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Community Max, another Nat failure

Written By: - Date published: 10:30 am, February 16th, 2011 - 34 comments
Categories: benefits, jobs, unemployment - Tags: , ,

Because it’s failed ideology prevents it from leading job creation, National came up with ‘Community Max’. Pointless make work schemes have flourished. At the end, more participants are back on the dole than would have been if they had never left. A waste of time and money. Just like boot camps with a higher reoffending rate than home detention.

Paula Bennett, when she can be bothered being in the country and doing her job, is frequently asked about the success of Community Max. She replies that 70% of participants have not gone back on to a benefit after their six month minimum wage job, paid for by the government, is over. She doesn’t say 70% have gone into work, mind you. All she really says is that 30% go straight on to the dole. Presumably, others remain unemployed too but are ineligible for the dole, have gone into study, or have gone to Aussie.

Well guess what? Stats NZ data shows only 31.5% of all unemployed people remain unemployed after six months out of work anyway.

In other words, Community Max has had no discernible impact on whether an unemployed person will be unemployed in six months time. If you become unemployed, whether you do some stupid make-work job for six months (at a cost of $13,000 to the government) or not, you’ve got a 30% chance of being unemployed half a year later.

So, an employment programme that doesn’t do anything to get people into real jobs, alongside a horrendously expensive boot camp programme that has a worse reoffending rate than home detention and other forms of community sentence.

I wouldn’t have thought you could spend all this money and have a negative effect on employment and crime, but I clearly underestimated Paula Bennett’s shear fucken uselessness. Whoever put her in charge of a $20 billion a year budget deserves to be exiled to his mansion in Hawaii.

Paying the entire wage bill for an organisation to hire someone is just stupid economics. The employer faces no cost of labour, so is not incentivised to use that labour to produce anything of real value. What this government should have done is created the worthwhile jobs themselves and let the unemployed fill them, rather than grabbing the unemployed and then trying to find something for them to do.

For instance, the government could have given Kiwirail some extra money to build its new railcars here rather than buying them from China. Of course, getting that production done here made economic sense without any additional sweeteners but the point is there are plenty of worthwhile jobs that government entities could create with a little extra funding and these jobs would actually produce things of worth to the country stimulating further jobs and production, something Community Max has completely failed to do.

Do we blame National’s failures in employment on their incompetence or the fact that they just don’t care? I think the latter. It’s too easy on National ministers simply to label them nitwits. They’re smart enough to convince people that the emperor has clothes, then they should be smart enough to spend money on employment and get a result that is better than nothing.

I really think that they just don’t care. The concerns and needs of ordinary Kiwi families just don’t appear on the radar of these elitists, except in so far as they impact on whether Bennett keeps her quarter of a million salary and paid holidays, and Key gets to keep to playing the clown and giving himself tax cuts.

34 comments on “Community Max, another Nat failure”

  1. kriswgtn 1

    OOOoohh but i want that 300K Pumpkin 😛

    I can put it on trademe and sell it for millions 😛

    • richard 1.1

      Perhaps its a magic pumpkin that is going to take Cinderella Bennett to the ball. $300k for a magic pumpkin – bargain. Even a shitty BMW limo costs $200k

    • Lanthanide 1.2

      I think the garden story is a bit of a beat up. TV3 apparently went to the garden site 8 months after the scheme was wound down.

      Certainly doing gardening work (and for quite a few people) seems like it’s at the upper end of ‘make work’ schemes. They are practical skills which have use in real life, both commercially and domestically, and the food was apparently used for feeding elderly people in the community.

      Now the other make-work scheme that was mentioned was one that employed 6 people to send text messages on cell phones to people to make sure they turned up to their court dates. Yes, employed to send text messages on cell phones. Probably they were using some computer system to do it. I don’t know why you’d need to make job positions specifically to do that – it seems like the sort of thing that could be lumped in with someone elses regular work load. Apart from general employment things like ‘turn up to work on time, dressed correctly and be polite in dealing with co-workers’ I don’t see that it’d teach you any worthwhile skills at all.

      • Vicky32 1.2.1

        I heard Bennett saying on the TV the other night that part of the purpose was to teach UB beneficiaries to ‘turn up to work on time, dressed correctly and be polite in dealing with co-workers’ – that makes me so annoyed! What makes her think we don’t already know that? More middle-class fantasies about unemployed people… (My upper-class lawyer ex said to me, when I worked for WINZ in the 80s, about the UB beneficiaries I did clerical stuff for “They’re all scum and useless eaters”. Then the insurance company he worked for, laid him off as Rogernomics and Ruthanasia bit.) One middle-class kiddie educated, thousands to go!

        • Lanthanide

          Well for lots of young people who have never been employed before, it is actually new knowledge for them. If you compare school to work, you can get by with a lot more crap at school than you can at work, and if these people treat work as they did school, then they may not go very far.

