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Beyond the welfare stereotypes

Written By: - Date published: 6:58 am, May 9th, 2011 - 124 comments
Categories: class war, International, john key, national, welfare - Tags: , ,

John Key once described DPB mums as “breeding for a business”. The Nats don’t like beneficiaries in general, and their welfare working group (led by Paula Rebstock) has cooked up a good old fashioned batch of Tory welfare bashing. Fortunately these extreme views have not gone unchallenged in NZ. And now a report from Australia makes a useful contribution to the debate (ht Colonial Viper).

“Beyond Stereotypes: Myths and facts about people of working age who receive social security” is the work of the Australian Council of Social Service. The introductory summary shows that the Australian experience over the last decade follows the same pattern as ours. The number of unemployed, and the number of people on benefits fell in the years to 2008 / 2009, and is now rising again. The report then sets out to challenge three myths about welfare:

Myth 1: The typical unemployed person on income support is a school leaver who could find a job quickly if they searched hard enough
The facts:
1. The overall proportion of people of working age on unemployment payments rose from 3.6% before the last recession in 1990 to 5.7% a decade later, but then fell by 30% over the 2000s,from 5.7% in 1999 to 4.1% in 20091.
2. The profile of recipients of unemployment payments does not resemble the stereotypical young school leaver. In 2010 only 27% were under 25 years old, 41% were 25‐44 years and 32% were 45 years or older. …

Myth 2: The continuing growth in Disability Support Pension recipients is due to too many ‘older men with bad backs’ being wrongly approved for payment
The facts:
1. The proportion of people of working age on DSP rose from around 3% in 1990 to 5.5% in 2004, but then stopped rising. It fell slightly between 2004 and 2009.
2. The strongest growth among DSP recipients since the early 1990s has been among women …

Myth 3: A typical sole parent on social security is a teenage mother who relies entirely on income support
The facts:
1. The proportion of people of working age on Parenting Payment rose from 2.2% in 1990 to 4.5% in 2005, but then fell by around 30% to 3.2% in 2009.
2. The vast majority of Parenting Payment Single recipients (85%) are over 25 years of age. Only 2‐3% are teenagers.
3. Almost one third (31%) of Parenting Payment Single recipients are already employed (mostly in part time jobs) even though most (60%) still have a preschool age child. …

There’s plenty more facts and figures in the report, well worth checking out.

Here in NZ the Ministry of Social Development does produce some excellent publications, including a useful annual Social Report. But, especially in the current climate, it would be nice to see a report that, like the Australian one, directly set out the myths about beneficiaries in NZ, and the hard data that relate to the myths. Although the details will be different in our context of course, I have no doubt that a similar pattern of unjustified myths would be found here. Starting with our PM.

124 comments on “Beyond the welfare stereotypes”

  1. qw 1

    Sounds like you love beneficiaries in general. The planet could do with a few less people. Especially unproductive ones.

    • Eddie 1.1

      isn’t it a tenant of most major religions/philosophies that in successful societies people love each other?

      That aside, how’s about you deal with the facts of the post?

      • Eddie 1.1.1

        wow! usually, qw, when people edit their comment after posting it’s to take out the batshit crazy stuff. Not add it in.

        • felix 1.1.1.1

          lol what was qw saying before that triggered the religio/philosophical response?

          • mickysavage 1.1.1.1.1

            If my RSS feed is right qw said:
             
            “Not really. The roman empire wasn’t based on love. I’d prefer to see more incentives and less handouts.”
             
            Pretty radical edit.

    • andy (the other one) 1.2

      The planet could do with a few less people. Especially unproductive ones.

      starting with babies and old people?

    • The Voice of Reason 1.3

      Wow, you managed to read all the way through to the second sentence of the post, qw. Perhaps when you’ve finished the whole thing you might have a crack at an intelligent comment? Maybe you could tell us if the myths exposed in the Aussie report tally with the fantasies in your head?

    • weka 1.4

      “Especially unproductive ones.”

      Myth 4: beneficiaries contribute nothing to society.

      Any beneficiary raising a child is doing the core work of society. We don’t have a society without children. Even for the nastiest of the liberterians children are important, they still need another generation coming through who will clean their toilets and wipe their arses when they get old (it’s not like their own kids will do that).

      But many beneficiaries do other, usually invisible, work in society, including things like caregiving and childcare and voluntary work. Decreases in unemployment equate to decreases in the voluntary sector.

      Many beneficiaries also do cash in hand work. If this is considered a problem then the simple fix is to change the WINZ and other abatement processes and make it easier for beneficiaries to take on above board part time work.

    • Colonial Viper 1.5

      The planet could do with a few less people. Especially unproductive ones.

      Well you’re frakin mistaken because it’s the productive ones who are destroying our natural resources and oil at an irreplaceable rate, and in fact the more productive someone is, they more they are a danger to us all.

      Geddit.

  2. PeteG 2

    Before trying to determine if Australia has caught up with New Zealand yet on levels of welfare dependency it’s worth considering what myths are prevalent. I doubt whether Myths 1 and 2 as defined in this post are typical here.

    • rosy 2.1

      See page 6 of the referenced report.

    • The Voice of Reason 2.2

      Myth 2 works in NZ if you swap ACC for DSP, pete. In a previous job I used to help ACC recipients back into work. Only a tiny percentage were actively bullshitting about their injuries and they were easily picked up. Often, the hardest part was getting those who hadn’t had a job for more than a few months back into the routines that come with working. Not that they were lazy, but had just lost the habits that regular work forces on us.

