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To the Back Teeth. And Beyond

Written By: - Date published: 9:44 am, August 17th, 2012 - 139 comments
Categories: accountability, benefits, david shearer, grant robertson, labour, Politics, welfare - Tags: , , , , ,

Pagani wrote it.

Robertson cleared it.

And Shearer uttered it.

To summarise; those living by sickness entitlements are probably dodgy b’stards. Nice.

Before I go on, I should be clear that this post isn’t some insightful fiction along the lines of this post by Imperator Fish – which is certainly worth a read by the way.

So…for the consideration of Messers Pagani, Robertson and Shearer.

My sickness entitlement is $240 per week. When medical costs, housing supplement and whatever are added and fixed costs removed, I have somewhere between $100 and $150 per week to live on. And that has to cover food, clothing, electricity, telephone and whatever else I might need money for.

And that’s not some short term thing until I’m ‘back on my feet’. There will be no ‘getting back on my feet’. One hundred odd dollars is it, both for now and for the foreseeable future. And no, I don’t qualify for invalids benefit, even although it’s not feasible for me to operate in a normal working environment.

So what do I do? I survive.

And at the moment I’m painting the entire inside of the house. Now, I know… I know… you disapprove. But bear with me. Paint’s expensive. Can either of you guess how the paint was obtained, hmm? Well, I’ll tell you. The paint came from people who gave it to me. That’s right. There are people who freely give to people in need. I guess that surprises or even shocks you all. What could this world be where people help one another out?

But anyway, it’s terrible, is it not? I mean, if you had happened to visit me of late, you’d have seen me climbing up and down ladders and variously sanding or painting. And you’d have fuelled an outcry that suggested to all and sundry that I was cheating the system and ‘living the life of Riley’. On between $100 – $150 per week. Oh. That’s not quite right though, is it? You wouldn’t have mentioned the economic realities. You’d all have been quite happy for people to assume I was somehow ‘raking it in’.

But Mr Pagani, Mr Robertson and Mr Shearer, it gets better. This physical activity isn’t an isolated occurrence.  If you had passed by at various points through the year you could have seen me on the roof repairing leaks or fixing guttering. Just think what a field day you could have had on those occasions!

Although, on the other hand, it’s also possible you could have popped by during one of the weeks on end where I have to awkwardly and in acute pain ‘slide’ off chairs and crawl across the carpet seeking something solid to grab hold of and climb to my feet by… weeks when I ‘simply’ drop to the floor as the only way to get out of bed in the morning. You get the picture? But even if you’d passed by on a good day (and let’s face it, most days are good), there’s a chance you’d have witnessed how I simply don’t garden on my feet. Now, would it have crossed your minds to wonder why? I mean, I’m not exactly old. But would you even have been curious? I doubt it.

Oh. Here’s a wee confession. Are you ready? I lied about the paint. Not all of it was given. I did buy one new tin of mis-tint and one new pail of ceiling paint. It cost me $140 all up. Can you figure out how I was able to afford $140 when my income, after fixed costs, doesn’t amount to that much? I’m guessing your first instinct is to conclude that I was ‘at it’ in some way or other…working ‘under the table’ or enjoying the fruits of some scam I’d perpetrated through the welfare system.

Well, sorry to disappoint the three of you, but it’s not like that. The $140 had to be saved. And that meant cutting back on the one piece of discretionary spending I have. I bought a lot less food. And so I ate a hell of a lot of stir fried cauliflower leafs that had remained behind from the harvested cauliflower heads…ones I’d had to take to crawling in order to plant, weed and generally tend. So there you go. That was the main ingredient for many of my main meals while I tried to put a sum of money aside – a sum I imagine all three of you have, without so much as a second thought spent on a single meal. Stir fried cauliflower leaves.

Oh. And rice. It’s called budgeting.

And if you’d popped in, I’d have found a way to feed you. I’m not a bad cook. And I’ve learned how to make a little go far. Now I don’t mind having to live frugally or by thrift. There’s nothing too much wrong with it, although I do worry about unforeseen expenses tumbling over the horizon.

Take a simple example like this computer I’m working from. It could pack up tomorrow. Then what? It’s not like it’s a work computer that my employer will replace. And WINZ won’t help, because unlike TV’s (that are good for social connectedness apparently!) computers are not considered necessary items. And since I’ve been living by my sickness entitlement for some time now, there are no savings….obviously. I mean, that is obvious to you, isn’t it? Of course it is! And you all understand that unlike many job situations, there are no ‘perks’ that might possibly be ‘worked’ to spin some coin. Of course you do! You understand all of that.

And yet…and yet you scraped your fingernails deep into the putrid dregs that settle beneath mis-informed human sentiment and, gathering up a  handful, gleefully threw it in the face of thousands of people who are too incapacitated to earn money within the structures of today’s job market.

Mr Pagani, Mr Robertson and Mr Shearer… I doubt you could plumb the depths of the disgust I and many others have for you these days. And although I don’t expect you to have the courage or decency to front up and explain yourselves or apologise, I still want you to. And beyond that I want all three of you completely gone from politics. See, I know there are people who enjoy indulging in a bit of discrimination. Some people are just like that.

But representatives or employees within the NZ Labour Party who use their position to promote discrimination are simply representing discrimination – not people. And as such, neither of the three of you – nor any cronies you may have who share your sentiments – should be speech writers, mentors to leaders, leaders or even just bog standard parliamentarians within the NZ Labour Party.  Do you not agree Messers Pagani, Robertson and Shearer? And if not, do you have anything to say for yourselves?

Anything?

Anything at all?

139 comments on “To the Back Teeth. And Beyond”

  1. Bored 2

    You have to love “experts”. You pay for them, they give you crap advice / output….and because you are too bloody thick to think for yourself you pay them for it.

    One idiot hoodwinks two fools into making bigger fools of themselves. This is Self Inflicted Wounds 101.

    Then we Standardistas point this out, lo and behold we are accused of a lack of understanding, too harsh etc. I say the kitchen is hot…….

  2. Craig Glen Eden 3

    Shearer does not represent me as a Labour Party member, his attach on sickness beneficiaries is sickening his performance as the Leader of the Party is a total embarrassment.

    • Akldnut 3.1

      Hear hear. +1
      He doesn’t represent any standard Labourite that I know, it’s almost like we’re being hijacked again by minions of Roger Douglas who are slowly but surely coming out of the shadows.

      After speaking to my friends and accomplices the general consensus is that we should be taking a large stride to the left and then to come out fighting instead of buying into the B/S they’re coming out with.

      It’s time for Shearer to step up to the mark and start swinging or step aside.

      • Colonial Viper 3.1.1

        It’s time for Shearer to step up to the mark and start swinging or step aside.

        Give Shearer more time and yet another over to get with the game plan, then?

      • Draco T Bastard 3.1.2

        It’s time for Shearer to step up to the mark and start swinging or step aside.

        Actually, that’s wrong. If Shearer wants to take the party to the right and is failing to listen to the party members then the correct action is for those members to leave. Any of these could be more to your liking

        Alliance
        Mana
        Greens

        • Akldnut 3.1.2.1

          Actually no – the correct and more ethical action is for Shearer to listen to the members of the party and represent their wishes or he should go a party more toward his liking/leaning, maybe
          National
          or United Future

          • Draco T Bastard 3.1.2.1.1

            Labour has been right wing for 30 years now. I think it’s fair to say that after that long it’s not coming back to the left.

