No dollars, no sense

“I can’t use my iPhone 4 at the moment. I owe the phone company a hundred dollars so they locked it.”

I was flicking through my phone and showing the acquaintance some of my recent photos whilst we waited to order our lunch. Normally I wouldn’t of accepted this lunch invite but I had noticed a change in her behaviour as of late and since this is the season to be more generous concerning others I agreed to meet up. It was while I was showing her these pictures that she chose to share the following information with me and it suddenly dawned on me that I hadn’t seen her use her own phone, the white twin to my own, since we had arrived at the restaurant.

“Oh, I thought you told me that you bought it outright. How can they lock it?”

I wasn’t of course surprised to learn that she had failed to pay another bill, least of all one that involved a mobile phone. In the past she had gone bankrupt for that very reason and in the last year alone she had changed her mobile number so many times that I had lost count. I had thought that she had become better at managing her money but I guess some habits die-hard.

“No, no. It was on a contract. I tried to sign up for the new iPhone 4S through a different phone company but it didn‘t go through. I think I‘ll just buy a prepaid iPhone 3G next year instead. You can pick one up for four hundred dollars now.”

Normally this is the type of attitude I would hear from a teenager who hadn’t learnt any form of responsibility so far in their life and not a adult who had spent majority of their thirty eight years fending for themselves. Unfortunately the acquaintance had grown up in a life completely dependant on government benefits and charity generosity. She didn’t know what it was like to not be able to pay your rent for a month or live on peanut butter sandwiches for a week straight because you couldn’t afford to purchase any other food.

Although I know the acquaintance is partly to blame for her actions to date I can’t help but feel that the government should shoulder some of the responsibility also for encouraging this type of behaviour to begin with. They hand out all this free money to these recipients with no rules or regulations on how it is to be spent and then surprise, surprise the recipients blow it on dumb things like mobile phones and other electronic gadgets instead of paying their most basic bills and then all of a sudden these people require more assistance and Centrelink then suggests they ask their local charities to make up the shortfall and so they give them stuff and the government gives them stuff and people just don’t bother being independent anymore.

“Have you thought about taking some kind of money budgeting course at Tafe?” I asked.

“No, not really. I know how to budget. I’ll fix it up when I get paid next.”

Do you think there needs to be more regulation when it comes to receiving government benefits in Australia? What alternatives would you make instead of giving out money?

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