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Viv ForbesStuck on Red & Other Essays (First Published by “Business Queensland” and “Common Sense” in 1991), pp. 116-19.About the Author»

A Gallup public opinion poll taken in June 1978, when there were about 300,000 people on the dole, found that 85% of Australians believed that dole recipients should be made to do some useful work. In addition, 22% of people interviewed said they knew of someone receiving the dole, but not genuinely looking for work.

Thirteen years later there are over 800,000 unemployed and politicians of all shades are at last feeling the hot breath of public opinion. Conservatives are debating “work for the dole” and the government has announced “the dole ended on 30 June”. Such is the glacial speed of political reaction to community concern.

“Job Search” and “Newstart” are just deceitful recycling of decades of failed government programs. We’ve been told that the unemployed were getting trained and were forced to look for jobs. These new programs confirm what we all suspected — government training is a failure and CES work testing is a joke.

“Work for the dole” sounds an attractive solution to the problem of long term bludging. In the short run, it may have some beneficial effects, but in the long run, like all bureaucratic solutions, it will create more problems than it solves.

There are six major problems in the creation of a compulsory dole corps.

Firstly, it removes some of the stigma from the dole, thus encouraging people to stay on it (“I’m working for my money”).

Secondly, for the chronic bludger, pretending to work at raking and spreading leaves for two days per week is still preferable to real work for five days per week. For the “work-house” solution to succeed in separating the needy from the workshy, it must be long, arduous, unattractive and looked down on. No politician of today is likely to design such a system.

Thirdly, should the government find real work for the dole corps, they will drive legitimate firms in this field out of business with the provision of “free” or subsidised services produced with their battalions of conscripted labour. Employees of such firms will then join the dole queues to do the same work at far greater cost. The CES has already produced such perverse results where their work for local authorities has destroyed private contractors.

Fourthly, there is a real danger that the dole corps will be misused to serve partisan political goals. If the past is any guide, we will see our unemployed youth surreptitiously drafted to support favourite causes and publications such as affirmative action, peace, left-wing “history” or their right-wing equivalents.

Fifthly, any protracted service with the dole corps will teach “the government stroke” now so obvious on most government day-labour gangs. Forced labour will produce cadres of sullen malingerers with reduced initiative, poor self esteem, low productivity and nil employability. This is surely not the way to train our children.

Sixthly, with 812,000 out of work, living on the dole has become the chosen career for a growing number of Australians. To put this huge army to work would undoubtedly be used to justify the creation of dozens of new government programs with hundreds of new public servants to administer, control and audit them. Four years ago, Mr Willis estimated that a compulsory work-for-the-dole would require an extra 1000 bureaucrats and would cost an additional $700 million per year. Imagine the cost today.

And imagine the chances that a committee of bureaucrats in Canberra or Brisbane can find useful work for the hundreds of dolies on the Whitsunday Coast. This is not the solution; it is the problem.

There is not and will never be a shortage of work to be done. Payroll taxes and the high legislated wages for young people have undoubtedly destroyed job opportunities for the young and the unskilled. And the high taxes, exchange rates and interest rates have destroyed many businesses and their jobs.

But all over Australia, jobs for fruit and vegetable pickers, farm labourers, factory workers and gardeners go begging while too many of our young people relax at Cairns, Broome, the Dole Coast or in Commune County in Northern NSW. Lots of them are looking for good jobs, but few are prepared to accept hard work. The dole is clearly preferable to physical labour or harsh environments. It has made work optional and too many are exercising the alternative lifestyle option at the expense of working tax-paying stiffs.

In summary, the creation of a dole corps would exacerbate the real problems of a huge public sector using too many people, too much equipment and too much capital to produce little of value to Australian families and businesses.

Those who still have faith in government to solve our dole problem have been asleep for ten years. Over the past decade we have seen a bi-partisan procession of programs such as RED, NEAT, CRAFT, FAS, SYETP, CYSS, VYCS, EPUY, VYP, RAGE, CEP, job subsidies, CES special training programs, GIVEAKIDAJOB, PRIORITY ONE and suggestions for rural kibbutz and lump sum dole payments. None of these has had any positive effect on the problem. Now we have JOB SEARCH and NEWSTART. It is surely clear that no new government program will solve unemployment because it is caused by government action. Repeal of the offending legislation, not addition to it, is the way to go.

The only solution to the dole is to abolish it, as quickly and humanely as possible. The first step must be to cut it by 50% for all able bodied persons with no dependents. This must be followed by time limitations, age limitations and tougher rules on accepting any work available. These reforms must be accompanied by abolition of all wage laws, industrial controls, work practices, union barriers and payroll taxes which make it unprofitable for most employers to give them a start.

