In praise of the welfare state

Written By: - Date published: 11:36 am, November 21st, 2008 - 48 comments
Categories: national/act government, welfare - Tags:

It’s very easy in our individualist, consumerist, capitalist society to say ‘if you’re poor, it’s your fault, don’t come looking to the rest of us for help’ – ‘it’s your fault for marrying an alcoholic, don’t expect us to pay to house your family’, ‘it’s your fault you got pregnant when you couldn’t afford to support the kid’. It’s a sentiment that we hear expressed all too often by the Right, who seem to think that if you’re in a tough situation that’s your problem and that anyone claiming a benefit is just a bludger. Hopefully, we will see a sea-change in that attitude over the coming years.

We now have two National ministers, one of them prime minister, who make a big deal over the fact they relied on the State to house and support them for significant periods of their lives*. Most of the rest have also benefited from the welfare state, if not from housing and benefits then from free education and health-care for themselves and their families. It would be hypocritical and callous in the extreme for these people who did so well thanks to our social safety-net to now start taking that net apart.

Is the welfare state perfect? No, of course there are always examples of abuse and things that could be improved. But that’s not an argument for throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Because some beneficiaries go on to great things, is that grounds to punish those who don’t with work-for-the-dole type policies? No, the welfare state is about ensuring that what our society believes is a minimum acceptable standard of living is available to all. If it can be a springboard for some to go on to great things, fantastic, but we can’t expect all beneficiaries to become ministers or even get into work. It is sufficient that most people are on benefits for short periods and very few try to abuse the system (as if living on $200 a week with nothing to do is a great life).

The experience of nine years under Labour has been that people are keen to get off benefits, if there are jobs to be had and support to get them into work. That’s why we’ve seen benefit numbers reduce 30% (100,000) in nine years.

We can but hope that the new Government will think twice before attacking benefits. Not just so future John Keys and Paula Bennetts get the opportunities they had but so every Kiwi who falls on hard times knows that the rest of us will be there, collectively, to break their fall.

*(in fact, there were former beneficiaries in the previous govt, they just didn’t make big deal out of it)

48 comments on “In praise of the welfare state”

  1. Ben R 1

    “Because some beneficiaries go on to great things, is that grounds to punish those who don’t with work-for-the-dole type policies?”

    You’re saying that arranging work policies is punishing people, then on the other hand those on WINZ are:

    “(living on $200 a week with nothing to do is a great life).”

    How is having nothing to do good for someone? Can you see that offering some kind of work, or training might actually be a good thing?

  2. gingercrush 2

    The experience of nine years under Labour has been that people are keen to get off benefits, if there are jobs to be had and support to get them into work. That’s why we’ve seen benefit numbers reduce 30% (100,000) in nine years.

    It wasn’t people keen to get off benefits or support they got. There is hardly a difference in benefit policy from National’s 1990s to Labour’s government of 1999-2008. What saw the number of unemployed fall was good economic times and a shortage of jobs.

    Now that economic times have changed there will be a return to more people unemployed which is already evident.

    For most people the unemployed benefit is a transition. Something they need for a small period of time to assist them while they look for a new opportunity.

    But then there are the long-term groups of our society dependent on welfare. And its those people that need to be targetted. Long-term dependent welfare groups end up having children who will also be dependent on welfare etc etc. That simply isn’t good enough. And something that must change.

  3. work-for-the-dole is bad, it prevents unemployed workers finding proper work and undermines the low-pay workforce. my point is that few people stay on benefits for extended periods because proper employment is better.

    skills training is already common on benefits.

  4. fitzyp 4

    Heard of irony Ben?

  5. ginger. National’s policies do nothing to target long-term beneficiaries – they just have a hammer for DPB mums. By contrast, Labour did a lot of work targeting assistance at those people – it’s resource-intensive, these are the hard cases but it has worked, check out the stats on long term beneficiaries, either in our archives or at MSD.

  6. Ben R 6

    “fitzyp
    November 21, 2008 at 11:57 am
    Heard of irony Ben?”

    fitzyp, I realise the statement about getting $200 & nothing to do being great was ironic. That was my point – on the one hand saying that work for dole type policies are punishment, but on the other hand acknowledging these people have nothing to do.

