Home advice better for Shearer

Written By: - Date published: 2:58 pm, January 9th, 2012 - 21 comments
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Here we go – the DomPost offers advice to Shearer on welfare policy, based on a Guardian article by Liam Byrne, British Labour shadow welfare spokesperson. The editorial is a disguised invitation to good old beneficiary-bashing, using the frame of welfare dependency. Trevor Mallard, New Zealand Labour’s spokesperson for the America’s Cup, has also referenced the article on Red Alert as “slaying some sacred cows,” without specifying what that means.

The DomPost would like Shearer to drop any notion that payments to beneficiaries are not enough to depend on for a living. The DomPost says

No-one begrudges the assistance given by the state to the sick, the injured and those who, through no fault of their own, find themselves without a job. There, but for the grace of God, go all of us. However, the aim of welfare policy must always be to help those without work secure a foothold in the employment market. Schools, hospitals and roads are not built with welfare cheques. In New Zealand, as in Britain, the challenge for Labour is to reconnect the party with the working man, and woman.

A foothold in the employment market? With jobs the way they are? Toehold more likely, and who can live on that?

Writing in the New Statesman, George Eaton says Byrne’s argument could be summarised as:

Labour’s new approach to welfare reform could be summarised as WWBD – what would Beveridge do? Anxiously advancing behind Beveridge’s ghost, he writes that the great Liberal would “scarcely have believed housing benefit alone is costing the UK over £20bn a year” and that he did not believe in unconditional benefits for the unemployed… The necessary qualification, of course, is that Beveridge’s welfare state was designed for a system of full employment (hence the title of his second report in 1944: Full Employment in a Free Society), rather than one in which an average of 23 people are chasing every new job.

The DomPost equivalent is WWSD, what would Savage do? It concludes:

“They wanted workers to be fairly rewarded for their efforts, to operate in safe workplaces, and, if they fell on hard times, to receive support till they could get back on their feet. Labour’s proposal to extend to beneficiaries the “in work tax credit”, intended to compensate low-income workers for the extra costs associated with working, must have had them spinning in their graves. It is inconceivable that Savage and his colleagues ever viewed welfare as a valid alternative to work, as some of their successors appear to do.”

That is the purest crap. Savage and his colleagues came to government after the 1935 Depression, and one of their first acts was to replace the hated workfare schemes with sustenance payments, which were gradually increased to award wage levels. They also promoted vigorous job creation using the public purse.

As the world economy stands on the edge of another crisis, we need governments that address the need for jobs for all, not look to divide those with jobs against those who have little hope of finding them. IMHO, David Shearer would be better advised to follow what Savage and his colleagues did here after the Depression. Jobs were the key then – that would certainly appeal to the working man, and woman, now. Trevor Mallard would be better advised to look closer to our home tradition for ideas – how many jobs in the America’s Cup?

21 comments on “Home advice better for Shearer”

  1. lprent 1

    There are tens of thousands of people on unemployment benefits at present because there is a shortage of work. So this DomPost editor thinks that making it difficult to get benefits or creating workfare that costs more to administer and run than the benefit costs is going somehow create jobs?

    They are out of work because of the economy. So to target a small minority of people who don’t want to work, this dickhead wants to make it more difficult for those who do want it. Duh! Because trying to find a job at present is hard because there is limited growth and investment going on. Consequently there aren’t new jobs being created. Perhaps the editor who wrote this should try to explain this magic trick of creating jobs by making life harder (including harder to even look for work – I always find job hunting is quite costly) for people on unemployment benefits…

    I’ve seen some rank stupidity from DomPost editors in the past, but this is indicates that they need a pref frontal lobotomy to increase their intelligence. Obviously having a cortex is just too much of a strain for them to bear.

    • Tigger 1.1

      Are they trying to scare the new leadership into making some knee-jerk, panicked moves? Do they think that the conservative part of Labour is now in the driver’s seat and hoping to make them ride rough over the powerless? Whatever it is, I’m all for taking good advice from wherever it comes. This, however, is stupid advice and should be ignored.

    • Colonial Viper 1.2

      There’s a certain kind of sociopath who, when the going gets a bit tough, finds extra pleasure in giving a good kicking to those at the bottom of the ladder.

      Strangely enough its common to find these personality types in positions of power and influene.

    • mik e 1.3

      Dunedin has over 10,000 unemployed there are 17 jobs advertised on trade me 60 jobs at winz. The right have to bash benes to cover poor economic performance

      • Pete 1.3.1

        A quick search on Seek says there are 185 jobs in Dunedin offering over $30k. The university – the city’s biggest employer – currently has 39 vacancies. The Household Labour Force Survey for the whole Otago region (I couldn’t find figures for Dunedin only) has 6,400 people unemployed for the September quarter.

        I hate the beneficiary bashing, kneejerk reaction of the media and politicians. I think we can all agree that meaningful, productive work that provides a livable income is the ideal for all those who are capable of work – but this government is attacking it from the wrong direction (or, as far as they’re concerned, having a pool of unemployed people keeps costs down for employers – a much more sinister proposition).

