The poor will always be with us

IncomeI was trying to find a slide which demonstrates the benefit of school attendance (also the detriment caused by non-attendance, especially for students from low socio-economic groups), but I have failed at this stage.  This is important piece of evidence supporting a strong anti-truancy policy.

But I did come across this interesting chart.  Bear in mind, these cross-country comparison can be fraught, but I thought the figures did pick up some interesting (ostensible) differences between Australia and the rest of the OECD.

The interesting features of these data are:

  • The much lower proportion of wages that make up the income of the lowest quintile in Australia
  • The much higher proportion of government transfers that make up the income of the lowest quintile in Australia
  • The fact that the highest quintile in Australia receive virtually no government transfers compared with other countries
  • The lower proportion of self-employment among the highest quintile in Australia.
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36 Responses to The poor will always be with us

  1. I can’t see how that data would support that premise. Any link between school attendance and outcome will be correlation, not causation. At most, you could use a lack of school attendance — and even then only later years — to flag a likelihood of future problems.

  2. ‘Fraid so.

    Makes a bit of a joke of schemes for the forcible redistribution of wealth, to ‘end global poverty now!’

  3. At most, you could use a lack of school attendance — and even then only later years — to flag a likelihood of future problems.

    True enough. But it will vary from the family who homeschools because their kid has marginal special needs and can’t learn a damn thing in mainstream classrooms, to the family where the kid plays truant and avoids home because everyone there is drunk and unpredictably abusive.

  4. Infidel Tiger

    Married parents is a better indicator.

  5. Ant

    Making Poverty History never did account for humans being human.

    If only we were robots. Achieving utopian equality would be so easy.

    I do come across the odd ex-school acquaintence. Amazing how laziness and disinterest during the formative years can come back to bite you on the arse.

  6. stackja

    Liberty Quotes
    My criterion for welfare is BMI – body mass index. If people are truly poor, they will be skinny. Yet most so-called poor adults in this country are overweight or obese. Spare flab means spare dollars. If someone wants welfare on my taxes, I want them to be lean and hungry.
    — Sleetmute

    Still current?

  7. MemoryVault

    If people are truly poor, they will be skinny. Yet most so-called poor adults in this country are overweight or obese. Spare flab means spare dollars. If someone wants welfare on my taxes, I want them to be lean and hungry.

    This is pretty-much 100% arse about face, Stackja.
    Today, people who can afford a diet of expensive quality meat, fresh vegetables and fruit, have a much better chance of being lean and healthy, than people confined to a diet of cheap, empty carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, rice and potatoes. The latter diet is almost a guarantee of obesity.

  8. But it will vary from the family who homeschools because their kid has marginal special needs and can’t learn a damn thing in mainstream classrooms, to the family where the kid plays truant and avoids home because everyone there is drunk and unpredictably abusive.

    Quite true. I wasn’t saying that the correlation would be good.

    Twin studies are showing that 80% of outcomes are determined at birth, and that the rest is unidentified random.

    As parents you can make a difference to how well they do as children, not nearly so much to how they do as adults. They really do fly the nest.

    What does this mean? Enjoy being parents.

  9. 2dogs

    The lower proportion of self-employment among the highest quintile in Australia

    This comes from the PSI income tax rules.

  10. Alfonso

    Anyone can go to school and /or apply their intelligence and talent and make a success of their life.
    Most have not much of either.
    There’s yer problem.
    Those jobs have been exported….it’s Pizza Hut or I’m paying.
    Nah, better you pay, I’ll make other arrangements.

  11. Poverty lasted sufficiently long that it was even on Star Trek..

    In a post-scarcity society with replicators and trade treaties hand in hand, there were certainly differences in the size of quarters.

    Most of all, never been down to the planet with Capt Kirk wearing red. There is considerable inequality in the chances of ever coming back.

    Of course, there are those people that lived in those farming planets and quite serious poverty despite been part of Federation.

    If you define poverty is inequality, there will even be poverty in post-scarcity society.

  12. Tel

    Today, people who can afford a diet of expensive quality meat, fresh vegetables and fruit, have a much better chance of being lean and healthy, than people confined to a diet of cheap, empty carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, rice and potatoes. The latter diet is almost a guarantee of obesity.

    That explains all the thin North Koreans with their expensive high quality diet.

  13. Tel

    How can government transfers provide a positive contribution across all quintiles?

    I mean, the transfer must come *from* somewhere, right?

  14. H B Bear

    How can government transfers provide a positive contribution across all quintiles?

    The way I read that table is that that is the % of the total wages + self employment income + capital income + government transfers – taxes, sort of a tabular pie chart.

    Relative poverty and income inequality is simply the latest and best way for the Welfare Industry to keep itself in business. Increasingly OECD statistics are irrelevant as half of old Europe is either broke or going broke.