    Sadly, I think some people are in a position where they’re almost unemployable. It’s one of the challenges most western countries face as less skilled jobs disapear through technology & globalisation.

  7. gingercrush 7

    In regards to the DPB, those receiving such a benefit will be obligated to find work or do some job training once their youngest reaches the age of six. That in my opinion is fair. And something that should be happening.

    In terms of National being nasty towards beneficiaries. National is saying that while the benefit is assistance. That shouldn’t be long term. Thus they target the DPB, those out of work for more than 12 months. One thing that surely the left can agree with is enshrining in legislation that benefits will rise to what the Consumer Price Index is. Thus, meaning benefits will rise in line with inflation. They also have policy which means those on benefits can earn at least 100 dollars before the benefit is abated. That too is fair.

    —-

    And what was Labour’s great plan in terms of benefits?

    Why a PC concept meaning we won’t call it the unemployed benefit etc etc. Rather it’ll be a focus to “individiual circumstances”. Really says it all. Won’t actually change the benefits in any way just call them differently.

    Their other plan was to within five years, allow workers to take up 10 hours of work on the minimum wage before benefits reduce.

    —-

    National’s plan tackles long-term beneficiaries. It is your right to oppose such thoughts. Really I wouldn’t expect anything less from the left. But you make such a big deal as to how National will cripple beneficiaries.

    Yes National will be tougher on beneficiaries. That plays to its voters who share such thoughts. But at the same time, they have set it up so that those on benefits will not be crippled. It isn’t the big nasty thing you’re making it out to be.

    And Labour’s policies play to the same-old, same-old. Great when the economy is on a high and benefit numbers are down. Not so great when the economy is failing and numbers go on benefits. Nobody has a problem with the numbers who use benefits in the short term. But reliance on them can never and should never be a good thing. Meanwhile, the Greens policy was to encourage social welfare dependency.

  8. Dave 8

    I have been on an unemployment benefit before, it was not pleasant at all, but the deal you sign to get on an UB you have to agree to take whatever work WINZ can find you. So the idea of a work for the dole scheme seems like a waste of time and effort, why not spend time on the people that continue to be unemployable? I’m talking about the people that will sabotage their own interviews to stay on the benefit.

    I think our welfare state is brilliantly executed in most areas, apart from Studylink, I have major issues with studylink and so do 99% of my student friends. Perhaps all our wonderful ministers should talk to the people who are receiving these services to see how they could be improved, a select committee in Wellington won’t know diddly squat about what is happening at the coal-face, so to speak 🙂

    I’m meaning case workers, work brokers, call centre workers, IT support and most of all beneficiaries. Wow, I think this is my longest post ever 🙂 this site is great

  9. Steve/anyone, are there any figures floating around of the numbers of people caught missusing the benefit for a given period?

    Would be interesting to see if abuse of the benefit is really as widespread as the right would have us believe.

  10. Ianmac 10

    Gingercrush: Long term beneficiaries are a very very tiny part of the population. They should not be the focus of policy.
    John Key was, he said, 7 and the youngest, when his mother went on the benefit and she was on it he said “for some time.”
    If Mrs Key had been around in 2009 she would be ineligible for the DPB because once your youngest child is 6 you would have to be in work. Therefore John Key would not have benefited.

  11. gingercrush 11

    Studylink is horrible. Worse outfit ever. Always stuffs up my student loans. Also when the hell are they going to give more than 150 dollars a week. Its been that way since the early 90s. And I’m not asking for an allowance. I never qualified for one and wouldn’t like the idea anyway. Hell I didn’t even need interest cut. But is it too much for the student loan weekly income to rise from 150 where its been stuck for years.

    Iammac – Wrong. One is expected to work 15 hours a week or be involved in employment training. That isn’t too much to ask. Also you can’t compare to that time. Its over with and gone. Things changed. When National cut benefits in the 90s Labour didn’t reverse them when they got in office.

