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Don’t just stand there

Written By: - Date published: 1:30 pm, June 25th, 2009 - 20 comments
Categories: greens, national/act government, unemployment - Tags: , ,

summitfailJohn Key’s government has reacted to the thousands of job losses occurring each week in this country in much the same way a possum crossing a road reacts to headlights. Since over-promising and under-delivering with the Jobs Summit, they’ve been exposed as completely out of ideas.

The dole queue is growing by 1100 each week, and we know that up to twice as many people lose their jobs but can’t get the dole (usually because of partner’s income). From a low of 17,000 just a year ago, dole numbers have now reached 45,000 and are expected to reach 90,000 at their peak. The cost of that is phenomenal – each person on the dole costs about $12,000 in net benefit payments a year. Add to that lost tax on their working income of around $7,000 for the average worker and admin costs of several hundred, and the costs of rising crime associated with poverty due to rising unemployment. Having a person on the unemployment benefit costs the country a fortune. Now times that by 73,000 and you would think there is a massive incentive for this government to do everything possible to protect and create jobs.

But it just ain’t happening. Key (who once claimed his $50 million cycle-way would create 3700 jobs over two years) says the $340 million home insulation programme will create 500 jobs a year while a McJobs programme will create another 1400 part-time, minimum-wage jobs a year. Like a drop of water to a man in the desert, those jobs are welcome but nowhere near sufficent.

We need more than watered-down Green Party programmes right now. I challenge Key to adopt all or most of the Greens’ ‘Green New Deal’ package, which they estimate will create 43,000 jobs. Not only would it save half a billion in unemployment payments, rather than sitting around on the dole, useful work like building more state houses would get done too.

Unfortunately for New Zealand, I think we can be sure that the Key government won’t have the vision or courage to go for the Green New Deal. They will just stand, staring at the headlights, while the juggernaut of joblessness continues to hit Kiwis and their families.

[Colin Espiner: in your article you, again, confuse the number of people on the unemployment benefit with the number who are unemployed.]

20 comments on “Don’t just stand there ”

  1. Geez even if they just adopted the “Housing” part of the Greens New Deal that’s around 28,000 jobs saved.

    Yes. Twenty Eight Thousand.

  2. Redbaiter 2

    C’mon guys, the Greens couldn’t come up with a good idea if their lives depended on it.

    I’m kinda surprised (well I would be if I didn’t know the media were such cowardly partisan propagandists in this country) that there’s been so little press coverage of what happened in Spain when they tried to implement the same kind of hare brained schemes.

    Even Billy Bob Clinton has tried to draw attention to what rubbish it is-


    Someone from the Nats should read this too. I have to assume they with their idiotic home insulation and bike track projects have yet to learn of it.

    • r0b 2.1

      Well if it’s “rubbish” then Clinton will have his work cut out for him closer to home. America is moving this way at last.

      The Obama administration is using Earth Day for launching another all-out effort to sell the American public and key lawmakers on “green jobs” as the solution for the United States’ environmental and economic woes.

      It has become increasingly clear that the administration’s central theme — not to mention its pitch to key lawmakers — is that energy-related legislative priorities are based not only on environmental merits but on their ability to create jobs.

      Both Obama’s allies and his critics say such a message is aimed at broadening the constituency for such initiatives — rallying the traditional “green” vote as well as blue-collar workers and the U.S. manufacturing base.

      “This is the kind of ‘for everybody Earth Day agenda’ that the Obama administration stands for,” White House Council on Environmental Quality adviser Van Jones said yesterday. “There’s a wingspan on these jobs goes from GED to Ph.D.”

      Jones added, “The administration is committed that green jobs be good jobs, and there’s a strong commitment to make sure that it actually happens.”

  3. Pat 3

    NZPA “Prime Minister Key, adopting a new spirit of inclusiveness, has decided to accept all challenges laid down by anonymous bloggers.

    On hearing the news, new-found blogger Trevor Mallard proceeded to wet himself. He has enlisted the services of Batman to help him choose a catchy pseudonym.”

  4. Anita 4

    and we know that up to twice as many people lose their jobs but can’t get the dole

    Sale ads that bother me: “up to 50% off or more!!

    • felix 4.1

      Heh. I remember once seeing a “$2 and More” shop.

      Sky’s the limit I guess.

      • The Voice of Reason 4.1.1

        My all time favourite business name could have been written by the same people: it was “Not Just Coffins”. Sadly, they bit the dust a few years back, but the last time I was in Sydenham, the signage was still up.

  5. Merlin 5

    you should read the link Anita rather than just assume people are being sneaky or wrong. Currently 32% of people who are unemployed receive the dole – 2 times as many people how are unemployed don’t receive the benefit as do.

    But if you check out the stats and msd numbers, the number of people on the dole has been rising faster (up 23% from December to March quarters) than the number of unemployed (up 6%) in percentage terms. What does that mean? that the ratio of unemployed not getting dole to unemployed getting to dole will fall.

    • Anita 5.1


      I did read the page Eddie linked to, and I went to the stats website to check the definition they use for “unemployed” in the Household Labour Force Survey and wondered how one could figure out the causes of the gap without resurveying. I also wondered if the gap would go up or down during the recession I’m betting on down because the general loss of household wealth will reduce the proportion of people who are over the benefit thresholds. (You could have expected me to have done my homework 🙂

      I totally agree that there are many people describing themselves as unemployed who are not on the unemployment benefit, and I totally agree this is a good point to make. My point, and perhaps I should have been clearer, is that phrasing like “up to twice as many” just looks dodgy and decreases the force of the point. There are plenty of ways Eddie could have phrased it which would have appeared stronger and less like trying to fudge something.

      • Eddie 5.1.1

        Should I have just said ‘twice as many’ and been dishonest?

        • Anita

          *grin* if the only choice is between being dishonest and seeming dishonest you’ve got to be a politician 🙂

          I would have gone for just “many” or anything that looked less like smoke and mirrors with the quantity. In a different post I would’ve shoved in a parenthetical “x times as many people say they’re unemployed in the HLFS as receive the unemployment benefit” but that would’ve distracted from your point.

  6. Wendell 6

    So many people tossed on the scrapheap.

  7. George D 7

    Labour were also very confused about how many unemployed people are in NZ. They thought that a person working 1 hour per week qualified as employed.

    • Craig Glen Eden 7.1

      The Model for measuring unemployment changed I believe in the late 90’s under National. So its a bit rich to for Nat supporters to attack Labour for the model. Nat supporters don’t seem to remember much from the 90’s its all just a haze.

  8. George D 8

    I remembered that it changed sometime in the late 1990s. I know that Labour were until now the major beneficiaries of it, but that National have no desire to change it, for obvious reasons.

    I pointed out quite a few times in the last few years that “4.0% unemployment” doesn’t mean what it is supposed to mean.

    Long live the neoliberal redefinition!

  9. Mike 9

    I think you guys are confused, the goal of the Jobs Summit wasn’t to save jobs, it was to minimise ‘shock’ in a structural transition!

    So says Minister for the Stock Exchange anyway,
    “The goal is not stopping job loss – that sounds a bit like [General Motors] where no matter how much money you throw at it, it’s a bad business. The goal is to minimise the shock of structural transition [to a more productive economy],”

  10. jarbury 10

    There’s a Minister for the Stock Exchange?

  11. BLiP 11

    I guess dreams do come true – well for John Key they do. At least he kept one promise, I suppose.

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