being up there in the northern part of Australia with a bigger aboriginal population that you see the results right there every day.   The natives are sitting around the front of the mall or some store with the big bottles of beer.  They obviously have nothing to do, and spend their days getting drunk from about noon till they pass out.  And then start the same thing the next day.

There are Help Wanted signs in just about every store in the mall, but you never see any aboriginal people working in the stores.  Just sitting outside getting drunk.  And that’s how it ends up with a welfare state:

Tiwi Land Council business development manager Brian Clancy said a company set up by traditional owners on the island had trouble finding staff to work in its forestry operations.

“We’re competing with the welfare economy,” Mr Clancy said. “People just say straight out: ‘Why would we come out to work when we can go home and watch a video and still get our 280 bucks at the end of the week?’ It makes it very hard.”

Its just that you eventually hit some point where there are more drunks on the couch than the working people will pay for.  In Australia the aboriginal population is very small compared to the country at large, so its more of a rounding error in the national budget to just give them weekly beer money.  And the aboriginal society continues to disintegrate.  Wife beating (well, live-in woman beating – marriage is almost extinct) is common, just about everybody eventually ends up arrested for drunkness or theft, and the checks still come.

Isn’t this a case of genocide?  Just being done one check and case of beer at a time.