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The politics of poverty

Written By: - Date published: 8:34 am, October 2nd, 2014 - 86 comments
Categories: john key, national, poverty - Tags: ,

There are plenty of sources to read on the seriousness of the poverty crisis in NZ. This recent piece in The Listener (of all places) is an excellent example. Here’s a brief sample:

But it’s those other children, the ones living in cold, overcrowded homes and going to school without food or adequate clothing, whom Wills has made his No 1 priority as Children’s Commissioner. More than any of his predecessors, he has championed the issue of child poverty and helped place it squarely on the political agenda.

He notes that there are 44,000 poverty-related admissions to New Zealand hospitals every year – an increase of 7500 since the global financial crisis unfolded.

What has struck Wills and his colleagues is that admission numbers no longer fall off in summer. “We used to have this fabulous quiet time in January and February. We don’t get that any more. So we see what used to be winter illnesses – pneumonia, bronchiolitis, that sort of thing – all year round.” Again, it’s the very young who are most affected.

Any idea why? “When you look at the determinants, the strongest associations are crowding and poverty. It seems likely that there are more families bunking in together. Evidence from household surveys suggests that’s true.

In this context I find a recent anonymous editorial in the Dom Post profoundly depressing:

Key reads the signals on child poverty

John Key promises his new Government will do something about child poverty. Exactly what, he doesn’t say. It is striking, however, that Key has clearly realised this is a problem that needs attention, even if it is for purely political reasons. Labour and the Greens made a lot of noise about child poverty during the election campaign. Key’s Government is clearly vulnerable on the issue. So, having read the signals, he is promising action.

Got that citizens? What we’re being told about poverty is that Key might do something (unspecified) because he has read the political signals. Not because it is the right thing to do. Not because doctors and medical professionals, poverty advocates, and other political parties have been begging the government for years to act. Not because our poverty rates and incidences of “third world” diseases are an international disgrace. But because he has read the “political signals”.

We’ve been here before. Key purported to be interested in “the underclass” in 2007. After winning the 2008 election the only action taken was various forms of punitive crackdown on beneficiaries, and since (surprise!) that hasn’t solved any problems, Key has been challenged by advocates, politicians and (some) journalists ever since. In both 2011 and 2014 he has claimed that his government has done “all it could”.

We will be here again. We will be here again because Key has already ruled out doing the only thing that will actually make a difference – raising incomes:

Child poverty on Key agenda

Prime Minister John Key has asked his officials for fresh ideas on tackling child poverty. … ‘‘The recognition I think we all have is that there are some extremely poor children who are missing out,’’ Key said yesterday. … Key said it needed to be done without narrowing the gap between the incomes of those on benefits and those working, to ensure people were still encouraged into work.

Encouraging people in to low wage jobs doesn’t help because that doesn’t lift them out of poverty – see the rise of the working poor. The truth that Key will never acknowledge is that addressing poverty means raising incomes – both benefits and minimum wage. (I wonder if Key’s officials will list those among their “fresh ideas”.)

Prediction – in 2017 things will not have changed, and John Key will be claiming that his government has done all it could. Prove me wrong – please – prove me wrong!

86 comments on “The politics of poverty ”

  1. One Anonymous Bloke 1

    Any “solution” will be put on hold “until the economy improves”, using the further fall in dairy prices as a scapegoat.

    Raising incomes means lifting wages and benefit levels, especially benefit levels. It isn’t going to happen.

    What will happen is that the inevitable rise in social problems will be met with increasingly repressive and dehumanising attacks on people living below the poverty line, reinforcing right wing hate speech and prejudice. Expect further and worse human rights abuses.

    • Lanthanide 1.1

      Seems like we probably won’t be getting this surplus after all.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1

        That was a given considering that National’s entire economic platform was based upon a) increasing dairy production with increasing dairy prices and b) The Christchurch rebuild

        Now that a) is collapsing the surplus is going with it.

        Of course, we now have National supporting the RBNZ interfering in the exchange rate rather than whinging about it as they did when Labour was in power. So they’re probably hoping for a crash in the exchange rate ATM to save our economy from their own mismanagement.

  2. Olwyn 2

    My guess is that he is preparing the ground for extending the use of the smart card that has been tried out on young mothers over the past few years. This would (1) maintain the current demonisation and control of beneficiaries (2) provide a lucrative contract to some overseas firm that has lobbied him, and (3) signal to the middle class that he is “doing something” about child poverty.

