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We’re all beneficiaries now

Written By: - Date published: 7:38 pm, March 6th, 2013 - 167 comments
Categories: benefits, Economy, farming, water, welfare - Tags: , , ,

The recognition of the need to provide income support to farmers during this drought period is illustrative.  It illustrates the importance of having a comprehensive social protection system that steps in when things go wrong including the weather as in this case.   It illustrates the benefit of Farm Owners of having a union that the Government supports and is prepared to fund to provide much needed services such as co-ordination, animal welfare advice and counselling.

If we didn’t support those farmers in need at this time they wouldn’t be able to pay their power bills or buy food for their families during this drought period.  Interestingly they are actually working while getting these benefits, including presumably adding value to their assets.  Some will be laying off staff who could face a stand down if they need to go onto the unemployment benefit.

I don’t imagine these Farmers or their partners are expected to attend a WINZ office every second day to show they are seeking new employment – we support them in the circumstances they find themselves in – needing to continue to look after their farms and families, but in need of financial and other types of support to get through a financial difficulty.  We don’t expect them or their partners to go out and find other work during this time.  This is community at its best.  The support includes access to the equivalent of the unemployment benefit, access to counselling and business advice and the ability to defer tax payments.  For a time, these farmers will be “beneficiaries”  but that’s ok – that’s what we do as a community, in times of need.

Solo mums are a bit like these farmers.  They are working but not earning and need community support to do that.  For them, they now have to attend job preparation courses and look for work.  They can be drug tested, boot camped and have their benefits cut if they don’t answer the phone when WINZ rings them about something.  Working when you have small kids is extremely difficult particularly if you have kids at school and pre-school age.  Their hours never line up and school holidays and the endless colds and coughs little ones get means often having to choosing between two important obligations – your kids or your work.  Sure lots of women do it, but for someone solo and particularly if you don’t have a sympathetic employer or if your kids need you to be home, it should not be compulsory and your life and the life of your kids is likely to be extremely unpleasant.

The unemployed are looking for work and most of them were happily working until the business they were working for hit hard times.  For youth, a large number have never had the chance.  Many are in and out of work – labour hire here, labour hire there, spending more time looking for work than working.  There is a jobs drought, but no equivalent sympathy for them.  We are told to be suspicious of them – that they probably aren’t trying hard enough, that they are too picky, that they are drug taking, phone answering avoiders.  Really they are just like the farmers.  Relying on Social Protection when things go wrong.

The drought shows how important social protection systems are.  When the unexpected happens – your farm dries up, you get sick, you lose your job, you find yourself alone raising your kids – the community steps in by way of tax funded Social Protection.  For most people the need is not forever and most will be part of both the funding community and the receiving community at some point in our life.  I support the farmers getting benefits and I hope for their sake it rains very soon.

 

 

 

167 comments on “We’re all beneficiaries now”

  1. vto 1

    I am looking forward to the Prime Minister announcing drug testing for these farming beneficiaries.

  2. vto 2

    Your post there is very well written Helen, showing compassion and the important wide picture of how a decent nation looks after e v e r y o n e and all our neighbours, no matter their unintended circumstances. Well done, keep at it.

    • Tom Gould 2.1

      Remember ‘Massey’s cossacks’? Farmers trucked into town to smack poor people with clubs from the safety of horseback? Sure, that was some time ago, and today’s farmers are businessmen first, but just saying. It has always been difficult for Labour with its natural inclination to treat everyone fairly to run against Tories who make unfairness and scapegoating an operating principle.

  3. Jenny 3

    I hope that the CTU can get behind the campaign against climate change that is fueling this drought. And all the other once in a hundred years weather events that now occur much more frequently. That will impoverish us all.

    aucklandcoalaction.org/2013/03/04

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      Climate change won’t impoverish us, Business as usual will. And that would be true even anthropogenic climate change.

    • infused 3.2

      Please show me how climate change is fueling this drought.

      • Draco T Bastard 3.2.1

        Go read the scientific literature. You’ll find references to how the climate is shifting even now and how it’s causing more rain in some places and more drought in others.

      • Dv 3.2.2

        Infused
        Please show how climate change is NOT fueling this drought.

        • TheContrarian 3.2.2.1

          That’s pretty facile Dv. You can’t prove a negative.

          • Dv 3.2.2.1.1

            Well picked contrian,

            I also thought that infused point was pretty facile too.

          • Colonial Viper 3.2.2.1.2

            prove that you didn’t have breakfast at 9am this morning.

            easy.

            • TheContrarian 3.2.2.1.2.1

              I can’t prove I didn’t have breakfast at 9am. I can assert it but I can’t prove it because what would the prove look like?

              • Colonial Viper

                You could show a 7am Big Breakfast receipt from McDonalds. Or proof that you were doing something else at 9am, on a run with a friend (witness) etc.

                • TheContrarian

                  No that would consist of positive proof I had breakfast at 7am or that I went for a run at 9am which invalidates all other things I could have been doing.

                  You can’t prove a negative, you can only disprove a positive.

                • TheContrarian

                  “You can’t prove a negative, you can only disprove a positive.”

                  This may sound like the same thing but, in logical terms, it isn’t

                  • Colonial Viper

                    So you can’t do it in formal logic, but yes for all intents and purposes in the real life you can prove it eg by demonstrating that a mutually exclusive event occurred.

                    • ropata

                      you can prove a negative assertion provided the premises and terms of the assertion are limited in scope.

                      but it’s difficult to *prove* that climate change caused this particular drought.

                      i suppose it would be easier to claim that “global warming correlates with more droughts”

                      (FYI H2O is also a greenhouse gas so warmer weather water vapour *fewer* droughts?!)

  4. bad12 4

    Heaping ‘work expectations’ upon people when we all ‘know’ that the economy does not,cannot, and, will not deliver employment for all those who seek and are able to work is schizophrenic to say the least,

    Until such time as Governments are tasked by their own legislation to provide a minimum amount of work for all those able and seeking work we will always have this schizophrenic victim blaming,

    As i cannot see the above occurring within the foreseeable future we are stuck with the very rich telling the comfortable to scape-goat the poorest of the poor for a situation created by Government inaction…

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      As i cannot see the above occurring within the foreseeable future we are stuck with the very rich telling the comfortable to scape-goat the poorest of the poor for a situation created by Government inaction…

      It’s not government inaction. The government has been fully engaged in putting in place the conditions that means that we high unemployment – especially over the last 30 years.

