Benefits, wages and anger

Written By: - Date published: 11:51 am, July 31st, 2009 - 69 comments
Categories: capitalism - Tags:

The recent furore about benefit levels has brought a lot of comments along the lines of ” I don’t get it why should they?” out of the woodwork along with a lot of hardluck stories from low wage earners such as this one from Phoenix on Colin Espiner’s blog:

I am 6 months pregnant with my first child. 6 weeks into my pregnancy, my prick of a boss decided to make me redundant, forcing me into a position paying $5 an hour less than my normal rate of pay, I had to move to Chch from Auckland to keep my job, and whats more, he replaced me with someone else about 2 weeks after I had moved! (changed the name of the position of course, but it is the same blinkin job)

I have a partner, he got a job paying $38k a year (before tax), I now earn a pathetic $30k a year, and because of our two incomes, we are not eledgible for any government help.

I felt like I had to stay employed with this company as it would be very difficult to find a job when you are pregnant, especially at the moment with the recession and the lack of jobs out there.

What annoys me here, is I am battling to stay afloat, will be taking the least amount of maternity leave owing so we dont lose any income, and will have to put my child into child care to go back to work while these ladies earn a heck of a lot more than I do for sitting on the benefit.

Perhaps I should have a couple more kids and pretend I am single, to get more money?? Oh yeah, and I did 3 polytech courses, and have already paid back my student loan. No freebies there either….

Apart from the fact Phoenix would clearly have a strong case for a personal grievance which should include reinstatement and maternity leave (join your union!), this comment and the hundreds like it are a constant reminder of how low wages are in New Zealand.

The dark irony is that by calling for beneficiaries to have their entitlements cut, these low paid workers are effectively asking to have more pressure put on them to work harder for less because if they don’t there will be more people lined up to do their job for less. In fact in the 1990’s a constant refrain from bosses during negotiations was “if you don’t like the wages there’s hundreds of people who will.”

What astounds me is that so many people with these hard luck stories are willing to attack other people at the bottom of the pile rather than the people and policies that are oppressing them both.

I guess it shows how effective the New Right’s individualist agenda has been in that rather than see themselves as part of society these people see themselves only as individuals in competition with other individuals.

And while I’m at it there’s a second strain of comment that has come through during this debacle – the one where the commenter talks about how proud they are they are toughing it out and working for SFA. There’s a name for that kind of person and apparently there’s one born every minute.

69 comments on “Benefits, wages and anger ”

  1. ieuan 1

    I doubt that it would be worthwhile for Phoenix to put her child in child care and return to work as her $30K salary would barely cover the cost of the child care.

    Of course once the child is born they will qualify for WFF but living on a $38K salary would be tough.

    You do have to ask two questions:

    (i) How can they not survive on $68K per year between them?

    (ii) Why are they having a child when they don’t have the means to support themselves?

    • IrishBill 1.1

      Right so you are now attacking the victim that was attacking another victim? The right is a real pit of vipers sometimes.

      I’d suggest that when Phoenix got pregnant she didn’t expect to be unlawfully removed from her job.

      I’d also suggest that if Phoenix reads this she should contact an employment lawyer as quickly as possible to ensure she is compensated for this serious breach of her employment rights.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.2

      (i) How can they not survive on $68K per year between them?

      Because $68k is barely enough for one person to live on and participate in the community.

      • Zorr 1.2.1

        ummm… I generally don’t speak up because quite often it seems that my opinion is a little out of whack but here are a couple of my thoughts on this matter, suprisingly, partly in support of ieuan.

        1) Yes, this woman has a case for grievance and should roast her employer over the coals for it.

        2) She is now earning $5/hr less, that is a reasonably large reduction in pay (along with the moving to Christchurch) but would that really make that much of a difference when it comes to having a child?

        3) From my own personal experiences, it doesn’t cost that much to participate in the community. I am a science graduate going for some postgrad qualifications (only way to get a decent job) and currently my wife and I live on ~$420/wk. So that comes to just over $20k a year for a 3 person family. I just bring this up because we participate in our community as much as we feel fit and we are nowhere near this strange magical figure of $68k per person? x_x

        If there is one thing I have noticed about the people around me who complain about their inability to meet their bills it generally boils down to one of two things. Overspending on a regular basis, or overcommitment of resources in the longterm.

