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Good jab, now land some punches

Written By: - Date published: 5:04 am, July 21st, 2009 - 88 comments
Categories: economy, employment, public services, unemployment, wages, welfare - Tags:

It was excellent to see Phil Goff laying down the gauntlet to Key yesterday. He announced Labour’s policy to temporarily relax partner means testing for the dole and promised a recession response package. On the same day, Key’s big achievement was noting the Hillary family had settled their dispute with Auckland museum. Goff is saying ‘here are our solutions, where are the Key government’s?’ And Key’s being shown up.

Now, praise done, a few suggestions.

  • Anticipate National’s reaction. They are going to look for an excuse to throw the baby out with the bathwater and they’re going to try and attack on the cost. Stymie them on both counts.

For example, the dole policy should have been designed as a lowering of the abatement rate for partner’s income from 70 cents in the dollar to 25 cents. Then it would have meant anyone whose partner earns up to $70,000 could get some level of dole and it would have cut off the Nats’ line of attack. It also would have lessened what is currently a major disincentive to work – effective tax of 91 cents in the dollar for a couple where one is on the dole and the other is earning over $14,000 a year. It would be cheaper than the carte blanche proposal too. Have a line of funding: ‘if Key can find $50 million for his cycleway and $35 million for private schools, he can find the money to help Kiwi families in their hour of need’

  • Build and launch the package with the unions.

Not only have they got ideas that you ought to be interested in, they’ve got people like Peter Conway and Bill Rosenberg to help with the number crunching. Moreover, you should be coordinating the policy launch with them (or at the very least letting them know the details in advance) so they can reinforce the message. Remember the unions have campaign capacity and their leaders are influential media figures. There are 90,000 Labour-affiliated members alone and 370,000 union members in total. You want them knowing about your policies and spreading the word.

  • Do the launch right

A speech, in Auckland, with members of unions, from beneficiary groups and poverty relief orgs. Don’t, whatever you do, speak to the Canterbury Manufacturers’ Association.

  • Simple policies, that can be quickly implemented

– Greater access to the dole.
– Extend the home insulation programme to rented houses, carrot of subsidy, stick of minimum insulation standard for rental properties. 
– 75% subsidisation of the home and business energy efficiency measures identified in the Kema report would cost $750 million and save $2.5 billion worth of electricity, meaning cheaper power.
– Minimum redundancy provisions; the report recommending it is sitting on Kate Wilkinson’s desk.
– Public transport. More buses and more trained drivers can be on the roads in no time. They’ll ease congestion too.

Pay for it by ‘deferring’ the cycleway (‘a nice gimmick but New Zealand has bigger priorities right now’), rescinding the increase in private school funding, upping the royalties on oil production (the profits are all going overseas anyway), delaying the Supercity (‘we need to know how much this is going to cost and Aucklanders need to have their say first’), and with the windfall from the Aussie bank tax cases.

88 comments on “Good jab, now land some punches”

  1. Mark M 1

    an d dont forget to say why this couldnt be done when Labour were the government for 9 years.
    And before you say that the recession hadnt hit when Labour were in power remember we were the FIRST western country in recession.

  2. lprent 2

    Mark M. You are a fool.

    Show me when in the last 9 years when the unemployment told were rising by thousands a week. And as this post points out, it is only the tipof the iceberg because of some arcane 20th century ideas about family incomes.

    This is a problem that the nact’s have to handle. They muffed it in the 90’s. Look just about as bad today. This is why we pay taxes – to handle the bad times. The nact’s prefer to divert it to tax cuts in the good times.

    Go and learn some relevant troll lines or if you are really daring, engage the brain you turned off so long ago.

  3. Eddie 3

    Grow up Mark.
    a) these are counter-recessionary policies, so they weren’t priorities before the deep recession started late last year.

    b) they were doing other things for those 9 years (WfF, Kiwisaver, business tax cuts, health, education reforms, unemployment brought down to record lows.. etc etc). If I came to you after you had been doing a job after 9 years and said that you should by now have done everything that ever need be done in that job, it would be ludicrous.

    c) it’s telling that you don’t have any criticism of these policies or how I suggest funding them- yet you still give dittohead for Key who has done nothing.

  4. Pascal's bookie 4

    “FIRST western country in recession”

    I wonder of the marks really think it’s a shame that we didn’t have a “helicopter ben” in our central bank deliberately inflating the bubble for a year.

  5. lprent 5

    Now the fool has been disposed of, back to the post. In effect what it says is to act as a government in waiting.

    There are quite a lot of risks with that. Look at English in 2001 and 2002

  6. Eddie 6

    I think it’s the exceptional circumstances of the recession that make this recession package announcement the right thing to do. And if they are going to do it, they ought to make sure they do it right.

