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Poverty begets poverty

Written By: - Date published: 11:56 am, January 18th, 2012 - 101 comments
Categories: poverty - Tags:

A good article in the Herald today, not letting the Nats attempt at censorship of the issue of Child Poverty get in their way!

The vital passage:

A long-term study of 1265 children born in Christchurch in 1977 has found that those whose families were poor in their first 10 years of life earned about $20,000 a year less by the age of 30 than those who grew up in rich families.

Those from poor families were more likely to leave school without qualifications, have babies before they were 20, commit crimes, go on welfare and have addiction and other mental health problems in adulthood.

study director Professor David Fergusson said the effects of childhood income on later educational and career achievement persisted even after allowing for all other factors.

The Nats might not like to acknowledge it, but this is an issue that needs a great deal of focus – even (especially!) during election time.  We need some solutions to a problem that’s dragging our country down.

 

 

101 comments on “Poverty begets poverty”

  1. Tom Gould 1

    “Equity of outcome”? Please explain. Someone?

    • McFlock 1.1

      what’s the context – can’t see it anywhere.
        
      Although it would seem to involve outcomes (e.g. quality and length of life, physical or psychological morbidity) that are fair (or equal or impartial, depending on context).
        

    • I use the phrase as a counter to the Nats’ “equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome” line.  That is a phrase that Nikki Kaye for instance uses all the time.
       
      Their line essentially says that there can be winners and losers.  The concept of “equity of outcome” suggests to me there should be some minimum standards required so everyone has enough.  It does not require complete equality but a reasonable distribution of income and resources.

      • Right. Besides, to some degree inequality of outcome is an indicator of inequality of opportunity- for instance, if people of different demographics really do have functionally equal opportunity, you’d expect the differences in poverty rates between those demographics to be statistically negligible. As that’s not the case, we have a very strong indicator that people who fall into privileged groups in our society really do have more and better opportunities, which isn’t very democratic.

        Now, if said inequality actually made everyone better off, I don’t think we’d have a problem with it. But it doesn’t- it just seems to enrich the already wealthy, as seen by our ballooning wealth disparities all around the world.

        There is a systemic problem here, and it’s happening in all capitalist economies. Likely it’s our attempts to mix familial policies with capitalist ones (inheritance, treating kids as individual charges not community ones, etc…) that are driving a lot of this problem- that doesn’t mean these are bad things to do, just that they do not mix well with capitalism if you want everyone to get a fair go.

  2. John D 2

    Maybe school zoning has something to do with this problem. Those that can afford to live in good school zones send their kids to good schools, etc.

    • McFlock 2.1

      But that only has an effect if there are “good” and “less good” state schools. And that’s mostly a funding issue – resources, class sizes and how much the school can cream off its parents through “voluntary” contributions.

      • John D 2.1.1

        Yes agreed. There is some ghettoisation in society. How do you reduce that?
        I don’t think just throwing money at things is the solution

        • McFlock 2.1.1.1

          Well if we’re going to reduce things to absurd simplicity, throwing money at poor people solves poverty if you throw enough of it. By definition it cures their poverty (or if you throw too many sacks of coins it kills them – but they won’t die poor).
           
            
          But then if you don’t want to be simplistic, it still needs money – social workers, benefits, law enforcement, education, infrastructure, civic development, business development units, investors. It all needs money.

          • Matthew Whitehead 2.1.1.1.1

            Well, perhaps it cures their poverty. This is going to sound similar to some beneficiary-bashing stuff, but I don’t mean it to demonise the poor, I mean it to say that the problem isn’t quite that simple to solve. In some ways poverty is actually quite similar to coping with mental illness.

            You have to remember that part of what causes poverty is that it creates perverse incentives that perpetuate it. (hence the comparison) For instance you can’t afford healthy food, so you buy whatever’s cheapest, which is often junk food from large corporations that leaves you not much better off than before you ate or drank it, which can make it hard to concentrate because your body isn’t getting what it needs, which makes it hard to stay calm or make good decisions, which might mean you miss opportunities to improve your life in all sorts of subtle ways.

            Even if we directly redistribute wealth with an aim to reduce poverty, these reinforcing behaviors don’t instantly go away- much like when someone wins the lotto, it depends on their outlook whether they’ll blow the money in a couple of years, or use it carefully and wisely. We’d certainly bump a lot of people directly out of poverty, but some would need a different kind of help, because, to use my earlier example, they’d still think that Coke is what you drink, and junk food is what you eat.

            Many of the things you listed couch that investment in a secondary force that helps break poverty-reinforcing behavior- education and infrastructure being the key examples, but sometimes social workers, benefits, and law enforcement can be very helpful, too. I don’t really have much faith in business or investors to do anything about poverty unless they’re getting tax incentives to do it, and even then they’ll try to cut corners.

