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DPB: it’s for the kids

Written By: - Date published: 10:30 am, August 18th, 2009 - 40 comments
Categories: benefits - Tags:

A lot of right-wing beliefs can be traced back to a few core values. Two apply to the DPB debate:

  • a penny-pinching self-centredness
  • a moral viewpoint that good people prosper thanks to hard work and, therefore, anyone who isn’t prosperous is the author of their own demise, which makes them undeserving of help.

They object to the DPB on the first ground because they hate paying tax and think if all those mythical ‘welfare queens’ getting their $1000 a week were cut off they could have ‘their’ tax money back.

The second manifests in the oft-repeated ‘If they can’t keep their legs closed, they shouldn’t come begging from me’. Note, there’s ever any question why he couldn’t keep his thing in his pants, of course (there’s an underlying misogyny to this, as with so much from the right-wing). Nor any acknowledgement that actually most women on the DPB were in stable relationships when they had the kids, but the relationship subsequently broke up and they were, literally, left holding the babies. Nonetheless, I used to think a little like that – ‘why should I subsidise someone’s choice to have children?; their choice, their problem; etc’.

Then, at about age 11, I realised something: the purpose of the DPB is not to support the parent, it’s to ease the effects of poverty on the children. That shoots away the right’s moral argument.

I don’t care whether their mum is a 40 year old divorcee who’s always done her best and worked for 20 years or an irresponsible 21 year old who has three kids by three men, the kids deserves the same support, and the same chance to avoid being locked in the poverty cycle. The DPB provides that opportunity. Without it, women with young children would be left destitute and the potential of those young lives would be lost.

I’ve just noticed Annette King says something similiar in the Herald today:

what would those who criticise it say? They shouldn’t have had the children?” she asked. “But those children exist, and support for those children to ensure that they are fed and clothed and housed is what the welfare system is about.

I think if you were to ask, you would probably find you know some people who have led successful lives who, for a time at least, grew up on the DPB. In fact, we all know one man who wouldn’t be PM today if social welfare hadn’t been there to look after him when his father died.

The shame of it is Key is now leading a government that is exploiting misunderstandings and prejudices against DPB families, which can only be groundlaying work for benefit cuts to come. He ought to be defending the DPB for giving hope and opportunity to hundreds of thousands of kids, like him, who would otherwise be doomed to poverty.

40 comments on “DPB: it’s for the kids ”

  1. So Bored 1

    Pleased you mentioned that loathsome moral viewpoint of blaming people for their own position in life. It epitomises the whole Nact creed of greed. Externalise responsibility, turn it into somebody elses blame. Hum Dead Kennedy numbers.like “Kill the Poor”.

  2. BLiP 2

    Your forgetting that other tenet of the Right – pull the ladder up behind you.

  3. millsy 3

    What will it be, Middle New Zealand, the DPB?, or tax cuts and the sight of mothers and their children living under bridges or in their cars?? Give me the former any day. I dont begrudge paying my taxes for the DPB (Its paying for Obama’s wars that I hate).

  4. millsy 4

    Waiting for the Maori Party to have some guts about this….

  5. This is why the Maori Party are silent http://www.guide2.co.nz/politics/news/youth-unemployment-package-seen-as-a-good-start039/11/9878 – just one exmaple of why they don’t want to bite the hand that is feeding them. I know this is a rather facitious take on this policy but it is primarily designed for maori, rural youth. I hope the programmes, money and support gets to where it is needed most and those youth get some measure of self confidence and self sufficency from it.

    • BLiP 5.1

      I don’t share your hopes. This nonsense is actually just another plank in National Inc’s privatisation of the provision of social welfare and a leap in funding for corporate welfare. I hope that what ever benefit accrues to youth is not set against those “non-yoofs” who will be displaced.

      But, yeah, I see what you mean. The Maori (elite) Party will be setting up their whanau with the inside running on the establishment of the structures needed to implement the policy, the details of which have not been released to the rest of us – surprise surprise.

  6. Andrei 6

    Actually the core value that has been lost is the value of KIDS full stop.

    The next generation is this countries true wealth and we as a nation haven’t had enough of them.

  7. Observer 7

    “I don’t care whether their mum is a 40 year old divorcee who’s always done her best and worked for 20 years or an irresponsible 21 year old who has three kids by three men, the kids deserves the same support”

    I couldn’t agree more. However, a 40 year old divorcee who has worked and raised her children in a stable (till the end,) marriage is likely to spend her money very differently to a 21 year with three kids each of a different father. The former will probably provide good meals, promote education and put boundaries on her children’s behaviour; the latter will provide fast-food and/or takeaways and leave the kids to deal with life themselves while she goes looking for another man to pay for her entertainment as a way to get his own.