            • Akldnut 3.1.2.1.1.1

              You’re probably correct but I feel that would definately change with the input of rank and file members voting in the selection process of our party leaders, without caucus having the only say.

    • Hami Shearlie 3.2

      Totally agree CGE!! I really can’t vote Labour again if Shearer is the Leader!! After his attack on a sickness beneficiary (we don’t actually know if the person was on a benefit, Foot-In-The-Mouth Dave obviously didn’t check) I would have to wonder just what sort of “values” this new and improved Labour Party really have? I have a horrible feeling I wouldn’t like what I saw!!

  3. Mary 4

    “Do you not agree Messers Pagani, Robertson and Shearer? And if not, do you have anything to say for yourselves? Anything? Anything at all?”

    They will have nothing to say, absolutely nothing at all, because they are gutless right-wing pandering frauds.

  4. vto 5

    Good on you Bill. Keep your head up and know that various out here are fighting in various ways to improve such situations.

    As for people who bag on the likes of you Bill, they just come across as ignorant as they are. They deserve nothing but contempt. I can’t believe Labour have gone down this track. Fools and shallow power-mongers.

  5. Carol 6

    Well said, Bill.

    I can partially empathise. In the first couple of months after my accident I was on ACC and not working. ACC wanted to get me back to work ASAP. Fortunately my managers could see I was not in my previous fit state and not ready to work.

    I managed to look after myself for most things: dressing, showering, shopping, cooking etc. But it took most of my day, and I did everything very slowly.

    I will not be voting for the Labour Party again until it regains its heart, and takes a position that is supportive of the least powerful in society, rather than pandering to the neoliberal elite, and their mouth-pieces and apologists in the MSM.

  6. Olwyn 7

    By posting your story here, you add evidence to a claim Bomber made a week or so ago:

    ” The Standard have hundreds of thousands of hits per month and have a far better idea of the pulse of the nation than the average back bench Labour MP. ”

    http://tumeke.blogspot.co.nz/2012/08/the-paganis-vs-standard-and-battle-for.html

    The Standard offers a genuine, wide-angle snap shot of the NZ left. From you, an intelligent man who must live on a sickness benefit, to rOb who won an educational award recently, to Carol, who does not use her doctoral title, to lprent, RedLogix and Bored who run businesses, we are all here. All with a wide variety of views on current debates, but all of the broad left. If they want to know who they are meant to be talking to, they would do well to drop in on The Standard once in while, rather than rely on their TVs, as they appear to do now. Even the NZ middle class is does not in reality replicate the family in the Countdown ad.

  7. r0b 8

    Thank you Bill for reminding me why we’re here.

  8. tc 9

    Long live the Standard, a welcome oasis of free thinking amongst the dross dished out by our MSM passed off as ‘informed’.

    Seems to me to be run by people who are rightly concerned for their fellow humans and are standing tall against the ‘divide and rule/ neo-liberalism’ corrupt NACT regime which abuses its powers, rewrites the rules, bails out/subsidises it’s morally defunct corporate backers and appears intent on inciting class warfare between the top 1/4 and the rest of NZ society.

    This is clear evidence that under Shearer, Labour is hollowing out it’s brand/ethos/history, I’m appalled by it. It’s almost as if they’re out to deliberately destroy it’s hardcore left leaving them to play patsy with the middle.

    Thanks bill, maintain the controlled rage. We all need to focus it against enemies of a fair society which is starting to look like Shearer and his mallarfia now.

  9. gobsmacked 10

    Great post, Bill.

    Here’s an extra two cents for Labour’s leaders …

    We don’t want to know how much you enjoyed watching the Olympics. Because we can’t afford Sky.

    We don’t want to hear how often you went to the rugby in the corporate box. Because we’ve never been near it.

    We don’t want to know you flogged your tickets for a profit on TradeMe. Because we couldn’t get any.

    We don’t want to hear about your credit card dinners and drinks. That’s the cost of a week’s groceries, right there, spent by you, paid by us.

    We don’t want to hear that you lining your pockets on perks was “within the rules”. We have to operate “within the rules” too: and guess what, we can’t just say sorry, “pay it back” and “move on”.

    Some of you used to understand, some of you probably never did. Please try to.

  10. Jackal 11

    And if you’d popped in, I’d have found a way to feed you. I’m not a bad cook. And I’ve learned how to make a little go far. Now I don’t mind having to live frugally or by thrift. There’s nothing too much wrong with it, although I do worry about unforeseen expenses tumbling over the horizon.

    Isn’t that the crux of it… While consecutive governments have professed the need for welfare cuts to balance the budget, non of them understand the effect of their policies. They have absolutely no idea about truly budgeting to a fixed income.

    • Mary 11.1

      Benefit levels haven’t increased in real terms since they were cut 21 years ago and Key et al are still saying it’s okay to keep cutting them because “poverty’s caused by the bad choices beneficiaries make” – the same line Shipley and Richardson used to justify the cuts all those years ago. Interesting too that Labour not only promised initially to restore the pre-1991 levels before reneging almost straight away, but then adopted the Nats’ agenda of “welfare reform” as its own from 1999. Truly disgusting.

  11. just saying 12

    Thank you Bill.

    I admire your courage and am well aware that you’ve exposed yourself at considerable personal risk. With eloquence and dignity.

    I’ve been mucking around with various approroaches regarding this and a few other closely-related issues, over the last few days. Starting out, bumbling, petering-out.

    It kind of boils down to this. My income is just on the official poverty-line. Only people like Bill know that around $500 gross a week is riches beyond imagining. I’m grateful every fucking day. I’m not on a benefit, but for a variety of reasons that are none of anyone’s business, there is a strong likelihood that I will be and if/when I am, it’s highly unlikely my labour will ever be saleable again. I’m quite a long way from retirement and don’t expect it to be there in anything like its current form when I get there.

    Josie, John, Davids, Trevor, I can’t be bothered going through the list, I don’t cry easily. You’ll have to take my word for that. But this has made me cry and I know I’m not the only one.

    Please don’t continue to insult me with your disingenuous crap about “we never said all sickness beneficiaries are bludgers”. You set the dogs onto people like me deliberately, each one of you, for personal gain, and Paula Bennett is better than every one of you because when she does the same, because she only goes through the motions of pretending she hasn’t. It’s not like she expects anyone to believe her.

  12. Colonial Viper 13

    Bill, I’m feeling you man. Much respect on all counts. And I’ve wished for some time that there was a way to crowd source funding for authors of great articles on The Standard. That would be a bloody great facility to have.

    And for the remnants of the Colonial Fleet out there…all I’ve got to say is check out the last season episode ‘Blood on the Scales’.

  13. Stephen 14

    Respect. It’s sad that this needed to be written.

    When I heard the roof painter story, I immediately thought of a friend on the sickness benefit, who manages a little part time work, has a chronic condition, and lives in fear of unexpected bills and doctors visits. If she didn’t wasn’t able to split costs by living with her elderly mother she’d be as badly off as Bill. She has a legitimate and serious illness, and yet if you met her on a good day, you might wonder why she couldn’t work a full time job.

    The injustice and insensitivity of the roof painter story aside, I can’t believe that it wasn’t obvious that *real people* would come forward to show how unfair it was. Who are the strategic geniuses who didn’t realise what a political own goal this is?

