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The Standard

“Work” and the false economy of Bennett’s welfare reforms

Written By: - Date published: 9:00 am, September 26th, 2012 - 99 comments
Categories: benefits, capitalism, employment, paula bennett, unemployment, welfare - Tags:

Bennett’s reforms aim to cut the costs of government spending on welfare. But what this means is that more of the necessary caring and service work in NZ will be unpaid, or underpaid. It doesn’t mean people will necessarily work harder or longer. It’s a mistaken belief of the bennie-bashers that beneficiaries who are not in paid employment, don’t do work that makes a significant contribution to society and the economy.

Under capitalism, “work” has come to take on a primary meaning of paid work. This tends to mask how much positive energy people put into unpaid or underpaid activities that are of value to society. (Henceforth, in order to avoid confusion I will use the term “wurk”, to refer to both paid and unpaid “work”). Paula Bennett’s latest welfare reform bill the Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work focus) Amendment Bill, and a lot of the opposition to it, put a strong focus on paid work.

In the comments under my post on the second reading of Bennett’s latest welfare reform bill, there was an important discussion on the way both government and opposition parties put their main focus on work, getting beneficiaries back into work, and “work-readiness”. (Special mention to Dave Brownnz, Xtasy, Bill, and weka for their valuable contributions on the issue of “work”).

Mainstream economists and many right wingers tend to particularly hail the noble cause of “work” that increases the profits of private enterprises. They don’t acknowledge that some of these enterprises can be damaging to the health of citizens, society and ultimately the economy (e.g. think of some aspects of the fast food industry, the alcohol industry, an undue focus on RONS and the gambling industry).

In contrast, there is also a fair amount of academic, government/state and international research that has focused on the definitions of “work”, comparisons between paid and unpaid activities, and the relative contributions each makes to the economy. The government’s own online encyclopaedia charts the history of unpaid work in NZ. It outlines changes in women’s domestic work and other necessary daily activities like DIY, that are necessary to keep the country, its economy and its paid work force operating effectively.

It’s difficult to be fully totally accurate in classifying and thus measuring paid and unpaid wurk. Statistics NZ has a 2001 article reporting on the relative time spent on, cost and benefit of paid and unpaid work in NZ.

It claims that New Zealanders spend more time on unpaid than paid work; women do more unpaid work than men; in a year New Zealanders do over 4.2 billion hours of unpaid work, equivalent to over 2 million jobs; in 1999 the value of unpaid work was $40 billion, equivalent to 39% of GDP.

And a 2011 OECD comparison of 28 countries shows that internationally people spent one tenth to one fifth of their time on unpaid work.

Here the statistics gathered between 1998 and 2009 show that, on average, this is how New Zealanders spend their time: 16% (of their time on) unpaid work; 19% paid work or study; 48% personal care; 17% leisure. However, it is not easy to clearly differentiate “unpaid work” from leisure activities. For many people, especially women, domestic wurk is something they do in their leisure time.

Bennett’s welfare reforms will be a false economy. They will provide more ways of controlling those on low incomes, resulting in an increase in unpaid and low paid servitude, for the benefit of the state and private enterprises.


99 comments on ““Work” and the false economy of Bennett’s welfare reforms”

  1. TightyRighty 1

    “It’s a mistaken belief of the bennie-bashers that beneficiaries who are not in paid employment, don’t do work that makes a significant contribution to society and the economy.”

    So those who remove themselves from the “wurk”-force voluntarily can expect the state, and therefore the working public who are forcibly taxed, to support them? Nice safety net we have here.

    I don’t moan about the unpaid “wurk” I did between 1999-2009, nor the unpaid “wurk” i have done since. I don’t expect the state to reimburse me either, stop taxing me so much would be nice. But hey, gotta pay for the massive majority of welfare recipients who do such sterling “wurk” happily and voluntarily. like standing in the winz queue.

    So the 16% of NZ’ers time spent doing unpaid work, how much of that is done by those also in paid employment? “wurk” as it is more colloquially known.

    • muzza 1.1

      So those who remove themselves from the “wurk”-force voluntarily can expect the state, and therefore the working public who are forcibly taxed, to support them? Nice safety net we have here.

      You might find yourself needing that safety net one day, and as a tax payer of this country frankly I am comfortable with the numbers of those who might “decide” to use the stystem, becasuse the relative costs are SFA.

      What I am NOT comfortable with is a government who sponsors corporate welfare, borrows from abroad at interest without an audit trail, continually legislates profits and jobs abroad, bails out its rich mates, and removes our so called demoracy a piece at a time..

      All the while little minds like you can only see the very small picture!

