Tapu Misa: Right On

Written By: - Date published: 1:12 pm, February 28th, 2011 - 128 comments
Categories: welfare - Tags: ,

Tapu Misa’s latest piece in the Herald is just so right I can’t really add anything to it.

She nicely sums up the Welfare Working Group’s message:

We’re not saying it’s your fault you can’t get a job. We’re just saying you’re a malingering freeloader who’s not trying hard enough.

Everybody would love to see benefit numbers drop, not least the 158,000 unemployed people who are desperately looking for work.  And Misa’s happy to acknowledge where the WWG is being sensible:

Its recommendations for huge government investment in early childhood education, after school care, and drug and rehabilitation services (at a cost of up to $285 million a year), as well as help with childcare and other costs for sole parents forced to look for work, are a welcome acknowledgement that there’s no quick or cheap fix to getting people off benefits.

But she’s quick to attack the hypocrisy of looking after the future of children by forcing them deeper into poverty:

Where, for example, is the economic or social benefit in forcing the mother of a 3-year-old, or 14-month-old, to find work?

If the country can afford to pay for the transport and childcare costs for the more than 20 hours it will take a sole parent to fulfil her obligations to the state, why can it not afford to let her stay home with her child if her circumstances and the labour market make that the more sensible and beneficial choice? Should we ignore child development research and our instincts about a child’s best interests to exact our pound of flesh?

The evidence tells us that the children of beneficiaries often live in conditions that set them up for poor health and educational failure, limiting their future potential, and increasing the likelihood that they will end up on the dole, or in prison, or addicted to drugs and alcohol.

We could ensure a better standard of living for them now, as health professionals have urged, and as a more generous Australia does, for example, but we would prefer to make a point, to teach their parents a lesson.

If our education and health systems are then overloaded, why are we surprised when some end up welfare-dependent?

and points out the flaws in the groups starting assumptions:

A tiny minority of beneficiaries cheats the system. The numbers of young girls having babies is trending downwards. The employment rate for the sick and disabled is among the highest in the OECD. Most sole parents and sickness beneficiaries will move off benefits if suitable work is available and they have support.

But I recommend you read it in its entirety.

(Rocky & Sue Bradford’s protest last week get a nice big picture in the print edition too.  It’s of the banner that was put on Paula Bennett’s office roof:

“If we canceled welfare….how many would starve to death?  Bugger all” – John Key

To me, the question that needs asking of John Key has to be: And how many starving to death would be too many?)

128 comments on “Tapu Misa: Right On”

  1. randal 1

    I belive that rebstock is from wisconson where they have different interpretations of the word democracy than the rest of the world.
    they are supposed to be the party of business but they never create any new businesses.
    they would rather get their jollies from bashing people that cant fight back.

    • Treetop 1.1

      When I hear the word Wisconsin I think of the 1993 part sale of NZ Rail to Wisconsin Central Transportation Corp. Rebstock is another freak from Wisconsin that NZ does not need.

      • prism 1.1.1

        When I hear Wisconsin I think of Wisconsin Works a programme that this Midwestern USA state set up to coerce women with babies and children away from them and into any low-level paid work that was available in their wider area. I also think of pellets of fire retardant that got mixed up with animal feed in that state, and how the authorities set limits on which farmers they would compensate. So one who was left out had to keep milking his cows to get income, some were a bit wobbly and he had to tie their legs together with twine for stability.

        That’s the sort of rigid, cold-blooded utilitarian view that we can expect from Nats who have chosen Ms Rebstock. Keep the beneficiaries bare-foot and not pregnant, and just hungry enough so they get dizzy but don’t fall down. A bit of string is what they’ll get, not a strong rope ladder to climb above their present problems, nor a helping hand so they can achieve good lives up from the minimum wage level and having to accept the poorest accommodation.

        And the entry-level jobs, the unskilled, semi-skilled that beneficiaries might have been able to do have been given away by these strutting political peacocks with their raucous voices. The jobs have been wiped out in the government’s readiness to diminish needed protective tariffs, so that we can access foreign markets for our dairy products. Which has not made the dairy farmers better off because they have over-extended themselves buying and pushing up prices in a farm purchase bubble, so they are moaning again. All we get for our pains as a country is odious people like that Crafar clot and flesh-eating robots that want to set up industrial farming governed by technology that opens gates and turns water on and milks all run by computer kms away.

      • Treetop 1.1.2

        Rebstock is from Montana.

  2. Where, for example, is the economic or social benefit in forcing the mother of a 3-year-old, or 14-month-old, to find work?

    Actually, that was 14-week-old. Misa doesn’t seem to realise just how batshit crazy Rebstock et al are. That said, if the govt sees to it that childcare becomes more widely and cheaply available (eg, home-based care), a work test for DPB recipients with 3-year-olds plus would be fine. Of course, the govt would have an intensive war to wage against the NZEI before childcare could become more widely and cheaply available.

    • pollywog 2.1

      sweet..so a parent can form a company to oversee childcare for their own kids and claim it as work from home.

      gets them off the benefit and pads out the employment stats. Only thing is, nothing’s changed except someone gets to clip the ticket on the way past.

      fucking brilliant !!!

    • Nothing’s changed, other than that the customers of the mother running the home-based childcare are in paid work instead of on welfare. If there’s a universe in which that isn’t a good result, it’s an odd one.

      • Deborah Kean 2.2.1

        “are in paid work instead of on welfare.”
        Er, where has this paid work suddenly come from? Your keyboard?
        BTW, when did we adopt the Americanism ‘welfare’? I think it was under Shipley and co., previously people were beneficiaries, who received benefits. Now it’s welfare and a term Winnie Peters pioneered ‘the benefit’.(Anticipating Rebstock’s group, who want there to be just one benefit, with supplementary payments. )
        It matters what words we use. “Welfare” goes with words like “queen” to make the ‘DPB slappers” one RWNJ here is so obsessed with. It also goes nicely with work, to make one of Shipley/Richardson’s favourite things, yes, ‘workfare’…
        About the same time, Mark Bennett on Radio Pathetic, declared that State Houses were also ‘welfare’, and low and behold, from being an alternate source of accomodation, used by half the families at school with me (who weren’t lucky enough to have dead grandparents who’d bequeathed a house to them) state housing became a means-tested ‘privilege’.
        Deb

        • Psycho Milt 2.2.1.1

          Re the term “welfare,” as a waster and munter in my yoof I was ‘on welfare’ courtesy of an unemployment benefit from the ‘Dept of Social Welfare’ back in 1980. If we did get it from the Yanks, we got it a long time ago.

        • Colonial Viper 2.2.1.2

          We must not let the Right take over usage of individual terms and cease using them ourselves. Just like how the Right try and frame “Union” as a dirty word. Don’t allow them.

          The social democratic welfare state is a development to be proud of, and its time for NZ to evolve the concept further for the benefit of the many.

          • Deborah Kean 2.2.1.2.1

            Good points, CV and Carol… I suppose I was really asking when it became a pejorative! I for my was an applicant for the Unemployment benefit the day after I left school, although I never actually received it – my Dad took each of us down to the DOL to sign on as soon as school ended – he had grown up during the depression, and believed in making firmly sure we’d survive as a family… He didn’t trust that we’d be able to find jobs, but it being 1970 (and 1972 for my sister) we did. There was no stigma, no pejorative and in the end no need – we simply went in and told the nice Scotsman to cancel the benefits we’d never actually received, as we were in work.
            It’s sad to think now, that Mums and Dads take their teenagers down to sign on when school ends, not because they are being super-careful like my Dad, but because they have to, because there’s a very good chance the kids won’t be able to find jobs…
            Deb

        • Carol 2.2.1.3

          I thought the term “welfare” came from the “welfare state”, which is an NZ & British term. I thought NZ was the first country to construct a comprehensive welfare state. In the UK the welfare state goes back to the Beveridge Report & the immediate aftermath of WW2 – it aimed to provide for all, from cradle to the grave.