  5. There is a certain irony that farmers, who have a reputation for denying that climate change is occurring and opposing provision of social welfare for members of our community who need it should now be seeking a benefit because of a drought that is undeniably a symptom of global warming.

    • The Al1en 5.1

      Bet they have sky dishes, nice cars and a boat on a trailer parked in the driveway.

      Least while they’re waiting for it to rain, they can count their blessings ’til the next big milk payout comes around.

      • infused 5.1.1

        Envious much?

        • ghostwhowalksnz 5.1.1.1

          Not envious, they are asset rich and cash poor, deliberately so!

          Any farmer will buy a big new tractor rather than have cash in the bank, as that means they have a taxable income.

          A big no no in rural areas, where paying tax is akin to belonging to the labour party

          • infused 5.1.1.1.1

            Sorry, but your retarded. That’s not how it works at all. I was bought up on a farm, in Taihape of all places.

            You don’t buy that shit unless you have the money for it. It’s really that simple. Most farmers don’t own the farms either. They will lease it.

            It took my uncle 12 years to buy the farm he was leasing. He was never rich – and worked all hours of the day.

            • quartz 5.1.1.1.1.1

              Firstly it’s “you’re” not “your”. Secondly, he paid off a whole farm in just 12 years and you don’t think that’s rich??? Fuck me mate, most of us need at least twice that time to pay of a house!

              • felixviper

                Why am I not surprised that infused’s parents never manged to explain to him how the family business works…

              • ghostwhowalksnz

                Of course they are ‘never rich’. Asset buying is the strategy!

                Cash in the bank is no use to them, but a good idea when a drought strikes.

                But why bother with the occasional drought when the government will come to the rescue.

                As well they will change environmental rules to enable more intensive dairying in drought prone areas .

                Goodbye Ecan , hello Government commissars.

                And if there is no rivers or groundwater to exploit, they will create a state financed irrigation scheme. $500 mill to ‘get the ball rolling’

              • infused

                Where did I say he paid it off?

                • Draco T Bastard

                  Just here:

                  It took my uncle 12 years to buy the farm he was leasing.

                  If it’s not what you meant then you probably should have worded it better.

              • Phil B

                The difference between an asset that delivers a return and one that produces nothing at all is fairly obvious I would think. I think everyone should broaden there educational horizons, then maybe most of the people who comment on here will gain a shred of perspective.

            • Draco T Bastard 5.1.1.1.1.2

              I was bought up on a farm

              It’s a typical wrong word but, IMO, thoroughly appropriate.

            • felixviper 5.1.1.1.1.3

              gww: “Any farmer will buy a big new tractor rather than have cash in the bank, as that means they have a taxable income.

              infused: “That’s not how it works at all … You don’t buy that shit unless you have the money for it.

              Err, infused, that’s exactly the same thing.

            • saarbo 5.1.1.1.1.4

              No, ghostwhowalksnz is right. Farmers will do anything to reduce tax, they mainly use trusts to distribute their income all over the place to lower their taxable income(s). But buying tractors on debt and using the interest and depreciation to reduce taxable income is pretty popular. Infused, you were a sheep and beef I suspect…quite different from the Dairy farmers who are mostly affected by the drought because of the intensive feed requirements of in-calf milking cows. Most farmers worth their salt are always ready for a drought, our family farm is badly affected by the drought but production is still up 5% on last year, which was a record year. But things are getting really tough now…

              But in the end of the day, Helen is spot on in this post…National have an incredibly cruel attitude towards beneficiaries. National and their supporters are pack of arseholes, we all know that. But how do they convince so many people that most beneficiaries are a pack of bludgers, because I know many on the dole from being involved in a rugby club in a fairly poor part of the country and I can say not one of those people want to be on the dole. People are desperate to be employed but there are NO jobs. Sadly as Helen has pointed out, the jobs that do exist are contract forestry jobs or something similar, hard and dangerous work…its bloody tough on these people.

              • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell

                If you buy a tractor, you cannot deduct its entire cost against your assessable income in one year. You have to depreciate it over its useful life.

                If you do not know basic shit like this, maybe you should be reassessing everything you think you know about businesspeople.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Come on Gormless, look at the actual quote and you’ll see that saarbo knows just fine and it’s you who should learn to read.

                  But buying tractors on debt and using the interest and depreciation to reduce taxable income is pretty popular.

                  • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell

                    I was referring to yours, actually Colonial Viper:

                    “Any farmer will buy a big new tractor rather than have cash in the bank, as that means they have a taxable income.”

            • The Al1en 5.1.1.1.1.5

              “your retarded”

              And they didn’t have schools in Taihape? ;)

        • The Al1en 5.1.1.2

          Retarded much?

      • quite correct the Allen and don’t forget the number of times they have expensive overseas holidays.
        In the Waikato all the retired farmers live in huge houses and still have overseas trips plus the wives have expensive cars to run about in.And have you seen heard them commenting on the
        unemployed and solo mums. Just take note sometime.

        • The Al1en 5.1.2.1

          “And have you seen heard them commenting on the unemployed and solo mums. Just take note sometime.”

          When I’m at work I hear people slagging off our beneficiaries all the time in the next door business. That is when they’re not busy running down the young staff waiting on them hand and foot.
          Each and every one of them gets told they’re shit for having such a poor attitude.

          Good job I’m indispensable, I suppose. :)

    • Mary 5.2

      Difference is that farmers “contribute” whereas the unemployed, whether because of sickness, caring for kids, disability or a bottoming out of the labour market, get money for doing nothing. The theory is that if you don’t contribute in the particular way that others say you must, then you don’t deserve the basic help that your circumstances say you require. The logical extension of this view is that simply being a citizen, or even a human being, isn’t enough to place value on – not enough to be entitled to even the basics like food, a dry house and to be healthy, not even that.

