What is it with conservatives and vulnerable people?

29 Jul

The refusal by Coalition states to put money on the table for the NDIS trials early this week makes no sense. If it was a purely political act, then one has to wonder what they imagined it would achieve. Every way you look at it the decision reflects badly on them. Premier O’Farrell (NSW) and Premier Baillieu’s (Victoria) back down two days later looks like a  win for PM Julia Gillard, while their initial refusal looks decidedly lacking in understanding and compassion for people living with a disability, and the carers the scheme is designed to assist.

Campbell Newman, aka the Butcher of Brisbane, continues to withhold financial support  from the scheme, and as a bonus has withdrawn a $6.50 payment to taxi drivers who transport disabled people, for whom accessing a taxi requires a good deal more time and assistance than Mr Newman needs to hop into his car.

What is it with conservatives and vulnerable people?

It’s hard to believe the conservatives involved in this particular decision to boycott assistance for the vulnerable actually thought “Well it doesn’t matter, they are disabled, they aren’t like us, so what do we care because they are weaker so they don’t deserve showers every day and a life.”

Anymore than Adolf Eichmann thought about the lives of the Jews his organisational talents and ideological commitment combined to ensure were efficiently despatched to their deaths. What Eichmann, O’Farrell, Baillieu and Newman have in common is that they failed (and in Newman’s case, continue to fail) to acknowledge that they were and are dealing with human beings. Human beings with particularly difficult challenges, in the contemporary situation, and I include those who care for disabled people.

Yes, I know there’s a big difference between Eichmann and the Coalition, but they are on the same continuum, a continuum that denies the humanity of others unlike themselves. What is so chilling about the politicising of NDIS is that someone made the choice to politicise it, and to entirely disregard the human beings affected by that choice.

It’s really a case of blaming the victim. If you are unfortunate enough to be born with or incur a disability that affects your life, conservatives are not going to make it easy for you because there must be something wrong with you to be disabled in the first place. Like the poor, it’s your own fault. Social structures are not responsible, it’s the behaviours and cultural patterns of the poor that put them where they are.

In short, many conservatives seem to share an attitude that causes them to blame the poor for their poverty and the vulnerable for their vulnerability. There are some who claim this contempt for the “weak” is a feature of the fascist character.

Then there’s the psychological theory of projection, in which the subconscious denies his or her own fears and emotions, and ascribes them to others. Accepting the inevitable vulnerability of being human can be quite a challenge. Nobody wants to feel powerless, or at the mercy of others. Seeing those who are powerless and vulnerable can provoke anger and repulsion, because they are living reminders of what we could be at any moment. Disabled. Poor. Seeking asylum. Responsible for another human being who cannot live without our assistance. At the mercy of others. Not in control.

People who are unable to come to terms with their own vulnerability can react with great antagonism towards those who are in some way injured, and in need of care.  One way of dealing with these extremely uncomfortable feelings is to frame the vulnerable as entirely different and lesser than oneself, thus creating a distance, an illusion of safety and an illusion of  invulnerability. Bad things happen to them, not us, because they aren’t as good as us. The ego can pretend to retain control over the uncontrollable.

However we frame the conservatives’ contempt for people living with a disability and their carers, the bottom line is, it is very unsettling. In my opinion, the two premiers would not have backed down had there not been an angry public reaction to their decision. What does this say about the men and women of the Coalition? Nothing good, I fear and it should cause us to think hard and long about an Australia governed by men and women incapable of seeing others as human as themselves, because they are overtly vulnerable in some way.

I give the last word to George Harrison:

Have you seen the little piggies
Crawling in the dirt
And for all those little piggies
Life is getting worse
Always having dirt to play around in.

Have you seen the bigger piggies
In their starched white shirts
You will find the bigger piggies
Stirring up the dirt
And they always have clean shirts to play around in.

And in their styes with all their backing
They don’t care what goes on around
And in their eyes there’s something lacking
What they needs a damm good whacking.

Yeah, everywhere there’s lots of piggies
Playing piggy pranks
And you can see them on their trotters
Down at the piggy banks
Paying piggy thanks
To thee pig brother

– everybody: –
Everywhere there’s lots of piggies
Living piggy lives
You can see them out for dinner
With their piggy wives
Clutching forks and knives to eat their bacon.

30 Responses to “What is it with conservatives and vulnerable people?”

  1. doug quixote July 29, 2012 at 9:07 am #

    It points up the basic flaw in the conservative philosophy : the attitude that the disadvantaged are somehow the architects of their own disadvantage.