        Anyway, this is just a splurge of what is in my head. Feel free to correct me if you will and I will reply… 😛

        • Draco T Bastard 1.2.1.1

          $5/hr = $200/wk = $10400
          I’d say quite a bit.

          Where the hell are you living? In Auckland (where she was living previously) the rent alone would come to nearly $20k/year. It’d be more if you owned the home. And was that 420/wk before or after tax? Other than that, yeah, I probably exaggerated a bit but I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be by much. Go to the club, have a beer or two, throw in a couple of hobbies and that $68k (before tax) doesn’t go very far.

          • travellerev 1.2.1.1.1

            Euh,

            We have a mortgage, two cars and partake in our community. My husband earns $ 65.000 more or less before tax and I can put $ 300,- dollars a week on average aside.

            We eat Organic, healthy food and don’t scrimp on meat, cheese and other expensive dairy and generally feel quit rich.

            Mind you we do distil our own so that helps I guess.

          • Zorr 1.2.1.1.2

            Draco, we live in Christchurch renting in Cashmere. We are a little lucky in that we have been living here for a long time and the landlord has been very good to us. However we were doing a little shopping round lately (just for interests sake) and we could get a potentially bigger place for less in a lower quality part of town. There -are- reasons why our rent is relatively low… but they are equivalent factors to the reasons why rent is lower in worse parts of town. And as you mention, rent in Auckland is much higher, hence why we don’t live there… 😛

            Plus, if she is working full time before taking maternity leave she can also get a 14 week subsidy from the government for her and her husband for $150/wk additional (from memory).

            As far as our hobbies go, we don’t drink or smoke because we had done enough of that in our youth and looking to live a reasonably healthier life but we do regularly (once or twice a week) go out and have a nice cafe meal or something. We never skimp at the supermarket, we just buy intelligently and generally get our meat and produce elsewhere.

            The only financial issues we actually have are big ticket items as our savings reserves only grow very slowly. But yeah… all on what would work out to $20-25k a year. That $420 is from various government sources so only $340 is taxed.

            One of the disturbing things we have noticed as we have been raising our child (he is nearly 2 now) is that the mums we met through Plunket by and large spent excessive amounts of money on their “little bubs” with them wearing what would probably pass for the “latest in baby fashion”. Not to mention the ridiculous philosophy surrounding baby footwear… x_x.

            We are currently in the progress of having our second and final… and the reason why we are doing it now rather than when we are more financially stable? Because A) we loved having our first one and we want him to have a sibling and B) my wife will be 33 when our second is born… we wanted to breed before she got too old.

            Anyway, such are my brain splurges, Enjoy.

            • Zorr 1.2.1.1.2.1

              Oh yeah,

              Definition of wealth = what you get – what you spend…

              No matter how much you earn, if you consistently spend more than that, you will never end up wealthy. A lesson I learned from watching my parents… x_x

            • Draco T Bastard 1.2.1.1.2.2

              No matter how much you earn, if you consistently spend more than that, you will never end up wealthy. A lesson I learned from watching my parents x_x

              Unfortunately, I think most people don’t learn that from their parents or anywhere. I’d even go so far as to say that business people haven’t learned that which is partly (greatly?) why we now have a credit crises.

  2. Nick 2

    Ieuan, those are the wrong questions to be asking on this blog.

  3. There’s often good that comes out of bad situations.

    If Labour was smarter (the evidence suggests this is not the case) they would realise that the socialist dream they have has to be funded by someone. And there’s not enough rich pricks to fund this vision.

    The problem is not that people are attacking each other.

    The problem is that the safety net idea of social welfare has morphed into a dependency/expectation model.

    Therein lies Labour’s problem. The low paid simply don’t want a bar of the socialist utopia that the left cherishes because someone has to pay for it.

    That’s not to say there is no acceptance of the need for decent support for those in need. The problem naturally arises when those who are paying for it perceive they are worse of than those who are in receipt of it.

    Actually you are wrong IB about one point. The low paid aren’t directly attacking the recipients of the benefits – they are attacking those who created this model. And that’s a real problem for the left.

