From the early to mid 1970s, when the level and length of unemployment increased dramatically, Australian voters began to hear the term “dole bludgers” from politicians.
By calling welfare recipients ‘parasites’, it corroded our view of the welfare system and reset the economic debate along neoliberal lines.
During the “full employment” years of the 1950s and 60s, high unemployment was seen as a failure of the economy and government to create enough work for everybody.
But from the mid-1970s, high unemployment was recast as the fault of workers for being ‘too lazy’.
Unemployment rose steeply from the mid-70s and it was a global phenomenon. Was there a global outbreak in laziness? Utter BS.
Policymakers in the 1980s set an unemployment rate of 5 per cent to be ‘as good as it gets’.
We’re currently seeing a rise in complaints from employers about ‘labour shortages’.
The number of job advertisements for casual and precarious employment, is at a record high.
I’ll discuss the accuracy of the monthly job ads in another post.
But have you noticed the language being used in the media? Workers are too picky. Unemployment benefits are too high. The more things change, the more they remain the same.