Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: If wishing made it so ...

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  • slarty, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    what latitude public servants who want their target bonus will have.

    The clearout of all-but-yes-[wo]men continues. The 'policy' being excreted on the fly reminds me of working for a very well known NZ business-person in the late 90's... the dot-com era. We were setting up a subsidiary in Australia, and I was putting together the financial forecasts.

    Every time I went back with a new and more aggressive sales forecast, I was told to make it bigger. Eventually I realised they had a ratio in mind that would enable the business to be sold. So I reverse engineered my spreadsheet to put in a target share price and calculate the required growth rate.

    They loved it. Needless to say it was complete fantasy: I thought I was being ironic, they thought I'd validated their mental model.

    My point being that as a public servant we sometimes bow to the ludicrous demands in the hope that even the most challenged politician may pause...

    Failing that, we do our best to ensure that assumptions are presented and hope that our ever vigilant 4th estate won't just read the media release...

    But, as a friend tells me often, the gene pool in WLG is very shallow (by which he means that screwing up your public sector career can seem a very scary prospect....)

    Since Nov 2006 • 290 posts Report Reply

  • Will de Cleene,

    Whatever happened to increasing the threshold for beneficiaries to take up paid work before abatement from $80 a week to $100 (Hasn't been raised since about 1991). But they're shaking down the paperboys for small change, so I'm not holding my breath on Key living up to that promise, even if it might incentivise part-time work in long-term unemployed.

    Raumati • Since Jul 2011 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Will de Cleene,

    Whatever happened to increasing the threshold for beneficiaries to take up paid work before abatement from $80 a week to $100

    It's $100 for invalid beneficiaries. Not sure I understand the rationale for that...

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3419 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Will de Cleene,

    isn't it part of the same package?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16495 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Lilith __,

    Being disabled enough to qualify for that benefit does not mean you can't work at all. People get nailed by the steep abatement rates even with that small threshold change.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16495 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Sacha,

    Being disabled enough to qualify for that benefit does not mean you can’t work at all.

    Yes, but why not give the same threshold to sickness beneficiaries? Or any beneficiary, for that matter? I would have thought a bigger incentive to part-time work would be a win-win thing.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3419 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Lilith __,

    I thought the same threshold was meant to apply.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16495 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Sacha,

    I thought the same threshold was meant to apply

    Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure it's still $80 for everything except IB.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3419 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Lilith __,

    possibly timing?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16495 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Sacha,

    possibly timing?

    Huh?

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3419 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Lilith __,

    might be changing only IB first cos it's not part of that group of FSS working benefits.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16495 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Getting people off benefits means implementing a new re-assessment process designed to disqualify them. This is what the Cameron government in the UK has been doing flat out for the last couple of years. Pay a large multi-national (ATOS) to design a computer system with a tick box type of questionnaire (can you walk?) that takes no account of the daily realities and nuances of stuff like mental health conditions or being on chemotherapy. Design the system to have a rigid pass fail rate, erring on the side of failure to get enough points to qualify for a benefit. Kick large numbers of people off welfare. Get a great big bonus from the government for achieving the targets. Too bad that the appeals process clogs all the courts and people die trying to get justice and support.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 2030 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    Despite having done some research on infectious diseases, including rheumatic fever, I don't feel I can definitively comment on whether the government target is realistic.

    However, from what I do know, I don't think the target is completely impossible. Rates in high income countries in general are below 1 per 100,000, so it's a reasonable goal in general. ARF is usually a complication of streptococcal infection, either strep throat or (emerging evidence) strep sores. Both are highly treatable with antibiotics, and the highest incidence of ARF in NZ occurs in very geographically concentrated pockets, which ought to make delivery of public health measures easier.

    So overall, while the announced government targets may or may not be deliverable (I haven't looked at them yet), I'd imagine that if they're not then there would be many more risible or unrealistic targets than this one.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 323 posts Report Reply

  • David Cormack,

    Two quotes from the press release:
    “These targets are not a wish-list – they are a to-do list"
    "Some of these targets are very aspirational – in fact, some of them will be extremely difficult to achieve”

    Truly we are blessed to live in such Orwellian times

    Suburbia, Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 216 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    # we will work with a wider range of clients to break the pattern of welfare dependence
    # we will invest our resources smarter to get the best results
    # we will improve the model of service delivery.