    • IrishBill 3.1

      “socialist utopia”? You’re kidding, right?

      • Daveski 3.1.1

        No more or less than “secret agenda”.

        In fact, I’d say more so. Goff recently stated that he agreed the market economy was the best way to deliver the social objectives he favoured and this was attacked by many on the left.

        So yes, the model espoused by many here would fall under “utopia” … kind of like dole for millionaires 🙂

        Just to make clear in no way am I victimising those in receipt of welfare. Nor am I victimising those on low wages who wonder pay their taxes.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.2

      Actually, Daveski, it’s the Rich Pricks who are preventing it from working. They really are dependent upon the majority of the population being poor. Of course, they do try to paint it as being the other way around.

  4. Nick 4

    IB, what rights? You don’t kow what rights she had as you, presumably, haven’t seen her employment agreement. And you don’t know whether she was “removed from her job” as a result of her pregnancy at all. I’d suggest the comment by Phoenix is not so much about low wages but rather how we financially encourage women in this country to have kids, not work and rely on benefits as it is more rewarding (see her quote below).

    Perhaps I should have a couple more kids and pretend I am single, to get more money??

    • IrishBill 4.1

      Her rights under the law.

    • snoozer 4.2

      Nick. The Bill of Rights Act prevents discrimination on the grounds of pregnancy. ECA prevents employers disestablishing jobs only to re-establish it under a different name as a way of dismissing a worker.

      That’s just the start of it.

      Our rights are conferred by law, not be contract.

  5. Peter Johns - bigoted troll in jerkoff mode 5

    Like any other pro Lab/Grn site, have all of the facts of this case been brought to light. This is the theme for awhile now, Worthgate, Burgessgate, DPBgate.
    For instance, was Phoenix capable enough for the job she was doing, maybe there were job issues, we do not know fully.

    She’s a Bennett supporter you moron

    • Lanthanide 5.1

      As my ex, who earned $120k a year was just made redundant, I have done a lot of investigation into the legalities of redundancy recently.

      It is illegal to dismiss someone for poor work performance etc using the cloak of redundancy.

      If Phoenix was made redundant, and she was replaced within a couple of weeks by someone doing substantially the same role, that is a breach of the law. If she was made redundant because she was pregnant, or made redundant because of a poor work record etc, that is also a breach of the law.

      If Phoenix was not made “redundant”, then things are entirely different, but we only have her word to go on here that she was “made redundant”.

  6. Nick 6

    It is the Human Rights Act that prohibits such discrimination and it is the ERA, not the ECA.

    But there is nothing in Phoenix’s comment that shows she was made redundant because of her pregnancy. Indeed at only six weeks it is unlikely her boss knew; and unlikely she would have told him so early (but we just don’t know this from the brief facts).

    • IrishBill 6.1

      I didn’t say anything about pregnancy. The key phrase here is:

      “he replaced me with someone else about 2 weeks after I had moved! (changed the name of the position of course, but it is the same blinkin job)”

      If that is an accurate representation of what happened then it is in breach of the law.

  7. insider 7

    Still have low wages after 9 years of a labour government. Bit of an indictment isn’t it? Shows that something had to change.

    When you can earn more from benefits than from working full time don’t expect the people who usually would be Labour voters to have much empathy with the party as it champions beneficiaries causes.

    • IrishBill 7.1

      The wage gap actually started to close under Labour. But I agree, they didn’t do enough and I made that opinion very clear during their time in government.

    • snoozer 7.2

      You can’t solve every problem in 9 years, you can make progress though, and Labour certainly did. You’ve seen the graphs.

      You can only get more on the benefit than working full time in exceptional circumstances – several sick kids to support

    • Derek 7.3

      Yeah it’d be nice if they were even higher than they are now. But really, the dishonesty of your comment is astounding. You know perfectly well that wage growth was strong under Labour, much stronger than it was under National.

      In fact it was your business mates who were complaining for the last few years that wage increases were too high!

      The blame for our continuing low wages falls squarely on the people in charge when they were falling – the Labour Govt of the 1980s and the National Govt of the 1990s.