    “If they weren’t somehow at fault, they wouldn’t be disadvantaged.”

    Even if the conservatives need to refer to some concept like original sin to justify their philosophy, at the base that is what it comes down to.

    “If you’re so smart why ain’t you rich” is at the base of the “aspirational” confidence trick perpetrated on the voters to get them to vote conservative. It works so well when backed up by a mainstream media which is supine at best, and positively reactionary when affected by certain proprietors and their hand-picked editors.


  2. metaboleus July 29, 2012 at 9:28 am #

    “I know there’s a big difference between Eichmann and the Coalition.” Not really it is all about the ‘banality of evil.’


  3. Anonymous July 29, 2012 at 10:50 am #

    These people are not conservatives. They are Neoliberals.


    • doug quixote July 29, 2012 at 1:06 pm #

      Neocons, neolibs, neolibertarians, old libertarians – who gives a damn? It is up to them to distance themselves from the neonazis in my view. Jennifer compares them with Eichmann; that may be a little extreme, but let them squirm under the comparison.


  4. Missy July 29, 2012 at 11:34 am #

    It is something to do with fear emotion being part of the repitilian brain. We have three layers of brain acquired over time, reptilian, limbic and cortex. So when fearful we behave like lizards. Ok so I hear you saying, now I heard it all, but it is the truth. Fear emotion has not evolved. So Abbot and Newman are appealing to our inner lizards with all their fear mongering
    “The reptilian brain first appeared on the scene more than 200 million years ago and has evolved little in that time. Designed for automatic instinctive responses, it has no capacity for judgment or reflection on future consequences. It is not tied to our higher rational brain and does not appear to be capable of thoughtful consideration or problem solving. It cannot think beyond the obvious. It wants to eat when hungry, copulate when aroused, dominate any threats to power, hoard the bounty and flee danger. Emotions generated by the reptilian brain are very focused and require immediate redress. http://www.empowermentweekly.com/2010/03/emotions-and-our-reptilian-brain-part-1.html#!/2010/03/emotions-and-our-reptilian-brain-part-1.html


    • Jennifer Wilson July 29, 2012 at 11:40 am #

      What a brilliant description!


      • Sam Jandwich July 30, 2012 at 12:17 pm #

        Yes, and it provides an excellent explanation for why the cute little lizards in my garden all run away from me when all I want to do is pick them up and cuddle them. 🙂


    • debinmelbourne July 30, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

      Well, I for one do not welcome these new overlords. Bastards.


  5. paul walter July 29, 2012 at 11:39 am #

    I think they backed off in case it spooked the horses, re Abbott.
    It is straight out of the Tea Party handbook, people need to consider that
    the “austerity” economics of post meltdown times is not so much about staving off economic disaster as blame the victim stuff trying to move responsibility away from the banks and hedge funds with their trillions of dollars of rorted funds onto the masses which kills two birds with one stone because it makes the public think it is guilty and therefore deserving of being ripped off even more.
    It’s Heart of Darkness stuff, a century on.
    The tactic of hitting the most vulnerable first is part of the crisis ruse, if the weak are not to be spared, what hope the rest of us? They have the guns,what can we do? It IS neoliberalism unmasked.The pretence of organised economics is ripped away; we see instead just nasty, unimaginative brigandage and the restoration of feudalism.


  6. Marilyn July 29, 2012 at 3:25 pm #

    Have any of you read the last two reports from Catherine Branson regarding children in refugee prisons and Indonesian fisher kids tortured for an average of 846 days in adult prisons here?

    Can’t just blame the conservatives when the so-called others are just as vicious.


  7. Mindy July 29, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

    I just can’t believe that they don’t understand that some Coalition voters may have a disability, or care for someone who does. You would think at least some self interest might make them think twice. I’ve given up on them having human like feelings.


    • doug quixote July 29, 2012 at 11:40 pm #

      I think most coalition voters are intellectually challenged.


  8. helvityni July 29, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

    What does this say about us when we vote these heartless compassion-less people like Newman and others to power…maybe even Abbott.They don’t seem to care about people with disability, asylum seekers, good education system for ALL Oz kids…my heart sinks just looking their pictures here…and Abbott, Morrison and Pyne don’t even have pics up here today 🙂


  9. paul walter July 29, 2012 at 4:31 pm #

    Really nasty story put at Huffington post about a US hospital in Afghanistan, Dawood, that looks like some thing out of a ww2 camp liberation doco, Sweet species that we are.


