Thursday, 11 October 2012

There's more to life than work

I work. Full time. This is usually seen as a sign that I'm terribly high-functioning, but it's come at the expense of all the other areas of my life. Relationships, further education, travel, maintaining good physical health, those things have not just been neglected but been completely killed off and stomped on, because I've had to throw every available scrap of energy and effort into maintaining the full time job.


I bought into it one time, but these days I don't have a lot of time for the argument that having a job and earning money means you're a success and you've "overcome" your disability.  Because I only have so much energy to work with, and all of it goes into the job, I'm actually less-well-functioning and further behind in all the other areas of my life than I would be if I worked part time, or from home, or had some some sort of arrangement that left me able to do more than just work.

 But today's society judges people as deserving to exist or not depending on their capacity to turn up at an office and put in eight hours.  If you've got a disability that gets between you and paid employment, you're seen as a parasite, taking up resources but not contributing.

That, gentle reader, is ballocks.

For a start the actual amount of money spent on people with disabilities isn't, per head, really that massive.   Let's crunch some numbers.  (It won't happen often around here, so don't get used to it.)

In 2010-2011, 314,000 Aussies accessed disability support services according to the offical figures.  The total cost was $6.2 billion.  This gives us an average cost per head of $19,745.22.  That's the price of a reasonable secondhand Honda Accord.

But, according to one academic, each of our gold medals at the London games set the Aussie taxpayer back around $17 million.  Rounding the disability figure up to $20,000 for the sake of neatness, you could fund full services for 850 people with one gold medal.

I'm not arguing that we should stop sports funding immediately - rather, that we should spend on our needy with as much willingness and as open a heart as we do people who wear alarming lycra onesies.

The other argument is that you can't define someone's worth by their take-home pay.  The contribution a person makes to their community, their family, their sphere of influence - be it sport, fandom, a hobby, the arts, or a pub trivia team - can't be weighed up against their bank balance.

There are more things on heaven and earth and in the hearts or men than are dreamed of in that philosophy.

Disability figures from here, sport figures from here.