      • TightyRighty 1.1.1

        So you don’t like government. Whoopie. We all have our problems with it, no matter who is in charge. What is our second largest government expense? think about that before going on about little minds and talking about little problems.

        • muzza 1.1.1.1

          Why are you talking about government expenses, like it needs to be relevant, its NOT!

          NZ as a sovereign nation should have no problem funding its people requirements, job creation, R&D, infrastructure programmes, health care, energy, food & water etc, education and so the list goes on…

          Get the blinkers off mate!

          You are stuck with your little mind, asking narrow minded questions!

          EDIT: I don’t like CORRUPT government – FIFY

          • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1.1.1

            +1

            We can afford to do anything we want if we have the resources here in NZ which, as a matter of fact, we do have.

        • Dr Terry 1.1.1.2

          TightyRighty – you are confessing that EVEN YOU have problems with the Government? You had better tighten up a little more!

    • Colonial Viper 1.2

      So those who remove themselves from the “wurk”-force voluntarily can expect the state, and therefore the working public who are forcibly taxed, to support them? Nice safety net we have here.

      Typical of you to have it completely reversed: its the unpaid work in this society which subsidises for free the capitalist money system.

      Not the other way around. Duh.

    • karol 1.3

      Tighty, yes that 16% is according to the OECD definition of unpaid work. The definition is somewhat problematic, with respect to the differentiation between unpaid work and leisure. here is how they define it, from the document linked in my post.

      The boundary between unpaid work and leisure is determined by the so-called “third-person” criterion. If a third person could hypothetically be paid to do the activity, it is considered to be work. Cooking, cleaning, child care, laundry, walking the dog and gardening are therefore all examples of unpaid work. On the other hand, someone else cannot be paid to watch a movie, play tennis, or silently read book on another’s behalf as the benefits of the activity would accrue to the doer (the third person), and not to the hirer (Ironmonger, 1996). These activities are therefore considered as leisure.

      But consider that some people are paid to play tennis, read books, and watch movies: the latter 2 done by reviewers, teachers etc. As someone who has spent most of their life adult life teaching, I have often noted that reading and viewing I’ve done in my “leisure” time ends up having been useful in my teaching work.

      And also note that the Stat NZ study of 2001 concluded that NZers spend more time doing unpaid than paid work. And yes, of course, people in paid work also do unpaid wurk.

      But when the government axes workers in necessary public services, as the current government is doing, there is an increase in people doing unpaid but necessary wurk. And often it is the people working the least paid hours, and on relatively low incomes, who do more of the necessary wurk.

    • RedLogix 1.4

      Simple question TR.

      If your wages were to drop, would you choose to work more or less?

      Be careful how you answer this question because the neo-classical economic theory insists that you would work less.

      • TightyRighty 1.4.1

        Too simple a question RL. Basic theory, ceterus paribus, would agree with your last statement. any other variable would change the equation beyond recognition.

        • RedLogix 1.4.1.1

          No it’s perfectly fundamental. The orthodox theory depends on the idea that the labour supply curve is forward sloping, ie the more people are paid then the more they will work.

          • TightyRighty 1.4.1.1.1

            Labour supply curve is actually backward bending after a point to the right the point of intersection with the labour demand curve. Simpy put, no matter how much you pay someone there comes a point where that person stops working more, and even starts to work less. Basic theory and very fundamental.

            • RedLogix 1.4.1.1.1.1

              So this means that there will be a different labour supply curve for every point along the labour demand curve … with multiple possible equilibrium points. None of which can be said to be any more ‘fundamental’ than any other.

              In other words the standard theory simply tells us nothing.

              • TightyRighty

                so you are saying that because two lines exist and could cross each other anywhere, theoretically, the standard theory is wrong? It would be wrong if you chose to ignore the other line in the equation, the “demand” line. But it’s perfectly true because you can supply your labour at any price you choose, yet you need another party to pay your price. Thus, markets. Pretty simple really.

                • RedLogix

                  Thus, markets. Pretty simple really.

                  Well no. A ‘market price’ is theoretically where the supply and demand curves meet yet the supply curve is not forward sloping and could meet at many points. And because worker incomes also determine commodity demand and in turn labour demand …it is not an independent variable either. There is no obvious or apparent equilibrium.

                  In other words standard ‘supply and demand’ theory is a very unsuitable tool when applied to labour.

                  In the real world wage rates are not set by any mythical ‘market’ … they are mostly determined by relative political power.

                  • TightyRighty

                    Supply and demand is an incredibly suitable tool when talking about labour, as it’s a good like any other. It can be traded, there is supply of and demand for it. It fits all the criteria of a good. Your spin that real world wage rates somehow don’t reflect the relative supply and demand and therefore price of labour as it is is complete bullshit. Prices don’t rise when their is a glut of supply. Prices rise when there are shortages. No matter how much you want it to be right, you can’t be as you fail to grasp this basic concept.