  7. toad 7

    Eddie said: I think it’s the exceptional circumstances of the recession that make this recession package announcement the right thing to do.

    I don’t, Eddie. As I blogged here, we don’t have spousal income splitting for income tax purposes (and shouldn’t, becasue it is highly regressive) and we don’t have spousal income testing for ACC weekly compensation. In the interests of fairness and consistency, we shouldn’t have it for welfare benefits either.

    This is a bit like the pay equity argument. Fairness and consistency don’t vary dependent on whether we are in a recession or not.

    The Greens quietly prodded Labour for nine years when they were in Government to move in this direction, but to no avail. Good to see Goff finally put it on the agenda, but it should be permanent – not just for the duration of the recession.

    • Maynard J 7.1

      Hang on. We should not split income for tax purposes because it is regressive, and for fairness & consistency we should not do so for welfare benefits either.

      Yet you are arguing for it to be permanent, and not just a counter-recessionary measure. So do you think that an inconsistency is in fact fine, or are you arguing for a policy you consider regressive?

      If you do not think it is regressive, then your test of consistency hardly seems to apply.

  8. vto 8

    Sometimes I seriously wonder whether the posters on here can see the wood for the trees. Eddie’s first sentence ” was excellent to see Phil Goff laying down the gauntlet to Key yesterday.” indicates he thinks it worked.

    My opinion is that Goff came off looking like a typical labour spendthrift with simply no idea. I reckon the idea would have been laughed at by those who would benefit (and then of course they would all line up and take the ‘free’ money). And it would have raised eyebrows with those who really do need some extra coin.

    It was almost as daft as whoever it was who suggested yesterday that the dole etc become a loan.

    Ha ha – two ends of the spectrum trying to get the limelight and both looking like dimwits. The rest of the world would have rolled their eyes and continued with their day..

    • Take your own advice vto

    • Maynard J 8.2

      “I reckon the idea would have been laughed at by those who would benefit (and then of course they would all line up and take the ‘free’ money). And it would have raised eyebrows with those who really do need some extra coin.”

      Care to explain how you came to that conclusion?

      Seems you would have to go through some mighty contortions to conclude that someone who has lost their job, and whose partner is on or about the minimum wage would not need any assistance, while there is some other mysterious class of people out there really in need, who are not these people.

      I reckon you came to that conclusion without giving a second’s thought to the idea.

      • vto 8.2.1

        Anecdotal of course Mr Maynard. Based on my number of years on the planet and consequent observation.

        Of course I should have explained further – was referring to those who are significantly ‘wealthier’ than just above the minimum wage. I agree that if there is not now then there very soon will be a major problem in the community as this economy continues its ice cube in the sun performance. People who are just above that minimum etc are going to be in severe pain.

        My point was that the ‘good jab’ politically was not a good jab at all but actually a badly thought out one. Key’s response of “pixies at the bottom of the garden” imo threw the jab straight back at gnome goff. Made me laugh a little.

        • Draco T Bastard 8.2.1.1

          I discussed Keys comments about Goffs suggestion with my family – we’re all agreed that most families don’t have $200k incomes and, therefore, JK is an idiot.

          ie, the suggestion would obviously have limits set upon it and so using all the Rich Pricks who wouldn’t get it anyway as an excuse not to do it is really stupid.

          Agreeing with JK just proves that you’re a dittohead.

          • Maynard J 8.2.1.1.1

            See my post at the bottom – 13 weeks max unless the rich folk want to get a student allowance and further educate themselves.

            I thought Key’s responce was a facile attempt to cover for the inadequacies of his policies, or lack thereof, that would viscerally appeal to intellectual lightweights who like sound bites as opposed to a reasoned response or a government with any intention of doing decent governing, but I would think that. Glad you got a laugh. Let me know when you want a Government that gives a hoot.

          • vto 8.2.1.1.2

            Sheesh Mr Bastard, I knew somebody would come out and say “you agreed with Key therefore you are a dittohead”. So simpleton. So hollow.

            Low standards at the standard today methinks

  9. Nice try Eddie. It’s just a pity that Guyon Espiner told the nation on Breakfast that Goff jumped the gun, and hadn’t run the policy past senior caucus members before he released it, making it look half-baked (as it was).

    • Eddie 9.1

      Well, if Guyon has ruled, I guess the rest of us should just go home.

      Did Guyon tell us the 2011 election result too? Could save a bit of hassle

  10. The reference to ‘Trotsky’ Trotters article about the Cullen budget speech to the Canterbury Manufacturers, reminds me of all the early evening piss ups Trotter went to at former ACT presidents Awaroa Partners public relations office.

