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An appropriate apology and an issue that needs fixing

Written By: - Date published: 7:04 am, June 2nd, 2017 - 103 comments
Categories: benefits, child welfare, human rights, welfare - Tags: , , , , ,

Newshub did good work here:

Rape victim has benefit docked by WINZ

A young rape victim who became pregnant to her attacker had her benefit docked by Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ) – because she refused to name the father of her child.

But after a lengthy battle, the government agency has finally admitted it got it wrong.

The woman – known only as Laura for privacy reasons – had the money deducted even though the law provides an exemption to the sanction if the child is born of sexual assault or incest.

“I don’t want to put that person on my son’s birth certificate cause I don’t want him to be known as a product of rape,” she says.

But because she wouldn’t name the father WINZ started cutting her benefit by $22 a week, rising to $28 a week. The deductions lasted about two-and-a-half years. But here is the thing – there’s an exemption to the sanction if the pregnancy is the result of a sexual assault.

More than two months ago she tried again to get the money back – still no result from WINZ. Until Newshub got involved. …

To her credit, the Minister has apologised:

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley apologises to rape victim who refused to name father of her child

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has apologised in Parliament to a rape victim whose benefit was wrongly docked after she refused to name the father of her child.

Tolley has also now also asked officials to review the requirement for women to disclose the name of the father of their child or risk having the benefit docked as a sanction.

She said the reason there was an obligation to name a father, except in cases such as rape, was to try to ensure the father paid a fair share of child support.

She said the Government had no intention of changing the obligation, which was put in place under National in 1990 and the penalties were increased by Labour in the 2000s. However, she had asked officials to assess its effectiveness.

There are circumstances beyond rape where a mother might not know the father’s details, or might not wish the father of her child to be known. To impose a financial penalty in such cases seems misguided, punitive, and likely to damage the child (yes I think Labour was wrong on this). If the Nats have “no intention of changing the obligation” then this is an issue that needs to be looked at with an open mind by a new government. The spotlight shone on this case might have a much wider impact than “Laura” expected.

103 comments on “An appropriate apology and an issue that needs fixing ”

  1. adam 1

    Thugs in beige, or as you call them – work and income.

    This is a ministry which needs to go, the people who work their are now officially, sick in the head.

    Just replace the whole dam place with a universal benefit.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      Just replace the whole dam place with a universal benefit.

      You can’t. There’s always going to be some extra need that needs to be addressed.

      The problem is that over the last 20 years the place has become punitive rather than helpful and that started with National in the 1990s and has continued downwards ever since.

      • Chris 1.1.1

        A universal benefit would get rid of relationship status which would put an end to the deduction for not naming the other parent.

        • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1.1

          A UBI would address many of the problems of the present system but there’s still going to have to be some targeted assistance to those who need it above and beyond the norm.

    • James 1.2

      “This is a ministry which needs to go, the people who work their are now officially, sick in the head.”

      Are you really using mental health as an insult now.

      There will always be problems but there will be a lot of dedicated hard working people there who really want to do the very best possible.

      Paining everyone who works for a department as “sick in the head” is just beyond stupid.

      • weka 1.2.1

        The culture is sick though, seriously bad. I’ve known really good people who work at WINZ, but that’s a different thing that the culture as a whole. It’s not about there always being problems, it’s about how bad the system is. People that don’t have to deal with it have no idea.

      • adam 1.2.2

        James, now demonstrates his difficulty in understand colloquialism.

        The fake pathos is a nice touch, but a wee bit over blown.

        I’d say get over your self, but as you support the beating of children – I’m not sure you ever can.

        • Chuck 1.2.2.1

          A universal benefit is just a wet dream for you adam.

          Might pay to lay off the weed for a while, calling thousands of Government employees “sick in the head” is pretty low. Trying to back track and use the defence of “colloquialism” is pretty funny though…

          • adam 1.2.2.1.1

            It’s Chucky!! Long time since I’ve seen your incoherent ramblings. Missed your frail wit, and lack of comprehension on how the English language works.

            My wet dreams are not fit for this forum (see policy), and never included such dry things as economics.

            Welcome back, how was the ban? How long before you get another, I wonder?

    • Johan 1.3

      Adam, “This is a ministry which needs to go, the people who work their are now officially, sick in the head.” I fully agree and this department needs to be replace.
      Work and Income has a culture of punishing people who need help. Similarly CYFs, had proven that their abusive power was very unhelpful to the vulnerable.

    • weka 1.4

      “Just replace the whole dam place with a universal benefit.”

      At the moment benefit rates are assessed based on need. How would a flat rate improve that? As far as I can see there will always be a need to topups, and thus a department to manage that.

      • RedLogix 1.4.1

        Really simple … just extend the Universal Benefit to children at a lower rate. It’s nothing more than a re-shaping of Working for Families; and something the Greens and TOP have both argued for:

        https://home.greens.org.nz/factsheets/universal-child-benefit-some-frequently-asked-questions

        http://morganfoundation.org.nz/why-not-a-universal-child-payment/

        http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10830014

        And in case many of you have forgotten a Universal Child Allowance was something NZ had for many decades until sometime in the late 90’s if my memory serves.

        • weka 1.4.1.1

          That still doesn’t attend to the full range of supplementary benefits, as you well know.

          • RedLogix 1.4.1.1.1

            Only a problem if you really want it to be.

            • weka 1.4.1.1.1.1

              In other words you have no solution, and going on past conversations you are ok with vulnerable people being worse off.

              Either that or those people should just pull themselves up by their bootstraps and find personal solutions to their lack of income. Because, it’s only a problem if they really want it to be.

              • RedLogix

                Universal Benefits (such as Super) are a huge step in the right direction, but it seems your option is to cling to the current broken, dysfunctional and corrosive system because under the constraints of neo-lib paradigms a perfect UI isn’t easy to design.

                and going on past conversations you are ok with vulnerable people being worse off

                Not at all sure where the hell I said that, but maybe I’m just getting forgetful. What I do know if we start with a UI as a foundation, there are many, many people far more talented than me who could devise all sorts of positive, creative solutions to these issues.

                just pull themselves up by their bootstraps and find personal solutions to their lack of income.

