Welfare working group follows the formula

Written By: - Date published: 1:17 pm, November 25th, 2010 - 33 comments
Categories: benefits, class war - Tags: ,

I’m not going to waste a lot of time on the Welfare Working Group’s report. It follows the Brash-esque formula of mis-representing the issue as some massive problem and then presenting ‘solutions’ that have failed overseas. Like the Brash reports, it will be used by the Nats for bait and switch, making their actual cuts seem moderate by comparison.

The report harps on about 338,000 working age people getting benefits as if these are all fit, young people who just can’t be arsed getting a job.

Of course, we know the truth is different:

85,000 are invalids, meaning they have severe physical or mental disabilities

58,000 are sick and are required to have medical certificates to prove it (if people are getting certificates they shouldn’t be, that’s not a reason to get rid of the benefit, it’s a problem with GPs)

112,000 are raising young children alone

65,000 are unemployed and required to be looking for work to get their benefit. And we know that, if the jobs are out there, unemployment beneficiaries are more than willing to take them. Before the recession there were as few as 17,000 on the dole and 70% of them got it for less than a year as they transitioned from one job to another.

In fact, when there were jobs for nearly everyone there were just 1,700 long-term unemployed who had been on the dole for over 4 years. If there are any bludgers they are a subset of those 1,700. Hardly worth turning the lives of 338,000 people and their families upside down over.

A good proportion (I think its 50% from memory) of beneficiaries actually work a bit as well, and take a reduced benefit as a result. The marginal tax rate for beneficiaries is enormous, at least 80.5% due to benefit abatement and income tax for people getting over $80 a week from work income, but they still want to work.

And let’s not forget that our society manages to support, via the benefit system, 12% of the working age population and their families by expending less than $5 billion on those benefits. That’s less than the income of the wealthiest 13,000 New Zealanders.

So, having misconstrued the problem, the Welfare Working Group presents all kinds of extreme solutions:

work for the dole (where’s the work going to come from?)

time limited benefits (what happens to families who can’t find work during the recession?)

individual unemployment insurance (shifts the cost on to low-income workers, who are most likely to lose their jobs)

forcing solo mums to look for work even earlier (who will look after the kids?)

Surprisingly, a universal minimum income is also among the proposals. And that’s the one good idea there is.

As with Brash’s reports before it, this paper will be dumped in the bin without being read and be used by National to make its next round of benefit cut backs appear moderate. That’s all this expensive game is really about. The suckers are those, on both sides, who think that the paper is anything other than a neoliberal fantasy.

33 comments on “Welfare working group follows the formula”

  1. M 1

    ‘time limited benefits (what happens to families who can’t find work during the recession?)’

    Drug dealing and prostitution?

    Will we now become Mexicans with cellphones touting for business on street corners?

    Anti-spam: Ship – yeah, ship of NACT fools.

    • Colonial Viper 1.1

      I’m still trying to figure out how to stop otherwise intelligent nice ordinary income earning people for voting for a Tory party which is only out to burn them. Illogical but that is what has been happening.

      • Vicky32 1.1.1

        When they get burned it will be too late – worse, some of them are past masters at rationalisation – or they blame themselves, which is the really sad part.
        Deb

    • RobertM 1.2

      They seem intelligent and useful occupations – sex work, drug selling and street entrepenuers and those available for casual employment in the film and bar industry. Far more so than half the jobs in outer roa. Here half the jobs are padded and created. I’m sure the nation would be more productive and happier if only half the present jobs were done. Getting out of bed to go to work uses energy and fuel, space and paper. What a waste.
      Any human society of intelligence would realise that l8 year old solo mothers should be having vigorous sex all the time to keep fit, enjoy and relax. In many respects there offsprings should be looked after by their grandmothers or great grandmothers or other grandmothers. People like Coddington, Newman and Rankin would be far more useful if they spent their time looking after their grandchildren. Even recreational cougar sex would be far more healthy than their embittered right wing spiels- which just reflects that it was too hard climbing the food chain for these girls and they should have just stuck to something respectable like recreational sex. And I mean it.
      Rebstock is beyond contempt barking the Act, talkback line. And just how likely is a Macjob to take you up the food chain and housing market if your an adult. Such jobss are for the under 25s , teenagers, students etc to earn dress, booze and cosmetic money.
      The likes of Rebstock are pathetic barking the male fuddy duddy line. She calls herself a feminist.