    • PeteG
       
      You have just come back from that alternative universe again, haven’t you.  Don’t you remember Collins and Bennett trying to drown out the good news of continued lowering of unemployment rates by the last Government by screaming that the numbers on sickness benefits were exploding.  They were going up but in numerical terms by little and certainly less than the numbers of people were coming off the dole.
       
      You do remember this don’t you?
       
      If so do you agree that Collins and Bennett were fibbing?

    • Peter Rabbit 2.4

      I agree PeteG, the myths outlined in the Australian report seem quite different to the usual ones I’ve encountered here. I must admit that I would be interested in seeing a similar report here done though after seeing first hand how many of my preconceived ideas were correct during the time I work for Work and Income.

      The sooner a the Government overalls this system the better the entire country will be (including the the current recipients) who in most cases if they get past 15 weeks in the system have focus taken off them and they allowed to sit there with as long as they make minimum effort.

      • mickysavage 2.4.1

        The sooner RWNJs realise that we have dole ques because there are no jobs and not because of fluctuating levels of bludgerism the better.
         

        • Peter Rabbit 2.4.1.1

          Mickysavage, when LWNJ’s actually go down spend some time working on the frontdesk at work and income vs spouting idealogical crap then perhaps they can speak from an informed position.

          • mickysavage 2.4.1.1.1

            PR I have been at the cutting edge of poverty for 27 years.  I can tell you most people on benefits are decent people who become a beneficiary as a last resort.  And because the economy cannot/will not ensure full employment there will always be a pool of people out of work.  Either we feed them and care for their basic needs or they will either starve, riot or pinch your new flatscreen TV.  From a humane as well as a rational standpoint the current system is the minimum we should do.

            • Peter Rabbit 2.4.1.1.1.1

              If you truly have been at the cutting edge of poverty for the last 27 years as you claim then you will know that the current system isn’t working and hasn’t been working for a hell of a long time and needs to be overhauled.

              If you can’t recognize that then I seriously doubt your claim.

            • mickysavage 2.4.1.1.1.2

              Aye
               
              Radical reform is required.  Governments have to focus on jobs and the wealthy are going to have to pay more tax.  Simple really.
               
              And who says the system is not working.  I know many people who would not have coped without benefits.  What is your definition of “not working”?  The fact that someone somewhere may have made a “lifestyle choice”?
               
              What do you propose?
               
              Reduction in benefit support levels?  Term limits?

  3. infused 3

    Your wrong actually. As you actually outlined at the start “breeding for a business”. The myths you’ve outlined have nothing to do with the current situation.

    National voters don’t like people on the unemployment benefit or any other type of benefit being paid so much that it becomes a ‘job’. That’s it in a nutshell.

    The amount of mothers I know on the DPB sitting at home and raving about the money they get is unbelievable. These are well off women too (well off families who can support them).

    I girl I know just had another kid because she was about to be kicked of the DBP. This is no joke. She went out, found some random and got pregnant. This was about a year ago now, the guy has left NZ and returned to the UK.

    These stories aren’t one offs either.

    • Eddie 3.1

      well, I know people who are on or have used the DPB too and I don’t know a single one who has abused it.

      Looks like our anecdotes cancel each other out, infused. How about engaging with the facts instead?

      • infused 3.1.1

        Those aren’t NZs stats, so no.

        • RedLogix 3.1.1.1

          Those aren’t NZs stats, so no.

          Any coherent argument as to why you think the NZ stats would be so very different to Australia’s? Given that the closest country in the whole world to New Zealand physically, economically, historically and culturally is Australia, and given that in most other social stats the two countries track each other tolerably well… it would be wholly remarkable to find a major divergence in just these particular numbers.

          Not just remarkable, but quite irrational to base your argument on such an unlikely proposition.

          • infused 3.1.1.1.1

            Their economy is nothing like NZs, which is why it’s pointless comparing the two.

      • lprent 3.1.2

        Ditto. I’ve known somewhere in the order of 20 women and 2 men who are or have been on the DPB. None of them wanted to be on it and with one exception in the 70’s, all of them were strenuously trying to get off it. The one that wasn’t was in the early days before the training routes were set up to allow her to up skill.

        • higherstandard 3.1.2.1

          Same, ratio of about 10:1 I find in both personal and professional life.

          Although by chance I was watching Marae on Sunday and there was a long piece on the northland economy which suggested there were for want of a better description ‘ghettos’ in parts of the region which were very much living in a dependency culture trap and even Hone was interviewed and made comment that beneficiaries needed to decide what they owed back to society in return for the assistance they were getting.

          • burt 3.1.2.1.1

            HS

            It’s funny isn’t it that rOb touts stats from Aussie and when people inject their real world experience from NZ they get called heatless. Guess it was expedient to say Aussie stats applied to NZ.

            • RedLogix 3.1.2.1.1.1

              Guess it was expedient to say Aussie stats applied to NZ.

              As I said above… it’s far more likely that they would than they would not.

              All you are doing is pointing to a very modest potential loophole in the argument (that the stats are Australian and not NZ) and expediently trying to drive your ideological truck through it.

              • burt

                That’s your opinion. However it wouldn’t take me long to find hundreds of comments from various people saying we shouldn’t compare NZ to Aussie on other matters.

                • RedLogix

                  So you are arguing that the relevant NZ stats on welfare would be dramatically different? If so … by how much would you imagine?

                  For example would you argue that when the Aussie stat is:

                  The vast majority of Parenting Payment Single recipients (85%) are over 25 years of age. Only 2‐3% are teenagers.

                  What evidence would you produce to support that NZ is very different to this.. other than just your opinion that is?

                  Or is this just a case of selectivity… we can compare ourselves with Aussie when it suits you… but not when it doesn’t.

