The cycleway & the coming benefit cuts

Written By: - Date published: 9:24 am, August 12th, 2010 - 34 comments
Categories: benefits, class war, Economy, unemployment - Tags:

I always thought the cycleway would come to be emblematic of this government. An unserious ruse, a policy that would have been a joke if the reality of the recession weren’t so serious.

There’s something of the cycleway thinking in the Nat’s benefit cuts agenda – not just the wrong answer to the challenges facing the country, but a calculated distraction.

Just as a cycleway is the wrong solution to a recession, welfare cuts are the wrong solution to a jobs shortage crisis.

A cycleway might be a minor tourist attraction for a selected segment of the tourist market but the idea that it could be constructed in time to shorten the recession, or that it would create significant numbers of jobs, was always a sick trick played on the gullible.

Welfare cuts are a similar populist appeal to the gullible. Will it make a lot of difference to the economy or government finances? Ultimately, probably not. No welfare reforms are going to cut off hundreds of thousands of needy families entirely, which is what it would take to save serious money. But any cuts will hurt those families who are already on their bare bones.

The claim is that making benefits harder to get will make force ‘bludgers’ to work instead. The reality is that the jobs aren’t there and that’s why the number of beneficiaries has climbed so much. Look at how beneficiary numbers track the number of jobless: the fewer people wanting work but unable to find it, the fewer people on benefits.

Not all beneficiaries are jobless and not all jobless are beneficiaries but the 110,000 increase in jobless workers since the recession began has been accompanied by 70,000 increase in the number of beneficiaries. Create more jobs and you will reverse that, reducing the number of beneficiaries.

The real way to cut the welfare bill is to have a full employment policy. But this government has never been interested in real solutions. It uses ruses instead – a cycleway to cover a government too busy with tax cuts focus on tackling a recession, welfare ‘reforms’ in place of an economic/jobs strategy.

Like the cycleway, attacking beneficiaries is a distraction from what’s really going on. There aren’t enough jobs, the recession is not really over and rather than dealing with that, this government is focused on carving off an ever large slice of our shrinking national wealth for their rich buddies.

It’s a double insult for the poor and the jobless. Not only are they turned into figures of public spite by a government of the rich, the cuts to their meagre benefits will be pay for tax cuts for the rich.

34 comments on “The cycleway & the coming benefit cuts”

  1. Craig Glen Eden 1

    And the uber rich get richer and Johnny boy just smiles and waves, when will the injustice end?

  2. Cnr Joe (withasparemoment) 2

    I still really really really want a job on this cycleway. WINZ can\\\’t seem to find any openings. Paula? Giz a phukkin Job!
    I want to live in a tent village somewhere (this summer) – work the mornings and evenings digging and what have you, siesta and read during the heat of the day, earn a small wage, shop at the commissary. I really want this!!
    Even better if I could work on a piece of the nationwide cycleway near the coast so our work gang can bodysurf and fossick for kai moana…..but – does this not sound great?

  3. Rosy 3

    But we can still afford to use up the valuable time of the reducing public services to investigate bringing in Pandas instead of investigating bringing in jobs.
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10664819

  4. ak 4

    Spot on Marty: it’s the classic, eons-old right-wing reactionist tactic of bread/circus, divide/rule, now brought to us in farcical kiwi microcosm with the current biketrack/bennie-bash. By the testosterone-free benefactor of a vicious misogynic campaign – himself the son of a beneficiary.

    It’d be comical if it wasn’t so utterly blatant and cruel.

    Sole consolation is the inexorable demise of targets for right-wing hatemongery. For the moment, bennies are it: but as the economy and farming continue to tank, increasingly, bennies are us. Meaning them, and their spawn.

    Which leaves the old favourite: already being set up with a series of cuts and slaps.

    Prediction: when the pain from the jackboots of Fire at Will and Benniebash finally washes the crumbs from the eyes of Maori leadership, Orewa One II will be wheeled out in all it’s knackered glory. Two months before the election.