    First Rule of Bitch Club, dont bitch when others do what you do

  11. Eddie 11

    vto. If Key is to be believed, 30,000 people currently not getting the dole would be eligible ($300 million/$10K). That’s 30,000 families.

    This isn’t ‘free’ money, it is the tax that they have paid into what is effectively a universal, compulsory income insurance scheme.

    Why shouldn’t they get some help, for what will probably be the only time in their lives that they need it just because their partner is on $30,000 or $40,000 a year?

    • Tim Ellis 11.1

      This isn’t ‘free’ money, it is the tax that they have paid into what is effectively a universal, compulsory income insurance scheme.

      No it isn’t, Eddie. The welfare system has never been seen as a refund on tax paid. If that were the case then thousands of beneficiaries who have received far more in benefit payments than they have ever, or will ever, pay in taxes, would have been cut off long ago.

      The welfare system is designed as a safety net for those who need it. Wealthy New Zealanders can afford income protection insurance if they choose to take it up. Comparing the New Zealand welfare system to an income protection insurance scheme is just silly.

      Mr Goff totally screwed up this announcement, I’m afraid.

      • stormspiral 11.1.1

        Yes. He didn’t do well. Already the newly unemployed are favoured by the extra $130 per week extra for 4 months. Of course a lot of them need it, and will be hard hit. Some will lose their houses; some their cars; some might have to take their kids out of private schools. And others will be just plain desperate.

        I have sympathy for them, but the reality is, they are experiencing what many who were in their position in the 1970s and 80s. There’s a hell of a social cost. But face it, these newly unemployed people are no better nor worse nor vulnerable than others who are still on the scrapheap.

        That’s what this system throws up. And if some of these people are still unemployed in 5 or 10 years’ time, they will likely be hit again and again by inhumane measures to ‘cut the dole queue’.

        Any thought that these newly lost ones are different from the existing poor is just plain mad.

        Any measure like this will be viewed very cynically by those who are already being hit…over and over…and over. It’s not equitable. It’s not even linearally fair.

        Results?

        Potentially

        a) increase in crime caused by desparation..eg burgs, property crime, etc

        b) increase in violence potentiated by justified anger that has nowhere to go, and no skills to deal with it.

        c) increase in depression and suicide and the costs associated with those.

        Thing is, though, most of the existing poor don’t have the tools to express themselves, eg internet connections, landline phones, and many who had the skills have lost them or thrown them away.

        Those are the sorts of thing that despair does.

        Yes. Deal with it, but deal with the causes, and that doesn’t happen by paying the rich more and cutting the top tax rates and wrapping the new poor in blankets while discarding the rest.

      • roger nome 11.1.2

        Tim – follow the links through, i refuse to spoon feed you. Yes, i am a trained economist.

        The title of my Thesis is:

        “Neoliberalism, the Third Way and Employment Relations
        in New Zealand’s Secondary Labour Market”

        You want a copy?

      • roger nome 11.1.3

        Tim-id:

        You don’t have to be a professional economist to understand that benifit availability impacts on wage levels. FFS – a little common sense would do the trick, but you seem to lack even that.

    • vto 11.2

      Eddie, dont get me wrong the idea has some (minor) merit as heavy pain is growing in the community. My point concerned the political execution of the idea and the response, not so much the idea itself.

  12. jarbury 12

    Quite simple: just propose to bring things in line with what Australia does. Barely a third of unemployed people in NZ are eligible for the dole – in Australia it is around 96%.

    Do some research into how Australia does it, and simply say you want to bring things in line with their policy. That will come across as reasonable.

  13. ak 13

    Nup, nup, nup. Fatal. Stinks of Key-lite: off-the-cuff then hurriedly “justified”. Even worse, ideologically confusing. Too late now – like all “universal” measures, easily and already smashed as “giving to those who don’t need it”, leaving Key looking like a sensible and compassionate leftie.

    Key, like Blair, has set his own time-bombs with ACT, MP and supercity, not to mention the economy; like the Warriors, learn patience – no need to hurry the inevitable. Enlist and heartily embrace the coal-face experts (including eg Dame Sian); bring back the Special Benefit and restore Shipley’s benefit cuts; lambast the banks for stealing $2bill hard-working taxpayers…..etc etc.

    Patience. Get back to basics and push hard down the left. Give the ball to Manu.

  14. roger nome 14

    Tim, IV2:

    Here’s a graph showing growth in NZ business profits compared to growth in Median personal income.

    http://rogernome.blogspot.com/2008/08/new-right-revolution-business-profits.html

    I reckon it’s time ordinary NZers got more of the pie, you don’t. Well, why don’t we ask ordinary New Zealanders if they think it’s fair that growth in business profits have been many times the growth in their real income, then ask if they want more? That’s how i’d like to see this discussion settled – democratically. Then you can F*@k off.