      We’ve come so far down this road of showing so much disdain for each other the only way out is a complete overhaul of what’s important, what we’ve all got in common, of what it means to be human and how we place value on that.

      • vto 5.2.1

        Quite right Mary, but not quite right. In this situation of drought the farmers are not contributing at all, they are a drain.

        How would they see themselves as contributing?

        • Mary 5.2.1.1

          They’d say because they’re still working, still liable for paying wages to farm workers they haven’t laid off, still liable for tax…in other words they’re still ‘participating’ as opposed to “sitting around expecting the government to give them money for doing nothing”. It’s just the old deserving/undeserving poor analysis, really. I wouldn’t be bothered getting dragged into that “well the farmers are getting money for doing nothing now – isn’t that ironic” cul-de-sac. Whoever says it is confusing society with the economy.

          • The Al1en 5.2.1.1.1

            That bloke shearer got messy about doing his roof. He wasn’t sitting around doing anything.

            • The Al1en 5.2.1.1.1.1

              Edit…
              That bloke shearer got messy about doing his roof. He wasn’t sitting around doing nothing.

              • Mary

                Yes, but he was doing it while getting tax payers money because he supposedly wasn’t able to fix his roof (which is quite wrong, of course).

                • The Al1en

                  Who said he wasn’t able to fix his roof? Quite clearly he was able, Dave said so.
                  He could just as easily be a guy with depression doing a bit of home maintenance as a cathartic exercise, but unable to work for more than a couple of hours at a time.

                  Bitter neighbour squeals to Labour’s next leader in opposition, who totally fucks his response.

                  • Mary

                    I totally agree. I think you’ve missed who I’m channeling this through, which is the stereotypical farmer mickysavage talks about at 5 above. I’ve left out the climate change stuff and talked about attitudes towards beneficiaries only. And then vto asked how the farmers would see themselves as contributing. See the comment at 5.2.1.1.

          • Ess 5.2.1.1.2

            One could say that the farmers have plenty at hand that can be used to provide food on the table therefore not needing to spend as much as the supermarket for instance. Coming from the other side of the coin one could also say the beneficiary in the towns is providing employment in their own way just through the need to buy their meat and vege at the supermarket and all the services required prior to the items landing in the store in essence means jobs for many….including the farmers. Just thought would throw that one into the mix. And sorry, but worked for a farmer’s taxation specialist for years and I know what they can and can’t do that the townfolk can’t do with their incomes.

      • RobertM 5.2.2

        I disagree with everything your say. Many right wing regimes from National Socialist Germany to the Australia of Tony Abbott and John Howard pay teenage girls to have white babies and live well. Abbott and Howard said to the conservatives who opposed free sex and good support for solo mothers that they would destroy the liberal party and government if they didn’t support it.
        I don’t support Helen Kelly she’s too serious and no longer pretty , but I hate the Act party fundamentalist the hyprocritical, vicious stupid Banks, Quax, Coddington and Newman trying to force moral control on solo mothers and for people to slave their gutz out in pointless jobs for the minimum wage. The problems with the farmers is their fundamentalist values and greed are destroying freedom and the environment. I doub’t its generous support from English it looks to me more like the Maoist wing of the Vic Uni Nats has decided to starve the farmers out like they did in the Soviet Union and USA in the late 1920′s I’d put English, Smith, Grosser in that category.
        I think we desperately need our vigorous young ladies to be as hot as possible and to be giving as much sexual pleasure to the frustrated and overworked men of this nation as possible. In terms of reproduction I think they should have a couple at 20-21 and be on permanent contraception the rest of their lives starting at 15. There should be 24 hour child care and they may be brought up by the state.
        I am well aware of the rural anger. I suggest every farmer and farm worker should be guaranteed 80,000 in the hand and we close all provincial hospitals and polytechs to pay for it . We may even set up state subsidised brothels for the farmers and the farm workers.
        They won’t like it their conservatives.

    • Kathy 5.3

      The reason farmers are sceptical (the word “denier” is the refuge of those who wish to shut down debate) about climate change is because they are a hell of a lot more in touch with the climate than most.

      • The Al1en 5.3.1

        Shit custodians of the land are farmers, on the whole.

        • felixviper 5.3.1.1

          I wouldn’t go that far.

          You’ve got to remember that the vast majority of today’s farmers haven’t broken in any land, they’ve taken on existing pastural land. And a lot of them will try to leave it in at least as good a shape as they found it.

          The rivers, on the other hand…

          • The Al1en 5.3.1.1.1

            Toxic algae blooms caused by nutrient run off, cows shitting in waterways, deforestation causing erosion etc…

            I stand by my opinion.

            • felixviper 5.3.1.1.1.1

              Fair enough. But around my way there’s been a lot of planting of waterways in the last few years too. That’s a real tangible improvement.

              And yeah on the whole you’re probably right, but “on the whole” takes in the big agri-business farms which are the worst offenders and lumps them in with all the little guys, many of whom do their best to work with the land as they find it.

              • The Al1en

                Planting waterways :lol:

                My environment Waikato rates (or whatever they are after another expensive re-brand), go towards paying bad farmers to do what they should be doing in the first place. Crazy.

                Instead of subsidies and grants, how about fines and/or charges.
                Bet that would help clean the streams and rivers up pretty quickly.

                • felixviper

                  No, because the bad ones don’t take the subsidies and don’t plant at all. And there are are few of those around here too.

                  And yeah it’s a process. And yeah it’s taking a while. But if you expect to snap your fingers and immediately educate the whole country about “what they should be doing in the first place” while ignoring how those individuals came to be in this situation then frankly you might as well fuck off back to your own planet because you’re not going to be any help here.

                  • The Al1en

                    “if you expect to snap your fingers and immediately educate the whole country”

                    I’ve been paying those same rates (at an ever increasing level) for over 13 years.
                    No taxes without representation, right? ;)

                    “what they should be doing in the first place”

                    Pointing out that lots of farms don’t fence off streams and stock foul in our drinking water, doesn’t really warrant

                    “you might as well fuck off back to your own planet because you’re not going to be any help here.”

                    Al1enist. :lol:

            • Colonial Viper 5.3.1.1.1.2

              Sort out farm price and bank debt issues, and most of the problems of overstocking will go away.