    Perhaps neither of them should be left with children to be looked after – a national child-raising institute might be a better solution
    Perhaps they should be limited to the number of children they have when they first claim a life paid for by the tax-payers, enforced by reversible tube-tying if they remove themselves from the role for 5 years.
    Perhaps the fathers of their children, identified from the mandatory national DNA database, should have child support at the level of (($250,000/240)*(1+cumulative monthly inflation since Jan 1st 2009)) per month. If they too are on benefit it should be disbursed to the mother first and if there’s anything left he can have it; if there’s nothing left give him $100 per week and a mandatory but free vasectomy.

    Perhaps we will be able to eat the cheese that makes up the dark side of the moon one day.

    • A Nonny Moose 7.1

      People mention class, gender and race as being push buttons in this debate, I think you’ve pointed out another – age. Because anyone under the age of 2X with 3 kids surely can’t be a responsible caregiver, right?

      I’m getting really tired of the ageism in this country, whether it’s surrounding procreation or driving habits. You want these “kids with kids” to support your voting choices, then give them a little respect back.

    • Akldnut 7.2

      A 40 year old divorcee who has worked and raised her children in a stable (till the end,) marriage is likely to spend her money very differently to a 21 year with three kids each of a different father. The former will probably provide good meals, promote education and put boundaries on her children’s behaviour; the latter will provide fast-food and/or takeaways and leave the kids to deal with life themselves while she goes looking for another man to pay for her entertainment as a way to get his own.

      Wow Observer well picked up on. You couldn’t be more correct

      You’ve obviously met the mothers of my children. Not a Family Court Judge or Lawyer by any chance?

  8. Hairy Monster 8

    “I realised something: the purpose of the DPB is not to support the parent, it’s to ease the effects of poverty on the children.”

    Agreed Eddie, however I’m sure you’re aware that despite this being the purpose in far too many households where the parents are recieving benefits that children are viewed as nothing more than a cash cow to support their parents lifestyle.

    • BLiP 8.1

      Assuming – just for a split second – your hideous notion had even a grain of truth, it would mean that there is even more reason that the children be protected, especially from the likes of you who would rather not see their smiling faces in this world.

      • Rex Widerstrom 8.1.1

        Sick as it sounds, in a small but significant proportion of households in receipt of benefits, that’s exactly what they’re seen as BLiP… as added income first and anything else second. I’ve grown up around poverty so while I know the vast majority of poor parents love and value their children, there are some whose level of neglect (while ensuring their own selfish needs are met) can only lead one to the conclusion they don’t given a damn for their offspring. Surely you’ve seen it too?

        Indeed there’s a handful who have admitted quite openly to me that while they didn’t get pregnant with the express intent of gaining a higher benefit, they went ahead and had the child for that reason (and sometimes then farmed out its care to other family members while retaining the increase in benefit payment for themselves).

        It’s why, many years ago, I came to the conclusion I supported increased welfare payments — but wherever possible by way of pre-payment (of rent and utilities) and supermarket vouchers and the like. I’m sure a supermarket chain would offer a substantial discount in return for being a preferred supplier to government, thus further increasing the effective benefit.

        I’m normally absolutely against state interference in people’s lives, even when state payments are involved. But it is the level of neglect I’ve seen in some (note: some) homes which has led me regretfully to that conclusion.

        And yes, I’m well aware of the fact that neglect and abuse isn’t correlated to receipt of a benefit. But it seems to me a way to assist a cohort of neglected children while at the same time providing more to all beneficiary families.

        • bobbity

          Nice Rex – amazes me that no-one in government has come up with a reasoned plan on how to ensure that the resources get to where they’re supposed to – the kids.

          There has to be a better solution than the DPB which is a pretty blunt instrument.

          I’d agree that most on the DPB struggle along and deserve all the help they get but there are those that use it as an income source for themselves rather than their kids – you’d think something could be done to ensure that in these instances it’s he kids who are being fed, clothed and looked after.

      • Swampy 8.1.2

        Oh come on that’s ridiculous.

        Far better never to have had the children in the first place obviously, if you can’t look after them properly then give them to someone who can.

        The whole driver of this debate of course is the passionate defence of this matter by the Left, which is mainly due to trying to convince the public that teenage girls can give their children a better start in life than adoptive parents.

  9. what would those who criticise it say? They shouldn’t have had the children?’ she asked. “But those children exist, and support for those children to ensure that they are fed and clothed and housed is what the welfare system is about.

    I think that’s the right approach for Labour to take and I guess we should be grateful that it only took them a month to come up with it; the other talking point they should emphasise is to remind women that the DPB is ‘there for them’ if their circumstances change.