    • xtasy 14.1

      Stephen –

      It sounds like your friend should be on the invalid’s benefit, as that is the benefit for long term or seriously ill and/or disabled (condition and impairment lasting 2 or more years, and severely unable to work as not able to do so for 15 hours or more a week).

      I know that WINZ does all to stop people getting invalid’s benefits, even when they clearly should qualify, and there are many sickness beneficiaries with clearly permanent, severly impacting conditions, who are NOT getting the benefit they should be entitled to. Sickness benefit is only meant to be a “temporary” benefit for those not able to work 30 or more hours, due to health issues.

      She may need to get a good doctor to certify her condition and should take a firm stand with WINZ. But then she may be faced with a “designated doctor” and unfavourable assessment, as that happens again and again, as those WINZ doctors are trained by their own health advisors to do their jobs.

  14. weka 15

    I also have much respect, and think this was a brave post to write. Kia kaha Bill, and stay off painting the roof eh?!

  15. DH 16

    Good post Bill. I was on & off a sickness benefit myself for a couple of years. I worked as much as I could & managed to get off it completely on occasion but only kicked it when the treatment was finally approved by Pharmac. I came out of it with a $500 car & not a cent to my name otherwise.

    People need to understand that when you’re sick you have very low reserves of energy. Sure you might be able to paint the roof, and that knackers you totally for the next few weeks while the reserves build back up. But the house isn’t going to paint itself so you do what you have to do. I used to bog my car up & paint the patches before taking it for a warrant, they’d have failed it for rust otherwise.

    Yeah there’s some who scam the system and I have no idea what kind of percentages are fakes but I doubt it’s that many. It’s not the kind of life I’d ever lead voluntarily.

  16. Tracey 17

    I once tried to get a sickness benefit. BUT I had earned “too much” the year before and so had a stand down period of 10 weeks. Accordingly I went back to work, because I had amortgage to pay etc. Within 3 weeks I collapsed. I never got the benefit, and for a reason I won’t go into, the intervention of the then Leader of the Opposition (my local MP Ms Clark) was able to intervene in another travesty by ACC about to be committed.

    Acc made the none too subtle suggestion that somehow I was shamming. As I pointed out to them there seemed little point in giving up a $52,000 ps job (1993) for $110 per week.

    Kudos to you Bill, but sadly your story will be lost because it’s not “you” they are talking about. They believe “YOU” deserve the benefit. YOU are who it was intended for, they are talking about the oft mythical rorter of the system. See 2007 data from investigation into benefit fraud.

    “And yet…and yet you scraped your fingernails deep into the putrid dregs that settle beneath mis-informed human sentiment and, gathering up a handful, gleefully threw it in the face of thousands of people who are too incapacitated to earn money within the structures of today’s job market.

    BRAVO Sir, dignity is golden, which is why few politicians are seen favourably

    • weka 17.1

      Actually they are talking about Bill, although they may not realise it. Once you legitimise medical diagnosis from across the street, it endorses every bigot who will read Bill’s story and go ‘oh but he could be working part time, blah, blah’. And that bigot will be ignorant of the real life, structural blocks to sickness beneficiaries becoming well enough to work and/or contribute to society again, as well as the issues that prevent people from being in employment when they are disabled.
       
      Shearer wasn’t talking about someone who made up an illness, managed to dupe their GP, and then the WINZ case officer. I’m fairly sure he was talking about someone already on SB, who had supposedly improved enough to paint their roof and therefore should now be working full time or at lease be on the dole instead of SB. Shearer was able to deduce all the things that Bill talks about and judge them irrelevant, simply by observing him from across the street. But he was talking about Bill, and every other medical beneficiary who’s not catatonic or paralysed from the neck down. That’s the point, and why Shearer has done so much damage.

      • Draco T Bastard 17.1.1

        +1

        And it wasn’t even Shearer that did the diagnosis – it was the ignorant person he was speaking to.

  17. just saying 18

    Is anyone in a position to link to Bill’s post on Red Alert? I don’t trust them with my information, but I think some of you are already signed-up

    I know they’ll find a way to block it, but that’s kind of the point. In the long run they can’t keep blocking us out if we stand together.

    • dancerwaitakere 18.1

      I will happily do it?

      • just saying 18.1.1

        In the bullying and abuse of power thread would be good. They can’t accuse us of being off-topic.

      • DH 18.1.2

        No point. They’ll see it as…..

        “…. once again delivering the irony in thick “embittered and angry” measure. Recent posts by Mike Smith, Jimmy Reid and Jenny Michie have been raising the level of introspection on this site from the vituperative to the truly reflective and even constructive. It’d be great if you could join them.”

        We’re only allowed to write positive things about the Labour party here. Newspeak only.

        • just saying 18.1.2.1

          You do realise that there are situations where anger with or without side orders of bitterness or irony or any other garnish, is the only appropriate thing and it needs to be heard, don’t you?

          • Colonial Viper 18.1.2.1.1

            Yeah DH was just quoting some Party Stalwart who was commenting last night

            • DH 18.1.2.1.1.1

              They must hate the Standard. It’s become too popular for them to ignore but the children are misbehaving and they can’t get the class back in order.

      • David H 18.1.3

        Me too how many times can they block it???? Bill if your computer packs up Get Lyn to give you my E-mail address and I’ll see what I can do to get you fixed, I am a parts pack rat.

    • Tracey 18.2

      Didn’t do a link but did make a post. I stopped going there a few months ago. In truth I think Labour is struggling because the only way it can see to beat National is to do what National did to them, become them in a different guise. That depends on voter fatigue and media boredom with a long term government. Thank god for the greens continuing to challenge.

  18. Tracey 19

    welfare fraud

    “2. People on welfare commit a lot of benefit fraud, at the expense of hard-working people

    The evidence for the existence of widespread benefit fraud is paltry to non-existent – despite the fact that a special fraud intelligence unit was set up in the Social Welfare department in 2007 to detect it. Last year, the department checked 29 million records, and found the benefit fraud rate (as a proportion of the total benefits paid) was a miniscule 0.10 per cent. A declining number of prosecutions – from 937 in 2009 to 789 last year – resulted.

    Of the $16 million in benefit fraud detected last year, a proportion was carried out by social welfare staff – ten of whom were sacked last year for ripping off the system – and not by beneficiaries themselves. While any level of benefit fraud is unacceptable, the $16 million a year currently being incurred is hardly an intolerable burden. Currently, New Zealanders spend $16,1 million a day on impulse purchases.

    Moreover, other forms of unacceptable behaviour leave benefit fraud far behind in the dust without attracting the same negative stereotypes. The major foreign owned banks for instance finally agreed in late 2009 – and only after being pursued at great expense through the courts by the IRD – to cough up $2.2 billion of what they owed in unpaid taxes. Meaning : the settlement figure this case alone was about 140 times greater than the total amount lost in benefit fraud last year.. ”

    http://werewolf.co.nz/2011/02/ten-myths-about-welfare/

    THIS is what pagani, robertson and shearer should have done, put the facts succinctly to the people. Most would go “hell, I thought it would be MUCH higher than that”…

  19. captain hook 20

    democracy in action.
    I love it!

