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National’s solution to poverty – make people even poorer

Written By: - Date published: 8:12 am, November 9th, 2019 - 24 comments
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This has as much chance of working as trickle down.  And I am astounded that someone should think it, let alone think that it is a good thing to say publicly.  But a National MP has publicly advocated addressing poverty by … wait for it … cutting benefits further.

From Leigh-Marama McLaughlan at Radio New Zealand:

National MP Joanne Hayes says some Maori could end up better off if their welfare payments were reduced – claims condemned by the Māori Council.

Ms Hayes, National’s Māori Development spokesperson, has said people had been telling her a National discussion document that talked about getting tough on beneficiaries was racist.

The MP said social welfare had however not necessarily proved a good thing for Māori.

“We have become so dependent on benefits that we have, as a nation, actually lost the ability to be entrepreneurial and the ability to make our own way in life.”

She said her whānau grew up “running off the smell of an oily rag” but they made things work, and whānau need to be more resourceful with what they have and learn to grow vegetables.

Reducing income in a household [through benefit cuts] could strengthen whānau, she said.

“It could do, it depends on how resourceful the whānau are at being able to do the things for their whānau within the amount of money that they have.

“Sometimes you don’t have to be overly rich to actually live a good life – that’s where we fall down a bit – because we are not resourceful as a whānau.”

Where to start?

Hasn’t this been tried before?  Like the Ruth Richardson benefit cuts in the early 1990s which saw support levels drop 20% below what was considered to be the minimum requirement just to “incentivise” people to get off the benefit?  To our collective shame these cuts still have not been made up.

Or why allow the excessive levels of corporate welfare doled out to otherwise highly profitable companies?

Or let’s turn this around.  Why don’t we make rich people more entrepreneurial and resourceful by taking away their excessive wealth. 

The proposal is a failed economic theory wrapped up in a dog whistle and covered with a large amount of greed is good.  

Please do not let these people anywhere near the Treasury benches.

 

24 comments on “National’s solution to poverty – make people even poorer ”

  1. UncookedSelachimorpha 1

    Excellent post, and a vile, vile position from the National Party.

    Good way to help people in poverty is to give them more money.

  2. marty mars 2

    I agree – these knobs are not. fit. to. govern.

    Shows the gnats are totally devoid of ideas – the head of the fish is rotten and the fish is rotten. Sad that this political party is so useless.

    • KJT 2.1

      Have you read the article, I will try and find it, which hypotheses that the reason Poverty is so intractable in wealthy countries, is the rich make money from the poor.

      As we all know, it costs more to live day to day, if you haven't got much money.

      Well. Who benefits from that?

      Payday lenders, Banks, Big box stores, Truck shops, Gambling providers, legal and illegal drug dealers.

      And who benefits from a pool of people desperate enough to work for SFA?

      A lot of the richest in our society.

  3. Anker 3

    Same old crap from National. Surely people see through it. Disgraceful. If jo has the answer let her demonstrate it ie live off a reduced benefit without help from her rich mates

    and see how entrepreneurial she becomes. Come on Jo put your money where your mouth is..

    my hunch even lower benefits leads to even more hopelessness and despair, desperation leading to drugs and selling drugs, prostitution, crime, homelessness

    these people (Nats) neither think nor care

  4. Stuart Munro. 4

    If the Gnats had a shred of economic knowledge, and it's fair to say they know less than nothing, they'd know that money is a constraint on efforts by the poor to become self-sufficient – hence efforts like Rewi Alley's Gung Ho and microfinance initiatives like Yunus's Grameen bank. The chief reason to keep them off the Treasury benches is not their inhumanity but their screaming incompetence.

  5. lprent 5

    Hasn’t this been tried before? Like the Ruth Richardson benefit cuts in the early 1990s which saw support levels drop 20% below what was considered to be the minimum requirement just to “incentivise” people to get off the benefit?

    The most important part of that experiment was that it simply didn't work. What it managed to do was to put people, and maori in particular, in a position of generational dependence. It reduced the possible paths out of the poverty trap because there was no room in the household budget to take risks.