  5. Augustus 5

    No doubt we will still be bringing in cheap labour from overseas for wine and fruit growers, though.

  6. roger nome 6

    Sometimes i think this song was written about our dear leader:

  7. Bill 7

    Question. Has it been stated that there will be benefit cuts, or is the scary UK scenario through the link along the lines of what Johnny and the Shit Sacs have in mind?

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/cameron-calls-in-bounty-hunters-to-catch-benefit-fraudsters-2049096.html

    Question Anybody got a good memory or a ready link to the sums of money involved in white collar fraud that were reported fairly recently? That is, the report which stated that only frauds involving amounts over a certain ( rather large, from memory) sum were recorded?

    Question Anybody care to to do a rough and ready comparison on monies lost to white collar crime and monies lost due to benefit fraud? Might be fun to assume the same criteria of reporting for WINZ as for the white collar fraud…ie only amounts over that same sum as counted for white collar fraud count for WINZ fraud?

    And taking in the estimated totals between the two sets and dividing them down by the total numbers of beneficiaries ( one in eight?) on the one hand and white collar workers on the other (one in five?) see who’s ripping who?

    • Marty G 7.1

      it hasn’t been stated there’ll be cuts specifically but that’s clearly the agenda. Probably higher thresholds to get benefits, more work testing etc, rather than actual cuts to the size of benefits – they’ll let inflation do that job.

      • Bill 7.1.1

        Not quite apples and apples, but the picture looks pretty clear from here. Looks like we need a government inspired hate campaign against all you thieving white collar types.

        http://www.oag.govt.nz/2008/benefit-fraud/part3.htm

        3.12
        The Ministry’s data-matching activities are extensive. For example, in the year to 30 June 2007, the National Data Match Centre compared more than 12 million records with other agencies. This resulted in 193,358 matches and 18,588 cases of overpayments. The total value of these overpayments was $19 million.

        http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10659738

        White-collar crime in the first six months of this year hit a record high of $72 million – more than for the whole of 2008 – a survey released today reveals.

    • loota 7.2

      A good start would be to tally up the sums frozen or lost in various collapsed finance companies and speculative investment funds.

    • bbfloyd 7.3

      bill.. good point.(re, benefits) my experience with past national govt’s is that they tend to waste large amounts of money harassing beneficiaries while whittling away at entitlements. or the other fallback is simply making the red tape trail more convoluted. it costs the govt more, but satisfies the bigots and reactionaries.

      • David 7.3.1

        Spending money harassing beneficiaries isn’t just about satisfiying bigots, it also creates more desperate and demoralised people willing to work for less. Combined with the fire at will law and restrictions on unions, this will help lower labour costs.

  8. marsman 8

    The grotesque Bennett claimed in a press release in Stuff last night that job vacancy ads on-line had increased by ten percent. Is this more Bennett bullshit? Maybe it’s Public Service jobs,people leaving in droves to escape the poisonous atmosphere created by the NACT nasties?She claimed therefore the recession was almost over and the unemployed should be ready.

    • bbfloyd 8.1

      marsman… my impression is that there has been a lot more sales jobs being advertised. the kind where you go door to door. not really jobs as such. more like traps for the desperate.

      • Carol 8.1.1

        I think I heard something on Nat Rad this evening about how there has been an increase in part time jobs, and a decrease in full time ones.

  9. Draco T Bastard 9

    Not surprising – NACT are working hard to bring down wages and inflict more hardship on the average hard working kiwi – that way their and their rich mates profits will go up. The NACTs have NFI as to how the economy works but they do have an idea as to how they would like it to work and that involves all the wealth going to them.

  10. Claudia 10

    If they bring in unemployment insurance, it will
    be time-limited, see below for a good description from a US vocational guidance counsellor.

    http://www.peakoilblues.org/blog/?p=2353

    • Bored 10.1

      Unemployment insurance is just another rort by those who dont want to pay for the mess they and their system creates.

