Spinning ‘social investment’

Written By: - Date published: 8:32 am, January 14th, 2017 - 53 comments
Categories: benefits, bill english, class war, socialism, spin, welfare - Tags: , , ,

Bill English likes to talk about “social investment”. Commentator Simon Wilson at The Spinoff is a big fan:

Social investment: the two uninspiring words upon which the entire election could hang

For several years now English has been driving a profound reform programme in the delivery of social services. It’s far from finished; in fact, even some of the ministers involved seem barely to understand it. But welfare reform is happening. And at its heart is a thoroughly 21st century idea: we’ve got the data, now to tell us where to spend the money.

Conservative governments worldwide are watching, fascinated, not least because social investment inverts the usual conservative approach to welfare. Which is to sit back, moan about bludgers and pick up the pieces when they have to. Social investment, as English told the conference, means “spending money now to save money later”. In National terms, it’s practically a revolution.

It works like this. Thanks to the Dunedin longitudinal study and other research, it’s now possible to say which kids are most likely to become criminals, which are most likely to be diabetic by the time they reach adulthood and which are most likely to produce another generation afflicted by the same poor prospects.

To put that in the language of social investment, we now know how much of a burden a child is likely to be on the taxpayer over the whole of their life. We also know, from a wealth of evidence-based research, which programmes are likely to help most in reducing that burden.

OK – stop right there. So much wrong. Let’s unpack.

The term “social investment” is an old one. Its use in Europe (especially Scandinavia) is almost synonymous with “social welfare”. Here for example is a 2015 European report (pdf):

The concept of social investment has gained ground on the EU-level, manifested among other things in the launching of the ‘Social investment package’ by the EU Commission in 2013 and subsequent engagement in the follow up of that initiative. In this context, the Nordic experience has no doubt played an important role and Sweden is an interesting case in point for discussing the social investment approach. We argue that Sweden has long tradition of social investment which has contributed to a number of positive outcomes, such as low poverty and high employment. [p4]

In Sweden, the origins of the social investment agenda can be traced back to the 1930s with the Great Depression and what came to be labelled the ‘Crisis of the Population Question’ (i.e. the falling birth rates). In the midst of these crises, Alva and Gunnar Myrdal developed an approach to social policy aimed at mitigating production and reproduction, which opened up for an investment perspective on social policy (Morel et al., 2012). [p7]

(For a similar take highlighting increased capacity to participate see also here.)

What Bill English means by the term “social investment” is something completely different, here summed up by a bunch of bankers:

KPMG say the government’s social investment approach is not only set to save the country $12 billion but is putting building blocks in place that will see “vulnerable” New Zealanders protected long-term by targeted expenditure.

Finance Minister Bill English has been updating interest groups recently on the social investment approach – using data and investment techniques to understand what makes the most difference to the lives of those on benefits and other forms of social support, so financial help can be targeted to specific needs rather than just blindly making payments.

English is co-opting the term to his own purpose, which is, as usual, spending less on social services.

But the English version isn’t a new idea either of course. It’s just “targeted welfare”. Here’s the summary from a UN report (pdf), Successful Targeting? – Reporting Efficiency and Costs in Targeted Poverty Alleviation Programmes:

Economic, moral and political reasons may underlie the choice between targeting and universal models of social provision. In the debate about universal versus targeted solutions for combating poverty and social exclusion, many have called for targeted interventions, arguing that they are an effective way to reach the poor while maintaining budgetary restraint. In the context of minimizing government spending—a position that gained influence with the Washington consensus in the late 1980s and 1990s—targeted social programmes became widely accepted.

One of the main arguments behind targeting is to concentrate the limited resources of social schemes for the poorest and most vulnerable. Targeted schemes are presented as more effective in bringing resources to the poor, while maintaining low levels of social spending. Thus, it is argued, targeting delivers two advantages: it makes poverty alleviation measures more effective, and it maintains or decreases social spending. At first glance, such arguments seem logical, and in recent decades it has become widely accepted that targeted social programmes are a more cost-efficient way to reduce poverty than is universal provision.