    The Key government extended that later on by cutting almost all low-cost adult education and retraining options. Instead they make those on welfare make a all-or-nothing risky choice between getting into lifetime student debt or staying safe by not doing it. National removed the middle ground of trying out further education.

    Similarly they put in the 90 day fire-at-will without also reducing the stand-down periods at the welfare agencies. You'd have to be almost insane gambler to go off benefits to work where you can be fired at any point at the vagaries of an employer with a probable period of no income.

    None of these things worked. Yet they are all dogma for those ideological idiots.

    To achieve their stated goals, they need to look at the paths to employment and self-sufficiency. Just throwing on disincentives to move away from a safer poverty simply doesn’t cut it.

    But I guess it is because they’re less concerned about achieving goals than being seen to be posturing about them to their even more idiotic base.

    • Sacha 5.1

      The Ruthless benefit cuts also cost provincial small businesses and their workers a fortune. Surprised the Nats got away with that so easily.

      • lprent 5.1.1

        They really didn’t get away with it. It nearly lost them the 1993 election.

        Over the longer term it is the final straw that fundamentally changed NZ political system for the first time since the start of the previous century.

        It was the direct reason that caused MMP to be adopted. It gave Labour valuable support in the provincial areas in 1999. It is what allows NZ First to flourish as a list party in those areas and maintains Labour support there now.

        Now that National have eaten their potential compliant support partners from that era, it is what causes National to not have get a majority in the votes and makes it difficult for them to hope to get a majority in the house.

        While there is a element of the NZ First who would like to go with National, there is an even stronger group who just won’t accept it often because of those 90s cuts. National effectively built the opposition to themselves in their ‘country’ wing when their ‘urban’ business wing pushed through those measures.

        It leaves them in the awkward position of being the largest elected party, and yet unlikely to be able to form a government… Which incidentally is why you see their repeated attempts to try to kill NZ First or to make it their compliant slave.

  6. UncookedSelachimorpha 6

    Agree with all the above – that this is both nasty and utterly incompetent (in the sense that it will deliver the opposite of its stated aims).

    Unfortunately it will resonate with a large part of the NZ electorate – that is the real problem that needs fixing. And I’m really not sure how to go about this. Maybe a well-documented and publicised example of the results of doing the opposite (i.e. providing more support and opportunities, not less)?

    • Dukeofurl 6.1

      People of a certain age like Jo Hayes, only remember some things about their growing up. Michael Laws made the same mistake as well, they forget about the all encompassing social welfare system , which included full employment and easier access to state houses.

      'Poor but happy – but forgetting all the state support' seems to to be the real meme.
      Bennett herself is a prime example, support to buy a house, and later attend university all while on the DPB. National removed all that.

  7. Wensleydale 7

    That's what I love about the National Party. So full of new and exciting ideas that will doubtless benefit the country for years to come…

  8. gsays 8

    The most telling sentence in the post is: "To our collective shame these cuts still have not been made up."

    Labour has had plenty of chances to 'fix' the cuts.

    Why haven't they?

  9. JustMe 9

    It is often easier for National, if in government, to chase and persecute the poor than it is to chase the rich.

    The poor are faceless and nameless and of course in greater proportion population-wise. The poor in deliberately kept low-income NZ do not merit a voice according to the draconian National Party.

    National would never ever chase the rich even if some of them have committed business fraud as they, the rich people, probably donate heavily to the NZ National Party.

    Besides the rich, a number who are just recent arrivals into NZ are the very people National will court. National will ONLY court the poor prior to an election but once the votes have been counted the poor will be relegated back again to be bashing posts by a political party that is focused mostly on greed(for themselves), ego(for themselves) and knighthoods(for themselves).

    History has shown National MPs will court the poor eg the Aroha Ireland's in low income areas of NZ but once the publicity stunt has served its purpose National will drop that poor person like a hot potato.

  10. John Clover 10

    I see it as a logical alternative to "Throwing more money at them" which to date has failed badly.