    • framu 2.1

      and it increases benefit dependandcy by removing the requirement to budget – something that they should be asked to explain.

      and for a govt that refused to even bloody measure anything to do with child poverty – in fact laughed about the idea, to suddenly decide its a big problem, and have not a single fecking journo corner them on this is staggering

      • Olwyn 2.1.1

        Well, that seems to be how he maintains his centrist image, while all the time moving toward the transformation of NZ into a corporate one-party state, where it is always ‘safe to do business’ because only cosmetic changes are possible. Focus groups reveal that the population is concerned about something, so he makes what looks, prima facie, to be a concession without relinquishing any ground. That just seems to be how the guy rolls, and almost all of the media and half of the Labour Party seem far more concerned with retaining their status in his one-party state than challenging it.

      • Draco T Bastard 2.1.2

        and it increases benefit dependandcy by removing the requirement to budget – something that they should be asked to explain.

        And that is something that all opposition parties and parties that actually want to do something for NZ need to be jumping on immediately. The fact that National are removing personal responsibility from people and replacing it with government force.

        • framu 2.1.2.1

          weird aye?

          its a double whammy freebie to use against the nats

          1) it has a very obvious down side you wont explain
          2) your ideology is agin it

  3. Liminal 3

    Nothing is likely to happen as the government doesn’t even want to recognise the existence of poverty – or at least before the election. My partner recently worked for a Ministry where it was forbidden to mention ‘poverty’ in advice and policy being sent to the minister – doubly sick because that particular ministry represents a large population whose poverty levels are above the norm.

  4. Michael 4

    Key won’t do anything about child poverty because he knows New Zealanders don’t really care. Evidently, Labour knows this too, which is why it promised nothing but cosmetics in its 2014 campaign – and why the poor no longer vote.

  5. just saying 5

    Thank you Anthony for calling it “poverty” and not hiding behind the weasel-words “child poverty”.

    That’s not to underemphasise the uniquely destructive life-long effects of child poverty, just to say that all poverty is serious vilolence that requires radical action.

    • boldsirbrian 5.1

      @ just saying (5)

      Excellent post.

      I’ll also add my thanks to those who call it “poverty” rather than “child poverty”. Poverty, of course covers child poverty. I agree with ‘just saying’ that the words “child poverty” are simply weasel words.

      Child poverty, as an issue, is born of the same reasons that politicians love their photographs being taken with kids. And also born out of the fact that organisations concerned about poverty, are underfunded by Government, and need the charity dollar.

      As you say, “That’s not to underemphasise the uniquely destructive life-long effects of child poverty, just to say that all poverty is serious” … and …“requires radical action.”

      • Draco T Bastard 5.1.1

        I agree with ‘just saying’ that the words “child poverty” are simply weasel words.

        Yep, words used solely to play upon peoples emotions.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 5.1.2

        Playing on people’s emotions is a strategy explicitly encouraged by history, science, rhetoric, ethics, etc. etc. because it acknowledges that every single “rational” “thought” is preceded by an “involuntary” emotional filter.

        To put it another way, culture beats strategy.

        Employing “child poverty” as a benchmark is a diplomatic response to National Party hate speech against “poor” people as a group.

        A few people who are utterly immersed in National Party hate speech will balk at attacking children: a wedge is a wedge.

  6. TheBlackKitten 6

    Key is poll driven & will do what pleases the majority of people. People that read this site may not like this but what the majority of Key voters (which is 48% ) would like to see is the introduction of the card, in particular to beneficiaries with dependant children. Now don’t shoot the messenger, all I am doing is reporting what the majority of the middle class in NZ will want.
    Middle class see the card as a solution to stop any mis spending that may occur with their taxpayer dollar. They view the card as a an ideal solution to still provide those basic essentials for people that are in the unfortunate position of not being able to do this themselves but eliminates any possibility of their tax dollar being spent on nasty addictive vices that can catch people that are in desperate situations.
    However, one thing that the card will not eliminate is the housing overcrowding that is creating these illnesses. But I bet my bottom dollar that their answer to that will be to point to the lack of supply for the high demand with housing. Those that are at the bottom economically are suffering the most. Rents are horrific and those on low incomes are really struggling to meet these high rents.
    Their answer will be more housing to ease this inflated market which will decrease rent costs. They will say that increasing incomes without increasing the housing supply will result in higher rents due to more money becoming available to meet the higher cost.

    • framu 6.1

      ” would like to see is the introduction of the card, in particular to beneficiaries with dependant children.”

      the thing is – that wasnt a policy put forward so how did people vote for it?

      mis-information and dog whistling was how.