  20. Rusty Hellback 21

    I feel ya Bill…

  21. belladonna 22

    Well said Bill. I am disabled, have my good days though so can relate to your situatiion. I still remember some years ago being shouted out by a person who was at that time working for the Labour Party, to find some work. I still feel bitter about this verbal attack.
    This person was being paid a substantial amount of money by the Labour Party to do a degree.
    I still leaflet drop for Labour, often in considerable pain and wonder why on earth I bother.
    I still hope for something better from Labour but they had better hurry up as I am tired of waiting.
    Bill, are you not entitled to an Invalid Benefit, that would give you a little more money than a sickness benefit. Is there a Beneficiaries Advisory office near you? Would be worth getting in touch with them. If you are not able to physically get there am sure they would respond to an email.
    Best of luck.

  22. lprent 23

    Bill: if you ever do need computer hardware then just give me a yell. I swear that I have been breeding the damn things. There were a number of stripped carcasses that just went to recycling as part of the clean out prior to the move this weekend. I usually have enough parts around to assemble a good box at will. You might have to learn to put up with ubuntu as an OS…

    I do have a completely selfish motive of course – we always need posts like this one. It can go to the top of the site for the rest of the day.

    • weka 23.1

      Nice one. Not sure about the paper bag – is there a symbolism I am missing?

      • Bill 23.1.1

        It’s a sick bag, weka.

        • xtasy 23.1.1.1

          I have a large box full of sick bags at home. Whenever I see Bennett on television, I have to rush and get yet another one out, so it gets filled swiftly and needs to be disposed of. It really creates additional, unpleasant “work” for me, which I could do without.

          One simple step would adress this issue: Key should sack Bennett, getting her off the television and out of the news, hopefully forcing her to spend time with her new hubby and perhaps open a take-away in Taupo. Much of NZ would breathe a sigh of relief.

      • r0b 23.1.2

        It’s a sick bag. Works at many levels.

        Edit: Bill beat me to it!

  23. Kotahi Tāne Huna 24

    It’s shameful that the Labour Party routinely acquiesces to any right wing narrative, let alone this one. Well said Bill.

  24. Descendant Of Smith 25

    And you speak Bill for the vast majority of those on benefit. The vast majority who are everyday New Zealanders, who are there through no fault of their own and who but through mere happenstance go I or anyone of us.

    Life is hard enough on a benefit without public castigation by anecdote.

    • Colonial Viper 25.1

      Life is hard enough on a benefit without public castigation by anecdote.

      Or by the political party which was founded to give a voice to the working poor, those struggling against poverty and the under-privileged of this parasitic capitalist political economy.

  25. Jenny Michie 27

    Thank you Bill. You write your truth with dignity and you have commanded the respect of everyone here. Kia kaha.

  26. js 28

    Grant Robertson and his staff help people get on benefits, get their full entitlements, find housing, battle the system etc,every day. His electorate office is just near the local work and income office and there is a regular stream between the two.

    I think you are being very unfair in your unfounded accusations about him

    • gobsmacked 28.1

      @JS

      Grant is the deputy leader. This week (Tuesday) the leader was asked by reporters if he (Shearer) stood by his comments. He said he did.

      We have no idea what Robertson has said to his leader privately, but we do know what Shearer has said publicly, and if he keeps saying it, he will continue to be strongly criticised, and rightly so.

      The deputy leader will then have to decide where he stands.

      • Stephen 28.1.1

        It’s hard for an MP to both avoid charges of disloyalty (viz the Garner leakage) AND publically repudiate statements from the leader. Something has to give there. I’m happy for Grant to stand by Shearer as long as other things happen fairly swiftly that make it clear that this is a bungle that won’t be repeated and not a new strategy for the long term.

        • gobsmacked 28.1.1.1

          Yes Stephen, I hope this will be like Phil Goff’s “Nationhood” speech, early in his tenure. Delivered, then slammed, never repeated, now forgotten.

          The speech was, incidentally, to Grey Power. And written by John Pagani.

      • Colonial Viper 28.1.2

        Grant is the deputy leader. This week (Tuesday) the leader was asked by reporters if he (Shearer) stood by his comments. He said he did.

        “Let’s make no mistake here. Both Labour and our Leader stands 100% behind the values and principles of the New Zealand’s social welfare system. No one disagrees that people should never receive a benefit illegitimately. And such cases are the exception, not the rule. The bottom line is that Labour will always advocate for the wellbeing of those, who due to unfortunate injury or severe illness, find themselves unable to work.”*

        *Response delivered in a parallel fantasy universe.

    • weka 28.2

      All any Labour MP has to do this week is stand up and say something supportive and appropriate about medical beneficiaries that helps change NZ from bene bashing to compassion. If they don’t, then they support Shearer’s story and the Labour strategy of making ill beneficiaries the scapegoat.

    • Tracey 28.3

      Then urge Mr Robertson to take a deep breath, puff out his chest and speak truth to power… IF he disagrees with the tactic of his leader

    • xtasy 28.4

      Maybe you are describing the true Grant Robertson, but that makes it even worse! If he hides his true sympathy and offers help for people with getting WINZ entitlements (what WINZ itself with their insincere propaganda usually tell people – “to ensure people get their true entitlements”), then he has an agenda.

      It seems the speech was written for the Grey Power audience in a rather conservative rural environment, where news about Labour MPs assisting beneficiaries may not go down well.

      So that makes Labour leaders somewhat insincere and playing double standards, does it not?

    • Bill 28.5

      I haven’t made any ‘unfounded accuations’ against Grant Robertson. He was given the role of mentoring David Shearer. That means he knew the contents of that speech.

      .

      • js 28.5.1

        You have no evidence that Grant knew the content of the speech. They are busy people, they don’t have time to practice their speeches on each other. The Grant I know would be horrified by any benefit bashing. He has just had to help dozens of his low income constituents find emergency accomodation after their apartment block was declared unsafe. He would help you too, even after such cruel insinuations.

        • xtasy 28.5.1.1

          Take your point. So maybe he should stand up and distance himself from that nasty part of Shearer’s speech in Nelson?!

          • hush mix 28.5.1.1.1

            I can understand how your knowledge of Grant would lead to you to the conclusion that he knew nothing of this speech. However the unfortunate truth is that these ‘significant’ speeches are discussed in house for weeks before the event itself. It will involve the spokesperson, leadership team and key strategists. So I think we are on strong ground to assume that he knew. And if he did not, then we would welcome his clarification.

    • Colonial Viper 28.6

      So maybe after having done all that great work for people struggling to get their full entitlements, Labour shouldn’t have put an anecdote bagging a sickness beneficiary at the top of a speech to Grey Power. Because Labour should have known better.

      And then when it was brought to its attention, maybe Labour shouldn’t have confirmed that it was just fine with said anecdote.

      In addition, such anecdotes are put at the top of speeches by MP’s staff because it guarantees that not only will the audience still be fully attentive, but when the speech is issued in a press release it also guarantees that journalists and the media will immediately pick up on it as well.

      So all in all, a very deliberate and purposeful message put out there by Labour, and which Labour stood by when questioned.

  27. captain hook 29

    well he must be shizophrenic then if he does all that out one side of his mouth but then joins in the chorus to lynch the innocents.

  28. Kim 30

    Well said Bill, like you – if this computer packs up tomorrow, it’s the end of my visual communication for time being. I depend on NZ Sign Language and I use the NZ Relay Service via the internet to communicate in NZSL. I find writing a real struggle, sometimes it takes a bit longer for me to type out something.

