John Maynard Keynes – Friend of the Deaf!

imageJohn Maynard Keynes was a British economist. So good was he that most of the world’s capitalist economies operate on the principles that he developed. He was not deaf. As far as I know had no deaf kids. He was not involved with deaf people. He probably never donated a cent of his wealth to the deaf either, most likely because he, like us, abhorred the bosses using fundraising for everything except what it was supposed to be used for. He may have had a quaint old deaf auntie some where in outer Scotland but apart from that, had no involvement with the deaf, whatsoever. Why then, is he a friend of the deaf? (And probably every other disadvantaged group that ever existed. )

Now, because I am in the mood to be very clever and bore people, I will explain Keynesian economic theory. It is a simple theory that like most theories is made complicated by the use of jargon. In a nutshell, the theory advises people to spend and to spend big. The gist of this advice is that if you spend others benefit. The shop keepers, the car sellers, the electronic goods people and so on. These people, in turn, spend the money they earn and others benefit. If people stop spending businesses go broke, unemployment happens and poverty can follow.

Keynes, if my memory of economics at school serves me right, advocated that in times of economic downturn governments should spend big on infrastructure. Build roads, hospitals schools and so on. By doing so this gets people into work and they then spend their money and the money starts going around the economy. Business revives and the economy goes into up turn.

Keynes also advocated the paying of unemployment benefits to the unemployed. Keynes was at his best during the Great Depression of the 1930’s. His theory was that paying unemployment benefits meant that the unemployed could then buy food, clothes and other essentials. This again put money in the system and helped to get the economy on even keel. Keynes never saw the unemployed as a COST. To him they were something to be invested in. By investing in the unemployed they basically became an asset rather than a burden that relied on charity. Not unlike how many in the esteemed deaf charity sector promote us – A burden that NEED help.

Of course this is a very simplified version of Keynesian economic theory. There are a multitude of factors that come into play. But the gist of it is – spend and thou shall reap and others too. But why does this make Keynes a friend of the deaf and other disadvantaged people?

It is simple really. Society always calls the deaf, the disabled and the disadvantaged a COST. I did a google on the cost of disability the results were predictable and sad. There are 25 500 000 articles on the web that focus on the cost of disability. Some of these are about how much a persons disability can cost them but most focus on the cost of disability to society.

Governments will proudly boast of their generosity. “NEW PROGRAM TO PROVIDE HEARING AIDS WILL COST $X BILLION AND DEMOSTRATES THE GOVERMENTS COMMITTMENT TO PROVIDE FOR DISABILITY”  This is not a real headline but is typical of how the government promote help for the disabled as a cost.

If the government talks about supporting big business they use entirely different language. Let’s use Nigeria as an example. A heading on the web screams “Nigeria needs $30 Billion investment in gas and infrastructure.” In Australia it is “Government invests in Kiwi Rail“, “Government Invests in Solar” and so on. Nowhere will you find “Government invests in disability”   Why? because society sees disability as a COST and a burden that they are required to support. Helping the disabled is WELFARE – it is not business.

And here is why Keynes is a friend of the deaf and other disadvantaged groups. Deaf organisations and deaf people need to stop begging. They need to stop promoting themselves as charities and promote themselves as BUSINESS and a business that can put big money into the Australian economy.

Not a business that asks for money for those poor little kiddies that cant hear and then spends the money donated on a car park out the back. But as a business that puts serious money into the economy.

Deafness Forum Australia is fond of saying One in Six Australians have a hearing loss. Do the sums. That’s something like four million people. That’s four million people that need technology, a large number of kids that need education programs that employs teachers,  a large number of people that want to learn Auslan, that buy Auslan dictionaries, fill the pockets of TAFE and employs Auslan teachers.

DO THE SUMS. It’s huge. But how is deafness, and indeed all disability promoted? Well we tug the emotions, “Oh woe is me – please give.” Pictures of sad little children and their parents that smile at our warm hearted gratitude. The gullible public donates and their money is then spent on worthless conferences and jet-setting executives.

Listen to Keynes I say. Get cold hearted and ruthless. Point out the cold hard fact that DISABILITY makes money, creates jobs and puts billions of dollars into the economy. Denounce the charities and learn about Keynes. He is the new friend of the deaf and our key to taking control.

17 thoughts on “John Maynard Keynes – Friend of the Deaf!

  1. Much food for thought here. it’s all so obvious – the more money there is the more people will spend, either that or invest, and the more money there is going back into the system, the more the economy as a whole will benefit.