    Anger towards the DPB keys into all sorts of racial and gender touchstones but most of the anger comes from older, uneducated white male voters and I think that’s a demographic that the National Party is pretty much maxed out in; if Labour can remind female voters that the DPB is there for them as well, even if they don’t need it right now then that demographic will also feel that anger directed towards them.
    The debate is not about the people who currently get the DPB, it’s about all the people it’s designed to support.

    • Pascal's bookie 9.1

      Anger towards the DPB keys into all sorts of racial and gender touchstones

      Lee Atwater (Ronnie Raygun’z Karl Rove) :

      Atwater: You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.’ By 1968 you can’t say “nigger’—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.

      But what would he know?

    • Swampy 9.2

      The debate for me is very clear cut. I know lots of families who wouldn’t qualify for the DPB, where the mother makes a clear and obvious choice to go back to work as soon as possible after the child is born, for economic reasons. The biggest issue is simply that the DPB makes work optional. I even met people who said they could pretend to split up with their husband if they didn’t want to work, so that they could claim the DPB. There is no work optional if your income is too high or whatever reason to receive the DPB. You don’t work, you don’t get paid.

      So the point that is being lost is that Labour is campaigning for the DPB to be paid as of right to mothers who don’t want to work, and Labour has made it easier for them to choose their lifestyle by removing the work test that Jenny Shipley’s government introduced.

  10. ben 10

    * a penny-pinching self-centredness
    * a moral viewpoint that good people prosper thanks to hard work and, therefore, anyone who isn’t prosperous is the author of their own demise, which makes them undeserving of help.

    Hmmm. Most people think I am a right winger (actually I’m a classical liberal) I think the key principles that underlie my rejection of public welfare are

    a) there needs to be a safety net

    b) public welfare crowds out private charity

    c) all government programs have limitless capacity to expand and produce large negative returns, and short of fiscal bankruptcy there is almost no counterveiling pressure to prevent it – a problem avoid by private charity

    d) voluntary charity is morally preferable, by some distance, to coerced charity

    So yes I’m against the black hole that is the DPB and for assisting those less unfortunate.

    • Draco T Bastard 10.1

      b) public welfare crowds out private charity

      um, what? Nothing stopping you donating to charities of your choice.

      The big problem of course is that there isn’t enough private charity to supply the safety net that you say is needed. On top of that people tend to give to their favourite cause and that tends to miss out a lot of people in need. Finally, the government supplying that safety net can do it a lot more efficiently than private charities can.

      c) all government programs have limitless capacity to expand and produce large negative returns, and short of fiscal bankruptcy there is almost no counterveiling pressure to prevent it a problem avoid by private charity

      No more than private institutions do and I’ve seen worse in those.

      d) voluntary charity is morally preferable, by some distance, to coerced charity

      So, you think the crime we would have if we didn’t have the welfare system would be preferable?

      Basically, you’re spouting ideology that doesn’t relate to reality.

      • Swampy 10.1.1

        Government programmes always end up bloated for political reasons, lack of proper accountability and the government being a monopoly etc. The DPB probably wasn’t predicted to get to its current numbers at the time it was introduced.

        hence claims of efficiency are usually irrelevant it is never seen.

    • Stacktwo 10.2

      Someone else longing for the great leap backwards. “Are there no workhouses?”

      Fact is, spreading the load as evenly as possible through “public welfare” is necessary because private charity will never cut it. And if you regard the DPB as a “black hole”, how much more has it been made so by pulling up the ladders of education assistance that Bennett used to pull herself out of it?

      Private charities today are already unable to keep up with growing needs for foodbank assistance. Do you really want to see the lines growing outside the soup kitchens?

      Face it, we’re a greedy lot. Given the chance, with a healthy salary, and a nice family trust in which to hide his assets, does our respectable Finance Minister (who no doubt thinks of himself as a morally principled person) become charitable? No, he milks the system for whatever more he can get his greedy fingers into.

      Give us a break!

    • RedLogix 10.3

      voluntary charity is morally preferable, by some distance, to coerced charity

      Therein lies the clue to your real motive.

      You prefer private, voluntary charity because it inherently permits those ‘giving’ to make moral judgements about who they are going to help. Until the Great Depression most charity was church based (one way or another) and while it was certainly better than nothing, it was often doled out with great ugly lumps of prissy, petty and ultimately demeaning condescension. While it may have saved many from actual starvation and death, it was hugely resented as an enforcing tool of class distinction and privilege.

      This was one of the great drivers behind the evolution of a universal, public welfare system after the Great Depression when so many ordinary working people of the day were abused, traumatised and deeply offended by the treatment they received at the hands of private charities.

