Good People Don't Vote Liberal

Of course one should know better than to look for coherent thought on Facebook, but I was nevertheless a little bemused to see a former colleague posting a meme calling for compassion, and end to poverty, for everyone to have enough to eat, and power, and health care. And I thought "hang on. Didn't you vote Liberal?"

And it got me to thinking about the dwindling ranks of those who think of themselves as good people - civic minded, concerned about the less well off, caring - but nonetheless vote Liberal. How do they justify their stance to themselves?

Despite Joe Hockey recently stating that the concept of society aiming to reduce economic inequality is an outdated, socialist notion, the Liberals no doubt believe that they do care about poverty, and they have a plan to reduce it - stripping income support from the disadvantaged, which to them represents opportunity; freed from the shackles of poverty level welfare payments, the poor and unemployed will be thus motivated to rush out and get work, or start their own business, or get educational qualifications; that Centrelink is the one thing standing between the disadvantaged and productive lives as contributing members of society.

The simplest among us - though not Joe Hockey - can see the basic, fatal flaw in this plan. It doesn't work. If lack of income support as motivation is the key to eliminating poverty, why is there poverty - anywhere in the world? (As the classic line runs, if hard work was the key to eliminating poverty every woman in Africa would be a millionaire - and if anyone says "but they are richer than us in many ways", I am coming over to your house to vomit in your letterbox). The U.S. has been winding back the New Deal in an orgy of economic rationalism* for the last four decades, and all it has done has made poverty lots worse. Why the hell would anyone think it would work here? They can dress up cutting income support in whatever language they like; the simple goal is to punish the poor.

There will always be those who say "screw the poor. I don't care. I work hard and they can go to hell", and it's easy to understand why they vote Liberal. But good people? For this and so many other reasons, no. Good people don't vote Liberal.

* My sincere apologies for making you think of neoliberals having unrestrained jungle sex.

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