            • McFlock 2.1.1.1.1.1

              Yeah, it’s a complicated issue with long term factors and feedback loops. But arguing “it won’t help just to throw money at the problem” is a simplistic way of dodging an ethical responsibility to help other people.

              • Indeed not. We need to throw time at the problem, which is much more difficult, but this problem is by far one of the most important issues of our society.

                • Olwyn

                  Something which gets lost when a bunch of middle class people talk about poverty is that a full citizen ought to be able to speak for themselves. Poverty is not the same as mental illness, unless that mental illness is some sort of permanent stress disorder. But poverty often means exclusion from the broader conversation as a serious interlocutor, so being deprived of the chance to speak for oneself.

                  I read an article light years ago, too long ago to cite, in which someone explored claims about poor people not stimulating their children with books and talk etc. She compared three groups: middle class New Yorkers, poor New Yorkers, and a village of austere people living in a harsh area in South America (I forgotten what that area was, sorry). The kids of the last group had no toys and their parents, being laconic, did not talk to them much. At five they were equivalent to the New York poor, but by 11 they were equivalent in intelligence to the New York middle class. She attributed the difference to their being taken seriously by the society around them, and not thinking from the position of being the bottom of the heap.

                  It may be that actually being heard and having one’s concerns taken seriously will do more for you than the elimination of junk food by “your betters.” However, having one’s concerns taken seriously probably will cost money, or require at least some shift in general social priorities that is meaningful on the money front.

  3. quasimodo 3

    I don’t know if anyone has referred to it, but this might have something to do with it ..

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL1201/S00086/tom-frewen-nz-on-air-spooked-by-political-interference.htm

    Q

  4. The Herald article is interesting, and makes some good points, but misses other obvious ones.

    It shows there are no easy solutions. More money, more addiction assistance (they mention drugs and alcohol but not gambling), more family planning, more education, more medical assistance, more jobs, more life skills, more financial skills, more good housing, more parenting assistance. And I’m sure there are more mores.

    If TV3 wanted to add to the campaign debate they would have (and should have) aired the program weeks before the election. Dropping it in just days out suggests more of a deliberate attempt at vote manipulation.

    • McFlock 4.1

      More banal tut-tutting at the plight of the poor wee kiddies being your contribution, I see.

      • Pete George 4.1.1

        Your comment is more appropriate directed at youself.

        What solutions do you suggest that don’t have an earliest possible implementation date of 2015?

        • McFlock 4.1.1.1

          Peter Dunne quitting parliament so National can’t sell assets and screw poor people even more would be a start.
             

           
          Because the government, up until 2015, is not going to try to do anything practical to address child poverty.

          Oh, there will be some token amount kicked towards iwi to keep the Maori Party happy, but the bulk of urban poor – the bulk of the poor – will be left on their arse. And of course Dunne will have a working group, and try to grab childrens’ commission jobs for his bring-back-the-50s-family initiatives, but no actual solutions will happen on a national level.

          • McFlock 4.1.1.1.1

            All we as citizens can do is keep the issue alive, so the poor and the dying don’t become a “hidden” problem.
              
            Someone asked a while back when was the last time someone starved in NZ. A few days ago. It might or might not have contributed to his death, but it was apparently to the point of causing medical problems. We must never imagine it doesn’t happen here.

            • Pete George 4.1.1.1.1.1

              That link is called “Blanket Man lived life his way”. He apparently refused all sorts of offers of help. His problems weren’t being poor. I guess he could have been locked up in an instituation against his will, force fed and kept alcohol and drug free.

              • McFlock

                Yeah, and when Betty Marisich was raped and murdered in the Auckland Domain she was called a “local personality” by the media, and glossed over the fact that she had one cooked meal a week. They’ve got a great history of putting bandaids on the consciences of fluffy folk like yourself.

                  
                There is provision under the mental health act to do just that if a person is a threat to themselves or others. But the main issue is that whatever help he needed, our society wasn’t equipped to give it to him, even though people saw him every day. How many die in private? Ask not for whom the bell tolls, and all that.

        • mik e 4.1.1.2

          Pompous Git your party has contributed to the problem by voting with National on just about all the issues listed above.National has increased the poverty on many levels by doing nothing or handing money to a few wealthy people while taxing the poor .Avoiding any control of alcohol responsible for $6billion a year damage to our society.No action on Gambling another $3billion worth of Damage.
          PG you are part of the problem

          • Pete George 4.1.1.2.1

            We’re all a part of the problem mik e.

