Thursday, 19 April 2012

The End of the Age of Entitlement: Hockey's speech (link to full transcript)

In April 2012 the Australian Federal Opposition’s Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey delivered a speech to the Institute of Economic Affairs in London titled The End of the Age of Entitlement.

In this speech Hockey stated;

Entitlement is a concept that corrodes the very heart of the process of free enterprise which drives our economy…
The social contract between government and its citizens needs to be urgently and significantly redefined. The reality is that we cannot have greater government services and more government involvement in our lives coupled with significantly lower taxation…..
You will remember it was Margaret Thatcher who interpreted community entitlements as the right for our children to “grow tall and some taller than others if they have the ability in them to do so”. This broader and timeless conservative definition of our end game lays down some foundations for the role of government. Equality of opportunity rather than equality of outcome is my preferred model for contemporary society.…..
Defined benefit schemes need to be phased out worldwide, including in Australia, whether they are for public servants or private sector employees. All government-funded pensions and other such payments must be means tested so that people who do not need them do not get them.

The first we heard about the Coalition’s plan to review Commonwealth welfare payments/tax concessions/other forms of government assistance with a view to reducing and/or eliminating some of these is found in an ABC TV Lateline interview on 18 April 2012.

Hockey told Lateline that:

Well, with an ageing population and an entitlement system that has seen extraordinary largesse built up over the last 50 years, Western communities, Western societies are going to have to make some very hard and unpopular decisions to wind back the involvement of the state in people's lives……
we need to be ever-vigilant. We need to compare ourselves with our Asian neighbours where the entitlements programs of the state are far less than they are in Australia…
Australia's heading in one direction, that's a reduction of entitlements and it's empowerment of people.

The full transcript of Hockey’s IEA speech can be found here.

Despite Hockey past protestations otherwise, he appears to be following the Liberal Party’s tendency to take its policy straight from Margaret Thatcher’s old playbook and the more conservative elements of the U.S. Republican Party and its Tea Party adherents.

Margaret Thatcher in October 1987:

I think we've been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it's the government's job to cope with it. 'I have a problem, I'll get a grant.' 'I'm homeless, the government must house me.' They're casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It's our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There's no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation.

One Tea Party leader Phillip Dennis in CNN Opinion, April 2010:

Welfare and unemployment benefits must be drastically cut.

Here is a statement on one right-wing public policy think tank, The Heritage Foundation, made in August 2010:

If we really want to get our nation back on track, one of our top priorities must be to end the age of entitlements.

Ohio Republican Rep Jim Jordan told The Washington Times in April 2011:

Unless we start looking at this fractured system as one unit, exploding costs will bring the whole thing down.

Republican Rep. Paul Ryan said in The Huffington Post on 20 March 2012:

We don't want to turn the safety net into a hammock that lulls able-bodied people ... into complacency and dependence.


Anonymous said...

What about the largesse we have given the rich and fatuous, the susidising of private schools, the handouts on private health insuarance to the rich, and just think of how we patronise the mining magnates! Of course Hockey would aim at the poorest and those on low benefits who almost certainly need some help ....That's the Liberal way!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hockey obviously takes a little too seriously that fact that his father was born in Bethlehem.

Anonymous said...

Cut welfare and services, the wealthy don't need public schools and public hospitals. Reduce the taxes on the rich and tax Joe Bow more and more. That's where we are heading, unfortunately. Let's fight them.

Anonymous said...

scary times on planet earth