Is it all that’s it cracked up to be?


Birds always understand


With all the activities of the last few months, time has arrived for reflection and ponderings. I leave it to the readers to judge the veracity of my claims. What are those claims? Well, amongst many that I hold, one dearest to my heart has always been that many hold Australia high up the ladder when it comes to the level of social benefits. We often read that our system of welfare is being exploited by loafers and bludgers. Single mums are deliberately having babies so they can siphon financial support which they squander on drugs, clothes, and make-up. Refugees, especially those from bombed out sandy regions near the Euphrates and Tigris river systems are also on the list of exploiting Australia’s wonderful social, almost paradisiacal systems. ( the best in the world) They invade Australia, take our women, jobs, and wear funny clothes.

I don’t hold that view. In fact we believe the opposite to be closer to the truth. The proof is in our social benefits expenditure. Just peruse this site;–makes-unfounded-welfare-claim/5215798

It might be a couple of years old but if anything, it has gotten worse. Or, look at this!

Statistically, Australia lags  behind  most OECD countries in welfare spending, so why do we persist in calling Australia a social paradise?

From AIM; “There is  a ruthless and selfish ruling oligarchy in this country that has a badly inflated and misplaced positive view of itself that continues to inflict injustice on Australia’s poor and disadvantaged in general and even on the working and much of the middle class. For example wealth inequality has returned to the levels of over 100 years ago.”

Our expenditure equals that of the US in about 19.5 % of GDP spending on social welfare. In the US many also hold the view that too much is spent on welfare while clearly that is not the case. The difference that I believe, is that many of the inhabitants of most OECD countries hold a view that pensions, unemployment money, sickness benefits and more are a ‘right’ and not a ‘hand-out’  as is often suggested here. Just the term ‘dole’ or ‘dole-bludger’ is diminishing and belittling. It seems to suggest a beggar with cap in hand. A term that would certainly not be allowed to be used in many countries. A well governed country holds the view that the old, the sick and the unfortunate need to be cared for. Enough revenue (taxation) has to be raised to pay for it.

We had some experience with the creaking social welfare. It was suggested that with continuing health issues and advancing years Helvi would be entitled to ‘aged care’. We had a lengthy interview from a Commonwealth officer and a plan was put into action where she could be provided with some subsidized services.

A domestic service with assistance to house-cleaning was suggested. The other,  a transport service also falling under ‘Community Service.’ It all sounded very good. However, the Government seems to have sub-contracted those services out to private institutions. Many have religious names such as Anglo-Care, Presbytery care, Community Transport (volunteer). The suggested services were all full and had no open positions for home cleaning. The above services are subsidized but payment is still requested. So far we have been unable to get much traction on the home-cleaning front and the social event of a river cruise is put on a poll basis. Names are pulled out of a hat because the demand is bigger than they can accommodate. I wonder why a bigger bus is not used or a bigger boat. In any case, I had not been assessed on receiving ‘Community Aged Care.’ Only Helvi might be allowed on this river cruise. It all sounds so strange. I am Helvi’s husband (for over 55 years)! I was subsequently assessed as well from a kind lady spending another afternoon tapping away on her laptop. I too am now entitled to house cleaning and a river cruise. A second suggestion is a trip to the War Museum in Canberra.

We can’t wait to look at cannons, guns and roses.




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37 Responses to “Is it all that’s it cracked up to be?”

  1. leggypeggy Says:

    Come to Canberra and we’ll take you out to lunch. We live near the War Memorial.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Carrie Rubin Says:

    “A well governed country holds the view that the old, the sick and the unfortunate need to be cared for.”—Well said. I agree.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Curt Mekemson Says:

    I am so agitated about what is happening here in America that I can hardly talk about it. We’ve been hearing that song for years, and now the Republicans and Trump are doing everything they can to eliminate social programs so more money can be shifted into the hands of the wealthy. And they are undermining democracy in the process. These are scary, inhuman times, Gerard.

    Liked by 8 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yet, it is the US that Australia is now trying to copy. Many are liking what Trump is doing (demolishing).
      Only yesterday an enthusiastic newsreader informed us that Australia’s number of billionaires is growing. Some achievement!

      At the same time one of the world’s greatest wonders is dying. The Great Barrier Reef is dying.