          OK, a quick check indicates the term ‘”welfare” has a different meaning in different countries:
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welfare#History

          In the United States and Canada, welfare has a special meaning in politics, referring to financial aid for the poor. In Europe, welfare services tend to be regarded as universal, available to rich and poor alike, thus guaranteeing a minimal level of well-being and social support for all citizens without the stigma of charity. This is termed “social solidarity”.

          I guess it all depends on how the term is used.

          • mcflock 2.2.1.3.1

            Yup, it’s one of “those” words. It’s meaning changes dramatically depending on whether you say it or spit it.

      • Janice 2.2.2

        Not at all if you have the mindset of the NACTs. If a mother stays at home looking after her child(ren) it is not considered paid work so does not appear on the GDP. If she gets a job (however low paid) and pays someone to look after her child(ren) then both her income and the payment to the child minders show up on the GDP and makes the country look good in the eyes of S&P et al. – Marilyn Waring “Counting for Nothing”

    • Deborah Kean 2.3

      I take it you don’t have a 3 year old! When he was 6, my son hated my working, and protested with everything in him (I was of course his only parent, and knowing I was at work, and unable to attend sports days, collect him if he had another ear infection or an accident, drove him crazy.) Why work-test mothers of 3 year olds? Where are the jobs supposed to come from? If “married ladies” as many of them call themselves, can stay home with their 3 year olds, and if they want to, it’s only hubby they need to beg, plead and cajole, not the entire talk-back listening public) why can’t single mothers?
      So, you think only the NZEI stands between you and your dream of having a solo mother cleaning your toilets for you, while the gum-chewing moronic high-school drop-out up the street looks after her infant inbetween petting her boyfriend?
      Deb

      • Psycho Milt 2.3.1

        I take it you don’t have a 3 year old!

        I don’t have 3-year-olds now, but when I did they didn’t particularly care about me working because they’d been in childcare as long as they could remember. More to the point, what they might have liked or not liked didn’t really come into it.

        Where are the jobs supposed to come from?

        A few decades ago there were 3 million people in New Zealand, now there’s over 4 million. Somehow, we didn’t end up with a million extra unemployed. Where did all the jobs come from? They came from the economic activity of the people living here. The number of jobs in a country isn’t some fixed amount, and the fact that fewer vacancies exist in a recession doesn’t absolve people from the obligation to seek a source of income.

        If “married ladies” as many of them call themselves, can stay home with their 3 year olds, and if they want to, it’s only hubby they need to beg, plead and cajole, not the entire talk-back listening public) why can’t single mothers?

        Because, if they’re on the DPB, it’s the taxpayer they need to beg, plead with and cajole, and the taxpayer tends to be resistant to pleading.

        So, you think only the NZEI stands between you and your dream of having a solo mother cleaning your toilets for you…

        The NZEI doesn’t stand between me and anything, but it does stand between sole parents and affordable childcare, most definitely.

        • Colonial Viper 2.3.1.1

          The NZEI doesn’t stand between me and anything, but it does stand between sole parents and affordable childcare, most definitely.

          Yeah more race to the bottom talk, while the rich get richer.

          What are you trying to tell women? Your way ahead in life is to find a rich man to marry, stay at home and look after the kids?

          Because raising a family like that is a privilege that only the well off are now allowed?

        • Deborah Kean 2.3.1.2

          “Because, if they’re on the DPB, it’s the taxpayer they need to beg, plead with and cajole, and the taxpayer tends to be resistant to pleading.”
          Even though the DPB was established so that the children of single mothers wouldn’t have to become latch-key kids? You want to turn that back, fair enough, be honest.
          It’s not ‘the taxpayer’ as if you’re the only one of them, it’s tax payers. One of them is Frank Ritchie, who’s written an excellent article about why he supports ‘welfare’ – he grew up with a solo mother on ‘welfare’.. as did many other taxpayers, who are not like you!
          I am not saying that DPB women should have to plead beg and cajole ‘the taxpayer’ at all. I do know some married ladies have to beg their selfish hubbies to let them raise their children. (Hubby wants his boat and his trip to Las Vegas, so the snivelling brats can just go to day care whether they like it or not.)
          There’s a plethora of research showing that children with one stable carer fare much better than latch key kids, or kids exposed to bullying, disease and uncertainty in day care. Play centre and kindy are fine, my sins went there quite happily. There’s a day care centre near where I live – I often see screaming babies being dropped off at 07.00 in the morning, knowing they won’t see Mum until 10 hours later when she comes to pick them up, exhausted and knowing she’ll be up til midnight feeding and bathing the kids, preparing school stuff for the older ones, and if she’s unlucky, servicing Daddy.

          • Psycho Milt 2.3.1.2.1

            he grew up with a solo mother on ‘welfare’.. as did many other taxpayers, who are not like you!

            Many other taxpayers are not like me in multivariate ways, which really makes no difference. If your meaning is “not like me” in the sense of not minding having their taxes contribute to social welfare benefits, they’re not unlike me at all, as I don’t have any problem with my taxes being used in that way. My point here is merely that it’s not some kind of terrible insult or gross injustice to expect that able-bodied welfare beneficiaries will make reasonable efforts to turn themselves into ex-beneficiaries.

            I do know some married ladies have to beg their selfish hubbies to let them raise their children. (Hubby wants his boat and his trip to Las Vegas, so the snivelling brats can just go to day care whether they like it or not.)

            Yeah, see, I suspect these “married ladies” might harbour a few opinions about you too, but really it’s between you and them.

            There’s a plethora of research showing that children with one stable carer fare much better than latch key kids, or kids exposed to bullying, disease and uncertainty in day care.

            On this, you and the world’s most deranged religious conservatives are of one mind. To those not of a religious conservative bent, such research is politically-motivated bollocks. It’s not a terrible crime against your children for them to be in childcare while you’re at work, it’s just them being in childcare while you’re at work. They somehow survive this terrible injustice, just like they survive having a parent on welfare.

            • Deborah Kean 2.3.1.2.1.1

              “On this, you and the world’s most deranged religious conservatives are of one mind. To those not of a religious conservative bent, such research is politically-motivated bollocks. It’s not a terrible crime against your children for them to be in childcare while you’re at work, it’s just them being in childcare while you’re at work. They somehow survive this terrible injustice, just like they survive having a parent on welfare.”
              When all else fails, trot out the bashing of the religious, hey? Newsflash, I am religious and as a result, have been called (wrongly) a conservative. But the research in question is not the property of the religious, or of the anti-clerical, it’s simply fact.
              Your kids may have thrived in daycare, some do. Many, perhaps most, do not. I had a bf once whose father spoke once about being sent from Kenya where his parents were part of the colonial aristocracy, to boarding school in England at the age of 8. He had attachment issues that carried on down through the generations, to his sons. Even filthy rich upper class kids suffer from being whipped away from their mothers for parents convenience.
              You seem to me to just be sadly desperate to justify your actions re your wife and kids!
              Deb

              • You seem to me to just be sadly desperate to justify your actions re your wife and kids!