                    Simple question RL. If I offer you a good that everyone can get for free for $1, would you pay me that $1 in exchange for the good?

                    • mike e

                      The real world doesn’t work like that .
                      Maybe at a company level but internationally no, every country that we trade with is tilting the field in their direction.
                      ie Fisher &Paykel!
                      They were given 15 years of heavy subsidies by the thai govt.
                      What did they get from NZ a high Dollar Zero subsidies!

                    • RedLogix

                      If I offer you a good that everyone can get for free for $1, would you pay me that $1 in exchange for the good?

                      There are no such goods because no-one would produce a ‘good’ for free. Every real good has a marginal cost to produce. So the question is not meaningful in reality.

                      Of course from an employer’s perspective getting labour for free would be nice. That way they could easily achieve maximum profit and there would be zero unemployment because there would be unlimited demand for this ‘free’ labour.

                      errmm … except there would be also zero demand for all the goods and services produced because none of the workers would have an income. Ooops where is the equilibrium here?. Of course a ‘floor’ to the market such as the minimum wage and a social wage for the unemployed prevents this case from arising in practise.

                      Prices don’t rise when their is a glut of supply. Prices rise when there are shortages.

                      But when individual workers are paid more they are just as likely to work fewer hours, or not increase them. A point you just made yourself. There are only 24hrs in a day and roughly 2000hrs in a year and no amount of ‘incentive’ will get workers to exceed this about any significant amount.

                      In this case a shortage of workers might lead to rising wages, to fewer hours being worked, an increase in demand for goods and services …and thus to an even worse effective shortage of workers. In this case the rise in wage price is declared as ‘dangerous inflation’ and the RB bangs up interest rates to suppress demand.

                      Total real wages are not so much determined by some non-existent market mechanism; they are set at low end by the minimum and social wage price, and at the other end by the RB acting to constrain inflation. These are political mechanisms, not market ones.

                      And of course the distribution of income among workers is a whole different story which again reflects more upon relative political power than anything else.

                    • TightyRighty

                      comprehension and economics. Not things you would put on your CV are they RL?

                      [End of conversation….RL]

                • mike e

                  Its to simplistic Tighty almighty!
                  Tag team trolle of the day.
                  So where are all the jobs then!
                  Bene basher has said they are going to reduce the numbers on benefits!
                  So far we have nearly 100,000 more on benefits after 4 years of Nactionals economic mismanagement!
                  So whats changed to make any difference in job creation fact the situation has got worse!
                  TA crawl bag under your bridge to no where!
                  We need a dollar stabilised at around 63cents to the US dollar! then employment would increase!
                  Once those manufacturing jobs have gone they don’t come back we are being sold down the drain by the Rights adherence to fundamentalist economic theory!
                  Economic Terrorists!
                  The same idiots who brought us the GFC PONZI schemes!
                  Shonkey is our binladen Brought direct to you by Merrill Lynch the worlds most corrupt toxic investment Bank!
                  And as for spongers TA BofA paid $29 dollars a share 3 times the market share value which was paid by the US tax payer so old Shonkey sponger extrodinaire!

            • Foreign Waka 1.4.1.1.1.2

              Basic theory – ceteris paribis (all things being equal)- applied to labour looks to me so that in a very mechanical way a persons performance is measured to optimise return for a third party. The difference between slavery and today’s system is that the ancient Romans dictum of “bread and games” has been added to keep the masses quiet. Of cause there are a small group of privileged individuals who’s social job is to keep the rest in line. Naturally, “social peace” is best guarantied when the equilibrium of wealth distribution is just about perfect. We all know that this is like balancing a raw egg on a spoon and has so far eluded this government. No amount of pulling the rug under the hungry will make the problem of uneven wealth distribution go away. In fact things will go right back to the Dickensian era. Now the question that needs to be posed is: who is benefiting from this?

              • Colonial Viper

                We all know that this is like balancing a raw egg on a spoon and has so far eluded this government.

                Has eluded many governments in a row.

        • Mike 1.4.1.2

          If it’s a simple question then your answer should be simple should it not?

  2. ianmac 2

    At the beginning of the English Industrial Revolution in the 19th Century, the idea of the Work Ethic was developed by Church Leaders many of whom were also factory owners. By preaching the God expectation that it was your Christian Duty to work 14 hours a day even if you were only 10 years old, strangely enough the profits from factory work blossomed.
    And in the 21st Century? “Work harder, be more productive, for lower pay and get rid of those pesky Unions!”

