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Job system & RA in need of reform, not benefits

Written By: - Date published: 12:10 pm, January 10th, 2012 - 40 comments
Categories: benefits, jobs, unemployment - Tags:

Other day, Curran asked what they should do with Red Alert. Now, Mallard’s again using it, in conjunction with Pagani on his blog, to try to do an end run around his own party to promote benefit ‘reform’. Leaving aside the fact it’s the employment system, not the backstop, that’s broken, this is more strategic idiocy.

First things first. Mike‘s already done a good job explaining why Mallard’s wrong to be promoting welfare reform in practical terms.

The welfare system isn’t broken – unless you count the 40% of 65 and 66 year olds who are getting a pension while being employed.  The point of the welfare system is to do what any civilised society ought to do: provide some basic support to those who are unable to work due to sickness or injury and to those who want to work but find none is available. It does that at a cost of $5 per day each.

The system works because when there are jobs to be had people go off the dole and into work. Employment growth under Labour dramatically reduced the number on the dole to just 17,000. Long-term unemployment recipients numbered a couple of thousand. The numbers on other benefits only rose in line with population and demographics. Overall, Labour got 100,000 people off benefits. Now, its gone up 60,000 under National. Why? Not because anything’s changed about benefits. Because there’s no fucken jobs.

How would expensive welfare ‘reform’ fix that? Wouldn’t.

Either it would be a whole lot of fuss changing nothing because no-one would actually be kicked off without a job to get. Or people with no other income would be left destitute with neither a job or a benefit.

How does beating up on the jobless do anything to fix poverty and the long tail of educational, health, social, and economic costs it causes? Doesn’t.

But sounds good.

Which is why Mallard and Pagani have decided that Labour should be on board. They will be thinking that Labour will look irrelevant unless it jumps on the bene-bashing train as well.

Unfortunately, the strategic minds that brought you Labour’s worst election result in a life-time (you know Pagani’s been on Labour’s payroll this whole time, eh?) haven’t thought it through. They don’t appear to have any actual policy to match the rhetoric. Besides, they are never going to outbid National on benefit reform.

All they are going to do is. A) make benefit reform seem like a more valid and important issue (it’s not, the extra annual benefit spending under National is similar to the amount they’ve spent on corporate bailouts). B) Make Labour look like it has no answers and National does. They’re just helping National manufacture a crisis. They are buying National’s framing and repeating it without being able to win the argument, which is basically page 1 of ‘Don’t Do what Donny Don’t Does’ when it comes to political strategy.

If Labour’s going to win, it needs to own the discourse. Not pathetically say ‘me too’ to whatever National says.

Shearer should ignore these clowns and get serious. We know what the solution to the benefit ‘problem’ is – not enough jobs. Create the jobs and the benefit numbers will fall. Costs the government at least $18,000 a year to have someone on a benefit rather than in work. A full employment policy can easily be self-funding.

If Labour were coming out with a well thought out policy to create 100,000 jobs and, for all practical purposes, eliminate unemployment, I would even consider voting for them. Instead, we have strategically inept rhetoric with nothing to back it up. Only serves the interests of the Right.

Brings me back to what to do with Red Alert. The RA concept’s great. But it has been hijacked by 2 MPs who are the last ones who should be fronting for Labour in the blogosphere. Both are constantly putting their foot in it. They seem to lack that burning feeling in the back of the neck that tells you what you’re writing is stupid and going to get a whole lot of people pissed off. That’s bad enough. But using RA for running up shit that they can’t get through caucus is worse. Undermines Labour’s democratic processes. Makes it look divided.

Shearer needs to either create rules that make RA a place for all Labour MPs not just 2 (1 post per week per MP rule?) or shut it down.

40 comments on “Job system & RA in need of reform, not benefits”

  1. tc 1

    Mallard’s continuing presence must warm CT’s hearts…..a bullying, nasty, spiteful and irrelevant legacy that should be warming a seat close to the exit door not the govt front bench.