                You seem to be a few things to me too, but it’s hardly relevant to the discussion, is it?

                • lprent

                  I have no idea what DK said, but that is an almost perfect response. Have you been studying felix? 😈

                  • Deborah Kean

                    WTF? I don’t what I said to get that response either! (Unless it was that I am not that thrilled with babies and 3 year olds screaming in day care all day! I call it neglect, and I get hammered, and I am taken aback that he says he doesn’t give a toss whether his kids were happy or not being warehoused, he did it, and I can get stuffed because I am just a religious conservative. I call bigotry, even from you, Lyn. Shame.)
                    Spam words ‘unnecessarily’ as in being a bit unnecessarily harsh on me , aren’t you. Lyn?
                    Is it the admission that I am religious that has now made me a legitimate target? If so, che cazzo di nuovo? Secondo me, questo thread ha veramente diventa una pezza di merda…

                    • lprent

                      Nah. Stand back from it a bit. I didn’t even read what you’d written and he’d responded to as I usually read backward through the comments. I just read his reply and the section he quoted. It simply dismissed whatever you had said with a small sharp scapel by concentrating on one statement

                      Btw: I don’t care much about religious beliefs one way or another, I only care about behavior. Half my extended family is religious or atheistic (same thing as far as I am concerned), half are purely agnostic (including me – blame it on a Sunday school teacher who couldn’t handle a 8 year old who read the old testament, Paul, and a couple other books and liked asking questions she didn’t like to answer). Of the people I respect, a fairly solid majority are pretty religious. Of the people I despise, a fairly solid majority are religious. I just think that people who are religous tend to be more extreme.

                    • Have you been studying felix?

                      No, it just irks me when people give me a free pop psychology diagnosis of my motivations – there’s really no need for it.

                      …I am taken aback that he says he doesn’t give a toss whether his kids were happy or not being warehoused…

                      I said what they liked or didn’t like wasn’t relevant to it, just like it wasn’t relevant whether they liked learning to use a toilet, or sharing their toys, or going to school. Raising children isn’t about what they like, it’s about raising them.

          • M 2.3.1.2.2

            Deborah, I think childcare can be a lifesaver for some parents. My eldest was always very busy from the time he was walking and later was diagnosed with ADHD. I had him in child/daycare for three mornings a week eventually going to 20 hours per week to retain some sanity and be able to get some housework done because having the bathroom flooded a lot amongst other little surprises palled very quickly.

            If the ex and I hadn’t been in the fortunate position of receiving an inheritance that paid off the house with some spare change then I may well have gone down the path of putting my kids in full-time childcare and probably would have ended up guilt ridden but why do men in the main not experience such guilt? The assumption seems to be that it’s mother’s responsibility to organise any alternative care of children and doesn’t seem to be something that men dwell on in my and my friends’ experience anyway.

            I know a couple of male sole parents who have gone all out for their kids – one on the DPB who has sole custody and one who is self-employed with 50/50 custody and they have shown that they can make a good fist of it. They get out with their kids and play games on the lawn and take the kids to sport and really get involved with homework etc and they are knackered at the end of the day.

            On the religious front, often religion is used to control and guilt women some of whom seem to willingly submit to the strictures it imposes on their behaviour and outlook and Christopher Hitchen’s comment where religions seek to control their adherents rings all too true. Having been schooled by nuns most of my school life I can tell you I got very sick of being told that it wasn’t Christian, proper or ladylike to do this or that when all around me I could see that males more or less did as they pleased without as much fear of censure and it chafed. If a woman wants to utter the odd pithy fuck or shit why shouldn’t she? And no, I’m not talking about a constant barrage of four-letter words but as far as I’m concerned the only word for when you’ve dropped a heavy piece of firewood on your foot is fuck, but I’m self censoring around kids. Heaven forbid a woman should be the least bit libidinous if of a religious bent because that would never do and I find it all a bit disingenuous that women are supposed to exist from the neck up – again I’m not advocating that women adopt a ‘five drinks and I’m anybody’s’ stance but be allowed to be human – the same as the male of the species.

            • Deborah Kean 2.3.1.2.2.1

              I see your point, M. I had more or less the opposite problem – my younger son has a touch of Aspergers, and separation issues, the older one had even more serious separation issues that resulted from a (successful) paternal kidnapping when he was 3. It was years until he and I were allowed to see each other again – so I am unimpressed by what solo daddies do, they don’t deserve the right to do anything!
              Result was that my older son had even more serious separation anxiety when he was allowed to be near me. Daycare would have been a complete disaster for them, and I have never been of the opinion that kids should have to like it or lump it, as PsychoMilt says…
              Re your situation, if you ever were religious (other than an up-bringing that from what you say, you found completely uncongenial) you would have been able to take advantage of the support system to be found in these communities and would have saved a lot on day care! 🙂
              I had an atheist father and an agnostic mother, I did not have a religious upbringing at all, but I did see exactly what you saw – “being told that it wasn’t proper or ladylike to do this or that when all around me I could see that males more or less did as they pleased without as much fear of censure and it chafed.” I saw that from the equally agnostic parents of my friends, and from teachers at school.
              I am very unimpressed by the ‘religion as instrument of oppression and control’ argument. This is neither the time nor the place to discuss it, but as atheist arguments go, that has to be one of the lamest!
              Some women (perhaps most, at least of those who were the ‘nerds’ at school, my peer group) don’t feel any lack of permission to drink, have sex and generally act like the baby boomer men. It’s no hardship not to!
              And for any woman who does, well, discretion serves doesn’t it? (It did for my mum’s generation (1918-80). They kicked over the traces well and thoroughly, but unlike the girls of the 60s and after, they didn’t advertise it. It’s actually a lot of fun to be subtle…

              • M

                Deborah, re the solo dads, I didn’t mean to imply that they deserve knighthoods because they fulfil the role many women do every day without much thanks, but from the perspective of they just get on with the job in hand and seem to very much enjoy the interaction with their offspring.

                We’ll have to sit out on the religion as a means of control 🙂

                I wasn’t with the in-crowd at school either but then never felt the need to prove myself by smoking, drinking or being free with my favours where men were concerned. I’ve seen too many nasty outcomes where women and men do not really suss someone out before crossing the line. What’s the rush? In getting to know someone properly and deciding they’re worth knowing in the biblical way over some weeks or months people can avoid the ‘chew your own arm off ‘ regrets and remain ‘unAIDed’.

                • Vicky32

                  Pretty much agreed M! (Because of my experience, I am pretty down on solo fathers – not just my own experience but that of other non-custodial mothers I have known. Occasionally I might be being unfair.. )
                  But it seems to me that especially if they have only one parent, most kids need to not have to go to daycare.. although there is a case to be made for it (such as your situation!)
                  Deb

      • B 2.3.2

        What it comes down to is that some children are fine in daycare and the work/childcare combo is do-able for some solo parents. But every single family and child is different. Some children are not okay in daycare (arguably most if were talking about 14 week olds) and some sole parents have to cope with factors such as disability, isolation or extremely stubborn children (which can be a much bigger deal than it sounds if one has to get to work on time and detatch a screaming hysterical child from ones leg and deposit it in daycare on the way EVERY SINGLE DAY) Whatever benefit system we have needs to fit in with this reality.

  3. Bored 3

    Interestingly Wisconsin has gone broke and cant pay public servants, the whole place is coming apart at the seams after the neo lib crazies wrecked it. Rebstock probably got well paid to be part of the local demolition crew. To call her crazy is to associate her with some intellegence….dont.

