Rainer the Cabbie

Welfare: How do we stop “breeding” the cycle of dysfunction?


Rainer the Cabbie is all for an equitable society, but when long-term welfare users turn into, well, fare dodgers, it’s time to fix the system.


It’s a dog of an afternoon, one not expected on a Friday.

I find myself cruising endlessly through my inner city haunts looking for a fare that doesn’t exist. All I see are vacant cabs doing what I’m doing, with the same frustrating result.

Finally, after one hour, I get a fare in The X. The two fellows hailing me almost look surprised, having been passed up by many cabbies, most likely due to their fluoro vests and work paraphernalia. Not me though, knowing from experience that Sydney’s building sites are stacked with Irish lads, ruff on the outside but fair-minded and hardworking individuals.

“Maroubra, mate”, they inform me, not in the Irish accents for which I might have hoped, to a street inside a large housing commission district. It only takes sixty seconds to realise I’ve made a big mistake picking up these two punters, the one next to me taking control of the radio to tune it to some doof doof station, the backseat punter hanging out the window shouting obscenities at girls. They don’t seem too drunk, but my senses tune into their ice-induced euphoria.

This is going to be tricky, but I have my much-needed $35 in mind.

I learn a lot on the journey that follows. How “Mr Back Seat” made four hundred bucks in hand today for a job they completed in five hours, an evaluation by “Mr Front Seat” on every female driver around us into a “fuckable” or “not” category, which driver in front is a dickhead and how all the boys will meet at a certain pub tonight.

I make a mental note to avoid that place at all costs, should my night take me anywhere near it.

As we arrive in the aforementioned housing commission district, they get out, show me the finger and walk away.

As does my $35, for which I was desperate.

So what am I to do, chase them? Go to the local police station to report a runner that disappeared inside a multi-dwelling complex? Go to the taxi base and download images of the offenders?

All of the above are far too costly in time, so I get out to clean up the sand and cement left in the front and back seat. I have been in this circumstance far too often – scammed, abused and ripped off mostly by the same type of person. I have come to write this off as a loss, just like a retailer treats shoplifting. Shit happens, nothing to get too upset over.

Dealing with this type of situation has shaken my belief in our welfare system and how it is exploited by those who make their living, or pocket money, from it.

Personally, being a socially-minded person, I am deeply disappointed at the extent to which this misuse is perpetrated and the endless cycle it has produced. I still believe that the duty of a civilised society is to provide a safety net for the population as well as free health care and education – all of the stuff under threat from the ideological bulldozer approach practiced by our current government.

I have no evidence that the fellows who fleeced me were welfare recipients, although their place of abode points towards it, as does the cash-in-hand work they boasted about. Having dealt with certain housing commission types over the years, these blokes displayed the tell-tale signs of belonging to a type of generational welfare dependency group I have come to know. Their MO is usually displayed by having no respect for anyone or anything, scamming their way through life, taking advantage of every loophole available and having drug and/or alcohol dependencies. They also have the ability of cashing in on any sympathy extended by members of society who operate under the usual moral code to which most of us abide. This group make up something like 30 percent of every housing estate, at least by my own personal estimate and the sad fact is that they also bring children into the world, offspring they often seem unable to care for in a responsible or appropriate manner.

Which brings me to this article by the blogger/author John Birmingham in which he criticises former Labor politician Gary Johns for an article he wrote in the AustralianIn his piece Mr. Johns links welfare payments being paid to the recipient vowing to use contraception. Oh dear, what a radical thought and civil rights breach that would be.

John Birmingham asks, “Why not just eat the poor?”

I don’t know, Birmingham does comment on a lot of social issues, but judging by my experience I reckon he got it wrong in this article. My understanding of what Gary Johns was aiming at was to find a solution to break the dysfunctional welfare cycle. His idea of “dole for condoms” is impractical, that is obvious. However, the concept might be a step in the right direction since the educating of truly dysfunctional people has shown very poor results, as the home lives to which they are subjected undo every attempt by educators to set them on a life path that will work.

Having racked my brain as how to stop the cycle of dysfunction, my solution is to give long-term welfare recipients a bonus cash payment of, let’s say fifty dollars a week, if they remain child free. Knowing some of their habits, it will work out far cheaper in the medium term with a big net saving in the long term.