            What are you doing to resolve it all?

            • mik e 4.1.1.2.1.1

              A lot more than you on many levels

              • I’d be surprised if you know much at all about what I do.

                Good on you if you think you’re doing plenty. Don’t you think more could be achieved by working together cooperatively rather than bitching on blogs?

                • felix

                  Not by working with you Pete, no, because you don’t know that poverty actually exists outside of sarcastic inverted commas.

                  • You’re back to repeating things you’ve made up felix. I thought after a break you’d be up to better than that.

                    • felix

                      Yeah I am better than that, Pete. That’s why I’m not making anything up.

                      I see you’re still denying your own comments though.

                      Not the first time you’ve used words like poverty in a sarcastic manner either, Pete. It’s that nasty streak you’ve never quite managed to hide.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      That’s what happens when bitter young men seeking recognition turn into bitter old men seeking recognition.

                • fender

                  Yes you jump from “online meeting” to online meeting at a rate of knots PG.
                  Its making a big difference to the appalling poverty NactUF have got going.

              • Colonial Viper

                Personally I am relieved that Pete George is on the case. United Future are about to become our political heavy weight champions in the fight against NZ child poverty.

                After a few runs on the board UF will displace both Labour and the Greens to become recognised as THE parliamentary leaders on this issue. Ably lifting a quarter NZ million children out of poverty or near poverty.

                And as UF are a core part of Key’s coalition, United Future will, after hard work and perserverance, successfully convince National, John Key and Bill English to place the weight and resources of the NZ state to accomplish this.

                At the end of this process, the history books will record that Pete George was pivotal working in the background, doing the meetings and leading the conference calls.

    • Vicky32 4.2

      Dropping it in just days out suggests more of a deliberate attempt at vote manipulation

      You see, I think it’s hilarious that the Nats are complaining about the programme being screened when it was – and its being vote manipulation. That’s the same thing as their admitting that child poverty is their fault! 😀

    • “Vote manipulation”…

      Raising critical social issues and debate is “Vote Manipulation”?!

      Pete, let me guess; you scored 101% i n Orwellian Doublethink? Doubleplusgood, Comrade!

  5. tsmithfield 5

    “The Standard” forgot to quote this from the article:

    “but the things that drive behavioural outcomes are not so much income and are more familial and personal,” he said.”

    • Colonial Viper 5.1

      Wow…you just deliberately ignored yesterdays discussion on these things being interdependent factors. And that individuals live within the context of the expectations and demands of their society.

      Bring up the case of your multimillionaire friend who lives like a pauper so its all OK, asshole.

      • felix 5.1.1

        It’s ok CV, I happen to have a millionaire friend who lives like a millionaire so tsmithfield’s example is magically cancelled out in the exact same way he presumed his example cancelled out everything else.

        Sorted.

        • Colonial Viper 5.1.1.1

          🙂

          We should remember the true meaning of wealth: that which brings people wellbeing. All ts brings is sickness of the mind, and eventually of the body.

          • felix 5.1.1.1.1

            Well said. It’s probably too late for ts to do anything about his own mental and spiritual poverty but if others can learn from his mistakes then he won’t have been a total waste of vitamins.

  6. tsmithfield 6

    Also this quote from the article:

    “Most of these effects were explained by factors which tended to vary in line with family incomes, such as parents’ education, addictions, criminality and marital conflict and breakup, and the children’s own intelligence.”

    I agree there is a correlation between income and these factors. We can argue about the direction of causation. However, one thing is very clear. This is that simply throwing money at people won’t improve their situation unless the associated factors are corrected.

    This is what I was getting at on the previous thread. My multi-millionaire friend came from a relatively modest background. However, his family situation was very stable and supportive. Wealthy people who become bankrupt and then recover to become wealthy again tend to have strong resilience. In the film, “Gifted Hands”, even though Ben Carson’s mother couldn’t do much about their poor situation, she strived to overcome the dysfunction associated with their poor circumstances, and as a result he succeeded in becoming the top neurosurgeon in the world.

    Therefore, it seems that overcoming familial dysfunction is the most important thing to ensure that children in these situation have a brighter future.

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      Its not a correlation between the factors, they are interdependent. There is causation there as well.

      Fuck I love how you are still using your millionaire pauper friend to draw irrelevant conclusions about communities.

      I guess familial dysfunction might occur more frequently if the power gets turned off or families have to skip meals due to running out of food. No?

      Your blindness will follow you into your next life mate, be careful.

    • felix 6.2

      Of course tsmithfield is right, having no money and no choices cannot possibly lead to depression and dysfunction.

      As evidenced by a hypothetical man with loads of money and loads of choices, apparently.