    Perhaps a better idea would be to reduce the basic benefit but with extra amounts as a reward for efforts to get off the benefit … instead of the pathetic and small minded trimming of the existing benefit the moment folk earn a bit as they start to try to get out of dependence such as dollar for dollar payment based on what a person earns up to a total. equal to the minimum wage for a 40 hr working week. Then reduced in stages so that effort is rewarded,

    • A 10.1

      A benefit is currently the sum of a main benefit, secondary benefits (AS, DA, CDA), tertiary benefits (TAS, Special needs grants). Some are asset tested, some are income tested.

      My point is the system is constructed in a manner in which your idea would be impossible to implement without a complete overhaul of the legislation.

      And you make a good point – why the hell shouldn’t it be a dollar for dollar deduction? At present Work and Income deduct gross earnings, meaning immediate penalty for earning and confusion around income. This is nonsense of course and needs to be remedied as we should never discourage gaining of independence through seeking income.

    • Kay 10.2

      @John Clover, A beat me to it, but you are aware that beneficiaries also include long term seriously ill and disabled? How do you propose cutting our far from enough to live on pittance, and add on a reward to encourage us of said benefit? I assume this 'incentive' will micraculously cure us in the process?

      While these politicians are incredibly good and being very careful not to mention us in their bashing attempts, or provide the caveat that of course it doesn't apply to to the 'deserving' disabled, neither they, nor their rabid supporters/swing voters can differentiate between us and those feckless dole bludgers and solo mums. We're all beneficiaries and we all deserve to be punished. When the order goes out to the WINZ staff to get nasty to beneficiaries they get nasty to us too. No difference. When whatever Govt decides on benefit freezes (or cuts), we're included.

      The public's fine with paying the horrific avoidable hospital costs resulting from us not being able to afford our everyday medical treatment, but they don't want us to have a cent more in benefit payments because of politicians appealing to their nasty streak. That's how beneficiary bashing works and you're falling for it.

    • Nic the NZer 10.3

      Your missunderstanding the nature of the problem. Since the government abandoned full employment as a policy the amount of available jobs has been left to the devices of the economy. Its no wonder that the result is some therefore can't find a job as not enough are presently going (especially in lower skill categories).

      So ultimately there will always be some without a job regardless how hard they are trying. This persists until the country returns to full employment as a political policy in some form.

  11. A 11

    With over half of all welfare recipients meeting the criteria for having a disability such a move would be a a serious breach the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

    How typical that a National MP would be unfamiliar with the convention and therefore ignore it altogether. Demographics of welfare recipients have been covered extensively and I would have thought someone making public declarations would have at least made a brief skim read of them before going public.

  12. John Clover 12

    KAY I think you deliberately misread my suggestion since I am thought here to be of the 'right' whereas I am sure in my mind I am really a sensible and pragmatic leftie which puts me pretty much in the centre. Willing to accept good ideas wherever they come from and build on them from my point of view.

    But never mind that doesn't unduly bother me and I find it sad that anybody here would think that it is a proposal for those other than those capable of working.

    I guess an example of "right is wrong and left is good" and somebody questioning somebody who thinks they are of the left is beyond the pale.

  13. Drowsy M. Kram 13

    Extending the NZ national superannuation tax-funded UBI downwards in 10-year bands:

    National super, 65+
    UBI $15000 pa, 55 – 64 yrs
    UBI $12000 pa, 45 – 54 yrs
    UBI $ 9000 pa, 35 – 44 yrs
    UBI $ 6000 pa, 25 – 34 yrs
    UBI $ 3000 pa, 15 – 24 yrs

  14. mike 14

    in nat land the poor need to be culled so i guess there planning to starve them to death

  15. Sabine 15

    sorry Micky, but this coming election is Labours to loose. This wishy washy nonsense of kinder and gentler assholery in general is meaningless and unhelpful.

    either enact true reforms and be out and proud about it or watch the no mates/no ideas party get in exactly like the last time, blaming the poor for being poor, scaring the not yet poor of poverty while reducing paid for welfare to nothing in order to afford another tax cut for the very rich to ensure a bit more trickle up for the very rich.

    Tell your labour mates taht they either start working or they get send packing.

    We don't need kinder and gentler, we need proper reforms of welfare, education, drugs, etc. The world is changing and it appears the current lot is stuck somewhere in the 80's.

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