  15. H B Bear

    If ACOSS was serious about poverty it would be a vocal critic of the RET that forces people on fixed incomes into energy poverty, government policies that result in Australian housing being some of the most expensive in the world and minimum wages that price unskilled and low skilled workers out of the labour market.

  16. JohnA

    Philippa Martyr #1401363, posted on August 1, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    At most, you could use a lack of school attendance — and even then only later years — to flag a likelihood of future problems.

    True enough. But it will vary from the family who homeschools because their kid has marginal special needs and can’t learn a damn thing in mainstream classrooms, to the family where…

    “can’t learn a damn thing in mainstream classrooms” probably applies to about two thirds of the class – the non-visual learners, who are either kinesthetic but are told to sit still, or auditory but told to be quiet.

    No sarc, and no smiley, OK?

  17. Normal Norman

    Sinc, this is a troubling post. I was struck especially by your notion that “strong” anti-truancy policy is desirable. What do you mean?
    Also: the observations appear to suggest that you would like some social changes in Australia.
    What’s going on here?
    I sincerely hope that you are not turning into one of those social engineers. But just in case: take a chill pill. Please.

  18. Tel

    The way I read that table is that that is the % of the total wages + self employment income + capital income + government transfers – taxes, sort of a tabular pie chart.

    So in AUS we have lower government transfers in the top quintile, and also lower taxes. In the OECD average, we have higher government transfers in the top quintile, and also higher taxes… thus, big deal over nothing much. More tax churn, slightly different approach to measurement.

    However, in the lowest quintile Australia shows high government transfers, and lower taxes, while the OECD average shows the poor being worse off on both counts. What that says to me is, ignore the top quintile, it is irrelevant, Australia is generous to the poor and harsh to the middle (as compared with OECD average, although why we feel the need to confirm to any average is another question again).

    The only other interesting point is that in Europe the poor actually work harder, presumably because they need to. We don’t count as wages the fact that you get leisure time by not working, opinions on that matter differ… I’d like more leisure time. In engineering the reward for doing a good job is you get another job to do. One of these days I’ll figure out a way around that.

  19. stackja

    MemoryVault
    #1401406, posted on August 1, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    If people are truly poor, they will be skinny. Yet most so-called poor adults in this country are overweight or obese. Spare flab means spare dollars. If someone wants welfare on my taxes, I want them to be lean and hungry.

    This is pretty-much 100% arse about face, Stackja.
    Today, people who can afford a diet of expensive quality meat, fresh vegetables and fruit, have a much better chance of being lean and healthy, than people confined to a diet of cheap, empty carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, rice and potatoes. The latter diet is almost a guarantee of obesity.

    Then there needs to be an increase in the welfare payments you say?

  20. Boambee John

    “If ACOSS was serious about poverty ”

    There’s your problem, ACOSS is serious about continued employment of ACOSS staff, which relies on a continuing significant level of poverty. It is not serious about eliminating, or even significantly reducing measured (as different to actual) poverty.

    As long as the measure of poverty is linked to a percentage of average or median incomes, poverty will remain, short of absolute equality of income imposed by a dictatorial and all-powerful government. That won’t happen in its pure form because ACOSS (and publicly employed persons) won’t allow such a drastic impact on their own incomes – they’re not THAT keen on looking after the poor! The Galt effect would also soon cut in.

    While measured poverty is linked to average/median incomes, the best way to reduce it is to drive those levels down, perhaps by legislating for a ratio between AWOTE or median incomes and salaries paid using (in whole or in part – to catch the taxpayer funded NGOS) from public revenue. If salaries paid from tax revenue were limited to, say, six times AWOTE/median income, those two rates would decline. Lower comparison level lowers the poverty level, reduces poverty – Easy! (sarc)

  21. Armadillo

    Sinc, this is a troubling post. I was struck especially by your notion that “strong” anti-truancy policy is desirable. What do you mean?

    If Sinc were in fact Judith, he/she probably meant that if you hadn’t wagged school so much, you might be able to comprehend the term ‘author’?

  22. Bertie_Wooster

    Great article Judith. Enjoyed the read.

    Tel – write better, please, please, write better.

  23. Mick Gold Coast QLD

    I’m confused – poor is fat, wealthy is skinny, Judith is Sinclair and Normal Norman wasn’t paying much attention at school.

  24. Leigh Lowe

    I was trying to find a slide which demonstrates the benefit of school attendance (also the detriment caused by non-attendance, especially for students from low socio-economic groups) ….

    We are in a lot of trouble if you have to produce empirical evidence for what is blindingly, obviously self-evident.

  25. Leigh Lowe

    Married parents is a better indicator.

    Married parents with one (and only one) dick is even better.

