Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: What about that Welfare Working Group, then?

178 Responses

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  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    It’s like unemployment is seen as a de facto felony.

    A lot of companies in America (the ones who are hiring) are not accepting applications from the unemployed, on the grounds that they must be inherently incompetent if they're out of work, and that it wastes their time having to look at CVs from the desperate. It's pretty ugly.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    It’s pretty ugly.

    Such a cruel, cruel place for the poor. We *can't* become like that.

    (Happy Thanksgiving! Um...)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    Such a cruel, cruel place for the poor. We *can’t* become like that.

    Oh, we totally can. But we shouldn't. And mustn't. And, I hope, won't.

    (Happy Thanksgiving to you as well!)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew C,

    Almost most of the people I know who are on a benefit would rather not be except for a rather small number who have made a life style choice

    Ignoring middle class friends with small children who receive working for families and/or childcare subsidies, all of the 3 friends I know who are on the dole are what would generally be classified as bludgers.

    It is a choice for them, they dont want to get a job, and actively seek ways to stay on the dole via any means possible. All are capable of working, all have qualifications of some description, and I believe all could find work if they tried. They simply dont want to.

    Question: does anyone have ideas on how this specific type of beneficiary can be identified and culled which wouldn't make life hell for those genuine beneficiaries? Or is the consensus this is basically just too hard to do and we have to take a few licks for the greater good.

    I guess that at least in part this is one of the questions the working group is attempting to address. Ive seen complaints so far but havn't really seen ideas. Do we have any?

    Auckland • Since May 2008 • 167 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to vangam,

    For those reading this thread who haven’t seen the relevant stuff on t’other thread, the “50 billion” cost of benefits cited by the WWG is the cost of supporting those currently on benefits for the rest of their lives. Hardly anybody receiving a benefit does so for life, the vast majority are on a benefit for a short time. You can get the full fisking from Gordon Campbell.

    In that article he also notes that the percentage of working-age adults currently on a benefit is 13%, predicted to rise to 16% in 2050. The actual facts are just not that alarming.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Andrew C,

    does anyone have ideas on how this specific type of beneficiary can be identified and culled which wouldn’t make life hell for those genuine beneficiaries?

    My response to the statistically negligible 'bludger' problem is that, like Peaches, I just. don't. give. a. fuck. and I suggest everyone else stops giving a fuck too. But I imagine that will not be a popular solution. :)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew C,

    My response to the statistically negligible ‘bludger’ problem is that, like Peaches, I just. don’t. give. a. fuck. and I suggest everyone else stops giving a fuck too.

    That's my view too. But for the sake of argument, what ideas are out there assuming we do give a fuck

    Auckland • Since May 2008 • 167 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew C, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    So an Economist (Rebstock) has a better idea about what Doctors deem unfit for work because they are ill, invalid, or other? Y’know, Doctors who spend up to hundreds of thousands of dollars getting (what she must obviously think a waste), a Science degree.

    As an FYI, the 3 friends I refered to earlier all have found doctors who are prepared to sign medical statements saying they are unfit for work. None are unfit, and, and this in my friends' views, the doc's all know this and are aware of the true reason for the requests and are simply playing along. Just sayin.

    I mentioned previously I think the issue of bludging is trivial and thus not worth worrying about, but I guess the above means that at least some portion of the medical figures contain an element of fraud.

    Auckland • Since May 2008 • 167 posts Report Reply

  • Petra, in reply to Andrew C,

    The monetary cost of trying to identify and ‘cull’ that small percentage of people who have made welfare dependency a lifestyle choice for the very long term would probably be much greater than just not giving a fuck.

    People who get upset at the drain on the national purse by these few bludger types, might like to think of it in terms of office stationery – paper clips, for example. Most businesses allow for the purchase of paper clips in their overall stationery budgets. Paper clips get lost, made into paper clip chains, bend beyond usefulness, and given out – with papers – to potential clients who they may never see again.

