Beneficiary bashing – an inglorious National sport

Written By: - Date published: 11:45 am, March 30th, 2010 - 29 comments
Categories: john key, Media, national, same old national - Tags: , , ,

Lifted from comments for wider reading by commentator acclaim..

Beneficiary bashing in this country is definitely becoming uglier by the day. It seems that Paula Bennett’s attacks on beneficiaries seemingly condoned by the Prime Minister has given prejudice free reign in the country. It is now permissible to demonize a vulnerable group in society based on the pretext of ‘ending bludging’.

The SUNDAY STAR TIMES article ‘Solo mum racks up 36 years on benefit’ (28 March), was a grubby piece of pseudo-journalism. The article was critical in it’s tone of an un-named woman who has cared for children for 36 years. The article failed on every level of professional journalism to ask the basic questions; What, How, Why, and Who.

For all we know, that woman has dedicated herself to raising unwanted children from broken families children who might otherwise have ended up like Nia Glassie or James Whakaruru.

But we don’t know.

Because the SST took a few facts and figures (provided no doubt by a compliant Minister of Social Welfare) and presented them in a way to guarantee a moral outrage response.

This is not journalism. This is propaganda. And though Dr Goebbels would have been pleased with it, I found it vile.

As for the Q & A last night; we sat and watched with a mixture of horror and amusement (if the two can ever be mixed). Bennett’s statements became more outrageous every time she opened her mouth and god knows what Guyon Espiner must have thought of that grinning idiot.

The most telling moment came when Espiner suggested that sickness beneficiaries would probably end up working for the equivalent of $1 an hour. Bennett blithely replied that it’s not all about money, it’s about other ‘benefits’ to working.

I have three responses to that.

  1. Ms Bennett earns $243,700 plus perks plus generous retirement packages plus god-knows-what-else. So much for ‘it’s not all about money’.
  2. Five haunting words, taken from one of the darkest periods of the 20th Century: ‘Work will set you free’.
  3. John Key originally had more humane ideas about welfare, prior to the election;

Before I get into that, I want to talk a little more about welfare in general.

You might ask why I use the word ‘welfare’ when the vogue nowadays is to talk about ‘social development’. I unashamedly use the word welfare because I believe in the welfare state. I have a personal commitment to it. My father died when I was seven years old. My mother, my two older sisters, and I had no other family in New Zealand. For a period of time after my father died, my mother relied on the safety net provided by the Widows Benefit.

My family was poor, and we knew it, but the benefit gave my mother enough security to keep us together and keep us focused on a time when things would improve. By having our most basic needs covered as a family, we were able to hold on to that most precious human emotion hope.

Over time, my mother moved off the benefit and into work. The welfare system continued to support us, however, by providing us with a state house. It wasn’t flash, but it was home.

I think almost all New Zealanders believe in the desirability of the welfare state. In particular, I think New Zealanders take it on trust that there will always be a safety net of social welfare benefits. We’re a compassionate and fair people whose instinct is to give a person a helping hand when they need it.

National is committed to a benefit system that is a genuine safety net in times of need. We’re committed to a comprehensive system of benefits that provides temporary support to people as they return to independence, and also provides indefinite, compassionate support to people who are physically or mentally unable to support themselves.

Yeah, right.

Frank Macskasy

29 comments on “Beneficiary bashing – an inglorious National sport”

  1. Peter Johns 1

    The people who get bashed most are the middle income tax payer. All you leftards want is to screw working class people to keep paying for things we will not be able to afford in the future.

    As for beneficaries, cry me a river. Paula rocks.

    [lprent: Who have you been pissing off? Just had to rescue your last three messages from the ‘probably spam’ queue. Feels like someone fed a pile of your messages into akismet. Mind you, I’ve felt like it a few times… ]

    • Pete 1.1

      “We’re a compassionate and fair people whose instinct is to give a person a helping hand when they need it”

      Except for the Peter Johns’ of the world I’d agree. Don’t even get me started on the Stuff/Herald comments sections when a benefit story rises up like the proverbial in a badly plumbed toilet bowl. Clearly this sort of statement comes from someone with limited capacity for even the most basic comprehension of compassion (particularly when it eats into his personal bottom line) – and sadly, there’s plenty more where he came from.

      Oh, and Paula certainly does rock, when she moves her head around too fast they knock about up there.

    • Zepher 1.2

      “As for beneficaries, cry me a river.”

      They’re already in one.

    • pollywog 1.3

      The people who get bashed most are the middle income tax payer.

      No…the people who have been bashed the most is pasifikans inclusive of maori. It’s like we’ve been institutionally bashed so much that if a nation could be represented as a person, we’d all have post traumatic stress disorder and be drug addicted paranoid schizophrenics, or at the other extreme, suffer narcissism with delusional bouts of grandeur from thinking that, eating the crumbs of the massas table is the same as living in the big house and feasting on the banquet.