              For the rest of it, recidivist farmers who continue extreme behaviour can be prohibited from owning/operating land for a few years.

  6. cricklewood 6

    I beleive that it is such mechanisms that prop up farms during times of drought are the ones that contribute to the ever rising prices. Basically a huge risk element is mitigated allowing bigger and bigger loans to by said farms. Resulting in even greater cost for the govt to cover during times of drought. If the wernt leveraged to the max a good farmer should be able to ride out a drought like we are currently seeing.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      It’ll have some effect but, IMO, the fact that rich foreigners can come in and buy up large tracts of land for far more than what a NZer can pay for it would have a bigger effect.

      • cricklewood 6.1.1

        Same thing applies I guess, You will pay a bomb for it because it is low risk. Everytime a major risk factor (weather) turns sour the govt covers the hole.

        Does the relief package cover only farms who are owned by NZ citizens?

        I really don’t like my tax money propping up overseas interests…

  7. Macro 7

    The stupidity of our current economic policy which bets the whole wealth of our country upon increasing Dairying and prostituting ourselves for a Trade Agreement so we can sell more milk products to the USA is clearly demonstrated by the present drought. The 3rd since 2008 in the Waikato according to the president of Federated Farmers. And this in a predominantly la Nina period where as the projections for El Nino is for a prolonged period of drought.
    Not only are we jeopardising the environmental wealth of our country for a few more dollars possibly in export we are stupidly betting that our climate of the past will continue, and we now have every indication that it will not. The weather patterns of the past with ample rainfall throughout the year are a thing of the past. Welcome to the new normal.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.1

      The stupidity of our current economic policy which bets the whole wealth of our country upon increasing Dairying and prostituting ourselves for a Trade Agreement so we can sell more milk products to the USA is clearly demonstrated by the present drought.

      QFT

      Welcome to the new normal.

      We’re not there yet.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 7.2

      Fat chance of selling dairy products to USA.

      Thats a closed market, free trade rules are out the window.

      Similar for sheep meat. A few Senators from dairying and sheep states will die in a ditch over this

  8. vto 8

    Helen confirms what many commenters on here have been saying for ages… this government hands out welfare all over the goddamn place . Lets see;

    1. Welfare for finance company investors.
    2. Welfare for banks.
    3. Welfare for farmers.
    4. Welfare for unemployed.
    5. Welfare for the NZ stock exchange.
    6. Welfare for Chch earthquakes.
    7. Welfare for solo mums.
    8. Welfare for Joyce’s ex-Mediaworks.
    9. Welfare for private schools.

    Can anybody name a group who doesn’t or hasn’t received some kind of welfare from this government?

  9. RedLogix 9

    A very thoughtful post Helen. Ensuring that farmers survive droughts, floods or disease is simple common sense.

    I just wish that they’d show some political understanding.

    • Colonial Weka 9.1

      “Ensuring that farmers survive droughts, floods or disease is simple common sense.”

      Why? Genuine question.

      • RedLogix 9.1.1

        The same reason why it makes sense to ensure all people survive the normal setbacks and misadventures of life.

        This can be justified on both ethical and pragmatic grounds. The ethical argument is simply that “there but for the grace of God go I”. Misfortune can strike in any number of ways and we all need at some point in our lives some help. If we would seek that help ourselves, we have no grounds on which to deny to others.

        Pragmatically there is the reasoning that if we always have to plan to survive a worst case scenario (like a once in a 50 year drought or flood) then we will always be excessively risk-averse, holding back reserves or failing to innovate. The assurance of some measure of collective risk sharing however frees up the individual to become more effective and efficient.

        • Colonial Weka 9.1.1.1

          Ok, so because they are people (nothing to do with it being farming)? Does it apply to all self-employed people? Or employees for that matter.

          I agree with the principle of that, and the last paragraph, but this situation isn’t a 1 in 50 year event. It’s forseeable. Does that make a difference?

          • rosy 9.1.1.1.1

            “but this situation isn’t a 1 in 50 year event. It’s forseeable. Does that make a difference?”

            I hear what your saying, I think – there should be some financial planning for drought and flood conditions, or they should have moved off the drought-prone land or changed farm type or methods sooner. But should it make a difference?

            Farmers theoretically pay their taxes and as such are entitled to the social insurance/social security provisions of the welfare state that those taxes fund. Like most beneficiaries this security is funding to see them through the times of temporary hardship, not a lifestyle choice.

            Whether the situation was forseeable is not much different to a person becoming redundant due to economic conditions that would make they industry they worked in nonviable. Should these people have up-sticks sooner and moved into a growth industry rather than relying on the State when the company moved production or went bust?

            Btw, good post Helen.

            • Colonial Weka 9.1.1.1.1.1

              So why farmers and not builders? Or gardeners? or anyone else who doesn’t get this assistance?

              • rosy

                Pretty sure they’re all entitled to an State income if they can’t earn an income through their work, pay the rent or mortgage or feed the kids.

                The confounding factors for farmers is of course that their farms are also their homes. I do believe that farming corporations should be a whole other story though.

                • Colonial Weka

                  Really? I thought other people had to go on the dole.

                  • rosy

                    dole=state income. The hoops that the non-farmers have to go through to get their income support is a whole other issue, and no-one should have to go through that.

                    The differences in how different people get their income support highlights the importance of a unconditional basic income, I reckon. All these problems about who deserves what money to live, at the most basic level, are then made redundant.

        • Draco T Bastard 9.1.1.2

          Although I agree with everything you said what if we have too many farms to be sustainable?

  10. Jimmie 10

    With great respect to you Ms Kelly I don’t think you understand the nature of the benefits provided to farmers.

    There are few if any cash hand outs – it is mostly a coordination service to link up drought farmers with feed supplies etc. Also some extensions on tax payment dates with the IRD.

    Also a lot of farmers are fairly self sufficient with vege gardens, home grown meat & milk, and often free accommodation.

    Droughts though painful are a natural part of the farming cycle – just as winter floods are. Most farmers worth their salt, plan and prepare for a drought each year in various ways including saving long spring pasture, buying/making silage and growing summer crops. (And destocking)

    For a farmer not to be able to survive through a 6-8 week summer dry period they are either incompetent, a risk taker, or up to their eyeballs in debt.

