(Above: the pond modestly proposes a role model for Twiggy).
The pond doesn't get it.
It's true the pond doesn't get many things, but it particularly doesn't get the Twiggy bandwagon that keeps on rolling on with the reptiles at the lizard Oz.
Twiggy is on the front page again today:
Yes, there he is below the big photo splash, and on the digital page we score:
Sure it's got a gold bar on it, but the first thing the pond would ensure in its cashless society is that the last thing that unemployed, useless welfare and dole bludgers could spend their hard earned readies on would be access to a Murdoch rag ...
What's that you say? That's a tad censorious?
Well yes, but then Twiggy's proposal to ban grog and gambling and cigarettes and anything that's bad for you, so you can turn into a strong, upright, upstanding contributor to society, has all the hallmarks of puritanism, Mother Grundyism, do-gooderism, and all the other things the reptiles and the IPA routinely get agitated about as part of the nanny state.
Worse, Twiggy didn't help his case by adopting a take it or leave it attitude. Twiggy got into one of those tricky engineering metaphors about spark plugs and pistons and needing everything to make the car go, and so it had to be all or nothing, absolutely no cherry picking please, but in politics, it's never about all or nothing, it's all about cherry picking, because why would you eat the stalks?
Naturally Twiggy's stance led to the obvious retort:
KIRSTIE PARKER: There are key elements that do more to disempower people than empower them and we think to dress it up as otherwise is really quite disingenuous. I'm talking here about say the Healthy Welfare Card, which really is the Basics Card that was implemented first in the Northern Territory on steroids. It doesn't take into consideration the many people who are receiving welfare benefits who are doing the right thing - looking after their children and trying to manage their lives at the same time as looking for meaningful and genuine employment that doesn't disadvantage them in other areas.
So we would find it very hard to support a measure like that, and again, if it's all or nothing, we would say we'll go back to the drawing board. (here)
It's about this point that the pond would reach for a soothing drink.
But imagine if the pond had been demonised by Twiggy as a bludger and that the pond shouldn't be drinking and should be living in a cash-free state (okay, the pond has given up the grog, but that's half the point, it's not a Twiggy-driven, Twiggy-mandated, Twiggy-dictated thing).
What to do if the siren song of a drink called? Well Crikey's Sandpit (may be paywall affected) provided an easy solution:
The pond came from a white trash family. Why even the owners of the Chinese restaurant across the road would send across some spare food and a dose of the 'luck soup out of pity, and they were routinely persecuted for being aliens ...
And the first thing that the pond learnt in life was that if the government, or agents of the government, do gooders like Twiggy, told you to do something, the first thing you'd say is "why don't you just go and get fucked."
That's less subtle than saying if it's all or nothing, then it's back to the drawing board, but the result's the same.
No doubt Twiggy felt that he was just recycling old Abbott thinking - Abbott himself once went on record supporting the notion of rampant state control of individual lives, but now he's in power, he's had second thoughts.
And that's the trouble with Twiggy's proposals. No doubt his report makes many astute observations, no doubt there are interesting proposals and initiatives to be found, but they have to be sold, consensus achieved, people brought on board.
Instead he's issued a unilateral declaration, and hung his hat on being a wowser, and a filthy rich, tax-minimising wowser at that.
In his splash today for the reptiles, 'We have a mutual obligation to end the welfare trap', (forced video behind the goldbar paywall trap - get lost cashless losers) Twiggy was still banging on about the joys of being a wowser:
Mutual obligation is an abstract concept but is easy to understand. When parents receive family tax benefits for raising a family and sending their kids to school, surely they have a mutual obligation to actually send their kids to school. When people receive welfare, this money is intended to help people up, not simply to deliver handouts. The intention isn’t to give up on them but facilitate them into, or back into, employment. Is it unreasonable this money not be used for illicit drug or alcohol addictions? I’m not saying a welfare recipient can’t have such habits, but I am recommending that harmful practices that set recipients back not be funded with taxpayer dollars designed to help them. We need to use Family Tax Benefits and the welfare system for what it was originally intended: to support families send healthy kids to school and, unsurprisingly, should parents fail systematically to meet this simple mutual obligation, they stop receiving the welfare benefit designed to help them to do that.
And what happens to the kids then? Take them away? Steal them? Leave them in place with no perceived means of survival?
It's all so blinkered and short-sighted and punitive, and interventionist and dictatorial, and behind it all is the notion that you can punish drinkers and users into reform and changing their ways. Suddenly they'll give up the demon drink:
Uh huh. It's all structured around the notion that Twiggy and Marcia Langton - how did she end up involved? - know better:
Giving straight cash to people who have fallen into the welfare trap ignores that in many cases poor short-term decisions have led people to this position. Our all-cash welfare system hypocritically encourages continuance of poor short-term choices, steering a person further away from the workplace and a healthy lifestyle. Drugs and alcohol continue to ravage many communities, and asking recipients that welfare be used for healthy lifestyle choices, to aid participation in the mainstream economy is a completely reasonable mutual obligation. Spending on illicit drugs completely removes the benefit of that mutual obligation. In the past this was forgivable but it no longer is, as we now have a cashless welfare system available to us that every Australian should demand.