      • ZB 10.1.1

        Unemployment insurance has to come with a market player, you won’t be able to insure yourself via a labor union.
        That’s the evil of insurance, if all the people who paid car, house, etc put them in a pot for payouts to members, and
        the money invested, the money would be huge.
        Insurance isn’t the problem, the market is. See this is the wonderful thing about capitalism, the greedy get even greedier until they tank the system over with their greed, and then the people get to remake the system more equitably. So bring it on NACT, I mean it, the wooner they do away with government and welfare…

        …oops, but that’s the point, its not about welfare, or smaller government, its just simple about keeping profits for the few up. Funny thing happened, the greedy just got called on their debt and they need money to pay the interest on their loans, so the government is obliging with low taxes for business and the richest. With 100% GDP owed in private hands (much by overseas kiwis and foriegners) should we even care? I mean the system is corrupted to the core, the money might as well be monopoly.

        I suppose what I’m trying to say is the rich have most to lose, and if they continue practicing what National are then they will tank the system without one lousy red communist having to lift one single finger. Governments rule by the consent of the people and I don’t see even businesses being all that pleased with so much money sloshing around as forward valuations disappear as yet another economic reality turns up. Pollution cost more to clean up the more the price of a barral of oil costs. Not only that but a market assessed on perfect principles doesn’t reflect the underlying reality of economies and people, and when you look at the way we consume, its like we take one bite of an apple and then throw it away. This is what we do everything we don’t recycle, or we buy hard to recycle goods, everyone time we replace a kettle our forefathers never did (they had a kettle on the cooker!!), the economic world valuation of real value is totally skewed by speculators, and therein lies the problem for the rich. Anyone with any sense sees its all just funny money, and its hilarious to watch them play the same shell game to squeeze more out of the poorest, because this time its not working! British government says they will export out of their nations debt, what a job, export too whom, export what? people? We are ruled by a generation of brown nosers who got promoted not on ability, or expertise, but their ability to recite neo-liberal dumb, now they have lots of the money and they have reaped a world incapable of providing equal value in goods and services.

        They need to pull their heads out of their collective behinds and start building the real economy of the future,
        broadband to the home, tax the private car into history, provide cheap local and inter-town public transport, and build build build energy infrastructure, on homes, on ridges, into the ground. But they are too bloody dense to grab the future, this includes the Labour party. Its going to get worse before it gets better.

        • Deborah Kean 10.1.1.1

          “you won’t be able to insure yourself via a labour union.@
          (Just fixed up your spelling for you there..)

  11. bbfloyd 11

    you beaut paula!!! i’m in the starting blocks. i’m ready, i’m ready’ i’m ready… i’m waiting, i’m waiting, i’m waiting……..aaany minute now i’m gonna have a job. aaany minute…..i’m gettin sleeepy… so tired… can i sit down now.

  12. Claudia 12

    bbfloyd: it could be worse, you could be in Terror Australis. See

    http://www.audreyapple.blogspot.com/

  13. Bored 13

    When an individual is for any time outside of their expectations of, and the comforts / security of society they will question the legitimacy of the rules of society. When people who are unemployed are abused by politicians in power as well as deprived of their security, income, jobs etc they will decline their assent to the legitimacy of the rules, laws and ultimately goverment.

    Given the above is it cynical to ask if NACT has done a cost benefit analysis of the risks versus the rewards (i.e the social costs that can be ignored versus the tax breaks for their mates etc)? Are NACT gambling on whole groups reacting to their actions by breaking the rules (crime, welfare abuse) so that they can divide and conquer (the tested “us and them approach”)?

    • Bill 13.1

      Hang on Bored. You saying that unemployment will in and of itself, given enough time, lead to people becoming criminals? If that’s what you’re saying, then what you’re saying isn’t true.

      And are you also saying that people who consider various institutions to be centres of illegitimate power hold this view only because they are unemployed and otherwise not fully integrated into contemporary society? ‘Cause that’s also not true.

      Plenty of people who are unemployed for many years do not become criminals.