    National’s plan tackles several issues. It isn’t the hard stance they use to have. Its overall fair and I think most New Zealanders will agree with it. Certainly there is a policy which compared to Labour has just the one in regards to working 10 hours. National has a similar plan to that only at 100 dollars.

  12. Dave 12

    Bingo GC 🙂 my student loan is at 26k, because most of the time I have taken the living costs on my student loan as it is easier than negotiating the minefield that is student allowance for a measly 20 odd bucks more 🙁

    means testing is rude and discriminatory, my parents just push over the threshold when one has a mortgage and the other is a student herself

  13. Would be interesting to see if abuse of the benefit is really as widespread as the right would have us believe.

    In the late 1990’s the National government ran a taxpayer-funded propaganda campaign to marginalise beneficiaries. The television ads talked about hundreds of thousands of cases of benefit fraud. These figures were later shown to be mostly based on administration errors and overpayments.

    Incidentally a lot of contemporary beneficiary bashing has it’s roots in that campaign. Before it ran the general perception of those on a benefit was far more tolerant…

  14. Ben R 14

    “If Mrs Key had been around in 2009 she would be ineligible for the DPB because once your youngest child is 6 you would have to be in work. Therefore John Key would not have benefited.”

    Well, there’s also the perverse incentive of having further children to stay on!

  15. Dave, if I remember correctly, while I was studying I knew of a number of people who’s parents incomes were tied up in trusts etc. and for some reason their incomes were registered at nil and therefore these rich little pricks were able to claim the $180 a week student allowance while the rest of us had to rack up huge loans while we borrowed an additional $150 a week!

  16. DeeDub 16

    The biggest problem with work for the dole OR training schemes is that they have severely financially disadvantaged beneficiaries in the past because the clients are almost never completely compensated for REAL costs of getting to the place of work/training and back. For people on megre incomes this can make a very real difference. Key is making noises about things being sorted on a ‘case-by-case’ basis but I don’t see how this can be applied in practice … oh yeah, and they’re going to administer these humungous changes with a cap on new staff??!!! Hah hah hah It’s in this governments’ interest to keep a scapegoat handy, and ‘bludging beneficiaries’ are an easy target even if they make up only a tiny percentage of the welfare budget.

  17. Lew 17

    Ben: Well, there’s also the perverse incentive of having further children to stay on!

    You’re sailing perilously close to the Perigo line of `bribing losers to breed’.

    L

  18. Ben R 18

    “Lew
    November 21, 2008 at 1:14 pm
    Ben: Well, there’s also the perverse incentive of having further children to stay on!

    You’re sailing perilously close to the Perigo line of `bribing losers to breed’.”

    Lew, putting Perigo’s inflammatory rhetoric to one side, do you agree that is a possible unintended incentive from that policy?

    Also, I would think the more serious problem is that as people become more educated the fewer children they tend to have. In that respect offering paid parental leave schemes is a good policy.

  19. TimeWarp 19

    Couple of different points I would like to make:

    The first is the nature of the social welfare safety net. It is implicit in a system like this that there will be some recipients of welfare that are unneeding and undeserving of it. In an imperfect world, that’s fundamental if the system is to catch all that are deserving. It’s impossible to draw the line exactly – and even if it were possible, it would be uneconomic to do so at the margins.

    Just as Shylock in The Merchant of Venice was allowed his pound of flesh – as long as it was no more, no less – and was unable to take the exact amount, welfare is by its nature going to benefit some people it shouldn’t. I absolutely believe the system should be developed and improved to target funding where and when it is needed, and in the appropriate quantity. But recognising it will never be perfect. Isolated failures in the system should not then, as they sometimes are, be held up as arguments for abandonment of programs – although they may need to be examined for a systemic pattern and then addressed appropriately.

    My other point is on the recent coverage of the Nia Glassie murder trial, and the disturbing reaction on talkback radio subsequently.

    Like most New Zealanders I am disgusted by how that little girl was treated. It angers me, as it angers many others in the community. However some of the angry people I have heard commenting on talkback recently really concern me with their response. I have heard so much vitriol combined with simplistic bandaid propositions, and attacks on the welfare and justice systems.