                  • KJT

                    The NZ Stats are here.

                    Age group Proportions on benefits are similar.

                    http://www.stats.govt.nz/

                    Burt is talking bollocks as usual.

                    Unemployment rates and wages are different as they did not have NACT from the 80’s experimenting with them.

                • burt

                  I don’t have the stats – but I’m not the one saying it’s much the same here – you are.

                  Perhaps you could provide the stats to prove it.

                  • RedLogix

                    No you are the one claiming that the Aussie stats are not applicable in some very implausible faashion… you prove your claim.

                    • burt

                      My starting position was; Guess it was expedient to say Aussie stats applied to NZ.

                      I can’t see what stats I can possibly produce to prove that. But your demanding of such proof certainly proves I was correct to use the word ‘expedient’. Thanks.

                    • RedLogix

                      The only expediency going on here is you trying to make the unlikely claim that somehow the NZ stats would be dramatically different to Aussies. In other words different enough to invalidate the argument.

                      Given how close the two countries are in so many respects, expecially socially, (after all almost a million kiwis live there) it’s an extraordinary claim to suggest that they must be significantly different in this one particular way.

                    • burt

                      rOb said;

                      … especially in the current climate, it would be nice to see a report that, like the Australian one, directly set out the myths about beneficiaries in NZ, and the hard data that relate to the myths.

                      So meanwhile we’ll expediently claim it’s the same. The problem I see here RedLogix is that to explore that we first need to get over the “oh you can’t say that” arguments about what sectors of society are perceived as bludgers, then we need to compare the nature of the identified groups in Aussie and NZ and how similar their ‘welfare environment’ really is. As rOb said, would be nice to see such a report, or do you want to go for it in this thread ?

                    • RedLogix

                      No-one has claimed that the Aussie data would be the same as for NZ. That too would be highly unlikely.

                      Yes the Aussie welfare environment is likely to be different than it is here. For example; for the equivalent unemployment benefits the qualifying partner income is much lower in NZ than it is in Aussie. This means that only 34% of people who loose a job in this country qualify for a benefit, while the comparable number in Aussie is much higher, closer to 90% from memory.

                      The point is this… this Australian report strongly suggests that many of the claims made about ‘welfare lifestylers’ are myths. And there is every plausible reason to think that much the same case applies here in NZ.

                      Unless of course your sense of self-worth and identity is tied up in the opposite belief. In which case no amount of data will change your mind… indeed it would only harden your position.

                    • burt

                      Unless of course your sense of self-worth and identity is tied up in the opposite belief. In which case no amount of data will change your mind… indeed it would only harden your position.

                      Or if your sense of self-worth and identity was tied up in ‘National are nasty torys’ then you would call them ‘beneficiary bashers’ expediently using an Aussie report that studied welfare myths.

                  • RedLogix

                    R0B is the one who has provided referenced data. You have provided nothing that amounts to more than an expedient quibble.

                    • burt

                      There is no reference data directly relevant. How can you not understand this simple point?

                  • RedLogix

                    Unless you can provide a clear argument as to why the Aussie data would be irrelevant then all I can say is ‘so what’.

                    In the absence of you providing more relevant NZ data … then your quibble is mute, pointless and an expedient distraction.

        • Peter Rabbit 3.1.2.2

          Eddie/LPrent while there are many people who do not use abuse the welfare system there are equally a large number who do use it as a life style choice. While a lot can be said on the individuals themselves a lot more can be said about the system that allows that kind of abuse to occur in the first place.

          If you go and do the job yourself you will quickly see how true this.

          Eddie if you want specific cases try these:
          1) Mother signing up for DPB requests assistance to purchase a new LCD TV. Assistance provided as rules around this state that without a TV a mother may become isolated from their community.

          2) A Person who owns multiple houses (6-8 from memory) via a trust. Is renting the house he is occupying from the trust and trust is also providing assistance in the form of food vouchers however is able to collect Unemployment benefit and top up benefits.

          3) A Person with over $40,000 in the bank account is collecting Unemployment Benefit, and special needs grants for replacement inner soles for his shoes.

          4) A person collecting over $2000 in Ko Hai payments from his local marae is still eligible to collect full unemployment/top up payments as these are not counted as income.

          5) A person collecting Unemployment benefit however with over $1,000,000 in foresty assets shares.

          6) A family of 3 brothers living on 1 farm (3 different houses on the same property). Brother a Whangai Adopts Brother Bs children, Brother B adopts Brother C’s adoption and Brother C adopts Brother As children. Each parent gets paid an bonus payment for looking after a non blood child.

          • RedLogix 3.1.2.2.1

            Peter,

            In ANY universal system there will be a small minority of people at the margins who abuse it. The amount of this kind of abuse can be reduced by adding more rules or more draconian policing of the system… but very quickly you get to the point of diminishing returns, subjecting 99% of the people who use the system honestly to demeaning, intrusive scrutiny in order to obsessively track down every last example of those who don’t.

            Treasury has acknowledged somewhere that the amount of welfare abuse probably amounts to about $10m pa… a pititful trickle in the larger scheme of things.

            In the meantime you never mentioned the vastly greater sums of public monies used to bail out wealthy investors and shareholder in failed finance companies…

            • Peter Rabbit 3.1.2.2.1.1

              Do you have a link for the Treasury report? I’m quite surprised by that figure as at the time I was working for Work and Income the estimate was around $10m pa of undetected Benefit Fraud however benefit abuse was unable to be determined and the two are quite different.

              Why would I mention the finance companies on a thread about benefit stereo types least I be accused of thread jacking?