    • So Bored 10.4


      How about the coerced charity whereby a worker gives his labour at a discount to feed the extortionate profits that make the employer wealthy?
      How about the tax burden being shifted away from even those dubiously gained profits and put back by way of indirect taxes on the little the worker actually got paid?
      How about private charity? Show me when it has ever been widespread and sufficient?
      Why is it that the right, liberal or otherwise never has the balls to come straight out and say, yes we got the cash, yes we know it is socially unjust, but hey so what, stuff you! Whats with all the theoretical justification? Are you really ashamed or embarressed?

      There is a black hole on the right, it is where all the honesty gets sucked into.

  11. Mothers4Justice 11

    Has anybody seen that bastard dad4shit? I am pissed off big time.I got Ministry of Justice c##nts giving me shit about my 19 kids!!

  12. Funny how the left think if it doesn’t involve force and the state, people wont get support? Presumably if the DPB didn’t exist, all those who cheer it on wouldn’t donate money to help poorer families, wouldn’t rent out a room at a low rate to help them out? Why do you need to be forced to care?

    Oh and if it’s for the kids, any chance that everyone who supports these kids can get some time with them? Can go visit them and intervene if the parent you’re paying to support isn’t buying books, or isn’t looking after them, or take them on holidays, or actually do something for them? Thought not. Stupid me. My wife and I shouldn’t have bothered saving and waiting till we could afford to have kids, we should breed like rabbits and moan about all those people “who don’t care about our kids”.

    I think it comes across to views on people. Most on the left are pessimistic and think nobody will help others in trouble, yet compared to this selfishness they also don’t think those on welfare are self serving, but somehow innocent of this nature. Many on the (liberal) right are optimistic and believe people are generally good and give when they see a good cause that will see the money well used, but are not so naive to believe that people wont take advantage of a free lunch.

  13. Pascal's bookie 13

    LS, so if you think that people will take advantage of any free lunch on offer, why do you think they will voluntarily support those in need, to an extent that might allow them to escape poverty? I mean I’m sure they’d like to, but it’s not compulsory, and why if they give enough that that family doesn’t starve, then surely that’s enough, at least enough to feel quite good about themselves.

    Before we had a welfare system, class structures were far more entrenched, mobility out of poverty was incredibly hard. Why was that? Why did the children of the poor, work?

    Why did we institute a welfare system in the first place? Could it be that private charity, wasn’t working?

    • So Bored 13.1

      Sounds like for all his rhetoric of the right consisting optimism Lib has a highly pessimistic outlook about his fellow citizens, why else the worry about welfare recipients? Arguments are fine, but when you reference them to the historic record you would wonder there was any optimism remaining in the left. The rich despite welfare are richer again.

      • Pascal's bookie 13.1.1

        Yeah well, it’s not like the right has disappeared. Can’t make the kids of the poor work anymore, so they’ve spent the last 20 years shifting as much of the tax burden as they can onto the middle and working classes.

  14. Maynard J 14

    Libertyscott, who will make up the shortfall if universal welfare was abolished? The rich folk rorting the taxpayer with trust-WFF scams, or the people who have spent the past month engaging in sickening attacks on beneficiaries?

    I do not feel the love, nor the sympathy or respect, nor the optimism and generosity there.

    Excuse my negativity – but you might have to let it slide that I call it realism, and laugh at your fantasy wishes, your groundless idealism.

  15. Swampy 15

    There’s actually a lot more to this debate than you make out, one issue is that the DPB was not found necessary until 1974 when a Labour government introduced it.

    But in point of fact there is a very simple question, and that is why the DPB is being offered to mothers so that they can choose whether or not they feel like working. Wouldn’t it be nice if all benefits were paid like this? Needless to say, they aren’t or the welfare burden would be much more massive.

    The issue with the DPB is simply that these mothers should be expected to work, just as a lot of other mothers put their children into childcare and go out to work for the family. Families everywhere, where quite obviously they would not be able to get the DPB, are making these kinds of choices every day. Therefore the DPB has a lot more to do with the unwillingness of some (perhaps many) mothers to work than any of the other issues that have been raised about it. The DPB should be abolished and replaced by the dole, except in very special cases.

  16. Swampy 16

    “the kids deserves the same support, and the same chance to avoid being locked in the poverty cycle. The DPB provides that opportunity.”

    Only to some, multigenerational welfare dependency is well known.

    The kind of parent who imparts the best sense of opportunity to their children is the sort who are only on the benefit for a short time and are looking to get off it as soon as possible. Unsurprisingly there are a lot of people on these benefits who have made a lifestyle out of it, due to the poor parental example to their children, the offspring will remain in poverty.

  17. Swampy 17

    “the sight of mothers and their children living under bridges or in their cars”

    How about working? You guys are absolutely pathetic.

    The people that live under bridges aren’t people who got disqualified from benefits. They are mostly people who have several substance abuse disorders and the like.

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