  8. snoozer 8

    Nick “my prick of a boss decided to make me redundant…he replaced me with someone else about 2 weeks after I had moved (changed the name of the position of course, but it is the same blinkin job)”

    That’s illegal. And the ECA is the labour law in effect. I don’t know when rules against this kind of dismissal came in, but I would think it was around before the ERA

  9. outofbed 9

    Well I, through some pretty horrible circumstances ,have had to take a really low paying job . i currently get $15.50 per hour have to work Saturdays , Sundays and sometimes have to start at 4 am (all for the same rate.)
    It is hard physical ,boring work and pretty soul destroying.
    My income has ,halved (but hey one has to eat)
    The other workers hate the work all are in constant debt. just one step ahead of baycorp
    it is a real eye opener I had forgotten what the slog at the bottom is like

    There is absolutely no chance of higher wages or career advancement for many of the people I work with its a battle of constant debt boredom and disillusionment.
    Luckily i have had a bit of a life ,travelled, sucessfully brought up kids etc but my collegues many of them young with families and unskilled have no chance for advancement whatsoever, apart from lining up on a Saturday for a $ 2.oo lotto ticket for the chance to get out of this strife. a forlorn hope.me thinks.

    They complain bitterly that someone is getting the same as them on a benefit and rightly so., but as i point out it is not that benefit is high, its that they are not getting paid enough,for the work they do (which actually if done incorrectly would have major safety consequences for the travelling public.)
    What to do ?
    I am slowly trying to get them unionised but the are scared of the consequences and many of them couldn’t t even afford that small cost involved
    It is thoroughly thoroughly disheartening

  10. Nick 10

    You’re saying it’s illegal because it wasn’t a redundancy as they re-hired two weeks later; at face value it appears shaky. I accept that part of it.

  11. IB – you do yourself a disservice when you generalise about employers. Not all employers are arseholes. Sure, some give everyone a bad name, but the same applies equally to unionists.

    We’ve had an interesting situation in the last few weeks. One of our employees told us she might have to stop working as her partner had been stuffed around by a former employer who didn’t keep a job open while he was on ACC – she works part-time with us, and because of that earns too much for them to be able to get any support for their large family. We looked at solutions, and have taken him on on a part-time basis. It works for us – he is doing work which we haven’t been able to get to for a while, and it worked for them – there’s a few more bucks to put food on the table. We don’t know if it’s sustainable long-term and we’ve made no promises, but it’s something. And why are we helping? They’re great people, and we believe in them and want to help.

    Most employers have a significant emotional stake in their businesses, and it’s an over-simplification to just say “business = bad”

    • snoozer 11.1

      “you do yourself a disservice when you generalise about employers.”

      where does IB generalise?

      where does IB say “business = bad’

      Oh, you’ve been reading what isn’t there again.

  12. Draco T Bastard 12

    The dark irony is that by calling for beneficiaries to have their entitlements cut, these low paid workers are effectively asking to have more pressure put on them to work harder for less because if they don’t there will be more people lined up to do their job for less.

    Which, of course, is why benefits were cut in the early 1990s and probably why the 5th Labour government didn’t raise them back up. NZBR et al made a large song and dance about career beneficiaries and the need to cut benefits. Apparently, raising wages wasn’t an option.

  13. Adolf Fiinkensein 13

    Why would she want to join a union?

    The young lady could do with the services of a ‘take no prisoners’ private industrial advocate. One of those fellows Adolf hired 28 years ago to ‘negotiate’ a settlement with a prick of an employer who had engineered a sham redundancy. The guy concerned was an ex union ‘heavy’ whose knuckles dragged on the ground. He took my case on for 20% of the settlement with no upfront fees. The prick of an employer settled the day before we were to appear in the employment court.

    The major advantage of this approach for the young lady today is that none of her hard earned cash will find its way into the coffers of the Labour Party.

    • IrishBill 13.1

      20% of a 10k settlement is $2k. That’s about 6 years of union fees. Add to that the fact unionised workers get higher pay rises than non-union workers and you’re really not looking much like an rational economic man there Adolf.

    • Draco T Bastard 13.2

      If she was part of the union in the first place it would’ve been highly unlikely that she would have had to take a pay cut in the thousands of dollars per year and move to Chch (probably at her own expense as well). How much is the union fees? A couple of hundred per year? Seems like a good investment to me.