      • TheBlackKitten 6.1.1

        Perhaps, but I doubt you will see howls of protest from those National voters if the card is introduced.

        • Hanswurst 6.1.1.1

          I also doubt that you’ll see many pieces from mainstream news and current affairs sources examining whether the policy sees people getting into work, spending more effectively or advancing themselves in any way. Hmmm. Perhaps there’s a connection.

    • Kelly-Ned 6.2

      It also won’t change school achievement statistics since impoverished lives lead to low academic achievement. Some say 86% of achievement outcomes are generated by these out of school factors, others have the figure at 70-80%. Either way this is a huge impact on schools and ultimately life outcomes.

      • TheBlackKitten 6.2.1

        But you know as well as I do what their argument for will be for that. They will say that children can’t learn with empty tummies and the card will ensure that their parents buy food rather than spend it on vices which in their minds, is why they are turning up to school hungry at present.

        • Draco T Bastard 6.2.1.1

          Yeah, just like this.

          Throw in the fact that the cards will force beneficiaries to go to the most expensive place to buy food and I think you’ll find that the card pretty much ensures that beneficiaries will be worse off.

          You deluding yourself if you think the card works as you think it will.

          • TheBlackKitten 6.2.1.1.1

            I never said I did. Read my comment and you see that what I am saying – is that Key voters (48%) will.

            • Draco T Bastard 6.2.1.1.1.1

              I did read your comment. I thought it was obvious that you’re one of the Key voters that you were talking about.

          • Murray Olsen 6.2.1.1.2

            They’d also only be linked to businesses acceptable to government, probably the big chains. The small retail business people who voted NAct are the ones who will lose out (after beneficiaries, of course).

    • Draco T Bastard 6.3

      Middle class see the card as a solution to stop any mis spending that may occur with their taxpayer dollar.

      Well, the answer to that isn’t demonizing people but teaching them the truth. Of course, National won’t do that because they actually want to have complete control of peoples lives.

      And, yes, it’s been shown that it’s not the poor that over indulge in booze and ciggies but the middle-classes and the rich. They then project those vices onto the poor while ignoring their own shortcomings.

      Their answer will be more housing to ease this inflated market which will decrease rent costs.

      Which will help their rich mates who have been land banking but not actually lower the price of houses or make any more available.

      all I am doing is reporting what the majority of the middle class in NZ will want.

      No you’re not, you’re here to make a plea on behalf of the fictional ‘mainstream’ NZer – National’s favourite section of the population as it doesn’t exist while a lot of people, who aren’t the majority, falsely identify with it.

      • Psycho Milt 6.3.1

        And, yes, it’s been shown that it’s not the poor that over indulge in booze and ciggies but the middle-classes and the rich.

        Ha! Try finding a middle-class person who smokes, these days. You’re right about the booze though – I drink way more than I did as a dole bludger or student, because now I never have to check how much money I have before buying alcohol.

      • TheBlackKitten 6.3.2

        Your comments re middle class with ciggies and booze are generalisations which are no different to those that generalise about beneficiaries mis spending their benefit. If you want to “teach people the truth” so that they understand what life is like as a beneficiary then calling them names & labelling them is not going to achieve that. What it will achieve is for them to switch off and continue to vote for Key each election.
        How does more houses help their “rich mates” land increase in value from today? More houses will see demand not being as great, I agree that prices will not reduce but in the same token, they will stop increasing at the rate that they presently are. And who are the rich mates?
        All I am doing is asking questions, adding suggestions & seeking answers that many NZers have? What is wrong with that?

        • Draco T Bastard 6.3.2.1

          Your comments re middle class with ciggies and booze are generalisations which are no different to those that generalise about beneficiaries mis spending their benefit.

          No they’re not. There’s actual research showing that it’s the higher middle classes and the rich that over indulge while the poor don’t. This is one such study but there are others as well.

          How does more houses help their “rich mates” land increase in value from today?

          Well, it goes like this: National will force cities to open up more land to housing pushing up the price for the land that the land bankers have been sitting on – sometimes for decades – while doing nothing with it.

          I agree that prices will not reduce but in the same token, they will stop increasing at the rate that they presently are.

          No they won’t. It’s been a staple of RWNJ ideology for decades that opening more land to housing will bring down house prices and so that what’s been done and house keep going up faster and faster.

          All I am doing is asking questions, adding suggestions & seeking answers that many NZers have?

          You didn’t ask a single question – you made some assertions as if they were true.