    Shearer has shown Labour’s true colour’s – his speech is an attack on the Disability sector. He’s picking on the weakest members of society who struggle to defend themselves on a daily basis. What Shearer has done is also happening in the UK and inciting Disability hatred.

    Why do people blame the disability sector for NZ’s problems? The very same people doing this are the ones who create laws with a double jeopardy situation. On one hand they make laws and policies that prevent people with disabilities from working in and on the other hand giving power to Employers to systematically discriminate against disabled applicants/employees. NZ has a poor history of supporting the disability sector – a really poor history. NZ tends to promote itself as a country with has equal rights when it hasn’t really got any.

    My challenge to those who make these laws – What can we ‘ALL’ do better to improve this situation to ensure that people with some forms of disabilities on the sickness or invalids benefit can really contribute towards NZ’s upkeep? What laws/policies can we get rid off that are causing these barriers? i.e. Police, Military, Labour Department.

  29. xtasy 31

    Good post!

    The Sickness Benefit is a benefit paid for those who can temporarily not work full-time, which most people do NOT know. So people suffering a sickness, and in some cases also women having painful pregnancies or health issue after giving birth, plus a few other cases also usually qualify.

    It is NOT supposed to be a LONG TERM benefit, as sickness beneficiaries are usually expected to return to work full or at least part time in OPEN (paid) employment. That means work in a job on the “market”!

    So it is nothing bizarre at all about a sickness beneficiary painting their home, doing some limited work, which can of course include painting a roof.

    As the benefit is the same as the unemployment, it is very hard to manage on it, and I know many who need extra help with food from food-banks and the likes.

    What is actually is appalling, MSD and WINZ are now following such harch lines, that they are doing all to stop people from getting the invalid’s benefit, even when they clearly qualify. They resort to second opinions given by “designated doctors” that WINZ use, who get “trained” (since 2008) and to some degree inevitably also influenced to make biased decisions that help WINZ save money.

    There alre also sickness beneficiaries who have been on that benefit for years! They clearly suffer from permanent health issues, and if they also cannot work 15 hours or more, they should really be transfered onto the invalid’s benefit. That is not happening though, and this government is doing all to force sick and disabled to get work-tested and pressured to do at least some work.

    It will get even worse with the next phase of benefit reforms that have been planned by Bennett and her Nat mates, and it is according to info on the National Party website intended to be published and presented as a bill this month. So watch this space!

    It is disgusting that Shearer incorporated bene bashing in even the beginning of his speech, and he is – like this government – misleading the public about the realities beneficiaries are confronted with.

    And in the end: Where are the jobs and where are the “socially minded” employers willing to offer reasonably payed, fair employment for sickness beneficiaries?

    • Kotahi Tāne Huna 31.1

      Where is the Medical Council? Why are these quacks (and the ones who break their oath for ACC) not being struck off?

      • xtasy 31.1.1

        Well, that is what I am wondering, but having read some recent and not so recent articles in media, and also statements and so forth on their website, they appear to be supportive of what this government is doing. It is all “dressed up” to sound like, we are interested in “assisting” patients to realise their potentials and get well with available treatments, so they can return to work.

        Their members are walking on a tight rope, really, but the reality is also, that not that many doctors are keen to serve as “designated doctors”, knowing it can create conflicts of interests and also other issues for the (Code of Ethics and so forth).

        Hence WINZ have some GPs processing huge numbers of reviews, reconsiderations and assessments for them, examining clients and feed WINZ with decisions, that in at least some cases are very flawed.

        The scandal is: Once WINZ get the designated doctor report, they instantly ignore the usual GP’s or other practitioner’s reports and assessments and rely solely on the one by the “designated doctor”. Naturally differing assessments and decisions also lead to “issues” between the doctors involved.

        Most doctors tend to be “conservative” kind of folk, so I suspect that a large number of them prefer to vote National also (being often “business operators” in the form of limited company directors).

        Have you ever tried to make a complaint about a doctor or health professional? It is not easy as they swiftly get their lawyers into gear and also use every possible excuse they can find.

        • weka 31.1.1.1

          My suggestion to anyone going to a designated doctor is they take an advocate with them, or at least a support person. It’s best if the person has some skills around entitlements, the health issues, taking notes etc, but in the absences of that, take anyone. Nothing like having a witness in the room to change the dynamics.

          • xtasy 31.1.1.1.1

            weka: Absolutely spot on good advice. I have been giving it to others also! ALWAYS take along a support person, which any affected client and patient is entitled to. Ideally tell the doctor beforehand, and maybe even ask if you can “tape” the conversation!

            I went along with a mate, and it went well, but we sensed the GP was somewhat “surprised” a support person came along, and he asked more cautious questions than I have heard other designated doctors make – where there was no witness present.

          • Draco T Bastard 31.1.1.1.2

            Sounds like everything should be recorded as well.

  30. Thank you for your post bill,it does enlighten the phlight that people go through when
    faced with not being able to work for one reason or another.
    Due to health reasons i also had to give up work,i am approaching sixty,being on a
    benefit is tough going,while i am grateful for its existance, i get rather ruffled when
    those who historically used to stand up for those who are in unions,workers,beneficiares
    etc and now this group of people seem to have no support politically.
    I come from a long line of staunch labour families,with a brother being a union
    organiser,a dad who laid down the paper to tick off all the seats labour won on
    eleciton night,those were the days when labour was true to its founding fathers,
    largely these founding ideologies has been lost with consecutive individuals finding
    their own stamp on what labour should stand for.
    At a time when there is such objection to the 1% elite you would think that the
    current administration could capatilize on that fact,but no,the modes operandi
    is to attack the founding base.

  31. Bill 33

    Thankyou everyone for the overwhelmingly positive feedback and sentiments.

    But you know, having obviously struck a chord, (funny how the simple truth can do that) I just don’t know what to say about those associated with Labour’s stance who have chosen silence as a tactic to defend the indefensible. I guess they must be too busy ‘getting out there’ and connecting with real people and their real concerns. Or something.

  32. muzza 34

    The attack on the vulnerable also extends to those who are “mentally ill”, and also on the sickness benefit.

    Seeing someone close to you, struggle with disability/illness, is one thing, and living with it in most cases, if not all, even worse.

    Bill, this issue is one which needs to be kept firmly in the conscious by as many on here, and wider as possible.

    While there are multiple issues which are equally as important to stand up for, defending the most vulnerable in society must become everyones responsibility, and helping protect them from predatory attacks, our god damn duty.

    I’ve not known what to make of the comments Shearer made, because for me, it was to be expected, as it is clear that those directing the LP, have been corrupted, they are effectively NACT in red, this has been obvious for some time.

    So thank you for writing this Bill, and for being a public voice for the many who don’t have one!

  33. just saying 35

    Rob Salmond has a blog up on Pundit. Reckons we’re overreacting.

    [lprent: link. I left a rather sarcastic comment myself. ]

    • Bill 35.1

      That actually reads to me as somebody in a bit of a panic mode. I’ve no idea where Salmond sits in the scheme of things, could hazard a guess, but I’m not really interested. His comments are basically “Did you hear that anecdote? Yup. Nothing to it. But if we look over here. Then gee, wow, isn’t this fascinating?”

      I guess he has his reasoning.

      • hush mix 35.1.1

        Well his opinion does matter (unfortunately). He’s due back in a few months to join Grant and David S as Head of Strategy (or something similarly worrying).