    The most blatant of these has been significant discussion on the value of the DPB, combined with comments on the lines of serial DPB mothers producing kids in order to fund a lifestyle based on welfare. This discussion is so disconnected with the reality of the case, but the anger generated is being chanelled in these directions.

    Lisa Kuka, it has been reported, was a working mother. I don’t know the nature of her work or how much time it took up. But the media reports are that most of the abuse, including the worst and the fatal atrocities, were conducted while Nia’s mother was at work. That doesn’t excuse some of her failings. But it does make a mockery of the subsequent attack on welfare mothers. Based on the same ‘logic’, applied against the actual circumstances, it could be vehemently argued that mothers should not be working and leaving their kids in the care of others. Let’s develop a blanket government policy along those lines, should we?

  20. Lew 20

    Ben: do you agree that is a possible unintended incentive from that policy?

    Not on the rational `hey, if I have another one I’ll get more!’ basis you seem to ascribe to it. It might happen, but the validity of your proposition rests on demonstrating intent.

    L

  21. Lew 21

    Ben: Also, I would think the more serious problem is that as people become more educated the fewer children they tend to have.

    Are you arguing an Idiocracy line here?

    L

  22. randal 22

    however many people need some state assistance there will always be a core of angry greedies who want to keep everything for themselves and gain psychological satisfaction from watching other people up against it.
    nactards are like that
    thats what makes them what they are!

  23. Ben R 23

    “Lew
    November 21, 2008 at 1:41 pm
    Ben: Also, I would think the more serious problem is that as people become more educated the fewer children they tend to have.

    Are you arguing an Idiocracy line here?”

    Sorry, just got back from watching the cricket over lunch.

    The ‘Idiocracy’ line, I haven’t actually watched the movie (I understand Fox tried to squash it).

    I think that the idiocracy line is too simplistic because there is considerable interplay between your heriditary DNA & how those genes get expressed depending on the environment you’re exposed to (from the pre-natal stage onwards) .

    That said, even assuming a 100% environmental view (which I think only maybe Leon Kamin accepts? Twin studies suggest a significant amount of personality & traits are heriditary) someone raised by more educated parents is likely to be at an advantage in terms of the stimulus they receive. For instance , better nutrition, being breast fed, exposed to wider vocabulary, attitudes about learning/education etc.

  24. Lew 24

    Ben: I see what you’re saying, but I can’t quite see why you’d float such an argument unless you had a point to make, and I can’t quite see why you’d shy away from making that point when invited to clarify it unless you had reservations about it.

    So what ARE you actually arguing, Ben?

    L

  25. Rex Widerstrom 25

    I’ve been on the dole. I’ve also got postgrad uni qualifications and a few tailored suits.

    Why is the latter relevant? Well, because last time I was on the dole I reached whatever was then the magic number and thus received a letter from WINZ (or DSW as was) advising me that in order to continue receiving the benefit I must attend a compulsory course. When I enquired what I would learn on this course, I was told it would be “how to write a CV, what to wear to an interview, that kind of thing”.

    There then ensued a lengthy battle of wills, because I wasn’t going to have my job search interrupted by some nonsensical “one size fits all” policy which assumes all unemployed are the same and have the same needs. I won. But I probably wasted as much time arguing with bureaucrats and writing angry letters as I would have wasted on the course, come to think of it.

    Not only is “work for the dole” actually an impediment to those who are genuinely seeking a job, as Steve points out, but even “skills training” can fall into that category. The answer, of course, is to see the unemployed and the poor as individuals with differing needs and have a range of solutions available – including a “do nothing and let them sort themselves out” option.

    Meanwhile, excuse this slightly off-topic diversion (but we are discussing the welfare state), you may wish to ponder this interview with Gerry Norman before making your next purchase from Harvey Norman. The highlight:

    “You could go out and give a million dollars to a charity tomorrow to help the homeless. You could argue that it is just wasted. They are not putting anything back into the community.

    “It might be a callous way of putting it but what are they doing? You are helping a whole heap of no-hopers to survive for no good reason. They are just a drag on the whole community.”

    However, like the point I’ve just made about the unemployed, let’s remember that business owners too are individuals and not go painting everyone with the same “red in tooth and claw” brush as Mr Harvey has chosen to paint himself.