Therefore, in the name of cost efficiency, there has been a continuous shift from universal provision to targeted schemes, not only in the industrialized countries but also in the developing world. But are targeted social programmes aimed at poverty alleviation always the best solution? By examining the arguments for targeting in light of its outcomes, and examining the efficiency of targeting with regard to economic and non-economic costs—specifically in the context of international commitments on poverty reduction—this paper presents four main problems associated with the reported “evidence” of targeting in poverty reduction programmes: (i) targeting does not necessarily target the poor; (ii) it is often not cost effective; (iii) it needs strong institutions, which is not always the case in the countries where it is implemented; and (iv) it is not always politically sustainable.

So let’s not pretend that English’s “social investment” is new, or that the world is breathlessly watching this work of genius, because it isn’t and they aren’t.

Our original author, Wilson in The Spinoff, tried to give “social investment” a new twist and some credibility by linking it with the fantastic Dunedin Study. But English was banging this drum long before the latest Study results, and these results should not in any case be oversold – see ‘Future criminals revealed at age three’? Not so fast, says Dunedin Study head.

Then I’m afraid Wilson jumps the shark completely:

Already, English says, the results are striking. Eight years ago “the total long-term cost of all benefits was $78 billion. Now it’s $68 billion.”

It’s not exact, of course: this is statistical probability not individual destiny. It’s important to remember that.

Arrrgh!

The current reduced welfare costs are not the “result” of “social investment” (which has it’s pay-off over a generational time scale), they are the result of vicious manipulation of eligibility criteria and other beneficiary bashing tactics. And it is beyond belief that such a claim should be conflated with very recent results from the Dunedin Study (“statistical probability not individual destiny”).

At this point I have little faith in Wilson’s grasp of this particular topic, but let’s just look at his main point, the political implications:

Social investment presents a serious challenge to the centre-left – to the Greens as well as Labour. This is the National-led government doing nothing less than redefining the paradigm of the welfare state, not by undermining it but by making it more fit for purpose. That’s the left’s job, or it used to be. It used to be a central purpose of the left in government.

And yet it’s the right that now offers a systematic, determined and evidence-based effort to break inter-generational cycles of poverty, crime and ill-health. Welfare that is both more effective and more affordable. Who would be opposed to that?

Oh please. Of course no one is going to be opposed to targeting welfare spending where it will be most effective (here’s Labour advisor Rob Salmond writing in support). The difference is that the political left (which created social welfare) take a genuinely constructive approach, and the political right (which has always opposed welfare) is adopting some clever spin to justify reduced spending.

At some level Wilson understands this:

Despite the promise, despite the deep data analysis and the policies built on it, and despite English’s own determination, the government has done absurdly little to achieve its social-investment goals.

Many National MPs still indulge in victim blaming and beneficiary bullying. And what about all those stories of cruel indifference and bureaucratic blockheadedness in government agencies, uncovered last year by journalists like John Campbell at RNZ, Kirsty Johnston at the Herald and Mike Wesley-Smith at Newshub?

In a buoyant economy, why are working families living in cars and why aren’t all homes warm and dry? Why do illnesses like rheumatic fever persist? When will children no longer be such easy prey to the temptations of sugary fatty foods and why do we still have epidemic levels of domestic violence? Where is the utter blitz of support for low-decile schools and their communities? Why are our incarceration rates still the second highest in the developed world?

The list goes on and on, and the answer to every question on it is that National (and Act) are the wrong people to reform the welfare state. No matter how sincere Bill English may be, he and his colleagues are compromised by the deeper interests of their supporters, confused by what they are doing anyway and unwilling and/or unable to shake their old prejudices.

Exactly. So why did you buy in to the nonsense spin that forms the first half of your piece?


For other takes on why the English version of “social investment” should be treated with deep suspicion see Shamubeel Eaqub reported in Data-driven social welfare policy lacks humanity – economist, and Keith Ng in I’m a data nerd and a data cheerleader, but still I fear Bill English’s datatopia, and…

53 comments on “Spinning ‘social investment’”

  1. Sanctuary 1

    “Social investment” is English’s cover for a return to the Victorian concept of provision of welfare via charitable organisation, who are free to discriminate between the deserving and undeserving poor.