      • Vicky32 1.2.1

        “Any human society of intelligence would realise that l8 year old solo mothers should be having vigorous sex all the time to keep fit, enjoy and relax.”
        Yes, you’re the guy who’s got an obsession with sex and teenagers, hey?
        How many 18 year old solo mothers do you think there are? Clue – about 90% fewer than you imagine! 😀
        Deb

  2. Jim Nald 2

    Yep, not worth wasting too much time.
    Even comparing at a basic level, this paper can’t measure up to your toilet paper which can be flushed away and doesn’t clog the sewers.

  3. KJT 3

    A universal minimum income is almost a no brainer. Even the most rabid RWNJ can see the benefits.

    As for the rest of it. It is so predictable as to be a total waste of money.

    These working groups and commissions have become unemployment benefits for ex politicians and party hacks.

    • Pascal's bookie 3.1

      These working groups and commissions have become unemployment benefits for ex politicians and party hacks.

      http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Wingnut_welfare

    • TightyRighty 3.2

      I wouldn’t mind a universal minimum income, but only if it was accompanied by an absolutely flat tax rate on every dollar earnt over it. otherwise we’ll just raise another generation of people accustomed to looking to the state to solve their every issue.

      • Colonial Viper 3.2.1

        the state is the only way certain issues can be solved, and the state needs a high level of funding to do it.

  4. belladonna 4

    They are targeting Invalid Beneficiares with a view to transferring them to an Unemployment Benefit which is a lot less than an Invalids Benefit – the jobs aren’t there but what a great way to cut costs – vile really.

  5. Bored 5

    What f**k knuckles like Bennett and Rebstock dont stop to ask is, “What happens to us (as in themselves persoanlly) should we succeed in getting rid of welfare (which is their ultimate goal)?

    The answer is simple, the people get angry and rebel, and if they get overly hungry they foment revolution. This is the primary reason why we have welfare systems, dont ever kid yourself it is because the political classes really care, it is a palliative method to avoid their overthrow.

    • Carol 5.1

      Well, people have to have a certain amount of resources in order to rebel. Why for instance hasn’t there been a major underclass rebellion in the US?

      OTOH, David Cameron & Nick Clegg in the UK probably should be congratulated for starting to politicise a large section of young people in the UK. These young people (probably ones with just enough resources at the moment) are learning the ways, means, and power of collective organisation, and how the media responds to it.

      • Bored 5.1.1

        There have been US underclass rebellions, the best example I can think of is the Civil Rights movement. There has also been massive violent repression of what once once the largest Communist party in the world, and the breaking of a substantial Union movement. Patton and Eisenhower before their wartime fame made their names breaking up an unemployed workers campaign in Washington.

        US politics is characterised by a massive divide and rule campaign by the wealthy at any one moment, the propaganda of which stifles any real debate, or any unity toward rebellion. This has always been backed up by massive force where necessary.

        On the subject of Cameron and Clegg I have the impression that activism in the streets scares them shitless. The “Black Bloc” methodology has demonstrated that the policing power of the state has no answer to common cause that has no central links or leadership to nip off at the head. When a protestor joins a Black Bloc he /she has no idea who he/she is standing alongside, you cannot incriminate the person you do not know. You can however show common cause, and act with a known tactical method to which the authorities have little answer.

        • Carol 5.1.1.1

          Well the police in London are using the same tactics as in the poll tax demos (sometimes described as riots). eg Kettling (trapping the protesters in a crowded space, and scaring them with police on horses). But the poll tax protesters were older and included more seasoned protesters.

          Now they’ve got a lot of young people acting with a relative amount of sponataneity – plus I gather parents collecting outside the kettled area asking them to let their kids come home. But, it seems to me to be a whole new generation are out on the streets in numbers. I’m sure that does scare them a bit.

          • Bored 5.1.1.1.1

            Nice observation Carol, there have been two apolitical generations raised since the neo lib revolution of the eighties, succoured by consumerism and techno gimickry. It gives me hope that there are numerous young people re engaged in street protest. Black Bloc makes this more effective, the tactics described here are very difficult to counter, have a read of this for basics http://www.solarstormtechnologies.com/radish/discontents/blackbloc.htm and this for advanced http://www.sheffieldmayday.ukf.net/articles/blackbloc.htm

            I have noticed that the sites change a lot which may be down to the authorities or perhaps pre-emptive movement to avoid authority. Either way if protesters had used these tactics in 1981 I suspect the authorities would not have coped.

