The Trust Blog

Opinions, insights and learnings for a better world

Gain fresh insights from Rev. Bill Crews and guest contributors.

My response to the Budget

For the past week or so I have been in London getting my Big Picture Social Justice  Film Festival off the ground. As you know, following its success in Sydney, Odeon Cinemas here have expressed interest in hosting it in London.

That has meant I have been outside of the country while all this pre Budget speculation has been going on  but the gloom coming out of Australia has been palpable! It could not be ignored, even from thousands of miles away.

As you know, I have always been a strong advocate of freedom of the individual and societies doing all they can to maximise the inherent, God given potential of it’s citizens. I also believe that the way we measure a society is how we treat and look after and provide maximum opportunities for our most disadvantaged citizens, young and old.

Forty years ago I began on the streets of Sydney’s Kings Cross and was shocked to my core by what I encountered there. I learned that Dickens lived, not hundreds of years ago but then on the streets of Sydney, 1970.

That experience stays with me to this very day and, to this very day , I try in my own fragile, human way to “do something about it”.

You all know my  story, it includes working with the homeless and the poorest of the poor and the kids. Always tying to give a break to those poor buggers who, without help will never achieve any of the  potential they were born with.

Jesus said “ The poor will always be with us”.  But for so many it doesn’t have to be and yet we, us, good decent tolerant Australian Society allow it to be.

Time and time again I have found that offering someone a way out of conditions or situations that have led to, or prohibited rise out of poverty WORKS. To see a kid who had no chance rise to where he or she realises they can get a job or even go to University is to witness life arising out of death. A truly Holy experience! To hear how guests in my Loaves and Fishes Free Restaurant are denied basic opportunities most of us take for granted and what they have to do to simply survive often leaves me speechless.

Over and over people come to me wanting to volunteer or work with me because they are fed up with “the system”. Many work in corporate life and are appalled at the greed and corruption they daily witness in the face of all this corporate double speak about “values” and “integrity”.

Which brings me to London and the budget. Somehow, through meeting people over here I ended up at an “Occupy London Economic Working Group” meeting. What I found was economists and citizens who had learned the hard way that the best way to work was to engage with corporate life rather than mindlessly attack it and work on those issues that all citizens are fed up with. The blatant corporate greed and the inequality it generates and perpetuates. Yes, of course you have your firebrands there but overall rational debate is the order of the day.

Out of all of this has  come the writings of Thomas Piketty whose book “Capital” has created such a storm. In the words of Paul Mason of The Guardian

“Piketty’s argument is that, in an economy where the rate of return on capital outstrips the rate of growth, inherited wealth will always grow faster than earned wealth. So the fact that rich kids can swan aimlessly from gap year to internship to a job at father’s bank/ministry/TV network – while the poor kids sweat into their barista uniforms – is not an accident: it is the system working normally.

If you get slow growth alongside better financial returns, then inherited wealth will, on average, “dominate wealth amassed from a lifetime’s labour by a wide margin”, says Piketty. Wealth will concentrate to levels incompatible with democracy, let alone social justice. Capitalism, in short, automatically creates levels of inequality that are unsustainable. The rising wealth of the 1% is neither a blip, nor rhetoric.”

If I hadn’t come to London, I would be very depressed by this budget. In it I see the poor missing out again. In a way the poor always suffer in times of ‘Financial Rectitude’. One Politician told me “Look after those who vote for you. They will vote for you next time. The others never vote for you anyway”. So, once again we will see poor kids missing out and being treated like the welfare manipulators they’re not and the kids of the wealthy looked after. We’ll see poor sick families being made to jump through ever higher hoops and made to look even worse managers than they are. We’ll take money from the poorest of the poor and give it to corporates who don’t really need it.

And, mark my words  nowadays with the Opposition trying to outdo the government as being trustworthy economic managers there’s no guarantee they would/will do any different. No matter what they say now.

So, I’m not depressed. I see change coming. Everyone I speak to whether they be “Occupy London” people or senior corporate types realise change has to come. Corporates are getting too powerful at the expense of legitimate people elected governments.

In this day and age of social media inequality cannot stay hidden, it has a voice that can’t be silenced.

I’m sure, over the next few years my Loaves and Fishes Free Restaurant and special schools for the poorest kids will be in more need than ever and I will have to redouble my efforts to raise donations for them. I’m starting NOW.

If I hadn’t come to London I would be feeling that all my forty years of work would have been in vain! The poor now will be worse off than when I started. But I now see a discussion amongst all levels of society is starting and it’s asking the right question “How do we, as a good  decent secular society genuinely look after ALL our people.