                The present system puts a jackboot on their throats to absolutely prevent them from doing so. A UI gives people a chance to exactly do this, find creative personal ways to make their lives better. I find it baffling that you’d oppose this.

                • weka

                  “but it seems your option is to cling to the current broken, dysfunctional and corrosive system because under the constraints of neo-lib paradigms a perfect UI isn’t easy to design.”

                  I’m for system change and promoting a new system that starts from a basic premise of support for the most vulnerable. And I’m opposing top down thinking that suggests that we can design a system from an economics POV and then worry about the most vulnerable later. One of the reasons for that is because the current broken, dysfunctional and corrosive system is exactly that, a system that is based on economic and ideology that treats the most vulnerable as secondary to the system (Health is now the same).

                  Another way to understand this is to look at UBI models designed by economists vs people with social justice at the forefront. Also RW vs LW models (let’s not forget that early UBI ideas were forged by conservatives and neoliberals).

                  IMO the Greens’ policy starts with social justice and then figures out how to make it work financially. This is why they have a really good welfare policy and their UBI policy is to take it to NZ and investigate what would be best.

                  TOP start with the economics, and sure, it’s a far better kind of economics than Nact, and then try and add on the social justice issues afterwards. They also want to dictate what should happen rather than taking it to the country. But they don’t understand welfare very well, and their nod towards the supplementary benefit issue is woeful. For an organisation that has put massive effort into a UBI model, that is unacceptable and IMO dangerous.

                  Labour appear to be somewhat in the middle, with their social justice focus being on the workforce and automation issues. I like what they are doing with that, but they also are not designing around the most vulnerable people and will most likely design a system that doesn’t do well by them.

                  I’m in two minds about a UBI at the moment (having previously been very in favour). Because I can’t see how to Tory proof it, and the risk of dropping welfare completely and then having National wreck the UBI later is pretty high. I don’t think that’s unsolvable, but I am pushing back against the economics first models because I think they make that risk worse.

                  The things I really like about the UBI are the removal of the punishment system from WINZ, and as you say, the potential for allowing many people to get creative with how they manage their lives. That stuff is great and at this stage I would probably support a modified UBI/welfare hybrid that refocusses on social security. I will oppose one that seeks to remove welfare entirely. In that sense yes we can get rid of WINZ if that’s the best way, but we still need a welfare system alongside the UBI and I want that system to be designed well too.

                  edited.

                  • weka

                    btw, I’ve spent most of the last few years on TS arguing against people who say disability/illness can just be dealt with by moving to it to Health (and not even getting to the other supplementary benefit issues). But that’s the reason you haven’t been getting a lot of creative response from me. Too many lefties thinking they know what’s best for disabled people instead of actually listening to them and finding out. I know you have your own family experience, which is great to draw from, but I’m talking about something broader.

                    I’ll put up a post about this at some point, which will try and lay out those base issues and point to potential solutions.

                    • Karen

                      Weka, I don’t know whether you saw this article about the disability allowance cuts in Britain. Horrifying.

                      https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/may/30/disabled-readers-austerity-disability-cuts

                    • RedLogix

                      Two comments and I’ll have to leave it here:

                      1. Nothing is “Tory proof” … nor should we ever aspire to such a thing. Politics is essentially about defining and owning the framework; the neo-libs were wildly successful at this and the left has struggled to come up with an authentic response for far too long.

                      2. My own suggestions around supplementary benefits did not arise entirely in a vacuum; as you know I’ve close family members who’re in the disability system and a sense of how awful it can be and also what parts do work. But absolutely I’d be delighted to hear better ideas from anyone who care to make their case.

                    • weka

                      1. in which case we definitely shouldn’t get rid of welfare completely then. But I think if we are to design a system, we need to think about how to make it workable long term. I think you misunderstand the use of Tory-proof there.

                      2. yes, I remember that. I also remember you taking the position along with others that it could all be dealt with in Health and not really listening to the reasons why that’s a bad idea. It’s ok, because I refined my thinking on this, but it’s still not pleasant having to argue off the back foot like that instead of having people proactively support disability rights.

                    • weka

                      I know a bit Karen, but mostly it’s too hard to read because I know that the ideologies and policies there are being fed into NZ including at the Ministry level. It’s scary as hell. National won’t go so hard out at it (not yet anyway), but they’re doing more subtle but distinct shifts e.g. no more sickness benefit, reframing welfare as an addiction.

                      This is one of the reasons why I push back against the UBI without supplementaries thing so hard. We need constitutional protection for disabled people before we go there.

  2. dukeofurl 2

    Sounds like one of those things where they provide ‘an exemption’ but in practice means its unavailable except in extreme circumstances, ie a police report as corroboration or something like that.

    They are ending up as ACC- “We have people who say differently to your opinion”

  3. Nigel 3

    “There are circumstances beyond rape where a mother might not know the father’s details, or might not wish the father of her child to be known.”

    Indeed – and there are also exemption in the Law beyond rape. See section 70A (3) of the Social Security Act 1964.

    I’m not suggesting the Law is fair (or not) but the implication of the above statement is that the legislation only allows exemptions for rape. Which is no true.

    • r0b 3.1

      Thanks for the clarification.

    • weka 3.2

      Interesting. The start of that section says,

      “70A Rates of benefits for sole parents may be reduced”

      The use of the word ‘may’ says to me that this is discretionary. Which means it’s the policy not the legislation that is at issue.

      However, the bit you are referring to (I think) isn’t that broad,

      “there is a compelling circumstance, other than a circumstance mentioned elsewhere in this subsection, for the beneficiary’s failure or refusal to carry out any of the actions set out in subparagraphs (i) to (iii) of subsection (1)(c), and, even if the beneficiary carried out the action, there is no real likelihood of child support being collected in the foreseeable future from the other parent, or, as the case may be, the other parent’s estate; or”

      So if there is a compelling reason for not disclosing and it’s unlikely to lead to the other parent paying child support, then the beneficiary can be exempted. Having a compelling reason alone isn’t sufficient. Compelling isn’t defined, so again, back to the policy.

