[LINK] What's in a name? Everything! [was: Smartcard mooted for federal welfare payments]

Marghanita da Cruz marghanita at ramin.com.au
Wed Apr 22 11:04:49 AEST 2009

Stephen Wilson wrote:
> Marghanita da Cruz wrote:
>> Customer, Client, Consumer, Citizen...what's the difference - perhaps we could 
>> just use relevant or irrelevant voter
> The difference between Citizen and Customer is surely obvious, and 
> non-trivial.  Customers pay for service.  Service providers treat paying 
> customers differently.  The trend to label everyone as a "customer" 
> could be an insidious societal propaganda program that drags us all 
> unwittingly into a user-pays mind set. 
> For instance, what's the underlying agenda when a patient in the public 
> health system is called a "customer"? 
> And why do they always call public transport passengers "customers"?  
> The language makes it axiomatic that the user pays, marginalising any 
> argument that perhaps we should travel on government transport for free, 
> for the broader good of the community. 
> And so on and so forth. 
> But the most ludicrous example I've seen of misusing "customer" -- an 
> instance that is so illiterate that nobody could ascribe a conspiracy 
> theory to it -- came from law enforcement a few years ago.  A brochure 
> from the manufacturer of fingerprinting equipment designed for the 
> police said something along the lines of 'The ACME 9000 allows you to 
> digitise the fingerprints of your customers more quickly ...'.
> Huh? Since when are criminal suspects the "customers" of the police?  I 
> thought if anyone was their "customer", it would have been me, the citizen!

To me, what these names do is define a relationship (which encompass roles,
responsibility, authority etc) and they are pretty core to good governance.

Passengers in a motor vehicle, on a boat or an aircraft put their lives in the
hand an mind of the driver/captain. Drivers/Captains have to abide by rules of
the road, sea and air - which help us all get by.

Anecdotally, Consumers or Customers purchase a product or service - the recourse
is variable
and buyer beware is always a useful principle to abide by otherwise there is:
> Consumer Rights
> Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)
> The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is an independent Australian Government statutory authority. It was formed in 1995 to administer the Trade Practices Act 1974 and the Prices Surveillance Act 1983. 

Patients rely on Doctors, Nurses and Hospitals for medical care.

As to other roles, guess we have to start here:

> Commonwealth Of Australia Constitution Act
> (Preamble)
> An Act to constitute the Commonwealth of Australia. [9th July 1900]
> (The Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom at Westminster)
> Whereas the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania, humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God, have agreed to unite in one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and under the Constitution hereby established: 

> This Act sets out how you become an Australian citizen, the circumstances in 
which you may cease to be a citizen and some other matters related to citizenship.

I guess we should also check out the
> Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the full text of which appears in the following pages. Following this historic act, the Assembly called upon all Member countries to publicize the text of the Declaration and "to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories."

With regard to public transport, this hasn't always been provided by the
Government - though many airlines were started by governments.
> The demise of the trams occurred rapidly between 1949 and 1961, to be largely replaced by government operated diesel motor buses. The trams, under normal development conditions, may have survived on particular routes that suited their characteristics but the intervention of the Second World War had seen enormous patronage of the tram system but no on-going investment and only essential maintenance carried out. The projected capital cost of a massive refurbishment of the system ultimately led to its abandonment instead.

In addition to private light rail, ferries and buses in Sydney, it would appear
there are rumblings about further privatisation of Ferries.

It is worth noting that there is a difference between privatisation and a market
demand being filled. In a democracy, Governments also need to demonstrate a
legitimacy to the people they collect taxes from and expect to vote.

Transport and Communication are important issue - without it we can't get
workers to workplaces and goods, buyers and sellers to a market. Health and
Education is personally attractive and useful if you are looking for customers
and workers. Though disposable/mobile workforces are pretty useful too.

The problem with the quarenteening of welfare payments is where they can be 
spent. For my part, I choose not to buy fresh fruit and vegetables and many 
other goods from Supermarkets and generally choose to pay cash for these items. 
Though I guess the supermarket scheme is better than the previous one, where 
people had to go to the pub to recieve their welfare payments. Another issue 
that has been raised is that there is no public transport from these communities 
to the supermarkets. To me it would make more sense to provide at least a weekly 

Marghanita da Cruz
Phone: (+61)0414 869202

More information about the Link mailing list