A cashless welfare system that supports our most vulnerable and disadvantaged — when combined with other measures in the review, such as linking family benefit allowance payments of some $20 billion a year to actual school attendance, and the card — will encourage sound short-term decision-making. The mutual obligation will be of great benefit to the health of children and their parents.
Now there's a man who knows absolutely nothing about human nature.
The pond's grandfather would have sold his first born if he felt the need of a drink, and whether cashed up or cashless, nothing would have stopped him.
The pond came to understand and to forgive, when it was old enough and came to realise what the old man had been through on the Somme in the winter mud and slush as a much-targeted machine gunner, and the how and the why of the drink taking over and making his life a misery as a way of forgetting the horror.
But you don't solve addiction through government mandate or punitive government actions, and Twiggy doesn't bother to hide his wowser purposes:
Not drugs. Not alcohol. I’m not asking for the right to consume alcohol to be removed or commenting on the practice of illicit drug consumption — I’m simply recommending it not be paid for with other’s money.
Uh huh. But that's actually what he's asking and that's what he's attempting to mandate. Why be disingenuous about it? Why try to hide the purpose?
The point is you can't have any cash because you'll spend it unwisely. On the demon drink ... and etc.
Meet me in the Marrickville Metro car park so we can trade the frozen peas for a flagon of sherry. What's that? You want more than a bag of peas for a flagon? Well how about I throw in the first born and you throw in a flagon of port?
What's even more peculiar is why the reptiles are giving so much space, time and attention to a dud report which is being badly sold.
Well here's the bad news.
Twiggy has even lost the Bolter, though naturally it's got nothing to do with the demon drink. Instead it's because Twiggy is pandering to the uppity, difficult blacks who on a daily basis make the Bolter's life an unending misery, even worse than the malignant few who question his status as the world's leading climate scientist:
I think we can’t have one policy for Indigenous Australians and another for non-Indigenous Australians.
In his next breath:
NEW indigenous-run companies should be given tax-free status to create genuine jobs for Aboriginal Australians without subsidies, Andrew Forrest proposes in his report.
Ralph Waldo Emerson:
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. (here for the links)
Naturally that produced a few racist bleats in the comments below. The Bolter and his chums are always reliable.
So what's the net result?
Well the federal government has wasted squillions on yet another report, the key conclusions and recommendations of which, it immediately distanced itself from.
As a result, the federal government is perceived as having floated a straw man and run a flag up the pole, and cultivated more uncertainty and suspicion about what it might get up to in the future:
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has ruled out expanding strict income management measures to all welfare recipients, but is not discounting a change to the scheme in the future. A report by mining magnate Andrew Forrest on Indigenous training and employment recommends all welfare payments, other than age or veterans' pensions, be paid into an income management account.
Recipients could only use the account to pay for essentials like food, clothing and bills. But the Government appears unlikely to adopt income management for such a broad range of payments, with Mr Abbott saying the idea is running ahead of current public opinion. "While we are not currently planning the breadth of expansion that Andrew is recommending, I certainly don't rule out wider quarantining in the months and years ahead," he said.
"It could also be something that people embrace voluntarily." (Abbott rules out expansion)
Embrace voluntarily? In what year of delusion could you make this sort of cashless system work effectively and efficiently on an opt-in basis?
Wider quarantining in the months ahead? Is that a polite word for the cherry-picking Twiggy insisted should absolutely not be done? Is this sort of nonsense going to continue in the months and the years ahead?
In short, it's another classic own goal. So many own goals in such a short time, so little time to count them all. They've even irritated Peter Hartcher, Tony Abbott's coalition making same mistakes as Labor, and that takes some doing, and he doesn't even foreground Twiggy ... but this point covers it:
No doubt it started as a vision and a dream for the first 100 days of government - let's get a billionaire tax-minimising businessman to tell us all how it's done - and now the Abbott government has got both Twiggy and Clive Palmer telling them what to do.
But all Abbott's got is a useless report, with difficult big new policies that are as hard to sell as a pup inclined to pee in the kitchen.
There's only one solution the pond can see. Get Gina to do a report and then we can have a trifecta of interfering billionaires (the pond doesn't encourage gambling on trifectas or drinking to excess or illicit drugs, see how we shape our mouth into the perfect form of a prune).
Meanwhile, the government's attempts to pretend it's humane or gives a flying fig about suffering dissolved during the week on another appalling front.
Suffer the little children? Damn right, as any good speaking in tongues Xian knows, those bloody children should suffer and suffer, and certainly not come unto me, no matter if legally and technically I should know and care about their suffering ...
Take it away David Pope (and as always more Pope here), so we can end this Saturday farce. The pond needs a good lie-down: