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Neoliberalism degrades disabled

By Peter Gibilisco - posted Tuesday, 22 February 2011


Senior Australian of the Year and leading disability advocate Ron McCallum has denounced calls by the Business Council of Australia to cut disability pensions to help meet the nation's floods recovery bill. Anglicare Australia’s executive director, Kasy Chambers, has announced her beliefs this way:

For many people living with disability, long-term unemployment is not a choice but a circumstance imposed by systemic failure to respond to their specific requirements.

The action proposed by the Business Council is yet another instance of policies based on the agenda of the neoliberal ideology. Political movements which advocate reforms that allegedly simplify the process of benefit distribution freely appeal to a need to reduce services, cut costs and for this the privatisation of public pension systems is all part of the plan.

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There are already complex pressures upon nations to become part of the neoliberal political agenda and this proposal simply endorses those pressures by adding another example of "cost cutting" here for redistribution there in the national interest.

That is, whilst neoliberalism has respect for the design and structure of social insurance, including public pension systems, it is part of a conservative process to reform by particular kinds of reductions. Or as Russell puts it:

.... neoliberal and Third Way politics [ ] have placed all the emphasis on ending dependency and increasing productivity without any attention to equality of income which is directly tied into the freedom to live one type of life or another. Both replace redistributive (egalitarian) goals with a market approach; both adopt the supply-side theory that the economy is burdened by rigid labor markets, powerful trade unions, and [what they believe to be] overly-generous welfare provisions.

Russell focuses on the social exclusion resulting from neoliberal policy towards people with disabilities, and concludes that the consequential exclusion results is a direct outcome of the neoliberal belief that people with disabilities are simply non-compliant with a profit making agenda.

Most people with disabilities, according to a competitive neoliberal agenda, carry with them burdensome stigmas and disutilities that create problems for the social cohesion of society. Also, there’s my analogy concerning the Third Way written by Adam Morton: who says researching the PhD was very disillusioning:

I could see there was so much error in the third way. They've got this weird idea that less entitlement for people with disabilities is somehow more empowerment.

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Newly elected State Parliamentarian (SA) for Dignity for Disability Rights MP Kelly Vincent has said:

People are better off psychologically, physically and mentally being in the workforce, but if that is not an option for you and you then lose the only financial sort of income you have, how is that going to be good for your psychology?

Kelly Vincent has here made an excellent point and it is one faced by most people with disabilities every waking moment of the day. In other words, it is a priority for governments to provide social inclusion so new legislation must not close doors to the subsistent life that disability support pensions provide, but open doors for more people with disabilities to gain and keep jobs.

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About the Author

Peter Gibilisco was diagnosed with the progressive neurological condition called Friedreich's Ataxia, at age 14. The disability has made his life painful and challenging. He rocks the boat substantially in the formation of needed attributes to succeed in life. For example, he successfully completed a PhD at the University of Melbourne, this was achieved late into the disability's progression. However, he still performs research with the university, as an honorary fellow. Please read about his new book The Politics of Disability.

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Related Links
Politics, Disability and Social Inclusion

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