POST 2: An academic view of class in Australia

James Meland-Proctor

When thinking about inequality in Australia, class is still a topic for discussion that comes up a lot. Addressing one of the first academic articles I read regarding social inequality, I discovered that the author is a well renowned social science academic, working for the university of Canberra. Their area of expertise is economics and social policy and they have written about other topics including economic modelling, taxation, income, housing stress and social exclusion. The article states that income inequality overall has increased over the last 11 year and that the causes of it have primarily been market based. As a result, the middle class in Australia have apparently suffered the most due to the government mandated increases in income tax progressivity, social welfare and other cash bonus programs. I can understand how changes to taxation could be skewed to benefit richer individuals, and perhaps the government giving money to people who are not exactly poor; however there are necessary programs in place to help some of the poorest households. The author seems to only be writing in the interests of solely the middle class. While most people would fall somewhere along the spectrum of middle class, the article dismisses how essential certain welfare programs are for certain groups, instead pandering to the middle man. I can see where the author is coming from, and so could many others. Under the circumstances of critical thought and moral investigation, I would prefer if that their stance was more egalitarian based, not simply geared to lamenting losses for the middle class. I think at this point I would like to look into 1. Middle class and corporate welfare 2. The Australian dream and how it’s changed over time and 3. Tax havens and money laundering

Cox, G. 2016, Inequality on the rise as Australia’s richest increase wealth and income: report, News. viewed 16 August 2016, <http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2015/06/21/inequality-rise-australias-richest-increase-wealth-and-income-report&gt;.

Harding, A (1997) The Suffering Middle: Trends in Income Inequality in Australia 1982 to 1993-4 Discussion Paper No. 21

Holmes, D. 2014, The great global warming subsidy: the truth about Australian corporate welfare, The Conversation. viewed 16 August 2016, <http://theconversation.com/the-great-global-warming-subsidy-the-truth-about-australian-corporate-welfare-23281&gt;.

 

The second report I read was written by the Australian Council of Social Service (ACSS), an organisational body which specifically researches issues relating to unemployment, the federal budget and welfare and how it affects lower income earners such as single parent families, pensioners, disabled, indigenous and young people. It would appear, the reports they write act to provide insight into marginalised groups and raise awareness. Being an advocacy group for the disenfranchised, their general aim to foster social empathy and make an impacting change, hopefully informing policy decision-making. In the report, they outline that there is a growing level of financial hardship within Australia for certain groups who are affected more disproportionately than the rest of the nation. While other reports I have read, have touched briefly on these issues, it has been more from an economic standpoint and relating back to unemployment rates rather based on empathy and human rights. The authors state that there ought to be a social welfare reform to accommodate for changes over time and to protect individuals against factors out of their control such as economic downturn or high rates of unemployment. As mentioned previously, their position considers disadvantaged groups and individuals and providing solutions for them, something everyone would want. However, their perspective is unique due to how holistic they are and their view is therefore probably more marginal due to the demographically large scope they aim to help. Not only that, but many people may disagree with their view of a social welfare reform due to political ideologies and interests. I therefore want to question these three things: 1. The intersection of race, gender and ethnicity in regards to financial prosperity, 2. Social requirements beyond a living wage and 3. Types of policy implementations to help out most disenfranchised groups.

Australian Council of Social Service. Who Is Missing Out?: Hardship among Low Income Australians [online]. Strawberry Hills, NSW: Australian Council of Social Service, 2008. Strawberry Hills, NSW: Australian Council of Social Service, 2008. 38 p. ACOSS info, ISSN 1442-486X ; 391. ISBN 085871776X. ACOSS info, ISSN 1442-486X ; 391. Availability:<http://search.informit.com.au.ezproxy.lib.uts.edu.au/documentSummary;dn=534815895047145;res=IELFSC> ISBN: 085871776X. [cited 15 Aug 16].

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