    The cost of collecting paper clips from the office floor, chasing up rogue paper clips from clients who don’t get back to you with their wallets open, separating paper clip chains and putting the individual clips away again, skillfully rebending them back into shape, and going through vacuum cleaner bags picking out the ones that got sucked in, would be very much more expensive than just letting a few paper clips get away on you. Let the paper clips go.

    With young bludger types who are starting to settle in to a way of being, then money would be well spend firing them up, giving them hope and education, and showing them that life can be so much better, and that they themselves are better – and then hope that the majority of them will start to change their course, before the rut rot really gets in.

    And for those that get upset, not because of the money, but because of “the principle of the thing!"…well, to them, you just gotta say, “life is messy and complex, and fraught with injustices. Principles are great an’ all, but why let yourself get so chewed up about a small group who are largely insignificant? Better to go for the principle of those who defraud the country of millions of dollars just to maintain a decadently wealthy lifestyle, like we’ve seen in the late 80’s, and again this decade, than bother with those who scam a few bucks just to get by”.

    I’ve always thought that welfare bashing is more of a bait and switch tactic. It keeps the attention and heat on those who are the most visible yet the most defenceless, and are therefore easy targets, while much bigger bucks and political/legislative carry on are being played to benefit those more invisible uberwealthy. And as soon as attention is on them and their dealings, it’s a “oooh, look at that shabby skanky ho and her snot-nosed kids, look at that dirty hippy on the dole, get a haircut! get a job! taxpayers money! we'll sort 'em out for you!” etc, and it always works. Every freakin’ time.

    Rotorua • Since Mar 2007 • 317 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Andrew C,

    As an FYI, the 3 friends I refered to earlier all have found doctors who are prepared to sign medical statements saying they are unfit for work. None are unfit, and, and this in my friends’ views, the doc’s all know this and are aware of the true reason for the requests and are simply playing along. Just sayin.

    Andrew are you absolutely sure your 3 friends are fit to work? Doctors are not only highly trained, but by and large quite canny at figuring people out. And I find it really hard to believe that the (3!) doctors would knowingly be submitting fraudulent medical certificates. Doctors are in a highly responsible position and their jobs depend on their being trustworthy and reliable.

    Oh and Petra, I love the paperclip analogy! And I couldn't agree more.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    But for the sake of argument, what ideas are out there assuming we do give a fuck

    I wouldn't have minded if a Welfare Working Group had gone and made substantial reforms to progress these sorts of people, and people who have gotten stuck in a hole where they struggle to progress their lives and their family.

    I don't think it's a money saving thing, indeed I'd imagine it would cost money. But finding incentives, money for training, individually tailored assistance, or indeed a kick up the bum for someone who is a genuine 'bludger' would be all good, for them and society as a whole.

    Instead what we'll get is a little bit more screwing down on the 95% to target the perceptions of the other 5%.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew C,

    Andrew are you absolutely sure your 3 friends are fit to work?

    There is no doubt they are fit to work, they themselves freely admit they simply dont want to.

    One of the docs recently suggested that the original ailment may not work any more, and prompted for alternatives. My friend said he had broken his collarbone once. Pinko presto, original ailment removed, new issue preventing work is pain from collar bone.

    Auckland • Since May 2008 • 167 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    In the words of Warren Buffett:

    "There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning."

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5416 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to vangam,

    Well if you gave each of them a very generous 50,000 per annum it would only tally 17.8 billion. How do they account for the other 31 billion?

    By working from the premise that everyone currently receiving a benefit continues to do so for the remainder of their life, and that growth in benefit numbers continues on current trends (ignoring that, like, we're in a recession and people, like, don't have jobs because there aren't jobs to be had) and that all those people also stay on benefits for the remainder of their lives! Lies, damned lies, statistics. And the WWG is a lower form still, it seems.