      Heres a comparison to Jamaica as a person and their problems…

      http://pollywannacracka.blogspot.com/2009/04/ya-betta-lively-up-yo-self.html

      But back on the local front, y’all should thank fuck you still got a semblance of christian values holding the rage back and theres not the gun culture, but times, they are a changin’…

      captcha : irrelevant – ( yup thats me, a lone voice streaming from the cloud saying ‘make way a highway in the desert to prepare for the comin of’…oh fucked if i know actually but shit’s gonna get a lot worse 🙂 )

    • Frank Macskasy 1.4

      Peter, I’m a middle-class taxpayer and I certainly don’t feel “screwed”. Well, maybe a bit since National came to power.

      At least under Labour (for all their faults) the Middle Classes got Working for Families, Kiwisaver, and Kiwibank (which ultimately forced Australian-owned banks to reign in their bank fees. You should have been present when the manager of the ANZ tried to offer me a ‘sweetener’ not to close my accounts and go to Kiwibank!)

      And at least under Labour, we didn’t get this constant demonisation and vilification of an entire group in society.

      Tell me, Peter, that you don’t feel a wee bit uneasy about the current climate we’re in?

      And it’s not about “crying you a river”. Just consider that you and every other NZ worker, middle-manager, and upper manager, is only a redundancy-notice away from going on the dole yourself.

      Being a beneficiary is a life-lesson that you wouldn’t want to repeat. Trust me on that one.

  2. JAS 2

    If the national party really were committed to helping people acheive true independence, they would not have canned the proven Training Incentive Allowance for those really trying to acheive independence from the state.

    • Ms X 2.1

      Anyone remember apprenticeships? They’ve gone west(ie) too.

      • A Nonny Moose 2.1.1

        Who wants to be a lowly chippy or sparky when you can make all your money in being the site manager?

  3. Ianmac 3

    Frank: Succinct and powerful. Thanks.
    I do believe that John’s mother was not forced off the benefit to work once the youngest reached 6. She went with dignity when she was ready and able.
    Somehow John and Paula’s hypocrisy leaves them unscathed.

  4. Sally Ann 4

    You are so right. National, via the Prime Minister and the Minister charged with ensuring that those most vulnerable in our society are able to eek out an existence – Bully Bennett, have given every redneck New Zealander permission to slag off Beneficiaries all for the sake of Middle NZ swing votes.

    Vilifying and making all Beneficiaries out to be criminal-like is a sad and scary indictment of what this Government stands for … ‘kick ’em when they are down and keep them down and then smile at the rest and say “see we are being tough so vote for us” ‘. It amazes me how so many people are being sucked in by this legalised bullying by the very people who we have chosen to look after and grow our country.

    I like this comment posted in reply to Tapu Misa’s commentary about Paula Bennett’s ‘reforms’ ..

    “Paula Bennett holds herself up as a shining example of a success story.

    Single DPB mum raises a child that then gets arrested for alcohol issues. Would appear the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

    Said daughter then goes on to get pregnant at an early age while the father of the child who has gang connections is incarcerated.

    Well done Paula, well done for showing us that whilst you cant keep your own house in order, you think that you are an expert in doing it for everyone else.

    The hypocracy of this woman is unbelievable, and she holds the Child Youth and Families portfolio as well, what example is she setting to the most vulnerable in society? that double standards are ok?.

    She doesn’t know how to get it right for her own family, why should we trust her with everyone else’s?”

    Also remember, that Paula herself has said she holds herself up as a role model to Sole Parents mothers!!!! I think NOT.

    • Daveosaurus 4.1

      Surely Paula Bennett’s done enough on her own account to earn widespread disrepute without bringing her family into the discussion? Some of your comments show an almost Wishartian level of creepiness.

    • B 4.2

      I can’t say I agree with the implication that it’s Bennett’s job to ‘keep her house in order’ ie make sure her family are perfect model citizens. There are many factors which contribute to teenagers getting into situations like Bennett’s daughter (one example the gang culture in west auck) and this may come as a shock but its not always the mothers fault. I admire Bennett for getting to where she has but really really wish she hadn’t. I know National would have put the same policies through – it just seems like a sick joke to have a former solo mum doing the bashing.

  5. tc 5

    All this from someone who has never had a job in private enterprise going from benefits to taxpayer funded roles being carefully groomed by the Nat’s for one of the resident rottweiller roles.

    She’s just a moth drawn to the flame of money and power where she’s got plenty of mates like Collins/Tolley etc to encourage and boost her not insignificant ego.

    She’ll get alot more arrogant before the inevtiable fall and find that the pot of gold that was promised at the end of the rainbow’s actually a tincup alongside a graffiti ridden wall in west akl……what goes around people etc etc.

  6. Name 6

    There again I do know of a ‘beneficiary’ who has apparently been unable to work for 20 years because of a ‘sore finger’, and who is fairly unapologetic about living off the system. He lives in a beautiful, remote part of the country where there are few jobs anyway and spends his days fishing, hunting and ‘pottering’ in the garden. In short the taxpayer (including me) is supporting his choice of lifestyle and the one real marketable skill he has is knowing the relevant legislation inside out and backwards – far better than the average staff-member in Work and Income.