  4. DisandDat Says:

    I have friend in similar situation. Husband dying of cancer and wife been told that if she paid more, home care could be bettered !!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, there I was dreaming of the bathrooms getting cleaned while in fact the contractors are telling us they can’t do it because the funding only reaches just a few and the quota is full. Well, at least I now have an Aged Care ID number.
      The best one can do is to remain on ones feet as long as possible and hold on for dear life.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. petspeopleandlife Says:

    It is the same old song and dance. All that glitters is not gold- not in Australia and not in the USA. Times are dire and politicians rule in more ways than one. Will it change? I doubt it and as Curt Mc. put it so well, it is all about getting more money into the hands of the wealthy. I fear for the US and it seems that your country is about equal. Who could have predicted that one country after another would fall apart and lean away from democracy?

    Liked by 5 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      It is just as well I own two vacuum cleaners, Yvonne. One is the cordless ‘Freedom’ Hoover miracle. My agility to crouch down under the sofa and remove dust from nooks and crannies is getting less. Perhaps, one should not worry. After all, from ‘dust to dust’ befalls even the best of us.

      One has to maintain the poetry of life above all else.

      The empathy bypass is entrenched in most politicians. One can tell by their hard look and their enthusiasm in cutting taxes to the rich and their bloated corporations.

      Liked by 3 people

  6. doesitevenmatter3 Says:

    This is such an important and wise post, Gerard. Thank you for writing this and sharing it with us. I agree with what you said.

    I think you CAN tell a lot about a country/government by how they care for the elderly, ill, children, veterans, homeless, etc. And, sadly, most governments and countries are failing those who need them most. 😦

    Continued best healing wishes for Helvi.
    (((HUGS))), too.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Thank you Caroline.
      Many Governments want to cut taxes so that even less money will be available for essential community needs. Even so, a sobering balance shows up when looking at the news of the Myanmar people stranded in Bangla Dash.
      Hugs are always welcome and freely given.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. doesitevenmatter3 Says:

    OH! I meant to say how much I love the bird photo! What is their name? Yes, birds do understand.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. stuartbramhall Says:

    New Zealand was going in the same direction until we elected a new Labour government in Sept. They seem to have hit the ground running, with a plan to restore lots of the austerity cuts in the first 100 days. We shall see if they keep their campaign promises.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, the new PM in New Zealand seems very insightful. She offered to take refugees from Manus and Nauru. Of course , our cruel PM declined the offer. He felt that NZ would offer a back-door entry for the refugees to enter Australia.
      What a dastardly evil Government we have.

      Liked by 1 person

    • DisandDat Says:

      Oh what refreshing news about NZ. So much good things happen there. Not afraid to stand on their own feet. Told USA not bring nuclear powered ships there. Made Oz look dumb by not accepting offer of taking some of our refugees held in prison, so stupid it makes me squirm. Ashamed to be Australian at times like this. Sorry probably off the subject a bit.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    The sad part of taking away the benefits enjoyed by those in need, is how fast it is happening. No sooner said than done. This is NOT the country I grew up in. A country where people cared about people. Today we are almost afraid to voice our opinion. I overheard a discussion between two women arguing whether the minimum wage should be raised to $15. One of them voiced Marie Antoinette’s “Let ’em eat cake!” People can’t even survive by raising it. I agree that there are women in this country who have multiple babies simply to receive welfare and that has to stop. How, is the question. So much gone wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, ‘self reliance’ is now the buzz word, Kayti. We have to be strong and remain on our feet.

      At least my social bowling club are a bunch of caring people who do look after each other. I suppose, that is the answer to loneliness and isolation as well as comforting friendship.

      The river cruise that we were looking forward to was an opportunity to find out how other elderly fare in life and all important friendships.

      It never occurs when younger but becoming ‘elderly’ does happen. It seems like yesterday we were still doing the Lambada. We now shuffle a bit around.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Therese Trouserzoff Says:

    OK, it’s picking nits, but Guns ‘n Roses was a band. I think you’re more likely to encounter guns and faux poppies at the War Memorial.

    When you go – and I love going – say hello to my grandfathers on the memorial wall – Eric John Herring and Thomas Macquarie O’Connor.

    As far as assisted living goes, the system does indeed rely on the social conscience of many religious groups and other not-for-profits – many of whom pay no tax but receive significant funding from state and Australian government agencies.