    On another note poor Tapu has the role of being a sane person with a heart of gold writing columns for a right wing rag. Much power and praise to her, she must think her job on the line every time she contradicts the current orthodoxy. Put that lady in parliament.

  4. Good perceptive writing from Tapu who is one of my (two) favourite columnists in the Herald.

    Of course this will be held up by some as irrefutable evidence that the Herald is a liberal bastion front for the far left in New Zealand …

    • Anne 4.1

      “Good perceptive writing from Tapu who is one of my (two) favourite columnists in the Herald.”

      Tapu Misa’s columns are always worth a read.

      Out of curiosity, who’s your other favourite columnist ms? Think I know… interesting to see if I’m right 😉

      • mickysavage 4.1.1

        And the winner is ……… [drumroll] ………

        Brian Rudman. Although I guess that was fairly predictable.

        I do not include the Sunday Herald in this though. Matt McCarten is consistently good but unfortunately lately he has been about the only thing in the whole paper worth reading.

        • lprent 4.1.1.1

          It was better the weekend before this last one. I brought it because I was laid up and bored with books. They’d done a revamp and the article quality was somewhat up. Problem is that the HoS is always pretty much crap apart from a couple of opinioners.

        • Anne 4.1.1.2

          Thanks ms. I was right.
          Wasn’t all that clever of me was it. 😀

          As for your remark re-McCarten. My advice to all… don’t buy that third-class rag. Read Matt McCarten online.

  5. ianmac 5

    Comments on her column quickly bring out all those who are ripping off the benefit system. Yet the fraud rate is .01%. One in a thousand is not enough to punish the other 999.

    • *sigh* Yep, aint that always the way? Case in point, the poor bloke who tells the Kiwiblog commentariat that his accommodation business is wrecked, so he asks WINZ for a one-off grant to feed his 3 kids and gets told he’s ineligible because he’s not on a benefit.

      But he also happens to mention that a solo mother is staying at his place, paid for by WINZ, and she doesn’t do any work…

      Cue complete focus on the “bludger” (and if his story is true, she is a bludger; one of the few) but no focus at all on the glaring anomaly that, if fixed, would see this bloke deservedly helped out.

      We seem to have become preconditioned to focus entirely on the anecdotal. Statistics are mistrusted – fair enough, they can be manipulated, but if you take time to think about the raw data you can draw your own conclusions. Even one’s own observations can be mistrusted – after all, how many “bludging beneficiaries” does someone actually know?

      But if this guy down the road’s sister-in-law knows this neighbour… well let’s base our attitude to welfare on that.

      • prism 5.1.1

        But he also happens to mention that a solo mother is staying at his place, paid for by WINZ, and she doesn’t do any work…
        Cue complete focus on the “bludger” (and if his story is true, she is a bludger; one of the few) but no focus at all on the glaring anomaly that, if fixed, would see this bloke deservedly helped out.

        But many guys think that housework and childcare isn’t real work don’t they. This bloke says that the DPB doesn’t work well that sounds like an empty, exagerrated statement. What does he regard as work, only paid work? Does she sit around all day eating strawberries or dying her hair or talking to her friends? And perhaps she is going through a breakdown and that’s all she can manage just now.

        • Rex Widerstrom 5.1.1.1

          What does he regard as work, only paid work? Does she sit around all day eating strawberries or dying her hair or talking to her friends? And perhaps she is going through a breakdown and that’s all she can manage just now.

          According to the commenter I’m referring to, said beneficiary stays in bed till 4pm, then plays the Playstation.

          Don’t shoot me, I’m merely repeating what I’ve been told, and can only assume it’s correct.

          Assuming there’s no breakdown, IMO that makes her an undeserving recipient.

          • prism 5.1.1.1.1

            RW – Well that answers my question. I am always wary of sweeping comments like – somebody doesn’t work. Very destructive lifestyle. My idea is that all DPBs should be doing polytechnic courses part-time learning the best ways to bring up their children to be happy, well-balanced and with happy, capable, wise mothers (and not to be sexist, fathers). Then gaining NCEA credits and moving to employable skills training. Certainly gets a body out of the house with a good outcome.

            But I think that Paula B scuppered that one when she took away Training Allowance. Such a high-talking and low-dealing politician that one. A really good newbie for the National Party, the right stuff.

    • Treetop 5.2

      We all know that the serious fraud office is short of money to investigate people being ripped off by finance companies. May be the government want it this way as they are attacking those down on their luck who are poor, but give a long rope to their rich cohort who can set up another business too easily after leaving a tail of destruction behind. Well the Nact bunch want to reduce benefit fraud and do nothing practical to stop this.

      Winz cannot even stop benefit fraud in their own WINZ offices committed by their own staff.

    • Mac1 5.3

      Ianmac, the fraud rate was related to dollars paid, not to number of fraudulent beneficiaries, I think you’ll find. Correct me if I’m wrong, as I’m writing a Soapbox article with this as a salient point. Cheers. I’m happy that one dollar in a thousand is fraudulently mis-appropriated if it means that all those who are in genuine need, get assistance.

      The next trick is to get all those who genuinely need assistance to apply, rather than not do, so as to avoid the ‘bludger’ epithet.

  6. Craig Glen Eden 6

    .01 thats pretty low, whats the rate for National Mps who rip off Parliament or who ask questions in the house that they benefit from , on say the railways?

  7. bobo 7

    Her column always stands out as well thought through,complete opposite to the knee-jerk drivel Garth George, Kerry Woodem and the like get paid for..

  8. ZeeBop 8

    This is an identity issue, is the NZ economy for the people or is it for profit. The right insist that without profit there is no benefit for the people. The left assume wrongly that the right care if the poor are hurt or not. The right just want profits. But seems to me the right put the cart before the horse, and the left fail to call it for what it is, just poor leadership on the part of the right. Our economy gets stronger, sustainable, resilient, when the invisible hand is most active, when most people are engaged in trade and commerce, but National policies do not help the economy, they harm the invisible hand. Labour helped in this, the crisis in child poverty, youth suicide, exporting skilled citizens, have been core to both major parties management. National need to be stopped from turning everything into poverty, and Labour need to be kicked in the behind because its obvious to anyone that non-profits, voluntarism, working together, sharing profits, building ACC, EQC, etc is how we as a society get out of crisis. National are only digging us deeper. National can’t government for the people, don’t want to govern for the people, and when finally forced into action will favour the few.
    So why do ?30%-40%? continue to vote for them, because of some envy of those at the bottom who get to eat rather than starve, who get to see a doctor rather than breed disease, that have babies to support the future economy rather than commit suicide? No, I don’t believe that. National voters seem to believe that National are stopping those who are making it hard to get ahead, helping make more profit. And therein lies the problem, the message of transition, that the profits of the past thirty years are gone, we will never see their like for another thirty years.

  9. “We seem to have become preconditioned to focus entirely on the anecdotal. Statistics are mistrusted – fair enough, they can be manipulated, but if you take time to think about the raw data you can draw your own conclusions. ”

    So let’s stick with the facts.

    1/ The DPB progressed from being an emergency benefit to a statutory one in 1973. There had been around 8,000 recipients at the time of change – now there are around 113,000.

    2/ Most of the children living in poverty in NZ are in DPB homes.