    He’s given plenty of reasons to be jettisoned but like a bad nagging flu he’s still around clogging up the system……Shearer has his work cut out here, does he have what it takes to clear out the rotting wood from Clarks reign and at the same time show he’s his own man or another puppett.

  2. the sprout 2

    Shearer should actually tell Mallard and Pagani to fuck off, then I might start taking him a bit more seriously as an actual Labour leader. They’ve done enough damage to Labour as it is and few will mourn their passing.

    Until then Shearer’s just going to look like another neo-lib puppet in rather unconvincing drag.

    And as for allowing RA to become Mallard and Pagani’s personal wanking stage, well that’s just a tragic wasted opportunity. Whose voice is RA meant to represent – ghosts of the 80s NZLP?

    • Craig GlenEden 2.1

      Sadly I have to agree with sprout I posted something once used the word bloody and Curren wouldn’t publish it. As a Labour party member I hardly visit RA any more Curren’s post are mostly irrelevant and as for Mallard pppffttt. Shearer wont have the balls to sort them out, I would love to be wrong but I bet the same shit will continue and Mallard and Pagani will screw up another election campaign if given half a chance.

  3. ghostwhowalksnz 3

    Shearer needs to either create rules that make RA a place for all Labour MPs not just 2 (1 post per week per MP rule?) or shut it down
    Oh really. Issue a diktat and all will be well.
    I thought RA was created and paid for by a small handfull of MPs as a blog for their opinions.
    Theres nothing to stop the party running a ‘nationalmps’ type of web page that no one reads

    • Ari 3.1

      They shouldn’t end-run around caucus decisions on their blog though, that’s just bad faith behaviour.

      • ghostwhowalksnz 3.1.1

        End run ? Which part of totalitarian state are you coming from.
        Since when does linking to a UK report close off Caucus decisions, if they have even been discussed.
        Its nowhere near bad faith

    • the sprout 3.2

      While it might not be the reality, RA pretend to be the Labour Party blog.
      If it’s a platform for only a few voices, it needs to present itself as such – take the NZLP banner off and call it the Trev and Pag Brainfart – because as it stands the views of Mallard and the minority that dominate it are starting look like the views of the entire caucus

  4. Olwyn 4

    One thing Shearer will need to sort out is a major disconnect between the parliamentary party and the members. Perhaps they think they don’t need the present members and can win an election with a few rich backers who will make do with them when National’s star wanes, but whatever their reason, their attitude the membership seems to be one of contempt. I for one do not walk around in the rain putting their pamphlets in letterboxes because I agree to beneficiary bashing, or because I like the colour red, or because I am their fan and will accept any old policy that they put their name to. And I am sure there are many others who feel the same way.

    Labour, if you think that you lost the election because you were not right-wing enough, and now plan to remedy this, please tell me soon so that I can leave in good faith. It is hard to respect a political party that sees the need to dupe its own membership.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      Perhaps they think they don’t need the present members and can win an election with a few rich backers who will make do with them when National’s star wanes

      Great 2 party democracy they have in the US – a choice between The Warmonging Banksters Party and The Other Warmonging Banksters Party.

    • Anne 4.2

      Thank-you Olwyn. Every word you say, you have spoken for me too. For three years I felt like I was being treated with a polite air of contempt every time I expressed concerns about the Party’s direction. I don’t know what has been going on exactly, but I think the way the leadership tussle was handled is a good case in point. Those of us who knew a little about the behind the scenes activity were aware it was nasty and unseemly. Scant attention was paid to the views of the membership. Indeed I would go so far as to say the leadership meetings held around the country were to some degree a fraud. I chose not to attend the Auckland meeting for that reason.

    • seeker 4.3

      +1 Olwyn – and certainly agree with Anne about the poor handling of the “leadership tussle”.

    • Tom Gould 4.4

      Olwyn, the disconnect that needs sorting is that between Labour and the voting public. Those who envoke ‘the membership’ are so hidebound and screwed up with identity politics and correctness from the Clark era, they have little to contribute, other than raising their ‘concerns’ about what other people think and do, wringing their hands, and white ant others, so are largely irrelevant.