      • Michael 3.2.2

        Well said, Weka: the decision to impose sanctions on beneficiaries is discretionary but the problem is that WINZ/MSD simply will not exercise those powers fairly and in a manner that respects the dignity of the people who need direct financial support from the state. This is a matter of organisational culture (the same sickness flourishes at ACC, BTW); another term for it is “epistemic injustice”, where people without power are condemned to suffer abuse from people with power, including petty bureaucrats granted limited, and discretionary, powers by our elected representatives via the Social Security Act 1964. Thus, WINZ/MSD’s abusive treatment of our fellow citizens is a matter for us because we keep electing representatives who at least condone that abuse, after calculating that most New Zealanders condone it too.

        • Karen 3.2.2.1

          The culture in WINZ comes from the top. Many individuals who work there try their best to help within the restrictions imposed while others are all too happy to be bullies. There needs to be a change in government and a direction to change the culture.

          I worked there in the 1980s during university holidays and for a couple of years part-time when I finished. There were no security guards in those days – there was never any need. The attitudes of the permanent staff varied – there were definitely some judgemental people but there were also people who went out of their way to help. I think the situation now is more like that portrayed in “I,Daniel Blake” with strict limits on what help you can provide.

          The reason for so many homeless people – far more than is ever acknowledged – is down to the culture in WINZ.

        • Chris 3.2.2.2

          It’s not discretionary in the sense you mean. The rate of benefit “shall” be reduced if the circumstances listed are present, subject to the exemptions. It’s s 70A(2) that says this. Subsection (1) lists the “failures” to do what needs to be done to avoid the deduction, and subsection (3) lists the exemptions. No discretion, really.

          • weka 3.2.2.2.1

            Thanks Chris, that’s an important distinction then. What do you think about the compelling circumstance clause?

            • Chris 3.2.2.2.1.1

              I think it reflects the purpose of the section as a whole i.e if there’s no possibility of collecting child support then there’s no point punishing the parent, almost always the mother. This idea should guide the way all the exemptions are applied, but it doesn’t. For example, I’m interested to know if the woman in the post got the payments that were taken from her paid back because if the exemption applies then it’s always applied. It’s a matter of the deduction never having being imposed in the first place. I’ve heard the Auckland Action Against Poverty people talk about this and I think they’re correct when they say that people who’ve had the deduction taken off should get the back pay but they don’t. The fact that it’s people who should have the exemption applied are the ones getting hit suggests the whole policy doesn’t work and, as AAAP say, it should be repealed. My guess is that the group the policy was meant to target are those who can easily absorb the deduction with a private arrangement. The whole thing is bad law and should go.

              http://www.aaap.org.nz/stopthesanctions

        • One Anonymous Bloke 3.2.2.3

          Disagree.

          “I was just following National Party orders” is not a defence against charges of human rights abuse, no matter what they “condone”.

      • Karen 3.2.3

        Catriona Maclennan has been writing about this for a while. This was last year:

        http://beta.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11712674

        • Carolyn_nth 3.2.3.1

          Gee. Women being treat violently and intimidated by male partner’s/baby daddies, and meanwhile WINZ is also intimidating and threatening the same women with loss of money.

          Plenty of abuse all round.

  4. Sabine 4

    We need a benefit for the child. That benefit can never be touched for sanctions by Winz. Full stop.

    this is bullshit.

  5. David Mac 5

    Hopefully many of the problems associated with dealing with WINZ will be alleviated in the not too distant future. Once a face to face photo ID registration process is completed, why can’t WINZ appts be done via Skype or FaceTime? Documents scanned and forwarded prior to an online virtual appt. A thumb on the screen, proof of ID.

    I think the problem with a UBI is that there are no free lunches. I think we’re headed towards a future whereby machines will make us lunch but we aren’t there yet.

  6. mordecai 6

    Much of the commentary here is about the culture of WINZ, whereas the conversation should be about the accountability for an individual who is receiving a gift from the Government. I agree with the rape exemption, but really cannot think of any other cases where the father should not be named. It’s our money after all.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 6.1

      I would much rather target people like you. Vicious right wing bigots do far more damage to society and other individuals than any of their betters ever will.

      So if you’re looking for accountability, you can go first.

      • mordecai 6.1.1

        Your method of attack is rather unintelligent, and easy to rebut, so bring it on.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 6.1.1.1

          No rebuttal there, bore.

          • mordecai 6.1.1.1.1

            Method. When you ‘target’ people, you use a particular method. It involves personal abuse, childish comments, and general misinformation. Unlike others here, you don;t have the intelligence to rise above it.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 6.1.1.1.1.1

              *whoosh*

              That’s the sound of you being done to as you would be done by.

    • Sabine 6.2

      a single parent or an unemployed person, or a sick person is not receiving a ‘gift’ from the government.
      they are receiving an entitlement that is literally prepaid via our Taxes.

      WE are paying the government. Never forget that. Without people paying taxes to fund the government, both Bill English and Paula Bennet would actually have to get jobs instead of ‘getting gifts’ from the Taxpayer.

      • mordecai 6.2.1

        There is no ‘right’ to welfare. There is no given as to the destination of our taxes, either.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 6.2.1.1

          By definition, your betters have a legal right to receive welfare when they need it, and so do you.

          It’s right there in the legislation: The Social Security Act.

          Also, New Zealand is a signatory to the UDoHR. See Article 22.

          The “destination of our taxes” is determined by Parliament and to a lesser extent, the courts. For example, Bartlett & SFWU vs Terranova Homes & Care, or Hager vs. the Attorney General and Police.

          Being a signatory to the UDoHR constrains Parliament, by the way, which means certain things are givens.

          Stamp your little feet and whinge and wail about it. I’ll have a good laugh.

          • mordecai 6.2.1.1.1

            There is no right to welfare. Legislation conferring benefits also confirm conditions and obligations. If you don;t meet those, there is no benefit.
            “The “destination of our taxes” is determined by Parliament ”
            …and can be varied at any time. That means there is no ‘given’, because those destinations change constantly (at least every budget).