    Our Father which (sic) art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name...

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard, in reply to Idiot Savant,

    Psychological or psychiatric conditions 41.5
    Musculo-skeletal system disorders 15.2
    Accidents 7.7
    Cardio-vascular disorders 5.3
    Pregnancy-related conditions 2.2
    Other disorders and conditions 28.2

    I'm pretty sure that in Talkbackistan that translates to "70% of sickness beneficiaries are malingerers and workshy layabouts".

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1039 posts Report Reply

  • dc_red,

    invest our resources smarter to get the best results

    That's up there with children are important because they represent the future in meaningless waffle. Not acceptable from a novice undergraduate, let alone a government department.

    Also, there's the implication that after more than 3 and half years of a National government, resources continue to be invested in ways that are not smart (i.e., dumb) and which yield sub-optimal (i.e., bad) results.

    Oil Patch, Alberta • Since Nov 2006 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Speaking as a plant developmental biologist ie not an expert.

    The target is probably achievable BUT the problem depends very much on figuring out why certain areas have high rates of infection. If the underlying cause is too little affordable housing then the only solution is building houses and spreading the families out a bit - I can't see an education policy doing that.

    But the problem might really be a simple lack of knowledge in those communities where incidence is high. If that is true then the policy may work IF and only IF they pay for people to go out in those communities and go house to house and talk to people.

    Getting these kinds of changes requires figuring out exactly where to put the effort, my feeling is that even the experts are making guesses as to what exactly might work - very well educated guesses - but they could be wrong. And at that point some public servants will get their pay cut.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3264 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason, in reply to Lilith __,

    It's $100 for invalid beneficiaries. Not sure I understand the rationale for that...

    There ya go. Easy. All beneficiaries are hereby in-valid.

    Edit add; "Talkbackistan". Noice.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1491 posts Report Reply

  • Stewart,

    It speaks volumes to me that the focus is on getting people off benefits, not on getting them into employment which is a much tougher ask.
    Getting the current shower of shits to actively promote job-creation in any meaningful form is total fantasy.

    They are cutting jobs, impoverishing more & more people & running totally counter to any avowed desire to improve educational outcomes (kids from working families generally achieve better than those from benefit-dependent families, I believe).

    Te Ika A Maui - Waitakere… • Since Oct 2008 • 563 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Stewart,

    Does the phrase, "it's the economy, stupid!" come to mind?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4158 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to dc_red,

    invest our resources smarter

    Particularly facepalmy if this is supposed to divert attention from National’s asset sales, which would be a prime example of “investing our resources = dumber”.

    Combine that with the environmental trashing
    and the beneficiary bashing
    and the educational slashing
    and there's a consistent pattern:

    It's all part of National's stupid economy drive:
    i.e., a drive to create a stupid economy.

    Hence, a punctuation change -- "It's the economy: Stupid!"

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 874 posts Report Reply

  • Sarah Wedde,

    The obligations for sickness beneficiaries have already changed. If your doctor says you're not capable of ANY work then you have "planning" obligations (develop an employment plan, take part in work related activities or programmes etc.). If your doctor says you are capable of part-time work then you have work obligations. Not meeting your obligations carries the threat of benefit reductions, and in the case of work obligations, benefit stoppage. They've pretty much done the groundwork for abolishing the sickness benefit and switching over to the jobseeker support. I guess employers are just pushing aside healthy people to get to the sick ones.

    Lower Hutt • Since Nov 2006 • 66 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed,

    And reducing crime while forcing a pay freeze on the thin blue line?

    2 + 2 = 5, so get the hell over it.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4158 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Is it just me, or is it spookily coincidental that that other "compassionate conservative" and currently deeply in the
    electoral doo-doo David Cameron deployed distraction by way of previously unannounced wild, unobtainable welfare reform "targets" just a few days before John Key declared his wild, unobtainable targets by way of distraction?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1776 posts Report Reply

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