    3/ “On average, sole parents receiving main benefits had more disadvantaged backgrounds than might have been expected:

    • just over half had spent at least 80% of the history period observed (the previous 10 years in most cases) supported by main benefits
    • a third appeared to have become parents in their teenage years.”(MSD)

    4/ In 2006 27,219 had added a child to an existing benefit

    5/ At the end of 2009 14,394 babies born that year were being supported by a main benefit. The younger the child begins on welfare the lower the likelihood of it leaving welfare.

    So, Misa would support the poverty problem being addressed through raising benefit levels. However multiple US and European studies have shown that increasing payment levels results in a higher number of single parents. Yet single parenthood seems to be the reason why so many children are poor. It’s a vicious circle.

    But the status quo can’t be the answer.

    • pollywog 9.1

      Shotgun weddings all round then is it Lindsay ?

      • Colonial Viper 9.1.1

        Nah the answer is clearly for all women to find a rich man to marry, and then make it financially impossible to leave him = fewer solo mothers.

        1/ The DPB progressed from being an emergency benefit to a statutory one in 1973. There had been around 8,000 recipients at the time of change – now there are around 113,000

        What an obvious misdirect. You may have not noticed, but quite a few things have changed in society in the last 35 years to cause this. Rogernomics and Ruthanasia for starters.

        • RedLogix 9.1.1.1

          The monogamy model of human reproduction is a total failure. In reality humans evolved as collective breeders; the DPB is simply a modern reflection of that.

    • Carol 9.2

      The best way to lift women from poverty is through education (see for instance http://www.centerwomenpolicy.org/programs/poverty/ )

      Bashing beneficiaries won’t help, nor will making life tougher for them, especially if there are no easy routes out of poverty/low incomes. But the present government has made it harder for women to get tertiary education, and has done nothing to increase the amount of jobs available.

    • Lindsay:

      The quote you’ve lifted from me to begin this with doesn’t relate to statistics in terms of numbers in receipt of any benefit but to ianmac’s original comments about statistics belying the commonly held prejudices that the majority of people in receipt of a benefit are:
      a) shiftless losers proud of their ability to rip off hard working taxpayers by claiming benefits to which they are not entitled; and
      b) predisposed to remain on the benefit for as long as they can.

      ianmac mentioned that the fraud rate is 0.1%. Prejudice ‘a’ destroyed by statistics. As for prejudice ‘b’, according to your own OIA on 5 March 2008, at the end of December 2007 the number who’d been on the DPB in excess of 10 was 11,409, or about 10% of the total. With unemployment, the attrition rates are much higher (IIRC something like 50% who go on are off again in less than a year).

      So by all means let’s debate solutions to reducing their numbers, but my point was, let’s not do so from a platform driven by anecdotally informed prejudice. Note that I’m not suggesting you do so (I read your stuff with interest and respect even if I don’t often agree) but that that’s the basis which “informs” the attacks by the Micael Lhaws’s of talkback radio land.

      • ianmac 9.3.1

        That was .01 % Rex

      • Marty G 9.3.2

        the long-term dole numbers are even better than that. Even now, 70% of people on the dole have been on it continuously for less than a year (58% of those on the dole have been on any benefit continuously for less than a year).

        http://www.msd.govt.nz/about-msd-and-our-work/publications-resources/statistics/benefit/2010-national-benefit-factsheets.html

        • Rex Widerstrom 9.3.2.1

          Right, off to the Re-education Camp with Messrs Lhaws, Watson et al.

          “Repeat after me… 6 out of ten beneficiaries aren’t bludgers… 7 out 10 people on the dole aren’t bludgers…”

          We need to find a way of dropping this into just about every conversation with another person.

          Or someone needs to pay people who continuously call talkback and make the point till it seeps through the bile surrounding the brains of many of their listeners.

          Mind you, I doubt even that would work. repeatedly stating the facts, to no avail, to an old bloke who kept calling to say “all beneficiaries are bludgers” was the first and only time I ever told a caller to just f— off during my entire time on talkback, and believe me I used to have some frustrating days in that job.

    • ianmac 9.4

      Lindsay. “4/ In 2006 27,219 had added a child to an existing benefit
      In 2006 there were approx 61,000 births. Are you saying that nearly 50% of them were born into DPB? Really? If you are going to attack the people on DPB, something like 90% of whom have been on DPB for less than a year, try being factual.

  10. Lindsay 10

    Deborah Kean, The word ‘welfare’ became synonymous with ‘benefits’ after the Social Welfare department was created in the early 1970s.

    • felix 10.1

      I don’t think that’s true at all. In fact I don’t recall it being used in public discourse in NZ until the slight rise of the ACT party.

      The NZ expression, as far as I can recall, was always Social Welfare.

      Has anyone seen a NZ quote from the 1970s using ACT ‘s American term “Welfare” as opposed to the NZ expression Social Welfare? Or the 80s?

      (ACT don’t believe in society so using words like “social” makes their tongues burn btw.)

      • Anne 10.1.1

        “I don’t think that’s true at all.”

        Neither do I felix. The Social Welfare Department encompassed all social oriented initiatives including the pension, benefits of various kinds – eg. widows and widowers benefits. When the DPB was first introduced in the eartly 1970s it became a part of the same department.

        Methinks Lindsay is slightly rearranging history to fit in with her right wing viewpoint.

        • felix 10.1.1.1

          Well she has always been at war with Eastasia…

        • Lindsay 10.1.1.2

          The Social Welfare department was created in 1972. The introduction of the DPB is irrelevant. Prior to that it was the Social Security department. It took in Child Welfare, which had previously been under the auspices of the Education Department. I had a brother who worked for ‘welfare’ in the late 70s. ‘Social’ was easily dropped in the vernacular. Interestingly NZ had, before that, adopted the term ‘social security’ from the US in the 1930s because it had a better, more dignified sound than ‘pension.’ At that time the idea of public assistance was in the ascendancy. Now it is in the opposite phase. It’s part of a cycle.

          • felix 10.1.1.2.1

            You had a brother who worked for Social Welfare in the 70s? Great!

            That’ll help you to find a quote or reference from the pre-ACT era – a single documented mention from anywhere in NZ – of benefits being referred to as “welfare”.

  11. Treetop 11

    I can see a clear correlation of jobs disappearing to increase in welfare dependency.

    I would like to see a spread sheet of sorts as in the above, for liable child support payment by the parent. I reckon there would be a correlation to skipping payment or a minimal payment to unemployment. Enough dads have skipped the Tasman to escape their responsibility of parenthood. Some hook up with another woman and leave her high and dry as well. The more children a man has, the less the liable child support payment is.

    There are some brillant dads out there, but there are also some real bastards.

  12. Lindsay 12

    Pollywog, Most weddings have always been “shotgun”.

    “A 1924 study found 77 percent of first-born children in the period 1920-22 were conceived outside marriage, and the figure for 1915-17 is only slightly lower. By 1971, the percentage had risen only a little, to 80 percent.” Adoption NZ.

    The point is most people tended to stick together when they shared the responsibility for children. The DPB changed that. I have no objection to people getting some social assistance to exit a bad relationship but the DPB shouldn’t be a surrogate permanent parent.

    • RedLogix 12.1

      I have no objection to people getting some social assistance to exit a bad relationship but the DPB shouldn’t be a surrogate permanent parent.

      Why not?

      • Colonial Viper 12.1.1

        Lindsay doesn’t think raising children as a single parent is a real job, you know in terms of adding anything productive to the economy, the fabric of our society etc.