    • TightyRighty 2.1

      Sorry? I don’t work harder for less money, if you do, you’re an idiot. pretty simple really. Sounds like you’ve been “wurking” again. Humans react to incentives. quoting “19th century formula of work ethic” as if it somehow trumps millennia of human instinct?

      • Colonial Viper 2.1.1

        TR does not understand human motivation at all, nor 100 years of psychological study into why people do what they do. A sense of self fulfillment, societal recognition, altruism, etc. All things that neolibs like TR pretend are invisible.

        And the latest evidence – people’s overall work performance declines the more that money becomes the primary motivator. The more creative or intellectual the job, the worse the affect.

        • TightyRighty 2.1.1.1

          Humans react to incentives. because someone sat down 100 years and pondered human motivation means that their theory trumps millenia of human evolution. sounds dangerously like creationism to me.

          The latest evidence is correct about monetary rewards and you talk about about a sense of self-fulfillment, societal recognition, altruism. But you talk about them as if they are independent of working. Do you have a job? have you noticed how society, all societies, since forever have given the highest regard to those who show altruism while seeking self-fulfillment through the rewards of being successful at work? or do think we should just bow down to those with their hand out permanently?

          Do you work at all CV?

          • Colonial Viper 2.1.1.1.1

            I work hard at keeping my partner happy and her parents work hard to look after me well. Surely you approve?

            • TightyRighty 2.1.1.1.1.1

              I don’t care at all as long as you don’t sponge off the government. I was only interested as you seem to know so much about working people.

              I do find it humorous though that you admit to being little more than a joke. What do you say when your at a social function and someone asks you what you do? i’d be screaming with laughter if you told me that face to face.

              • muzza

                What do you say when your at a social function and someone asks you what you do? i’d be screaming with laughter if you told me that face to face.

                And there it is…The real core of is issue. EGO!!!

                • TightyRighty

                  Ego: “I” “self”

                  What is your point?

                • Mike

                  Yep, I had to laugh. When someone asks me that at a social function I instantly know they’re an insecure bore, to be avoided. But before getting rid of them I always ask “why are you asking? does that somehow influence your opinion of me?” TR has shown himself for what he is, someone who is ego driven and is worried about his social status amongst his peers in terms of how “important” he/she and they perceive their occupation to be. In short, a twat..

                  • Dr Terry

                    A healthy ego is OK. But “egotism” is another thing, Right Tighty?

                  • TightyRighty

                    I ask because I genuinely want to know. I’m guessing CV would lie about it in a social situation anyway so it makes little difference. Cue the white knights though, ignoring the substance of the argument and focusing on the values of the actually productive person in the tete-a-tete at the social funciton.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      I’m guessing CV would lie about it in a social situation anyway so it makes little difference.

                      Ahhhh the sociopath making predictions about others sins.

            • BM 2.1.1.1.1.2

              Hilarious, it that why you spend so much time running down wealthy people.
              Is this in some vain hope that it may save you from the guillotine?

              Sorry to say it won’t.
              As the hoards gather outside and you hide in your benefactors house you say
              “Don’t cut my head off!!, I’m one of you, look at my posts on the standard”

              Unfortunately for you CV, the blood lust is up and your days are numbered, so embrace the position your in, eat caviar and chocolate off the back of the working class, thumb your nose at the lower classes and enjoy it until the end comes.

              • Colonial Viper

                😎 quite a narrative!

                Hilarious, it that why you spend so much time running down parasitic subgroups of wealthy people

                Added for clarity

          • Colonial Viper 2.1.1.1.2

            Humans react to incentives.

            Most of which are non financial, i.e. environmental/social/intrinsic in nature. Open your eyes to what it means to be a human being.

            • muzza 2.1.1.1.2.1

              TR appears to suffer from the classical signs of brainwashing..

              Human being = Slave consumer, unable to see beyond this mantra, and can’t begin to understand the mind trap he is caught in!

              No thought at all, or vision put into what this world could, or should be, and too stuck in the diabtribe to understand that views such as his are part of the problem, and will eventually land on his door-step!

            • TightyRighty 2.1.1.1.2.2

              most of which actually relate to ones position in society which comes from the quantifiable value one inputs.

              This is one big self-justification exercise for you isn’t it? you would be a psychiatrists wet dream. You spend all day on the internet justifying yourself as you know society doesn’t as you sponge off your partner and her folks. Do you get out and do the hard yards for the left parties that you support so fervently online?

              • mike e

                Tighty Almighty!
                So what is the incentive for you to blog away with your Chicago BS all day!
                Psychiatrists wet dream an Emotionally aloof Narcissist such as yourself!
                Are you wasting company time doing this sponging of the hard labour of other investors and workers!