    Bill English is a neoliberal religious wingnut, a deeply reactionary and toxic combination of ideology that has always loathed the socialist welfare state, with its refusal to make moral judgments, it’s universalism and the way it created uppity lesser sorts.

    • Thinkerr 1.1

      Now at a time when the world accepts that the neoliberalist ideology hasn’t worked…

      IMHO, neoliberalism is 21st century feudalism. We work in factories and offices instead of the fields.

  2. Pat 2

    There is a distinct whiff of eugenics about a lot of what has been written in support of this.While the argument for treatment at the top of the cliff has great appeal and saleability the trust in politicians, application and the necessary oversight leave a lot to be desired……eugenics’ past form doesn’t inspire confidence.

    • Pat 2.1

      “In August 1994, I was leaked documents that displayed how the Minister had approved the CHSC protocols that used exclusion criteria and that the protocols had been presented to doctors and the exclusion criteria enforced.

      What this meant was people who presented with end stage renal failure, and who required dialysis to stay alive, would be excluded from getting this life-saving treatment if they were deemed:

      * to be blind

      * to have an intellectual disability

      * had a history of mental illness

      * exhibited or expressed anti-social behaviour

      * had a history of imprisonment

      * had an unrelated health condition that may cause complications

      * were over the age of 65-years…

      The set of exclusion criteria continued on.”

      http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2017/01/14/why-nzers-wouldnt-support-euthanasia-if-they-read-this-why-jenny-shipley-makes-me-never-want-euthanasia/

      “In his first term in parliament, English chaired a select committee into social services. He was made a parliamentary under-secretary in 1993, serving under the Minister of Health.[4][7]”

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_English

        • richard rawshark 2.1.1.1

          But again, another piece that says this..

          In August 1994, I was leaked documents that displayed how the Minister had approved the CHSC protocols that used exclusion criteria and that the protocols had been presented to doctors and the exclusion criteria enforced.

          but I want to see the document that all these articles are eluding too, i’m sure you get what i’m saying Pat, no one can act on hear-say and eludations of a leaked document.., we want to see the governments stamp on it, then we know it’s real and we can perhaps figure out what to do about it.

          • Pat 2.1.1.1.1

            well i was surprised that no one had made the connection….but didn’t expect the first comment to so grossly misinterpret what was laid out.

            “I” have no document…however in 1994 the journalist Selwyn Manning was leaked documents which are quoted from in the linked articles, showing the then National Gov. MoH under Jenny Shipley approved the implementation of rationing of life critical health services on the basis outlined……Bill English was an under secretary to the MoH at the time.

            I now vaguely recall the event, however the point I was attempting to highlight is BE’s historical connection to real life outcomes of the type of policy being proposed for social investment strategies and how the real agenda of the National government hasn’t really changed at all since their openly hard right policy prescriptions of the 90s….a softer face is all.

            Voters would do well to remember (or take note if too young) the sort of BS that was being implemented back then, and would also be wise to recall that BE was in the thick of it….do leopards change their spots?

            • Pat 2.1.1.1.1.1

              n.b. the listed criteria for refusing treatment was accepted and approved gov policy at the time(until thrown out)….not some unsubstantiated theory.

            • richard rawshark 2.1.1.1.1.2

              I came back to NZ in 1998 so this is why i’m lost on what your eluding too Pat, I get it, it’s shocking if true, just having not been here i’m trying to fill in the gaps on what you said, we left NZ in 89 think it was 97-98 when I returned.

              The fact Natioanal has these agenda’s or types of far right bollocks idea’s is well know but catching them in the act with proof is harder than finding rocking horse poo.

              If this was true and there was proof..can you imagine the public outcry!

              It would be an election winner and national would find themselves at the Haig.. we all have rights you know.. international law is even stronger and eugenics like Nazi Germanies I was under the impressions were strictly forbidden.