    For the taxpayer, these arrangements represent great value for money because they work on the backs of poorly-paid casual (often migrant) labour and volunteers – and the tolerance of clients of whatever service can be scrounged from the universe.

    The NDIS has thrown a massive spanner into the social welfare machine – putting the very difficult to get funding in the hands of disabled citizens and their carers instead of block funding service providers for quanta of work. This forces costs of service down by getting one welfare agency to compete with another for the client’s business.

    So service quality and quantity go down too as agencies (who were never commercially viable – but were not designed so) go under. And so there is limited service for the funded recipients to purchase anyway. Magnificent lose-lose scenario.

    It’s bringing the dog-eat-dog American style economics to our wide brown land (said he the self-employed non-unionised contractor).

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, ‘Guns and Roses’ popped up when putting down that sentence, Trouserzoff. A great group!

      Most people might well accept all those lovely brochures and helplines as being truthful. It is only when trying to access those ‘benefits’ that one comes across the experiences showing up total anomalies.

      The commonwealth persons assessing us for possible domestic and transport assistance did an admirable job, all on laptop and e-mailed to us very quickly.

      However, one of them rang the service provider recommended to us, and found out too, that the service was already filled by ‘clients.’

      She then asked why the books were still ‘open’, suggesting availability and was told that that is what the providers do in case a clients drops out. It is a bit skull doggery.

      As the cleaning service providers are only partially subsidized we might just employ a cleaner totally on our own bat.

      I clean our bathrooms already, or, at least after dribbling all over the bowl I clean up by wiping the bowl, the seat or other areas of male misadventures.


  11. Andrew Says:

    This is so sad Gerard. At the time help is needed most it is least available. Governments it seems have no funding for those in need. I don’t know what the solution is. It seems there isn’t enough money to go around. How it should be fairly distributed is beyond me. At some point if you tax the wealthy too much they simply move to a lower tax country. Wealth is mobile. What is fair? I, like many others, feel there is no political party that represents my position any more. There is no middle ground, only extremes. All we can do is hold governments to account and, if you are lucky enough to have a vote (we don’t in HK) try to change the status quo. Governments have no money. They take ours. Simple fact. How they then distribute and spend it is the problem. There is a suggestion in Britain now that tax be hypothecated – that is to say people would pay an NHS tax that would be dedicated specifically to the health service. How well would that work? I don’t know. A social welfare tax? Where does it end? But it makes me angry that people like you and Helvi can’t get the most basic support. I hope Helvi’s treatment is successful and there are some brighter days ahead for you both. Sending hugs and love from Hong Kong,

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      A social welfare tax is already in place in many countries, Andrew. It does mean a 50% total tax. That does also mean that benefits are provided.

      My brother Frank’s care in The Netherlands was a good example of how it works.

      In Australia volunteering often takes away responsibility from Government to provide services. While volunteering is admirable it should not be at the cost of taking away a duty for essential services to be provided by the Government.

      Revenue through taxation is forever being demonized. Lately a sugar tax has been whispered about to prevent obesity costing billions. Australia has no taste for a sugar tax. Yet, it would save billions in health costs and could raise half a billion in revenue.
      Helvi is being operated on this coming Wednesday 31st of Jan..

      Thank you for your well wishes, Andrew.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Andrew Says:

        I had my 6-monthly check up yesterday and my doctor was telling me about how sugar is now being recognised as the cause of problems that were previously attributed to fatty foods – so it is not the streaky bacon that gets you (hurrah!) but the natural and added sugars in our diet. I started rigorously cutting my sugar intake 12 months ago and have lost over 25lb in weight and my BMI has fallen significantly. Taxing and cutting down sugar would be natural preventative measures that would indeed release much-needed funding for better causes.

        Liked by 1 person

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        We are both fortunate that we don’t go much for sugar or sugary foods. A cake is a rarity and we never have soft drinks or eat biscuits.

        I think that your story proves the point very well, Andrew. I am pleased that you have lost so much weight.

        I often peruse overweight peoples’ shopping trolleys and have trouble restraining a big sigh or severe frown when I see the sugar loaded items . 😉

        Helvi reckons I am overdoing our need for domestic support but the aim of the article was to draw attention to the plight of those whose needs are urgent and real.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. berlioz1935 Says:

    Oh, Dear, a great, realistic blog but still tinged with your brand of humour. Our so-called leaders are full of alternative facts. The two links you provided tell the truth but the politicians in Canberra and elsewhere never inform themselves of the “real” facts.

