Vinnies continues to argue case for bottom 10%

The St Vincent de Paul Society has hit back at strong criticism from the Centre for Independent Studies (CIS), of its recent paper The Reality of Income Inequality in Australia.

The Centre's Professor Peter Saunders argues in a response released yesterday that Vinnies' warning of Australia's "current headlong dash into the chasm of inequality" is "grossly exaggerated".

The Society's paper detailed its research findings that the gap between rich and poor is growing, despite government claims to the contrary. The paper's author John Wicks was especially critical of "huge bias in Government largesse towards those on higher incomes, outlined in the May 2005 Budget".

Professor Saunders said: "The paper contains unsupportable rhetoric, and its claims about growing inequality are partial, selective and in places misleading. The Vinnies' report suggests we are on a path back to the early 19th century when "people were kicked while governments stood idly by. But this sort of language is absurd when the federal government is spending $87 billion on welfare payments this year.'"

The response from Vinnies, released yesterday, accused Professor Saunders and the CIS of "chasing a number of imaginary shadows rather than addressing the substance of [the] paper".

"In place of intellectual rigor, the CIS has resorted to vindictive name-calling, much of it reminiscent of the Cold War, the recitation of mantras, wild assertions and deliberate diversions away from the growing income equality which was the subject of our paper," it said.

The Vinnies response said that Professor Saunders' attack relied "entirely on private income growth as evidence of growth at the bottom", ignoring the paper's pointing out that "it is a mathematical illusion to suggest that the bottom 10% are the winners."

Vinnies maintains that the share of of disposable income of the lowest 20% fell from 8.3% to 7.7% between 1996-97 and 2002-03. "In the same period, the share of the highest quintile rose from 37.1% to 38.3%, while the share of middle income earners held steady."

CIS should take a BEX and have a good lie down - Vinnies (St Vincent de Paul Society 8/6/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
St Vincent de Paul Society | text of paper
Centre for Independent Studies | A Headlong Dash into the Chasm of Hyperbole (Issue Analysis 58) | Vinnies' report 'grossly exaggerated' (Media Release 8/6/05)

Vinnies says Senator Patterson is "in denial" (CathNews 2/6/05)
Vinnies says poor are losing (CathNews 30/5/05)

Working poor hit by pursuit of bottom line (Catholic Weekly 12/6/05)

9 Jun 2005