      • McFlock 6.2.1

        Of course tsmithfield is right, having no money and no choices cannot possibly lead to depression and dysfunction

        No, that’s not quite how I interpret TS comments. I believe a more accurate precis of his position is the time-honoured denial “there is no proven link between poverty and depression”.
         

  7. tsmithfield 7

    “Its not a correlation between the factors, they are interdependent. There is causation there as well.”

    I disagree. There can’t be causation if there is not correlation. So, if you are claiming interdependence between the factors, you are at the same time acknowledging they are correlated.

    “I guess familial dysfunction might occur more frequently if the power gets turned off or families have to skip meals due to running out of food. No?”

    I agree that poverty can exacerbate dysfunction. But read the study. The researcher says that money can exacerbate dysfunction as well. So the problem clearly isn’t money. The problem is dysfunction.

    I know a young adult woman who is addicted to heroin, and living as a prostitute and committing crime to fund her habit. She comes from a poor background, right? Wrong. Her father is incredibly wealthy, but has buggered off to the states where he is a high-flyer in a large corporation. Up until recently he had set her up in a poncy appartment, sent her through rehab a couple of times etc. But he wasn’t giving her what she really needed which was his time and attention. He has basically abandoned her. There was a messy relationship break-up she had to endure while she was still young, and her mother is a real flake.

    This is a prime example where the dysfunction in her background was the cause of her situation, not her monetary situation. In fact, when her father was feeding her money, it was simply feeding her addictions rather than actually helping her.

    • McFlock 7.1

      These considerations suggest that the most successful strategy for addressing the issues raised by child poverty will require a two pronged approach in which policies are developed to: a) reduce income inequalities and child poverty; b) address the range of psychosocial problems that are more common in low income families.  

       
      And while we’re all impressed that you know a variety of people who lead harsh lives, individual anecdotes about people are at best qualitative illustrations. This is not the only large-scale study that has identified a relationship between poverty and less-good life outcomes, in fact you’re just pushing shit uphill. 
       
      But keep spouting the tobacco industry line for a bit longer (there is no proven link…) – just to support your tax breaks (or even more pathetic, the tax breaks you hope to achieve one day but probably never will). Only a few people will die to pay for them.

    • RedLogix 7.2

      As I said last night; there is clearly a mutual interdependence at work here.

      In one direction it’s not hard to point to examples where individual choices around dysfunctional behaviour directly lead to poor education, or poor health, or a criminal record… that result in loss of employment, loss of assets and so on.. that directly lead to poverty. That’s pretty much the direction you are choosing to focus on.

      In the other direction we can see examples where poverty, especially poverty imposed by external forces over which the individual has little or no control, leading to depression, anxiety, OCD, poor eating and exercise behaviours, substance abuses of various sorts (often as self-medication), addictions such as gambling and recklessness… all of which end up as dysfunction. This is the direction you are choosing to deny and ignore.

      Of course these two propensities loop together in a way that reinforce each other. This is why poverty and social dysfunction are so tightly woven together, and why this tangled nexus proves such an intractable challenge to unravel.

      Throw money at the problem to alleviate the poverty, and you risk merely exacerbating the dysfunctional behaviour; demand the indvidual take sole responsibility for changing their behaviour while trapping them into economic circumstances that are corrosive and unjust is likely to be met with anger or contemptuous dismissal.

      This is not a new problem, the poor have been with us ever since we adopted agriculture and the notion of property. If just one or other of these approaches to the other was a reliable solution to the ‘poverty/dysfunction trap’ we would have known by now.

      Therefore a correct answer demands we step outside this binary ‘either/or’ thinking trap.

      • tsmithfield 7.2.1

        “In the other direction we can see examples where poverty, especially poverty imposed by external forces over which the individual has little or no control, leading to depression, anxiety, OCD, poor eating and exercise behaviours, substance abuses of various sorts (often as self-medication), addictions such as gambling and recklessness… all of which end up as dysfunction. This is the direction you are choosing to deny and ignore.”

        Not really ignoring these aspects. I did say above:

        “I agree that poverty can exacerbate dysfunction.”

        Also, in many cases, people can already have a predisposition towards some sort of dysfunctional behaviour than can be exacerbated through stress of one kind or another.

        However, simply giving people more money won’t fix the problems. Once these dysfunctions have set in, even if poverty is part of the cause, then providing more money, in many cases can simply exacerbate the problems by effectively enabling people to engage in their dysfunctions.

        I am all for social intervention. However, I think past policies have tend to just increase benefits or whatever because it is an easy fix that doesn’t really fix anything.