              • PeteG

                Annual figures:
                Total benefits: $16b
                Detected fraud: $16m
                Convicted: 700
                Average: $22,000

                Obviously it’s a lot harder to know what the undetected fraud level might be.

                • RedLogix

                  In other words detected fraud is about 1 part in a 1000.

                  Ever if the actual undetected levels were ten times larger than this (unlikely) it would still be a small fraction hardly worth getting excited about.

                  • PeteG

                    It is relatively small, and I think there are probably enough resources committed to addressing this now.

                    Obviously this is separate to how much of the benefit budget funds:
                    – genuine necessity (almost certainly a significant majority)
                    – demoralised
                    – lifestyle choosers
                    – lazy buggers
                    etc

                    I think it may be impossible to get accurate data on this, people are hardly going to volunteer honest information if they are rorting off taxpayers.

                    • Campbell Larsen

                      There is no conceivable society that will be embraced entirely by all potential citizens. Humanity is diverse in belief, expression and aspiration. Modern society attempts to assert the virtue of subsuming our diversity and most of our time in return for the comforts offered by the limited collectivism that remains after profit and privilege have taken the lions share. It does not acknowledge the fact that not everyone will view this trade as being fair and reasonable.

                      The welfare system is there to ensure that everyone is able to participate in a consumer driven social system – its original intent was to enshrine in legislation compassion for our fellow countrymen, in addition it serves to ensure the pervasiveness of the notions of consumerism.

                      There has been some rhetoric recently about what people ‘owe’ in return – this ignores the fundamental fact that the rule of ‘law’ and ‘economics’ strips us of many of our fundamental freedoms as living creatures in order that the illusion of a cohesive ‘society’ may be perpetuated and exploited.

                      If we are to create a just society we must first acknowledge that not everyone can or should be compelled to participate in it or in the rather flawed systems of value and exchange that define a ‘modern economy’. The cost of homogenising most of a society is supporting the minority who will not/ cannot blend.

                      It is either that or recognise the legitimacy and independence of alternate societies.

                • kriswgtn

                  Are you including the Winz employees that have committed and been convicted of fraud or just bene’s?

                  http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/4839728/WINZ-unit-fails-to-stop-staff-fraud

                  This is just the tip of the iceberg

                  • Campbell Larsen

                    If you are looking for ‘fraud’ look no further that Cruiser Collins and her petrol expenses, or the Airlines colluding on prices, or the banks ripping off IRD or Steven Joyce and Shonkeys loan to Mediaworks – and THAT is just the tip of the iceburg…

                    • KJT

                      Douglas, Richardson and co selling assets at cents in the dollar for their mates to asset strip.
                      Present day NACT’s working towards the same as soon as they can claim a mandate.

            • Deadly_NZ 3.1.2.2.1.2

              To say nothing about the inside thievery, by staff. No one ever seems to mention that, much easier to just blame the beneficiary.

          • weka 3.1.2.2.2

            “1) Mother signing up for DPB requests assistance to purchase a new LCD TV. Assistance provided as rules around this state that without a TV a mother may become isolated from their community.

            What is wrong with that? WINZ have always said that a TV was a valid expenditure for single parents.


            3) A Person with over $40,000 in the bank account is collecting Unemployment Benefit, and special needs grants for replacement inner soles for his shoes.

            That person will be declaring any interest on the $40,000 and that interest will be counted as income and abated off their benefit like any other forms of additional income. Further, the person will be ineligble for the hardship grant TAS (and I think Accomodation Supplement). Depending on what part of the country they live in the person is likely to be experiencing financial hardship unless they own a freehold house. Other than using the $40,000 to live on and then going on the benefit, what are they supposed to do? Using the $40,000 to live on until it runs out is a sure way to create long term poverty, and no financial advisor of an employed person would suggest such a thing so why should a beneficiary do it?

            • weka 3.1.2.2.2.1

              And, decisions about additional assistance like SNGs are made in the context of the person’s whole situation, so unless you can give examples that include all the relevant details your examples are meaningless.

            • burt 3.1.2.2.2.2

              TV to counter isolation – a 29″ would be enough. Bet the TV of choice isn’t that small !

              Look I had to help sort out a really messy situation with a friend about 2 years ago. The “father” had given my friends daughter a hard time and was breaching his court orders to keep his distance. Now one of the things that was causing a lot of stress for the split beneficiary pair was who got the 42″ HDTV.

              Now having worked all my life and having only purchased a TV of that standard myself about a year earlier I was amazed that two people only just in their 20’s both on a benefit had a 42″ HDTV and a Sky subscription.

              There is nothing you can make up to pretend that there two people were struggling on a benefit when you saw the consumer spending they had indulged in.

              • felix

                “There is nothing you can make up to pretend that…”

                Oh the ironing.

                • burt

                  Oh I get it – you were not there helping the girl shift to a new flat so it didn’t happen.

                  • felix

                    lol. No, I do believe you burt.

                    Unlike RedLogix I have no trouble believing, having noted various hints you’ve dropped about your life and profession, that the vast majority of the people you encounter are bludgers.

                    • burt

                      Like most (I resist saying all or I include the sociopaths/psychopaths) my ‘friends and family’ draws from all walks of life. You can piss off trying to pigeon hole my “life” based on my comments relevant to my “profession”.

                    • felix

                      Don’t get defensive burt, I’m not attacking you. Just by your own admissions on this very thread you do seem to know a lot of bludgers.

                      I’m not surprised is all.

                  • terryg

                    Burt, what you appear to be trying to say, albeit in a highly confused and semi-incoherent manner, is that PEOPLE AT THE BOTTOM OF SOCIETY MAKE POOR DECISIONS. Do you think this might be correlated in some way, shape or form with their position at the bottom?

