Last month, I appeared on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s popular weekly television programme, Q & A (Question and Answer), which broadcasts live before an audience that poses questions to a panel. I had been told that there would be a bias against me, the ABC being anticonservative. I’m glad to report, however, that I felt no such bias: I could hardly have been dealt with more fairly.
A few episodes after the one on which I appeared, a man named Duncan Storrar became something of a hero, at least to the liberal-left part of the population, when he asked the panelists, including the deputy finance minister, Kelly O’Dwyer, why the government was giving tax relief to higher-income earners but not to him, a man with a disability and little education who always worked for the minimum wage. The audience applauded vigorously.
The minister’s answers were inept. She said, for example, that the proposed tax changes could help a café fund a new toaster costing $6,000. A fund was set up on the Internet to collect that amount on behalf of poor Duncan, and within a few days had collected $60,000 instead.
Alas, the story did not have a completely satisfactory ending, at least for Storrar. Newspapers revealed shortly afterward that he had quite a serious criminal record, including assaults, threats to kill, and violating court injunctions not to contact his ex-lovers. He had been imprisoned three times. Moreover, he was not a net taxpayer, at least as far as the direct tax system was concerned. His disability was post-traumatic stress disorder, supposedly as a result of his upbringing. No condition would be easier to fake.
His estranged son—with the curious name of Aztec Major—then revealed that his father took illegal drugs, and gave as his considered opinion that his father was an unworthy recipient of charity. He suggested that the money be given to a cancer charity instead, his mother having died of breast cancer when he was nine.
The Duncan story doesn’t tell us much about the economic or social wisdom of the government’s policy. What it does demonstrate, however, is the Left’s thirst for victims. It needs victims in the way that the Aztec gods needed human sacrifice, but in even greater numbers. The entire worldview cannot be sustained without them.
There are victims in the world, of course, but not everyone who presents himself as a victim actually is one, especially when claiming victimhood offers considerable rewards. Duncan Storrar presented himself on television as a simple family man struggling against adversity when in fact he was a part-author, at the very least, of his own adversity. But it is not only, or even mainly, the Duncan Storrars of the world who benefit from this kind of intellectual and moral dishonesty: as his TV appearance showed, large numbers of people are only too willing, indeed eager, to believe such as he. The fact is that the Duncan Storrars are an inexhaustible resource for the political and bureaucratic class.
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