    Keynes also said that in times of prosperity governments should raise taxes and aim to make a surplus every year, and in times of downturn, to reduce taxes and inject the profits from the prosperous years back into the system to get out of the mess.

  2. Nice to see Keynesian theory applied to our situation. Yes, we do cost money, but it is money that is returned to the economy through the salaries and benefits paid to people who work with the deaf, including deaf people themselves. It is also returned through devices that we buy or obtain, as we are huge consumers of technology. Just the beginning…we haven’t even touched on what we pay for creative people, those who make films and videos and captioning, etc.

    It might be interesting to do an analysis of where money spent is most effectively returned among the various groups.

  3. No we don’t cost money. We are entitled to tax payer funds. To which we contribute. We desrve it more than the pig spoof swillers that send our countries bankrupt!

  4. Did you know that Alfred Kenyes was openly gay himself after dissolved his relationship with the first wife?? Everyone know that Kenyes being gay himself in the 30s England.


  5. Well clearly he was a trail blazer. Being openly gay at the time took guts. Possibly it shows he has a head for the needs of minority groups and was indeed a friend of the deaf.

    If not I am never one to turn my nose up at a bit of trivia. 🙂

  6. You should include a reference to the findings that Mark Bagshaw (Australian with a disability and who is a Manager for IBM) in regards to how much people with a disability could contribute to the Australian economy (billions) if they were appropriately ‘invested’ by the Government.

  7. Tony Its about supporting minorities … so borderline but anyway it wasn’t malicuos and was mildly interesting so …

  8. Tony.. can see where you are coming from. I think this post allows us to think broadly on an issue that does affect us. We are part of the disability group (whether we like the word or not) and the decision made by the powers to be affects us and how our life will be shaped.

    A lot of disability groups in Australia are banging their heads on the wall seeking almost the same outcome as Deaf and hard of hearing people. We see Government ‘invest’ into intervention programs, addressing pensior issues etc but the need of people with disabilities often is the last on their agenda.

    I think this post gives us a different angle for us to consider and perhaps a different tactic to approach the powers to be and the society we are in.

    While the may not be deaf specific, still think it is relevant to us.

    Another way of thinking outside the square.

  9. Lachlan. I agree with all you have said. Tony does noy have a problem with the post itself, his issue is with an earlier comment by RLM who revealed that JMK was openly Gay.

    Tony quite rightly pointed out that JMK being gay was not relevant to the topic. I thought the comment interesting and the analytical part of me wondered how much it shaped JMK thinking over the years.

    But as Tony said JMK being gay is not really relevant to anything in the article.

    Still thanks for your well thought out comment.

  10. Yes, JMK’s sexuality had done so much with his philsophy and beliefs toward life in general.

    JMK probably did have sexual liasons with some deaf guys and created such sympathy for lesser fortune individuals without any safety nets or family inhertiance to hold on.

    I really never knew about JMK’s sexuality until I read somewhere few weeks ago.

    Everyone’s own sexuality, educational and cultural background and other more things often shape us who and what we are all about. 🙂

    I have a mixed feelings about the Kenysian economics anyway.


  11. OK then, well you know Gary, the man who wrote this article. he is heterosexual! Did you know that. As a deaf heterosexual he is a trailblazer because he started The Rebuttal to give voice to Deaf Australians.

    But the question remains what does Gary’s heterosexuality have to do with a an article about economics and how Gary attempted to relate it to Deaf people?

    If he wrote specifically about sexuality or even referenced it, then yes, I can understand the reason for mentioning Keynes sexuality.

    One last point, no one ever points out writers heterosexuality now do they?


  12. Because Tony in JMK’s time to be openly Gay was, to use a rather patronising term, brave. The stigma behind it must have been enormous.

    JMK, as I understand it, advocated paying benefits to unemployed and possibly other disadvantaged groups. One wonders if his being openly Gay was all part of a campaign to bring attention to minority groups.

    Pure speculation, perhaps, but his economic arguments were one of the original reasons governments began to pay benefits to disadvantaged groups which before that was the exclusive domain of charities.

    It is not so much that he is Gay, but rather he was a part of a group that undoubtly the victim of much prejudice. Did this influence his thinking, his arguments, his scratch my back I scratch yours philosophy to economics?

    I am not sure if the author of the original comment that gave reason for you to question his motives thought of all this BUT, its interesting and possibly valid.

    Who knows.

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