                    Or are you like so many recipients of privilege (the formal definition thereof) – white male cissexual privelege at a guess, IOW near the top of the privilege pile – of the opinion that those at the bottom are there SOLELY due to their own laziness?

                    • burt

                      You have overreached on all fronts there terryg. I’ve seen poor decision made at all levels, just people with deeper pockets get laughed at when it all turns to custard because tall poppy bashers think they must have been exploiting someone. They get called greedy and poor people get called lazy. Wow.. what’s new.

                      It’s hard to extend a hand to a low income person in need when they have a pile of flash toys on tick.

                      “Slap them flash toys up on tradme then ask me to tip out my pockets for real requirements rather than just to pay your interest bill…” – that’s what was running through my mind… but go on, read my tea leaves some more.

                    • terryg

                      “I’ve seen poor decision made at all levels, just people with deeper pockets get laughed at when it all turns to custard because tall poppy bashers think they must have been exploiting someone. They get called greedy and poor people get called lazy. Wow.. what’s new”

                      Hi Burt,

                      yep, thats a fair point. The point I was attempting to highlight is that those at the bottom of the heap have far fewer tools with which to make GOOD decisions – FUNDAMENTAL tools like literacy, numeracy – stuff those at the top of the heap posesss in abundance. Ergo those at the bottom are more likely to make poor decisions than those at the top.

                      is that a point with which you agree?

                      “It’s hard to extend a hand to a low income person in need when they have a pile of flash toys on tick”

                      There are a number of ways I take issue with this. Firstly, many anecdotes DO NOT make DATA – solid research is where data (and hopefully policy) comes from.

                      Then there is the issue of set theory (think Venn diagrams – big overlapping circles). I once met a beneficiary who was a gang member – therefore all beneficiaries are gang members? NO.

                      And lets not forget plain old mean-spiritedness. Why SHOULDNT a beneficiary have SKY TV? (read as: spend their money how they see fit). Surely the free-market approach is to let people go to hell in their own handbaskets?

                      “Slap them flash toys up on tradme then ask me to tip out my pockets for real requirements rather than just to pay your interest bill…” – that’s what was running through my mind… but go on, read my tea leaves some more

                      text is not a particularly good medium for communication. poorly worded text even less so. Personally, I am a big believer in cost accounting – with the caveat that ALL COSTS are taken into account. Precisely what do we do with illiterate, unskilled adults? what is the likely cost to society if we adopt a market-based approach to child welfare – let them die on the streets if their family cant/wont support them? Are said children more or less likely to become “productive” members of society?

                      whats the likely cost of attempting to audit every cent that a beneficiary gets?

                      and most important of all: ACTUAL, VERIFIABLE DATA shows the exact OPPOSITE of your claims.

            • KJT 3.1.2.2.2.3

              Insider traders buying into SCF knowing they will make a killing in the bailout.

              Welfare beneficiaries are a drop in the bucket compared with the real bludgers.

              How much did Brash get to re-write the same drivel?

        • burt 3.1.2.3

          So if almost everyone has a one-off story then these one-off events are pretty common ?

          • RedLogix 3.1.2.3.1

            They are ‘pretty common’ because of your built in confirmation bias. In your value system, your self identity is built around the idea that you are a ‘productive’ member of society… and anyone who isn’t rich or working in paid employment must be ‘unproductive’. Your sense of self-worth is built on this economic model that money is the only measure of human worth… so you automatically select only the data that confirms what you expect to see.

            That’s why these stories seem ‘pretty common’ to you. Hard data be damned…

      • Draco T Bastard 3.1.3

        A RWNJ engage with facts? Not if they can help it.

    • burt 3.2

      I knew a woman who had 4 kids to different fathers and was looking for a 5th child which she could write ‘father unknown’ on the birth certificate… what was a guy to do !

      • kriswgtn 3.2.1

        put something on the end of it perhaps

      • burt 3.2.2

        One of the many used as part of her ‘could have been any of you’ plan obviously didn’t… She got her benefit increase and moved to a much nicer house.

        • RedLogix 3.2.2.1

          Frankly burt I think you are bullshitting.

          How is it that you RWNJ’s only ever meet people who are rorting the benefit system? Like you’ve never ever known someone who was in genuine need?

          At least from my perspective I understand that there will be a small minority of people who will abuse the system. But all the evidence is that they are a just that… a small minority. I once climbed Mt Cook with a guy on ACC because he couldn’t ‘lift his right arm higher than his shoulder’… although it seemed ok when he was holding an ice axe.

          But you guys run in funny social circles… you only EVER meet these types.

          • burt 3.2.2.1.1

            I’ve known plenty of people in genuine need. But I’m sorry that’s not making the other cases go away because we have a National govt and we need to keep up the “nasty tory” talking points.

            • felix 3.2.2.1.1.1

              I think you’re doing pretty well keeping up the nasty tory talking points actually burt.

              • burt

                Apparently it would be just fine if I started depicting ways to kill beneficiaries – freedom of speech and all that.

                You actually have an opinion on anything felix or do you just spend your entire life fighting for causes you invent in your own head ?

                • felix

                  Yes burt I totally think you should do that. Knock yourself out.

                • RedLogix

                  burt… we live in a world that has never been richer and more productive. We have access to the knowledge and means to sustainably give everyone on the planet access to a decent, dignified way of life.

                  I do not believe that humans are intrinsically feckless, evil, greedy and violent. I think that these are typically our stress respones to stressful environments.