      • Olwyn 4.4.1

        I am one of the people you are talking about, and your description does not apply to me. I am not “hidebound and screwed up with identity politics and correctness” from any era. My left wing views are grounded by a belief in justice, a living wage, affordable housing, effective unions…that kind of thing. And I expect a centre-left party to be concerned with such things to at least some degree. If you have to be a callous, myopic bastard to connect with middle New Zealand, then God help middle New Zealand is all I can say.

  5. Draco T Bastard 5

    Create the jobs…

    And just how are you going to do that considering that world productivity is so high that a single country can damn near produce everything that the world demands? Throw in the fact the real resources are running out as well and creating jobs isn’t something that actually possible.

    It’s not about creating jobs any more but about producing only that which we need and proper distribution of that produce instead of giving all the wealth to the parasitical capitalist class.

    • Gosman 5.1

      So in other words using the system that was tried and failed so spectacularly in Russia, Eastern Europe, and China for over 50 years. I believe it was called centralised planning or Communism.

      • Populuxe1 5.1.1

        Because doG knows that Capitalism never goes tit-up, eh Gosman? (Tulip Bubble, South Seas Bubble, the Great Depression, the ’80s crash, the current Financial Crisis…)

      • Draco T Bastard 5.1.2

        Central planning is not communism but state capitalism*. And, as the last 5000 years have shown, capitalism doesn’t work whether it is private capitalism or state capitalism.

        * Capitalism can be easily recognised by its hierarchical/authoritarian model.

      • RedLogix 5.1.3

        You’ve no idea how boring it is to see the same brain dead binary thinking over and over. Capitalism or Communism. There Is No Alternative…. TINA thinking over and over. Boring, boring, turgid beyond all tolerance.

        Both systems work within a fairly narrow range of constraints; both have failure modes. There are useful aspects to be gleaned from both, and aspects to be rejected. Think about the strengths and weaknesses of each and consider how they complement each other.

        Then consider how an entirely new set of environmental and resource challenges confront us, challenges of a type that we have never encountered as a species before. And how they demand solutions on a scale we’ve never contemplated before.

        Now apply some imagination; try and think of at least a dozen new alternatives to Business As Usual. Try and be interesting for a change…put that great big brain to some actual use.

      • Oh dear…

        Funny how libertarians resort to extremes when pushing their ideology.

        Why refer to the Soviet Bloc when the Scandinavian model works very well?

        Your own “free market” was perilously close to collapse had governments not bailed out Goldman Sachs, et al, using tax-payers’ money. The reverberations from the global banking crisis (not, Gosman that it’s not called the global WORKER’S crisis) has created high unemployment and people losing their homes. (Not that it matters to you, judging by your past statements.)

        The neo-liberal system is as much in danger of collapse as the old marxist system. The only difference is that the taxpayer is here to foot the bill for bailouts.

        That’s how well your “free market” ideology works.

  6. just saying 6

    Saddest thing to me is Labour will probably lead the next government regardless, because National is set to lose. This isn’t choosing to be neolibs because there is no other way to be elected. It’s just choosing to be neoliberal – and therefore the enemy of the people Labour pretends to represent.

    Nah – this is intentional.

    Come the revolution, I hope the people remember Trevor Mallard and John Pagani (as forgettable and medicocre as they both are).

    • Fotran 6.1

      Labour WILL lead the next Parliament after 2014 supported by the Greens, because without them, there will be no left majority.
      And they will extract many pounds of flesh. Norman has already said he wants Finance.

  7. randal 7

    where are the jobs?
    according to kweewee if the rich got tax cuts it would stimulate investment and everything else would trickle down automatically.
    peace on you too bro.

  8. belladonna 8

    As a Labour supporting invalid beneficiary if they keep up the beneficiary bashing then they can just get stuffed.
    How many invalid and sickness beneficiares are there, can Labour afford to lose our vote. I was concerned to hear David Shearer doing his bit of bene bashing in the election promos. He had better pick his game up or Labour will be heading for a defeat that will make 2011 look insignificant.