            • One Anonymous Bloke 6.2.1.1.1.1

              Yawn. I know you believe that very very much. In the unlikely event that you can do more than state it ad nauseam, I’ll be surprised.

            • Tautoko Mangō Mata 6.2.1.1.1.2

              What makes a person lack any measure of compassion? Is it all about money? Do you have any understanding of the many reasons why a woman could feel so strongly about naming the father that she would even risk losing the benefit? Obviously you have not explored this issue at all. You are sitting in your silo pronouncing judgement. The father’s name or no money!

              There may be a day in the future when you will require help and the compassion of others- people from outside your own tight circle, who will care for you in your hours of need in a selfless fashion. They will do this, because they believe that you have a right to be cared for and you will be filled with amazement at the generosity of spirit and then perhaps you will understand the real meaning of compassion.

              • mordecai

                I don’t lack compassion, but I believe in accountability. If a woman has a baby, there is a male who should be accountable. Why should you and I pay?

                • McFlock

                  To keep a baby alive and thriving.

                  • mordecai

                    …the father should pay. The taxpayer is the last resort.

                    • McFlock

                      “Is” vs “should”.
                      Should the taxpayer pay if all else fails?

                    • mordecai

                      “Should the taxpayer pay if all else fails?”
                      Of course. If all else fails. Which is why it is not unreasonable to insist a woman name the father of her child, that we are supporting.

                    • McFlock

                      Ok, so even under your warped beliefs there is an obligation of the state to provide welfare, even though you claim there is no right to receive it.

                    • mordecai

                      “Ok, so even under your warped beliefs there is an obligation of the state to provide welfare, even though you claim there is no right to receive it.”
                      There is a big difference between the state acting as a last resort in some circumstances (limited ones btw) and assigning ‘right’s’ to welfare.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Then I suggest you lobby the Human Rights Commission and the UN to see if they are prepared to accommodate your warped opinions, and drop Article 22.

                      Have a nice futility.

                    • mordecai

                      “Then I suggest you lobby the Human Rights Commission and the UN to see if they are prepared to accommodate your warped opinions, and drop Article 22.”
                      No thanks. Neither organisations have a shred of credibility.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Oh well, I’m sure you can clutch at your rote-learned litany like a blankie and be comforted, and if not, who cares?

                    • McFlock

                      There is a big difference between the state acting as a last resort in some circumstances (limited ones btw) and assigning ‘right’s’ to welfare.

                      Not in the real world. The outcome should be identical. And if we have any children in the country, even one, whose parent or guardian cannot afford to provide basics like wet weather gear, then the state has failed in its obligation to be the provider of last resort.

                      You can argue all the “shoulds” in the world: yes, the dad should be providing for the kid rather than being in prison; yes, the mother should have been able to get a job that paid a living wage as well as providing flexible hours; yes, yes yes… but for tens if not hundreds of thousands of kids, all else has failed, and the government has neglected its obligations to help those children

                    • mordecai

                      “Not in the real world. The outcome should be identical. ”
                      Ah, the old ‘equality of outcomes’ argument.

                      “…but for tens if not hundreds of thousands of kids, all else has failed, and the government has neglected its obligations to help those children”
                      No, it hasn’t. The government stands as the safety net in those cases. But the culpable dad’s should cough up, and naming the father should be a requirement, just like any other qualifier for any other benefit. State support comes with conditions, and so it damn well should.

                    • McFlock

                      “Not in the real world. The outcome should be identical. ”
                      Ah, the old ‘equality of outcomes’ argument.

                      Oh, learn to fucking read. If someone has a right to something from the state, or if the state is obliged to give them that something, then the outcome is identical: the state gives that something to that someone. Pull your head out of your arse and stop assuming things. You’re shit at assumptions, so if you don’t understand something, ask for clarification. And if you use the magic word, I might explain it for you.

                      “…but for tens if not hundreds of thousands of kids, all else has failed, and the government has neglected its obligations to help those children”
                      No, it hasn’t. The government stands as the safety net in those cases.

                      Not according to the Household Economic Survey, it doesn’t. But then you’ve never let facts get in the way of your delusions.

                    • mordecai

                      If someone has a right to something from the state, or if the state is obliged to give them that something, then the outcome is identical: the state gives that something to that someone. ”
                      You need to learn some logic. The state is not obliged to give anyone anything. It does so only on the agreement of voters, and under certain criteria. One such criteria is ‘name the father’. A perfectly reasonable request.

                      “Not according to the Household Economic Survey, it doesn’t.”
                      Absolutely it does. Families in material deprivation will be receiving substantial state support, at OUR EXPENSE let me remind you. Which is why it is perfectly reasonable that delinquent fathers cough up some of what the state is dishing out.
                      BTW – your graph’s show a reduction in material deprivation since 2008 when your pet’s in Labour were thrown out.
                      And just a reminder…NZ has more people employed today than ever before. The economy is booming, and there are plenty of jobs. NZ is putting more money into supporting vulnerable families than ever before, including the first real increase in benefits in over 30 years. Under a government you irrationally despise. To say nothing of tax cuts for low income earners.
                      There, take that as a lesson.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      The economy is booming

                      Whereas Bill English says the economy is being propped up by high immigration.

                      Who to believe, the Prime Minister, or a dishonest nobody who rote-learns all his beliefs?

                    • McFlock

                      You need to learn some logic. The state is not obliged to give anyone anything. It does so only on the agreement of voters, and under certain criteria.

                      So when you say “there is a male who should be accountable” you mean the male has an obligation, but when you say “of course” to the question “Should the taxpayer pay if all else fails” then that “should doesn’t imply any state obligation?

                      One such criteria is ‘name the father’. A perfectly reasonable request.

                      Nope, neither the request nor the response to lack of a name.

                      “Not according to the Household Economic Survey, it doesn’t.”
                      Absolutely it does. Families in material deprivation will be receiving substantial state support, at OUR EXPENSE let me remind you.

                      And yet tens of thousands of children still live in significant deprivation. It’s almost as if the “safety net” isn’t doing its job. You know what happens when a safety net is set too low to the floor? People still splat.