                  However challenging it would be to get to there from where we are right now… I want a world in which people care for each other, share resources generously and wisely and helped each other bring out the very best in themselves. I want us to observe, learn and truly understand the astounding life systems on this planet, work intelligently with them and protect them from harm.

                  Humans are happiest and behave at their best when they feel valued, respected and useful. When they can express themselves creatively, achieve excellence and work together in groups toward common goals beyond the reach of any one individual.

                  That is what I believe in burt. I really don’t understand what you believe in. I don’t think even you do.

                • burt

                  RedLogix

                  I want a world in which people care for each other, share resources generously and wisely and helped each other bring out the very best in themselves. I want us to observe, learn and truly understand the astounding life systems on this planet, learn to work with them and protect them from harm.

                  The good ship ‘Nirvana RedLogix’ departs at gateway 1 in three hours. Please note there is a strict baggage allowance policy on this vessel – Doooh.

                  I totally agree with your sentiments Red, your values are admirable. But how is an Aussie report on welfare myths justification for calling National ‘tory welfare bashers’ ?

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Because National are Tory welfare bashers. Or were you hiding when Food Bank comments and DPB comments were being bandied around by National Ministers, not to mention the shite spouted by Rebstock and co. in their “Welfare Working Group” report?

                  • RedLogix

                    So you mock my values and then say that you totally agree with them. Confused a little?

                    Because I know what I stand for and I’m not apologising for it. When I see National repeatedly demonising beneficiaries, perpetuating readily debunked myths and undermining public confidence in the system intended to protect the weakest and most vulnerable in our society… without offering any alternative vision around improving the system… then I know that what they propose offends what I believe in.

                    Your failure to see this connection is not grounds for me to have to explain it to you.

                    • burt

                      RedLogix. I certainly wasn’t intending to mock your values. They are indeed admirable. It’s how we translate those values into real world models when not all people ascribe to them that I was taking the piss out of. I;m sorry it came across that way.

                    • RedLogix

                      Fair enough burt. I can take that at face value.

                      One thing I think we all agree upon is that the present system is most certainly not the best of all possible worlds. Improvement, radical reform even, is certainly desirable.

                      If National were offering a concrete plan to develop the NZ economy, grow our skills and NZ based industries, increase wages and salaries as a percentage of GDP, transition from last-century extractive wealth paradigms to knowledge based, high value sustainable models… then I’d be able to believe that they were serious.

                      If most people in this country had equitable access to decent, dignified work and sustainable living… then the very need for welfare would logically be diminished. But not before.

                      Because while I hear rhetoric from National about reform, all I really see is policy intended to make the system even more stingy and demeaning than it is already. Sort of like ‘we had to bomb the village to save it’.

  4. Colonial Viper 4

    Good paying personally satisfying jobs are the best kind of wefare reform, problem is that John Key’s definition of a good job is digging up a cycle way.

    That’s as far as the Bill and John show go I’m afraid, people.

    • burt 4.1

      Colonial Viper

      Hope that “good paying’ is too much CV, wouldn’t want to be bashing the bene’s for being rich pricks would we.

      • Colonial Viper 4.1.1

        Oh I think an economy with a lot of $16/hr – $20/hr jobs available for job seekers is a pretty reasonable ask.

        Of course, we have a wealthy class in NZ who prefer to sit on assets (in general) instead of building up industries which can pay New Zealanders decently.

        • burt 4.1.1.1

          That’s all good CV, but that creates a dilemma with current tax policy and possibly with your definition of rich.

          If you accepted circa $32K-$40K as a minimum wage what would you suggest was the top tax threshold? IE: What would you describe as a high income?

          • Colonial Viper 4.1.1.1.1

            Top 5% of income earners and those holding over $500K in net assets should be defined as well off and taxed accordingly.

            I also suggest supertaxes for those earning more than 10x the median income (i.e. are on >$280K p.a.) and for those who hold more than $2M in assets.

            If this society can’t create decent numbers of jobs paying $16-$20/hr I suggest to people that they bugger off to Australia where they at least appreciate the value of good workers.

            NZ businesses don’t deserve you at rates less than that.

  5. vto 5

    The idea that there are either productive or unproductive people is as barmy as the bloody Federated Farmers ignorant idea that only those who pull in foreign exchange are real New Zealanders. They continually bleat on that they are somehow more important and we should recognise them for that.

    They constantly state that it is they who are responsible for providing the teachers and the doctors and for providing, well, pretty much everything in this country (including btw all the lost land following the Hawke Bay floods last week. Lost because of poor land practices).

    If you suggest to farmers that the reality is in fact the reverse they simply harumph and storm off, such is their ability to engage in controlled debate (like most of us ha ha). Like this simple question – how do you think the NZ farming sector would have performed over the last 100 years if no farmer had been taught how to read and write by a teacher? End.

    The reason for rabbiting on about farmers and their continual idiotic importance issue is that it is entirely analagous to the beneficiary importance issue.

    Productive members of society??????? Start with mothers as THE MOST PRODUCTIVE. Withot them there is no society. Try that on for size silly farmers.

    Secondly I would have thought are all those involved in raising newborns to youth and adulthood. Following logic of course.

    and on it goes..

    • KJT 5.1

      Norway.!.

      I have put a challenge on the internet, for several years now, asking any farmer who can prove they pay income tax to speak up. I am sure there are one or two, but I am still waiting.

      In fact without farming and our over reliance on commodity exports we would have had to develop a real economy. Like Norway, Sweden or Germany.

      All the keeping labour costs down and making life better for farmers and foreign corporates has left NZ much worse off. 4% growth against an OECD average of 28%.

  6. burt 6

    Is anyone from that “nasty tory” National party actually saying we should scrap welfare – NO. Are they saying we need to reform welfare because there is a sector of society using it as a lifestyle choice – YES.