    There has been good drought management advice available for 20+ years which most farmers are aware of.

    I don’t have an issue with much of your statement about solo mums and beneficiaries however there is a significant group within both classes who refuse to work and see the benefit as their God given lifestyle. They are often unemployable – being addicted to various substances, and do what ever they can to avoid compulsory job interviews.

    It is for these folk that the compulsion needs to be enforced with as they are bludgers who give genuine beneficiaries a bad name. I agree there needs to be a safety net but you need strict rules to discourage abuse of it.

    • RedLogix 10.1

      For a farmer not to be able to survive through a 6-8 week summer dry period they are either incompetent, a risk taker, or up to their eyeballs in debt.

      Perhaps, but this drought is longer than this. Soil moisture levels are catastrophically low. I’m looking out the window at paddocks which were fence high in grass this time last year that are now bare earth. Literally. The only small mercy at this point is that there is not a lot of wind taking the top-soil away. Yes there is some mitigation you can take to get through a normal dry-spell, but at some point you have to get the core breeding stock through to the next season in order to survive.

      Besides we’re all up to our eyeballs in debt. That’s normal.

      I don’t have an issue with much of your statement about solo mums and beneficiaries however there is a significant group within both classes who refuse to work and see the benefit as their God given lifestyle. They are often unemployable – being addicted to various substances, and do what ever they can to avoid compulsory job interviews.

      I think you might want to reconcile this logic with your own statement’s about farmers who are “incompetent, a risk taker, or up to their eyeballs in debt”. Sure there may be some who’ve miscalculated and could well have made better decisions … but in my book they get the help they need too.

      • Draco T Bastard 10.1.1

        Besides we’re all up to our eyeballs in debt. That’s normal.

        But it shouldn’t be.

    • georgecom 10.2

      Jimmie, there are benefits available:
      :Mr Guy said rural assistance payments would also be available from Work and Income, through the Ministry of Social Development. “These are equivalent to the unemployment benefit and are available to those in extreme hardship.”
      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10869521

      Also, can you provide a number please on the “specific group within both classes who refuse to work and see the benefit as their God given lifestyle”. I am not asking for exact numbers, approximate will do. Thanks

    • Draco T Bastard 10.3

      …however there is a significant group within both classes who refuse to work and see the benefit as their God given lifestyle.

      [citation needed]

  11. Jimmie 11

    I forgot to add that farmers should not receive the benefit because even though there summer production does take a hit, they still own multi million assets, receive large incomes (which continue through from previous production) and would be considered wealthy compared to those who are genuine beneficiaries.

    So I say advice is good – handouts are bad for farmers unless they are going bankrupt.

  12. logie97 12

    It has been said that there are some of them there country folk who employ a competent accountants, and have probably been milking the system for years.

    First the accountant makes sure that the husband and wife salaries are a minimum.
    That way they are subject to minimum PAYE, and of course when the kids are off to varsity, they qualify for student allowance because Mum and Dad’s combined income is below the threshold.

    Then there’s
    - the occasional odd colour of the diesel in the ute that drives on country roads to pop into the supermarket.
    - the depreciation on the company car.
    - the “entertainment” receipts.
    - the clothing allowance receipts.
    The list goes on, but there are a few for starters.

    And, of course, when a couple of beast are sent to the butcher, well the butcher often comes to the farm and a nice little bartering exchange might go on – nudge, nudge … know what I mean. Accountant’s services here, solicitors’s services there. All nice and cosy for some.

    Now whilst the author’s sympathies are laudable and we wish for an ideal world, some of those there rural folk can be the first to stick the boot into the urban yokels when the chance arises.

    • Murray Olsen 12.1

      They probably pick up advice on how to do all this at the local National branch meetings. I don’t have a lot of sympathy for many of them. Sharemilkers, if they still exist, are another story.

      • And don’t forget the poor farm worker who work very long hours including most weekends plus if they are sacked or found redundant they lose their homes . They retire to a rented house
        and low retirement savings and a worn out body..Its surely time that Fontera included farm workers in the distribution of their profits by issuing unsaleable shares to long time farm employees

    • AsleepWhileWalking 12.2

      Enter the Rural party…

    • infused 12.3

      Any self employed person can do that. What’s your point?

    • Jimmy 12.4

      Will get to the rest of your misinformation later, got work to do in 5mins.
      But this sort of stuff is just plain wrong.
      Lets start with your first point.

      “the occasional odd colour of the diesel in the ute that drives on country roads to pop into the supermarket”

      Diesel in NZ is all the same colour, the Road User Charges sort out the differance between off and on road vehicles, and its something all NZers and farmers cant get around, so no rort their.

      Farmers do pay road tax for all their road going deisel vehicles, they also pay road tax for some of thier petrol vehicles that dont go on the road, and only can get a tax rebate if they fill in loads of paperwork, which many dont bother with because of the hassle.

      • Lanthanide 12.4.1

        “Diesel in NZ is all the same colour, the Road User Charges sort out the differance between off and on road vehicles, and its something all NZers and farmers cant get around, so no rort their.

        Sorry, what? I think you completely missed the point. The diesel in the ute has not had tax paid on it, because it’s officially for off-road use. And yet it is used to go to the supermarket. In rural areas there aren’t a lot of cops to catch this happening and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them looked the other way anyway.

        • Jimmy 12.4.1.1

          Ok so where is the misunderstanding, If the owner of the ute has a current RUC sticker on it all legal. Tax on diesel is paid via Road User Charges.

          • logie97 12.4.1.1.1

            … yeah but I get a GST receipt to claim it back mate … And by the way Pink diesel is the agricultural term for it … you need to sit around a few farmers when they drop their guard and talk about these things over a pint or two.

            • Jimmy 12.4.1.1.1.1

              Anyone can make up stories mate, you look like you can tell a good one logie.
              Dont let the facts get in the way mate……….

  13. Mick 13

    Full employment is a myth ,we need to acknowledge that permanent growth is impossible and there will always be a small percentage of the work force unemployed .
    Feel comfort in the fact that every dollar given to a beneficiary goes straight back into the economy ! Not hidden away in some high return account etc..