                • TightyRighty

                  Multi-tasking having been confined to the showroom while covering staff on holiday. You provide 70% of your companies invoicing? I can’t believe you would attack me, a working tax payer because of my beliefs about how my tax dollars are spent, while defending a lazy carnt who lies around the house all day bludging off family wealth who happens to agree with you? Your radar is WAY off.

                  • McFlock

                    It’s the quality of the argument, not the source, that gathers support.
                           
                    For example, your reference to tax dollars as “my” tax dollars is idiotic. They’re “our” tax dollars. Basic errors in fact like that mean that your comments are merely the delusional relics of an obsolete economic cult, unencumbered by any relationship to reality.

          • muzza 2.1.1.1.3

            The latest evidence is correct about monetary rewards and you talk about about a sense of self-fulfillment, societal recognition, altruism. But you talk about them as if they are independent of working.

            Where is this evidence, because you are talking absolute gob-shite

            Do you have a job? have you noticed how society, all societies, since forever have given the highest regard to those who show altruism while seeking self-fulfillment through the rewards of being successful at work? or do think we should just bow down to those with their hand out permanently?

            All societies…really! Successful at work…what does that actually mean?

            Your comments are juvenille garbage!

            • TightyRighty 2.1.1.1.3.1

              “The latest evidence is correct about monetary rewards and you talk about about a sense of self-fulfillment, societal recognition, altruism. But you talk about them as if they are independent of working.

              Where is this evidence, because you are talking absolute gob-shite”

              are you talking to CV or me? he introduced the “evidence” line. I caught what he was on about in the paper the other so decided not to question it. Try reading a whole thread retard.

              All. Societies. You couldn’t even name one that doesn’t to prove me wrong. But go find some obscure tribe that doesn’t work and has everything provided for them. You won’t have to go far given your moniker and general demeanour and intelligence. Your whole suburb probably thinks it’s a special case and “deserves” the welfare it gets.

        • ianmac 2.1.1.2

          Research also shows that the pay rise has a glowing effect of only a few days. The real incentive is Job Satisfaction and Job Recognition. Job Recognition is nothing to do with rewards and a lot to do with the boss or colleagues noticing good work.
          (We noticed that when we said thankyou to checkout assistants their faces lit up. This was in countries where it was simply not done to acknowledge such lowly workers.)

        • framu 2.1.1.3

          he also doesnt get that at a certain point you most definately work more for less $ – its called having bills to pay and dependants with needs that must be met

      • RedLogix 2.1.2

        I don’t work harder for less money, if you do, you’re an idiot.

        If your hourly rate dropped then yes you would in order to maintain your income.

        • TightyRighty 2.1.2.1

          again, to simplistic. All other things being held constant sure, but it would actually incentivise you to look elsewhere. or given the generosity of our welfare system. stop work all together and stick the hand out.

          • RedLogix 2.1.2.1.1

            If there is a positive relationship between wage rates and hours worked, then as the wage rate dropped, so would the number of hours worked … and crucially incomes, the product of the wage rate and hours worked, would drop even faster. So according to economists a fall in the wage rate should mean that workers will substantially reduce their incomes and devote more time to ‘leisure’.

            In reality the only leisure activity you can devote more time to with less money is sleeping. Some workers might have access to capital or skills to create their own employment, but these will always be a minority. In reality the choice for most workers (in the absence of a generous social safety net) is either working or starvation. Rather than smoothly choosing between work and leisure most people face a choice between work and starvation.

            This means that labour supply and demand is not a commodity, nor does it’s supply and demand behave as ‘market’. The fundamental neo-classical tenets that have been used to suggest it does are completely false and irrelevant.

            • TightyRighty 2.1.2.1.1.1

              So you’ve gone and thrown the simple question out the window? problem is you threw the baby along with the bath water RL. You’ve gone and applied the wrong market theory to this problem.

              There is a labour market, it does operate differently from other markets and can distinguished easily by the shape of it’s supply curve. Should of kept it simple , you had me on the ropes until you forgot ceterus paribus was the only thing keeping the thrust of your argument correct.

              The choice is not work or starvation for most workers. It’s for all workers. The welfare net throws the distortion in. As it once stood it worked very well. Now though, being an optional career choice, it provides a price floor for the market. Which creates deadweight loss and has the effect on everybody of pushing prices up. Good work on letting me point that out to you. Thanks

              • RedLogix

                You’ve gone and applied the wrong market theory to this problem.

                errmm … I was merely applying exactly the same theory you were using yourself, namely “I don’t work harder for less money”.

                Then when I showed you were wrong you moved the goal-posts.