    • RobertM 5.2

      Its the same with libraries. But like the benefits they can be turned to advantage to give time and money for research etc, The advantage of an Invalids benefit is you could partly fund a university enducation on it or do what you want, because it was assumed you were hopeless by social welfare. Doctors are usually keen to maximise peoples income. But the assumption psych patients are hopeless and won’t return to productivity is nonsense if modern drugs were used intelligently and people given a chance and left alone by society and the police. To get well, people need to control there own lives and drugs- which is why I favour a GMI and people writing their own perscriptions- because only the person themselves and their lovers will get them across the bar. Paternalitic and patronising relations and alturism are never helpful.
      Really anybody over 28 should just be guaranteed a floor income of about $350 with the only add on a supplement for up to 4 children. . More and the state would tie your tubes or your partner would get a little cut. Everybody should experience work for a few years, but I really think that much of the present workforce isn’t suited or efficient in much of the work they do in the NZ economy and the increasing shophistication of modern so called productive jobs will make this even more true. So I doubt if we need an income support dept, just do it thru the IRD.
      In my mothers opinion work was a privilege not a right

  6. freedom 6

    Is this a good time to mention the best and fairest way to get the local economy moving is introduce a tax free allowance of $10,000 before income tax is applied.

    It is the most universally fair base to a tax system as everyone has the same starting point and with few exceptions the first $10,000 of any person’s income is spent solely on living costs in their local economy

    Or would the corresponding drop in Income Tax revenue only highlight a disproportionate volume of tax is paid by those who earn the least in our society

  7. kriswgtn 7

    yeah nacts make out beneficiaries dont pay tax on anything – they pay tax on their benefits,they pay gst on everything.

    And theyre tryin to pass of that the world ‘s fukup on debt is because of beneficiaries
    what a fukin joke and the thing is ,is that joe public believe it

    sheep f***uckers

    • Colonial Viper 7.1

      Yeah its a bit of a problem, to be sure, to be sure.

    • Jim Nald 7.2

      the nacturds are very quick to accuse others of not paying taxes .. and, in another context, of corruption

      why are they so familiar with not paying taxes and corruption?

  8. B 8

    Read welfare article in Listener today in which Rebstock makes all kinds of false assumptions and claims about beneficiaries and the system -saying things like “you hear it from everyone” rather than offering actual evidence. The one comment she made which I thought was the most blatantly manipulative was -after making a big deal out of how benefit dependency causes poverty- “…in fact in most other countries the employment rate is aligned with or higher for sole parents than for partnered women”. Rebstock says that making sole parents work would improve our child poverty rate. In fact many countries with high (sole)maternal employment rates have higher levels of poverty than here eg Canada and the US where sole parents have no choice but to work because of policies such as those Rebstock advocates. Having just done a paper at uni on this where we looked at welfare regimes across the OECD its pretty clear what works and what doesnt. Or rather who benefits: the models she advocates eg insurance are of greatest benefit to the middle classes whereas systems such as the one we currently have benefit those on low incomes.

    • Puddleglum 8.1

      Did you like her phrase “the medicalisation of labour market dislocation”?! I’m not sure how to take that.

      It means one of two things, so far as I can tell:

      1. That the ‘dislocation’ has been medicalised (well, I guess I’d agree that there’s a certain psychological pathology behind the policies that have thoroughly dislocated work and workplaces – is that what she means?)

      2. Or being made redundant, having your relationship and family break up, being seriously injured, etc. has, inexplicably, been claimed to make some people depressed, anxious and unable to cope when ‘WE’ all know that that wouldn’t make ‘US’ depressed, anxious and unable to cope … SO, they must all be bludgers. But we can’t say that – wink, wink – so I’ll just say that ‘labour market dislocation has been medicalised’ cos I know all those lefty types use ‘medicalisation’ as a big, bad bogey word.

      Either way, that phrase alone disinclines me to take her views seriously. It’s a sign of poor thinking or deceptive rhetoric – I’m not in favour of either of those traits.

      • Roger 8.1.1

        Possibly an extension of 2. She also uses the term “hidden unemployment” and asserts that the numbers on the Sickness or Invalids’ benefits “simply cannot be explained by the population generally becoming less healthy”. The “hidden unemployment” with the as she terms “the medicalisation of labour market dislocation” suggests collusion between the previous government and the medical profession to unjustifiably remove people from the labour market to doctor the numbers. It also suggests as you said that the recipients are all bludgers.

        Her statement about the numbers is her flimsy ‘proof’ of her initial assumption. It is presented in a way that suggests a wide scope of health causes for the larger numbers of sickness and invalids beneficiaries do not exist but is actually very narrow in focus to easily promote her argument. It excludes for example better recognition and diagnosis of mental health problems and a greater focus of patients to be integrated or reintegrated into society rather than incarcerated in medical facilities or prisons. It excludes aging population, higher recognition of childhood deficiencies or diseases, reduced working conditions and safety that results in accidents and injury. It excludes the negative social impact of moving towards a 24-7 business and working roster.