  14. Adolf Fiinkensein 14

    I think your are bullshitting me here. If unions were so bloody good for ‘the workers’ why do most of them give you the flick?

    Probably because they are smart enough to know most of you are Labour Party activists masquerading as workers advocates. Worker’s aren’t silly. They know a con job when they see one.

    Perhaps you’d like to share some union membership figures and compare them with total numbers in the work force?

    • IrishBill 14.1

      Union members get better pay rises than workers on non-union sites. Union fees range from about $4 a week through to about $10 a week depending on the union.

      You got ripped off for 20% of your settlement.

    • snoozer 14.2

      The unions are the largest democratic organisations in this country with about 370,000 members in total.

      • Adolf Fiinkensein 14.2.1

        Shit eh? You blokes wouldn’t survive long in the real world.

        You’ve got zero competition along with gummint subsidies and you can only manage to attract 370,000 members from 2,182 million people employed?

        It’s time you gave up politicking on the bosses’ time and focused on getting yourself a better monopoly market share than your current lousy 17%.

        Laaaaarrrrfff my bloody arse off.

        • felix 14.2.1.1

          Hey Fink,

          Worker’s aren’t silly. They know a con job when they see one.

          You didn’t. You got ripped off for 20% of your settlement.

          You were even proud of it you fucking sucker.

    • RedLogix 14.3

      Adolf,

      Whereas in Australia the union membership is around 76%. (Another comparison with Australia we are not likely to hear from that nice Mr Key anytime soon either.) The main reason why union penetration is so low here in NZ is that employers are legally permitted to allow non-union employees to piggy-back off the award conditions negotiated by their unionised colleagues.

      By contrast in Australia a non-union employee has to negotiate up front with their employer. This is pretty unsatisfactory for both parties, and especially large employers whose HR dept would much prefer to hammer out a single agreement with a union, than hundreds, maybe thousands of individuals.

      • Swampy 14.3.1

        The main reason why union penetration is so low in NZ is governments got fed up with being held to ransom by Labour party’s union buddies in the 70s/80s and did something about it; and even Labour has never dared return to the closed shops of that era.

      • Ray 14.3.2

        Union membership in NZ is low because Union’s dont offer workers anything of value. Case and point the NDU’s hopeless cake stall response to job loses at LWR. Why would you pay your membership fees if when its crunch time your Union’s response is to bake some cakes and little else?

        If Union’s were actually comitted to getting real gains for workers we’d see higher membership.

        • IrishBill 14.3.2.1

          Under voluntary unionism union members vote on what claims they put up, then they vote on what action to take if their claims are not met by the employer and then they vote on whether to accept whatever offer they get to. In effect the members are the union and union officials are only there to facilitate the process and provide logistical support.

          I don’t know what you mean by “real gains” but whatever union members get they get via their own collective choices. The union is only there to provide the democratic umbrella for their collective action. I find it hard to understand how you can see “unions” to be at fault for not getting these “real gains”. In fact I’m not even sure you know what a union is.

          • Swampy 14.3.2.1.1

            We have not got truly voluntary unionism in NZ and have only had it for short periods of time. It will probably be reintroduced by the National Government for the third time as their predecessors did in 1983 and 1991. Trade unions currently operate in an environment in which they are allowed to form legal cartels which is a strange hypocrisy considering the battery of laws and legal constraints directed against businesses to ensure effective and free competition.

            The fact that after nine years of a Labour government and with the above protections union membership is still very low points to the fact that many people still do not want to hand over their hard earned dollars to the Labour Party’s fundraisers.

            If unions stuck to the basics and kept out of politics they would not be the target of Government policy to the extent that they are. You can hardly expect National to create policy that supports the financial and social base of its major Parliamentary opposition.

            • IrishBill 14.3.2.1.1.1

              We have not got truly voluntary unionism in NZ

              Now I know you don’t know what you’re talking about. Would you care to explain the manner in which unionism in NZ is not voluntary (other than the fact that some employers make life very hard for workers who choose to be in a union).