    What’s the problem here ? Who are we protecting by casting this as beneficiary bashing ?

    • vto 6.1

      burt no reform is necessary in order to crack down on those using the welfare system as a lifestyle choice. There are already plenty of crackdown weapons available to do this. And they are used. It is just a cheap election year pile of shit.

      But you will know this of course, being a wise man of the street and the world.

      • burt 6.1.1

        The cheap election year pile of shit is rOb expediently using an Aussie report on welfare myths to cast National as nasty tory welfare bashers. It fits his world view.

  7. felix 7

    Ooh ooh ooh while we’re doing anecdotes about bludgers…

    I heard about this one guy who scraped up a shit-pile of money attacking his own country’s economy and selling the dodgy financial “products” that led to the global financial crisis costing millions of people their homes, jobs and savings.

    He then bought his way into a political party and became PM of the country he tried to take down years earlier and immediately sacked a bunch of workers, attacked the rights of many of those still working, and followed an economic agenda which has so far put around 135,000 people out of work.

    Meanwhile he had the country run up huge debts (probably with banks he owns shares in btw) in order to give himself and all the other millionaires a big kickback from the tax system which they’ll soon use to buy the publicly owned assets he’ll have to put up for sale due to bankrupting the country by borrowing to pay for the tax bonuses that will be used to buy the assets (cool eh?)

    On top of all of this he has decided that the country hasn’t served him quite enough yet so at every possible turn he uses up as much of the country’s police and military forces as he can for his own comfort and amusement, despite being able to easily afford these things himself which largely have nothing to do with his job as an elected official.

    Bludgers? There’s your fucking bludger right there.

    • outofbed 7.1

      If only that could fit on a billboard

    • terryg 7.2

      Felix,
      you owe me a new keyboard and monitor, I just spat coke all over mine I laughed so hard.

      Hey, I know what, maybe I should become a lazy bludging beneficiary and get a free one.

      Hang on a minute, I WAS said lazy bludging beneficiary. Hell, I even technically defrauded Social Welfare for a year (but fessed up during an amnesty in the early 90’s) by enrolling for 4 papers at Massey Uni in P.N. when the cutoff for the dole was 3. Thereby using the dole to kick-start my ALMOST ENTIRELY TAXPAYER FUNDED tertiary education, and eventually becoming a “productive” member of society (by Burts measure at any rate).

      Oh no, idiotic stereotyping fail. silly me.

      Fucking bludgers indeed. +1 internets to you Felix

      • mickysavage 7.2.1

        Um Terryg
         
        You could address Felix’s comment.  It seems to me that all of Felix’s comment was depressingly correct.

        • terryg 7.2.1.1

          I did – “fucking bludgers indeed”. There really isnt any more to add, Felix summed it up perfectly. but this entire thread is about bene-bashing, so I dont think my comments are entirely irrelevant.

          And you too are spot on MickySavage – its as depressing as all hell. the only “bright” spot I can see is after we sleepwalk to another NACT government, they’ll sell the few remaining assets we have, so at least it wont happen again. of course we’ll be a nation of renters by then *sigh*

          • mickysavage 7.2.1.1.1

            Sorry Terryg.
             
            Misread your comment.  Agree entirely.

            • terryg 7.2.1.1.1.1

              no apology necessary – I asked for it, Poes always run that risk (e.g. 13.1). Besides, sometimes I am entirely full of shit, and need to be reminded of it.

              Now its my turn: I have read a fair number of your comments, and want to thank you for taking the time to so eloquently share your knowledge and experience.
              regards, Terry

  8. Bill 8

    Isn’t it simply the case that unemployed people are in a position where others (bosses, shareholders etc) can no longer bludge off them?

    • vto 8.1

      Good point Bill, I always like looking at things backwards to see if it still makes sense. Bit like the French..

      You are quite right – it is the employers who bludge off the workers through paying insufficient minimum wages to support a family. That is the bludge.

  9. ianmac 9

    Anecdotal stories are no help in this discussion.
    There was an excellent interview with Sir Paul Reeves yesterday morning on National Radio. Sir Paul spoke on the subject of a caring society. He is concerned that right now NZ is at a tipping point and that the shift against caring for those in need worries him. (Paraphrased.) If a person of Sir Paul’s stature is concerned about the direction being signalled by the NActs, then I am too.

  10. ianmac 10

    Wouldn’t the Paula Rebstock Committee have assembled a report like the one that Rob has printed in order to properly assess the problem? Surely they could not have relied on the odds and ends of the few who cheat the system? It would be as stupid as saying a cold spell of weather is evidence that there is no global warming.

  11. It’s interesting how these people that are too lazy to work actually respond to legislation providing incentives to work and removing barriers to work (family tax credit, reduced cost of childcare etc).

    Impact on numbers of sole parents receiving benefit

    Numbers of DPB recipients fell by 12% from March 2004 to March 2008

    Sole parents’ periods of benefit receipt are shorter

    Sole parents previously on benefit are staying off a benefit much longer
    http://www.ird.govt.nz/aboutir/reports/research/emp-sole-parents/emp-incentives-sole-parents.html

  12. TightyRighty 12

    Doesn’t affect the most disturbing truth of the cradle to grave welfare mentality, enacted and encouraged by the left to maintain a voter base.

    • terryg 12.1

      which is what? that the right wing relies on anecdata (two or more anecdotes) because REAL DATA supports the EXACT OPPOSITE position?

      next you’ll crap on about how global warming is a conspiracy by dirty hippies….

    • Colonial Viper 12.2

      The social security system is a crucial part of NZ civilised society.