One thing is for sure and has always been true, the top of society and the bottom will scam. What we shall do to stop the top is my next project, one that involves having politicians and legislators with guts.

It is clear that the rich and their scams will cost all of us a fortune. In comparison, the cost of welfare is a pittance. How to stop the rich scamming is a difficult undertaking, one that certainly can’t be achieved with contraception. Separating politicians from business power brokers might be a good start.

Let’s call it “lobbyist-contraceptives” for politicians.

Anyone willing to pen an article to The Australian on that cause?

Rainer the Cabbie

Rainer is a Sydney-based old-time cabbie. Although he adores the general public, he much prefers listening to smooth jazz than being engaged in conversation. His ears are secretly in love with Julia Lester of ABC Classic FM.

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  1. Rainer the cabbie said:

    Hi Sarah

    Thank you for your comment, one needed to bring balance to my post. I appreciate your honesty in revealing your life story and am thrilled by the fact that you managed to restore your life. Best of luck with your baby, I’m sure you’ll make a better mother than a lot of the 4×4 warriors I see around me daily.

    My post wasn’t about losing a fare here or there, I do give free rides on rare occasions. “Rare” because often its hard to distinguish between con or need. What does get to me is that the con seems to be perpetrated by the same type of person again and again, this being the reason for my labelling.

    Your story doesn’t tell me anything new as I am aware of the circumstances surrounding people in housing or caught in the welfare cycle. That you escaped this and are now living a better life is prove that the system does work and helps some people. It is therefore worthy of preserving.

    What gets me though is the willy nilly approach to having offspring and how the government sponsors this (via baby bonus, etc.) . Tell me Sarah, would you have brought a child into this world when you were at the depth of your problems? Is it wise for people to bring kids into a world where the parents can’t even take care of themselves? I have observed drug deals in housing estates, in full view of everyone with a 5,7 and 12 year old standing next to mummy dealer. What does the future hold for these kids?

    Bringing a child into this world is one of the biggest responsibilities anyone can take on and to see individuals who are so deep in the shit that it’s almost impossible to rectify their situation, as you did yours, have kids breaks my heart. That it also keeps the cycle going is unfortunate.

    I write this as someone who certainly didn’t have his act together when it was time to start a family, so I didn’t. I’m also happy for this choice as bringing kids into the world is not for everyone. To then see people in bad circumstances go down the path of parenthood bedazzles me, we are creating an underclass here, one we are very happy at judging. This needs to be rectified, don’t ask me how.

    Again Sarah, thanks for your input and may you have a happy, healthy and prosperous life in front of you.

  2. Sarah said:

    I generally tend to get my back up about this topic. I have seen too man iy articles by white males, privileged from birth, from areas where they have little to no contact with such demographics of people beyond their ACA and 60 Minutes having another go at the easy targets.

    I was strangely fine with most (maybe even almost all) of what you wrote. You seem to have cut to the bone without cutting into it and confusing two issues. Unfortunately, your ability is rare among those with influence.

    What happened to you was disgusting and it should not have happened. But it did, and it does. That doesn’t make it right or fair but I don’t know that a “dole-bonus-for-connies” scheme would have held a different fate for you. Not even ribbed ones.

    I don’t know about your 30%,statistic either. In fact, did you know 30% of all statistics are made up? To the north shore lawyer who’s never even driven through a “houso area”, maybe they would even say 50%, or 70%, or 99% (but they better knock back that job application from the Maroubra lady, can’t be taking a chance that she might be hat 1% now).

    But I digress. Kind of.

    You’re a cabbie so you’ve shared and heard your share of life stories.

    I’m 32, seemingly educated, evidently intelligent (if if i do say so myself, which I do). Live in an okay area with my husband in a house we just bought, work full time at a government institution as a property paralegal.

    Impressive huh?

    Well, 15 years ago, I would have qualified for the “do not breed, for the love of God” category. I hadn’t done a runner on a cabbie before. But I’d had some minor scrapes with the law. My partner was a drug addict and wasn’t find of police. He had grown up in housing commission in Maroubra and elsewhere. I grew up just south of Maroubra, but not in housing commission. My dad was an alcoholic and my parents were capable of abuse and great neglect, especially in my teens. My mum kicked me out from the age of 12 and by 16 I was out for good. After trying to stay motivated at school with no money to eat and declining mental health, I met the boyfriend, started smoking weed, had a psychotic breakdown and dropped out of school. And life.

