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Friday 30 March 2018

Welfare disadvantages recipients

The recent Prager video titled "Blacks in Power Don't Empower Black People" exposes, at least indirectly, another 'inconvenient truth' burdening our Western societies. The video itself, like many Prager videos is aimed at the American viewer, focusing on the fate of African-Americans in modern America. It highlights the failed expectation, by many in the A-A community, that political power would raise the quality of life for African-Americans. Alas not so. The video is worth a view see below.

While well argued and no doubt enlightening to many viewers, especially American ones, I see it as but another example of a 'deeper' truth that afflicts many Western Societies; That living standards of the disadvantaged are not improved by increased welfare.

In America the living standards of African-Americans have not improved despite increases in a range of measures directly intended for that purpose (political power is just one).

Similarly in Australia, despite the very best intentions, sustained attention and significant investment over decades, there has been little progress in "Closing the Gap" between the indigenous and other Australians. The very first sentence of the Executive Summary of the "Close the Gap report for 2017 tells the story

"After 10 years, and despite closing the gap being a national bipartisan priority, it is clear that Australian governments at all levels are, in key respects, failing Australia’s First Peoples."  Close the Gap - Progress & Priorities report 2017

Since it is clear that the measures we have been using for decades do not work, we should do something different.

I suggest something really novel, and I guess abhorrent to many, simply treat all indigenous Australians in exactly the same way as all other Australians are treated. Provide the same job opportunities, the same in welfare payments, and exactly the same law enforcement. Remove the many institutions that over the years have been created specifically for indigenous communities. (There are indeed many. See Key Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations for a start.)

No doubt some, or even most, have made some positive contribution to some individuals' living standards.  However this has come at a cost. The very existence of such organisations discourages self reliance, engenders a victim mindset and promotes a false sense of entitlement. They are not helping to 'close the gap' at all , but are perpetuating it.

The impact of this change in approach would have slow but long term consequences. No doubt the closing of the many support organisations would save a considerable sum. But much would have to be redirected towards the provision of the types of services all other Australians can expect even in remote country towns; schools, hospitals, policing, doctors, etc. The indigenous communities would not suddenly become 'disadvantaged' as they would receive the same level of welfare and related services as all other Australians.

Of course such a wide-ranging change in approach would have to be phased in over a few years and would take a decade to show results. Still we have tried the alternative and failed, so a new approach is overdue.

Yet the politics make this well nigh impossible. It would take a government with much more intestinal fortitude and political capital than the current mob, so we can only look forward to the next "Close the Gap" report and again shake our heads and point fingers.