    He sees no ‘dignity’ in work. He doesn’t see why he should spend his life jumping to the whim of other, or making money for owners, managers or shareholders. Nor does he measure his worth in possessions or equate his value to his income. He lives simply but needs some cash, and the ‘state’ (or us) is (or are) kind or stupid enough to give it to him.

    Is Bennett right in wanting to force this guy into some mind-numbing, soul-destroying job for a few dollars a week?

    • quenchino 6.1

      He lives simply but needs some cash, and the ‘state’ (or us) is (or are) kind or stupid enough to give it to him.

      Frankly I don’t care. Our benefit system is incredibly mean and tightfisted as it is… if you’re happy to live on the pittance it doles out then good luck to you.

      I’d much rather pay a few percent of my tax towards these folk than have them in my face begging or worse still trying to hold down jobs they are hopeless at.

      • jcuknz 6.1.1

        As each wave of beneficiary bashing comes around it seems to usually when things are ‘tight’. For years I have seen no point in forcing those who apparently can happilly live on a benefit into paid empolyment, when we have hundreds if not thousands desparately trying to find work to regain the life style they prefer. The bene’s are to be commended in this situation for not depriving somebody else of a job. What little income they have goes to keep the ecconomy turning over which is another point in their favour.

    • B 6.2

      sore finger – good one : )

  7. The thing that really grates about her, amongst admittedly many things, is that she is going off for a 5 week self enhancement course on pay!!

    Where are all of the wingnuts complaining about this terrible waste of taxpayers money?

  8. Xtine 8

    John Key is a bean counter who, like most of his mates, dodges more tax in a week than someone on the dole gets in a year. People on benefits are not a drain on anyone- their income is all spent on consumables and goes straight back into the economy. It makes me so angry to hear the people who want to hand some of our most amazing public assets to their mates, who will strip the minerals out leave the taxpayers to clean up the mess, and take the profits offshore- call anyone bludgers.

  9. Joe Bloggs 9

    Xtine – “dodges more tax in a week than someone on the dole gets in a year”

    And your source for this gem is … what???

  10. Some maths, very, very round numbers only:

    50 million, earning, say, 5% = 2.5m taxable income. Lets say one million due in tax. If Key or his tax advisers can find a way to minimise that tax by a quarter, that’s a saving of $250K. Or enough to cover the UB for 12 people.

    So, on those numbers, it should have read “dodges more tax in a month than someone on the dole gets in a year’

    But if Key can find a way to pay no tax at all, which is the name of the game, then, on those numbers, the line “dodges more tax in a week than someone on the dole gets in a year’ is actually spot on.

    Anyone know how much tax Key actually pays in NZ?

  11. Jenny 11

    “The SUNDAY STAR TIMES article “Solo mum racks up 36 years on benefit’ (28 March), was a grubby piece of pseudo-journalism. The article was critical in it’s tone of an un-named woman who has cared for children for 36 years. The article failed on every level of professional journalism to ask the basic questions; What, How, Why, and Who.”

    How true, it reminds me of a similar case in the last National administration when they tried the same trick. The solo mother they chose to demonise for being on the DPB for many years, had been fostering and caring for unwanted and severely handicapped children often in difficult and trying circumstances, Social Welfare had even referred troubled children to her care.

    By reporting the bald fact of the length of this woman’s time on DPB in isolation and not supplying the “What, How, why and Who”, the Sunday Star Times trajectory to the gutter is well under way.

    • Frank Macskasy 11.1

      Jenny, not only do I remember that article – but actually TWO stories were written on that family. The first was in the late 1990s, and was pushed by ACT MP Muriel Newman. (I can’t give you a link to it cos I only have it on hard-copy – the media weren’t publishing online back in those dim, dark, days.) Both were published by the SST.

      As it turned out, subsequent questions revealed that the family in-question were indeed caring for children with disabilities.

  12. john 12

    When Paula Bennett gets tips from the War Criminal Colin Powell she may learn some Shock and Awe tactics which may be useful for dealing with lazy solo mothers! (The Eisenhower bullshit Corporation rip off method)This government is pathetic and stupid still trying the failed greed tactics of Reagan and Rogernomics.It’s so sick I could throw up!This so called government have the intellectual calibre of a beech crab except the latter is much less self important.Still! You pathetic Kiwis voted in Xmas for the Turkeys!

  13. john 13

    Paula will be learning about Corporate responsibility from Colin Powell and others. For those interested in American Corporate responsibility (Think of Bhopal in India as one example where profits and cutting costs come before the safety of people) refer this link http://carolynbaker.net/site/content/view/1590/1/

  14. john 14

    Another link illustrating American Corporate greed and criminality, the system John Key made his millions in as a money trader. The failed neo-liberal,Reagan,Rogernomics system he wants us to follow, a junk economics system,a ponzi scheme where the rich get richer and the workers get very little. the system Paula Bennett is going to America to learn how to practice and pay ideological obeisance to, the system we bow to to get a free trade agreement which will never happen!The system which has ruined America. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article25124.htm

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