Written By: - Date published: 8:57 am, July 3rd, 2018 - 99 comments
Categories: abortion, babies, child welfare, families, journalism, making shit up, Media, sexism, spin, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: al nisbet, barry soper
Labour’s family package is getting some negative comments in some elements of the media.
First up was this cartoon by Al Nisbet.
— Giovanni Tiso (@gtiso) July 2, 2018
Nisbet has form. He has peddled racist trash in the past.
But there was another recent media contribution which arguably was even worse. It was this diatribe from Barry Soper on the evils of the Government’s Families Package. He says this:
There’s an old story about giving a man a fish but not teaching him how to fish.
And that’s the trouble with welfare, some get so used to it, that’s the only life they know of and indeed are interested in knowing.
This Government is certainly handing out plenty fish but if the recipients can’t be bothered learning how bait a hook, or to cast a line there’s no need, or compulsion, for them to learn how to.
The father of the welfare state in this country Mickey Joseph Savage this time 80 years ago was steering the Social Security Act through Parliament.
The Act was designed to “safeguard the people of New Zealand from disabilities arising form age, sickness, widowhood, orphanhood, unemployment or other exceptional circumstances.”
So it was more of an ambulance on the way down the cliff face rather than one taking its passengers to the supermarket.
He reaches his denouement with this passage:
Surely our money they’re now spending on baby bonuses would be better spent on something like contraceptive advice, or at least on educating the young on the responsibilities of bringing a baby into the world.
There are already plenty of benefits built into the system for those who refuse to heed advice – it’s called the welfare cradle.
Shades of breeding for a business.
What utter tosh. The payments are designed to decrease pressure on young families during what is an exceptionally challenging time.
And this is what I really don’t understand. People like Soper are always the first to talk about tax cuts. But give a tax cut by way of a cash grant to a select group with clearly demonstrable needs is somehow the beginning of the end of civilisation and the breeding of reliance. Tax cut to rich businessman good, tax cut to struggling young family bad.
And the underlying message, that the bonus will cause poor people to have more babies is unfortunately based on prejudice and not on reality. Because fertility rates have more than halved since 1961 and are now at 1.81, well below the anticipated population replacement level of 2.1 despite the existence of what the right wing think is a very generous support scheme.
Earlier this year Ewan Sargent did something dangerous, he reviewed the statistics and talked to Peter Dolan who is population statistics manager at Statistics New Zealand, and reached these conclusions:
Population statistics manager Peter Dolan said the population continued to grow because of near record levels of migration.
He said New Zealand’s “replacement level” of births needed was about 2.1 per woman. That’s the average number of children each woman needs to have over their lifetime for the country to maintain its current population.
Despite the drop, overall the fertility rate has been stable for the last four decades, ranging from last year’s 1.81 up to 2.19 in 2008.
Dolan said the big rises came following the Great Depression and World War II. The peak was 4.31 births per woman in 1961.
Australia’s latest figures are its 2016 birth rate at 1.79.
Dolan said younger women were driving the birth rate down in New Zealand. Women aged 15–29 had record low birth rates.
And teens were also having far fewer babies. In 2017 they had half the babies they had in 2008, and under a quarter of the babies they had in 1972.
I can’t reconcile Soper’s comments with what is happening. Birth rates, particularly among the young who tend to be poorer, are very low. There is no evidence that women will have babies because of a modest weekly amount of tax relief.
One day we will have a debate which is based on what is actually happening and where poor people are not denigrated. That day will not be today …