        • McFlock 7.2.1.1

          However, simply giving people more money won’t fix the problems. Once these dysfunctions have set in, even if poverty is part of the cause, then providing more money, in many cases can simply exacerbate the problems by effectively enabling people to engage in their dysfunctions.

           
          Much lols.
          For the people who are just poor, or have poverty-induced depression and/or other medical problems, money would sure help.
            
          So do you have any empirical evidence to suggest that throwing money at poverty a)creates more problems than it solves; b)solves some problems but would be better spent elsewhere for better problem resolution; or c)solves the majority of problems faced by poor people?
            

             
           

          • felix 7.2.1.1.1

            “For the people who are just poor, or have poverty-induced depression and/or other medical problems, money would sure help.”

            tsmithfield is never going to understand that until he has to choose between buying food or going to the doctor.

            This entire discussion is in the abstract to him.

          • tsmithfield 7.2.1.1.2

            “For the people who are just poor, or have poverty-induced depression and/or other medical problems, money would sure help.

            So do you have any empirical evidence to suggest that throwing money at poverty a)creates more problems than it solves; b)solves some problems but would be better spent elsewhere for better problem resolution; or c)solves the majority of problems faced by poor people?”

            I don’t know how well you are qualified to discuss depression. I have a masters in Psychology. Organisational psychology mind you. However, I did third year papers in clinical psychology, and conduct screening tests for depression, anxiety etc as part of what I do. So, I am reasonably well informed.

            Depression is actually a good example of what I am talking about. If you are talking about just feeling a bit down in the dumps, then yes, a bit of a chat, a food parcel, and a voucher or two will probably make someone feel happier. However, if you are talking about clinical depression, then that person needs a lot more than having money thrown at them in terms of say having their benefit increased. They need medical/psychological intervention and may well need to go on medication before they can emerge from their depressed state.

            So far as your second question goes, I would suggest (b) which is very much along the lines that I have been talking about, and also ties in with the study that has been cited here.

            • felix 7.2.1.1.2.1

              “However, if you are talking about clinical depression, then that person needs a lot more than having money thrown at them in terms of say having their benefit increased. They need medical/psychological intervention and may well need to go on medication before they can emerge from their depressed state.”

              All of which, of course, costs nothing.

            • McFlock 7.2.1.1.2.2

              So far as your second question goes, I would suggest (b) which is very much along the lines that I have been talking about, and also ties in with the study that has been cited here.

              Let’s see…b)solves some problems but would be better spent elsewhere for better problem resolution;
               
              No it doesn’t “tie in” with the study in the children’s commissioner newsletter. The chch study explicitly said:

              These considerations suggest that the most successful strategy for addressing the issues raised by child poverty will require a two pronged approach in which policies are developed to: a) reduce income inequalities and child poverty; b) address the range of psychosocial problems that are more common in low income families.  

              So the problem needs money thrown at it as well as the other interventions that you’ve failed to talk about funding. That’s what “two-pronged” means, not “well we could do X, but it would be better to do Y”.
               

              Interesting that I might not be qualified to talk about depression. What makes you qualified to talk about poverty, epidemiology, economic policy or social policy?

              • felix

                Don’t be ridiculous McF.

                As a rich white male tsmithfield is entitled to be taken seriously on any subject.

        • RedLogix 7.2.1.2

          However, simply giving people more money won’t fix the problems

          Equally just simply not giving them money doesn’t help either.

          In the period during the 9th to 14th centuries when the Islamic empire was at it’s peak of civilisation and influence, it was the expected practise for the well-off and wealthy to stand on the steps of the mosque after Friday prayers … and personally distribute charity to the poor. Done with an attitude of respect and humility on both sides it worked fairly well.

          The poor had to actually front up to their benefactor look them in the eye, and explain their circumstances. Tended to encourage personal responsibility for your behaviour.

          Equally the wealthy had an incentive not to be just ‘throwing money at the problem’, which probably got tedious week after week… and might be encouraged to find ways to assist this other person to find employment or start a small business.

          Now in our secular mass-society this mechanism is no longer practical; but it does demonstrate some of the features you might look for in a solution.

        • felix 7.2.1.3

          The problem of starvation can never be solved with food.

          • tsmithfield 7.2.1.3.1

            So, would you rather give them a fish or a fishing rod?

            • RedLogix 7.2.1.3.1.1

              Well it might turn out that you have to give them both.

              Or if someone else owns all the rights to the fish….

            • just saying 7.2.1.3.1.2

              A fishing rod is more expensive in the short term than a fish.
              Also, it depends whether there are enough fish where they live, or indeed if they have any means of getting to the water.

            • felix 7.2.1.3.1.3

              I would follow your example tsmithfield, and give them a flacid platitude.