  10. gerard oosterman July 29, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

    The disabled, the prisoners, the refugees, the mentally ill and so many others end up as Australia’s societal flotsam. It’s a heritage compliments from England. Those thousands of mothers having to give away their babies for just being single mothers, by pressure from nuns and priests as well. The dreadful exportation of children from England to Australia and Canada till the seventies when we already had TV and the first of the computers started to make inroads.
    The sex based segregated education, private boarding schools, the bullying, the prefects and duxes. The obsession with sport. It’s all there, can’t you see?
    It’s no wonder we are sluggish and decades beyond most countries with comparable economies. Add our dislike for paying taxation and of course the disabled come last.
    At least something is now starting to happen, but none too early in 2012.


  11. Marilyn July 29, 2012 at 6:20 pm #

    How many of those Vietnamese unaccompanied minors under the age of 11 in the
    Darwin facility have been told that they have failed their protection applications.
    Of the five Vietnamese minors under the age of 11 in the Darwin facility as at 21 May
    • Four had been found not to be a refugee at the primary stage and were
    awaiting a review decision
    • One had been found not to be a refugee at the primary and review stage.

    Someone please tell me how children under 11 can make a substantive refugee claim, where is their embassy, who is helping them and why are they still jailed after more than 430 days?

    And while we are at it more than half the kids who arrived in the last 4 years have been unaccompanied and Bowen locks them all up in Leonora and such places without any sort of guardian.


    • mia.cook44@yahoo.com.au July 29, 2012 at 7:16 pm #

      Marilyn, I wrote earlier about how fear works, It is a primal emotion and when a person is scared they do not care for anyone else so human rights start to collapse in fearful societies. Fearful people are not able to think rationally as that part of the brain shuts down.

      A leader that incites fear is also willingly inciting racism, sexism, anti-intellectualism and human rights abuses as the natural result of fear. they say fear is the enabler of the authoritarian.So when we see terrorism we see the fear set in, the workers rush to the right because it is about self and not the collective, and it is in the best interests then for the right to maintain that fear level so can become a downward spiral. The more levels of humanity below them the safer they feel so becomes an exercise in supremacy.

      We need a war against fear. We had refugees walking the streets when I was a kid but because nobody told us they were scary did nto bother us at all.


  12. paul walter July 30, 2012 at 3:04 am #

    For those seeking further enlightenment concerning the phenomena Jennifer Wilson is raising, can I commend the Stephanie Peatling article, ” ‘Gender tax’ a grim reality- (Anne) Summers” that presents a specific example of the mindset on a different but related subject, woman’s policy?
    Then, consider just how (deliberately?) destructive neoliberal slash and burn/ scorched earth/ one size fits all is, both for women and for society in general and just how myopic and vicious the thinking behind neolib economics that derails civilisation is.


    • Jennifer Wilson July 30, 2012 at 7:27 am #

      Melinda Tankard Reist on orgasm: Ray unpacks MTR’s confusion http://novelactivist.com/11222/melinda-tankard-reist-on-orgasm/


      • samjandwich July 30, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

        I liked this comment on MTR’s article from a Sharon someone, mother of a 14 year old girl:

        “a statistic they had on the front [of Girlfriend magazine] announced that 84% of their readers were NOT sexually active. I have to question why they feel the need to include such a lot of information on sex etc, for only 16% of their readers?”

        Yikes! If this is the attitude that prevails in people’s homes it’s no wonder feminism is losing this generation.


        • paul walter July 30, 2012 at 3:34 pm #

          Girlfriend looks teenybopper, so perhaps they feel they need to run the disclaimer to reassure parents of fairly young teens (11-16?) that the kids are not being encouraged to the “young madam” syndrome that has them home later coming home, well “in the club”.
          If they incited the kids to act on their appetites there would possibly be legalities involved, since age of consent is usually deemed to be over 16.
          samjandwich, like me you are sceptical that the pop mags are out and about solely in the interests of their young readership?


          • Sam Jandwich July 31, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

            I actually think that these mags generally represent a very positive and wholesome influence on girls – more so in fact than they probably need to – but then, I’d be the first to admit that I perhaps don’t quite understand this desire amongst other people to be more grown up!