                      As for the “benefits increase”, much lols. Have they replaced the funding for all the services Bennett used before she got into cabinet and kicked the ladder away?

                    • mordecai

                      “Whereas Bill English says the economy is being propped up by high immigration.”
                      He didn’t say anything of the kind. He said Labour’s immigration policy would stall the economy’s momentum, and he’s right, because the policy would deprive the economy of some of the labour needed, and of some of the drivers of growth, e.g. the education sector. No-where in that article did English say immigration was propping up the economy. You are either stupid or dishonest.

                    • mordecai

                      “So when you say “there is a male who should be accountable” you mean the male has an obligation, but when you say “of course” to the question “Should the taxpayer pay if all else fails” then that “should doesn’t imply any state obligation?”
                      Correct. The state did not contribute to the situation, the male did.

                      “And yet tens of thousands of children still live in significant deprivation”
                      No, they don’t. At least not in any common sense definition of the word. A lack of play dates doesn’t count as deprivation in my book. What we have in this country is a deficit of initiative, a deficit of parenting. And yes the state steps in to take care of those losers offspring.

                    • McFlock

                      So (ignoring your curious impression of what the deprivation index actually measures), you don’t think that the state should pay to keep babies alive.

                      You do lack compassion, and you also probably could have done with more play dates as a child.

                    • mordecai

                      “… you don’t think that the state should pay to keep babies alive.”
                      When did I claim that? Of course the state should intervene. But make delinquent and absent parents cough up.

                    • McFlock

                      So you believe parents should support their kids.
                      And if they can’t, the state should step in and support the kids.
                      But that nobody is obliged to feed a starving child.

                      Does that accurately describe your position?

                    • mordecai

                      “So you believe parents should support their kids.
                      And if they can’t, the state should step in and support the kids.
                      But that nobody is obliged to feed a starving child.

                      Does that accurately describe your position?”

                      No. We are morally obliged to feed a starving child. That obligation is derived from the worth attached to every human life. But we are also obliged to ensure that those whose actions are party to the problem contribute, otherwise our society is not just.

                    • McFlock

                      No. We are morally obliged to feed a starving child. That obligation is derived from the worth attached to every human life. But we are also obliged to ensure that those whose actions are party to the problem contribute, otherwise our society is not just.

                      lol so “The state is not obliged to give anyone anything” yet it is (as our collective, corporate instrument) obliged to feed a starving child? Dissonant much?

                    • mordecai

                      “Dissonant much?”
                      That’s exactly the response I would have expected from someone who doesn’t understand the difference between an individual moral responsibility and that of a government. I had, for a time, thought your intellect rose above that of Blokes. Now I know it is in the same cess pit.

                    • McFlock

                      ok, so if children starve to death when the government could have intervened to save their lives, that doesn’t mean there’s any problem with the government, because there are no obligations for the government to meet?

                    • McFlock

                      I’m just trying to figure out how you can say that the government has no obligation to help a starving child while also saying that of course the taxpayer should help a starving child.

                      The two positions seem to be contradictory – either “should” means there is an obligation, or there’s no problem if the taxpayer leaves a starving child to die because there was no “should”.

                    • mordecai

                      “ok, so if children starve to death when the government could have intervened to save their lives, that doesn’t mean there’s any problem with the government, because there are no obligations for the government to meet?”
                      You have a fundamentally flawed view of Government. Governments only exist at the behest of the people. Government Social Welfare is a historically relatively recent phenomena, which has enabled private citizens to a) escape their moral responsibilities to their fellow man, and/or b) survive on government assistance without developing the moral fortitude to recognise they should be doing everything within their power to become independent of the state.

                      “I’m just trying to figure out how you can say that the government has no obligation to help a starving child while also saying that of course the taxpayer should help a starving child.”
                      You mischaracterising my argument. There is no ‘entitlement’ to welfare. That doesn’t mean the state should not be involved in caring for the poor.

                      “The two positions seem to be contradictory – either “should” means there is an obligation, or there’s no problem if the taxpayer leaves a starving child to die because there was no “should”.”
                      The ‘should’ has conditions. That means any obligation (if indeed there is such a thing) is at best limited to those conditions. That is why ‘should’ is not ‘must’.

                    • McFlock

                      Government Social Welfare is a historically relatively recent phenomena, which has enabled private citizens to a) escape their moral responsibilities to their fellow man, and/or b) survive on government assistance without developing the moral fortitude to recognise they should be doing everything within their power to become independent of the state.

                      so… government shouldn’t help a starving child, then?

                      There is no ‘entitlement’ to welfare. That doesn’t mean the state should not be involved in caring for the poor.

                      So you think the state should give people things to which they have no entitlement?

                      The ‘should’ has conditions. That means any obligation (if indeed there is such a thing) is at best limited to those conditions. That is why ‘should’ is not ‘must’.

                      So now you think, under your “conditions”, that there might be an obligation for the state to help a starving child?

                    • mordecai

                      “so… government shouldn’t help a starving child, then?”
                      Oh I think they should, but only as a last resort. And where possible, they should recover that cost from delinquent fathers. Is n’t that where we started?

                      “So you think the state should give people things to which they have no entitlement?”
                      No. Being involved doesn’t have to mean giving people things.

                      “So now you think, under your “conditions”, that there might be an obligation for the state to help a starving child?”
                      Again you are misconstruing the nature of the state. Some context – in NZ there is no excuse for a parent allowing a child to starve. None. The state should be nothing more than a last resort, after parental responsibility, family responsibility, and private/community provision. (There may be more steps, not sure).

                    • McFlock

                      So the taxpayer should pay to keep a baby alive and thriving if all else fails, but this payment doesn’t involve giving the baby things? Because food is a thing.

                    • McFlock

                      You keep pretending that just because the state should give assistance only as a last resort (under your philosophy), saying that the state should give assistance is somehow a misunderstanding of the function of the state.

                      It’s not. Even if it should give assistance as a last resort, that means there are still circumstances under which it needs to give assistance. Even in a country of 4 million people, there will be some kids whose parents are unable, for whatever reason, to provide assistance – death, poverty, whatever. In the absence of other caregivers, that means there are kids who the state should support. That means giving them food, clothing and shelter.

