A few days after the Business Council of Australia’s proposal to save rich Australians from having to pay a flood levy by slashing funding for the disabled was roundly condemned by pretty much everyone for the monstrously inhuman cruelty that it was, News Ltd’s Punch today publishes a vigorous defence by… well, some new anonymous creation who might conceivably not be directly affiliated with the BCA or the IPA or the far right wing of the Liberal Party. He’s* “the angry cripple”, and he’s here to stand up against stupid “political correctness” that determines access to the disability support pension based on rigorously-assessed and vigorously-reviewed need.

“Yeah, maybe we SHOULD rethink disability spending,” he declares, “The BCA is slightly on the right track”.

And he condemns the same supposedly undeserving Disability Support Pension recipients the BCA was targeting. We should support the sort of changes the BCA is talking about, Angry suggests, because they’re about taking money back from bludgers with “bad backs”, money that could go to other, more deserving, disabled people he doesn’t like.

Except of course that isn’t what the BCA was suggesting at all. “Angry” admits halfway down that “the BCA want to channel any savings into flood repairs” – but decides to “just ignore that” so he can go on supporting their plan to take money from some disabled people.

This is his unsupported whinge:

If we got rid of the third of DSP recipients who have a “bad back” and put that $4 billion back into helping the other two thirds – people with genuine lifelong disabilities that prevent them from working – then things might start looking up for some of the poor bastards living in shitty group homes or stuck in hospital beds or nursing homes at the age of 26.

There’s a lot wrong there.

What does he mean “get rid of” the DSP recipients with “bad backs”? On what basis does he say that’s “a third” of DSP recipients? On what basis does he say that these “bad backs” are not genuine disabilities? Why does looking after the badly-treated latter group require badly treating the former group?

Anyone who thinks the Disability Support Pension is easy to obtain and the preserve of fakers and charlatans should check the relevant legislation and talk to someone who’s applied for it. If your disability prevents you from working but you can’t get in and see a specialist (because the public system has huge waiting lists) who’ll confirm that your disability will almost certainly last longer than two years, then stiff, you’re on Newstart (deliberately set at below subsistence level) and you can move your immobile self to job interviews in agony or starve to death.

If you believed the “Angry Cripple” you’d think that all you have to do to get the DSP is wander down to Centrelink, hunch your back and say “ouch” every five minutes and you’ll be LIVING THE HIGH LIFE IMMEDIATELY.

Except of course the DSP isn’t the high life, either – it’s an extremely small amount of money to live on that is nigh-on a punishment for those who through no fault of their own have no ability to work.

The Punch writer is, however, correct about one thing – disability funding in this country is indeed “woeful”. Those on the DSP should not be forced to struggle the way they do.

But there are better sources of that funding than other disabled people.

Meanwhile – are we comfortable with this sort of thing being published pseudonymously? Do we really think the Punch’s explanation for why this is necessary – “I’m remaining anonymous so I can post not only my opinions, leaked documents and stuff that might otherwise get me in trouble, but also the opinions of other people with an interest” – is particularly credible? Does this mean The Australian will no longer have a problem with Grogs Gamut-style pseudonymous bloggers? Is inserting a pseudonymous writer in between a whole lot of named writers on a professional news site indistinguishable from a random anonymous blogger writing their own site, or is it substantially more serious?

*I only know of one person named “Angry”, and he’s a bloke. So I’m going to assume “Angry” is a bloke until advised otherwise.

UPDATE: “Claire” from the BCA has commented with their “clarification” that they’re “not calling for disability support pensions to be cut”.

Not now that there’s been a backlash, anyway.

No, they just suggested that money could be cut from the program – and I suppose, if they were calling for DSP recipients to be pushed onto other payments then money could be saved without actually cutting the DSP payment itself… except of course for all those disabled people then excluded.

The BCA’s submission referred numerous times to HOW EXPENSIVE THE DSP IS HINT HINT and how WE COULD SAVE SOME MONEY IN SUCH AREAS etc.

The ongoing growth of transfers such as the Disability Suppotr Pension (which represents the govrenment’s fifth largest spending program) has been wideley acknowledged as unsustainable both fiscally and interms of its impact on the incentives for workforce participation

If you get our meaning (which we’ll subsequently deny).

There is a case for giving an independent agency responsibility for evaluating government programs with a view to better value for money… some possible areas could include: better targeting of social welfare payments, and the interactions between different elements of the social welfare system – in particular, examination of areas of rapid growth in spending such as disability support payments, and options for supporting payment recipients to return to work.

Not that we’re saying we should save money by reducing spending on disability support payments, even if that’s the only logical conclusion from what we just wrote.

I don’t think I’ll be offering the BCA an apology just yet.

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