  26. sunny 26

    Does anyone know how many of the National/ACT cabinet are mega rich? DonKey would be one obviously.. Steven ‘Rove’ Joyce, another… Carter? Others? Donkey is making a big deal about giving a part of his salary away (which certainly made Pill English’s eyes dart around wildly when the same suggestion was put to him, live, by Mark Sainsbury) Message to minders: work on Pill’s eyes. What they actually do with their squillions is less relevant than the degree to which they live totally different lives to the rest of us….

  27. monkey-boy 27

    Now you are talking sense. Are we turning a corner?

  28. Ben R 28

    “Lew
    November 21, 2008 at 2:47 pm
    Ben: I see what you’re saying, but I can’t quite see why you’d float such an argument unless you had a point to make, and I can’t quite see why you’d shy away from making that point when invited to clarify it unless you had reservations about it.

    So what ARE you actually arguing, Ben?”

    I was saying that the 6yr old cut off could have unintended consequences (although I don’t know if there is any research showing a correlation between WINZ benefits & birth rates. I think one of the rationales in the US for their welfare reform was to curb teen pregnancy, but I don’t think that happened).

    In terms of Perigo’s fairly crass comment & the idiocracy line, as I said above, it’s more complicated than that. In terms of the trend I referred to, which is that the more educated a person becomes the fewer children they tend to have, I think that’s been shown in many countries and applies across ethnicities. If people raised by smart parents tend to also do well academically, then if fewer of those people have children then in the long run you have fewer people able to go on and become engineers, physicians etc. (that is a very simplistic summary, and as I said above, as people learn more about epigenetics & genetics, the more complex the interplay between genes & environment seems to be. This is one reason why it’s hard to imagine human cloning working).

  29. Stephen 29

    There was still this though Rex:

    Earlier this year, Harvey Norman donated beds to a charity, Bridge Back to Life, that helps homeless men find rental accommodation.

    If he does that, while saying the other stuff…’meh!’

  30. Rex Widerstrom 30

    Stephen:

    Yes, and I did wonder if I’d be accused of lifting the quote I gave out of context. But consider this.

    Harvey Norman is a listed public company (on the ASX, not sure about the NZSE) which takes hard-nosed decisions about the commercial benefits of being seen as a good “corporate citizen”. As a result they make donations to charity. Good on ’em.

    Gerry Norman is a man with a personal wealth in the billions. He is not the company that bears his name and that of his former partner. He could, if he wished, make personal contributions and still have more wealth than most people could imagine.

    Yet he chooses not just to withhold his personal wealth but to start denigrating people who, perhaps, he sees as having some sort of moral claim on a small portion of it.

  31. Stephen 31

    Rex,

    Ah, I should’ve seen that distinction. Good point. There still appears to be room for giving on his part though, as it appears he simply doesn’t favour being the ‘ambulance at the bottom of the cliff’. I would like to think that someone with that amount of money choses to give in a different way, say endowing university scholarships or funding museum refurbishments, as they aren’t ‘losing causes’ like the homeless because they ‘create real value’, I think.

  32. Rex Widerstrom 32

    The distinction was nicely blurred by the SMH journo and/or sub editors Stephen. They seemed to be going out of their way to ameliorate Harvey’s comments. Or they’re incompetent shills. Either way it’s understandable you missed it.

    I’ve never heard of Gerry Harvey supporting the less well off (amongst which I dont count grants to museums or art galleries, though I’ve never heard of him making those either, but would count scholarships). I could be wrong of course and he might be a self-effacing sort, though his remarks suggest otherwise.

    I suspect we’ll soon find out what he gives as he back-peddles away from a storm of outrage. Either that,or he’ll become the left’s new anti-capitalist poster boy 😀

  33. Stephen 33

    For every billionaire that doesn’t give, i’d say there are a dozen who do. Shit, Bill Gates more than pulls his weight.

    Would be interesting to see how this pans out in the ozzy media, but i’m not so interested that i’ll be looking – ah well maybe it’ll get big enough for Stuff to carry it.