    • Carol 35.2

      1 sparrow, but not yet summer.

      And then there’s this:

      http://www.norightturn.blogspot.co.nz/2012/08/labour-betrays-kiwi-kids.html

      Now, less than a year later, a Green bill to implement that promise has been drawn from the ballot. And Labour is saying they will only back it to first reading, and (implicitly) that they intend to abandon the policy they ran on last election.

      This is why you can’t trust Labour. They’ve got no backbone – and no consistency. Today’s promises will be forgotten tomorrow. Principles-driven, evidence-based policy? You won’t get that from them, unless the “principle” is keeping the apparat in perks.

      • Draco T Bastard 35.2.1

        Shearer #2 just turned up in the email. I’ve already deleted in disgust but he did mention the Green’s bill but not in support. He said some waffly things about being concerned for children and that Labour were looking for answers.

    • Colonial Viper 35.3

      Nice shot lprent

  34. Kia ora for telling your story Bill.

  35. Rusty Hellback 37

    There’s intellectually challenged people living in the community who live in their own flats and require round the clock care.

    By some estimations that would come close to about 250k of care a year inclusive of rent, food, power, transportation etc and 3 fulltime round the clock caregivers wages.

    What’s y’all’s position on that ? What’s Labour’s ? What’s National’s, NZ First…anybody???

    …apologies if i’m inappropriately playing Jack the thread ripper. Mayhaps this post should go into Open Mike ???

  36. Gosman 38

    An apology would be good wouldn’t it.

  37. Tom 39

    A powerful piece of writing, Bill.

    The opening lines remind me of Manhattan Transfer’s “Birdland” on Extensions (1975), with lyrics by Joe Zawinful and Jon Hendricks

    “Bird named it,

    Bird made it,

    Bird heard it,

    then played it ..”

    http://www.lyricsfreak.com/m/manhattan+transfer/birdland_20087424.html

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Manhattan_Transfer

    You haven’t been listening to it recently, have you ?

  38. Michael 40

    I’ve got news for you. The government believes you can do a full week’s work, no matter what’s wrong with you, and they will prove it, too, by making you undergo assessment by an ACC-doctor, who will get paid $$$ for telling WINZ that you’re a bludger. Watch for the next amendment to the Social Security Act, due to be tabled in Parliament within the next few weeks. It’s all based on the UK disability assessment regime, where private companies get paid millions of pounds for getting sick and disabled people off the state’s books. In the UK, about half the people who appeal their shaftings get the decision overturned. In NZ, it’s about 5% (depending on the precise form the shafting takes). Guess what? This process was started in the UK by “New Labour” and in NZ by “Labour” (with the Social Security (Future Focus) Amendment Bill 2007), so there’s bugger all chance an incoming “Labour” government in this country will do anything to change the shafting regime. “Arbeit macht frei” indeed.

    • xtasy 40.1

      Yes, Michael, that is why Labour is so quiet about many welfare issues, except when trying to score the odd point during question time in Parliament.

      It was the last Labour led government that brought in the newly created positions of Principal Health Advisor, Principal Disability Advisor, Regional Health Advisors, Regional Disability Advisiors and Health and Disability Coordinators, who have since 2007 served as “advisory” staff on health matters to offer advice to case managers and other involved WiNZ staff.

      Also did the Principal Health Advisor Dr David Bratt (a Wellington GP who also worked for the Kapiti and Coast DHB and has a staunch “work ability” focus) initiate and start the “designated doctor” “training” of the doctors they use for second opinions and further assessments of sickness and invalid’s benefits. That “training” is kept very secret now and no substantial info about contents is made available.

      I get more and more info proving that they have “influenced” doctors to make the decisions that WiNZ favours or “expects”.

      Labour started all this under their watch, and National was delighted to use these instruments to push for having their types of reforms “work” to their own benefit, which is simply and only: SAVING COSTS no matter what!

    • hmmm 40.2

      I agree with your comment. Labour parties all around the world have lost their way on this kind of thing and NZ is sadly no exception. HOWEVER I have also been to Dachau, and that is not what this is, not in any way. Those kind of comparisons do no one any favours except people who disagree with you.

  39. Rosie 41

    All power and respect to you Bill for posting your story, being open about the reality of your life, and for living with illness in way that seems to me, courageous. Your one story can illustrate to all those who speak with such ignorance about those coping with permanent illness and/or disability who have to survive, not thrive, but just barely survive on a benefit. Your story is worth more than all the 100’s of arguments or opinions anyone outside of your own experiece can ever put forward and I absolutely hope that it gets heard beyond The Standard.

    I also acknowledge those who have spoken about their own personal circumstances and experiences. I feel a bit pathetic thinking of the moments of frustration and despair I’ve had dealing with my illness and financial situation on hearing of others situations, inlcuding yours Bill. I have a chronic immune disorder as well as flare ups from old injuries. This prevents me from working full time but I can’t even get a part time job. I haven’t worked for 14 months but am fortunate enough to have a full time working partner. Because I look regular I get judged alot from many quarters. Folks just have noooo idea. Its through that judgment that I can glimpse what it may be like for those living with serious illness and disability who have to cope with the judgments and opinions of the ignorant population and of those who are meant to be assisting and supporting.

    I’ve always been a Labour voter and once MMP came in, voted Green as well. Like some other people on this site, I want to have faith in Labour and I want my vote for them to be meaningful but unless there is radical change within that party and a return to their roots, and to the people, I’ve been thinking, with a little bit of sadness that I’ll give up on them altogether. Like a lot of people I was shocked to hear of Shearer “having a go” and targeting a sickness beneficary. That was a low blow which made me question whether I can really support a party that behaves just like its so called opposite. Bill, mate, your story has totally made up my mind. I wish you well and hope that what you need comes your way. Thanks once again for sharing. It was good that you did.

    • LynW 41.1

      +100 I hear you Bill and Rosie,
      I JUST WISH THE ‘POWERS THAT BE’ IN THE LABOUR PARTY DID TOO!

  40. QoT 42

    Thanks for your post, Bill.

  41. rosy 43

    Thanks for you post, Bill. Your personal story speaks for a lot of is in all sorts of different ways. And, just by the way, this is a brilliant bit of phrasing

    And yet…and yet you scraped your fingernails deep into the putrid dregs that settle beneath mis-informed human sentiment and, gathering up a handful, gleefully threw it in the face of thousands of people who are too incapacitated to earn money within the structures of today’s job market.

    • Anne 43.1

      Your personal story speaks for a lot of us in all sorts of different ways.

      So true rosy, so very true. I suspect if all our ‘experiences’ were put together it would make a very, powerful story indeed. In the meantime… all hail to Bill for his courage, tenacity and intelligence.

    • R 43.2

      +1, totally agree. Thank you Bill.