                    • mordecai

                      “So the taxpayer should pay to keep a baby alive and thriving if all else fails, but this payment doesn’t involve giving the baby things? Because food is a thing.”
                      Where did I say it doesn’t involve giving the baby things?

                      “You keep pretending that just because the state should give assistance only as a last resort (under your philosophy), saying that the state should give assistance is somehow a misunderstanding of the function of the state.”
                      No, it is a question of the position in NZ. There is absolutely no need for any child to go hungry in NZ. The state currently does enough. More than enough. As does the voluntary sector. Time for parents, caregivers and family to step up.

                      “It’s not. Even if it should give assistance as a last resort, that means there are still circumstances under which it needs to give assistance. Even in a country of 4 million people, there will be some kids whose parents are unable, for whatever reason, to provide assistance – death, poverty, whatever. In the absence of other caregivers, that means there are kids who the state should support. That means giving them food, clothing and shelter.”
                      I agree. But that doesn’t mean the government has to do it. That doesn’t make welfare a ‘right’.

                    • McFlock

                      “So the taxpayer should pay to keep a baby alive and thriving if all else fails, but this payment doesn’t involve giving the baby things? Because food is a thing.”

                      Where did I say it doesn’t involve giving the baby things?

                      Here: “Being involved doesn’t have to mean giving people things.”

                      “You keep pretending that just because the state should give assistance only as a last resort (under your philosophy), saying that the state should give assistance is somehow a misunderstanding of the function of the state.”

                      No, it is a question of the position in NZ. There is absolutely no need for any child to go hungry in NZ. The state currently does enough. More than enough. As does the voluntary sector. Time for parents, caregivers and family to step up.

                      Nice diatribe. It’s almost as if you were hoping to distract me from this little exchange:

                      “So now you think, under your “conditions”, that there might be an obligation for the state to help a starving child?”
                      Again you are misconstruing the nature of the state

                      You’re really tying yourself up in knots, bucko.

                      “It’s not. Even if it should give assistance as a last resort, that means there are still circumstances under which it needs to give assistance. Even in a country of 4 million people, there will be some kids whose parents are unable, for whatever reason, to provide assistance – death, poverty, whatever. In the absence of other caregivers, that means there are kids who the state should support. That means giving them food, clothing and shelter.”

                      I agree. But that doesn’t mean the government has to do it.

                      Well, yes actually, it does. In the absence of the state standing is as last resort, after that there is no support. Read your Dickens.

                      That doesn’t make welfare a ‘right’.

                      So now you’re back to saying that the state should give people things to which they don’t have a right. If you want to logically hold the two ideas that the state should provide support (even as a last resort) and that people have no right to that support, your position is that the state should provide people with things to which they have no right.

                      I always love this bit of arguing with right-wing fuckwits whose ego far outstrips their intellect. They provide so much material that they end up arguing with themselves.

                    • mordecai

                      ““Being involved doesn’t have to mean giving people things.””
                      That’s right. Doesn’t HAVE to. It can mean referring people to budgeting advice (as many community based groups do before issuing subsequent food parcels).

                      “You’re really tying yourself up in knots, bucko.”
                      No, I’m tying you in knots. Your post just demonstrates that.

                      “Well, yes actually, it does. In the absence of the state standing is as last resort, after that there is no support. Read your Dickens.”
                      Ah , let’s see…
                      Salvation Army
                      Christian Lovelink
                      Presbyterian Social Services
                      Christians Against Poverty
                      How long a list do you want?

                      “If you want to logically hold the two ideas that the state should provide support (even as a last resort) and that people have no right to that support, your position is that the state should provide people with things to which they have no right.”
                      The state already gives people things to which they have no right. No-one has a ‘right’ to be housed by the state. No-one has a right to be paid by the state to be out of work. These are measures we choose to agree to as a society.

                      I always love how left wing posters with limited intellect always run up against their own stupidity.

                    • McFlock

                      ““Being involved doesn’t have to mean giving people things.””

                      That’s right. Doesn’t HAVE to. It can mean referring people to budgeting advice (as many community based groups do before issuing subsequent food parcels).

                      So giving people referrals. Giving people information. Even giving people budgeting advice.

                      “Well, yes actually, it does. In the absence of the state standing is as last resort, after that there is no support. Read your Dickens.”

                      Ah , let’s see…
                      Salvation Army
                      Christian Lovelink
                      Presbyterian Social Services
                      Christians Against Poverty
                      How long a list do you want?

                      But if it’s the LAST resort, under your philosophy all of those options have to be expended before the state provides assistance.
                      That’s why we have a welfare state: private charity is insufficient at providing help.

                      “If you want to logically hold the two ideas that the state should provide support (even as a last resort) and that people have no right to that support, your position is that the state should provide people with things to which they have no right.”

                      The state already gives people things to which they have no right.

                      yadda yadda.
                      You said the state should provide people assistance (as a last resort). You’ve also said that people have no right to state assistance. Therefore, your position is that the state should provide people things to which they have no right.

                      Don’t get into a diatribe about what is happeneing now or whatever. All I’m after, if you feel like a moment of self clarity, is how your two proclamations do not logically mean that you have argued that the state, in your opinion, should give people things to which they aren’t entitled.

                    • mordecai

                      “So giving people referrals. Giving people information. Even giving people budgeting advice.”
                      That’s right. Not ‘things’.

                      “But if it’s the LAST resort, under your philosophy all of those options have to be expended before the state provides assistance.”
                      YES!!!!!

                      “That’s why we have a welfare state: private charity is insufficient at providing help.”
                      I disagree. It is the appetite for handouts that is the biggest issue in NZ.

                      “You said the state should provide people assistance (as a last resort). You’ve also said that people have no right to state assistance. Therefore, your position is that the state should provide people things to which they have no right.”
                      Yes, if we citizens support that on moral grounds.

                      “All I’m after, if you feel like a moment of self clarity, is how your two proclamations do not logically mean that you have argued that the state, in your opinion, should give people things to which they aren’t entitled.”
                      And I have given you examples of how they do that already.