              If they can’t sort themselves out with that then they’re probably racially or socially inferior and it’s best for everyone (everyone like me) that they stay that way.

            • Colonial Viper 7.2.1.3.1.4

              So, would you rather give them a fish or a fishing rod?

              Fish isn’t a balanced diet for infants and young children.

  8. just saying 8

    Throw money at the problem to alleviate the poverty, and you risk merely exacerbating the dysfunctional behaviour.

    I’m getting very sick of the “throwing money at poverty” framing. It seems to me that language like this is used by those wishing to justify inaction or inadequate action. Governments and individuals can use money wisely or unwisely to deal with problems. But I’m damned if I can see any way material poverty can be alleviated in any way that doesn’t involve spending money. Some people may use income increased from nowhere near enough to barely adequate, unwisely. Indeed where there has been long term or intergenerational poverty, individuals may have never had experience of budgeting with adequate resouces, and learned helplessness has probably well and truly set in. Many will need help with problems at least partially caused, or exacerbated by poverty. To help them will require even more resources. Problems that aren’t dealt with in a timely manner often multiply, and become far more difficult, painful and expensive to resolve. Should we blame those in need that we haven’t helped for that multipication?

    And should the poor who wouldn’t use additional resources on “dysfuntional behaviour” continue to do without become some (and I would say a minority) might be more disadvantaged by adequate income than they were with less than enough?

    • Colonial Viper 8.1

      The Right seemed ok with throwing money at SCF bond holders and depositors.

    • tsmithfield 8.2

      I think we do need to spend money. But on interventions that actually deal with the issues that are holding people in poverty. What pisses me off is money simply being thrown out in increased benefits or whatever that don’t actually do anything about the problems that are locking people in poverty.

      • Colonial Viper 8.2.1

        ts – National is going to do nothing more than what is needed to provided cover to kick the shit out of people in poverty.

        Until the politics of this country represent those who are poorer and those who have the least influence in society, we’ll continue to get more croc tears from the right wing.

        • tsmithfield 8.2.1.1

          You might be surprised. National has been beating Labour to the punch on a number of issues. For instance, its relationship with the Maori Party when Labour saw them as “the last cab on the rank”.

          • felix 8.2.1.1.1

            So what? The party of the colonial elites teaming up with the party of the iwi elites is supposed to solve poverty?

            Get fucking real.

          • lprent 8.2.1.1.2

            You really are a typical conservative dealing in myths and ignoring simple prudence.

            For instance you’re referring to a decision about a newly elected political party in 2005 who had a number of new MP’s and no effective parliamentary or party organisation. That made them difficult to deal with when it came to coalition politics. In much the same way that NZF were in 1996 (split in the term), the alliance were in 1999 (split in the term), and for that matter the Maori party in 2008 (split in the term) and the Act party in 2008 (leadership change and no returning MP’s).

            For some strange reason this undeniable instability makes leaders of other parties wary about dealing with a new party when it comes to coalitions. In fact the only party I can recall that have successfully managed to work in coalition first time is United.

            That was the same reason that Goff ruled out the Mana party before the last election. If the Conservatives had managed to get in then I’d have expected Key to keep them either out of the formal coalition or to make bloody sure that the inevitable new party screwups didn’t cause an issue. After all he has had two of his three coalition parties disintegrate last term….

      • Well, increasing benefits a little would not be a bad thing, seeing as they were originally set to be 20% below subsistence level, and have not kept up with inflation.

      • felix 8.2.3

        “What pisses me off is money simply being thrown out in increased benefits or whatever that don’t actually do anything about the problems that are locking people in poverty.”

        Of course there’s no link between not having enough money to buy nutritious food and eating crap, right tsmithfield?

        And there’s no link between nutrition and mental health, right tsmithfield?

        And there’s no link between mental illness and addiction, right tsmithfield?

        And there’s no link between addiction, violence and property crime, right tsmithfield?

        There’s just no good reason to provide people with enough money to actually live in the society as a functional citizen, right tsmithfield?

      • Pete George 8.2.4

        This is one of the key issues.

        If you give all beneficiaries a little bit more at best you will improve things a little bit for some but won’t make any fundamental change to their lifestyle or opportunities.

        If you don’t give a blanket increase (most will still manage, albeit some with difficulty) but instead target those who need specific assistance – medical, psychological, addiction, abuse etc then you have a much better chance of making a significant difference.

        But if you suggest things like this you usually get accused of bene bashing.

        • felix 8.2.4.1

          If benefits were currently set at or above subsistence levels there would be some merit in that comment.

          But they aren’t, so there isn’t.

          So it is, and you are.