  42. kousei 44

    Thanks Bill for your post. The tarring and feathering of beneficiaries has to stop. I suspect the overwelming majority of people who rely upon government assistance are people who have problems and are suffering. The idea that it is a lifestyle choice or some sort of free ride is simply an outrageous lie. As someone who had to walk into a WINZ office to ask for help, I can say that it was not easy, not because of the hours and hours of paperwork and personal financial health questions, documentation etc but just because I felt so guilty and ashamed that I was unable to support myself and my family. Circumstances with my health had driven me to a point of despair and I didn’t care if I lived or died at the time. My life became a reoccuring nightmare of drug prescriptions, doctors visits, acc letters rejecting claims, constant pain, sleepless nights, and endless anxiety about mounting unpaid bills. Every time I needed to see a medical person for treatment or advice, they always had their hand out and it felt like they were just profiting from my suffering. In the end even the thought of talking to any health professional made me feel physically sick, not surprising considering the stuff they prescribed me. Although I had surgery for the problem and suffered reoccuring problems I continually returned to work on specialist medical advice and because of economic necessity until I suffered an absolute physical and mental collapse. Continual shaking, uncontrollable tears and complete lack of interest in anything. Nearly every health professional and various other people I knew seemed obsessed with me working and little else. I felt like they veiwed me as some sort of malingarer. Even with the obvious signs of muscle athrophy and spasms, the measurable loss of reflex and sensation, I had little empathy. Thankfully my wife can now support us but its a long way back. Acc and Winz are swear words in this house. Unfortunately my biggest problems coincided with National govt coming in. Appears Labour no different eh?

  43. Andrea 45

    FWIW – the shenanigans with designated doctors started months before the public announcements of ‘welfare reform’. It was going well in 2009, for sure.

    If Key picked up the ATOS pox while delivering cheese to the Queen then the present misery will multiply massively.

    We don’t have the same trouble with tabloids here as they do in the UK but the kind of bene bashing described in this link is definitely familiar to us here.

    http://www.inclusionlondon.co.uk/…/media/…/bad_news_for_disabled_peo...

    As Bill has clearly shown, there’s a heap of work around that those of us who are chronically disabled can and do achieve – just not ‘paid employment’. That we do the work under physical and mental conditions that most people would think of as a ‘bad day’ gives the lie to the ‘lazy scroungers’ tag.

    I’d love to know exactly how many long term beneficiaries of any kind have big screen TVs, Sky, fags unlimited and a personal brewery out the back that they bought while actually on a benefit. The number is probably as vanishingly small as the number of people fiddling the system.

    Every, every opinion piece on welfare, poverty, hungry kids and underpaid has several miserable, bitter people spouting this nonsense of luxurious living. (Clearly from low aspiration people…) Perhaps a persisting campaign to put the realities on the table?

    PS – does anyone know if the pitiful amount you can earn before being punished by benefit reduction has finally raised itself from $80ebit? It’s been that size since the 1990s or before – untouched by the compassionate little hearts of Labour. And, with the adult minimum inching up – fewer hours needed. Who’s going to hire – with all the hassle involved – for a miserable six hours or fewer a week? Working for simply the go to work costs. Madness.

    • starlight 45.1

      Also it should be known that the nact have put into their welfare policy that
      20hrs are now considered full time,so if you work 20hrs and get a top up
      that will be gone.
      Nacts wanted a low wage economy and it looks like they are going to get it.

  44. NZ Groover 46

    Maybe you could get a job as a painter Bill. Or if you are motivated enough, maybe you could start your own painting/decorating company. I’ve did something similar nearly 2 years ago and it improved my income no end and gives me a sense of pride in what I’ve achieved.

    • Colonial Viper 46.1

      Your cruelty knows no bounds.

      • NZ Groover 46.1.1

        I don’t know what Bill’s disability is but I’m serious. Bill can paint. Is there an opportunity to help himself by getting involved in this as a career.

        • QoT 46.1.1.1

          Wow, thank you, NZ Groover. Thank you so much. If it weren’t for you, Bill would simply never have considered if he could paint as a career. He just needed you to inspire him. It’s not like he can possibly know more about his own situation than you can, especially when you clearly haven’t read the fucking post.

        • Steve Wrathall 46.1.1.2

          …or even a writing career

    • rosy 46.2

      Motivated enough?? really? did you not read this bit:

      it’s also possible you could have popped by during one of the weeks on end where I have to awkwardly and in acute pain ‘slide’ off chairs and crawl across the carpet seeking something solid to grab hold of and climb to my feet by… weeks when I ‘simply’ drop to the floor as the only way to get out of bed in the morning. You get the picture? But even if you’d passed by on a good day (and let’s face it, most days are good), there’s a chance you’d have witnessed how I simply don’t garden on my feet

      Did you not read the bits that show despite the effects of whatever it is that is causing acute pain and serious disability he is motivated enough to improve his living environment grow his own food and cook. In circumstances where people might simply, and reasonably, be far too tired and careworn to cope with more than seeing the day through.

      motivated… pfft.

  45. AmaKiwi 47

    The benefit which is un-investigated by National: businesses with lucrative government contracts and/or special regulations which give them monopoly advantages.

    This is the real benefit fraud.

    “No. It’s not fraud. It’s free market capitalism. Yeah right.”

  46. Quentin Todd 48

    Bill,

    Thank you for your insight.

    I am on an Invalids benefit for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Depression, I have the Depression pretty much under control, but there are days like this week where it’s really bad. AND I am trying to detox off medication so that my body can tell me if I am getting better. Meds avoid the reality of that in my opinion.

    After the rent goes out ($210), I have only $157.89 to use for everything else: power is taken as Direct Debit ($20) which was the safest way to keep me plugged in. Then I have to juggle between the Vet for my cat (unseen bill), Internet and cellphone and of course food which never stays the same price – keeps moving upwards. I declared myself Bankrupt 5 June this year, and that certainly helped heaps.

    I am deaf -76% in both ears and need new hearing aids urgently, not to mention glasses as my eyesight is rapidly changing as my age (52). I am not sure anymore I am employable, but that’s ok because I wouldn’t mind donation work for “working” the NGO sector. They have more compassion than you lot – where’s the old Labour values gone?

    As for National – well I have a long list of swear words for them – most are quite repetitive

    I would appreciate some help financially to get hearing aids and glasses – so who will rise to that challenge?

    • weka 48.1

      Quentin, do you know if you are getting your full entitlements? You should be getting the full Disability Allowance, Accommodation Supplement, and Temporary Additional Support. WINZ can advance you the money (or some of it) for the hearing aids, and you can pay it back at $5/wk.
       
      Have you been through the hospital system to get your hearing tested? They should be able to refer you to a Social Worker who can help you find the right assistance. How about the Foundation for the Deaf? Sorry if you have done all these things already, and I know in some areas it is easier to get help than others.
       
       

  47. hush mix 49

    Kia ora Bill for sharing your story. It’s a bold and brave move that hits the heart. I wish I could say with confidence that the leadership team of Grant and David S will hear you. But they seem to view this domain at The Standard as something to be feared, rather than embraced. And both the Pagaini’s have illustrated how little respect they have for the people who comment and write here.

    I wish I knew where you lived. Because whoever is your local MP should be reaching out and taking your fight to caucus.

  48. When health reasons end your working life and you are in the older age group
    the future is rather daunting,i have just read a press release on scoop released
    by age concern and they are of the view that $348 is not enough to buy the
    basics,electricity,phone,rates,food,non-food expenses etc,so those of the
    older age group,ie retired who solely rely on the retirement income are also
    living in difficult circumstances,our elderly deserve better as well from
    government.

  49. David S. 51

    Speaking as a sickness beneficiary, Shearer’s speech was insulting and stupid.

    On a good day, I could probably paint a roof. Would anyone employ me to paint roofs? Probably not, and it would be an incredibly hard job to hold down for me if they did. Chronic medical conditions are rarely constant in their effect.