            • RedLogix 14.3.2.1.1.2

              If unions stuck to the basics and kept out of politics they would not be the target of Government policy to the extent that they are. You can hardly expect National to create policy that supports the financial and social base of its major Parliamentary opposition.

              Can I apply the same logic to Federated Farmers then? What if a Labour govt decided to ‘de-register’ FF, or whack a sodding great levy or tax on farmers who were members, or more insidiously… offered tax breaks to to farmers who were NOT members.

              You would rightly find such behaviour outrageous, yet somehow when the same ‘attention’ is directed to ordinary, non-wealthy working people…. it’s somehow ok.

            • lprent 14.3.2.1.1.3

              In other words, National targets people who oppose it or even disagree with it. I know that you are correct.

              You don’t need to look at unions to see that, just ask Paula Bennett

            • Daveo 14.3.2.1.1.4

              Moron. The reason the National Party was founded was to counter the threat of organised labour. Learn some history, for god’s sake.

              National has always worked to undermine organised labour through legislation in order to increase the profits of their business supporters. That’s why unions generally oppose National and generally support Labour and other parties of the left.

              It’s really pretty basic stuff.

        • Swampy 14.3.2.2

          They offer various things, the problem as I see it is they offer too much, all the cake and the icing and everything… and a big fee.

          Matt McCarten runs Unite on a shoestring, charges a few dollars a week in fees and he is about what all the unions should be about in my view. Just stick to the basics, stop trying to be a welfare service (health benefits and holiday homes) or an empire builder (millions of dollars in assets) or a Labour Party fundraiser (siphoning support from the masses who are not interested in politics).

  15. Luke H 15

    Ha – I wasn’t going to make a comment but the security word is “Granted”.

    As in, leftists take jobs for GRANTED and don’t consider that employers are not all evil pricks, but are forced to make difficult choices by shifts in the market, especially in this economic climate.

    I’m not even going to mention red tape and compliance costs (whoops, I did).

    • snoozer 15.1

      We take our rights for granted and this woman has had hers violated. Actually, people take for them gor granted too often and don’t realise they need to fight for them by joining a union.

    • Draco T Bastard 15.2

      I don’t take jobs for granted but I do question why, after nearly 100 years since the 40 hour week was introduced and all the improvements in productivity, we’re still working more than 40hours per week on average.

      You mean the red tape and compliance costs that are the least in the world right?

      Anti Spam: reason – something the right don’t seem to have any of.

      • Bill 15.2.1

        Why 40 hour week?

        The answer doesn’t change. After WW2, production was outstripping consumption and so to avoid a 4 hour working day and workers having time to lead a life, Capitalism instigated the wonderful dual ideas of built in obsolescence and the fashion industry… to create demand and keep those consumer goods turning over all the while happily, and not incidentally, keeping workers chained to the factory.

        • Draco T Bastard 15.2.1.1

          I was just using the imposition of the 40 hour week as a benchmark both for the time since and the fact that, even though there’s been 200 or 300% increase in productivity we’re still working 40+ hours when we really should be down to 20 or less. I actually think most of the “work” that happens today is make work. As you say, things like built in obsolescence to continue to give all that productivity a purpose.

          • RedLogix 15.2.1.1.1

            That’s a good point Draco. I recall reading somewhere ages ago that pre-Industrial nomadic hunter-gatherers, in a favourable environment, at low population densities, typically worked less than 20 hrs pw to sustain themselves, while still enjoying suprisingly good life expectancies.

            Makes you wonder about so-called progress sometimes.

  16. Swampy 16

    I’m astonished by this post; it comes across as an attack on hard working people, denigrating their industriousness while exalting welfare beneficiaries.

    I bet when any of those benefit were introduced by leftie governments no one said anything about intergenerational welfare dependency or the social underclass created by the poverty of being long term dependent on welfare. The DPB being the most recent example of social engineering of this kind creating an incentive for teenage mothers from the wrong side of the tracks to start solo parent families

    • Draco T Bastard 16.1

      I bet when capitalism was introduced by the capitalists no one said anything about intergenerational poverty and it being a prerequisite condition.

      • Swampy 16.1.1

        Intergenerational poverty comes in many forms. The welfare state perpetuates one of those forms through multigenerational welfare dependency.