    • Draco T Bastard 13.1

      +1

      In fact, if we properly progressed our economy and infrastructure unemployment could easily reach 75% under the present paradigm. Then what would this government (or even a Labour government which is following the old failed paradigms do)?

      • Mary 13.1.1

        The present Labour government would do exactly what this government would do. Labour’s current welfare policy is pretty much the same as Nact’s. We all go on about how bad the latest attacks on the poor under Bennett/Key are, but Labour’s current track record is no different. Until Labour make a proper stand against this nothing will change.

        • Mary 13.1.1.1

          And I think the unions have a role in helping this to happen. Helen Kelly’s piece today is heartening but the unions really need to tell Labour that its stance on welfare needs to be a clear vision of an adequate non-punitive safety net. Nothing less will do.

  14. Thanks for this post Helen it has really challenged me and made me think about my own beliefs. I agree that everyone deserves help when they need it I feel I have a attitude problem with farmers specifically dairy farmers because i can’t seem to move them away from bankers in my head. I seem to equate the, imo, exploitation of the animals and the pollution of waterways and land in pursuit of personal financial gain as similar to the exploitation of people and the pollution of society with greed in pursuit of personal financial gain. Everyone deserves help but everytime I cross the bridge near home the cows are down by the river and my five year old is unlikely to be able to swim in that river when he gets older because some farmer either takes the water, adds cowshit to it and sprays it all over his/her field which naturally runs off into the river, or the cows just shit directly into it. Sure not every farmer does that but lots do without a care in the world for anyone else or the environment. So I’m going to think more on this interesting issue because I haven’t reconciled it yet, obviously.

    • Draco T Bastard 14.1

      Proper regulation and enforcement will stop the farmers destroying the environment but our governments have steered well clear of that. In fact, they’ve gone to quite some lengths to get the farmers to do it and to try and make everyone else accept that destruction.

  15. the pigman 15

    Nice one, Helen. You seem to be on the side of both the economically secure and the dispossessed, which is the right place to be. It is actually heartening to read this from someone in your position.

    Perhaps you have the ear of someone in the Labour caucus who’d be prepared to depart from the beneficiaries-as-bludgers meme that has taken National to such great heights?

  16. This analogy between farmers and workers is wrong. People do not attract rights in capitalist society merely because they are humans. Nor because they are citizens. Not all citizens are equal. Rather their rights reflect their social and economic power.

    Farmers and workers are different economic classes since farmers own (even if indebted) their productive assets, whereas workers have only their labour to sell. Workers are relatively powerless because their only power is to withdraw their labour (and hence the means of subsistence). Beneficiaries know what it is to be powerless when jobless.

    Farmers are in business, they do not have to sell their labour. They are self-employed or in part working for the bank. Fed Farmers is not a labour union, its a bosses union usually run by big capitalist farmers. Farmers unlike workers have power because they own property. Today big farmers are wealthy capitalists.

    (Notwithstanding the fact that WP Reeves (Fabian fop and liblab minster of labour) and FP Walsh (scab union boss) both had big farms – Walsh reputedly the biggest in the land. They were aspirational middle class trying to escape the working class).

    Unlike workers, farmers can make good profits and capital gains in good times when there are no droughts and prices are holding up. Land values reflect profitability.

    If in bad times they need social support (it is bizarre calling it the dole) this should be a loan paid back by income and capital gains taxes in good times. Land tax.

    Factor into this the externalised costs of farming such as pollution and carbon footprints. Carbon tax.

    Add other inputs that are grabbed or stolen like water or originally, Maori land. These are all part of the privatising of social inputs. In the 19th century the social input into land values was called the ‘unearned increment’ and a land tax was proposed to return this increment to society.

    What is returned to society today is the ‘unearned excrement’.

    With CC impacting on farming we have to make sure we don’t bail out capitalist farmers in the way we bailed out the banks, failed finance corps and sacked Ministry Heads.

    Facing the huge social drain that will be sucked into into farmers pockets to cover the disasters of CC the only answer is to nationalise the land and plan production based on the needs of all in society, not not just a few who have privatised nature and labour in the name of private profit.

    The Labour Party once had the ‘socialisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange’ in its Constitution. If the Labour Party has abandoned this demand permanently then it will give way to a new workers party that makes it the main platform of its program.

    • Colonial Weka 16.1

      +100

      I think farmers should be supported where they grow affordable food for people in NZ, because we are all dependent on that and it will be core to our survival in the future. The ones that grow food sustainably. But where they are simply a profit-driven business, why do they deserve support more than any other business? I don’t get it.

      • Colonial Viper 16.1.1

        why do they deserve support more than any other business? I don’t get it.

        If you read RR’s analysis carefully there is no moralistic issue of “deserve support”. Farmers get that support because they command it. It is an exercise of economic and political power. Farmers have that power, most other SMEs do not.

        • Colonial Weka 16.1.1.1

          Yes, and I agree, but I was meaning why do some people in this conversation think that farmers deserve support where other self-employed people do not.

          • Descendant Of Sssmith 16.1.1.1.1

            Self employed can get a benefit in similar circumstances when they are without work including both businesses and contractors. After the crash in 87 this made the difference for a few businesses after the owners had exhausted all their resources and the banks who encouraged them into debt when times were good wouldn’t have a bar of them when times were bad. I remember AGC finance in particular doing some really horrible things to people.

            http://www.workandincome.govt.nz/manuals-and-procedures/income_support/main_benefits/unemployment_benefit/unemployment_benefit-79.htm

            I don’t have a problem with anyone who can’t feed their families getting help and I don’t have a problem with a no-fault based on need approach to basic help – it’s the decent thing to do. Whether they are a good farmer, bad farmer, is irrelevant and we all know that the benefit is a pittance anyway.

            • Colonial Weka 16.1.1.1.1.1

              Ssssmith, from your link –

              “Where a client has been self-employed or in a partnership you need to be sure that the client’s involvement in the business has completely stopped. Unemployment Benefit cannot be used to financially support a business, as the client would not generally meet the job search requirements.