          • greywarbler 6.3.2.1.1

            @ DTB
            You are very patient with the determinedly ignorant. It’s rather like the little Dutch boy putting his finger in the hole in the dyke preventing a deluge? You will go down in myth and song Draco!

            • TheBlackKitten 6.3.2.1.1.1

              You should learn to attack the situation, not the person Greywarbler! You don’t do your supposed high IQ any favours with silly, nasty, personal comments like this. Better to say nothing if you can’t think of anything constructive to say.

              • greywarbler

                @ the blackkitten
                Draw in your own claws. And wait outside till we call you into dinner. Cats that lay about the place looking cute and don’t serve any useful purpose, don’t belong on this blog.

  7. Puckish Rogue 7

    The left should be very worried about this, now that Keys going to focus on it the rate of alleged poverty will drop and will be another nail in Labours coffin

    Keys nothing if not pragmatic

    • cogito 7.1

      “the rate of alleged poverty will drop”

      Hopefully he will make the obscene paypackets of some SOE bosses a little lighter. $1.46M paid to a Solid Energy employee when the company is broke?
      And the CEO of NZ Post getting $1.3M – “an increase of 26 per cent from the previous year”….?
      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11335136

      What would Key’s “hairdresser in Foxton” think about that?

    • Kelly-Ned 7.2

      I understand that many of the figures have been manipulated by moving ‘clients’ between different benefits. This should be fairly easy to track under OIA data requests.
      The number of unemployed, not on a benefit because they have made it just too hard to meet the demands is of course a different and very concerning trend.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.3

      the rate of alleged poverty will drop

      hahahahahahaha

      Oh, wait, you were serious.

      In reality, poverty will continue to increase under National just as John Key said he would do.

    • emergency mike 7.4

      “The left should be very worried about this, now that Keys going to focus on it the rate of alleged poverty will drop”

      Aside from sharing in DTB’s laff at u, your comment hilariously fails to appreciate that decreasing poverty is what the left wants.

  8. Tracey 8

    but mrs cunliffe sent some tweets about that tosser cosgrove and mallard… poverty? POVERTY!?!?

    • Puckish Rogue 8.1

      I know, its amazing how the right managed to manipulate her into sending those texts

      • Tracey 8.1.1

        no one said they did PR.

        it was foolish. called on it she admitted it.

        contrast that with. ..

        • Puckish Rogue 8.1.1.1

          that cunliffe potentially had a proxy attack his opponents?

          • Naturesong 8.1.1.1.1

            Yes, we should investigate Cunliffes use of the state apparatus to gather priviledged information and then launch coordinated attacks via multiple proxies in order to discredit, destroy the reputation of, and in some cases place in physical danger people in the public sector, academics, scientists, political opponents and anyone else who gets in his way.

            Oh wait, thats our Prime Minister, and at least 2 (one of which is now an ex-cabinet minister) of his senior cabinet ministers.

          • emergency mike 8.1.1.1.2

            Oh I didn’t know you were interested in that kind of stuff puck. You might be interested in a book called Dirty Politics by Nicky Hager. There’s stuff in there a lot worse than Cunliffe’s wife tweeting that Mallard and Cosgrove should pull their heads in.

            Check it out!

  9. coaster 9

    Its not that most kiwis dont care, its that most kiwis dont beleive it exists.
    being told stats doesnt convince people, you actually have to see it.

    statements like, they al smoke and drink, they should get a job, there is no way someone in nz can be in poverty it must be self inflicted, they should stop having kids, its not real poverty like they have elsewhere, are in common use.

    until nz wakes up and takes a look around at how bad things are getting , nothing will happen. Maybe if all those agencys that help out with food etc shut there doors for 2 weeks all at the same time, nz would have no choice other than to see.

  10. greywarbler 10

    Excellent post r0b thanks. The reason that children can go on having problems, is because people have stopped wanting good lives for all the people in the nation, and the children suffer. It is only making appeals about children that raises some vestigial concern and compassion in what passes for hearts in the self-centred middle class. And leaves them to take the route of philanthropy and personal charity which is good when someone does it, but means that they can continue to cheer on lower taxes from where the help should be sourced. Not relying on personal whim and patronising efforts to understand the truth of the cliche, that everyone is different, and to remember the truth that we are all bound by our common humanity.

    When Nats were putting up state houses to market rents and going on an efficiency drive to match people units to housing units, there was a Labour MP in Nelson. He looked at the problem, tried to interest churches. Hardly any interest. Churches retire behind the shameful defence of choosing some welfare matters to be ‘political’. Then they appear to be above the soiled hurly burly of advocating for the ordinary person.