                    • McFlock

                      “So giving people referrals. Giving people information. Even giving people budgeting advice.”

                      That’s right. Not ‘things’.

                      So those things I mentioned aren’t things? lol

                      “But if it’s the LAST resort, under your philosophy all of those options have to be expended before the state provides assistance.”

                      YES!!!!!

                      So in the absence of the state standing as last resort, there is no support for the people who need state support.So the government DOES have to do it for those people. Otherwise you’re leaving babies to starve.

                      “That’s why we have a welfare state: private charity is insufficient at providing help.”

                      I disagree. It is the appetite for handouts that is the biggest issue in NZ.

                      Not poor people being killed by their homes. Not dying babies. Not homelessness. The biggest issue, according to you, is people have the gall to ask for help. Do you still want us to believe your claim that you don’t lack compassion?

                      “You said the state should provide people assistance (as a last resort). You’ve also said that people have no right to state assistance. Therefore, your position is that the state should provide people things to which they have no right.”

                      Yes, if we citizens support that on moral grounds.

                      Why do you think the state should take taxpayers’ money to give the people something to which they are not entitled? Isn’t that a contradiction?

                      “All I’m after, if you feel like a moment of self clarity, is how your two proclamations do not logically mean that you have argued that the state, in your opinion, should give people things to which they aren’t entitled.”

                      And I have given you examples of how they do that already.

                      I can give examples of people killing other people, that doesn’t mean my position is that people should kill other people.
                      You claim the state should give people things to which they are not entitled. How is that morally correct, or even morally consistent?

                    • mordecai

                      “So those things I mentioned aren’t things?”
                      That’s right.

                      “So in the absence of the state standing as last resort, there is no support for the people who need state support.So the government DOES have to do it for those people. Otherwise you’re leaving babies to starve.”
                      No, not in NZ, and not with repsponsible parenting.

                      “Not poor people being killed by their homes. Not dying babies. Not homelessness. The biggest issue, according to you, is people have the gall to ask for help. Do you still want us to believe your claim that you don’t lack compassion?”
                      Your very good at confusing what I said. Take your ignorance and put words in someone else’s mouth. For my part, I know the issues you mention are often the result of poor personal choices. There are some people who need to take a good hard look in the mirror.

                      “Why do you think the state should take taxpayers’ money to give the people something to which they are not entitled? Isn’t that a contradiction?”
                      As I have said a number of times, that happens all the time.

                      “I can give examples of people killing other people, that doesn’t mean my position is that people should kill other people.
                      You claim the state should give people things to which they are not entitled. How is that morally correct, or even morally consistent?”
                      How is it inconsistent? I spent a Saturday morning recently with a youth group buying coffee for street people in Auckland City. They are not entitled to the coffee, nor am I obligated to provide it. And yet I did.

                    • McFlock

                      “So those things I mentioned aren’t things?”

                      That’s right.

                      So things aren’t things. 🙄

                      “So in the absence of the state standing as last resort, there is no support for the people who need state support.So the government DOES have to do it for those people. Otherwise you’re leaving babies to starve.”

                      No, not in NZ, and not with repsponsible parenting.

                      But we’re talking “as a last resort”. Parental failure is included in that.

                      “Not poor people being killed by their homes. Not dying babies. Not homelessness. The biggest issue, according to you, is people have the gall to ask for help. Do you still want us to believe your claim that you don’t lack compassion?”

                      Your very good at confusing what I said. Take your ignorance and put words in someone else’s mouth. For my part, I know the issues you mention are often the result of poor personal choices. There are some people who need to take a good hard look in the mirror.

                      They can’t look in the mirror. They’re dead. Nice show of compassion, matey.

                      “Why do you think the state should take taxpayers’ money to give the people something to which they are not entitled? Isn’t that a contradiction?”

                      As I have said a number of times, that happens all the time.

                      And as I pointed out, what actually happens is not necessarily what should happen. The question is whether what you claim should happen is a contradiction.

                      “I can give examples of people killing other people, that doesn’t mean my position is that people should kill other people.
                      You claim the state should give people things to which they are not entitled. How is that morally correct, or even morally consistent?”

                      How is it inconsistent? I spent a Saturday morning recently with a youth group buying coffee for street people in Auckland City. They are not entitled to the coffee, nor am I obligated to provide it. And yet I did.

                      Ain’t you nice. You provided people with something to which you believe they weren’t entitled. But why should you provide it if you have no obligation? That’s the contradiction I’m trying to understand.

                    • mordecai

                      “They can’t look in the mirror. They’re dead.”
                      Whose dead? The parents of dead children are dead??

                      “And as I pointed out, what actually happens is not necessarily what should happen.”
                      So?

                      “The question is whether what you claim should happen is a contradiction.”
                      It isn’t. That you can’t follow the logic is your failure, not mine.

                      “You provided people with something to which you believe they weren’t entitled. But why should you provide it if you have no obligation? That’s the contradiction I’m trying to understand.”
                      This is the fundamental difference between us, McFlock. You seem to believe in the state as the final arbiter of everything. I don’t. You see I do lots of things I have no obligation to do. I coach two youth football teams. I pay fees for some kids who can’t afford their own. I drive a group of elderly to Church every four weeks. I provide pro-bono business mentoring to charities and small business start-ups. These are not rights or entitlements to the recipients, neither are they obligations on me.

                    • McFlock

                      Here’s the fundamental difference:
                      I believe things are things (the truism you decided to ignore, I suspect because you had a glimpse of your stupidity).
                      I believe that if we should do something then we are obliged to do something.
                      I believe that if you should give someone something, then they are entitled to it.
                      I believe that if someone is not entitled to something, then you may give it to them, but there is no obligation that means you should give it to them.

                      So the fundamental difference, once again, is that you don’t understand basic English the way human beings use it.

                      You’ve never explained why you should do all those nice things even when people aren’t entitled to them. Can’t find it on mises.org?

                      Oh, and you’re the one who said that state assistance was the last resort.