    We both had work on and off, but he would struggle to hold down jobs due to his ADD and social dysfunction, and I would struggle the same due to mainly mental health and inability to protect myself against bullies.

    When I wasn’t working, I was looking for work, or in hospital. Back at work, supports I had such as free psych care and at risk youth drip in programs, was pulled out from under me, and then when I ended up without work, I would have to apply again and wait about 6 weeks to get paid, which left me with massive rent, food and medication dilemmas. If I had a job interview during this time, I would have to work out how I could evade fares to get there. (But not taxi ones of course).

    Because of gronks like the ones you had the pleasure of meeting, I got a lot of prejudice. So many interviews, dozens, I would do my best but got turned away. I literally was laughed and smirked at when applying for rental properties. I had been followed around in shops. I was underweight and pale for a time and many times was assumed to be on drugs. Cops and ticket inspectors made a bee line for me. And Centrelink staff treated me with contempt. O guess they thought they’d seen it all before. It didn’t matter that I met and exceeded my requirements.

    Them one day i got sick of it all and thought, fuck it. I ended up getting a cash in hand job while still claiming the dole. It was at night and although the pay was good it came with a price. Then I ended up back in the more respectable work industry.

    Would dole for connies have worked on me then? Nup.

    It’s taken a long time, but I was able to break out of this hell with persistence, people giving me a fair go, and most of all the grace of God.

    There are people in certain situstions in life, on the dole or in houso, or both, or just close to it, who need understanding and multifaceted imtervention to break the cycle they are in. Many want to, and many more would want to if their hope for something better wasn’t long dead. Some poor sods are surrounded by drugs, crime and rorting their entire upbringing and it’s all they know. It’s a culture for some. Some are able to be reached and find a way out, and others follow that path until they die.

    It sounds like the ones you encountered were far gone. Well, presuming they were on ice, I can almost guarantee they were.

    I have seen the solution to all the world’s problems by keyboard warriors on Facebook in response to articles such as these. I see a lot of judgment and prejudice, or hard line solutions that will apparently just fix everything.

    The pollies like to cash in on the myth of the dole bludger epidemic, and blame the poor (and ALP) for the country’s imaginary financial woes.

    The problem is, the solutions from above seem to be about humiliation and cracking down on everyone and smoke out the bad apples. (Mmmm, smoked apples). Eg, the proposed come back of “work for the dole” which failed the first time round. Or the ACA slow news day “go to” theme. (No, not boat people, the other one).

    There are many who could and would be productive citizens with a bit of support and hope in their life. Not all of them want it, and some want it at tomes bit other times they don’t, but with hope and support they can emerge from the destructive dehumanising cycle.

    Should all welfare recipients be penalized for falling pregnant while on welfare? Wow, yeah, that will really eliminate punks on ice in Kings Cross. And I’m sure that punishing everyone to ineffectively smoke out the few that the government decides aren’t worthy of breeding is the way to go.

    Don’t get me wrong, I 100% believe that rorters should be targeted and dealt with. But not at the expense of punishing an honest majority who are just trying to get their life on track.

    Well, I am now pregnant. I’m blessed to have 6 months paid maternity from my cushy government job. I manage and mask my bipolar 1 disorder well, but not so much the scars up my left arm. According to some, I wasn’t worthy enough to reach this milestone. What if I had a kid THEN got my life on track? When one decides people on welfare should not breed, what does that say of their children, or of them, or of their right to exist?

    Redemption is possible for everyone. Not be very one wants it but everyone is capable of wanting it. Many children born into such circumstances have made a life for themselves

  3. Rainer the cabbie said:

    Not quiet!
    What I am talking about is stopping the cycle of dysfunction, since all methods of rectifying this problem have failed.
    Your words not mine.

  4. Joe said:

    Thanks Rainer. I agree with your sentiments but can I also suggest that the problem is that people breed at all! Those men who were from the building sites are daft

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