The Queensland Government Wildlife Service has a wise policy of discouraging people from feeding wild birds and animals, even when they are starving, because “it makes them dependent on man”. No one suggests that feeding the animals is okay as long as they perform tricks before being fed.

The dole is equally destructive, even if they work or “train” for it.

(in order of appearance on Economics.org.au)
  1. Lang Hancock's Five Point Plan to Cripple Australia
  2. Put Windmills in National Parks
  3. Magnifying National Disasters
  4. Please Don't Feed the Animals
  5. Buy Birdsville Made?
  6. The Economics of Flood Risk
  7. Touring Bureaucrats
  8. Our slip-shod laws to blame
  9. Why Wind Won't Work
  10. A Profusion of "Prices"
  11. R.I.P. Ron Kitching - pioneer, explorer, author, family man, entrepreneur, scholar
  12. The Carbon Pollution Lie
  13. Closing Down Australia
  14. The Anti-Industry
  15. The Pyramid Builders
  16. Carbon Tax Bribery
  17. Crown Monopolies
  18. Carbon Tax Job Losses
  19. What Next, a Tax on Water?
  20. Carbon Health Warnings Coming Soon
  21. Growth Mythology
  22. The Tax Collection Industry
  23. Propaganda Puts Paid to Proof
  24. The Milk of the Welfare Teat is Watered Down
  25. "Crops for Cars" as Bad as Everlasting Drought
  26. Poll speech sets record
  27. The Emissions Trading Casino
  28. The Contract Society
  29. A Model Ministry
  30. The Five Point Plan to kill the economy with High Cost Electricity
  31. Put a Sunset Clause in the Carbon Tax
  32. Stuck on Red
  33. Time to Butcher "Aussie Beef"
  34. Carbon Tax Lies and Bribes
  35. The Middle of the Road
  36. United against taxes
  37. Call for Govt administrator
  38. Property & Prosperity
  39. "The Science is Settled" BUT Durban Climate Summit Not Cancelled
  40. No End to Fuelish Policies?
  41. The Right to Discriminate
  42. Sell the CES
  43. Free Water Costs Too Dam Much
  44. Creating Unemployment
  45. Viv Forbes Wins 1986 Adam Smith Award
  46. 1985 news item on Tax Payers United, Centre 2000 and the Australian Adam Smith Club
  47. Having the numbers is not the same as having the truth
  48. Who's Who in the Workers Party
  49. David Russell Leads 1975 Workers Party Queensland Senate Team
  50. Caught in a welfare whirlpool
  51. Global Warming Season
  52. Mining in Queensland, Past, Present and Future
  53. WEATHER IS USUALLY UNUSUAL
  54. Political branch formed
  55. Ron Manners on the Workers Party
  56. Viv Forbes on Libertarian Strategy and the Constant Resources Myth
  57. The New Brisbane Line?
  58. Carbon Lies
  59. We Mine to Live
  60. Save the taxpayer
  61. Solving Three Canberra Problems
  62. Vested Interests in the Climate Debate
  63. Carbon Tax Retrospective?
  64. Carbon Price Propaganda Taxes the Truth
  65. Don't Burn Food for Motor Spirit - Feed People not Cars
  66. Two Big Climate Taxes
  67. Greens Rediscover Hydrogen Car
  68. Atlas of Australia
  69. Shutting Out The Sun
  70. Safety Mania
  71. Coal - Sinking in the Swamps
  72. Hobbling the Competition
  73. Cubic Currency Coming
  74. "Dear Government"
  75. Viv Forbes mocks Flannery in 1988
  76. What we have is not a drug problem but a drug law problem
  77. Smoking, Health and Freedom
  78. Privatise Now! while they are still worth something
  79. The Electoral Act should allow voters to choose "none of the above"
  80. The New Federalism
  81. Sunset for Solar Subsidies
  82. The mouse will roar
  83. The Road to Homelessness
  84. Planning & Prosperity
  85. Viv Forbes and Jim Fryar vs Malcolm Fraser in 1979
  86. Quip, Quote, Rant and Rave: four of Viv Forbes' letters to the editor in The Australian in 1979
  87. Australia's First Official Political Party Poet Laureate: The Progress Party's Ken Hood in 1979
  88. Our homeless regulation refugees
  89. Progress Party and Workers Party lead The Australian
  90. Viv Forbes in 1978 on loss-making government, the Berlin Wall and misdirected blasts of hot-air
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Forbes has long been active in politics, economic education, business and the global warming debate, and was winner of the Australian Adam Smith Award “For outstanding services to the Free Society” in 1986.Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5