          • Pete George 8.2.4.1.1

            Most (or at least many) must be subsisting – but I guess it depends on how you define that.

            Or are you saying that none are at your subsistence level? Maybe I should have done that as ‘subsistence’.

            • McFlock 8.2.4.1.1.1

              Nice contribution of fuck-all to the poverty discussion there, pete.
               
              In response to the assertion that benefits are set below a subsistence level, you counter it by suggesting that some beneficiaries must be subsisting unless nobody is, therefore . . . oh, there’s no point that you’re making. But just in case someone seeks to challenge the point you’re not making, you’ve got wiggle-room around definitions.

            • felix 8.2.4.1.1.2

              Actually Pete, most subsist by what you would call “rorting the system” in one way or another.

              The National govt in the early 1990s commissioned a study to discover the exact minimum amount a person needs to live and eat a nutritious diet.

              They reduced the final figure by 20% as an “incentive”, and set the benefit levels we still have to this day. The Labour govt, to their disgrace, never did anything about this in their nine years in office.

              Of you already know all of this via your ongoing work with poverty issues. Right Pete?

              • McFlock

                was it Shipley who decided to demonstrate the benificence of her dept (as minister of social warfare) by living on a benefit for several weeks in the early 1990s?

                Well, it was schedulled for weeks. Apparently it lasted all of a couple of days before she “got sick” and had to stop. Because poor people don’t get sick, you know.

                • felix

                  I remember that but I don’t think it was Shipley. One of the others. O’Regan?

                  And yeah she couldn’t last a week. (And that’s with a nice big house full of food with all the bills paid and a couple of cars full of gas of course.)

                • Vicky32

                  was it Shipley who decided to demonstrate the benificence of her dept (as minister of social warfare) by living on a benefit for several weeks in the early 1990s?

                  It was actually Katherine Rich, but the result was the same – she got sick, and said she couldn’t go through with it. I was on a DPB at the time, and I was completely disgusted.

                  • felix

                    Nah Rich wasn’t even in parliament then, and she’s never been in govt at all.

                    But yeah, disgusting it was.

                    • Vicky32

                      Nah Rich wasn’t even in parliament then, and she’s never been in govt at all.

                      Oh, wow, I could have sworn it was Rich! (The irony of her name struck me.) However, it could well have been O’Regan… Thanks!

                • mik e

                  Shiplley never even started after promising a brighter future no doubt

            • just saying 8.2.4.1.1.3

              Living below subsistence in NZ means choices like between food in empty bellies or timely medical treatment.
              As we saw on the poverty doco, choosing food (or the power bill etc.) often sees kids end up in hospital, many acquiring lifelong disabilities from curable illnesses.
              Death from living below subsistence can be a slow, expensive process
              But that’s okay cos it’s not happening to (I’m alright) Petey.

              • vto

                There are parts of NZ where good people live good and contented lives on the smell of an oily rag. However, they do this by having no power (candles, early nights and coal range for heating and cooking), no phone (bloody phones, who needs them), supplement food supply by hunting and gathering (need to live where animals roam and swim) and growing veges and fruit (can do near full yeas supply on average section), entertainment in usual and same manner as anywhere (except no overseas hols and only cheap cheap wine), no insurance (what’s it needed for when you have not much stuff?), low rates (cart for sewer a-la olden times), cheap as chips banger for a car, and that’s it. Properties usually owned outright meaning no rent (they cheap).

                All you gotta do is move outta cities to beautiful countryside parts.

                voila

                • Colonial Viper

                  Wait until the Righties start forcing people to move to the cities to look for work if they want the benefit. Or for them to turn the entire system into “workfare” where you have to work for employers just to get the benefit (and employers get free labour subsidised by the government, depressing working peoples wages even further and increasing job insecurity).

        • RedLogix 8.2.4.2

          So guys are we making any progress on this mutually interdependent idea yet?

          That just not redistributing resource to the poor merely makes all their immediate, short-term problems a whole lot worse. Like starving to death

          AND

          That only distributing resource to the poor, in the absence of any meaningful way out of their poverty of both economic and, for want of a better word to keep ts happy, spiritual circumstances… simply makes all their long-terms problems a whole lot worse.

  9. RedLogix 9

    I’m getting very sick of the “throwing money at poverty” framing.

    I’m inclined to agree, but sometimes it’s useful to leverage off another person’s own framing in order to suggest a different view that can be seen from it.

  10. vto 10

    poverty begets poverty

    interest-bearing debt begets interest-bearing debt

    breaking the latter will substantially benefit the former. there is now a will in the world to so break it, so lets break it.