  34. rave 34

    Oh for christ’s sake wake up.

    Charity is total shit. Charity returns to workers a tiny fraction of the wealth they generate for Gates and Co. These guys don’t earn profits, they exploit their bright techies and marketeers. So Gates keeps a few hundred starving children alive while he benefits from the system that created a history of poverty from slavery and wage slavery. Wow write home about it. Adopt an orphan. Make naughty poverty go away.

    Welfare doesnt trickle down it trickles up. The bosses’ welfare is 1000 times more than any trickle down on DPB etc. Falling for the bosses’ line on welfare means we all end up glorifying or attacking its meagre results for workers get victimised and overlook the huge trickle up worth today, globallly, trillions. Its called Keynomics.

    Same with crime. Look up people, not down. Home invasions are nothing to Afghan and Iraq invasions. Open your eyes, open your minds. Have a little mind invasion or mental storm.

  35. “the Right,.. seem to think that if you’re in a tough situation that’s your problem and that anyone claiming a benefit is just a bludger.”

    No, its when you are in a tough situation and you refuse to do anything to get yourself out of it and simultaneously demand other people give your the fruits of their labour all the while refusing tot own your own part in it in how you got to your own situation (and of course I get that sometimes people land in need through no fault of their own, but sometimes they don’t and lets be honest about that.)

  36. Ben R 36

    “So Gates keeps a few hundred starving children alive while he benefits from the system that created a history of poverty from slavery and wage slavery.”

    Rave, you seem to have a fairly utopian view of the past. Do you believe that poverty did not exist at some point in history? Do you believe that society was less violent and living standards were higher at some previous time in history.

    Please let me know when that was.

  37. rave 37

    Ben R

    No slavery existed before the capitalists reinvented it. Point was the capitalism came along and refined it for profit. Now we have a system that lives off wage slavery and its effects are obvious – rising global inequality and poverty, 28000 kids dying of preventable disease every day, and a collapsing finance sector bailed out by the ordinary people. Capitalism doesnt have the means to reverse these effects only worsen them.

    My point is that capitalism while it has created the possibility of great advances has outlived its usefulness and we should take its current crisis as a signal that it needs replacing. Instead of rewarding the rich for exploiting us we should be socialising the economy for the benefit of all.

    Does that give you a clear enough picture?

  38. higherstandard 38

    Rave I don’t know what fantasy land you live in

    “No slavery existed before the capitalists reinvented it. ”

    What ?

    Your suggestion of replacing our current system would be reasonable if your proposal wasn’t it’s replacement with communism which is frankly laughable – I suggest you read iprents post on the appeal of extremist parties like RAM to get a feel how the NZ public feels about these extreme politcal suggestions.

  39. Mr Shankly 39

    Rave surely you are writing in jest – I suggest you might want to take a trip back in time to pre european New Zealand.

    The biggest issue with the welfare state is it’s potential to create dependance – people need to feel and be rewarded for their own enterprise – otherwise we would all sit round and smoke dope and surf all day.

  40. RedLogix 40

    The biggest issue with the welfare state is it’s potential to create dependance – people need to feel and be rewarded for their own enterprise – otherwise we would all sit round and smoke dope and surf all day.

    Only a relative handful of genuine no-hopers (and hell they are fellow humans too) are really content to sit around and do nothing all day… especially on the few hundred a week that the dole is worth. Most people on benefits would love nothing better than to get off it and into a job that earned not only better cash, but some self-respect as well.

    The real problem they face is the so called poverty trap, the effect that by the time they pay tax, transport, child care and other sundry costs, plus lost opportunity to earn the odd cashie on the side… the nett difference in actual disposable income is not all that great. (It’s also worth noting in this context that a full time 40 hour week on the minimum wage is around $27,000 pa; yet this is not all that much lower than the median income in this country!!!)

  41. Mr Shankly 41

    If you include working for families and public servants – the welfare state is massive!

  42. Mr Shankly 42

    But RedLogix – if you are not rewarded would you start up a company, do overtime, extra shifts, invest, save or study?

  43. RedLogix 43

    I think you missed the point.

