Keith Thomas writes: Re. “Essential: hard-hearted public not convinced on dole boost” (yesterday). The questions put in the Essential poll on welfare payments were so complex that almost no conclusions can be drawn from the responses.

For a start, the first option sought an opinion on the “welfare system”, whereas the second focused on “people who rely on welfare benefits”. And then the questions go on to present a number of images to elicit a response — does Essential expect all respondents to consistently select the same image that excites them most? And how do the pollsters know which one they have selected?

Despite all the words used, Essential did not look at another more likely issue: welfare payments are undoubtedly well-justified and even too low in many cases, but it is the marginal cases and people who use them as a subsidy for malingering that we are critical about. Any benefit payments with eligibility criteria will have to enable a few opportunists to slip through in order that the target population is not excluded, and that administration is not weighed down with process. I suspect it’s that grey area about which many of those polled are most concerned about — not “hard-heartedness”.

John Richardson writes: So, only a third of respondents to yesterday’s Essential Report believe that the Newstart Allowance is too low.

This is indeed encouraging news for the likes of Labor’s Jenny Macklin and Bill Shorten; the former enjoying unexpected and spectacularly embarrassing notoriety after she recently claimed that she could live on $35 a day.

While there are no doubt many Australians, like Macklin, who believe that those dependent on welfare are doing OK, I can only wonder how valid the Essential statistics are, in that it is not clear what proportion of those surveyed were actually recipients of the allowance.

While it’s all too easy for those not living below the poverty line, like Macklin and her ilk (reputedly 80% of Australians), to draw their ignorant and conceited conclusions, I suspect those receiving the allowance would have a somewhat different perspective.

I wonder if the Australian public referred to by Bernard Keane would be as “hard-hearted” in their attitude if some of their middle-class welfare, such as negative gearing, the private health insurance tax rebate, the first homebuyer’s subsidy, superannuation deductions, child support allowances and childcare subsidies were to come under threat?

Anyone can have an opinion, but surely only those who have walked a mile in a particular pair of shoes can have an informed opinion?

Peter Matters writes: We do have an awful lot of amateur judges, don’t we? If people had more guts and enterprise, they would not be in such a pickle in the first place, or would they?

In the 1950s, the very new Israeli government simply had to have the best symphony orchestra in the world. So, they invited all the great concert soloists to join the new Israeli orchestra. This only proved that the Israeli government of the time were just as ignorant of the laws of nature as our 2013 amateur judges (i.e. if you want a group of  humans, gorillas or any mammals  to work together, you cannot have all alpha males/females).

Instead, we all should accept that only a small minority can ever expect to display the enterprise to become alpha people. If the rest of us have to occupy lower rungs on the ladder that does not mean we should not be punished as lower class creatures.

Lance Armstrong

Allen Kavanagh writes: As a non-sporting type, it is hard to get excited about all the people who have been sucked in by Lance.

I have a relative who was great sportsperson. Bike riding too. When he wanted a fix before or during a race, it was two or three bananas. And all totally legal.

Everyone gets their kicks from something.

Pamela Papadopoulos writes: Lance Armstrong and Tony Abbott have a lot in common.

They both are avid cyclists and adopt the win at all cost mentality to their ideology.