                • TightyRighty

                  You jumped from telling me that all the variables couldn’t change to they could. IF someone offers me less money than what I currently am on to do the same job, I don’t work more, I move jobs. I’m not a slave. If any variable can change it’s the work. You seem to be labouring under the illusion that there is a monopsony for labour? that’s the only way your argument makes any sense?

                  • RedLogix

                    IF someone offers me less money than what I currently am on to do the same job, I don’t work more, I move jobs.

                    True for you as an individual. But it cannot be true for the aggregate of the whole labour ‘market’ … can it?

                    • TightyRighty

                      Ah yes it can. The mobility of labour is a pretty essential part of not being a slave. Funny how your union mates act against the free movement of labour. Slavers in the making.

                    • RedLogix

                      So logically the only barrier between a mobile labour force and higher incomes is that we should all move to higher paying jobs? Now while that may well be possible for individuals .. it cannot be possible for the entire labour force all at once. In this case it’s totally obvious how you simply cannot aggregate from the behaviour of one individual to an entire market.

                      Unless of course labour organised itself into a single trade union (the monopsony you mentioned earlier) and then logically the price of labour would indeed rise for each individual worker employed. But I somehow don’t think that is what you are arguing for.

                    • TightyRighty

                      Pretty much. the only barrier is the individual. if all the individuals have problems, then the market has a problem. If only half the market has a problem, then the other half are held back when you aggregate it. What you are advocating pretty much shows what a right fucking burden the current social welfare system is on the productive of this country. Thanks for making my point for me.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    You’re an idiot Tighty. The point of an economy is to support society, Not the other way around.

                    Further, the workforce mobility of an individual is highly limited. You close down an auto plant, it will take those workers years to retrain in IT, and many will never ever be able to accomplish the transition.

                    You are throwing people away.

                    Social security is an essential structure required to protect the population from capitalist predators.

              • Draco T Bastard

                The choice is not work or starvation for most workers. It’s for all workers. The welfare net throws the distortion in. As it once stood it worked very well.

                History tells us differently.

                The worst thing about poverty in the 19th century was the callous attitude of many people. Many of them believed in ‘self-help’. That is they thought everyone should be self-reliant and not look to other people for help. They also believed that anyone could become successful through sheer hard work and thrift. Logically that meant that if you were poor it was your fault. Many people in the 19th century (not all) felt that the poor were to blame for their poverty.

                At the end of the 19th century more than 25% of the population was living at or below subsistence level. Surveys indicated that around 10% were very poor and could not afford even basic necessities such as enough nourishing food. Between 15% and 20% had just enough money to live on (provided they did not lose their job or have to take time off work through illness).

                For most people in the past where you think the labour market worked it really was a choice of work or starve. NACT are trying to bring this back so that a few people can boost their own wealth.

                The dead weight loss is profit.

          • Mike 2.1.2.1.2

            Please explain, what is overly generous about $195 per week unemployment benefit?

            You crack me up when you keep saying “too simplistic”. How can a question possibly be “too” simple. It just requires a simple answer. If your hourly rate dropped then yes you would work harder whether you liked it or not because you would have to work longer hours to collect the same pay.

            simple aye…

            • TightyRighty 2.1.2.1.2.1

              I agree with the argument when just using basic theory. It doesn’t hold true in the real world. That’s why I’m pointing out that the simplistic argument is correct but doesn’t allow for real world situations by being to simple.

              Starting to think the the only things simple round here are the premise and you

              • Colonial Viper

                You’re the one who thinks that human behaviour largely boils down to just money. No, that’s just you and about 10% of the population.

                • TightyRighty

                  Being exceptionally good at HR CV, I know that there is a mix of factors that are involved in people motivation. Rewards, both intrinsic and extrinsic, fuel our motivation. But have a good old crack at a tory who likes money and works bloody hard for it. I’ve dated wealth, could’ve married. Would’ve kept working. Hold my head up high when I am the pub and all that.

                  Got your allowance today?

              • mike e

                Tight arse almighty!
                The latest research shows supporters of Conservative economics and policy!
                Don’t think much have a low level of intellect and look for simplistic ideas to complicated ideas you are a shining example!
                They used MRI scans to uncover the way people think.
                Left thinkers were more interested in community and cooperation and future consequences while right wingers were into selfishness and short sightedness1

                • TightyRighty

                  Do you even stop for a second to tread the tripe you write? Even basic proof reading would help make your comments slightly intelligible. Seriously, this post gave me cancer just reading it.

                  National Standards just might have helped you. how is it down in the LONG tail?

                  • Tiger Mountain

                    Jeez talk about “fear and loathing”, have a rest TR, pip pip, the drinks trolley will be along soon surely. Get slaughtered and leave us poor lefties to it.

  3. r0b 3

    Welcome aboard Karol – great post!