    The widespread belief that the facts in this story are sufficient to judge the personal situation of the one painting that roof is is the real problem here. It’s a subject where mainstream voters are ignorant to the point where appeasing their desires on the subject will not only be ineffective, but damage not just beneficiaries but society in general.

    The biggest barrier to employment for sickness beneficiaries are employers. Employers want reliability, which is understandable, but it’s the first thing that disappears when you have a chronic medical condition. If Labour really wants beneficiaries to work to their capabilities, they need to encourage employment opportunities, not continue to encourage the scape-goating behavior which is rabid amongst mainstream culture.

    People need to understand the difference between “able to work” and “employable”. Continuing to encourage the idea that you can make snap judgements about peoples lives based on a casual glance is just stupid.

  50. Salsy 52

    Thanks Bill, I too was on the sickness benefit for nearly a year many years ago. I had severe rhumatoid arthritis – all the tendons in my hands and knees swelled up – the pain is indescribable. bending my knees would take half an hour, screaming in pain. My joints were being nibbled away by inflammation. But I too had good days, medication, steriods etc and some days I could garden, even paint a bit of roof… Next day, back screaming in pain.

    Shearers comment was callous and stupid. It illustrates his disconnect from the people and the party values. Cunliffe, Clark not even Goff would make that statement – because it’s against their core values. The fact Shearer allowed it, suggests those core values simply arent there…

  51. It’s so therapeutic to see real life on a benefit described accurately. I feel buoyed. I feel championed. Keep going.

  52. This is for Rusty Hellback and his comment below about the cost of caring for individuals:

    “German children were taught to hate in their lessons. A typical mathematical question posed to millions of German children would be how much it might cost for a disabled person who didn’t work and occupied a hospital bed when there wasn’t enough money for wounded soldiers or new homes to be built. Ad campaigns featuring pictures of disabled people asked “why should disabled people take bread from decent non-disabled German mouths?””

    “Funny” thing is they had no intention of spending the dosh on wounded soldiers or building new homes. It went on Goering’s uniform, more bucks for rich friends, flag waving, soiree’s, that sort of thing.

    And you know the reason why? Because crap thinkers who come up with crap questions and crap slogans are ALWAYS really about… crap. In fact they ARE crap.

  53. Germe 55

    Link to original article reporting Shearer’s speech, please?
    Beneficiaries, dodgy- is that supposed to imply that the rest aren’t? The company culture/ country culture of nz is becoming dodgy. When those at the top are dodgy-hate that word, let’s say what it is, corrupt- those at the bottom become too. That’s company culture theory. Those at the bottom reflect those at the top.
    What about dodgy/corrupt company practices? For example, mercury Energy via asb deducted a direct debit from my account one day earlier than they said they would so the money was not there. I have been unable so far to find out which one was at fault. I was charged for the money not being there, despite it being there on the day. That would not affect someone who had plenty of money in their account all the time, it wouldn’t happen. So likely mainly happens to beneficiaries. Took hours for me to sort out and still not fully sorted. That was a profit for them, at my expense. Dodgy/ corrupt corporate practice. All the beneficiaries I know are unemployable for various reasons but need work/money. The main dodginess I see is working under the Table, where the beneficiary is taken full advantage of and has no employee protection, but is the only available work.
    The rest aren’t dodgy b-stards?
    Shearer’s reported speech is inciting beneficiary hatred, and so a dire warning to beneficiaries.

  54. Dodgy not podgy bstard 56

    Yep. I can’t walk properly. I was already on a benefit. That means, for the sake of those who aren’t and don’t know, you get little or no police assistance usually and for those Women’s rights activists, most Police not all, seem to believe that women don’t harm. So due to continued threat by a woman against me I climbed over my back fence to enter my property so as to avoid her, as no help from the Police. I fell and injured myself. Left it to heal itself. It didn’t. Saw doctor. He put the wrong cause and wrong effect, hip not leg, on Acc form. Therapist wouldn’t look at leg. Dr Wouldn’t correct it. So didn’t use it. Then out of time for acc. No doctor or acc therapist will put original cause as now too late for acc. If I was more dodgy I could make up a new cause and therapists certainly encourage me to. Trouble is they get the money for it while I get the blame. So at times I can hardly walk. At my, yes i’m dodgy, under table job, which I asked to declare but will not be employed if I do, this coming week my days are changed, so I haven’t enough money till wednesday. Buses likely off, due to work to rule on wednesday. Asked to work Mon tue instead. No deal. Despite hardly walking i must walk half way at least if buses off. No acc for any accident at the Under Table Job. Need to make money some other way. Been meaning too all year. Get so tired, and pain at night. Only just managing what I have. Things break down, no money to repair, everything takes longer. Isn’t it also dodgy to employ under the Table? But then it’s kind. I get higher than the minimum, No hols stats or sick leave or acc, it’s complained I’m slow so I always work longer which is a big chunk percentage wise on a 3hr job. Dodgy to work under table but I’m in debt. I was late applying for the rates rebate, several times, it wasn’t allowed then I got late rates penalties on top. I think it’s dodgy that the council denies me the rebate for being late plus charges penalties. I have been told, I should go to the doctor, but it costs and been useless so far. Beneficiaries are the most blamed but not the only dodgy b-stards.

  55. Qdig 57

    I’ve worked as a painter, in film, commercial and domestic, and I can tell you, it’s one thing for your granddad, your uncle with the bung ankle, your kid brother or you ageing mum to paint the kitchen one patch at a time, or even get up on the roof, or climb a ladder.

    Of course a few gentle hours work is a damn good thing if your depressed or physically restricted…

    But believe me, you’re not going to make any money working at that pace.

    And nobodies going to hire you.

    It’s bloody hard work and you have to slam it out at top speed, while being accurate, if you want to make any kind of decent money and account for the insecurity of contract work, sometimes, if there are too many greedy corporates and bigger companies between you and the cash, just to break even, as I found out during a year of renovating state houses, in which the meat was being sucked out of the government “stimulus” packages by large infrastructure firms and parasitic slave driving employers subbing their contracts…

    I’m sorry to say, many painting companies are only able top make their money by exploiting others and paying piss poor rates.

    What do you expect when nobodies got any money to spend I guess. it all goes to the top these days, apparently because these self righteous pricks are “so hard working” and contribute “so much more to society” than the rest of us that they “deserve” it.

    What an utter load of tripe. Indefensible fantasy land tin foil hat wearing free market bull sh*t.

  56. aerobubble 58

    I was thinking recently, what would have happened to Newton, the famous scientist.
    Having to fork out higher cost to buy food (GST), having the roads taxed, and the
    goods on those roads taxed, having all those standards for the professions, etc, etc,
    that make everyone’s life so much more comfortable. Would we demand, that because
    he spent his time sitting under a tree reflecting on the universe, that his bludger lifestyle
    should mean he must starve, in a world of plenty?
    Is that why the economy of the west is stagnating, the Morlocks verse Eloi, the
    Morlocks (Bennett) toil relentlessly eating the world, while the Eloi live a
    seemingly idyllic the lifestyle (but are cannibalized by the Morlocks who view them as
    property).

    Bennett get’s her justification for her policies from what, that we as a people can
    starve and dis-empower the weakest in society (who barely make ends meet and
    are one step from severe outcomes of deprivation – if not there already) because
    it will pay for tax cuts to the richest – promise promise – will delivery prosperity.

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