        I live in a socially deprived area that has received masses of government grants under Labour who seemed to think if they spent up large on new state houses, redeveloped parks and the like, they would somehow change people’s attitudes. Yet they missed the little things like better street lighting and in a way that is an appropriate metaphor for the fact that they have ignored the necessity to change what goes on inside people’s heads.

        The DPB is one of the least onerous benefits in terms of obligations and the reason it perpetuates poverty is its grossly discriminatory bias against working. Here we have the notion that the mother has a choice of collecting the money and not working, or putting her kids into childcare and working. That’s why the work test should be there from the very beginning of receiving the DPB. In fact a lot of the teenage mums on it should be on the dole instead and the DPB (or the HPB as it is now known) reserved for the really deserving cases.

        • felix 16.1.1.1

          Here we have the notion that the mother has a choice of collecting the money and not working, or putting her kids into childcare and working.

          Big fan of “20 hrs free”, were you Swampy?

  17. Swampy 17

    “What astounds me is that so many people with these hard luck stories are willing to attack other people at the bottom of the pile rather than the people and policies that are oppressing them both.”

    Beneficiaries are in a different league from working people so the attack is quite fair. You need to get your head around the notion that unlimited government handouts creates massive social problems rather than solving them. There is a big difference between a safety net at the bottom of the cliff and a pot of gold at the top.

    There are some women (or men) on the DPB who are there because of circumstances wholly beyond their control like the death of a spouse. The same cannot be said for teenage girls getting pregnant and carrying on ad infinitum, getting non stop handouts for behaving irresponsibly, leaving school with no job skills or academic qualifications and becoming unemployable. Fair game frankly. It’s nonsense to claim these people are being oppressed by the system. It was clearly a bad decision to create this benefit for them for supposed social equality when the welfare dependency it creates has resulted in even greater levels of social deprivation and intergenerational welfare dependency.

    • felix 17.1

      Beneficiaries are in a different league from working people so the attack is quite fair.

      You sound like you’re describing different species.

      What bullshit. You lose your job, you go from being a worker to a beneficiary.

  18. RedLogix 18

    In the meantime I wonder if anyone has considered the veracity of this little spot of ‘intergenerational welfare dependency’.

    According to the title, the Karori home was bought by Mr English and his wife, Mary, for $800,000 in 2003. However, in March this year the title was transferred to Mrs English alone. A spokesman for Mr English said the home was always owned by a family trust.

    Details of Mr English’s expenses were revealed this week in the first public disclosure of MPs’ travel and accommodation costs.

    They show he claimed $23,763 for Wellington accommodation costs in the first six months of the year for living in the Karori house.

    • felix 18.1

      So Bill’s wife is charging us, the taxpayers, 50 grand a year for having Bill in the house?

      Can’t say I blame her for wanting to be compensated – I wouldn’t want him in my house either – but I don’t see why WE should be paying.

      • felix 18.1.1

        *in before righty whingers: “you called Bill’s wife a whore, wah wah!”

        No I didn’t. Grow up.

  19. SPC 19

    Swampy

    1. most women on the DPB are either single parents who have lost their job or they have separated from a working partner (or they left their job when they left their partner/their partner left to look after the children – they could not afford childcare on their income).

    2. If one work tested the DPB where children needed child care – they would only be available for jobs which would provide for the cost of childcare.

    PS

    If the minimum wage was at the level it was in 1990, it would now be $15 an hour ($30,000) not $12.50 ($25,000).

    It should be the campaign of every union where the award is below $15 an hour to make this an issue.

  20. SPC 20

    The key point to note about wages and benefits is that because the minimum wage rose from $7 to $12 in the 9 years of the Labour led government

    1 any worker gets more in the hand ($20,000 any age compared to $10,000 over 25) from work than on the benefit.

    2 and because of this and WFF any worker with children is better off than any beneficiary with children (so much so that poverty amongst children was nearly exclusive amongst families living on benefit income in the 2007-2008 year.

    Otherwise a union campaign for a minimum “award” wage of $15 for all covered by union awards is necessary. This can maintain the pressure on this government to keep increasing the minimum wage each year (unlike their 1990’s policy).

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