              The business does not have to be formally ‘wound up’. It can be temporarily finished or other staff can be continuing to run it.”

              Farmers are exempted from all that, and are allowed to receive the equivalent of UB while they’re still running their business. Pretty sure they’re not expected to look for other work. They’re a special case.

              • Draco T Bastard

                Unemployment Benefit cannot be used to financially support a business, as the client would not generally meet the job search requirements.

                Yep, one of the stupid rules about the UB – you can’t start a business on the UB (not that you would have enough income to do so) because it would stop you looking for a job.

          • RedLogix 16.1.1.1.2

            That’s still a very good question CW. I’m thinking this is a very good example of the kind of ‘horizontal and vertical equity’ problem that Gareth Morgan identifies in his The Big Kahuna. Morgan states some of the principles of a good tax/redistribution system here. In this case we need to consider:

            1. Vertical Equity … where both big and small players, with or without capital, are treated the same.

            2. Horizontal Equity … where like cases are treated similarly.

            Red Rattler makes a very good case for the vertical inequity going on here. Farmers have access to land and capital in a way that ordinary workers do not, yet they are expecting to be treated much the same when they fall on hard times.

            Colonial Weka asks about the horizontal inequity. Are farmers being treated differently to any other self-employed person?

            I think we can all sense at some intuitive level that there is a problem here, and I’m finding it useful to clearly split out the reasons why. Clearly our current tax system is the root cause of this because:

            1. It is failing to adequately tax land and capital.

            2. Do farmers have privileged access to some assistance that other similarly affected business people do not have?

            However there is a risk in treating farmers the same way we do for instance builders. An individual builder might fail with little harm to the economy as a whole. Even a sustained downturn in the housing market will hurt a lot of people, but we seem willing to tolerate this. A drought or flood can however immediately threaten an entire sector of the economy that we are highly dependent upon. In this sense RR is correct; farmers are quite a lot like bankers … too big and important to fail. And of course politicians from across the whole political spectrum instinctively recognise this. There will be no talk from David Shearer, or even Russel Norman, questioning “why are we propping up failed farmers?”

            Despite all of this my first instinct is that all people are entitled by right to some form of social safety net regardless of whether society judges them to be worthy of support or not. Morgan calls this the inalienable right to a dignified life.

            For this fundamental reason I support farmers receiving assistance during a downturn. I cannot deny them this right any less than I can for any other person. The inequity that we are dealing with here is an artefact of our broken, unjust tax system.

            PS. DoSS wtf are we both doing at 5am typing about this?

            • Descendant Of Sssmith 16.1.1.1.2.1

              You woke me up when you went to the toilet!

              Seriously though I still think that taxing at gross solves many of the issues around manipulation of the tax system. This would also mean overseas esales could also be taxed at source so companies like iTunes would now pay tax on sales by NZers and rorts like the non-interest but claim interest as an expense one IRD has just ruled on would become irrelevant and pointless.

              As no-one could not pay tax it would seem to be much fairer and all would contribute.

              • Draco T Bastard

                I have a tendency to agree with the gross taxation. I cannot get tax deductions to work no matter how I try.

        • infused 16.1.1.2

          And because they export $13.2b each year.

    • Colonial Viper 16.2

      Spot on RR.

    • Draco T Bastard 16.3

      Beneficiaries know what it is to be powerless when jobless.

      Most of them know what it’s like to be powerless when they have a job as well.

      Farmers unlike workers have power because they own property.

      Which is one of the reasons we have to change the ownership paradigm.

      Factor into this the externalised costs of farming such as pollution and carbon footprints. Carbon tax.

      Add other inputs that are grabbed or stolen like water or originally, Maori land. These are all part of the privatising of social inputs.

      And as they’re not charged for those they don’t on charge them and thus the free-market paradigm we use fails to bring about the efficient use that it’s supposed to bring about. Not that I’m supportive of the free market, just pointing out another unaccounted aspect of it that brings about it’s failure.

      With CC impacting on farming we have to make sure we don’t bail out capitalist farmers in the way we bailed out the banks, failed finance corps and sacked Ministry Heads.

      Yep, that’s what I was thinking. We should be looking at these farms and asking if we need them. If we don’t and we probably don’t, then we should just close them down and turn them back into native forest.

      Facing the huge social drain that will be sucked into into farmers pockets to cover the disasters of CC the only answer is to nationalise the land and plan production based on the needs of all in society, not not just a few who have privatised nature and labour in the name of private profit.

      QFT

      We have to state the purpose of the economy as to provide for us at a sustainable level and get away from the failure of infinite exponential growth and the enrichment of the few. From what I can make it’s these latter that bring about the fall of civilisations.

  17. xtasy 17

    I have heard of farmers, particularly dairy farmers, who are happy to employ “beneficiary” farm workers from places like the Philippines, as they are prepared to work longer hours, for humble conditions and do as they are told.

    This is maybe the kind of “solidarity” that some farmers have with us when there is talk about the “lifestyle choosing” “layabouts” in urban and even rural areas, who may want a job with reasonable conditions, working hours and a pay you can life from in NZ.

    May I concede though, there are farmers and farmers, and of course under drought and other catastrophic situations they deserve help like anybody else. But do not get carried away with reading much true, genuine solidarity between “beneficiaries” that here are even farmers.

    Even the richest CEO will be able to apply for the dole, if she or he can claim having NO income!

    • AsleepWhileWalking 17.1

      In principle I support welfare for the farmers themselves as I think PEOPLE should be supported in difficult financial times, but I wonder how much of this could be predicted and mitigated through income protection insurance, business insurance, etc, but instead is now falling upon the government?

      • AsleepWhileWalking 17.1.1

        Another point on mitigating loss, has anybody here watched the documentary Greening the Desert?

        It is about Geoff Lawton using permiculture to grow stuff in an arid and nasty looking place close to Jerusalem.

        Now I remember the story it’s actually pissing me off that farmers are pretending to be powerless over their environment. They OPTED to used farming methods that resulted in higher yields rather than something that would last climate variations. They OPTED for this lifestyle. Nobody forced them to do it.

        They ELECTED to ingore other methods of farming that would have continued to sustain them, or at the very least lessened the impact of drought.