  11. According to one of the most reliable blog sources the documentary suggested that less could be spent if used more wisely.

    Among its many suggestions was that we were spending a lot of money on welfare and that it wasn’t working because it was targetted at adults and not children.

    A fairly large proportion was an argument about how we could spend less.

    That we should put money into free healthcare for children from an early age so that they don’t get expensive to treat preventable diseases, and about how we should spend welfare money on children, rather than on their parents.

    Makes some sense – but it’s not just healthcare spending that’s needed to prevent diseases.

    • just saying 11.1

      To save people wasting precious time the “reliable blog source” link is to kiwiblog.
      Need I say more?

      • Pete George 11.1.1

        In my experience Graeme Edgeler is one of the most respected blog posters, but jump to prejudiced conclusions if you like.

      • Colonial Viper 11.1.2

        Is the Govt spending more or less on bankers fees this year?

        More, right? So here you are pushing for more to be spent on bankers and less on welfare recipients. Figures.

    • mik e 11.2

      its a pity pg you can’t go to the doctor to get something to fix your naive ignorance

      • Colonial Viper 11.2.1

        The diagnosis is not naive ignorance, it is willful ignorance.

        Closely related of course, but more serious in nature, with the chances of successful treatment very low.

  12. mik e 12

    PG you offered to work with me in one of your blogs but i’m not interested until you move away from a party thats making the problem worse.

    • mik e, what we’re doing in Dunedin is party independent. I started working on the project long before I became associated with UF. It’s about people in Dunedin jointly speaking and doing. One aim is to overcome petty party politics.

      What I’m doing in Dunedin is not party orientated, and it’s not about my opinions or associations or supposed leftishness (KB) or rightishness (TS). It’s about getting politics and democracy working better at a people level, as inclusive as possible – and all MPS and all parties who contested seats in Dunedin have expressed support. I stood to get into that network. So when we look at poverty related issues it won’t matter what you think about me, it will combine as many voices and ideas as possible, and it will be a greater Dunedin voice that speaks, lobbies, and does. It’s already starting to work.

      Pretty much everyone I’ve talked to in person about this project say it’s a good way to try and do better things.

      People in other parts of the country are working along similar lines. We don’t know how it will end up, that depends on the ideas and will of those who get involved. It may just change how we do things in Dunedin a bit. Or it may help change how we do democracy in New Zealand. Action from the grassroots up, not sitting back expecting parliament to fix everything.

      http://yourdunedin.org/dunedin-voice/

  13. Descendant Of Smith 13

    Throwing money at something is simply a sick framing meant to imply from the outset that the recipients are unworthy when in fact most are simply ordinary people. I don’t get how so many right wing commentators don’t understand this.

    Three things need raising:

    1. Taxation to help support those who need it.

    2. Benefit rates with at least the $20-00 per week re-instated ( and again Labour should continue to hang their head in shame at lifting NZS and not benefits).

    Most people are on benefit for a short duration and there is little point in making their life as much of a struggle as it is. That struggle means that they are less likely to move back into employment quickly as they have less energy to put into looking for work and up-skilling and often become depressed and unwell.

    Low benefit rates disadvantage mainly women and people with disabilities who also have the lowest earning potential – because they are least likely to be employed and on lower wages.

    An increase in benefits would be well used by the majority who budget and utilise their money well.

    This would mean that more attention could be paid to those who actually need more help and support – the 20% of people who would take up 80% of the time.

    3. The minimum wage so that people have a liveable wage and don’t have to be supported through WFF. This should include a minimum salary must equal $120% of the minimum wage to stop low paid workers being paid salaries for long hours of work.

    In addition bring back universal family benefit – remove the income testing for this and let everyone get it. Face it, many of the well off get it anyway through the way they structure their finances so make it administratively simpler and stop the need for the state to look at the finances of everyday ordinary people. It’s an unnecessary intrusion and in my view is only there as a strategy to divide the population and to remove that sense of egalitarian we’re all in this together.

    Save some money by removing the ability to have an underage partner included in NZS – or at least an underage partner under say 60.

    Provide funding for government agencies to employ people with significant disabilities. I’m happy to accept that private enterprise cannot employ everyone and that this group is the most disadvantaged in relation to employment. There’s lots of meaningful work that could be found for people to do – meaningful does not always mean profitable and it’s important that people with disabilities are visible in workplaces. Government should pick up some of this responsibility.

    Introduce a 32 hour working week to spread employment around and upskill more people. time and a half after 32 hours so employers would need to consider overtime / employ someone else. Three days a week off for most people.

    Close shops on Sunday so people could spend time with their families / play sport. It’s idiotic when work places talk about work/life balance and then are open 7 days per week.

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