      • richard rawshark 2.1.2

        You claim a secret agenda, and lay out the grounds stating you had a leaked document. I want to see it, If your going to make wild accusations like that! That sort of accusation would get them hung. literally! by a mob.

        You know it looks more like propaganda to me, and I think that’s worse.

        So show me some proof and we will go from there otherwise it’s just misinformation and panders to people who wear tin hats.

  3. mickysavage 3

    Thanks Rob. The bottom line is that less will be spent on social services. This is a budget cut with lots of buzz words and neat sounding concepts disguising what is happening.

    • Olwyn 3.1

      This is a budget cut with lots of buzz words and neat sounding concepts disguising what is happening.

      The “neat sounding concepts” used by this lot tend to be transplanted from a more benign framework to a malign one. Take “austerity” for example – a wartime and post-war restraint to which all were subjected via rationing. Post-2008 it became the umbrella word for inflicting privation on some while indulging others. The “social investment” notion is just the same. It might make sense if the machinery for producing measurable results was in place: real jobs paying actual living wages, conditions that allow people to make their living from cottage industries, etc. But they are not and will not be. It is another exercise in “How far can I squeeze the people who are surplus to requirements before they turn openly hostile and/or the middle class start getting uncomfortable enough to side with them?”

    • Chris 3.2

      Do you think Labour’s got the balls to criticise English and the nats in the same way the author has here? And to continue to through to the election? There was a lot of this sort of language in the social welfare area that Labour didn’t even try to expunge when Clark took over in 1999, and have still failed to do today. I wonder if Labour even embraces some of the concepts. It’s either that or many within Labour don’t understand the issue.

  4. EE 4

    This is the ultimate “Government picking winners and losers”. Will they start doing the same for corporate welfare policies?

  5. Nic the NZer 5

    This reminds of the story of the 1990s cuts to benefits. In order to make sure the govt wasn’t literally starving people they used a budget line for food from some nutritionists. There were 3 budgets, generous, typical and the bare minimum. Having envisaged a bare mimimum budget the nutritionists realised that no people existed who had the requisite skills to implement it on a day to day basis. But this didn’t prevent it becoming the base line for social welfare payments, or for it being squeezed further. Predictably dependence on food banks rose significantly soon after this.

    • NewsFlash 5.1

      You may also recall the same Govt striped $20 a week off pensioners to fund a tax cut for wealthy, that saw the largest net migration of over 65’s out of NZ, mainly to Aus, most have not returned.

      Right wing social policies don’t change, only the names of those policies.

      • Clump_AKA Sam 5.1.1

        And the government has continued to get too ups in that way. It’s just one technical way the government can keep borrowing.

      • Chris 5.1.2

        But that’s to be expected from uncaring right wing governments. It’s when governments we thought weren’t like that do the same kinds of nasty things that we need to start worrying. You may recall the very long list of war-on-the-poor legislation that Clark’s government introduced between 1999 and 2008.

        You’re dead correct when you say that right wing social policies don’t change, only the names of those policies, but I’d add that it’s not just the national party that’s responsible for those policies.

        If Labour doesn’t make a stand on issues affecting the very poorest then there’s no hope.

    • Thinkerr 5.2

      Not only that, they gave less than the nutritionists said. This shocking treatment of fellow human beings is displayed either on “Someone Elses Country” or “In a land of plenty”. Both should be on youtube.

      Meanwhile, the rest of the world thinks “Hunger Games” is a work of fiction…

    • korero pono 5.3

      @ Nick the NZer, not only did the Nats use the minimum food baseline, which they knew could never nutritionally sustain a family, the Nats then reduced that baseline by 20% and used that as a basis to set benefit rates. So I would say the Nats were literally starving people when they cut the benefits in 1991 (let’s not forget that Labour are also implicated because they did not reverse the disastrous cuts). The only reason people aren’t dying from starvation in the streets is because food banks sprung up all over the country and continue to prop up an inadequate welfare system. Meanwhile people on benefits, low incomes and reliant on charitable food aid are nutritionally compromised, still dying from preventable illnesses caused by inadequate nutrition but the reasons for those deaths are hidden.