    • Rosy 12.2

      I’m not sure that changing social mores have been recognised in the comparisons of 1924 and 1971. Perhaps in 1924 babies conceived outside of marriage were to established couples waiting for the wedding date, so had every intention of sticking together and in 1971 there were many more casual relationships with no intention of forming a long-term bond. I don’t know, but maybe? If so the DPB becomes a pragmatic solution for changing social mores, not a cause.

    • Jum 12.3

      You don’t listen do you Lindsay. Most DPB recipients have a quick turnaround on the benefit. It’s a temporary security for them.

      I’m very impressed by the way the MSD is spending so much money and resources hoping to find fraudalent behaviour by women and children, yet so little money is being spent on tracking down the thieves and manipulators behind finance company frauds and Wong misappropriations. Go for the jugular on women, the knighthood for the white collar crims,eh?

      The number of stories I heard about people sticking together as you call it led to all sorts of nastiness. One woman hung herself when she discovered her husband that she was ‘sticking with’ was abusing their son. There was no one that she could turn to back then. Her husband knew that and knew his behaviour would be overlooked by society. They would have felt sorry for him having a wife with such a weak character. Sort of tells me that when there is no safety out, people lose all sense of hope.

      So, if the DPB is your idea of a surrogate parent, then knowing your views from your blog I would have thought you’d love (mostly) women being on it and being treated in a humiliating and bullying fashion. Oh, didn’t they leave a relationship just like that in so many cases? No diff then, except they get to make a few decisions by themselves – a little empowerment. But we can’t have that, can we Lindsay – empowered women.

  13. Lindsay 13

    Rex

    …at the end of December 2007 the number who’d been on the DPB in excess of 10 was 11,409, or about 10% of the total.

    It is still roughly the same now. But the key word missing from this stat is ”on the DPB ‘continuously’ “. When someone leaves the DPB (or any other benefit) and then returns the clock starts on a new spell. That is why MSD has framed their new research in terms of how much total time out of the last ten years (they can only go back to 1996 by the way) was spent on welfare, and the results surprised them.

    Detected and prosecuted fraud is not that high. But it’s a red herring really. I am more interested in misuse of welfare. And we can’t agree on what misuse is when we can’t decide what welfare is actually for any more.

    • Colonial Viper 13.1

      when we can’t decide what welfare is actually for any more.

      You mean that YOU can’t.

      Welfare exists to mitigate the failures of the capitalist/free market system to prevent massive poverty and wide spread extreme hardship in a country which is nominally extremely wealthy and has hundreds of multi-millionaires (and several billionaires) living in it.

      NZ, a million dairy cows and thousands of people still can’t afford to buy milk every shopping trip lol

    • we can’t agree on what misuse is when we can’t decide what welfare is actually for any more

      I agree. And I sincerely wish it were your views, backed by statistics and research and quite a bit of thinking, that were put up by the MSM to spark debate. Instead we get Lhaws and Danny “Spot on!!!” Watson and the like screeching “Bludgers!! Gak!! Welfare queens!! Arrgh!! Layabouts!! Erk!! Breeeeeeeeeeders!” day in and day out, and it takes the debate nowhere.

      I think a start might be agreeing that there is misuse, implying a degree of wilfulness and premeditation, and … I’m not sure of the term, maybe “nonoptimal use”… covering those people who don’t set out to spend most of their lives on a benefit but who are either screwups or whose circumstances see them back on a benefit even after trying to get off.

      I imagine the “revolving door” stats you’re talking about encompass both groups. The first cohort, which I suspect is small, are easily dealt with. The second need a complex and interconnected set of incentives and disincentives including, as Carol points out above, education.

  14. Bill 14

    A tiny minority of beneficiaries cheats the system.

    Nope. That would assume that the benefit is, on its own, a survivable scenario. And it’s not. I don’t know a single beneficiary who is completely honest with the beneficiary system. Occaisonal cash in hand jobs or whatever are the norm, not the exception.

    And it’s pissing off employers who rely on short term casual workers because as soon as they (the employer) seeks to declare wages through IRD, the beneficiary has to stop working for them.

    In theory, a beneficiary is allowed to earn about $80 a week before tax. The reality is that far too many beneficiaries are on Temporary Additional Support because no benefit provides enough money to survive on. And that Temporary Additional Support drops away dollar for dollar from the first dollar earned (not $80 pre tax earnings).

    Only some add-ons (such as accomodation benefit) are ringfenced. And after the $80 threshold is reached, an 80% tax rate on any remaining benefit kicks in.

    In other words, NZ already has a work for the dole welfare system that relies on people having to work or scam to survive if they are on a benefit. And it relies on them being eventually forced into the formal economy on min wage part time or casual work where they wind up only marginally ahead financially of where they were and a whole heap of ‘two steps backwards’ from where they were by non-financial measurements.

    The solution entails a complete reversal of government policies (both Labour and National) that have created and maintained a punative low wage economy in the interests of export orientated competition; an policy direction that demands beneficiaries be choppethed up and stompethed down to a degree markedly more vicious than the stomping and chopping that’s visited on the vast swathe of existing low waged workers.

    Low wage workers have no effective leverage, largely because unions have remained gutted. Low payed workers cannot strike; are subject to 90 day trials in a ‘flexible’ labour market and are herded into a ridiculously specialised and expensive ‘conflict resolution’ system that’s been more or less captured by lawyers. In other words, they are stomped and chopped and on a hiding to nothing.

    But can anyone blame them when they seek to hang on to their perception of ‘advantage’ over the unemployed and generate some sense of security or ‘betterness’ by buying into the beneficiary bashing culture that has been promoted by both Labour and National led governments? What alternative viewpoint, pointing out the mutual interests of low waged workers and the unemployed and small businesses has been, or is being articulated?

    • kriswgtn 14.1

      and dont forget if youre a bene and you work part time u pay sec tax

      anti spam-equally

      • Marty G 14.1.1

        secondart tax is only withholding – it doesn’t affect your total tax liability for the year. if you pay too much tax due to secondary tax, then you get a refund.

        • Bill 14.1.1.1

          Some level of refund might flow back to you. But, if you ‘overlook’ secondary tax, IRD send you a bill. So for some reason, it doesn’t ‘cancel out’ as you might reasonably expect.

        • Rex Widerstrom 14.1.1.2

          …you get a refund

          Unless you’ve died of starvation through being overtaxed for the previous 51 weeks, in which case IRD send a wreath (and then bill your estate)?

          I’m not having a go at you Marty, I know the point you’re making, but having in the past had to endure the ignominy of pleading to be allowed to pay for my kid’s school uniforms in April, after I got my refund (and being refused, at a low decile school!), I know what it’s like…

      • Colonial Viper 14.1.2

        This all seems pretty shit actually. It is set up to stop people transitioning back into proper work.

        • Bill 14.1.2.1

          I think you’re being too kind CV.

          I think it’s set up to utterly destroy the concept of what we’d reasonably call a ‘proper job’. I mean, running alongside beneficiaries being subjected to punative lose/lose situations, the fact is that massive numbers of workers are having conditions, wages and expectations pummelled. At some point there will be a confluence. Bugger all work rights or expectations and bugger all beneficiary rights.

          The perfect marriage for those employers exhibiting fathomless misanthropy and their lackeys.

    • Damn good point Bill. Thanks for reminding us of it.

      I’ve lost count of how many governments have acknowledged abatement regimes are farcical and then gong on to do nothing… or make them worse. I can recall Douglas mentioning it in the 80s, and every government since.