    Despite the fact that the effective differential between a benefit and a minimum wage income is not very high, that over the last five or so years when demand for labour has been exceedingly high… most people chose to work in a job rather than remain on a benefit. Even when their effective reward for doing so was not that great.

    Obviously people expect financial reward for their efforts; but human motivation has more layers and complexity than that. Work is a huge part of our identity, it is our badge of belonging to the world we live in, and a way of expressing part of who we are.

    In reality, even if one was paid quite well for it, most of us would quickly get sick of lying around doing nothing all day, or even doing some pastime we really enjoy. Many years ago I took a whole year off work to do what I love most… tramping. I spent the whole year in the Southern Alps, visiting as many valleys and ranges as I could. I had a great time and look back on that period with great nostalgia… but I also recall that in the last month I was getting sick of it. Sometimes it felt like I was trapped in a walking prison. In the end I couldn’t wait to get back home and back to work again.

    On the other hand I believe that some folk really could just surf forever. 🙂

  44. rave 44

    Higher Standard.

    Rave I don’t know what fantasy land you live in

    [the world where the bosses are being baled out by the wage-slaves]

    “No slavery existed before the capitalists reinvented it. ‘

    What ? [It should have read “No, …” it was a reply to an earlier comment.

    Your suggestion of replacing our current system would be reasonable if your proposal wasn’t it’s replacement with communism which is frankly laughable – I suggest you read iprents post on the appeal of extremist parties like RAM to get a feel how the NZ public feels about these extreme politcal suggestions.

    [Frankly laugh away. When this ‘system’ as Bush calls it, cannot be saved, what would you put in its place?The ‘extreme’ capitalism of Bush and Key where the few rich bastards get richer on the wealth created by the big majority? That’s extremism.
    What NZers think about this will change when they discover who’s being ripped off.
    What I call communism has nothing to do with the ex Soviet Union. I suggest you give your brain some work and widen your reading from iprent on tiny parties to Karl Marx on Wall Street.]

  45. marco 45

    We already have a work for the dole type service on Unemployment Benefit, its call JSS or Job Search Service.

    Under JSS everyone recieving Unemployment Benefit must sign and adhere to a Job Seeker Agreement. If they break that agreement then they do not recieve the benefit. It operates on a 3 strikes your out policy if you fail to meet your obligations first and second time you can complete an agreed task to have your benefit restarted. The third time is an automatic 13 week stand down.

    This is labours policy and it works because it does not allow people to stagnate on the dole.

    What is happening at the moment is Work and Income are finding that those on DPB, SB and IB want to work but lack the confidence or work skills to do so.

    The infrastructure is in place it was well built by the Labour government but Work and Income lack the teeth to get people to take the first step to independence. It has reduced most case managers to mere salesman.

    Nationals policy of getting DPB and SB recipients on, easy, confidence building courses will work for most but not all beneficiaries. The success of the policy will depend on the descretion the case manager has when dealing with clients and also how competant and well trained those case managers are.

  46. higherstandard 46

    OK then Rave

    Please enlighten us which state in the world at the moment or from the past do you propose we model ourselves on ?

  47. rave 47

    None HS, enlighten yourself and find your own model.

    How would you improve on a situation where the top 10% who control the banks and the big corporates have trashed millions of lives and now hold out their hand to those same millions to be rescued? Or is that OK with you?

    I would say that the problem arises because this wealthy, powerful elite expropriates the worlds resources, hoards them or wastes them, and threatens the existence of the planet.

    So it looks like the solution has to be one that replaces this system with a popular, democratically run system that conserves resources, equalises incomes and meets our basic needs.

    The welfare state is an attempt at a compromise but for every step towards equality, this elite manages to reverse the progress.

    What is your solution?

    Here’s a contribution that may get you thinking.

  48. Ag 48

    Welfare is not really charity. It’s just a tax we pay to prevent certain social problems, so that we have a society that most people actually want to live in.

    The work for the dole thing is a joke. We have structural unemployment because of the economic policies that our governments pursue. The idea that individuals are completely to blame for persistent unemployment other than in a few cases, is a pernicious lie, invented to shift blame on to the victims of state policy.

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