  6. red-blooded 6

    When English and his mates chatter away about “social investment” we need to talk about social equity and social outcomes; the health of our society.

    I’m not averse to more funding targeted towards young children – great. But the Dunedin Study says that by the time you have the evidence about who isn’t getting enough support, you’re not going to make much difference with targeted investment. A better aim is to try to ensure that all children have security, all have play and stimulation, all have chances to develop their language and thinking functions and their emotional responses and social skills. That means investment in benefits and programmes like WFF, but it also means free (or very low cost) early childhood programmes, investment in libraries and playgrounds, public transport infrastructure, low cost broadband, good quality children’s TV, help for parents who are stressed or not coping, family violence intervention… Basically, a healthy and supportive social framework. It may save costs for things like prisons, but it’s not the cheap option; it’s just trying to use resources constructively, to give people better lives.

  7. trademark 7

    We should be very wary of ideology and budget cuts masquerading as data-driven policy making. Look at the money being spent (and cut), then follow it to see where it leads.

    Vague terms like “social investment” invite projection of what people (in this case, Simon), would like to imagine. But I can bet you the actual implementation will be very specific and in line with particular values inspired by a particular ideology…

  8. Dorothy Bulling 8

    So when he has the targeted spending in place, will he still totally underfund that spending, like he is underfunding hospital and medical services, education, and community services provided by organisations like Parkinsons NZ and Multiple Sclerosis NZ? Because that’s what he is doing right now.

  9. miravox 9

    The National party version of social investment seems very strong on identifying the ‘who’ – as in socio-ec/demographic factors that lead to poor outcomes, and very weak in identifying the ‘why’ people may have difficulties growing up that affect their adult lives.

    Expect more bashing in terms of single mothers, racism, poorly educated, poor areas and towns, and the simply poor.

    Labour can own this slogan (oh, how I hate slogans) by investing in the ‘whys’ – what individuals are dealing with personally, and the wider structural contexts of their lives that affect outcomes.

  10. Pat 10

    Not “social investment” but this disturbing piece (the subject of which i was unaware) has its origins in the same camp.

    http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2017/01/14/why-nzers-wouldnt-support-euthanasia-if-they-read-this-why-jenny-shipley-makes-me-never-want-euthanasia/

  11. RedBaronCV 11

    This is the really scary bit . Reading the article below it looks seems pretty clear that at least one cohort of New Zealanders have already had their privacy totally undermined by a huge unconsented privacy invasion.
    I wondered if they had used that cohort because when they were at secondary school (despite parental consent being needed but not gained ) most secondary schools handed over their whole database to the health department so they could do some vaccinations. Looks like it might have been used for other things …

    21 year olds

    And the next bit – we are going to be encouraged to share our data?? Like if you use a community service say ‘ Rape Crisis” you have to hand your details over – . ..
    looks like old Bill is going to force us all to hand over details.

    And how is he proposing using this data to identify the potential tax dodger, tax haven user or over claimer on public expenses??

    A key challenge for Adams this year will be to work out how to negotiate more access to New Zealanders’ private information to further the social investment work by finding all at-risk individuals.

    In a speech last year, English floated the prospect of “testing notions of consent” – asking people how much information they were willing to share and have shared.

    “Our offer to the New Zealand public is this,” English said. “We will commit to delivering services that are better targeted and which will make a real difference, and we will stop spending on services that don’t work – if you will let us make better use of your data.”

    The work to negotiate privacy considerations is being led by the data futures partnership, chaired by Dame Diane Robertson, the former City Missioner at the Auckland City Mission

  12. Jan Rivers 12

    I think Wilson’s analysis is more explanatory than advocating.

    I’ve observed one of the problems with the social investment approach is that the government is seeking to use it to ‘renew the social licence”‘ However the data decisions were made in advance of considering the issues of social acceptability. It’s going to be hard to argue that social licence means anything when any engagement work is taking place after the substantive decisions have been ,made. Here are some documents that make this clear.