            Some nameless person at my office recently dumped a whole wad of Cleo magazines in our vinyl-floored, vinyl-tabled kitchenette, with a handwritten sign helpfully encouraging people to “please read or take home”. I sincerely hope they were the former property of one of my colleagues’ kids and not my actual colleagues…

            … but leafing through them did bring back memories of what it was like to be fourteen. Pornography was printed on paper back then, and quite difficult to get hold of, whereas my 13-year-old neighbour had plenty of Girlfriend/Dolly/Cleo et al, and I just remember reading them and thinking “ahah! this must be why girls’ social skills are so much better-developed than boys'”. They don’t just talk about sex, but go into the analytics of relationships, career, shopping, health, and most other subjects that any self-respecting teenager would benefit from reading about. But as far as I could tell there was really nothing around of a similar vein targeted at boys (unless you count, I don’t know, Surfing Life?).

            These days however there is this proliferation of porn, and so the tables are turned. Boys know much more about sex than girls – or at least about the mechanics of it, as opposed to the wider repercussions. And this is why girls when they inevitably end up in bed with a bloke their age are suddenly faced with demands to have things stuck in places they’d rather not have them stuck, but are reluctant to assert themselves about what they want.

            For me this situation is all about power, and this is directly proportional to knowledge. A girl who has a well-developed knowledge of sex and its relationship to human interactions generally is inherently in a more powerful position, and far less likely to be exploited and hurt that a girl who goes in blind. At least girls’ magazines give girls a head start in this regard. Efforts to suppress this kind of knowledge meanwhile are just another example of conservatism shooting itself in the foot.


  13. Marilyn July 30, 2012 at 5:09 am #

    When are the Australian media going to get it through their thick fucking skulls that EVERYONE HAS THE RIGHT TO SEEK ASYLUM and that it is not a fucking news story when they do?


  14. paul walter July 30, 2012 at 8:59 am #

    Where angels fear to tread?
    This is in reference to the MTR article.
    Am actually sympathetic to some of the MTR.
    I, too, wonder at the chutzpah of commercial mags and media trying to usurp community and parental roles; remain unconvinced that market media has the interests of young people as its paramount concern.
    If anything induces ignorance in generation after generation of humans it’s exploitative tabloid media and press. The Olds may be ignorant, but I doubt if their concern for kids is any less than the racketeers.
    Ray is coming from where I’d come from, the idea that we are still trying to shed Puritanism and repressive Victorianism. Its certainly been the case that parents and authorities in earlier times have filled kids with all sorts of complex-creating fear and loathing as to sexual activity and.fulfilment.
    I don’t know that Tankard Reist implicitly rejects the actuality of (female ) orgasm, although it does seem she’s critical of male performance, although there is a touch of Manhate in her expression that has me wondering a little as to her understanding of how men function (again!).
    Put it this way. If she hasn’t had satisfaction, she has little right to be passing herself off as an expert on that which she knows least about of anyone.
    OTH, more likely she can get her rocks off at least sometimes by one means or another,so maybe its not the sex that bugs her so much as media interference with some thing she sees an “organic” process with a natural timeline. She repudiates commercial media, surely a poor apparatus for transmission of sexual understanding to new players by any standard, rather than sex itself?
    But where are her alternative(s)?
    A return to the days of social, cultural and parental suppression, uninformed non-information and asbestos mittens?
    As Ray says, (tacky) media wouldn’t exist if there wasn’t a market for it based on needs and impulses, and that the market responds (in its own shabby way) to a previous “lack” that has us in recall of what we understand to be the worst aspects of grim High Victorianism and its consequences.
    Within which we see the germ of the current New Meanness, obscurantism, separatism and isolationism that had Jennifer Wilson write the thread starter.


  15. baraholka1 August 12, 2012 at 11:36 pm #

    G’Day Jennifer,

    The Removal of a $6.50 allowance for attending to disabled persons is so petty and unthinkingly cruel its practically self-satirical. But its Marie Antionettee. not Eichmann. Its just the failure of empathy endemic to the well-off. “Let them eat cakeand wheel themselves to the Grande Opera”.

    Best Regards,




  1. Was That A Whiff Of Panic ? « Under The Milky Way - August 12, 2012

    […] Personally, watching Newman in action in the first months of his term, I am myself thinking: “This is Abbott Jr. in action”, including the mean-spirited and petty elimination of the Qld ‘Premiers Literary Awards’ and the gob-smacking arrogance of the removal of the paltry $6.50 allowance paid to Taxi Drivers for picking up and attending to disabled … […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: