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No quick fix for diseases of poverty

Written By: - Date published: 9:23 am, January 16th, 2015 - 136 comments
Categories: class war, health, poverty - Tags: , ,

Poverty was one of the major issues in the run up to the 2011 election. There were some major pieces of work on the issue, such as the Inside Child Poverty documentary:

Shock look at NZ’s child poverty

More than 100 New Zealand children who died last year would probably have survived had they lived in Japan, Sweden or the Czech Republic, a new documentary shows.

In Inside Child Poverty: A Special Report, set to air this week, Wellington documentary maker Bryan Bruce shows a Swedish doctor footage of sick, scab-ridden schoolchildren suffering from preventable diseases in Porirua and asks if he saw similar situations in his country. The doctor shakes his head: “In the 70s, maybe.”

Last year, more than 25,000 children were admitted to hospital for respiratory infections. Doctors routinely treat cases of rheumatic fever and scabies – diseases now rare in Europe. The reason behind these preventable diseases were appalling rates of child poverty that New Zealand could not afford to ignore, Mr Bruce said.

Other notable events were the RNZ insight coverage and the seven key recommendations of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) (which the government rejected out of hand). Fast forward to 2014, and Andrea Vance’s piece yesterday:

Rheumatic fever, syphilis cases rise

Rheumatic fever rates are on the up despite $65 million being spent on prevention, new figures reveal.

A report by crown research unit ESR (Environmental Science and Research) shows a “significant increase” in cases of the disease in the year to September, with 235 notified acute cases, up 75 on the previous 12 months.

The Government has pumped resources into the combating the illness with free drop-in clinics, healthy homes initiatives and public information campaigns, and wants to reduce incidences by two-thirds by June 2017.

Labour’s health spokeswoman Annette King said the Government was failing with rates of the disease rising in the last three years. … Estimates put 140 adult deaths a year down to the illness. “As former health minister Tony Ryall himself said: ‘We are the only developed country in the world with levels of rheumatic fever you would see in the third world’,” King said.

She wanted the Government to tackle the causes. “Acute rheumatic fever is largely a disease of poverty, overcrowding, and healthcare inequality,” she said. “Preventing it requires more than throat-swabbing and publicity campaigns, it requires a health system that provides services that are accessible for all and a co-ordinated effort to address social factors that impact on health, such as housing.”

So it turns out that there are no quick fixes to diseases of poverty. To tackle them, you need to tackle the cause – poverty itself.

Your move, National.

136 comments on “No quick fix for diseases of poverty ”

  1. Colonial Rawshark 1

    Good post Anthony.

    Although the diseases might be slow to fix, poverty in NZ can be virtually eliminated within 3 years: by boosting all core benefits by 15%, implementing a guaranteed youth jobs programme for those who are 25 and under, and inexpensive housing encouraging people to live outside of Auckland.

    • The lost sheep 1.1

      implementing a guaranteed youth jobs programme for those who are 25 and under,

      ‘Entitlement’ versus ‘incentive’ is obviously a key area of debate between Left and Right Rawshark.
      When you say “guaranteed”, do you propose that the entitlement should involve any ‘incentive’ link to individual educational efforts?

      • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1

        Most people are more than happy to work simply because it’s real boring doing nothing and don’t actually need to be incentivised to do it. The capitalists make use of this habit that people have to exploit them and enrich themselves.

      • Colonial Rawshark 1.1.2

        When you say “guaranteed”, do you propose that the entitlement should involve any ‘incentive’ link to individual educational efforts?

        Let’s check your terminology here. A full time job is not an “entitlement”, mate. It is a Kiwi right. You actually work for your money in a job, and are expected to perform or you will be tossed out on your ear for a 90 day stand down on the standard dole.

        • The lost sheep 1.1.2.1

          If a job was a right guaranteed by the State, then it would in fact, and terminology, be an ‘entitlement’, unless my Oxford needs correcting.

          But in your discussion of the semantics you have not actually answered my question.

          You propose ‘guaranteed’ jobs for everyone under 25 as part of your solution to poverty.
          Self evidently this would involve the State supplying jobs for individuals who could not find them in private enterprise.

          Do you believe such jobs should have some form of ‘incentive’ linking the right to a job in itself, or the quality of the job, to an individuals educational efforts?

          • Colonial Rawshark 1.1.2.1.1

            Do you believe such jobs should have some form of ‘incentive’ linking the right to a job in itself, or the quality of the job, to an individuals educational efforts?

            No, these would be full and half time minimum wage jobs. The pay wouldn’t change if you have a PhD degree or were a qualified orthodontist from Pakistan without NZ registration. If people have specific skills then of course an effort would be made to utilise those skills.

            If a job was a right guaranteed by the State, then it would in fact, and terminology, be an ‘entitlement’, unless my Oxford needs correcting.

            I don’t use terminology from the politically poisoned United States. You chose that word because it is from the politically poisoned United States.

            In NZ we speak of government “benefits”, “social security” and “human rights”. We do not refer to education, healthcare, ACC, or work programmes as “entitlements” although minor elements of those programmes may use that terminology.

            • The lost sheep 1.1.2.1.1.1

              Apologies CR for prompting a reply, and then not having time to engage with a decent reply today.
              I did appreciate that you were willing to post something concrete in the way of solutions, and hope to get back to you with some discussion on the line you proposed..

          • Murray Rawshark 1.1.2.1.2

            “Self evidently this would involve the State supplying jobs for individuals who could not find them in private enterprise.”

            Self evidently this would involve the State supplying jobs which private enterprise chose not to. A small change, but let’s put the emphasis where it belongs.

            “Do you believe such jobs should have some form of ‘incentive’ linking the right to a job in itself, or the quality of the job, to an individuals educational efforts?”

            No. They are two separate issues.

  2. Bill 2

    I don’t want to come across all cynical Anthony, but to tackle diseases of poverty, you have to tackle the root cause of poverty; not poverty.

    An illustrative example might be offered by considering Thomas Macaulay, who toured India in the 1800’s and found no evidence of poverty. Now sure, that situation was rectified fairly quickly by the British imposing market discipline on India and its industry.

    Now, I’m not saying that disease was absent in India in the 1800s, but I would suggest that all things being equal in terms of medical advances and understandings, that the ‘third world’ instances of the diseases mentioned in the post would be a smidgin of what they are today were it not for the gross misappropriation and misallocation of resources and services that we deliver to ourselves via Capitalism’s market mechanisms.

    The ‘third world’ is just a more stark reflection of what happens under systems that concentrate wealth, resources and various forms of access to all manner of things. More than that, the ‘third world’ offers a picture of what’s waiting down the track as Capitalists take back all the compromises they were pressured to agree to…various expressions of social welfare.

    No Western Social Democratic government is now going to block a return to the fucked up immiseration and inhumanity of the 1920s. Some may slow the descent somewhat.

    • Olwyn 2.1

      No Western Social Democratic government is now going to block a return to the fucked up immiseration and inhumanity of the 1920s. Some may slow the descent somewhat.

      I think that if the pattern you describe is left go unchecked for too long, the result could well be worse than in the 1920’s. In the 20’s more people lived in rural areas, and there was still a working class estate, if a deprived one. In comparison, the reintroduction of poverty after a period of rough equality leaves people abandoned.

      The influx of people into the cities was due to manufacturing, which is no longer there, while most of the service industry replacements pay badly and do not generate enough jobs to take up the slack. Moreover, there is not a square inch of land that would not be “worth more” if these people were uprooted from it. While we wait for corporate rule to fall prey to its own contradictions, we need to do what we can in the meantime to limit its destructiveness, even if we are not yet able to get to the real roots of poverty.

  3. Tracey 3

    Agree with Bill, we have to get to the root causes of poverty. Too often in NZ people are still arguing whether there is poverty or not. While that is the focus we will only have a few hard working, well meaning groups and people addressing the root causes but in a manner that would make Sisyphus smile. Note: my reference to Sisyphus is to the frustration of rolling a stone uphill only to have it drop down, and repeat…not to the notion that well meaning people addressing poverty are deceitful

  4. I don’t want to come across all cynical Anthony, but to tackle diseases of poverty, you have to tackle the root cause of poverty; not poverty.

    Yep. And the biggest factor in child poverty is single-parent parent families on benefits. Good luck to the government that tries to lower the proportion of kids growing up in those – if they even managed to come up with a way of doing it, it’s a safe bet that most organisations and individuals on the left would be vigorously opposed.

    • JanM 4.1

      And do you have the foggiest idea how so many of these families came to be single parent families? Think carefully, now ,and take in the bigger picture

      • Psycho Milt 4.1.1

        In what sense is how they came to be single-parent families relevant? Are you looking for a hook to hang value judgements on?

        • JanM 4.1.1.1

          Quite the reverse, but I sense that you may be

        • Well, you’re the person suggesting that governments need to find ways to lower the proportion of children growing up in one-parent households. Examining why this occurs is a fairly logical place to start.

          (And a fairly immediate reading of your comment, assuming that leftwing people will oppose any moves, suggests you think the “solutions” would be more socially conservative. In fact, the best way to help people not end up in solo-parent-beneficiary situations would be to make it easier for them to choose the timing and spacing of their children, through better sex education and access to contraception and abortion – issues normally, though not “naturally”, promoted by leftwing liberals.)

          • Psycho Milt 4.1.1.2.1

            Examining why this occurs is a fairly logical place to start.

            Well, sure. But the government should already have data on how one-parent families are created. My question was more to do with why JanM thinks I personally should be thinking about it. I’m commenting on a blog, not preparing a social policy proposal. The problem is the existence of such a high proportion – quibbling about why it’s so high wouldn’t get us anywhere.

            And a fairly immediate reading of your comment, assuming that leftwing people will oppose any moves, suggests you think the “solutions” would be more socially conservative.

            I base it on previous experience. At this and other left sites where I’ve had this discussion, the idea that children are better off raised by two parents in a stable, long-term relationship is generally greeted with dismay or outrage, depending on the degree of personal offence taken.

            • adam 4.1.1.2.1.1

              And Psycho MIlt shows himself to be the biggest loser on the Standard today. Sexist, hateful and repeated idiocy. Sheesh Milt I always thought you were a few short of a loaf, but today you just put the plastic bag on your head, and sucked.

            • JanM 4.1.1.2.1.2

              Perhaps I think you should be thinking about it because as a general rule it’s a good idea to know something about the subject you’re discussing – you appear to be content to let the ‘gummint’ do all the thinking for us – heaven help!

            • tracey 4.1.1.2.1.3

              “Family breakdown

              It is true to say that lone parents are at a higher risk of living in poverty than average but family breakdown again provides an inadequate explanation of poverty in the UK.
              In 2009/10, HBAI shows that 63 per cent of children in poverty lived in families with two parents.
              A recent study has also shown that marriage does not offer a solution to poverty. Instead, factors such as the lack of affordable childcare and flexible jobs offer more plausible reasons why many lone parent families struggle to make ends meet.”

              http://www.cpag.org.uk/content/child-poverty-myths

              Two parent, stable families dont stop child abuse, historically or currently. So your definition of “stable” might be more value based than you realised.

              You suggested that single parent on benefits is the “biggest factor” in poverty based on your experience it turns out. Perhaps that is why your call for the solution to be two-parent (one man and one woman?) and “stable” might have been challenged in other discussions? IF I accept your premise is correct, how do you redress it?

              • Two parent, stable families dont stop child abuse, historically or currently.

                Do you understand the concept of “more likely” vs “less likely?”

                • The Fairy Godmother

                  I think that we need to be more supportive and nurturing of relationships as a society than we are now. Currently WINZ actively discourages and penalises people who are in emerging relationships by cutting benefits and asuming the new partner will support the beneficiary before they are at the permanent relationship stage. So they are obliged to either split up or go too fast too soon. Back in the early 20th century so to speak, where no-one was meant to have sex until they married. Quite ridiculous and hypocritical if we believe that children are better off in a two parent family.

                • Olwyn

                  Why should causation not run the other way – why not “There are a lot of single parent families because there is a lot of poverty.” Poverty increases stress, subjects people to anxiety and humiliation on many fronts and generally puts their relationships under pressure.

                  • Karen

                    You are so right Olwyn. Rogernomics and Ruthanesia put huge stress on families.
                    There are many reasons for broken families. Violence, alcohol and drug abuse, physical and mental health problem and, as you say, poverty. Staying together “for the sake of the children” is not always
                    a good thing.

    • Tracey 4.2

      So, from where you sit, there is no point addressing poverty if the biggest factor (sources please) is single parents on benefits. You chide JanM about value judgments but surely looking at why children are in single parent families on benefits enables us to alleviate it as the problem you say it is for contribution to poverty?

      • Psycho Milt 4.2.1

        So, from where you sit, there is no point addressing poverty if the biggest factor (sources please) is single parents on benefits.

        Not so, and bugger the sources – I get sick of having to re-do this every time. Google’s your friend, have a look for yourself. Start with having a look at what features are most strongly correlated with long-term child deprivation.

        • tracey 4.2.1.1

          so, you state that single[parents on benefits are the biggest “factor” in poverty but then say that why we have single parents on benefits in such high numbers (according to you) is “quibbling” and “wouldn’t get us anywhere”. You seem to be suggesting therefore, that the solution is to find partners for the single parents and move them off benefits? Presto, a big dent in poverty? Will we have WINZ provide vetting for suitable partners? Will they have to marry, or is living together ok? Will the new partner have to have a job (although it isnt clear from your statements that joblessness is a big factor in poverty, so perhaps they won’t. And remove the benefit… I can see a small problem arising.

          • Psycho Milt 4.2.1.1.1

            You seem to be suggesting therefore, that the solution is to find partners for the single parents and move them off benefits?

            I don’t know what the solution is. I’d just prefer a bit of honesty about what the problem is.

            • tracey 4.2.1.1.1.1

              you ignore the data from the uk which shows 65% of kids in poverty come from two parent homes… so you are not being very honest about the problem either while purporting it is the biggest factor in poverty, this one parent family thing… when it is not the biggest factor at all.

              • UK data counts for shit – we don’t have their unemployment rate, and they don’t have our single-parent rate. Apart from which, for third-world diseases you need to look at chronic rather than transitory poverty, and two-parent families are more likely to be in transitory poverty than chronic (eg for a period of unemployment).

                In this country, we have 200,000 – 240,000 kids in poverty, depending on how you define it. We also have upwards of 100,000 single parents on SPS, so well over 100,000 kids involved. Just about everyone on SPS will fall under that higher poverty definition. We also know that being raised by a single-parent beneficiary is way more likely to put you in chronic rather than transitory poverty, and makes you way, way more likely to suffer stuff like neglect and abuse. It’s not hard to figure out.

                • Tracey

                  ok

                  we need kids in “two parent stable homes” to solve poverty.

                  how?

                  oh that’s right. you dont know. too busy making sure everyone knows thats the answer.

                  and how does that solve the problem of the poor in two parent stable homes?

                  • Being raised by a single-parent beneficiary is the biggest risk factor for a child when it comes to chronic deprivation. Reducing the number of children in that situation is not the same thing as “solving poverty,” and I haven’t made that claim for it. Would it kill you to respond to my actual comments, rather than the right-wing strawman you’re busy grappling with?

                    As to how you reduce it, the government pays people a shitload of money to tell it stuff like that. I’m not paid for this shit at all, but even i can see that you could reduce it by ensuring that full-time work is enough to live on, that heavily-subsidised childcare is available, that free contraception is not merely available but actively promoted to high-risk groups, that fathers are actively and relentlessly pursued for fulfilment of their responsibilities, and that there are heavy disincentives to staying on SPS long-term.

                    and how does that solve the problem of the poor in two parent stable homes?

                    I can’t solve 100% of child poverty in a single comment so I’m full of shit? Please…

                    • JanM

                      There you are, and it didn’t hurt a bit, did it? It’s only taken you 8 hours to stop railing and ranting and saying what you actually think should happen instead of having a go at everyone else and questioning their honesty.
                      Turns out most of us would probably agree with your suggested solutions, so what’s all the drama about. Did you vote for the party most likely to put all this in place?

                    • Turns out most of us would probably agree with your suggested solutions, so what’s all the drama about.

                      Well, quite. My sentiments exactly.

            • JanM 4.2.1.1.1.2

              Then start by defining the problem and being honest yourself – it’s no good just blathering on about single parent families (by the way I brought up two really cool sons as a solo parent. Both have education, jobs and steady relationships – so, for that matter, do the children of some of my other solo friends – it’s not that simple) and simplistically stating that the gummint must have data (???) on this subject. Does this mean you think it’s up to the gummint to fix it? If so, how, in your opinion?
              By the way, if the response continues to be ‘I don’t know’, I’m not sure why you’re even involved in this discussion

              • …by the way I brought up two really cool sons as a solo parent.

                Well, good for you, but your anecdote is irrelevant, and your determination to make value judgements about it is tiresome.

                Does this mean you think it’s up to the gummint to fix it? If so, how, in your opinion?

                Is there anyone with an opinion on this who doesn’t think it’s up to the government to fix it? Even the right-wingers believe that (albeit, in the sense that they’d like the government to take the action of removing the welfare system). In terms of how it might do that, I’m just an asshole with an opinion, but it seems to me the government could do a lot to make sure that full-time work pays better than a benefit, that facilities are in place to enable single parents to earn a living, and that there are very strong disincentives to remaining on SPS long-term.

                • Tracey

                  why is her experience irrelevant but your experience that concludes the answer is two parent stable hones is not?

                  • “I base it on previous experience” was a response to Stephanie querying the basis for my assumption that leftists would be opposed to what I’m saying (an assumption amply borne out by this thread, as it happens). You misread the comment.

                    Her experience is irrelevant in the sense that any particular anecdote is irrelevant when discussing “more likely” vs “less likely” across large numbers of people. If I were providing similar anecdotes, they’d be equally irrelevant.

                • miravox

                  but your anecdote is irrelevant

                  Anecdotes are not irrelevant. Especially if you get lots of them. They could be the very things needed to start investigating why some kids of sole parents do well and others do not (all other things being equal).

            • greywarshark 4.2.1.1.1.3

              PM
              You ask for the truth and honesty. You have been told and you can’t handle the truth so don’t pontificate on about it. You don’t want to know better, and we aren’t going to tell lies or say we know the guaranteed answer. We have said what will help, but you reject that.

    • Karen 4.3

      Here’s a few suggestions for reducing the rates of child poverty (but I suspect Psycho Milt will not like them). Increase benefit rates, build more state houses, increase the minimum wage, strengthen the role of unions in the workplace, provide more affordable quality child care and reinstate the Training Incentive Allowance to make tertiary study affordable for beneficiaries.

      • Tracey 4.3.1

        a good place to start Karen, and why not try it to see if it will work… all those health and crime related savings too…

        • Karen 4.3.1.1

          Yep – savings in the areas of health and justice expenditure and a big injection of money into the NZ economy.

      • Psycho Milt 4.3.2

        Psycho Milt likes all of them except “increase benefit rates.” Increasing benefits is likely to increase the number of workless families, not reduce it.

        • Karen 4.3.2.1

          If you don’t increase benefit rates you will not get rid of poverty. Children growing in poverty suffer problems with health and education, and reduce their chances of getting out of poverty when they grow up.

          You seem to have accepted ACT member Lindsay Mitchell’s thesis that the growth in families led by single parents is because DPB is too attractive a deal to refuse. I have known many solo parents and I can assure you that the reason they are solo parents is not because they want to live on DPB.

          The thing is that life on DPB is a struggle, as is bringing up children on your own. Finding jobs that allow you time off during the school holidays and whenever one of your kids is sick are almost impossible to find. There aren’t enough jobs for people without these problems, so I would rather solo parents were not pressured into work. I would rather they were encouraged to get qualifications that would help them get a well paid job when their circumstances allowed it.

          • tracey 4.3.2.1.1

            Paula Bennett was state assisted on the DPB, her training was paid for and now she is a Minister… oh wait a moment

            • Murray Rawshark 4.3.2.1.1.1

              That’s the solution right there. All solo parents should join NAct and become ministers. It would only need to happen about three times to get rid of benefits altogether. Wouldn’t do much for poverty, though.

          • Psycho Milt 4.3.2.1.2

            You seem to have accepted ACT member Lindsay Mitchell’s thesis that the growth in families led by single parents is because DPB is too attractive a deal to refuse.

            I’d put it more like I have accepted that research shows that increasing benefits increases the number of workless families. I do think Lindsay has a point when she refers to the financial difference between Sole Parent Support and a minimum-wage job as a factor in why there are so many sole parents, but that’s not the same thing as imagining SPS is “attractive,” and it leaves open the question of why minimum-wage jobs pay so poorly.

            The thing is that life on DPB is a struggle, as is bringing up children on your own.

            Yes, which is irrelevant to any of my comments, but it does mean we should be finding ways to see that fewer people find themselves in that situation.

        • tracey 4.3.2.2

          Can you direct me to three countries where increasing the benefit to say, 80% of the average wage increased the number of jobless families?

          • Naturesong 4.3.2.2.1

            Hell, I’d settle for just one.

            On a related note, if you give the homeless a place to live, do they become productive and engaged members of society, or do they decide they don’t need to work now they have a home?

            Who knows?

            Or if you give people a guaranteed basic income, do they suddenly decide to quit working, or does it result in greater employment, lower heath costs and higher levels of education?

            • Colonial Rawshark 4.3.2.2.1.1

              You have to have faith in people. Do people want to improve their lives, get on with personal projects or activities, or just subsist, existing in barely tolerable circumstances?

              • My point being that a UBI (done properly) results in lower health care costsw, higher education outcomes, greater choices in employment and a raft of other positives.

                It does however make those jobs that involve back breaking work for a pittance less attractive – cleaners may have to be paid enough for them to have a life on a 40 hour working week!!!

          • Colonial Rawshark 4.3.2.2.2

            Can you direct me to three countries where increasing the benefit to say, 80% of the average wage increased the number of jobless families?

            I would be against a benefit or UBI set at 80% of the average wage. It is too high. In NZ the average wage is roughly $50K pa.

            • Psycho Milt 4.3.2.2.2.1

              Sure, increasing the benefit to 80% of the average wage would fix the problem in a lot of cases. However, it’s a crap solution. To see why, consider unemployment. Suppose we get a large number of people unemployed – raising the unemployment benefit to 80% of the average wage would certainly help the unemployed people, but it’s a much less sensible idea than reducing unemployment by getting people into productive work that pays enough to live on.

        • greywarshark 4.3.2.3

          PostModern
          Your comment reeks with the idea that RW love that it’s a sure thing that if benefit rates are increased, everyone will either stop applying for jobs cleaning soot out of chimneys or cleaner, getting up at 3am to catch the bus to get to the office cleaning job and you may be right. They might demonstrate a wee bit of choice and turn down these attractive offers. But they won’t down tools on a decent job and sit around playing guitars and smoking weed or maybe quaffing home brew. And making more children. Those people wouldn’t have held down a job anyway.
          There are dropouts, but not in the exaggerated numbers you propound.

          • tracey 4.3.2.3.1

            thats why everyone retires at 65… cos 65% of average wage is shit hot

            • Colonial Rawshark 4.3.2.3.1.1

              That would be approx $32K pa. But I think NZ Super is somewhat less than that.

              • Karen

                You’re right CV, it is less than that.

                NZ super for a married/defacto couple is $29,355pa and for a single person living on their own it is $19,080. For a couple the rate is base on 65% of the average wage after standard tax has been deducted, while the single rate is 65% of the married rate.
                The rate for a couple is close to the minimum wage for a 40 hour week .

  5. Draco T Bastard 5

    So it turns out that there are no quick fixes to diseases of poverty. To tackle them, you need to tackle the cause – poverty itself.

    Correct except for one point – you’re mis-identifying the cause which is capitalism. Capitalism causes poverty and thus causes the preponderance of poverty related diseases that we see.

    • We know this because poverty never existed in non-capitalist societies, right?

      • Draco T Bastard 5.1.1

        To a degree, that is actually correct. The Australian aborigines would not have described themselves as being in or having poverty before the English arrived with capitalism and forced them into it.

    • Harriet 5.2

      “…….Capitalism causes poverty and thus causes the preponderance of poverty related diseases that we see…..”

      LOL.

      Socialism has people waiting for bread. Capitalism has bread waiting for people.

      Just go to your local supermarket and look at the amount of people NOT lining up for bread — and the amount of bread on the shelves.

      Or you could simply go to Veneuzala.

      • Draco T Bastard 5.2.1

        Socialism has people waiting for bread. Capitalism has bread waiting for people.

        You should probably get more before opening up your mouth and proving your ignorance.

        Socialism is a patina of niceness painted over capitalism.

        Just go to your local supermarket and look at the amount of people NOT lining up for bread

        People without any money to buy bread obviously won’t be lining to buy any. This is the effect of market principles and capitalism – it actually limits what people can buy by limiting the amount of money that they have.

        So it’s not that capitalism produces enough but that it limits the demand.

        Or you could simply go to Veneuzala.

        Venezuela is still capitalist.

        • Harriet 5.2.1.1

          “…Venezuela is still capitalist….”

          Then why did the Catholic Bishops of Venezuela – of all people – write to the Pope just LAST WEEK condemming socialism in Venezuela?

          “…..People without any money to buy bread obviously won’t be lining to buy any. This is the effect of market principles and capitalism – it actually limits what people can buy by limiting the amount of money that they have. …”

          Capitalism doesn’t limit people from earning money. Regulation of labour does – just ask any young worker at Maccas or Woolworths if they are allowed to work 12-14hrs a day 6 days a week. They arn’t.

          Little needs to propose a labour law where current workers are allowed to work more hours before others are employed. It is very safe to work 14hrs a day 6 days a week in most nz work places.

          {i’m a chef by trade and used to work up to 70hrs a week during my apprentiship. I now live in aussie, last month a noted chef in Brisbane stated that most apprentices are now very lucky to get 50hrs. I banked a lot of money as an apprentice. I’d doubt very much that apprentices today do.

          • Colonial Rawshark 5.2.1.1.1

            Harriet.

            Venezuela, like Russia, is under attack from western financial institutions. The aim is to cripple the country, overthrow the government, and put in place dictatorships which will allow western corporations easy and cheap access to the natural resources those nations have.

            This is what western “capitalism” has now become. A variation of rape and pillage, just done by the financial markets.

            Capitalism doesn’t limit people from earning money. Regulation of labour does – just ask any young worker at Maccas or Woolworths if they are allowed to work 12-14hrs a day 6 days a week. They arn’t.

            In ancient parlance, you’re a wage slave driver, a member of the overseer class, someone who has no concept of work/life balance apart from for yourself and those others in a position of privilege.

            • framu 5.2.1.1.1.1

              also – though harriet couldnt be arsed with a link – they are going right back to when chavez took power with their complaint.

              Whether your a chavez fan or not, I think that adds a slightly different nuance to the issue

          • framu 5.2.1.1.2

            so your saying that socialism has created NZs low wage economy?

            this is going to be fun

            i think your full of it anyway

            so harriet – back your self up – prove your assertion that there are laws dictating max hours of work for income reasons in NZ.

            there might be max limits in some industries – but these will be for quite bloody obvious health and safety reasons

            ” It is very safe to work 14hrs a day 6 days a week in most nz work places.”

            why stop there? – lets bring back child labour

            • greywarshark 5.2.1.1.2.1

              I think Harriet and Psycho Melt should marry – they seem so well matched they might have set this discussion up to be together. Lovebirds or all in the family perhaps.

              • Colonial Rawshark

                I quite like PM, actually, even though I find their arguments and politics occasionally off beam.

          • Tracey 5.2.1.1.3

            how bizarre harriet cos your proposal will increase unemployment. Why not 35 hour weeks, 5 weeks holiday, living wage and watch productivity and employment grow?

            • Colonial Rawshark 5.2.1.1.3.1

              Apply penalty rates 1.5x or 2.0x after 40 hours to encourage employers to take on more people, not just use the same people for 60 or 70 or 80 hours a week like wage slave drivers.

              • Tracey

                but how will Harriet get richer from your plan??????

                • Colonial Rawshark

                  Yep. The overseer class. There are always those citizens willing to play that role for the Power Elite, screwing fellow Kiwis in return for minor favours and privileges.

                  • tracey

                    i wonder when carrick graham last did a genuine 80 hour week… after you take out brekkie lunch dinner and cocktail meetings… In my experience in law and business those claiming to work long hours waste a fuckofalot of those claimed hours on gossiping and social arrangements, gym pool etc. another myth

                  • greywarshark

                    Yep the minor favours you receive as overseers are better than the ones in the under-the-overseer class like say…miners.

              • greywarshark

                Hey CR that’s a great idea. Didn’t they used to do that once back in the past century when there were jobs and we had a life at the end of the working day (not night).

          • Draco T Bastard 5.2.1.1.4

            Capitalism doesn’t limit people from earning money.

            Yes, actually, it does. Only a few people get to be rich and the rest constantly lose out. That’s why we’re seeing increasing poverty here in NZ and in every other country that has followed similar policies.

            Little needs to propose a labour law where current workers are allowed to work more hours before others are employed.

            And thus create even more unemployment driving wages down even further and driving up the need to work even longer to earn a living. We already have zero hours contracts and insecure work because of such policies.

            It is very safe to work 14hrs a day 6 days a week in most nz work places.

            No it’s not. That will get people killed very, very rapidly.

            And I’m speaking there as a manager. People who constantly work that long inevitably end having NFI WTF they’re doing. They’re a danger to both themselves and other people.

          • BassGuy 5.2.1.1.5

            I’m so glad you said that “It is very safe to work 14hrs a day 6 days a week,” because I did so a couple of years ago, for three months.

            My body has yet to recover completely from it. My wrist still clicks and creaks, from holding a mouse for a 12 hour day. My ribs and back cramped up from sitting in the same chair,for the whole day. It still aches if I sit for more than a couple of hours now. If I sleep funny for one night, my neck locks up. If I sleep funny for a couple of nights in a row, my neck starts to burn and ache.

            The funny thing about 12-14 hour days is that you tend to get stuck in a limited number of positions, and the human body did not evolve to such a specification.

            After I left that job, I got another where I sometimes end up standing in a small circle for up to 7 or 8 hours a day sometimes (more normally 4 or 5 hours). Your feet, ankles, and your back don’t recover from that for a few days.

            It’s really not worth the minimum wage they offer (when they offer to pay you for the overtime).

          • adam 5.2.1.1.6

            Wow – The ideological claptrap is just oozing from the idiots of free market liberalism today.

            Where to begin – Harriet, you’re so ideological Stalin want’s your cell number. Harriet, I can smell the uranium or is that the stench of self righteousness – from here.

            When will you lap dogs of the bat shit crazy right actually offer a reasoned discussion? Or is it business as usual, the battery of hate full dren? I mean is it wilful blindness, or are you really that stupid?

          • Murray Rawshark 5.2.1.1.7

            “Then why did the Catholic Bishops of Venezuela – of all people – write to the Pope just LAST WEEK condemming socialism in Venezuela?”

            Because most of the South American bishops are in bed with the large landowners and are an extremely reactionary force in society. They are like a mixture of Jamie Whyte Power and John Ansell, in fancy dress.

      • framu 5.2.2

        “Just go to your local supermarket and look at the amount of people NOT lining up for bread — and the amount of bread on the shelves.”

        the queues are at the food bank harriet

        your victorian-esque work house view of people is really quite repugnant

      • Paul 5.2.3

        OK that’s three nonsensical arguments made here, finished off with the ridiculous ‘go to Venezuela.’

        Educate yourself.
        Then express an opinion.

        http://tvnz.co.nz/nigel-latta/s1-ep4-video-6025283
        http://www.tv3.co.nz/INSIDE-NEW-ZEALAND-Mind-The-Gap/tabid/3692/articleID/94816/Default.aspx

      • Chch_Chiquita 5.2.4

        Hmmmm… I can think of two examples – Russia and Poland in the good old days of communism, where in the first people had the money to buy but not the bread (hence the lines) and in the other there was the bread but people did not have the money to buy. So I’m not so sure how these will fit into your one dimensional view of economics.

        Do we really need these definitions? Who cares if it’s called socialism or capitalism or any other ism. What we need to do is try to find a way that takes good ideas and solutions from any economic thought we know, mix them all together and come up with a system that gives as many of us the ability to live a decent life.

      • greywarshark 5.2.5

        Hairnet
        Which cereal box have you been reading. I think the stuff is giving you a sugar high.

  6. Skinny 6

    There will come a point when the inequality gap will tigger a rebellion where mass rioting will occur. Nature taking it’s course I guess you could say. I am picking it will start in America and sprend across the Western World rapidly. The Yanks have been gearing up for civil unrest for sometime now. The wealthy will be fair game and suffer the backlash to neo-capitalism. stonings, clubbing, beaten to death. Bankers will be dragged outside and publicly flogged, with the cops standing by watching, quite easy to see these sorts of things happening.

    • Colonial Rawshark 6.1

      The Yanks have been gearing up for civil unrest for sometime now.

      Yep. And how did London city respond to reports that increasing inequality might lead to more social unrest and riots in the future?

      They bought 2 water cannons.

      • phillip ure 6.1.1

        “..The Yanks have been gearing up for civil unrest for sometime now..”

        ..as have we here..remember when those military vehicles..were bought..?

        ..withe ‘experts’ grumbling they were utterly useless for the jungle/desert-fighting they might expect..

        ..but they are utterly brilliant for zapping up and down the desert rd..

        ..and quelling civil-unrest here/in a place like nz…

        ..which is the real reason they were purchased..

      • indiana 6.1.2

        it was kinda ironic that the rioters were looting high end electronic goods not food though…

        • greywarshark 6.1.2.1

          The psychology would be quite simple indiana, food they can make do with a crust at a time but a beautiful piece of complex technology they might never get a chance at again. When you have little to lose, and much to gain, seizing the opportunity to steal something is a big upward step in lifestyle.

          Diamonds on the soles of her shoes gives the feeling.
          He’s a poor boy
          Empty as a pocket
          Empty as a pocket with nothing to lose
          Sing Ta na na
          Ta na na na

        • Lanthanide 6.1.2.2

          The intention may have been to sell them off cheap at 1/3 to 1/2 the retail price online – plenty of takers. Then use that money to buy a lot more food than they could carry by looting.

          • Murray Rawshark 6.1.2.2.1

            Yep. Food spoils, even if you do loot heaps of it. Much better to take high price items and sell them. They don’t spoil, and you end up with a lot more food.

    • Paul 6.2

      BBC ‘The Superrich and us’ .
      New documentary this year.

      Saw this yesterday.
      Britain is totally stuffed now.

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b04xw2x8/the-superrich-and-us-episode-1

      Probably on youtube.
      Well worth a watch.

      Warning ..this will anger you.
      If you are Harriet, you may simply aspire to being one of these filthy rich who are destroying our societies and the planet.

    • Ross 6.3

      Some wit recently summed up the world situation this way: 100 people sit down to a pizza cut into 100 slices. One guy takes 80. If this was a real room full of real people how would this situation play out? The greedy bugger would be, well, buggered. It takes a little longer for things to work themselves out on a global level, but they do work themselves out. I fear, Skinny, that you are spot on. Sad eh?

  7. Tracey 7

    I have been reading about trying to get tot he bottom of how to deal with the root causes of poverty. Not easy. In my reading travels I came across this article by peter Singer, which was a response to Andrew Kuper responding/analysing his article on poverty.

    In particular it looks at charity as a means of alleviating poverty.

    http://www.utilitarian.net/singer/by/2002—-.pdf

    • Bill 7.1

      Alleviating poverty implies accepting and leaving in tact the basic mechanism(s) that create poverty in the first place – capitalism. Rather than alleviating it, why not make it impossible? Easy to do. Abolish the market as a means of distribution while, if you value political freedom, refuse to participate in the creation of a command economy that some ‘well meaning’ types will doubtless insist on establishing.

      • Tracey 7.1.1

        it doesn’t imply anything of the sort. reducing poverty can be done a number of ways, including changing the ideological system of a society, if that is a cause of the poverty. Everything you just suggested alleviates poverty.

        Had you read the article you would know both authors agree that neo liberalsim has failed the poor and helped create them.

        • Colonial Rawshark 7.1.1.1

          Let’s eliminate poverty.

          Let’s give every Kiwi ways and means of living dignified, fulfilling lives, without people having to scrape at the feet of big financiers and distant big bosses.

          • Tracey 7.1.1.1.1

            lets quibble about what word to use when we all know that we three want to get rid of poverty.

            😉

        • Bill 7.1.1.2

          Yeah, nah. Poverty only exists where distribution of resources and wealth (however you want to measure that) can concentrate. Capitalism, whether a more or less neo-liberal version, does that. Always. Poverty is the one thing that capitalism always produces in abundance.

          Now, you want a market system where poverty is less? Fine. That’s do-able and can be done via some mix of regulation, taxes and welfare (state and private), plus, probably, a couple of other things that aren’t crossing my mind right now.

          And at the end of the day there will still be poverty…alleviated for sure, and a scenario that many people find to be quite acceptable.

  8. Michael 8

    A good way to reduce poverty is by giving people enough money so they’re not in poverty. Shocking, I know. Too good to be true, I know.

    The only reason poverty is higher now than 30 years ago is because of benefit cuts and low wages. That’s the only reason.

    We can get rid of poverty by raising benefits above the poverty line and raising the minimum wage.

    • Ross 8.1

      My stock comment is: Tax the rich. This can be achieved in any number of ways: paying more would be one solution. Someone recently suggested a higher tax free threshold. The base idea is the same as you suggest – pay more to the poor and then they won’t be poor any more. Somehow this solution – and you are right, it is the only solution – seems too complex for people to comprehend. There is no discussion to be had here. It’s not about laziness or single parents or bludgers or what is poverty really or any other form of shagging about with definitions. Tax the rich.

      Oh, but the rich pay so much already. I can already here the apologists. But to tax is a form of distress. And the distress caused by 10.5% tax for someone earning a few hundred bucks a week is significantly more than the distress caused by 33% tax for someone earning a few thousand. Tax all the same, proportionate amount of distress and we may just find that there is no distress at all.

      • Colonial Rawshark 8.1.1

        Also worth remembering that government does not need to use taxes to raise revenue. It can issue NZD by spending them into existence.

        • Lanthanide 8.1.1.1

          “It can issue NZD by spending them into existence.”

          If it doesn’t care at all what other countries (that it relies on for trade) think.

          • Colonial Rawshark 8.1.1.1.1

            Now that’s a very interesting point to consider!

            • Ross 8.1.1.1.1.1

              CR, could the NZ gummint print dollars to fund tertiary education that will educate a new generation who will pour their knowledge, expertise and energy back into the country (instead of fleeing to escape the onerous debt they incur at present)? I am not familiar with the mechanism. Can the spending be that targeted? And if so (indirectly back at Lanthanide) how does that upset our trading partners? And if not, it’s still a bloody good point to consider. The trading partners who would get upset, I imagine, are the very ones that have rooted the global economy and who refuse to admit that what they get upset about is protecting the 1% and no one else.

              • Colonial Rawshark

                I’ll be controversial and say that we need fewer people going into university, and that the balance of what is taught at university needs to change.

                But back to your questions.

                1) You could keep that new talent in NZ simply by giving them suitable local jobs and writing off an extra $100 off their student loan per month simply by staying in the country. (Plus hiking up the interest rate on students who leave our shores…). No money printing required.

                2) Yes, spending can be exactly targeted, because the spending would go through the government’s normal annual budgetary and oversight processes.

                3) The mechanism of government “money printing” would not involve any actual “printing.” There are many potentially complex and convoluted ways of doing it but a simple one would be: the Reserve Bank enters $100M into its own account by using a keyboard. It deposits that $100M into the Government’s Westpac operating account. The Government then spends that $100M on teachers salaries, new state houses, new NZ made boots for the Army. That $100M which was created by the RB is now in general circulation in the economy.

                4) Three sets of peeps could potentially get upset with us. a) trading partners. Printing NZD would tend to weaken the NZD, making our exports more competitive and our imports from them less competitive. b) major holders of NZD. As the value of the NZD could potentially weaken against other currencies. c) This is the big one. Big International and Banking Capital. They do not like any Sovereign Government becoming more independent of them in terms of funding. Their expectation is that the NZ Govt continues to use the international wholesale debt markets in order to fund any deficit spending ie so they can continue to take their cut.

                NB increased inflation from printing money is only a concern if your industries or work force are already close to full utilisation. Or if the new money is not invested in productive economic activities but merely used to speculate on assets/consume. Or if the money is poured into some part of the economy with limited competition and little opportunity for new entrants.

                In those kinds of cases, of course prices will inflate.

                • Colonial Rawshark

                  Note, upsetting big international capital is a big risk as they can take immediate and detrimental action against a sovereign nation.

                  They are inter-related and include

                  1) Capital flight.
                  2) Crashing the currency (making everything imported from petrol to medicines to consumer goods we do not produce ourselves much more expensive).
                  3) Hiking up our borrowing/debt servicing costs.
                  4) Pushing the nation into default, unable to access foreign goods or foreign financial markets.

                  These are exactly what they are doing to Russia and Venezuela at the moment. Argentina is (again) also not far behind.

                  It should be clear that the global money men rule nations, not the nations themselves.

                • Ross

                  So, it is the people who have rooted the global economy that will get upset (ie, Big International and Banking Capital). Plus trading partners whose beef is that it improves our competitiveness, and anyone with large NZD holdings. So in all cases, you know, fuck them. The only mystery remaining for me CR, is why this isn’t being promoted as a strategy.

                  And ps. agreed about the university students and what they’re taught. Also your solution to student debt. Brilliant.

                  • Colonial Rawshark

                    The only mystery remaining for me CR, is why this isn’t being promoted as a strategy.

                    Now that’s a good question. One part of it is that the MSM drowns out/sidelines/black lists anyone who does not repeat the orthodox neoclassical or bank economist lines.

                    Even when Russel Norman talked about printing money last year, the establishment lampooned him and he backed down real quick. (The establishment neatly and effectively limits the acceptable bounds of economic discussion in this country).

                    Another part of it is that most NZ MPs are utterly ignorant of these matters and dependent on advice from the orthodoxy at Treasury and the NZRB. (In contrast you can go on to youtube and search for the recent debate on money creation in the UK House of Commons).

          • Colonial Rawshark 8.1.1.1.2

            What I find very interesting is how certain countries can “get away with it” (China, Japan, UK, EU, US, even Switzerland) while others cannot – or do not seem to want to try.

            Are there some other rules at play here that we plebs don’t know about.

          • Draco T Bastard 8.1.1.1.3

            Why should we care what other countries think of that? It’ll just reflect in the exchange rate – exactly how it’s supposed to work in fact.

  9. indiana 9

    “A good way to reduce poverty is by giving people enough money”

    uhhh, shouldn’t people look to EARN money not wait for people to GIVE it to them? I’m sure i have been described as a nasty right winger, but even left minded people like Andrew Little understand that people should not wait around for a handout when they are capable of earning it themselves.

    • Tracey 9.1

      so if every person on a benefit rocked up to WINZ offices in the next month looking for jobs they could get one? Great news Indiana. thats sorted then.

      and those physically or mentally unable should be grateful for subsistence until we discover cures to their afflictions. i know heaps awaiting the cures for ms and cp.

    • Olwyn 9.2

      Michael’s comment did not specify how money is to be given, but cited raising benefits above the poverty line and raising the minimum wage. He could easily have added maintaining a policy of full employment to the mix, in which case far less people would be on benefits being “given money.”

      But how about this, can you justify employing anyone for the time that it takes to earn a living, while not paying them an amount that would add up to a living? Isn’t that being “given” someone’s labour? And if you own rental houses that must be propped up by a supplement, due to the too-low wages, isn’t it you who is being “given money”?

      • Tracey 9.2.1

        +1

      • Draco T Bastard 9.2.2

        +11111

        But how about this, can you justify employing anyone for the time that it takes to earn a living, while not paying them an amount that would add up to a living? Isn’t that being “given” someone’s labour? And if you own rental houses that must be propped up by a supplement, due to the too-low wages, isn’t it you who is being “given money”?

        The subsidies that the rich receive from the rest of us are absolutely fucken massive and need to be reduced ASAP.

    • greywarshark 9.3

      indiana
      You sound like Harriet’s sister or brother. Sound in teens or twenties. Same RW nonchalance. Let them eat cake approach.

  10. Ad 10

    The Prime Minister will not admit to poverty being an issue.

    On the left it’s preaching to the converted, heading into 2017.
    Can’t see how this issue will gain greater MSM profile (too unglamorous) or public profile (too embarrassing) than it already has.

    • Colonial Rawshark 10.1

      Well, must be time to let poverty slide and get Labour to focus on something more glamorous and less embarrassing then.

      Something that John Key will admit to being an issue.

      Perhaps Little should put forward a design for the new flag and show the NZ middle class that Labour still has what it takes to be a middle class party?

    • Ross 10.2

      Ad, has Labour actually tried pushing this as an issue?

      • Colonial Rawshark 10.2.1

        I’m waiting for the day Labour says benefit rates have not kept up with expenses, and like wages are too low to live on.

        Not going to happen.

  11. Pete George 11

    Stuff reports that Beneficiary numbers fall again: Government – quoting a media release from Social Development Minister Anne Tolley.

    They also quote Labour’s Carmel Sepuloni claiming “no evidence” there are “more people in sufficient paid employment”, and “you see increasing numbers of people who are out on the street begging” – but she provides no evidence.

    Tolley’s media release:

    BENEFIT FIGURES CONTINUE STRONG DECLINE

    Social Development Minister Anne Tolley welcomes today’s release of benefit figures which show year-on-year benefit numbers continue to track downwards.

    Key numbers:

    • 309,145 people on benefit at the end of the December 2014 quarter
    • 12,700 fewer people than last year
    • The lowest December quarter since 2008 and the third consecutive quarter (June, September, December) with such record lows
    • Numbers on the Jobseeker Support benefit have decreased by over 5,500 since last year and have been consistently declining since 2010, even as the overall working age population has increased.
    • 5,300 fewer people on the Sole Parent Support benefit compared to last year, a drop of 6.8 per cent

    Tolley concludes:

    “This Government’s welfare reforms are continuing to support New Zealanders into work. The reductions we’re now seeing will mean fewer people on benefit in the years to come which means we’re going to see healthier, more prosperous households.” Mrs Tolley says.

    The Government sees getting people off benefits and into paid work as one of the best ways of reducing poverty.

    Percentage of working age population on main benefits:

    • December 2009 – 13.0%
    • December 2013 – 11.8%
    • December 2014 – 11.2%

    One of the most significant reasons for children in hardship/poverty is sole parents on benefits.

    A lack of jobs is an obvious issue, but the job market is growing. Low wage levels for many is also an issue.

    There is also a lack of suitable job skills and qualifications amongst the unemployed and sole parents, they tend to be under-educated and unskilled.

    There are a number of Government initiated programmes aimed at improving employable skills but it is challenging motivating, educating and upskilling those remaining on benefits.

    Source: http://www.msd.govt.nz/about-msd-and-our-work/publications-resources/statistics/benefit/post-sep-2013/all-main-benefits/december-2014-quarter.html

    • So, the economy’s finally recovering from the recession, and unsurprisingly the proportion of the working population on benefits is going back down. If this keeps up it will be all the way down to, ooh, let’s see, maybe even as low as it was when Labour was in office – I believe it was down to 10% at one point.

      The Government sees getting people off benefits and into paid work as one of the best ways of reducing poverty.

      If they really did think that, they’d have a focus on creating jobs, and they wouldn’t be helping employers drive down pay and conditions. Their actions speak a hell of a lot louder than their words, and their actions say they don’t give a shit about poverty and are, if anything, hard at work exacerbating it rather than reducing it.

    • weka 11.2

      One of the most significant reasons for children in hardship/poverty is sole parents on benefits.

      A lack of jobs is an obvious issue, but the job market is growing. Low wage levels for many is also an issue.

      Fuck off Pete. Low benefit rates cause child poverty. Solo parents already have a job. Forcing them into low paid, part time work where they get penalised by secondary tax and WINZ abatement rates doesn’t improve the lives of their children. Likewise forcing them into training programmes.

      So I see you are a Bennett apologist now too 🙄

  12. National has made its move. It was to do nothing.

    Sad, but true.

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