    2015 – nothing about social licence here in the Minister’s announcement that big data has been lauanched http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1609/S00493/english-social-investment-analytics-layer-launch.htm
    In 2016 Oh dear perhaps we need to consult on the ethical impacts of what we have done.
    http://datafutures.co.nz/our-work-2/engagement/ and here http://datafutures.co.nz/our-work-2/further-reading/

    I agree that Keith Ng’s piece published yesterday also in the Spinoff. http://thespinoff.co.nz/society/13-01-2017/im-a-data-nerd-and-a-data-cheerleader-but-still-i-fear-bill-englishs-datatopia/ is really useful. In brief It’s a dense read but basically its about the deadliness of using the data rather than an ethical framework or goals to identify what is desirable to be done. It’s speaks to the need for policy and not just outcomes and quotes Bill English as saying that policy is a commodity that a 12 year old can understand that would play well with the ‘anti-elitists’. He has a good response to this view.

    • DH 12.1

      I read your links & see what you mean Jan. They’ve already set the system up before asking us for a so-called social licence to use it. It’s a little hard to trust people who set out to deceive from the start.

      This is quite chilling;

      They talk a lot about ‘anonymising’ the data when their own video reveals it’s not anonymous at all. ‘Sam’ could be any of us. It’s all rather Orwellian.

      • RedBaronCV 12.1.1

        That was a great summary Jan thanks. Gathering the data and mining it without putting an ethical and policy framework in place around what is acceptable to the country.

        Bill is dragging the data together and then they are going to tell us we have to accept contributing to it.

        His approach to the so called “investment angle” also sucks as far as I am concerned. Yes governments spend money but an awful lot of it is on outcomes or “policy consequences”.
        e.g Working for families payments reflect a too low wage structure and a too high cost structure for basics driven by 15% GST, privatised power etc etc. Change policy around unions, power delivery and tax the wealthy more would reduce those payments . But without a frame work of analysis and interpretation and focusing only on the outcome in isolation we may arrive at “do not have children”.

        • Jan Rivers 12.1.1.1

          Yes – that’s a good point. None of the downsides of the current arrangements should be too hard to explain by a progressive politics willing to address the issues. Starting with concepts like predistribution as a solution and the inevitability of poverty under the circumstances you describe shouldn’t be too hard.

      • Draco T Bastard 12.1.2

        It’s a little hard to trust people who set out to deceive from the start.

        Lying and deceiving is pretty much par for the course for National. After all, very few people would vote for them if they said that they were going to oppress most people so as to enrich the already rich.

  13. ian 13

    Even the term ‘targeted welfare’ is a bit misleading. It makes it sound like National-to-the-rescue, when in actual fact it will simply be more begging and humiliating questioning down at Work and Income.

    “I see, so you are applying for a targeted grant for counselling for your children to help them come to terms with your inability to bond properly with them due to your being sexually abused as a child. We need you to fill out this 10-page form detailing your issues, and we need you to supply the relevant police complaint before we can process your application.”

    Just so long as we continue to protect employers from having to provide workers with a fair share of what they produce.

    • Draco T Bastard 13.1

      +1

    • garibaldi 13.2

      What is happening to all these thousands of ‘unfortunates’ who are being cut loose from our welfare safety net? What is the goal of all this humiliation and degradation of people?
      When are the tax avoiders and cheats and Corporates going to be targeted? There’s billions of dollars to collect there cf a paltry millions from welfare ‘meanness’.
      Where are the Opposition outcries on where this is leading? Is Labour happy to fudge the issue? WFF is not the answer. Pitching low paid workers against benes is not the answer. Importing slaves , as we are doing now ,is not the answer.
      We need an overhaul of the system. English’s plan is not the overhaul we need – quite the opposite.

  14. dukeofurl 14

    Simon Wilson, recently laid off as editor of Metro, does seem to be writing a very long job application for beehive spin doctor. Sure beats the gig economy doing barely paid stuff for a ‘startup’ like Spinoff.

    • Once was and others etc 14.1

      Rather that than showing up on RNZ National (although there’s probably a little shuffle going on for a spot on Nine to Noon).
      I wonder when the book’s coming out: From Burma Road to Stardom

  15. Gosman 15

    Surely the left should be more interested in outcomes rather than how much money is spent. If you get better social outcomes from targeted social spending/investment why do you have a problem with that?

