A work-shy lifestyle is a full-time job these days
BEING poor in Australia just got a whole lot more complicated. Like most things in the 21st century, poverty has become far more competitive.
The bar that defines what used to be described as ‘the bread line’ has been raised to the point where it now converges on the patisserie.
There’s even talk of yet another TV reality show – Australian Idle – in which the country’s young and shiftless display their prowess in exploiting the many and varied services now available to the New Indigent.
The hi-tech requirements demanded of the modern vagrant ensure that homelessness need no longer represents a barrier to social networking: the virtual world inhabited by these hapless individuals being as rich and as varied as those of their more heavily capitalised peers.
With the lives of Gen Y utterly devoted to travel, the term “of no fixed abode” now carries with it the cache of the cashed-up.
Entire lives are now lived on loyalty points, an elusive new cyber-currency that entitles its users to a lifestyle barely dreamed of by those still enslaved by the dollar – a currency now regarded as far too hard.
The nexus that once existed between the spending of hard currency and the accumulation of said points now also seems to have been broken, so that points appear to accrue simply through the very act of living.
Entire families that remain strangers to the Group Certificate are now able, through the Aladdin-like agency of ‘points’, to exploit the full panoply of e-luxury.
Who among us has not borne witness to the profligacy of the New Penury?
They arrive at the surgery in their newly acquired four-wheel-drive people-movers, pull into a disabled car spot (destitution without disability is like coffee without cream), present their Health Care Cards, followed closely by their arms, poised to receive the travel vaccines that will see them on their way to some exotic package-dealt location, disgorge copious bundles of application forms (for Disability Allowances, Carer’s Benefits, Companion Cards, Emergency Housing, Emergency Telephone Services, Jury Duty Exemptions, Electoral Exemptions, Care Packages and Domiciliary Services) and proceed to demand access to the destitution-nirvana of the Enhanced Primary Care Item.
And we’re not talking here about the déclassé extraction or the Western suburbs amalgam smile. Oh no. We’re talking bonding, whitening, capping, implants, adult orthodontic devices – the full whiz-bangery of the modern dental armamentarium.
I even had one patient who presented a care plan from his dentist under the impression that the term ‘eye tooth’ referred to a cross between iPad and Blue Tooth.
But I do not begrudge these nouveauvagabonds their soft-won lifestyle. Poverty today is a full-time job. Unlike their predecessors of yore, modern aspirants to the Life of Riley no longer have the time to loiter with intent.
Theirs is a life of ceaseless unprofessional development, utterly consumed with the never-ending task of remaining abreast of community services bureaucracy and iPhone technology.
Indeed, it’s no longer just the camels amongst us who are finding it hard to pass through the eye of a needle.