Teaching Law

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Government largess & wealth

I saw somewhere online today a criticism that the majority of Australians receive government benefits. This was presented as a means of criticising those who do as 'leaners', pointing out that a minority of Australians are 'lifters'. Interestingly, the comment aggregated those on government 'benefits' and those who received their income from government jobs (ie public servants).

I suspect that by government benefits, the author meant both welfare as well as tax concessions. The argument, presumably, is one for smaller government and the promotion of do-it-yourself wealth. This kind of discourse tends to categorise those on 'benefits' as lazy and the public service as a bloated and unnecessary workforce.

In this post I point out why this is a lazy dichotomy that supports not an economic view but an ideological one. While I have written before about the subtext of 'lifters and leaners', here I use the very interesting and seminal work of Charles Reich from 1964, The New Property.