      If we can’t fix this obvious and easy problem in 25 years, what hope for the entire system?!

      • RedLogix 14.2.1

        Rex….Universal Basic Income.

        Eliminates all of these stupid abatement and high marginal tax rates that the current system always creates whenever there is some form of targeted benefit or tax break.

        We’ve known the easy obvious solution for decades.. but everyone keeps ignoring it.

        • Rex Widerstrom 14.2.1.1

          That’s a debate we need to have. It’ll make for strange bedfellows (you might find you and Roger Douglas on the same side!) but some form of UBI certainly holds the prospect of a solution to a lot of issues.

          (I say “prospect” because I haven’t had the time to investigate it fully).

          I feel a RL guest post is in order 😉

          [lprent: RL is an author. He doesn’t need to do a guest post. We’ve never had to drop an author. ]

          • Rex Widerstrom 14.2.1.1.1

            Ah, yes, right… brain meltdown… 22 consecutive days of 30+ deg max (actually mostly 36+) 20+ deg min, and humidity about 70%. Sorry.

            • lprent 14.2.1.1.1.1

              Did you ever read Dantes Inferno, I am trying to locate that in the rings of hell ?

              • Dante’s Inferno were ‘oliday camp cooompared t’ what we’ve ‘ad to endure, lad… so ‘ot your you think your ice cream’s meltin’ then you realise it’s a mirage, but your eyeballs are what’s doin’ t’ meltin’…

          • Armchair Critic 14.2.1.1.2

            We’ve never had to drop an author.
            ‘cept maybe once? when IB wielded his ban-hammer with the utmost ferocity.

  15. Lindsay 15

    Ianmac, I have a table from the relevant PQ at the link below. It relates to a point in time. You have put your own interpretation on it.

    http://lindsaymitchell.blogspot.com/2011/02/some-fundamental-misunderstandings.html

    • RedLogix 15.1

      In your argument at the link above you say:

      During the economic boom numbers on the DPB dropped by a maximum of 15 percent and numbers on the sickness and invalid benefits continued to grow.

      Well yes.. at least part of the very definition of someone sick and disabled is a person not able to work…certainly not full-time or fully productive.

      Single parents are also in a relatively weak position to work.. the competing demands of a job and young children are simply too much for one person to manage on their own.

      Only the dole total dropped significantly.

      But the unemployed who were capable of work DID go and get work when it was available. Which fully supports the contention that ‘the vast majority of people want to work. The history of the last ten years in particular shows that when jobs exist, people work.’

    • ianmac 15.2

      Lindsay. You seemed to me to be saying that in 2006 :4/ In 2006 27,219 had added a child to an existing benefit. Perhaps you meant that over maybe ten years 27, 219 had added children while on the DPB. A very different position.

      “Yet instead, over two thirds of DPB recipients (67.7%) are on the DPB for less than four years. More than a quarter of them (26%) are on it for less than a year, even during the recession.” These figures are important too as it corrects common misunderstanding.

  16. Lindsay 16

    RedLogix

    “Single parents are also in a relatively weak position to work.. the competing demands of a job and young children are simply too much for one person to manage on their own.”

    OIA 21 Nov 2008
    On a main benefit with youngest child 5 or older at end Sept 2008 – 55,906

    Having school age children only, puts them in a relatively strong position to do some work.

    • RedLogix 16.1

      I said young (implying pre-school age) children. And even so … not all people are the same, and as your figures eloquently show there are still lots of folk who still need DPB support even when their children are all at school.

      It’s still very demanding being a single-parent regardless of how old the kids are. Many manage to work, many don’t… or at least cannot find suitable work that allows them the required flexibility around school hours, school-holidays, being sick, or any number of other crisis that simply prevent one adult being able to cover all bases all the time.

    • Colonial Viper 16.2

      I think the Government should start up a 9am-3pm job scheme. Pay these young DPB mothers the minimum wage to do useful community work in an employment contract situation. Give these women, some of whom may not have been working for years, a recent employment track record and something to put on their CV (lol).

      After all, the NZ private sector has shown itself in capable (or unwilling) of producing any more jobs. So much so that 700,000 Kiwis live in Australia now. So the Government will have to step in.

      What do you reckon Lindsay?

    • mcflock 16.3

      “Having school age children only, puts them in a relatively strong position to do some work”

      Between 9 and 3 during term time only with minimal issues regarding sickness and emergencies. And little if any work experience for 5 years. Yep, a relatively strong position right there.

      I won’t ask “relative to what?”

  17. Lindsay 17

    Colonial Viper;

    “I think the Government should start up a 9am-3pm job scheme. Pay these young DPB mothers the minimum wage to do useful community work in an employment contract situation.”

    So long as the public health system remains, and I see no signs of it going, why not a transfer of MSD funding into Health and yes, direct some of the carers currently on a benefit into training for/ providing care to aged people who want to remain in their own homes? Like other developed countries NZ faces a rapidly ageing population and attendant needs. That is just one area that leaps to mind.

    • Colonial Viper 17.1

      Not bad at all mate I like the concept. Puts a few extra dollars in the pocket of the DPB mum incentivising them to re-enter the workforce, updates their CV, gives them a few new skills and training opportunities in a growth area of care, all while the children are at school.

    • Ironically, I have a close friend here in Australia on the local equivalent of the DPB (though they don’t have exactly that here) that did that kind of work (and caring for younger disabled persons as well) and has been forced to stop by the sort of stupid and punitive abatement regime Bill raises above.

      So I too think that’s an idea worth exploring Lindsay.

    • lprent 17.3

      The problem is that if it follows the usual for this type of work scheme when they have been implemented in the past, they will firstly pay minimum wage (ie make it impossible to run a car), the job will be 15kms away and will take an hour to get to by bus, and will therefore be turned down by the mother because it is now a 7:30am to 4:30pm (have to get the darlings to day care because you are not allowed to take them to work), and the daily wage doesn’t cover the extra bus fares and day care above 20 hours (and that is assuming that stays) because this government is clearly eying it up.

      So WINZ cuts her benefit under this scheme, why? Because some shit head at WINZ ignored the job that was just around the corner and offered it to someone 15kms away.

      I saw variations on that all the way through the 90’s on people I knew. They were sent to jobs that they didn’t have a hope in hell of getting or were completely impossible (job requirement – you must wear a suit when their one pair of jeans had holes). I came to the conclusion that if it wasn’t deliberate policy, then what it said was that the whole of WINZ front line staff needed to be replaced by a computer program. It would take more of an interest and display more humanity. But I think it was a deliberate policy because someone was measuring by results such as how many job interviews people got sent to.

      My sister was on the DPB and doing training under it (which did suit her hours). But nevertheless once a month she’d have to drop whatever she was doing and go to the DSW wait for several hours and say that. Why? Because they were measured on the number of interviews? There appeared to be no other reason. Not to mention that there was an active policy of never telling people about the benefits they were eligible for.

      Now they’re talking about sending it off to what are effectively companies. The question is on what are they going to grade them? History says it will be done very badly and in a way that will

      Well I have a suggestion. Whenever anyone gets dropped from a benefit, let a couple of independent outsiders audit the decision to decide if they had actually attempted to do the job correctly. If they get 3 decisions reversed, then whoever it was that made the job interviews is not allowed to deal with social welfare beneficiaries anymore. 3 people get dropped from a section, and the whole section gets dropped.

