I have never received welfare as an adult. When I was at school a very long time ago, I got a study allowance that was $50 a week for a year or so. But once I left school I refused to countenance the idea. From 18 to 21 my life was characterized by a succession of mundane casual jobs as I struggled to find my way in adult life. Cleaner, bartender, laborer, waiter, musician, actor, sales assistant, there may be others but I can’t remember them. I only ever made enough to just get by, but I got by. At the time I viewed myself as a failure. Now I look back and I can raise a glass to that clueless young me. Because I never sold out.
Going on welfare is selling out. You sell yourself out. There used to be a stigma attached to welfare. It was a shameful thing to admit that you were receiving financial support from your fellow citizens. Remember that – from your fellow citizens, not the government. The state might dole it out but it gets the money by taxing the same people that you live amongst.
I made many mistakes in that period of my life but I am so grateful that I never succumbed to the narcotic effect of going on welfare. Without welfare I was forced to get out of bed in the morning. I had to eat, right? Better get out there and hustle. Find a job, any job. Ask people I knew, family friends, hustle hustle hustle. You learn stuff that way, about life and putting in. About how you need to behave in order to keep a job. You learn about responsibility because you are taking responsibility for your own life. It feels like you’re getting nowhere but you are moving, inexorably forward.
Or you can stay in bed until noon. Because you don’t need to go out and get a job today because you’re on welfare. It’s just enough to get by but you get by. So you stay there. This is what I mean by the narcotic effect. It dulls your ambitions, for yourself and for life. It teaches you to rely on others instead of relying on yourself. It’s an insidious trap that crushes the human spirit. Once you accept that first welfare check you’re on your way. You may as well have smoked a crack pipe, it has the same effect in the end. You live a life of nothing. If you don’t need to get out of bed then you have nothing to live for.
The worst type of welfare is not unemployment benefits, it is family benefits. These type of benefits teach people, women mostly for obvious reasons, that the more children they have the better off they will be. Having another child becomes akin to getting a raise. More money for me. There doesn’t have to be a father present, the government assumes that role. So why is this the worst form of welfare?
What are those kids learning? Do you think they’ll grow up with aspirations to get a job? Or will they too assume a lifelong dependence on their fellow citizens? The boys will go on unemployment benefits and the girls will copy their mother. Mum will be a grandmother at the ripe old age of 35. They will also believe that it is their right to receive this money. If you give someone something for a period of time they will become accustomed to it. Try taking it away and they will get upset. “But that’s my money!” they will shout. There are suburbs in Western cities around the globe where three generations of families have never had a job.
At this point someone usually points a finger at the Nordic countries, holding them up as shining examples of the welfare state in action. There are a few problems with this. Sweden had the world’s fastest growing economy in the 1930s. That’s during the Great Depression. The Nordic countries made all their money in the period from around 1850-1950 due to the world’s best free markets and very small government, an irresistibly effective combination. Then they spent all the dough while greatly increasing government and thus burdens on the free market. Over some generations the work ethic of Swedes has plummeted. It’s now so bad that Sweden and Denmark are both attempting to scale back their welfare states while enacting free market reforms.
The photo at the top of the page is of a Melbourne woman called Helen Liumaihetau. She is 31 years of age and she has eight children. In total she receives over $1000 a week in welfare payments. That’s more than $50,000 a year tax free. The equivalent income to receive net pay of that amount would be around $80,000. The title of the newspaper article that linked to is, “Put yourself in my shoes.” Ms Liumaihetau is upset that the Australian Treasurer, who I can only describe as being “mostly useless”, has his priorities wrong by attacking the culture of welfare dependency in Australia.
She said the Treasurer was out of line for targeting the “handout generation” and highlighting a future divide between “the taxed and the taxed nots”, noting things were tough for many. “He should put himself in other people’s shoes and live their life for a week and see how things are,” she said.
She had her first daughter when she was 18 and has been out of the workforce since. She is in a de facto relationship. She said some took advantage of welfare, but most used it wisely. “They should be using it for their kids. I think 10 per cent should go to the parents but the rest should go to the kids. Parents need petrol and other essentials, but other than that it should be spent on children,” she said.
“People might think because I’ve got eight kids that I’m loaded with money — I’m not. I’ve still got to pay rent … do the shopping, and on top of that, these eight kids want things.’’ There should be better pathways to employment than “just doing courses”.
This woman chose to have eight children out of wedlock with no visible means for supporting them because the State has allowed her to do so. She is not forced to take responsibility for her own actions because as we have seen the very nature of welfare removes all personal responsibility. Her need to feed, house, clothe, and school eight children is somebody else’s problem.
My wife and I do not have any children but if in the future we do decide to have some we will have exactly as many as we can comfortably afford. In the meantime our taxes will go towards paying for all of Ms Liumaihetau’s brood. I have no intention of putting myself in her shoes because that would be shameful. She should be ashamed but instead she is defiant. That is the problem right there.
If you are on welfare, get off it. The time is right now. Go down to your local unemployment office and sign yourself off. This will force you to get out there and hustle. Yes, it will be hard. Yes, it will suck a lot. Yes you might have to do things like get up at 4am and ride your bicycle six kilometers into the city in all types of weather so you can clean a nine story office block for five mornings a week before the workers get there.
I did that for three years. My buddy did the bathrooms and I did the office floors. I got to know every worker there just from their individual desks. Their photos, the way they set up their work station, the way they left it at the end of the day, their little mementos and other fun items, and I knew when they left because the photos would change. In three years I missed exactly one morning for reasons of ill health. I didn’t get paid for that day because I was a casual worker. I got paid for what I did, nothing more or less. But it gave me dignity and it gave me purpose and more importantly, it got me out of bed in the morning.
The time is right now. Stock up on food and sign yourself off. If you read this and you find some excuse not to do it today then you’ll never do it. Time to get hustling.