    • DH 15.1

      Who decides what is a ‘better social outcome’ Gosman? You? Unelected bureaucrats?

      One of the reports prepared for the Data Futures Partnership had this comment;

      “behaviour change has been called by some ‘the Holy Grail of health care’”

      The idea being to use big data to analyse people’s behaviour and change it if their lifestyle puts more of a burden on the health system.

      The extra stress of trolling this site might flag you for some attention from the thought-Police Gosman, stress is bad for your health and since that costs the taxpayer money we can’t have that can we.

      • Gosman 15.1.1

        Ummm… are you stating that you shouldn’t measure the effectiveness of State funded social programmes?

        • DH 15.1.1.1

          How can you measure something that hasn’t happened yet Gosman?

          • Gosman 15.1.1.1.1

            Social services are happening now. Do you not think it is a good idea to see if spending billions of dollars of taxpayer funds actually makes a difference or do you just base you decision to spend other people’s money on your ‘gut feeling’?

            • Clump_AKA Sam 15.1.1.1.1.1

              Possibly maybe that’s why it’s best to ask front line staff what will improve services instead of telling them what’s up

            • DH 15.1.1.1.1.2

              Err, it must make a difference Gosman. Its very existence is ipso facto a difference.

              Can you make your point please.

              • Gosman

                You seem reluctant to the idea of targeting social spending in such a way that it is most effective. To do this you need to measure outcomes from social programmes. What, if anything, is the problem with this?

                • DH

                  Ah, no Gosman. I asked you who decides what is a ‘better social outcome’. You’ve spent all your time since avoiding answering my question.

  16. Siobhan 16

    “we now know how much of a burden a child is likely to be on the taxpayer ‘.
    Hmmm.
    How about a study on which children are most likely to be a burden on the tax payer by avoiding paying tax. (oh yeah, thats right, sorry, tax MINIMIZATION, which is all perfectly legal you know).
    Or how about those who become a tax burden by requiring massive bailouts, subsidies or just generally draining the tax payers by running ‘For Profit’ social service companies?.
    Or those individuals and governments who have actually helped create and allow the tax havens in the first place??
    Are they not a burden? Should we not identify those individuals and spend money on providing them with things like ‘Moral and Social Responsibility’ classes?

    • Gosman 16.1

      When you state ‘For profit’ social services companies do you include private providers of services such as Clinical Psychologists, Social Workers, Therapists, and Lawyers? All these provide services to the State but are not classified as Public servants.

    • KJT 16.2

      The biggest burden on the taxpayer, is the children of the wealthy.

      They will grow up to consume the biggest share of our community provided resources.

      While their investments, rents and assets contribute little tax, and remove even more money from the community.

  17. greywarshark 17

    “we now know how much of a burden a child is likely to be on the taxpayer ‘.

    What, what? That’s like saying I’m sick of life. Children and caring for them and teaching them values and skills and how to be part of a mutally supporting community and planet is what life is about. All the rest is futile, fatuous confabulation. So stick any complaints about children being a burden in the place where the sun don’t shine.

  18. greywarshark 18

    Another take on the social investment approach which would be awesome if English just left out the commercial aspect and went with social investment and wonderful people just being people with all their skills and potential rising to excite and advance them and the world. Nice long sentence that one.

    I heard on Radionz an interesting interview with Maori worker in social entrepreneur mode with a hapu I think. She was pressing the government’s social investment button and seeing how it worked for them. It has long been pointed out that money spent at the right time yields huge advantages and savings in the long run. Like the old saying ‘ A stitch in time saves nine.’
    Thinking people know the truth of that, it has just been a problem getting it through those thick barriers in politicians and the wigglers to the top who have minds filled with propaganda, prejudice and dominated by rote learning.

    So listen to this. on whanau ora which i think is the one I heard this morning. She sounds positive and clued up and hopeful that they are achieving.
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/summerreport/audio/201829948/whanaua-ora-engages-with-families

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