      And there are people who are well rewarded by contemporary society who hold authority in contempt.

      • Bored 13.1.1

        Bill, you jump too far. The outcomes you question are all possible results, its a very individual thing. What I can add is that faith in the institutions of state / society can be broken, legitimacy goes with it and the resultant behavoir may include what you mention. Or some other form such as insurrection, plain opting out, or whatever. It just depends who you piss off and what alternatives they have to utilise.

        My contention is not that Nact are now pushing the boundaries (that is beyond dispute) but that they may have made a cynical decision to do so for benefits both financial and populist..

        • Bill 13.1.1.1

          Dunno.

          When faith in the Roman Catholic Church waned, there wasn’t too much of anything noticeable beyond The Church not being able to call the shots in quite the way it had done previously. (I know there was a protestant/catholic split and resultant grabs for power by the elites and figure heads of both sects, but I’m talking more the attitude of people in the street)

          Or take the loss of legitimacy experienced by the institutions behind state control throughout Eastern Europe. If the free marketeer hyenas and vultures of the west had left well alone, the result would have been that the erstwhile centres of power would simply have been forgotten, as irrelevancies inevitably are, and people would have constructed new institutions operating on different modes of organisation.

          The same will happen here some day.

          Meanwhile, any centre of power can pit person against person, either by design or accident, through their policies or actions. And the best defence against that is familiarity, as opposed to insular life’s and lifestyles leaving us vulnerable to the influence of the negative stereotype.

          • Bored 13.1.1.1.1

            Bill, along with you I think familiarity may be the best defense against the status quo. Interesting thing you mentioned was the collapse of the East European communist regimes, they did so precisely because the populace lost faith in the institutions and their legitimacy collapsed. If that same legitimacy were lost here what would replace it? Hopefully not more free market bollocks or some form of authoritarianism such as fascism or communism.

          • Bored 13.1.1.1.2

            Bill, familiarity is certainly the best defense, I cant say it will be what everybody chooses.

            Interesting comment from you re the loss of legitimacy that lead to the collapse of Eastern European Communism. What might replace the system here if it lost legitimacy? Hopefully not more free market bollocks, nor some form of authoritarianism such as communism or fascism.

  14. Bill 14

    Our hopes concurs.

    And the outcome is all down to familiarity again and that being able to render any attempt at the hi-jacking of a popular outpouring impossible.

    The bullshit result of 1917 set us back 100 years in my opinion. Lets not go there again. My fear is that we haven’t learned. I look at the left and it’s all endgame 1917 redux. When I say ‘endgame’ 1917 I’m basically thinking of 1921 and Kronstadt; the authoritarian Bolsheviks banging the final nail in the coffin of any possibility of a genuine left revolution.

    If you are hazy on the Kronstadt uprising then go here for transcripts of original publications emanating from the naval base.

    And then weep.

    • Bill 14.1

      Oh, and you should probably bear in mind that ‘free trade’ when mentioned in the context of 1921 was not in any way similar to the neo liberal free trade of today. It basically meant the freedom for me to sell my wares (eggs, meat, or produce of whatever variety) directly to others through local markets rather than having to sell everything to the state.

  15. jcuknz 15

    I’m not worried about the ‘bludgers’ because I’m sure they know the wrinkles to get by … but it is the others who get caught ou by this foolish lack of policy to right the problems … if they would only admit they hadn’t a clue it might be better.

  16. hmmmm 16

    National is more Labour than Labour. This whole right wing rich mates line rings hollow (you can have that word now that Labour lies to the right of National) when you have a National government spending more and taxing even more than Labour did. This National government is not right wing, it is conservative, in the sense of undoing almost none of all the policy it voted against in Opposition. The over-taxed, enormous spend, low productivity status quo is apparently a-ok now that National is in power. Indeed National is adding to Labour’s legacy in some areas, such as student loans and WFF.

    Fans of Muldoon will no doubt be happy with the current direction, and but for his blue tie I rather suspect this blog’s authors would be a bit more forthcoming in their admiration.

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