    • Tim Ellis 14.1

      I didn’t look at your website, Mr Nome.

      If you want ordinary New Zealanders to get more of the pie, then that is a good argument for tax cuts rather than churning it through the welfare system.

      I don’t think that’s what this post is about, with respect. It is about the effectiveness of Mr Goff’s anouncement, which was woeful. It wasn’t supported by any statistics or numbers, which is fatal. There are a lot of people employed in the Labour Party research unit. If you are going to make a policy announcement of this scale, then you hve to back it up with numbers.

      If you want to engage in debate, Mr Nome, you might do better than to engage in profanity and personal abuse.

      • r0b 14.1.1

        If you want to engage in debate, Mr Nome, you might do better than to engage in profanity and personal abuse

        Good to see that you’ve learned your lesson in that respect Tim!

      • Maynard J 14.1.2

        “There are a lot of people employed in the Labour Party research unit.”

        You must know, since you made that statement.

        How many people, Tim, I have always wondered. What is a lot? Six? Two dozen? Three score and ten?

        • Tim Ellis 14.1.2.1

          To be fair, Maynard, I don’t know the exact number. More than five, I suspect. Enough people to ensure that the biggest policy announcement of the last six months by the Labour Party leader is backed up by a one hour analysis of the costs of the policy.

          • snoozer 14.1.2.1.1

            There is no Labour research unit anymore. It was disestablished and merged with others in the Leader’s Office to form a Policy and Strategy Group after the last election.

            • roger nome 14.1.2.1.1.1

              Don’t you look in the mirror after eating eggs for breakfast Tim?

      • roger nome 14.1.3

        Tim –

        If your income is sweet FA, then if you receive sweet FA when you get a tax cut. You Tories need to start thinking past tax-cuts as a panacea. They’re merely one small tool in the tool box, and don’t actually amount to much once all things are taken into consideration (cuts in public services/social wage etc..).

        At its core, this post is about wealth distribution/security – if benefits go up, wages must go up on order to tempt people into work – simple economics. Are you economically illiterate?

        • Tim Ellis 14.1.3.1

          If your income is sweet FA, then if you receive sweet FA when you get a tax cut

          But we aren’t talking about low income earners, Mr Nome. We’re talking about medium and upper income earners, who are all entitled to the dole under Mr Goff’s scheme. You yourself said it was time middle income earners got a break. They are the people who are most likely to benefit from tax cuts.

          This post isn’t about increasing benefits, as far as I’m aware. It’s about making benefits available to those who aren’t currently entitled to them. Middle and upper income earners don’t need the promise of a higher minimum wage to be tempted back into work, when they’ve lost their job. You have somehow invented that scenario.

          I’m not an economist, I agree. I don’t think I’m completely economically illiterate. Are you a trained economist?

          • roger nome 14.1.3.1.1

            That’s where you should have looked at my graph fool. Median income really isn’t that much.

            • Tim Ellis 14.1.3.1.1.1

              I’m sorry, Mr Nome, I’ve now looked at your graph, and I am none the wiser. It isn’t economic analysis. It is political diatribe. It has little to do with this debate. It doesn’t identify median income, or explain why welfare should be extended to all New Zealanders irrespective of income.

              Are you a trained economist, Mr Nome?

          • roger nome 14.1.3.1.2

            Here’s the first paragraph of my thesis – it should start to give you some idea as to my training in economics, Tim:

            Any meaningful analysis of the changes that have occurred within New Zealand’s employment relations framework since the inception of the fourth Labour Government (1984-1990), and their impact on workers in the secondary labour market must be understood as having been shaped by a political, economic and historical context that is both global and national in scale. The global context impacts significantly upon the national context, whereas the later has little discernable impact on the former, particularly in the case of a relatively small country like New Zealand. Because of this, it makes sense to first examine the relevant global context before moving to explore the national context. As such, this chapter is primarily concerned with examining the process of globalisation, with a view toward providing a background to chapters three and four, which describe the national political and economic context in which the secondary labour market operates.

            • Tim Ellis 14.1.3.1.2.1

              So you’re not a professional economist. Thanks for clearing that up, Mr Nome. You might want to bear that in mind next time you accuse others of economic illiteracy.

            • Maynard J 14.1.3.1.2.2

              Classic – change from ‘trained economist’ to ‘professional economist’. Nothing like pretending you asked a different question, when you do not like the answer to the first one, to show a bit of dishonesty.

            • Tim Ellis 14.1.3.1.2.3

              It wasn’t an intentional morph, Maynard.

              I don’t think Mr Nome’s thesis demonstrates that he’s a trained economist, any more than somebody who does a couple of commercial law papers at university while doing a BCom is a “trained lawyer”.