    I wrote yesterday about what the Charities Commission, a Labour introduction, has meant to advocacy, they won’t abide it if the charity is seen to be advocating more than chariting. So a few people bang on while others are muzzled, or have to remain mute.

    More income, better and more housing that was affordable to state renters, say no more than a third of income, would provide a base price for rentals which would reduce the rent bubble. This is definitely what is wanted. But also to carry through the good effects of this, would be useful interaction with a dedicated WiNZ case manager, who might be changed every two years if necessary. The assisted person would be enabled to set small targets for handling present duties and problems and get help if requested to achieve them, and also with looking ahead to possible bigger, advanced solutions.

    That would involve a change away from present WINZ demeaning, hateful methods. Having WINZ case managers that help plan, ask what the person would like to achieve for themselves and their families, and who can offer help, with homework tutoring, extended child care when needed, transport to special venues, and on the other side of the balance sheet, be checking how this shows up in better health, attendance at school, at work,.

    There would be a board in WINZ offices that displays the accomplishments each week of different (anonymous) assisted people and families. On different coloured pieces of of paper, it would be obvious from a distance that people were getting into good things! (And also government would not use the word beneficiaries any more, as if only they benefit from the state when we all do in some form. People on welfare need individualised ‘assistance’ from the state, to manage a particular need and time in their life.)

    • Andrea 10.1

      “Having WINZ case managers that help plan”…Blind leading the blind?

      Just because people work at WINZ doesn’t mean they can plan, teach, train, advise, support, or display and use any advanced life skills.

      They wouldn’t be working there if those attributes were theirs.

      • greywarbler 10.1.1

        @ Andrea
        Oh ta Andrea. So nothing can be done. No changes can be made. We all throw our hands up in the air and give up. It is our destiny to screw up all the time.

        It will be hard to change WINZ but there is a lot of unemployment out there. If people want to operate in the old way, they will have to rethink their future, there will be someone else who will learn and adopt the new way of working with, not against the person.

        There was a slogan for a tv show about rehabilitating an injured man with robotic parts – we can rebuild him, we have the technology, we have the capability.
        Well we have the ability to change things if we can get enough vision and determination to do so. We don’t have to keep on doing the same old things. If we want to change things, then we must change the way we do things.

  11. Colin 11

    Want to end child poverty? Simple. Stop paying ferals to have multiple kids with multiple partners. The reason there are so many single mums out there with three, four, five or more kids, all from different fathers who don’t live with them or support them in any way, is that they get more from Social Welfare from doing that than having kids with the SAME partner, who lives with them and provides support.

    These people position themselves to take in the maximum amount of benefits possible, regardless of the consequences. ‘Cause otherwise they’d have to -gasp!- get a job and work for a living. Or ‘settle’ for the lower unemployment benefit. And we can’t have that, ’cause it’s their right to choose not to work and bludge off the rest of us, and then blame “the Government” for for the state of their malnourished, unloved and uneducated kids.

    • cogito 11.1

      You wouldn’t be Colin Craig would you, spouting off again about promiscuous Kiwi women? Well, Colin, you lost – remember? Now get back to your day job.

      • greywarbler 11.1.1

        @ Colin
        Could you quote your source please? I seem to have heard this before and wonder who wrote it originally. Is there a cult where you have to learn it off by heart?

    • Tracey 11.2

      god save us from the results of your parenting…

    • Draco T Bastard 11.3

      [citation needed]

    • Tautoko Viper 11.4

      I apologise to single mothers, many of whom have left violent relationships, for the lack of understanding from Colin. He is still under the misapprehension that living in poverty and having to continually go through a demeaning process in order to feed the children is a cushy lifestyle of choice. His attitude reminded me of several characters in a book I read recently- Nicholas Nickleby.

    • Paul 11.5

      Ferals?
      This is hate speech.
      Once you start to dehumanise people through language, you end up on very nasty outcomes.
      In Rwanda, they said cockroaches….

      • One Anonymous Bloke 11.5.1

        How many more children will die of poverty-related illnesses while we continue appeasing hatemongers with appeals to their better nature?

        Colin has a taste for hurting people. He won’t stop until someone stops him.

  12. “When you look at the determinants, the strongest associations are crowding and poverty. It seems likely that there are more families bunking in together. Evidence from household surveys suggests that’s true.