          I think anyone who has been employed for at least 2 years should already have the correct mindset, though.

        • Treetop

          What I want to know from Bennet is how many people on benefits do unpaid work?
          Does doing unpaid work not teach skills?
          How many hours are being done in unpaid work by the unemployed?

          I could ask question three to every other group on a benefit and as well every one else who could register as being unemployed e.g. supported partners.

  2. Draco T Bastard 2

    If you become unemployed, whether you do some stupid make-work job for six months (at a cost of $13,000 to the government) or not, you’ve got a 30% chance of being unemployed half a year later.

    And that’s about double the price of them being on the unemployment benefit.

  3. This morning while in a WINZ office when I was seated infront of a case manager about 40 WINZ staff started clapping. I asked the case manager, “Why is everyone clapping?”
    The reply was “Someone has got a job.” My first reaction was how condescending and my second reaction was, what is the job and how will the person fear with a 90 day trial?

    I see a surgeon tomorrow and hope to get some relief with muliple health conditions.

    I think what I witnessed is discriminatory to anyone who is unfortunate enough to be involved with WINZ.

    • Lanthanide 3.1

      I’m sure the person who got a job was quite chuffed with having lots of people clapping for them – they probably haven’t had widespread support like that from complete strangers for quite some time.

      • Treetop 3.1.1

        I have to wonder if the person who got the job was even aware of why the staff were clapping. There could even be a breach of privacy. Like I said how long will the job last? How will WINZ treat the person in future if the job goes belly up? I think the clapping was for the morale of the staff.

        Nice for the person to not have to go into the WINZ office, but it is not a kindergarten.

        • Colonial Viper

          If the applause was sincere I think its bloody marvellous stuff. Its a success, it should be celebrated. (At the risk of sounding aspirational…)

          Now, what about those other 159,999 unemployed…

        • Lanthanide

          On balance I think you’re probably right – there’s more negatives to them clapping than there are positives.

          Another angle – is getting your client’s jobs so uncommon that you have to actively celebrate each success you can manage? I’m sure if they were clapping 5 or 6 times a day they’d get sick of it pretty quickly.

          • Vicky32

            It reminds me of the short-lived recent stint I did as a telemarketer. Every time someone got a sale, they had to go to the front of the room, put a magnetic dot on the whiteboard (which was okay), then pick up a hammer and bang a gong!
            The rest of us when we heard the gong, were supposed to stamp, whistle, clap and cheer. One day a guy got 6 (a record, for him and for the office!) and yes, we did get sick of clapping – not to mention trying to explain to punters we were on the phone to, what on earth was going on!

          • The Voice of Reason

            Serenity now, insanity later!

      • Vicky32 3.1.2

        But at the same time, it’s cringe-making! It reminds me of the compulsory job-getting ‘seminar’ I had to attend in October (missing the chance to do some relieving work to do so!) The 30-something woman in charge had a captive audience of 20 or so people, all 10-25 years older than her, except for one man who turned 64 that day. She said that (in front of him!) that he had begged her to allow him to not attend because that day was his birthday, but she had made him come in, so that she could congratulate him on his birthday! Why? As a power trip? To congratulate him on having only one year to go til National Super and being able to escape being bullied, patronised and frankly terrified by the threats that go with these seminars? (Attend or we’ll stop your benefit, even if we sent the letter to summoning you to the wrong address… Another true horror story – from when I worked for them in the 80s. A woman was threatened with prosecution for not responding to a letter my predecessor had sent her. The woman’s address was something similar to 1/157 Blank Street. My predecessor had addressed the letter to 1157 Blank Street. The idiot had interpreted the 1/ as 11… From then on, if I have lived in a flat I have never said 4/30 Bellevue Road for instance, but either Flat 4, number 30 or 4-30..)

        • Treetop

          The worse one for addresses is e.g. 1 157. Some medical services use a gap.

        • fraser

          a bit like this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNiqrwelzmI

          i had to attend one of those once – fresh out of a post grad multi-media diploma and i turned up to coloured card and felts in front of me.
          So 2 sets of tertiary quals under my belt and day 1 was “use these magazines to make a collage poster showing you goals and the things that prevent you acheiving them”

          private provider too – very much bums on seats = get the cash

          • Colonial Viper

            Why are they treating adults like little children. So belittling.

            • fraser

              there was even a chinese woman there who had a masters in accounting but just had poor english. Go figure.

              Thankfully a previous interview i had in the pipeline paid off and i got a job after enduring (well more like refusing to participate) only 1/2 a week.
              They still seemed to think it was because of their sterling efforts to motivate me for some reason

          • Vicky32

            Oh good heavens! The boss at the above-mentioned telemarketing outfit made us do that (the collage of goals and barriers thing.)
            That was ‘sales training’, and they do the same thing at Job Seminars? (At ours, all she did was whinge about her own job not being secure because of the razor-gang cutting up the Public service, and tell us like babies, how to use their website.)