              I wasn’t asking Mr Nome to flesh out or explain his answer. I just asked him if he were a trained economist, based on him calling me economically illiterate.

              I did a few economics papers at university but that doesn’t make me an economist.

              You seem to have a bee in your bonnet today. I don’t know why, but I hope you’re feeling more cheerful tomorrow.

      • stormspiral 14.1.4

        Who are these putative ‘ordinary New Zealanders, Tim? Nobody has ever really explained it, and until they do, talking about ONZs is meaningless.

  15. Daveski 15

    Man I’m confused.

    Rich pricks shouldn’t get a return on the taxes they pay for their children to go to private school.

    But we should give anyone who rolls up and has become unemployed the doll, regardless of what their partner earns??

    Social welfare has morphed over the years from a safety net for those most involved to a perceived entitlement. It shouldn’t be and was never intended to be. By encouraging the view that it is a universal entitlement, it means that those who genuinely require and deserve more get less.

    Goff doesn’t need CT when he’s got the Eddie fan club 🙂

    • Maynard J 15.1

      I think there has already been a blog post here about your view and how many wealthy people are likely to be affected.

      This post makes it clear the merit in the idea is those earning bugger-all yet their partners can not get a benefit. That would not be hard to do unless you want to be facetious and assume the benefactors will only be the rich.

      Goff has cocked up by not making that clear, because people can make these silly attacks without bothering to see if there is any merit in the idea – this has of course been the universal response of the right.

      The actual policy is here: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0907/S00208.htm

      “Labour’s current policy in this area has two parts:
      • A 13-week Job Search Allowance assistance package for redundant workers who have been in the workforce for five years or more. Unlike the unemployment benefit there is no spousal income test.
      • A 52-week Retraining Allowance, again with no spousal income test, for redundant workers. It is be available, on the same basis as a student allowance, for enrolment for up to a year in a recognised full time course.”

      So 13 weeks max, as opposed to your view “universal entitlement”, and a year they elect to study, similar to the student allowance.

    • They have the ‘choice’ not to use the State system , or even the half state system of the integrated schools.
      Plus the money for the private schools doesnt even just go to the needy ones who may have had a sudden roll drop, but it goes to all.

      Targeting aid is for only for the lumpen proletariat it seems in the case of dole payments

  16. Craig Glen Eden 16

    Sadly Labour stuffed up with this one. The idea in general was OK., the execution and provisions were not good. Should have been a cap of say 100.000k per house hold.My understanding was that this policy was not going to be for ever but rather in response to the severe effects of the recession at this time which I think has merit.

    The reality is I think most people who didn’t need it would not rock up to a social welfare office with their hand out, not because people are not greedy but rather dealing with Social welfare is pretty humiliating and probably not a good use of ones time. Goff has been doing quite well up till this, a bit of an own goal in the end though I think.

    • Pascal's bookie 16.1

      On the own goal angle, I’m not sure how to score it.

      the media etc may well call it such, but the thousands aspirational families affected by the policy may see National’s reaction somewhat differently, as they decide between mortgage payments and new shoes for their kids.

    • Daveski 16.2

      I tend to agree about the need for a cap. See my earlier comment that greater controls around some social welfare payments would enable greater targetting.

      • Pascal's bookie 16.2.1

        So you’re closer to Goff’s position than Key’s on the actual principle?

        • Daveski 16.2.1.1

          There is no dispute about the need for unemployment support or social welfare etc. It comes down to affordability and targetting. So, no I don’t agree with the concept of dole regardless of the household income.

      • stormspiral 16.2.2

        There are heaps of controls, and massive ‘targeting’—if you’re poor enough. But I don’t think anybody’s listening to me. You all seem to be wrapped in your narrow, personal views. I see very little altruism or longterm thinking among you. Some, but not a lot.

        $100K cap indeed!!!

        ‘temporarily unemployed’. really? If this is true, why should they receive special treatment? Are you guys speaking out of fear?—someday maybe it might be you, and you want to cushion it?

        I know heaps of kids who’ve never had a pair of new shoes. Why the hell don’t you stop hammering them and look around, and start seeing what’s really going on????

        • Maynard J 16.2.2.1

          Yes yes, why spend a cent on aid or arts or sports or anyting else while there is one person not perfectly looked after by the state.

          I prefer a more realistic approach. If there are kids who have no shoes, then their parents are probably doing silly things with their welfare or incomes – throwing more money in that direction is nto going to help.

          That is why I am not listening to you. No system will be perfect, and trying to make it perfect at the expense of everything else is no solution.