  2. randal 2

    the dompost has been on the wonk for quite sometime.
    too much freebooze and sausage rolls for the idiotes on ebony row and no intellectual grunt in the newsroom.
    very sad.
    What David Shearer has to do is connect with the people.
    rememeber Helen Clarke in 1999.
    she humbled herself and went everywhere and anywhere just to talk to people.
    focus groups are just a dogleg in a straight line.
    let the functionaries do the that.
    and flay them unmercifully till they shed some fat and nonsense nostrums.
    oh and a) dont buy a motorbike but b) listen to waylon jennings and get some snakeskin shitkickers.

  3. newsense 3

    “Vigorous job creation using the public purse”-

    is this what we would have had with a Labour government in the alternative version of the last two terms and what does this mean? What will it mean to Shearer and co?

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      No, Labour would not have created thirty thousand new public sector jobs via government spending in conservation, health, public works and infrastructure. (Doing so would only have cost as much as the SCF bail out, and done far more good for NZ families).

      Labour is still beholden to the ideology of a ‘market led’ private sector recovery which will not be coming.

  4. Hilary 4

    The first Labour government also created disability payments which was a great humanitarian advance as it recognised that there were some people who were too sick or disabled to work. Previously the situation was as described by WB Sutch who gives an account from the Depression of a woman who had to push her husband 10 miles every day in his wheelchair to report for relief work.The UK is currently going back down that road with forced reassessments of those previously on disability benefits being reclassified as work fit. The system is now choked with appeals, and people are dying waiting for their hearing.

  5. just saying 5

    Labour has already started down this road with Mallard’s comments on ‘Red Alert’.

    The sad irony is that Labour can only survive beyond the next couple of elections, if it takes back the power on what gets heard in the greater public discussions. It would be tough for the current parliamentarians to wear the blow-back if they argued the sort of social democratic vision you describe, and yet they could just as easily lead the next governemnt if they were to do so.

    And they really need to harden-up and stop acting like insecure 13 year-olds in the face of criticism and fluctuating unpopularity. National just won an election on a platform of asset sales and public service cuts. Faint hearts never won anything worth jackshit.

    If they want to tell and alternative story about New Zealand’s future, Labour needs to start right now. I don’t think they want to.

  6. randal 6

    national never won the election on policy.
    it was never discussed except with the beneficiaries of the charter school backers and the drooling predators salivating on the state assets about to be served up to them.
    it won on kweeewees smile and the fawning media taking orders from their foreign owners.
    Shearer will win the next election if he gets down and dirty with the people of this country and promises to undo all the mischief of this nashnil gubmint

  7. mikesh 7

    Beveridge and Savage didn’t have to worry about their workers having to compete with Chinese workers. Their economies were relatively protected.

    • McFlock 7.1

      Nah, that’s a cop-out.
      The main problem over the last 20 years is the fact that the reserve bank has had a singlular focus on the inflation rate as an economic indicator for the country. The concept of non-accelerating ifnflation rate of unemployment is the theory aggressively pursued by spiking the OCR just as the economy gets gong, thereby lowering company expansion and increasing unemployment.

      • Colonial Viper 7.1.1

        Take the money supply out of the hands of the fraking debt creating private bankers and return it to the Government as a core function of governing our economy.

        Then, apply a super-profits tax on corporations operating in NZ, 89% on every dollar earned over $50M pa seems reasonable, to stop the continual pumping out of financial capital that we see month in month out – particularly from the likes of the big 4 banks, Telecom, Vodafone, etc.

        • mikesh

          A $50M profit may seem excessive in the case of many companies, but not necessarily for a large company like Telecom. The point at which the 89c/$ tax cuts in may have to vary from company to company, which would be awkward administratively.

          • Colonial Viper

            Awkward?! How is “awkward” a justifiable reason to not claw back a billion dollars p.a. which would otherwise head straight overseas, depleting NZ of financial capital year after year?!

            Tell you what, for a 0.1% fee I’ll design a non-awkward system to implement the superprofits tax. It’ll be a win-win, I promise.

            • mikesh

              If Telecom earns $650M it would be left with a profit of $116M after paying this supertax, which may be too thin a margin given the amount of capital that Telecom employs. So you would need to adjust the cut in point from company to company. On what basis is that adjustment to be decided. Capital employed? Turnover?

              • Colonial Viper

                which may be too thin a margin given the amount of capital that Telecom employs.

                This is not a problem.

                If Telecom were not willing to operate under these circumstances, they can simply sell their infrastructure and operation back to the Government.

      • mikesh 7.1.2

        Even so, I think an accelerating inflation rate is undesirable.

        • McFlock

          Indeed it is. But regarding even the slightest level of inflation as “rust” that must be scraped away along with the jobs of 6-8% of the working population is a situation that I think is even more undesirable, and more damaging for the economy in the long run.

          • Colonial Viper

            Easy to control the inflation rate, just claw back more taxes and compulsory savings at the top end of the income scale, and also require banks to hold more reserve capital forcing them to reduce lending.

            Plus ensure every market in the economy is open to small entrant competitors who will continue to force prices down.

            Its really very easy. You don’t have to put families on the breadline to do this.

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