    Up to the election of Donald Trump, we always thought facts were for real. He told us otherwise. And when I see and hear our politicians I cringe and feel ashamed.

    Helvi and you “you had a great fall” and now you find out that all the “government horses” can’t help you much. Our daughter works at a ‘call centre” that is contracted to the government to give advice to the elderly in regard to ‘Age Care’. She is very frustrated that she actually has to tell the clients that help is available but not right now, but somewhere in the future. She knows of many help seekers who have been overtaken by death waiting on a bureaucratic waiting list.

    Your situation has changed within a couple of months from independent living to be in need of outside help. As you said, from dancing “the Lambada to a shuffle” as if a DJ has just flicked a switch.

    By providing better services the government would create jobs they so often blabber about. Here is an economic argument as well as a social one. The billions spend on Manus Island and Nauru could instead be used to put a humane shine to our ailing society.

    Oh no, we have to support the American weapons manufacturers.

    We wish Helvi all the best for her operation. the people working in the hospitals a great people.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Berlioz. You make some salient points here.

      When it comes to claims being made about our ‘generous’ social welfare systems it would be wise to not accept unquestioningly and passively all that we are being told. The statistics bear out that our expenditure on welfare is near the bottom rung of most of the OECD countries as per percentage of our Gross Domestic Products (GDP).

      Many claim that spending on social welfare makes people lazy and that it discourages innovation and self-reliance. We all heard the outrageous claims by Hanson and other right-wing parties how Muslims have four wives with endless rows of children on which they can claim all sorts of benefits enabling them living in opulence and enormous luxury, to the extend money is send back to their countries of origin. Another favourite is of single women falling pregnant and doing the same in exploiting our ‘generous’ welfare.

      Holland would be well on the top of welfare spending. It has often been criticized for ‘cradle to grave’ support. Everyone, pauper or millionaire gets the basic pension. No discrimination. If the theory holds that welfare makes people lazy and lacking self reliance and innovation, one would expect the Dutch to be the laziest and slackest people of them all. In fact as we know, it is the opposite.
      Holland is booming and youth unemployment one of the lowest in Europe.
      Many of their empty prisons are waiting for criminals. Overseas countries are invited to house their criminals in Dutch prisons. The Dutch economy has now overtaken the British who are languishing after the Brexit disaster.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. hilarycustancegreen Says:

    I felt a bit cross-eyed reading this, there seems to be a disconnect between the really necessary and the frills. I hope you get some benefit the system (that presumably you have been paying into) whatever it turns out to be.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      You are right, Hilary. The reality is that care for the elderly is very visible on forms and pamphlets but the follow up is a bit of a hurdle that only the most tenacious of the old will ever overcome. A good pre-Aged Care training would be to acquaint oneself with lots of mazes!

      Liked by 2 people

  14. auntyuta Says:

    Gerard, you say that you were ‘subsequently assessed as well from a kind lady spending another afternoon tapping away on her laptop.’ And you say that you too are now ‘entitled to house cleaning and a river cruise. A second suggestion is a trip to the War Museum in Canberra.’

    Have you ever been to the War Museum in Canberra? Well, how thoughtful of them to suggest such a trip! Once Helvi is fit enough to travel, I am sure both of you are going to have the time of your life. I can just imagine how much you’re looking forward ‘to look at cannons, guns and roses!’. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Uta. We are now eligible for ‘My Aged Care.’. It all came about after Helvi’s treatment and hospitalisation for her cancer. It makes no difference if a pensioner or self-funded retiree.
      The Government is keen to keep people at their own home as long as possible.
      The Community Transport has a few outings a year.

      We visited the War Museum many years ago and haven’t been back since. We are both appreciative of soldiers having fought to free the world of Nazis and oppression but as for looking and remembering the horrors of having known occupation, I can’t say I want to see and spend a day in a bus to visit a War Museum. Why not the National Art museum or even Parliament house, The Science Museum?
      There is also a trip to visit a ‘Red Cow Farm’ which is a garden offering solitude and reflection.

      One’s names are drawn from a queue and the lady answering the phone could not guarantee any seats.

      We will have to be patient and wait for our ‘Aged Care’ to come to fruition.

      Liked by 1 person

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