Monday, November 19, 2007

Junkies insist on rights to use public charity to buy their dope

This is cute. A protest from the junkie union (AIVL) objecting to John Howard’s proposal to prevent junkies spending public money on drugs, booze and cigarettes.

The AIVL supports the ‘second theorem of welfare economics’ – that charity transfers should be monetary leaving recipients to determine how they spend their money. Often I do too but not always. The money that supports these deadheads comes from Australian taxpayers. Without the faintest hint of a smile I am prepared to give some of my dollars to these ratbags so that they can enjoy living at my expense but, no, I won’t pay for their drug supplies. People who get themselves addicted to drugs evidently do not have the intellectual capacity to manage their budgets.

These recipients of public charity – as a consequence of their self-inflicted pain - should shut-up and be grateful for public indulgence of their stupidity.


All Australians are equal but some are more equal than others...

The Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League (AIVL), the national organisation representing people who use or have used illicit drugs is shocked and appalled by the unexpected announcement today by Prime Minister Howard that a re-elected Coalition Government would take control of the welfare payments of people convicted of offences involving illicit drugs.

“This is the politics of exclusion” said Ms Louise Grant, AIVL’s President. “All of the candidates in this federal election, including the Government have talked about the importance of creating an inclusive community but this announcement by the Federal Government is the exact opposite of this. It is targeting some of the most vulnerable and marginalised people in our community and seeking to make their lives much harder at the worst possible time”.

Both research evidence and experience show that punitive legal measures have almost no impact when it comes to preventing continued illicit drug use among people convicted of drug related offences. “The announcement by the Prime Minister will not stop people using illicit drugs, it will simply mean that people will be forced to take even more risks than they currently do to obtain money for their drug use” Ms Grant stated.

AIVL is concerned that the quarantining of welfare payments for people convicted of illicit drug offences will result in higher levels of crime and other harms as people search for ways to obtain cash and/or ways to avoid being registered for government benefits. “People will go underground to survive and to maintain control over their lives” claimed Ms Grant.

“This proposal ignores the fact that people who receive government benefits are Australian citizens who have the right to make their own decisions about how they spend their income, regardless of how that income is derived” stated Ms Grant. (my bold)

AIVL also believes the Prime Minister’s announcement will establish a system of arbitrary additional punishment for people convicted of drug related offences who are in receipt of government benefits. “People who are convicted of drug offences have already been punished by the courts. They should not face additional punishment from outside the recognised judicial system.” If these types of paternalistic and undemocratic measures were imposed on other people in the community there would be outrage but when it is targeting people who use illicit drugs or Aboriginal people it is considered good policy.

As a community we should “just say no” to the politics of exclusion.

For further information please contact Louise Grant on 0424 903 565 or Annie Madden, Executive Officer on (02) 6279 1600 or mobile 0414 628. 136.
Yes these people care ‘vulnerable and marginalised’ but it is because they take illicit drugs. The policy is not binding except on the more stupid members of this group. If they don’t spend their charity handouts on dope, booze and carcinogens they won’t be penalised.

The claim that legal restrictions do not impact on drug buse is wrong given the evident success of increased interdictions in 2001 which markedly reduced heroin use.

It is interesting that the libertarian lot over at Catallaxy (who preach the case for individual responsibility, rational choice etc ad nauseam) also object to John Howards’s outrageous suggestion not to let junkies spend their dollars as they choose.


Slim said...

The interesting question here is does one still have proprietorship over 'charity' once it has been given?

For once I'm inclined to side with the Lax Cats on this one.

Sure, it's a problem, but there are more effective ways of dealing with substance abuse. Who's to say that a drug-dependent welfare recipient deprived of funds won't turn to crime adding further external costs to society?

Sinclair Davidson said...

I think you'll find that there are a range of nuanced views on drugs in libertarian circles.

Anonymous said...

Aside from the grotesque labels ("junkie" - c'mon, it's 2007), you seem to miss the point of what is the best outcome not just for the individual, but for the state.