    I expect it is. There was an article I read before the election that compared two neighbouring Hamilton suburbs, one wealthy and one deprived, and interviewed a resident of the deprived neighbourhood who elaborated on how shit it is to live in abject poverty. We then learn that this 26-year-old has fathered a child a year since he was 20, which would certainly explain both the poverty and the crowding aspects of the quote above. Those dirty stinking governments, making him have all those kids, eh? Heartless bastards!

    • Draco T Bastard 12.1

      Anecdote does not a data make.

      • greywarbler 12.1.1

        The article should have studied the difference between a rich alcoholic and a poor petrol sniffer. That would have been interesting, if unhelpful. Perhaps tracing the milestones in their lives from when they were born might have led to a more effective juxtaposition. Did the poor man have a lot of fathers and uncles in his upbringing? Did he go to lots of schools as his mother searched for some stable man and home that she could hold onto. Did the rich one have the best of schools and sports trips? Did the mothers both have assaults and low educational achievements? I don’t think the better-off one would be in this category.

        And the parents of the poor man would probably have been under stress when they were children. Some people can survive this and shine, some get into a mess as they mix with other deprived kids. And then it can lead to the line from Officer Krupke in West Side Story ‘Gee I’m depraved on account of I’m deprived’.

        Nothing like a patronising, superior, ignorant reporter looking for the usual North and South cover of the lower orders. They used to write them regularly, knowing that they wouldn’t get sued as they might if they wrote about some of the wealthier families. They don’t often get into the criminal courts, they go to psychiatrists and places like Ashburn Hall, I think it’s called, down south. It all gets hushed up because the money line might get interrupted by uncomfortable scandal that has commercial sensitivity.

        • Psycho Milt 12.1.1.1

          Anecdote does not a data make.

          Indeed, anecdote is not data. However, even a casual acquaintance with logic ought to make it obvious that two people tend not to suffer from crowding, while two people with six kids find it difficult to avoid crowding unless they’re rolling in cash. I appreciate that rabbits and other non-human critters lack the cognitive horsepower to figure that out, but humans even at the bottom of various bell curves should be able to grasp the concept.

          The article should have studied the difference between a rich alcoholic and a poor petrol sniffer.

          Why? Nobody in it was obviously an addict of any description, unless you can call a fuckwit who turns out a kid a year addicted to getting women pregnant.

          Perhaps tracing the milestones in their lives from when they were born might have led to a more effective juxtaposition.

          I think we all get the concept that damaged people raise damaged people. It’s what to do about it that’s at issue.

          • blue leopard 12.1.1.1.1

            Fact: No-one ends up on welfare through a series of fortunate circumstances, Psycho Milt.

            Joblessness is a systemic problem, if there were enough jobs to go around, then unemployment would be very rare indeed, just like it was, when there were enough jobs for all.

            Trouble is, there are lots of people in powerful positions who want wages to be kept low, and not having enough jobs to go around is good way of achieving that.

            So why don’t people stop complaining about those without jobs and start complaining about the fact that there aren’t enough to go around?

            ^Guess that question kind of sums up the politics of poverty.

            • Psycho Milt 12.1.1.1.1.1

              Fact: No-one ends up on welfare through a series of fortunate circumstances…

              It’s not a fact. I ended up on welfare through the fortunate circumstances of having no interest in taking orders from employers, and the government having measures in place to pay me not to. And how many dumbasses have we seen declaring that the child that put them on welfare was a blessing from God? Is there any better definition of ‘fortunate circumstance’ than a ‘blessing from God?’

              …if there were enough jobs to go around, then unemployment would be very rare indeed…

              Well, it’s a plausible theory, but the amount of immigrant labour being imported speaks strongly against it. Unfortunately, it’s also a plausible theory that if we had more than enough jobs to go round, there’d be no end of wasters for whom these jobs weren’t in the right place, or didn’t offer a sufficient premium over remaining on a benefit, or didn’t offer suitable hours, or didn’t make sufficient provision for the fact that the kids’ dad is a waster who takes no part in their upbringing, or had employers who expect the workforce to be drug-free while handling dangerous equipment, or… or… or… We’ve spent decades building an army of unemployable wasters, they can’t be turned into workers just like that.

              • greywarbler

                @ Psycho Milt
                Good points. And the reasons for some unemployment remaining are bound to happen. There would always be people who couldn’t get to the job, or had some difficulty that arose. Employers also have become more demanding though not necessarily in a position to match their demands with a decent wage.

                And it is a fact that decades of causing people to be unemployed because of disastrous government decisions on dropping or abolishing tariffs, means that they have little relevant work experience. Your sneering remarks about wasters are unpleasant and though you chose to be unemployed and strung a line to the government and now must hate yourself, don’t assume others are as bad as you. There are a number of routes to unemployment.