      There will be people who will be happy to help do that check and balance for free. I know under the general basic of keeping the bastards honest, I would be up for it. Set it up so that there is no payment and the checkers decisions are periodically checked under the same rules. In fact as a further suggestion, offer it as a role for the mentally active elderly to do in early retirement. They’d have a ball with it.

      • Because some shit head at WINZ ignored the job that was just around the corner and offered it to someone 15kms away… if it wasn’t deliberate policy, then what it said was that the whole of WINZ front line staff needed to be replaced by a computer program. It would take more of an interest and display more humanity

        That mirrors my own experiences on the dole. Yet when I dared mention here a while back that perhaps WINZ front line officers were, in the main, a mix of heartless automatons and minor sadists, I was rounded on for criticising “decent, hard working public servants”. Yes, some are. But by no means all.

        Whenever anyone gets dropped from a benefit, let a couple of independent outsiders audit the decision to decide if they had actually attempted to do the job correctly. If they get 3 decisions reversed, then whoever it was that made the job interviews is not allowed to deal with social welfare beneficiaries anymore.

        Bloody hell that’s effin’ brilliant. There’s already the principle of a review committe with one outside rep, so it’s just an extension of that. Seriously, put that up as a remit. Write to the Social Welfare spokesperson. Or both.

        • Deadly_NZ 17.3.1.1

          Yes it is brilliant and that’s also why it would never see the inside of a WINZ office. It’s logical and it safeguards all concerned, and things are done to help, not hinder .But because WINZ prefer to operate in an atmosphere of fear and distrust. That’s probably also why now you do not have a case officer any more so you have to tell the same story all over and over to someone who A: don’t care B: is wondering what to have for lunch or C: wishes this fucking bludger would just piss off. And now they have this computer system that they want you to use to apply for food grants and the like Yeah Right if they wanna say no they can do it to my face.

        • weka 17.3.1.2

          There’s already the principle of a review committe with one outside rep, so it’s just an extension of that.

          Christ, have you ever been to a Benefit Review Committee? They can be seriously fucked up processes, which the community rep can make even worse.

          • Rex Widerstrom 17.3.1.2.1

            Heh… yeah I have actually. “Community” representative was an old lady who looked like she’d spent her life sucking something particularly bitter [insert off-colour suggestion here] and wouldn’t have been out of place knitting at the foot of a tumbril. In fact I think she actually may have been knitting while I presented my case…

            But I didn’t want to introduce too many points into the mix. lprent’s idea is genius, and since they already nominally acknowledge the need for external scrutiny, the door is open a crack (is what I should have said).

            • weka 17.3.1.2.1.1

              The idea of external scrutiny on WINZ staff is rather appealing 🙂 I’m not sure I’d be so trusting that it could be set up well.

    • Jum 17.4

      Sneakier than even I imagined, Lindsay. Get those pesky women into womanly things – looking after old people, showering, changing the beds; never mind the training to be engaged in other ‘careers’, as opposed to ‘carers’.

      Yep, throw all those women forced by Key’s policies (or lack of) on to the unemployment then force them out to work for low wages in care jobs, that men don’t want to do. With little children to care for and no other jobs available what a perfect outcome for manKey and co. So that would be two jobs now. Once you get into the second job, the tax is higher, so you’re probably working for next to nothing in jobs that women sought to get away from when they realised that they actually had brains.

      So, result is: caring for the aged, caring for the young, paid next to nothing, too worn out to fight back. Sounds like the traditional marriage to me. Lindsay gets what she wants and women go back into the/a home.

      Very clever.

    • Rob 17.5

      Bloody brilliant idea! Pay them $34 to stay overnight like IHC workers get!!!

  18. gnomic 18

    It was suggested above that Ms Rebstock hails from Wisconsin. I believe the correct answer to that question is Montana.

    Notwithstanding, such work of the Welfare Review Group as I have had the misfortune of perusing is the most dreadful load of tosh, and the process involved was deeply flawed in my humble opinion. I haven’t looked at the final document but as the object of the exercise was pretty clearly to arrive at predetermined conclusions I expect that is equally bad. The scope of the review was nonsensical anyway, so it’s garbage in, garbage out.

    • Rosy 18.1

      and I guess this is the future of policy development if the evidence-based scopes, analysis and evaluations from the public service are no longer required.

    • Treetop 18.2

      Thank you for correcting me about Rebstock coming from Montana. Wisconsin is three states to the right of Montana. While checking I did come across Rebstock being Deputy Chairwoman of NZ Railways Corporation.
      http://www.kiwirail.co.nz/index.php?page=board-of-directors

      Regardless of where she hails from I do not like her politics regarding the WWG.

      I have to question how she has her finger in so many pies. Many others, would have been more representative of a NZ woman than Rebstock.

  19. Rob 19

    When I moved in with my future wife some years ago, she went off the DPB (two kids, aged 7 and 4), got a full-time job and financially there was not much difference. And still isn’t.

    The fundamental problem is the negligible difference between DPB and low-paid work. The Right says benefit levels are too high and should be reduced. The Left says wages are too low and should be increased. A never-ending argument.

    • …financially there was not much difference.

      Actually, there was a big financial difference, given that she was no longer entitled to the DPB once you moved in with her. From her point of view, once you moved in the difference between her working and not working was the difference between zero and whatever she earned going out to work – presumably a significant amount.

      • Rob 19.1.1

        I could spend 10 minutes explaining (slowly) the practicalities of such a situation but I think I’d be wasting my breath.
        Hint: Compare 1 single income + 1 benefit to 2 (combined) incomes

      • Psycho Milt 19.1.2

        I’m aware that’s the comparison you’re making. I’m pointing out it’s not a valid comparison.

  20. Jim Nald 20

    A clear and sharp piece from Tapu Misa.

    I would only suggest she re-think a statement she makes:

    “But its real goal, the one that matters to a debt-fixated government bent on cutting spending, is to get people off benefits and into jobs.”

    “Debt-fixated government bent on cutting spending” ???
    That’s half the story. How much is this debt-fixated government increasing debt to give tax cuts to the rich elite? How much are we borrowing a week to improve the welfare of the wealthy beneficiaries?

  21. Treetop 21

    Working for families is a form of welfare. Coming to think of it tax cuts for the wealthy 25 % is a form of welfare as the government has had to borrow for this. Just about EVERYONE in NZ is on welfare.

  22. Beatie 22

    I have rheumatoid arthritis and I am on the Invalid Benefit. I work 6 hrs per week and pay secondary tax on my earnings. In an ideal world I could work more hours, but in reality I am competing with able-bodied workers and unless I lied about my disability, no chance. The disease has crippled my hands and feet and affected my eyes. Employers are not interested, especially as I am very subsceptible to OOS. I have already lost two careers because of this disease and I struggle with the isolation and poverty that accompanies life on a benefit. Now I have to cope withe the demonisation of beneficiaries and attempts to reduce my income $60 per week by transferring me from an invalid to sickness benefit. Also any income I earned would be severely abated. Key’s plan is to throw most people off the IB, simply to ‘save money’. I feel for those who were transferred from psychiatric hospitals 20 years ago, to live in ‘the community’. This process of removing the disabled from the IB started under Labour with the appointment of ‘Regional Health Advisors’, whose sole function was to stop as many people as possible as receiving IB, to the extent of over-riding doctors diagnoses.
    As for ‘benefit bludgers’, a prime example would be Roger Douglas who has been feeding from the taxpayer-funded trough for 30+ years, and now collects the old-age pension.

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