    • just saying 8.1

      Bashing people who are already experiencing the most hardship is beneath contempt. Not only are there no jobs, but there are many who can’t work, as you so rightly point out.
      Real people. Already struggling, already hurting. And it could be any one of us, any time, we are all just one accident or illness away from this fate.
      Shame on you Mallard and Pagani.

      • Hami Shearlie 8.1.1

        Agreed JS! Shame on bene-bashing mp’s from any party- and when you read how much the taxpayer contributes to THEIR superannuation – DOUBLE SHAME!

  9. randal 9

    if the nashnil gubmint doesn’t get kicked out in a vote of no confidence then they will be defeated at the next election.
    in three years they wil have wrecked the eduction system, sold off the states assets and generally pissed the whole country off.

  10. The Voice of Reason 10

    A couple of quick questions for Zet. Can you show the link, in a general sense, between Mallard and Pagani? How do we know there is one? And can you provide the evidence that shows that Pagani has been on Labour’s payroll ‘this whole time’? ( I thought that stopped eighteen months ago).
     
    Cheers.

  11. Good post z.

    The lies they spin about so called benefit reform make my eyes water. I’ll leave labour people to sort out their own mess, but it is extremely sad to hear of these machinations. I’m thankful I voted Mana.

  12. Pundit X 12

    Whilst I hate to intrude on private grief there is a party on the left that enables open and serious online debate, has no disconnect between its MP’s and members, and enables full participation of all the membership in all decision making. And not least its entire membership is involved in the election of its leadership. Its called the Green Party. Some of you may wish to take a look as an alternative to flogging an already dead horse..

  13. prism 13

    Mallard is confusing. How can he be a dry and still so wet?

  14. Anne 14

    Trevor Mallard has commented on RA about this post and has effectively answered TVoR’s question. He denies there is any close association between himself and Pagani and I accept his word. Accordingly, I apologise for ‘laughing’ over a certain comment made yesterday. Both of us should have checked whether this particular assertion was correct.

  15. Nearly70 15

    Everyone talks about ‘creating jobs’. What a load of bollacks.

    For the last 30 years of my life, I have been writing software that had the specific goal of ‘eliminating people involvement in the business process’. And I was very good at it. So a lot mof jobs became ‘automated’.

    So I (and a great many others) have eliminated jobs that will never, ever be re-created.

    It’s the industrial revolution in a shorter form.

    So creating new jobs becomes even harder.

    I am still waiting for Russel Norman to explain how he was going to “create 100,000 green jobs”.

    • Colonial Viper 15.1

      Then you can see it better than most of us. We have created an economy which does not need most people, which does not involve most of society, and which increases profits to the very few by eliminating the flow of wages and salaries into very many local communities.

      How well do you think a civilisation powered by such a lovely economy is going to last?

    • RedLogix 15.2

      or the last 30 years of my life, I have been writing software that had the specific goal of ‘eliminating people involvement in the business process’.

      So have I. Because the business corporate model is more or feudal state, the productivity benefits of our life’s work has been captured by business owners and financiers. The workers simply lack the economic power to claim their share of the gains.

      This is a large portion of what motivates me here. I’ve been aware that the very work I do changes the nature of work, and not always for the better. For the very large part automation technology replaces fairly boring, routine and unskilled repetitive tasks… and that’s a good thing as long as this leads to something better for the individuals affected.

      In a different economic model it’s not hard to imagine a system that used this surplus labour and out it to better uses. Actually a fair bit of this already happens; the last 30 years has seen a massive growth is the services sector, a dramatic expansion in the range and depth of all sorts of jobs that simply did not exist when I began working. Yet even this shift has it’s own limits.

      Because the capitalist model inherently concentrates wealth, and our carbon fueled technologies have only amplified this effect, ordinary people are becoming increasingly alienated from the very world they live in.

  16. prism 16

    Nearly70
    If you are interested in 100,000 jobs green or not why don’t you get on and help create them using your fine skills and intelligence? Why sit around and leave the hard work to do something positive for people to others while you do positive things only for business interests? If you have the spare time to write here then turn it to something which will result in you being remembered gratefully.

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