              • blue leopard

                @Psycho Milt

                I don’t accept your ‘points’ at all, although perhaps I should have qualified my first statement by adding ‘if people are honest with themselves’ seeing as it was directed toward someone frothing at the mouth toward those in some of the least favorable circumstances in the country; those motivated to speak such vitriol don’t strike me as the most honest-with-themselves types.

                Sounds to me that your earlier ‘choice’ was derived from bad experiences with bosses or authorities.

                As for your second ‘point’ you merely supply opinion, however my point is supported by historical evidence, which is when jobs were a dime-a-dozen there were very few people on welfare.

                Re the bit about importing labour. Thanks, good of you to provide evidence of how those in powerful positions drive wages down and are clearly not aiming to ensure all New Zealanders have jobs.

                • My time on welfare derived solely from a lack of interest in going to work five days a week. And although I’m a reasonably unusual personality, I’m not that unusual.

                  As for your second ‘point’ you merely supply opinion, however my point is supported by historical evidence, which is when jobs were a dime-a-dozen there were very few people on welfare.

                  When job were a dime-a-dozen, we hadn’t spent decades building an army of wasters. Almost all kids had two parents who earned their own living, and grew up to do the same. That doesn’t apply now. The closest evidence we have for what would happen post-army-of-wasters is the mid-2000s, in which the drop in unemployment was limited by the enormous number of single parents.

                  • blue leopard

                    Having a lack of interest in working and forgoing the advantages that provides one in preference for the type of conditions one gets on welfare indicates something had gone very wrong in your life at that point. Sounds something like burn-out to me.

                    Your reasoning regarding welfare recipients simply offers excuses to ignore the problem and resent those on welfare by putting the cart before the horse.

                    How about creating a situation where there are jobs for all first and then assess how many people are still on welfare – rather than conjuring up ‘oo but’ and ‘what if’ scenarios?

                    It appears that your negative stance toward those on welfare is based on shallow imaginings, specifically designed to justify the tragic jobless status quo. This might serve you fine as self-justification for sticking to your own shallow attitudes, however it isn’t helpful at all for addressing the problem.

                    There are people actually being denied decent livelihoods in this country for no good reason, yet I guess it is just so much easier to blame them than critique government approaches that have caused the problem and offer something constructive.

                    If one listened to the likes of the bigoted lazy thinking types in this country one could be forgiven for thinking that a technological revolution hadn’t occurred, and if it had that the government had actually done something to ensure that the imbalances and inequities created by that technological revolution had been addressed.

    • Colin 12.2

      Absolutely spot on, how do you maximise your benefits and government support? Multiple kids with multiple partners! And don’t live with any of them either of course (well not ‘officially’ anyway, wink wink).

      And then they’re surprised by how much money kids cost! What we’ve got now is an endless cycle of a totally f@$ked up subculture with no life, work, or parenting skills completely dependent on government handouts, spawning a multitude of kids who are only valued as a revenue stream and will be at least as messed up as their parents are.

      Start paying them more NOT to have kids, and the ‘poverty’ problem will end!

      • blue leopard 12.2.1

        Fact: No-one ends up on welfare through a series of fortunate circumstances, Colin et al

        It is about time people started to realise that.

        No-one on welfare is ‘milking it’. There is nothing to milk.
        Do you even know how much people are living on when they are jobless?

        Think about it: why would someone choose such circumstances.
        I take it you don’t know what it is like being on welfare.

        How pathetic does one’s life have to get, to get to the point where one thinks it is a productive use of time to spend time virtually frothing at the mouth about people who are on welfare?

        Very, is my conclusion.

        Create jobs, raise wages and count how many people are on welfare then.

        From @WorldAndScience: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/ByxaggWIYAAnMUA.jpg

      • cogito 12.2.2

        “Start paying them more NOT to have kids”

        Shame your mother didn’t get such a payment.

        • greywarbler 12.2.2.1

          @ cognito
          “start paying them more not to have kids”

          Actually don’t diss a good idea when it comes out of the mouths of babes and sucklings like Colin? Is that who wrote that? The women could be encouraged by some career that they wanted and free contraceptives and information about conducting relationships so they were safe. Then they would be given motivation to study with a promise of a job and some travel when they succeeded at their reasonable goal. And then the numbers of children would drop dramatically from that very vulnerable time of growing up – teens and early twenties.