  26. MemoryVault

    MemoryVault
    #1401406, posted on August 1, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    Then there needs to be an increase in the welfare payments you say?

    No Stackja.
    I was merely pointing out that in this country, at this particular time, obesity, or lack of it, is not a reliable indicator of a person’s receipt or otherwise of welfare, nor indeed of their financial circumstances in general.

    The problem mainly lies with what has been passed off as “expert advice” on diet for the last 40 years. If there is any connection between obesity and limited financial circumstances at all – especially in the case of welfare recipients – it lies in the fact that the generally less-educated, including long-term welfare recipients, are more likely to accept as “gospel truth” what the “experts” tell them about diet.

    Much the same has been shown to be true about belief in global warming/climate change.

  27. Yobbo

    Then there needs to be an increase in the welfare payments you say?

    I don’t think there’s any doubt that welfare payments need to be increased. They have not kept up with the explosion in the cost of living in Australia over the last 20 years.

    Obesity is certainly a ridiculous argument though. Modern farming techniques mean that you can buy enough food to keep someone alive for less than $5 a week at any modern supermarket. But people on welfare do not only need food. They also need housing and utilities, and those things have gotten a shitload more expensive recently.

  28. oldsalt

    Outside the metro areas there aren’t a helluva lot of supermarkets, and then they’re more expensive due to transport costs markups etc. Nup, not many cheap supermarkets on indig communities dependent on welfare either and no fresh vegies. But I suppose they can top up with yams and feral cat eh

  29. I was trying to find a slide which demonstrates the benefit of school attendance

    Well there you go!
    As a regular reader of the Cat, I had been led to believe that all the ills of modern Australia were down to those lefty teachers.
    And here’s Judith (who is always right) blaming poverty on low school attendance.
    Both can’t be true……………

  30. Bruce of Newcastle

    You can tell who the rich people are, they are the ones with two closely-spaced holes in their necks.

  31. JohnA

    Leigh Lowe #1401695, posted on August 1, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    I was trying to find a slide which demonstrates the benefit of school attendance (also the detriment caused by non-attendance, especially for students from low socio-economic groups) ….

    We are in a lot of trouble if you have to produce empirical evidence for what is blindingly, obviously self-evident.

    The empirical research from the 80s at least (ie. pre-Internet publication) says that academic performance correlates most with parental interest and involvement.

    Going from memory Keith Rowe did a Vic Education Dept. study which led to an advertising campaign to encourage parents to become more involved outside the classroom, which doomed the campaign to failure, of course.

  32. Tel

    Tel – write better, please, please, write better.

    better?

  33. johanna

    Apart from the obvious problems with these “statistics” mentioned above, they ignore the black economy.

    I live in, on average, the most affluent city in Australia (Canberra.) Yet, we have the highest percentage of public housing apart from – last time I looked – South Australia.

    The people who mow my lawn are presumably on some sort of benefit, as they are always available. The woman who runs market stalls in my suburb every time there is passing trade, ditto (she is addicted to oxycontin).

    And that’s not even counting the drug dealers, traffickers in stolen goods, etc.

    Your average Age Pensioner is genuinely struggling – disability pensioners and those on the dole, quite often not so much. And here, at least, chances are that they can get very cheap accommodation, subsidised by the rest of us, in prime locations.

  34. Matt

    The table is for household income and you might find that business owners pay themselves a modest income from the business while otherwise investing the business income into the business or otherwise just keeping it afloat. I don’t think the table reflects asset values and growth.

  35. Jessie

    old salt,

    early b&w photos of Chinese market gardens in remote areas and this history.
    Remote missions had grown local produce/meat and fed children at school. As welfare does now in many remote schools. Children receive breakfast, perhaps morning tea and lunch. Some attend in the morning and leave, others all day. Truancy may be difficult to enumerate.

    An alternative to real food in mouths either at home or school is the project below. Collectives (workers) paid government ‘wages’ under the control of estate land managers (land owning cultural clan elders/leaders) to not produce food.

    ‘…………. the low agricultural potential in large parts of the Indigenous estate does not allow for investment in this sector …’

    Figure 16.1 The logic of PES (Payment for Environmental Services)

    ‘Land managers often receive little financial benefit from conservation practices. When these benefits are less than the benefits from productive use of the land, such as agriculture or forestry, and when such productive activities impose costs on others (the global community, downstream populations, other land managers), PES could make conservation practices more attractive by paying land managers to adopt them.’

  36. Hugh

    Judith wants us to bus kids to school. Forrest wants to direct the spending of welfare cheques. Abbott appears to agree with both ideas on top of his budget plan to have taxpayers pay for monks and mullahs in our schools.
    Nannyism is rampant. Maybe the PPL scheme might also include a specification for school lunches and uniforms? And haircuts?

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