  4. Uturn 4

    Looking at work in the sense of “positive energy” will recreate the same mess we have now. Wurk is still measured by the dominant culture as being profitable within the existing system, effectively reinforcing that system.

    People measure their personal worth by what they do and their connection to each other through economic ties or the dollar value of the work if they were paid to do it. This creates a hierarchy and hierarchies invite all the abuses of power that the Left theoretically oppose. If there is a top, then there is a bottom. If we say, “You can’t treat me badly, I look after your children/parents/fix your house/do your books for nothing”, we are not doing “positive” wurk, we are using wurk as a way to reinforce our own worth, protect ourselves and maintain our position within a corrupted system; a system we perpetuate despite our “positive effect” and with our votes every few years. No one can appease a system that divorces humanity from itself.

    At best, it’s Bourgeois socialism, at worst Fascism and underlying all of it is fear of our neighbours. It is not until people stop rating each other in terms of profit, cultural or emotional benefits that a new arrangements can begin to form. No policy or politican can do that for us.

    • karol 4.1

      Uturn, you make some good points and provide much food for thought.

      Looking at work in the sense of “positive energy” will recreate the same mess we have now. Wurk is still measured by the dominant culture as being profitable within the existing system, effectively reinforcing that system.

      This fits with ex National MP, Marilyn Waring, being one of the international leaders in refocusing economics on “unpaid work”.

      http://www.aut.ac.nz/institute-of-public-policy/ipp-staff/marilyn-waring

      She has highlighted some important weaknesses in current economic orthodoxy. But she does still look to put a monetary value on “unpaid work”, and bring it into the mainstream of capitalist economics.

      The OECD report I linked in my post, also aims for such a result. And I notice in their definition of “unpaid work” vs “leisure” (as I commented @9.43am above). They tend to focus on egs of unpaid work that are stuff that people need to do for everyday survival and maintenance, or that can be measured in terms of monetary value in the short term: Cooking, cleaning, child care, laundry, walking the dog and gardening

      For leisure activities they give examples of watch a movie, play tennis, or silently read book

      But that book could be something like The Spirit level, or John A Lee’s Children of the Poor, which could be part of later discussions that contribute to long term changes in social policy, for the betterment of society. Playing tennis, or being able to talk with others in the community about watching Coro, could be an important element in developing community solidarity.

      Of course, the latter is doing something, albeit in a different economic context, that the wealthy and business elite refer to as economically productive networking (as in golf games and “business lunches”, which they can write off as business expenses).

      • RedLogix 4.1.1

        Not to mention that most vital ‘unpaid work’ of all … having the children who are the next generation of workers and consumers for the system. This is the ultimate subsidy to the capitalist system.

        Besides, without children everything ‘economic’ becomes utterly pointless.

        • Colonial Viper 4.1.1.1

          Plenty of people out there right now who seem to think that hoarding piles of assets for themselves is the point. Even at a painful cost to NZ’s children they keep doing it.

      • Jokerman 4.1.2

        Excellent, articulate posts karol :)

  5. Dr Terry 5

    I notice that nobody appears to connect “work” to “sense of vocation”. What Bennett is threatening is that people must accept demeaning work, like it or not. Any job will do. Employment brings reward both financially and through personal fulfillment (or vocation), attaining certain goals. There is nothing worse than to be forced into degrading work which fosters resentment and loss of self-esteem (hence mentally related distress, often “depression”). As with most things in a democracy, work must be associated with an element of choice in line with personal aims.

    • Jokerman 5.1

      i must be forgiven Doc.
      ironically, btw, guess where i am going to begin Sunday, prayer and worship services (and some gardening i imagine) nothing like a little “new blood” aye? (becomes quite upsetting witnessing ‘the blind leading the blind’)
      anyway, when i took the latest Taonga out of me bag, a John Stott Memorial Fund brochure fell out on the floor…..like little bread crumbs left by Him.

      Once upon a time, in a cloud far far away, i had to find “things” to fill the day; now He finds me.:)

    • karol 5.2

      Agree on the divisive attitude to work as forced labour compared with vocation, Dr terry. Hence the image with my post of the non-choice (as promoted by Bennett for the low paid and beneficiaries) of wage-slavery or starvation.

  6. aerobubble 6

    Its called slavery. When the state expects everyone to work for pitiful remunerations.

    One sad fact about the activity economy compelled into existence by the emergence
    of cheap oil in the 80s, is the idea that growth comes about by throwing money at
    science, and does away with the ideals of a free society where real growth isn’t
    chosen by the market (or government) but by free individuals often living as far
    from demands of taxation, income necessity, surrounded in a society of equally
    time rich people. i.e. the activity society is transforming into the compulsion society.