          There are also reasons why the government taking a limited response to a specific and severe problem is merited – think of it as something akin to disaster recovery. Why do we help people recovering from a disaster when there are people who are worse off anyway? It is an efficient use of money – a good return from limited resources.

          • stormspiral 16.2.2.1.1

            Sarcasm isn’t smart.

            …I mentioned nothing about the arts or sport, though Key’s ‘party centre’ is a bit rich (pun intended)

            I’d have thought crime prevention was a pretty good priority

            …feeding, clothing, and housing kids seems like a sensible thing to do

            Maynard said

            ‘If there are kids who have no shoes, then their parents are probably doing silly things with their welfare or incomes throwing more money in that direction is nto going to help.’

            This is soooo ’80s.

            I never said that simply throwing more money at it would fix the problems, though in a lot of cases it would help. ‘More money’, you say. But you are doing exactly that by building more prisons.

            I say, if you don’t do something you’ll reap the whirlwind. But I guess you’re too comfortable to care.

            • Maynard J 16.2.2.1.1.1

              I am not being sarcastic in the slightest.

              I think you are being too vague for me to get your real POV, but you talk of kids with no shoes, and then imply that doing something like extending benefits to people made redundant is wrong given some people are more poor then them. Perhaps that is not what you mean, again, that is what seems to be implied.

              I took the logical extrapolation, which is that if someone is poor then you should not be spending money on things such as sports, arts etc – after all, if you are here to complain about someone getting a benefit because their partner is on the minimum wage, it is more than likely you would not be happy that SPARC blows millions on sports while some kids still have no shoes.

              So if this policy is not ok, where do you draw the line, and why are things like sports and arts not included below that line, given that you are also putting welfare below the line…

              I am not building more prisons, I am not advocating bulding more prisons, and I do not advocate for or support policies which lead to greater imprisonment. Crime prevention, in my books, is education, welfare, full employment targets and stronger communities. perhaps we agree there.

              You do not know how comfortable I am, or how much I care, and it is a strage thing to imply. People advocate different methods for dealing with different problems. Just because they are different to your ideas does not mean thay are uncaring – it just shows you have made your mind up and are not going to change it.

              I think support for people struggling during a recession is a good use of resources – yes, even though there is poverty.

  17. The Voice of Reason 17

    The only mistake Goff made was not to have done the numbers prior to the announcement, which would have allowed him to go into greater depth in explaining it. This is a rare lapse and also allowed Mr Floppy to belittle the idea. But the idea itself is sound and will have given some of those who might have been assisted a reason to think Labour is on their side and the Nats are not.

    All in all, I’d say a points victory to Goff, not a knockout. Good sign for the bouts to come, though.

  18. Daveski 18

    TVOR

    I’m trying my best to be constructive these days ie offer an opinion.

    But surely calling Key Mr Floppy given Goff’s track record since the 1980’s is an attempt to extract the urine.

    I don’t think Goff even landed a punch on this one – more like an air swing.

    • The Voice of Reason 18.1

      Fair point, Daveski and I’ll concede that the rejection of the idea was as about as decisive as I’ve seen Key since the election. He can’t be Mr Floppy all the time, I guess, but it still seems an apt name for someone who desperately wants to be liked and will say whatever to whoever as long as he gets immediate approval. He seems to be an applause junky, not a political hard nut.

      As for Goff, he has been consistantly on or near the right of the party. Given his length of service, it’s pretty easy to dredge up now contradictory positions he may have taken in years gone by. As circumstances change, so do opinions. Key’s flip flops have all happened in the last four years and seem deliberate in comparison to Goff’s evolution.

      Goff does seem to be growing in to the job and I can only see a steady upward climb in his and the party’s support over the next 2 years. Whether it’s enough to tip Key out is another matter.

      • Daveski 18.1.1

        Fair points back at you (I did a night course in street language a few years back ;))

        I wouldn’t defend Key on the flip flops as IMO it’s a nature of the job. HC did it altho she managed to mask it superbly or at least not get picked up for it.

        I agree also re Goff’s length of service and I suspect all politicians would suffer the same fate. For that reason, I tend to focus on what they say going forward rather than what they said in the past.

        I do note that Goff has now back tracked if not flip flopped 🙂

  19. toad 19

    Daveski said: But we should give anyone who rolls up and has become unemployed the doll, regardless of what their partner earns??

    When my partner and I got together Daveski, we agreed that we would each be responsible for particular household costs and split otehrs equally between us, agreed that we would each maintain separate bank accounts to which the other had no access, and signed an agreement under the Property Relationships Act regarding our pre-relationship property remaining separate property.

    Why should all that change if one of us loses our job? We got together because we wanted to live together, not because we wanted to be financiallly responsible for each other.

