Abbott uses society’s vulnerable as means to an ideological end

2 May

It seems to me that it’s a core conservative tradition to use  the most vulnerable people in society as a means to an ideological end. There are endless current examples of this: threats to pensions, restricted access to Newstart for unemployed youth, destruction of universal healthcare, proposed reduction of the minimum wage and a cap on that wage for the next ten years, all part of the Commission of Audit’s recommendations to the Abbott government prior to its first budget in a couple of weeks.

None of these measures will affect anyone as disastrously as they will affect the poor, and while middle class journalists  on a good wage, some of whom are Abbott’s most vocal supporters,  scream like stuck pigs about the flagged “debt levy” on incomes over $80,000, nobody much is pointing out the ideologically-based, systematic crippling of the lives of those who struggle hardest to keep poverty from their doors.

Conservatives seem to hold the ideological position that poverty is a moral failing, for which the individual is solely accountable, and if that individual has been incapable of taking care of her or himself and his or her family, they’ve no one to blame but themselves. If they do sink into a morass of underprivileged misery then they ought to be able to find ways to redeem themselves. If they don’t manage this feat, they obviously only deserve what little they get, and the conservative will do his or her best to take even that away.

This unexamined belief that the less financially fortunate are immoral and a drain on the prudent is, it seems, impossible to eradicate from the consciousness of the privileged and entitled, who lack any ability to comprehend context, and the myriad forces at work in society that affect the course of a life. This, coupled with the conservatives’ traditional love of a good clichéd stereotype, works to reinforce their sense of entitlement, and their contempt for anyone less blessed than are they.

The conservative disregard, some may even allege contempt,  for those other than (lesser than) themselves, allows them to use rational agents as a means to an end, contradicting the Kantian position that to use others as a means, and not an end in themselves, is to flout the fundamental principle of morality.  Perhaps this is nowhere as starkly obvious as in the current and previous governments’ treatment of asylum seekers. Both major political parties have, for many years now, used boat arrivals as a means to achieve political success, and not as rational agents deserving of consideration as ends in themselves. In this sense, the ALP finds itself on the same side as conservative politicians, something that should chill the heart of any ALP supporter.

There is no point in decrying the lack of humanity and compassion in conservative ideology. Both qualities are regarded as belonging to the bleeding hearts of the left, hindrances to freedom, obstacles to profit. So we find ourselves in the bizarre position of having a Human Rights Commissioner for Freedom, Tim Wilson, who recently claimed that McDonalds has “human rights to own property” and that “spending” is an expression of free speech.

It’s a dangerous situation when a Commissioner for Human Rights equates the ability to spend with the right to freedom of any kind, including speech.

It makes no sense to take any measures that prevent or discourage people from taking care of their health, such as co-payments for doctor visits for example. This will increase the pressure on accident and emergency departments, already stretched beyond their means, and result in people becoming chronically ill, at much greater expense to the taxpayer.

It makes no sense to continue to spend billions of dollars incarcerating a few thousand asylum seekers, for example, when there are many less expensive options  such as allowing refugees to live in, work, and contribute to the community.

It makes no sense to waste billions on a paid parental leave system when the money could be much better invested in increased child care for parents who want to work, but find it difficult to access adequate care for their offspring. Good child care is also an investment in our future: children can benefit enormously from early education and socialisation, a child care centre doesn’t simply “mind” them, it educates them.

However, none of the above is of any consequence to a political party driven by ideology. Humans are, to such a party, a means to an ideological end, not an end in themselves. Obviously, it is much easier to treat the less financially blessed as a means to an end, and if you already believe poverty and disadvantage to be  indicators of lack of morality and worth, why would you care anyway?

You may not agree with Kant’s categorical imperative, but there is something very dark about the Abbott government’s willingness to impose harsh circumstances on those already doing without in this wealthy country. It is easy, Mr Abbott, to make life more difficult for those without the power to protest. It is more of a challenge to work towards an equitable society based not on ideology, but common sense, and respect for everyone’s humanity.

Note: It’s with my tongue firmly in my cheek that I use this conservative image of Jesus.


8 Responses to “Abbott uses society’s vulnerable as means to an ideological end”

  1. mix1127 May 2, 2014 at 10:15 am #

    Reblogged this on Wishful Thinking and commented:
    A must read


  2. Christine Says Hi May 2, 2014 at 11:54 am #

    Depressingly true. The democracy of the dictator, really ~ grasping power with a view to plunder, assisted by a compliant (and complicit) media and an ongoing outside threat coupled with always on-the-brinking internal chaos. I love a flim flammed country …


    • helvityni May 9, 2014 at 8:02 pm #

      Yes, you would almost think Abbott came from Bolivia or Paraguay. Does he eat bananas?


  3. doug quixote May 2, 2014 at 9:28 pm #

    How can we be in, if there is no outside.

    It’s only water
    In a stranger’s tear
    Looks are deceptive
    But distinctions are clear
    A foreign body
    And a foreign mind
    Never welcome
    In the land of the blind
    You may look like we do
    Talk like we do
    But you know how it is

    You’re not one of us
    Not one of us
    No you’re not one of us
    Not one of us
    Not one of us
    No you’re not one of us

    There’s safety in numbers
    When you learn to divide
    How can we be in
    If there is no outside
    All shades of opinion
    Feed an open mind
    But your values are twisted
    Let us help you unwind
    You may look like we do
    Talk like we do
    -But you know how it is

    You’re not one of us
    Not one of us
    No you’re not one of us

    (Peter Gabriel)


  4. paul walter May 9, 2014 at 9:16 pm #

    Am grateful to Jennifer for that post, my entire life the disconnect or chasm between the profession of acceptance of these values and the practice of them in daily life has amazed me.

    Am no saint, but then I have never professed it to be the case, but for those who so present themselves as shining lights of example for the young, to still show up at church on Sundays wearing a pious look after again spending a week doing what they said they were previously sorry for and said they wouldn’t continue to do the Sunday before, week after year after decade after generation, gets a bit wearing.

    Maybe I need to get a cask of “Banrock Station” budget red and a dog-eared copy of Nietzsche, to cope with this depressing continuing state of affairs.


  5. Gruffbutt May 10, 2014 at 8:38 pm #

    Rockefeller was a great one for turning up to church every Sunday and giving thanks for the ongoing opportunity to screw everyone over.

    I’m keeping my cards to my chest for now (I’m a public – sorry, Abbott – servant, don’t you know?) but I fear I’ll one day soon rip the head off someone who professes support for this morally bankrupt sewer scum of a government.

    Thanks for the summary, Jennifer.


  6. September 10, 2014 at 10:05 pm #

    Have you at any time had an consuming disorder while in the past(When you are now recovered) I’m recovering. I have urges to just take drastic shortcuts in my zxt bee pollen but I am looking to begin to see the ailment as what it’s.



  1. Abbott uses society’s vulnerable as means to an ideological end « The Australian Independent Media Network - May 2, 2014

    […] article was first posted on Jennifer’s blog “No Place For Sheep” and reproduced with […]


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