Implementing this scheme would cause more harm to not only users' of illicit substances ("junkies"), but their families and potentially communities, courts, welfare (take it away with one hand, give it with another - the only way this would ever work, making it - uh - not work at all) and public health care.

By pushing marginalised people further underground you only cause them and the people around them more harm.

There are shameful breaches in logic in most conservate drug policy, but few are as abhorrent as this policy proposal.

Anonymous said...

Dear Harry Clarke,

if you support this effort to stop people with illegal drug offences spending welfare on tobacco and alcohol,

shouldn't you advocate that all welfare recipients should not be able to spend any of it on tobacco and alcohol?


Anonymous said...

"People who get themselves addicted to drugs evidently do not have the intellectual capacity to manage their budgets."

So... smokers are idiots?
Alcoholics are morons?

There are many things more complex to consider, and I would hope that any intelligent person would at least stop to consider these before pandering to a low-demoninator audience and their somewhat warped ideals.

Sly said...

I'll only ask one thing: do you also consider fat old businessmen who have heart attacks induced by bad food and management stress and then treated by the public health system 'moronic'? Poor choices are not limited to either welfare recipients or drug users.

drwoood said...

It sounds like you are justifying a gross and expensive intrusion of government into peoples lives by ad hominem attacks on them as 'junkies' and 'deadheads'. Besides, they can't be that bad if they can bang a press release together.

Let me propose are far cheaper and more effective method of reducing problematic drug use: ban the sale of pseudoephedrine - put it on S8 for example. This would remove the main precursor for almost all of the methamphetamine around. Some drug companies won't like it because they make so much money selling cold medications, but I would prefer that to the absolutely ridiculous that Howard is proposing in order to get votes from armchair authoriatian conservatives.

hc said...

To mmost of the critics - I don't think IV drug users should be treated as objects of pity - alienated youth etc. They are stupid people who do stupid things. The proposal to regulate their consumption behaviour is sensible given the evidence they can't run their own affairs themselves.

It is not being mean to these people - its being accurate.

Michael Gormly said...

Your arguments are deeply flawed, Harry.

You said this: 'Yes these people care ‘vulnerable and marginalised’ but it is because they take illicit drugs. The policy is not binding except on the more stupid members of this group. If they don’t spend their charity handouts on dope, booze and carcinogens they won’t be penalised.'

This is like saying the chicken definitely came before the egg. I contend that, to get themselves addicted to drugs, people MUST have significant pre-existing problems. I conduct a running survey, asking people 'if drugs were legal and regulated would you start sticking needles in your arm?' So-far the answer has been 100% 'No'. Try it yourself, Harry, and then ponder why drug addicts have gone down that path while our friends would not. A lot of it is our sheer luck to have been born to good parents, receiving a stable upbringing with a decent education, some self-esteem and some prospects in life. From my knowledge of addicts around where I live in Kings Cross, few have had the same good fortune. Many are illiterate and unemployable.

Your enthusiasm for excluding a few misfits from our community because they may or may not be 'stupid' says more about you, Harry, than them. There but for the grace of god go you, Harry. Once you divide people into 'deserving' and 'non-deserving' you open the doors to any ideologue who gets control of politics to victimise anyone they can demonise. Much like you are doing.

Further, the idea that welfare payments will go anywhere towards maintaining a drug addiction is laughable -- the people you hold in such contempt must have other sources of income -- under the prohibition system you so love it's often dealing, scamming or prostitution. That most of them also spend money on living quarters, clothes, fares and food indicates that a fair bit of their measly welfare cheque goes on these things.

What are you proposing, Harry? That a government auditor examines their accounts each fortnight and makes a judgement? Shades of Franz Kafka or 'Leaf by Niggle'.

Unattractive as these people and their lives are, I would rather they got basic support and care. We could save the money elsewhere if we are that hard up -- for instance by not invading Iraq or slightly reducing our annual corporate welfare of $10 billion to fossil fuel industries or boosting remedial programs in schools so we don't produce as many 'stupid' people in the first place. Or giving away only $34 billion in tax cuts -- that should still be enough to buy some votes. Oops, it wasn't enough. Oh well.