    • Daveski 19.1

      I understand your argument. However, it does seem ironic that many on the left here are unprepared to put in place controls to ensure that social welfare payments go to those who are most deserving and in the greatest need.

      To base social welfare payments on individuals will lead to a rorting of the system that surely is the opposite of what we’re trying to achieve.

      • Pascal's bookie 19.1.1

        It is a difference, but not ironic.

        The left tend toward erring on the side of making sure that those that need it, get it.

        The right tend to think that if you set up a system that way, then everyone that doesn’t need it, but is technically eligible, will jump on board and therefore ruin it. So it’s better to keep them out at the cost of deserving cases falling through the cracks as collateral damage.

        • Craig Glen Eden 19.1.1.1

          Well said Pb, thats exactly as I see it to.This is the same way they( National) approached student loans. The Rich will rip it off (Student Loan) and buy shares with the allowance.Why would good God fearing upwardly mobile, conservative family values types do that. Kind of wrecks their argument that beneficiaries are the bad ones( drain on economy and society, holding good folk back with large tax burden) who rip the country off.

      • stormspiral 19.1.2

        You’re talking wide ranging changes and cross party cooperation and eyes opening, and it cannot be categorised as either left or right. That’s part of the problem.

  20. The Voice of Reason 20

    In a previous life, I used to process student benefit applications. You wouldn’t believe the number of spoilt rich kids who managed to get the allowance, despite the wealth of their parents. Primarily, this was done by moving enough parental income into trusts, so that the nominal family income was below the cutoff.

    A rort, obviously, but legal. BTW, isn’t the National Super a one size fits all payment and not means tested? If it’s good enough for the seniors to be treated that way, what’s wrong with approaching the temporarily unemployed in the same spirit?

    I also recall that UB in the UK was also individualised to a large extent and was not dependant on partner income. That may have changed in recent years, but it was the norm during the Thatcher/Major governments and I can’t recall it being attacked by those dry right regimes.

    • Tim Ellis 20.1

      Good points, TVOR, and I largely agree. I suspect that the children of middle income parents are the most financially stretched in sending their children to tertiary education, for a variety of reasons.

      The decision to target or not to target is based on a whole lot of economic and political factors. Various governments–Labour and National during the 80s and 90s, means-tested super, and they got a political hiding for it.

      Other benefits have always been means-tested. To change to Mr Goff’s policy would cost $300 million. Where is that money going to come from? Would he increase debt, raise taxes, or cut something else?

      It really isn’t good enough to come up with such a large policy proposal, not do the costings, and not explain how it is going to be paid for.

      • Pascal's bookie 20.1.1

        “To change to Mr Goff’s policy would cost $300 million.”

        Cause John Key said so.

        Should also bear in mind that this sort of spending is a much better stimulus than a biketrack, and that there will be costs to the tax payer from not supporting those in need an any case.

  21. toad 21

    TVoR said: …isn’t the National Super a one size fits all payment and not means tested?

    It’s slightly more complicated than that. If your partner is not qualified for NZ Super and you are qualified for it, you can elect to receive a lower rate with no spousal income test, or a higher rate that is income tested.

  22. tsmithfield 22

    Phil Goff backpeddaling fast:

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/surviving-the-recession/news/article.cfm?c_id=1502812&objectid=10585783

    Looks like he has suddenly woken up to the fact that there aren’t pixies printing money at the bottom of the garden.

    • Ari 22.1

      That’s not backpedalling in the least, it’s detailed qualification of what he wants to do- that is, not give the dole to spouses of millionaires.

      • Maynard J 22.1.1

        It is also not a backpedal, but a reiteration of the original policy. It was always temporary.

        Good use of Key’s line though, not too forced.

        • Tim Ellis 22.1.1.1

          I’m afraid it is backpedalling, Ari. Mr Goff was asked yesterday how defensible the policy would be, if it meant that people with spouses earning very large amounts of money would get it too. Mr Goff defended that, saying that people who had paid a lot of tax deserved to get it back, giving everyone the impression that even his own wife, or Mr Key’s wife, would be eligible under Labour’s policy.

          It was certainly a flip-flop.

    • snoozer 22.2

      How’s that a back-pedal?

      good dittohead, btw

    • Draco T Bastard 22.3

      It’s a backpedal because a RWNJ publication said so?

      PS. It’s not pixies printing money – it’s the banks.

  23. Some good ideas there Eddie.

    I would disagree with you on the spousal entitlements. With limited resources to go around it would be better to focus on those who really need it – and the unions would do better to push for greater support for those families whose sole income earner has been made redundant. As for minimum redundancy payments, I have always found the idea a bit odd – why do we expect firms that have to lay off staff because they are losing money, to pay out to these people. Unless you mean some sort of government payout to everyone who has been made redundant. One possible idea for the unions to lobby for would be a compulsory redundancy fund – similar to a pension fund – which each pay both employees and employer contributed into and from which redundancy payments could be made. A simple legislative provision in the ERA could ring fence this fund from the assets of the company meaning that in the event that the company went into insolvency the only people who could lay claim to the fund were the employees.