        It is well presented but unquantified idealogical nonsense presented as expert opinion and designed in a way to attack left leaning policy ideas and the previous Labour government. But what else would you expect.

        • Carol 8.1.1.1

          And yet a recent OECD report says NZ’s rate of disability benefits is below the OECD average, and the unemployment rate of people with chronic health problems or disability was a lot lower than the OECD average, and other things show we tend to work more of our sick & disabled, but for less pay:

          http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/4389217/NZ-below-OECD-benefit-average

          However, despite that continual increase the number of people of working age in New Zealand who received a disability benefit was below the OECD average. In 2008 it was 3.8 percent, compared to the OECD’s 5.7 percent.

          Other findings included:

          * New Zealand’s rate for older people (50-64-years) on a disability benefit was among the lowest in OECD but the country had the fifth-highest rate for young adults aged 20-34;

          * Public spending on sickness and disability as a share of GDP was lower in New Zealand than the OECD average;

          * The unemployment rate for people with chronic health problems or disability in 2006 was around half that of the OECD average – 7.4 percent compared to 13.7 percent. But it was more than twice New Zealand’s unemployment rate for people without health problems;

          * Employment rates of people with health problems or disability in 2006 were among the highest in the OECD, 59.5 percent compared to 43.6 percent. However, incomes of those employed are lower than for the general population of New Zealand.

        • Rosy 8.1.1.2

          “the numbers on the Sickness or Invalids’ benefits “simply cannot be explained by the population generally becoming less healthy””

          yeah, well, there would be even more on the invalid’s benefit if there was not an obligation for partners of invalids to provide for them.

          • B 8.1.1.2.1

            Perhaps it could be explained by the growing gap btw rich and poor in nz which has been shown to be linked to poor health? In other words neoliberal policies from this and the previous govt.

            And yes – partners& family of invalids pick up a lot of slack for the govt- yet get zero recognition or support

      • B 8.1.2

        @Puddleglum Yeah i noticed that one… I reckon its code for ‘lazy people who dont want to work faking mental illness so they can get on the bene’

  9. Drakula 9

    Thank you Carol I am in a position where the figures you quoted may come in handy.

    As for the above paper I agree with Nald it isn’t even as usefull as toilet paper.

    Bennett and co are going to do what they are going to do, so I think that this working groups paper is just window dressing.

    If I remember correctly the Green Party member Catherine Delahunty was invited to contribute to that group to at least give it the appearance of neutrality.

    Then she was uninvited; OK now go and figure that one out!!!!!!!!

  10. Sean 10

    Thanks for this piece Marty. For me, this is the key passage.

    In fact, when there were jobs for nearly everyone there were just 1,700 long-term unemployed who had been on the dole for over 4 years. If there are any bludgers they are a subset of those 1,700. Hardly worth turning the lives of 338,000 people and their families upside down over.

    One of the tragedies of this whole story is that if you and I can find the is information on the Ministry of Social Development’s website. Why can’t a professional journalist?

    I expect misrepresentation, and outright distortion from the NACT government – but what is the media’s excuse? If this information is available at anyone’s desk top, why aren’t editors demanding that their journalists locate available information, and understand it?

    It isn’t that hard, the core of the story the media should be able to find is this. A miniscule fraction of people could be exploiting the system, just like a fraction of people exploit any system. What is needed is a process that finds people in that fraction, prosecuting them if necessary. Instead the government is going about to go with the beat-on-all beneficiaries method, which did not work in the 90s, and won’t work now.

    I know, the media won’t find this story, they will just go with the line the NACT government hands them. If only they had a little professional pride.

    • kriswgtn 10.1

      “If this information is available at anyone’s desk top, why aren’t editors demanding that their journalists locate available information, and understand it?”

      Cos theyre thick inbred bastards

  11. tc 11

    Par for the course, Rebstock continues to be a waste of time and space as under her watch the ComCom rubber stamped increased consolidation/decreased competition across the board her finest achievement being allowing a supermarket duopoly….bravo paula.

    So she’s hardly on the side of consumers getting a fair deal be that of any product/service including gov’t delivered ones like benefits.

    This is classic ‘yes minister’ stuff, appoint a committee who’ll generate the recommendations you want rather than objectively derived ones…..can’t have that now, basher needs her fix.

  12. Drakula 12

    tc which is why they uninvited Catherin Delahunty!!!!

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