  7. xtasy 7

    Karol:

    “Bennett’s welfare reforms will be a false economy. They will provide more ways of controlling those on low incomes, resulting in an increase in unpaid and low paid servitude, for the benefit of the state and private enterprises.”

    First of all thanks for mentioning me for some “contributions” re the debate on welfare, work-readiness and whatever else I may have thrown a few bits in.

    As for my selected quotation from your piece at the top: International experience has shown that such “fiddling” with welfare systems will not save much or anything at all. What the measures proposed by Bennett and her NatACT masters (she is just a useful mouthpiece and “front” servant) will result in is, that beneficiaries having less entitlement, due to stricter criteria, reduced benefit components, or in the worst case due to having their benefit cut (as “sanctions”), will be forced to find other means to make up for the loss in income.

    This will lead to crime, prostitution, secret odd jobs done by those on benefits that may be able to do something (“job seekers”), drug trading and so forth. All this will have consequential follow up costs of different types. Crime will create costs due to police and justice system work, prostitutes on benefits will compete with already working prostitutes (lowering rates, putting others out of “business”), drug dealing will take money out of consumption of other goods, in some cases keep cops, courts and lawyers busy, and doing odd jobs will affect tradesmen, lawnmowers, other workers, losing “business”. Also will taxes not be paid on odd jobs.

    So all that it will result in is, some more work in other areas, a shift of “work” and income between different groups affected differently, no real savings being made in the end, and a government thus likely going to react by making yet further cuts.

    The biggest losers will be those too sick and disabled to do anything, who may not be able to survive properly (see the Sam Kahu case), and thus some may see no hope anymore, thus taking their lives.

    Paid work is needed, and I am warming for the idea of Gareth Morgan and some others, favouring a basic community income or wage for all, which will be topped up for those in extra need (due to sickness, disability, child raising and so). So a lot of voluntary work already done by those officially not working for pay, will be rewarded that way, and further work can and will still be done, to grow the economy, which needs the right types of investment, not more punitive cuts to incomes of the poorest and not more re-distribution of wealth from the bottom to the top.

    • karol 7.1

      xtasy, yes, I deed omit to mention anything about the impact on crime and the implications for the disabled. I agree with the points you make on these angles.

      On disabilities – there’s a worrying trend on this in the UK, with disability-bashing being a growth sport, according to articles I’ve read – an extension of benny-bashing.

      The idea of a universal wage/income is a one I like too. It will cut the admin, and ensure everyone has enough to survive.

  8. Draco T Bastard 8

    This to not quite fir in this thread but I’ll put it in here anyway:

    My father commented once that all the work I do, means the government is getting my services very cheaply. The current government policies, however, make me feel incredibly guilty; that I have been unable to turn my contribution to society into something that can support me financially. I feel guilty because I know that I have enough intellect and function to get paid work, but employers look at the way I walk and talk, then freak. They need to see me at the LAC board table; they need to see me having meetings with the Regional Manager; they need to see the ideas that are generated by the Auckland LAC; they need to see me in the other advocacy roles that take up my time.

  9. xtasy 9

    Bennett has little time for such more positive ideas as shared in this thread. She rather wishes to pursue the same kind of ideological, misguided approach as Dr David Bratt, the mentor of Regional Health Advisors, Regional Disability Advisors and Health and Disability Coordinators – working under him at WINZ and MSD, to “train” and “guide” “designated doctors”, GPs in general, and thus “robustly” and “resulutely” deal to these “work shy” “benefit addicts”:

    http://www.gpcme.co.nz/pdf/GP%20CME/Friday/C1%201515%20Bratt-Hawker.pdf

    http://www.gpcme.co.nz/pdf/GP CME/Friday/C1 1515 Bratt-Hawker.pdf

    Work in open employment is the “best medicine” from his point of view, no matter what. He is supported by Dr Beaumont, who also advised ACC, and who sits on the Social Welfare Reform Panel.

    But thankfully some are onto it now, what has been going on for far too long:

    http://fyi.org.nz/request/list_of_designated_doctors_for_b?unfold=1

    http://fyi.org.nz/user/acclaim_otago

    http://www.acclaimotago.org/

  10. Anna 10

    I’d just like to know why I can get a child-care subsidy to use the services of a corporately owned child-care centre like ABC for Kids (totally owned by Australia) but can’t spend that same money to pay or part-pay a wage to a real person, for example a retired Grandmother or a Stay-at-home Mum… I’d much rather have the later… Just saying

  11. Angel 11

    In case anybody’s interested, I’ve uploaded my photos from the Henderson demo and march onto Demotix. You can see them here:
    http://www.demotix.com/news/1501576/national-day-action-against-welfare-reforms-auckland

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