God Bless,

Bill

13 Comments

    • Thanks Tim. Sometimes you never know how people will respond to a blog piece. Amen is really encouraging. God Bless, BILL

      Reply
  1. Bob Dylan said it in “a change is blowing in the wind”. Change is one of the most confronting things we have to deal with.But deal with it we must! Not always painless and pleasant. Learning to cope with change is a skill,and some of the upper echelons of society had better start preparing because change is a coming.John Pilger has some interesting projections with regards to the possible USA / China power struggle.
    As always
    Kind regards
    Bruce.
    As always

    Reply
  2. Hi Bill, what a wonderful person you are, one would give up if it wasn’t for you, your marvellous work with the poor and vulnerable is inspiring. I only hope that a discussion has started how we can look better after the most disadvantaged, the corporate greed has to stop, it is simply too inhuman and hurts so many people, everybody has to the right to live a decent life where they can have a job that is reasonably paid and I don’t understand why the government wants to treat the unemployed the way they do, most people want to have a job but does Mr. Abbott even realize that we have more than 700 hundred thousand people looking for work and only 140 thousand positions available? What kind of Australia do the Liberals want to create, we are certainly not going forward by adopting this budget, it is so sad. At least with you those unfortunate people have a friend. Kind regards Monika Tokcan

    Reply
    • Monica, Thank you for the lovely words and your compassion. Just reading what you wrote inspires me to keep going. God Bless you Bill

      Reply
  3. Hi Bill, what a wonderful man you are, truly inspiring, I would have already given up hope for the poor and disadvantaged, you are one of very few people who care and try to do something about the very sad situation a lot of them find themselves in. The corporate greed and injustices have to stop and I hope you are right when you say discussions at all levels of society are starting, doesn’t everybody have the right to a decent life? To say that the unemployment are lazy and often don’t want to work is simply hideous and unfair, does Mr. Abbott know that we have only 140 thousand positions and over 700 hundred thousand people looking for work? What sort of society do they want to create, the gap between the have and have nots is already way to great. Hoping for better times. Kind regards Monika

    Reply
    • Monica, All we can do is keep spreading the message.
      BILL

      Reply
  4. Bill thank you for writing this blog. I am a 42 year old who continues to work while I have a chronic degenerative medical condition (rheumatoid arthritis) and a badly damaged back. I continue to work while in huge amounts of pain and often unwell. I do this because I could not survive on Centrelink benefits.

    I am, in the not too far future looking at potentially not being able to work. I do not have family or assets since I’ve worked most of my life on basic wage and the cost of living has seen that I have been unable to “establish” myself financially. There is a ridiculously difficult criteria to receive the pension and sickness benefit is $500 per fortnight which is more than my rent payment. There is a 10 year waiting list for social housing and I have seen some of the conditions of this housing since I’m now working in the community sector. I do now realise how difficult it is to live with impairment and to live with impairment in a very self-centered social environment. I continue to hide my impairments from my employer since they may see me as a “risk” and I may lose my employment.

    My situation is difficult but what makes it more difficult is the current climate of contempt for those who are disadvantaged in society and need support. I have never before been depressed but the prospect of not being able to continue to live with dignity, not even having somewhere to live is very scary.

    Yes Mr Abbott I will continue to work until I can no longer but his may actually be damaging my health and I could end up severely impaired because of it. Perhaps during the Liberal governments next term they could start genetically modifying babies to be “Centrelink” resistant. i.e. we could get rid of anyone who has anything wrong with them and may cost the state money before they are born. Perhaps all of those who are non-productive and on Centrelink could wear a star. Any leader who is prepared to spend more money on building up their military than feeding their poor should be watched. History has seen many of these leaders lead their countries into bad international political positions. There are too many examples to list but I shall name a few of the most well known: Stalin, Hilter, Housein, Bush Jnr,

    You may edit the last couple of paragraphs out if you wish since I may have gone too far, but I do have to question the integrity of someone who seems so coldly concerned only with outcomes of an “economic” nature when it’s at the expense of those who are vulnerable.

    Reply
    • Kylie, Thank you for your response. I come across people like you every day. As you say, there is a culture of “Blame the Victim”. So many people I know are incapacitated in one way or another and yet there are those in society who just expect them to “get on with it”, not knowing the enormous sacrifices they already make. God Bless you and I’ll keep up the fight. BILL

      Reply
  5. Bill I just wanted to say thank you. Not just for the work you do, and have done forever!, but also for saying it like it is. I am not a religious man, but the world needs people like you to say it like it is, to make a stand. Wanton greed and avarice are the scourge of society both at a corporate and personal level and to encapsulate, yes ‘the rich get richer and the poor get poorer’. Keep fighting the good fight Bill, what you do and how you keep striving inspires ordinary people like myself to find ways to make a difference.

    Reply
    • Stephen, Thank you mate. BILL

      Reply
  6. Hi Revrend,
    I am a community services student currently doing a gap project and I just want to say I am also very frustrated with the governments lack of support for our homeless. After a discussion I had with the local member for Strathfield yesterday it seemed that he wasn’t interested in hearing my concerns. I feel that the government are so money hungry that they ignore the little people in our community.

    Reply
    • Tanya, Thank you so much for your comments. In my experience, some politicians care and some don’t. It doesn’t seem to matter what party they are in. Some do and some don’t

      Reply

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