            • fraser

              The real problem was there were kids there who did need this kind of basic exercise (“im not good at nufink” – thats a quote) mixed in with others with high skill levels – just without a job or fresh out of tech/uni

              Winz were more interested in satisfying the requirement to offload clients onto these courses. Finding out an individuals requirements, skill level, deficiancies etc etc didnt even come into it.

    • felix 3.2

      Did they stand on their desks too?

      • Treetop 3.2.1

        Probably someone would have to die while on a benefit for WINZ to stand on their desks. I hope to not oblige them in the near future!

  4. I have mentioned this before. Some people have some really good designs/inventions which a designer is prepared to do a prototype but the person lacks about $5,000 for the item to be made up. Some assistance is available through a council grant for this, (usually half the cost) but unless the other half is found nothing is done. I came up with an idea costing $10,000 to do a prototype and a designer with international experience came and discussed the design with me.

    There are a lot of creative people out there who need the gap filled to get a design up and running.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      Yep, but if that gap was bridged then the people who benefit from the present artificial restriction of wealth concentrated in to too few hands would start to lose money.

  5. Craig Glen Eden 5

    Labour 26.000 on hip hop = Nationals 26.00 on hip hop is a bargain aye compared to Nationals spend on wild horses which I think should be sung at every public meeting. WHILD HORSES……..

  6. bobo 6

    Is there any physical proof of the garden actually being finished where the one pumpkin came from, like a photograph or something by the winz case manager or whoever who said they had done a great job, a story in the local community news paper.. anything??

  7. David 7

    Yes – didn’t you see the Herald story today? It had a photograph of the garden in full swing. Looked brilliant. The TV3 stories are just yet more bad journalism. Clearly the reporter has no clue what Community max is meant to be for – wages to keep young people busy doing something rather than watching tv while on a benefit. I’m pretty sure the subsidy isn’t intended to pay for garden vegetables. Who cares how many pumpkins are left eight months later??

    • Marty G 7.1

      I’m not attacking any particular programme (although did you see that it has funded a $26,000 hip-hop tour too, talk about your ironies). I’m talking about the policy itself. A policy that costs twice as much as a person being on the dole with roughly the same odds that they’ll be unemployed six months later and with little or no valuable work being done because the employers are not required to get any value out of their employees.

      This money would have been far better spent on public services and infrastructure that would create jobs. In other words, create the work then get the people, not get the people then try to find something for them to do.

      • bobo 7.1.1

        I agree tv3 should have shown the photos i just saw them tonight on backbencher show it did look good,what a waste to let it go to ruin after just one harvest id be pissed off and sad if i had worked on it surely it could have been taken over by local comunity like a maori garden.

  8. HC 8

    COMMUNITY MAX BY THE “MINISTER MAX”! Have I ever seen a person grow in physical stature over such a short period of only 2 to 3 years? No, never! Well, that is the “max” that I am observing though. She (dearest Paula Bennett broader bum) has apparently been so well nourished and looked after on her $ 5,000 per week ministerial salary, that she is growing extensively. At Christmas a photo portrayed her trying to fit onto a seat of a swing. That was evidently too small. Now she must be having to book 2 airline tickets to fly to the US for her welfare studies, because with the broadening of side space she could impossibly be seated onto an ordinary seat on any airplane. How many welfare benficiaries could live off the meals and calories she consumes every day? While she is obviously “maxxing out” her body, the average beneficiary is having to “maxx” out his or her credit cards to buy bare essentials. No wonder card transactions tend to increase month by month, while retail sales stagger or go backwards?! Do we have the right “maxxing” though? I feel it is time for changing from “community maxx” to a more healthy Ministerial “de-maxxing”, which could also save the tax payer some money. Imagine a beneficiary having to live off $ 194 per week. Could an oversize minister not set a good example by matching that or even doing better?

  9. HC 9

    The truth is – compared with many western or other developed countries, and contrary to much of public perception – going on the dole in NZ is harder than it has ever been and more punitive than in most countries. This is something the self-employed, employers, red-necks of various backgrounds and envious hard workers that never depended on state support do either not know or not accept. If they would ever have to go and apply for such support themselves, then they would soon realise how difficult it is these days to get any benefit.

    But bias, brainwashing, envy and down right hatred towards those perceived as living off tax payer money brings the results that National wants. Life gets harder for workers, so light up the fire of envy and discontent towards beneficiaries and alleged bludgers.

    It always seems to work. Divide and rule is the idea behind it, same as it is with some of the immigration policies followed here. That way the elite can feel ensured to keep their control over the dumbed down and suppressed masses. Does anybody care to argue?

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