Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Poor from being a Burden to the Housing Ministers of the Nation

First published in 2007 in those heady days when we were lucky enough to even have Ministries for Housing, as opposed to Ministries for "Mention anything but the H-word".
DH had an Eureka! moment while tossing and turning in bed last night.
As is incumbent on all conscientious welfare dependants in these difficult times,she had been doing her daily moral stocktake:
  • Was I one of the Deserving Poor, or one of the Undeserving Poor today?
  • Are my children sufficiently disabled, or are they taking up a bedroom that should go to someone more in need?
  • When exactly does a Hand-up become a Hand-out?
  • And how can all this be measured accurately, so that the System Remains Fair?
It was then that DH began to dream.
Like, just imagine a world in which every houso got funding to develop their own Personal Housing Mission Statement in conjunction with their Department of Housing Team Leader!
Then they could simply fill in an FPR (Fortnightly Performance Report) on how they were meeting their Self-Reliance Objectives.
It would be easy enough to adapt Chairman John’s “Little Teal and Orange Workbook”, (that’s the “Dole Diary” to you, Sunshine) by appending a further couple of reams.
DH had just got to the really fun bit, dreaming up a host of great KPI’s to hold herself accountable to, e.g. “Today I took positive steps to keep the BMW hidden in the garage, lest it provoke the envy of the Taxpayer”, when she recalled that in fact the carport was already occupied by an ever-proliferating set of gaily colour-coded rubbish bins. This got her totally applauding the notion that every type of garbage requires its own special container…
And that’s when it happened… Suddenly, it was, like, …. EUREEEEEKA-A-A!!!
GARBAGE! The answer lay in Garbage!
Because everybody recognises that all the categories of waste need to be housed in their own appropriate containers. Nobody is ever downwardly envious of landfill.
After all, not even The Blessed Taxpayer, blames industrial waste for its own degradation. On the contrary all fair-minded folk recognises that waste is simply a necessary by-product of Progress.
The advantages are obvious!
Why not reframe the Housing Problem as a Waste Recyling Problem, rather than as a boring Social Justice Problem or a Moral Problem???
Why, with one fell swoop, we could eliminate vast tracts of ideological argy-bargy, which has been going on for far too man already with no resolution in sight!
Why not simply reclassify housos, not as failures, misfits, and moral outcasts but as …

The Human Waste Products of the C*p*talist Mode of Production!

(DH can't bring herself to utter the unfashionable C* word)
Thus your average houso might be rebadged as Human:
  • Waste: perhaps reduced to depression, alcoholism or "mental illness" by meaningless, underpaid work
  • Offcuts: Industrial reject material who for reasons of age, neurological difference, erratic bio-rhythms, learning difficulties, hyper- or hypo-activity, are simply superfluous to workplace requirements
  • By-product: rendered redundant by changing work practices, globalisation
  • Flotsam: a refugee created by globalisation
  • Mutants: born that way, disabled, or 2nd generation housos, psychologically mutated in the toxic wastelands of “housing of last resort”
Consider the advantages. For a start, everybody recognises that waste containers need to be appropriately insulated to prevent waste from polluting its neighbours.Thus, for instance, no-one would begrudge spending to provide proper sound insulation for apartment blocks where there are many tenants with mental illness.

And nobody thinks it is appropriate to simply dump waste in someone else’s backyard. Everyone expects governments to recycle waste and onsell it profitably as fertiliser. So governments can’t simply dump people with disabilities and mental illness into housing estates and hope the existing tenants will rehabilitate them. What is needed is an injection of energy into processing the pain of disadvantage and disability into cultural fertiliser. For instance, why not give housos grants to write film scripts about their redemptive journeys? As portrayed by Geoff Rush, or perhaps Nicole Kidman with blacked out teeth, and then export the lot to Hollywood to earn top dollar.
What’s more, we live in a market economy, right? So everything has its price, even the bad stuff like CO2... So surely even housos must be worth something? And then suddenly, it's, like, the opportunities for making a profit seemed endless! What with a Houso Futures Exchange, Houso Trading Schemes and Houso Emissions taxes and rebates…
Of course, there could be negative impacts. What if some future government, less tender-hearted than the current lot, decided it was more economical to simply bulldoze the waste into the estates that formerly housed it?
Or simply just containerise all the housos, and ship them off to some remote location, just outside territorial waters, and dump them. A solution already tried on excess populations in Europe with some success in the middle of 20th century.
Still, not to worry.
That can’t happen here in Australia, can it?

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