      And yes, that means looking after our people from the cradle to the grave.

      You think you can do better somewhere else which doesn’t believe in social welfare nor a social security system?

      Move to the US or Somalia and see how well the masses of people are doing there, abandoned to struggle on their own while more powerful forces control their societies and economies.

      • terryg 12.2.1

        or india. Now THERE is a country you REALLY dont want to be at the bottom of the heap in.

        • Treetop 12.2.1.1

          Yesterday on Radio NZ just after 7.30 am there was coverage on Indias recent census. Population is now 1.2 billion. In ten years it has increased by 181 million. The last time that a census on the casts was done was 1931. Money needs to be targeted for the most deprived casts. Females are in a much worse position to males as they get fed the scraps and the cost of a dowry can bankrupt a family.

      • Treetop 12.2.2

        Yesterday just after 7.30 am on Radio NZ mention was made that 1 million homes in the USA had been foreclosed and another 1 million were expected to foreclose. Unemployment and the banks not being prepared to extend or refinance a mortgage. One lady who recently had breast cancer was able to refinance, but she now owes three times what she purchased her home for.

        • Colonial Viper 12.2.2.1

          With no Federal sponsored mortgage relief programmes in sight and Obama spending US$3B-$4B per week on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

          Pretty clear what the priorities of the rich and powerful in the USA are.

  13. Bill 13

    Meanwhile.

    For all those out there who think beneficiaries are hopping aboard some type of gravy train…the UK has issued a six point suicide threat directive to its case officers in the (partly privatised from what I can make out) Department of Work and Pensions.

    Julie Tipping, an appeals officer for Disability Solutions, represents claimants who try to overturn decisions made following work capability assessment tests that they are fit for work.

    She says that in the last year, two of her clients have made “real attempts” at suicide after a decision was made that they were fit for work. Both were taken to hospital and subsequently sectioned.

    “It’s real and true. A lot of people think these people are crying wolf to get their money, but that’s not the case. They are suffering from real problems and can’t face it any more.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/may/08/jobcentre-staff-guidelines-suicide-threats

    • Colonial Viper 13.1

      The UK Exchequer is looking forwards to unexpected budget savings which will result from beneficiaries offing themselves.

      Who needs those unproductive losers in society anyway.

      • terryg 13.1.1

        AIUI the UK are putting together a Soylent Green Department, to replace food subsidies.

  14. Where is the long-overdue review of ‘corporate welfare’ beneficiaries?

    Across the NZ $70 billion central government spend – how much taxpayer money is being spent on consultants and private contractors across all state sectors / SOEs/ Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) etc?

    There is going to be a full scale attack on social welfare beneficiaries………..

    The answer?

    COUNTER-ATTACK – ‘corporate welfare’ beneficiaries!

    Also – company tax – tax evasion.

    ‘White collar’ crime.

    Fraud and corruption at the highest levels!

    …………………… that sort of thing…… :)

    Penny Bright
    http://waterpressure.wordpress.com

    • ianmac 14.1

      Totally agree Penny. Somewhere in Europe everyone has to declare their income online and the tax they pay so that evasion and avoidance can be seen.
      I have met successful farmers who boast about paying little or no income tax. And then moan about dole bludgers!

  15. richard bartlett 15

    Just in case anyone has heard anything like this proposed by the welfare (Orwell?) department……….http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/may/08/jobcentre-staff-guidelines-suicide-threats ?

  16. Treetop 16

    Recent study done in the USA is a parent is worth $77,700 PA. This figure includes doing 40 hours childcare a week, party planner, chauffeur and cook.

  17. Tombstone 17

    I agree with 100% with Penny Bright

  18. prism 18

    I’m not able to give a link but I heard a report about the USA and beneficiaries there who have maximum limits of time for receiving help from the government.. People who need help are foregoing it and struggling on in bad conditions as they don’t want to use up the safety net of some entitlement if they become incapacitated. So the stats may look good, showing a drop in welfare but the true welfare of people is declining. Stats like in their teeth, which are false!

    • Colonial Viper 18.1

      Unemployment compensation in the US is generally restricted to 26 weeks maximum. Its been extended a couple of times by the Federal Government due to the economic situation there.

      And you don’t get it if you have been fired from a job for cause. Please feel free to lose your home and have your kids starve.

  19. Galeandra 19

    Late in the day to comment, but I really do not understand why some people become so exercised by the thought of supplying people with benefits. In today’s world those who ‘choose’ to be on benefits are actually supporting those lucky enough to be in work; diminished standard of living, few prospects for improvemen in life, low public esteem and vilification from the right are a steep price to pay for what many regard as ‘freeloading’.
    This is an important issue- employment is a diminishing prospect for many of our commmunity in the future and probably forever , unless we create a paradigm shift by what would be in fact a social revolution(this would need to be many magnitudes greater than Key’s proposed ‘step-change’) , and yet there is no sense of any strategising around the issue at all.
    If you doubt this, think for a moment about the situation in the States: 98 MILLION people of working age are not shown in the approx 11% unemployment register because they have stopped looking for the non-existent jobs.
    There is a social tsunami bearing down on us, and the sort of dickering that we see around the idea of welfare and ‘beneficiaries’ from the right is an appalling sideshow. Normal expectations of ‘growth’ and ‘recovery’ in an over-populated resource-diminished and over-heating world just won’t cut it.

  20. Galeandra 20

    Apologies, the memory ain’t what it used to be. Here’s the actual number I read the other day on The Automatic Earth’s posting about US employment issues.
    “All in all, the total number of people in the working age population who are not in the labor force hit a new all time high of 86.248 million in April. “

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