    And yes on the public transport – but not busses. Light rail and upgrading the rail network in Auckland should be the number one priority.

    And another way to fund some of the measures you are proposing is to conduct a managed float of several SOE’s to the tune of, say, 20%. Not only would this free up a lot of capital to direct towards other areas, it would hopefully bring some accountability into the monopolistic behaviour they currently exhibit.

  24. Gosman 24

    Looks like the mainstream media are presenting today as a major flip flop from Goff on this policy. His image certainly came away from the TV3 News report tonight seriously dented. Not a good look at all from the leader of the Opposition.

    • gingercrush 24.1

      Yep. Same with National Radio and TVNZ. Of course its not back-tracking or flip-flopping because Labour did it. And of course the left believe all these news organisations are bias against the Labour Party (many on the right also play the bias game when reports are against National/right-wing politics).

      However, you paint this. When you have three major news organisations and likely the print media as well painting this as a flip-flop. It becomes a disaster for the left who are trying to get momentum at a time when being in opposition is very difficult. Whilst, I favour Labour releasing the policy. They have to make sure its properly outlined without mistakes. Since they failed that test, they ultimately failed. Its always hard for the opposition to get media profile when its less than a year after an election. This has become a major mistake for Labour.

      • Tim Ellis 24.1.1

        Interesting analysis, ginger.

        I wonder if in the months to come, if Mr Goff’s performance doesn’t improve and questions are being asked about whether he will survive as leader, if the commentators will look back to this week and the shoddy announcement, and subsequent flip-flop, as the beginning of the end of Mr Goff’s leadership?

        • Daveski 24.1.1.1

          Anyone seen eddie recently?

          Lol – captcha = sad

        • gingercrush 24.1.1.2

          That or the polls. Polls did that to English.

          BTW correction: I favour Labour releasing policy. I don’t favour their benefit proposal but for Labour it was a good policy. Too bad they messed it up.

        • r0b 24.1.1.3

          the beginning of the end of Mr Goff’s leadership?

          Goff’s really got you rattled hasn’t he Tim!

  25. mike 25

    TVNZ even got in the “Phil-in” nickname – about time they put the spot light on labour for once.

    • The Voice of Reason 25.1

      I think it was Francesca Mold on TV3 who used ‘Phil In’. She looked so pleased she got her lines right. Well done, Fran, well done.

  26. SPC 26

    The first thing to do is to recognise that the partners income amount which disqualifies their partner from receiving the dole has been caught by the minimum wage – at $12.50 an hour this is 25,000 pa.

    Obviously the $25,000 partner income (which means their partner cannot get the dole) has to rise.

    There needs to be a fixed point of relativity to prevent this happening again. I would suggest an increase to c$40,000 – thus with the single rate dole $190 a week (close to 10,000) about 2 * the minimum wage of $25,000.

    The next issue is the abatement regime (remember the dole amount is one that is tax paid) which applies if the partner has income over $40,000 – I would suggest at 50 cents (a regime applying from $40 to $60,000 of income) – thus at $50,000 a $100 a week amount – 1/2 dole.

    The management problem is where there is interface with WFF. The related problem is that WFF is not work tested for both partners and the dole is.

    So in the sense of a programme to propose now, that is where I would go.

    In a philosophical sense and in terms of developing a wider policy, I like the idea of paying a social wage to all full time students and to all mothers of children under 5. That is a social wage paid with no work test. I also support partners being independently eligible for the dole.

    In practice this would mean – the social wage (at the rate of the adult individual rate dole) would be paid to all students and all non working parents with partners (with a child under 5 no work test, if no child under 5 with a work test). This would cost money – but there would be savings in the WFF cost as any rise in income from the social wage would reduce WFF tax credit eligibility.

    In fact some many one income couples would receive more than a social wage than they currently do from WFF – so they would rop out of that scheme and reduce its IRD cost.

    The scheme would be afforded by dropping the billion dollars paid each year into Kiwi Saver and making that compulsory at 2% contribution by worker and employer. There would be savings in WFF costs and also in unemployment payments (as making it more affordable for those women who would not work if there was a social wage payable – their jobs would go to those who would otherwise be unemployed).

  27. SPC 27

    PS the other cost saving is in silencing Peter Dunne who wants to deliver income splitting to the high income partner couples of Ohariu – an old style expensive electorate roading project form of pork barrell politics.

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