        Sorry, now I remember all the nasty things farmers have said via the media about beneficiaries I think all my sympathy is reserved for the animals.

        • Colonial Weka 17.1.1.1

          “all the nasty things farmers have said via the media about beneficiaries”

          Citation?

          “They OPTED to used farming methods that resulted in higher yields rather than something that would last climate variations. They OPTED for this lifestyle. Nobody forced them to do it.”

          Yes and no. Even the farmers that want to farm sustainably are tied into an industrial economic machine that can be very hard to break out of. eg if you don’t want to be part of that system, how do you sell your produce? There are alot of barriers to farmers shifting to sustainable land management, esp those that have med or high debt on the farm. And most mainstream farmers are being told that sustainably farming practices are not economic, and being given industry-sponsored advice.

          Greening the Desert (5 minutes) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzTHjlueqFI

          • Colonial Weka 17.1.1.1.1

            but on the otherhand, yes there are plenty of greedy people farming, just like in everything else. Federated Farmers is pretty good at representing them.

            • Ennui in Requiem 17.1.1.1.1.1

              The whole farming experience in NZ is extractive, and the necessary mindset is greed. I had the economics of farming explained to me by a family member who is a farmer. Here is how it has worked for the last century:
              * farms are traded / bought / sold for capital value of around 8 times the annual turn over in the period of a few years around the transaction date. This is supposed to reflect the revenue yield from the land. Note profitability is not the major price determinant as you would expect for most other businesses.
              * the farms capital value has historically gone up, and the assumption is that it will still. So when the farmer sells so long as the revenue has held constant to inflation, even with no profit he will make a big gain.
              * if the farmer adds lots of capital inputs and still makes a loss or small profit he gets an additional multiplier on farm resale value. If he can get the taxpayer to subsidise “improvements” by depreciating or some other accounting method so much the better.

              You will notice a trend appearing: its all about being able to stay on the land over time and letting inflation make your pay out work when you sell. Of course if some bank or whoever manages to push your revenue up, even if they gobble all the gain, so much the better. And if you wreck the land in the process, so long as revenue stays up good.

              What if we get deflation?

  18. Tiger Mountain 18

    Sheepshagging waterway polluting, tax dodging, Hi lux wheeling, rural conservatives in denial about the stolen Māori land many of them sit on. So definitely the undeserving ‘poor’. Sod off you dole bludgers. Bet you would like to see some of the urban suplus army of labour march over the hill, fill in your phosphate ridden poo pools and get down to growning some real food for local areas.

  19. aerobubble 19

    How long before people realize. Everyone benefits from government. Its the whole point of collectivizing our interests. So its obvious that those cut down by government legislation, harmed by its gaps or direct consequences puts a duty on government to *all*. Those in work get civil society, labour laws, capital protections, banking regulations, etc, those without income get welfare.

    Key and ACT are keen to frame the debate that ‘ought’ is the dictate of government.

  20. Mary 20

    Refreshing to hear a unionist saying these things. It’s just a pity her mates in the fucking Labour party don’t agree with her.

  21. Tom Gould 21

    Never mind, Joyce has finally come up with an economic development strategy to make us all rich. Strike oil. If we can only strike oil, lots of it, we can all live like Saudi princes. A Bentley in every carport. Sorted. Of course, the MSM will run this hard, complete with smiling photos of Joyce and Bridges, looking hopeful and optimistic. What a bunch of corrupt losers.

  22. Mary 22

    The CTU’s continued friendship with this Labour party is worrying. If I was the CTU I would tell Shearer and his uncaring anti-beneficiary mates to get stuffed and not to come back until he’s rediscovered what a real Labour party is supposed to about.

    • js 22.1

      Just wondering what evidence Mary has that the LP is anti-beneficiary. I think every Labour electorate office will tell you their local Labour MP cares a lot about beneficiaries and actively supports them.

      • Colonial Viper 22.1.1

        In that case I’m looking forwards to Labour taking income taxes off benefits, lifting the unemployment benefit to 60% of the minimum wage and eliminating the work testing of sickness beneficiaries, thank you very much.

        • Mary 22.1.1.1

          And restoring the special benefit, reinstating the meeting of need as the primary objective of the Social Security Act, removing the distinction under the Tax Act between beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries, stop locking innocent women up for alleged benefit fraud and wrongly establishing and recovering huge overpayments, announcing the reversal of the latest amendment Bill that attempts to criminalise partners of beneficiaries allegedly living in relationships in the nature of marriage, stop Income Support from ringing up doctors to try to get them to change their medical assessments so that they can refuse the benefit, say sorry for all the nasty changes they made to the Social Security Act, get David Shearer to say he was wrong about the sickness beneficiary on the roof debacle, and for Labour abandon the dumb idea that it’s a party for workers only…

          Is that enough, ts? Go do some reading.

        • Mary 22.1.1.2

          And restoring the special benefit, reinstating the meeting of need as the primary objective of the Social Security Act, removing the distinction under the Tax Act between beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries, stop locking innocent women up for alleged benefit fraud and wrongly establishing and recovering huge overpayments, announcing the reversal of the latest amendment Bill that attempts to criminalise partners of beneficiaries allegedly living in relationships in the nature of marriage, stop Income Support from ringing up doctors to try to get them to change their medical assessments so that they can refuse the benefit, say sorry for all the nasty changes they made to the Social Security Act, get David Shearer to say he was wrong about the sickness beneficiary on the roof debacle, and for Labour abandon the dumb idea that it’s a party for workers only…

          Is that enough, ts? I suggest you do some reading before you come back. I very nearly couldn’t be bothered responding to you.

      • Colonial Viper 22.1.2

        Oh yeah, and reducing the horrendous abatement rates on income for people trying to return to the workforce.

        It’s not like these ideas haven’t been around for ages, either.

  23. Mike S 23

    Interesting video (actually more gobsmacking than interesting) on inequality below

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPKKQnijnsM

    • Ess 23.1

      Thanks for this post…makes very interesting (indeed gobsmacking!) watching – and I should imagine if a similar study and resultant graph done for NZ it would not be too dissimilar. That is VERY sad.

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