                    • mordecai

                      “So the fundamental difference, once again, is that you don’t understand basic English the way human beings use it.”
                      No, the difference is you can’t follow simple logic, and you tie yourself in knots trying to justify the point at which you lost.

                      “You’ve never explained why you should do all those nice things even when people aren’t entitled to them.”
                      Yep, I have.

                      “Oh, and you’re the one who said that state assistance was the last resort.”
                      As it should be. Regrettably for generations of some NZ’ers it has become the default position. That is one of the major contributors to inequality.

                    • McFlock

                      “So the fundamental difference, once again, is that you don’t understand basic English the way human beings use it.”

                      No, the difference is you can’t follow simple logic, and you tie yourself in knots trying to justify the point at which you lost.

                      This from the guy who thinks that things aren’t things.

                      “You’ve never explained why you should do all those nice things even when people aren’t entitled to them.”

                      Yep, I have.

                      where? Linkies, please – I see lots of claims that you do all these nice things for people who aren’t entitled to them, but you’ve never said why you should do those things.

                    • mordecai

                      “This from the guy who thinks that things aren’t things.”
                      Because they aren’t.

                      “where? Linkies, please – I see lots of claims that you do all these nice things for people who aren’t entitled to them, but you’ve never said why you should do those things.”
                      I have explained that in some detail. We are not automatons. We don’t follow a prescriptive existence driven by forces entirely independent of personal choice. I am an autonomous individual, who can make decisions to do things without obligation, without anyone else being entitled. Right now I can see my neighbour at the fence. I’m going to go and offer her some of the lemons from my tree. She is not entitled to the lemons. I am not obligated to give her any lemons. But I’m free to do so anyway. Isn’t life beautiful.

                    • McFlock

                      “This from the guy who thinks that things aren’t things.”

                      Because they aren’t.

                      And my nose is not a nose.

                      “where? Linkies, please – I see lots of claims that you do all these nice things for people who aren’t entitled to them, but you’ve never said why you should do those things.”

                      I have explained that in some detail.

                      Where?

                      We are not automatons. We don’t follow a prescriptive existence driven by forces entirely independent of personal choice. I am an autonomous individual, who can make decisions to do things without obligation, without anyone else being entitled. Right now I can see my neighbour at the fence. I’m going to go and offer her some of the lemons from my tree. She is not entitled to the lemons. I am not obligated to give her any lemons. But I’m free to do so anyway. Isn’t life beautiful.

                      That’s super. But that’s you being free to give someone something to which they are not entitled, not why you should give someone something to which they are not entitled.

                      Why should you do so?

                      That’s the question you constantly evade:
                      not why you do what you do,
                      not whether you are free to do what you do,
                      but why should you do it.

                    • mordecai

                      “And my nose is not a nose.”
                      Your nose is a ‘thing’. Giving advice is not a ‘thing’.

                      “Where?”
                      I summarised as followed.

                      “That’s super. But that’s you being free to give someone something to which they are not entitled, not why you should give someone something to which they are not entitled. Why should you do so?”
                      Why not? What is preventing me? Nothing? What is motivating me? Certainly not obligation or entitlement.

                    • McFlock

                      “And my nose is not a nose.”

                      Your nose is a ‘thing’. Giving advice is not a ‘thing’.

                      Yes, you’ve already said that things like “giving advice” aren’t things. Funny how they can be referred to as things, though, even though (according to you) they aren’t things.

                      “That’s super. But that’s you being free to give someone something to which they are not entitled, not why you should give someone something to which they are not entitled. Why should you do so?”

                      Why not? What is preventing me? Nothing? What is motivating me? Certainly not obligation or entitlement.

                      “Absence of prevention” does not mean “should”.
                      “Motivation” is not “should”.

                      I asked: ““Should the taxpayer pay if all else fails?” and you replied “Of course”. But if there is no obligtion, and the recipient is not entitled to it, why should the taxpayer pay at all?

                      Try approaching it like this: “the taxpayer should pay if all else fails because …”

                    • mordecai

                      “Yes, you’ve already said that things like “giving advice” aren’t things. Funny how they can be referred to as things, though, even though (according to you) they aren’t things.”
                      I don’t think they can be referred to as ‘things’. But we’re entitled to disagree.

                      ““Absence of prevention” does not mean “should”.
                      “Motivation” is not “should”.
                      I asked: ““Should the taxpayer pay if all else fails?” and you replied “Of course”. But if there is no obligtion, and the recipient is not entitled to it, why should the taxpayer pay at all?”
                      ‘Should’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘must’.

                      “Try approaching it like this: “the taxpayer should pay if all else fails because …””
                      …we feel like it. It makes us feel better. It tickles some chemical in our brain that gives us a buzz. (that’s what an evolutionary biologist would argue).

                    • McFlock

                      ‘Should’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘must’.

                      Nope, it means “should

                      Search Results
                      should
                      ʃʊd/
                      verb
                      modal verb: should

                      1.
                      used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticizing someone’s actions.
                      “he should have been careful”

                      Sat on that one for a while lol.

                      “Try approaching it like this: “the taxpayer should pay if all else fails because …””

                      …we feel like it.

                      Really? Is that the only “should”? What if we don’t feel like it?

                      btw, you might not think that things are things, in which case how did you know what things I was referring to?

                    • mordecai

                      “Sat on that one for a while lol.”
                      Correctness, yes. Not necessarily obligation. You obviously sat on it too long!
                      “Really? Is that the only “should”? What if we don’t feel like it?”
                      Then, because there is no obligation or entitlement, you shouldn’t. It’s up to each individual.
                      “btw, you might not think that things are things, in which case how did you know what things I was referring to?”
                      Because you spelt it out. You made the distinction advice in an earlier post. Which you clearly forgot.

                    • McFlock

                      Yes, I was referring to things.

                      So, mister compassion, when you say people or taxpayers “should” help a baby in danger of losing its life, you actually mean “only if they feel like it”?

  7. David Mac 7

    I think we do have a right to welfare. It’s part of the deal when you’re a Kiwi. Few of us would step over a hungry or cold person.

    Rather than me going out looking for hungry or cold people it would be great if my government could look after that for me.

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