          And the blokes too, keep them occupied, keep them studying or learning skills, with a goal of finishing and apprenticeship, work and some overseas experience. And to learn how to use self-control with drinking, anger, sex etc so they stayed out of harm and the drop-outs would be under double numbers.

          Germany used to have a system where their carpenters and joiners were sent to see the world as part of their training or at the finish of it. The idea would seem ludicrous to NZ because we are pretty bereft of any imaginative thinking out of the square that we were in when we left Britain or other 19th century ports. Original thinking arose again after WW2 when we had been thrown around like bits in a kaleidoscope and new patterns arose.

          The 1960s and 1970s were times of change and innovation, but then when problems started to loom it was back to authoritarianism and laissez faire. To dull NZ right wing minds, it seemed a shiny new ball game in 1984, only because we were too ignorant to notice any other possibilities, and in truth it was a move back two centuries.

          • cogito 12.2.2.1.1

            Am all in favour of education and opportunities. My wife and I – both professionals – didn’t have a family until after we turned 30.

            • greywarbler 12.2.2.1.1.1

              @ cognito
              Yes that is more common these days, and fertility assistance may be needed too.
              Of course not everyone needs to have professional-style tertiary training. There are important jobs that require skills to be learned at the old polytechs now institutes of…. And it is better if they have a chance to train, get into a job, meet someone special and start a family between 25-30.

              People’s lives are being warped now because they can’t plan to have a future along these lines. They can’t get a job that gives equivalent full time and if they do it might not pay enough to save for a future. Can they start a family on a low wage, and if not when will the wage improve. How many jobs do they do to increase the income. Will they see each other much in between going off to shifts?

              What a bloody awful life the country has bequeathed many of the young. No weekends to take a break together, fractured hours, inadequate to live on.

              • cogito

                I agree entirely…. and I worry about my own kids’ futures, with increasingly expensive tertiary education ($11k a year just for uni accommodation!), uncertain employment, housing costs out of reach, social support constantly under review/threat…. I suspect that our few retirement savings will entirely disappear just trying to ensure that our kids get a reasonable start. Unfortunately my own prospects were largely killed off by Mr Key’s cleanout of the public service (and I am now in the age discrimination category), and my wife suffered a car accident so has been under the Collins crusher, so it has not been an easy. Some people just do not realise or do not want to know how easily things can change for a family, even when everything has been done responsibly and “right”.

  13. Ed 13

    What John Key’s government will do is try and give people a pay cheque not a welfare cheque. That’s a real, sustainable solution that respects people’s dignity rather than consigning them to the welfare trap.

  14. feijoa 14

    My understanding is, the birthrate wont fall with just provision of contraception. It also requires the education of women

  15. Pat O'Dea 15

    I heard Sean Plunket say this on radio. The defeat of Internet/Mana party had put an end to the “child poverty myth”.

    • blue leopard 15.1

      Incroyable! Could the spin lines being fed to the people of this country get more blatant?

      Don’t move
      Don’t talk out of time
      Don’t think
      Don’t worry
      Everything’s just fine
      Just fine

      Don’t grab
      Don’t clutch
      Don’t hope for too much
      Don’t breathe
      Don’t achieve
      Or grieve without leave

      …Don’t take it on board
      Don’t fall on your sword
      Just play another chord
      If you feel you’re getting bored
      I feel numb
      I feel numb
      Too much is not enough
      I feel numb

      -‘Numb’ by U2

  16. Colin 16

    The fact is that the low paid, no entry requirement jobs that kids could leave school for at the age of 15 when I was growing up no longer exist in this country; there are dozens of countries around the world with workers who will always do it for less than the minimum wage here. Don’t wish for them to come back, because it just is not going to happen. There are now very few jobs available for people with no skills and no qualifications – even if they are desperate to work.

    The company I work for has factory/assembly staff with university qualifications, technical skills and the like; most are migrants with an excellent work ethic. What employer is going to choose a young, unskilled and unqualified school leaver over these people? A few years back the company did give youth a go – but then the youth rates were abolished, and it was no longer worth the risk to take 16 and 17 year olds on.

    If you don’t get a skill, or a trade, or a qualification, you are setting yourself up to be unemployable. Hell, even with those you can still struggle to get a job – or the job you want, but those are the bare minimum to get you into the workforce. But these days, benefits are a lifestyle option, not a safety net – you can choose to cruise, opt out of the rat race and working for a living, and have bleeding hearts around the country critisize the government for not making your life easier.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 16.1

      Colin’s been reciting the right wing hate speech bible so much he’s almost word perfect.

      Sorry Colin, no-one needs a lumpen parrot.

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