    Yes, that's really how they came up with $50b. Constantly increasing entries, with no exits. Ignoring the economic realities of the world at present, and that for most people a benefit (talking here about UEB) is a payment that lasts for a few months.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Petra, in reply to Andrew C,

    Are you sure they're not conning the doctors, who must err on the side of caution regarding health/mental health issues?

    But anyway, unless these guys are double dipping or dealing drugs or whathaveyou, they are actually setting themselves up for a very hard row to hoe later in life. They might not realise that now, but they will eventually. It's all fun and games when you're young...

    Rotorua • Since Mar 2007 • 317 posts Report Reply

  • Petra,

    btw, I've managed to score a job for a month. It's only 20 hours a week till Xmas (I'm Mrs. Claus taking pics of kids on Santa's knee) but it's something. Hopefully, I'll be fully employed somewhere by the time school goes back in Feb next year. *fingers crossed*

    :-D

    Rotorua • Since Mar 2007 • 317 posts Report Reply

  • Petra,

    Rotorua • Since Mar 2007 • 317 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Petra,

    The monetary cost of trying to identify and ‘cull’ that small percentage of people who have made welfare dependency a lifestyle choice for the very long term would probably be much greater than just not giving a fuck.

    They could also put the money into making sure that all the disabled New Zealanders who *want* to work have the support to do so - including adjusting the basic attitudes of employers who get away with discriminating on the basis of ignorant stereotypes.

    Until very recently anyone on a sickness or 'in-valid' benefit wasn't even eligible for Work and Income's job-oriented services, and for many the associated costs are so high and benefit abatement levels so steep that it's just not worth the stress and risking loss of crucial secondary grants for the sake of a part-time job. Re-structuring benefits to get around that was on the table about 6 years ago but ended up in the too-hard basket along with the rest of the single core benefit proposals.

    We also have a long way to go before all the broader pieces are in place from social attitudes through to communication, transport systems, public services and built environnments that work for *everyone* so that all of our communities can work, volunteer and contribute in so many ways.

    That's where I'd rather see the energy go, but it's not nearly so attractive to fearful floating voters as demonising the beneficiaries and anyone else who 'looks different'. And not as easy for the working group as blaming each disabled person for the situtation.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19683 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    Who else heard about this?

    New research has found about half of families living in the country's most deprived areas have never even heard of the Working for Families Tax credit.

    The Minister sounds fairly relaxed about this:

    "If the study is showing that 40 percent are not getting it it's saying that 60 percent are, so, you know, if you're a cup half full you'd say that 60 percent at least are getting assistance that they may not have been getting before, but it does tell us that there are people perhaps in those lower incomes that are not accessing the sort of services and the help that is there so we need to have a close look at that and see how we can do that."

    I'm not sure whether the study actually says that 60 percent are "getting it" - if 40 percent have no idea it exists, I'm not sure it follows that the rest are definitely getting the entitlement? But I'm not 'a cup half full' I guess.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1609 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Andrew C,

    I think the issue of bludging is trivial and thus not worth worrying about

    And that's how we should be framing the conversation, too. I want it to be generally accepted that that's a stupid argument which only focuses on a tiny minority, and whenever it comes up around the metaphorical water cooler or bbq, people can say 'that's an idiotic issue to be worrying about in the grand scheme of things', or 'well, would you prefer that they all sleep under a bridge so you can feel smug about them?' and everybody says 'yeah' and 'no way' and moves on. I think pandering to the Meanspirited Weasel Brigade only empowers them, because we end up talking about this one thing to the exclusion of everything else.

    (I suppose the other option is this: I volunteer my yearly taxes to support one honest-to-goodness bludger. If you can find someone willing to live on that pittance for the foreseeable future, good luck to them. Please, allocate my money to that person. Because like I said, I don't give a fuck.)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Petra, in reply to Sacha,

    I agree with you, Sacha. And "Ministry of Social Development" is a misnomer. I can't see any social development. I've looked and looked, but it's just not there. It might as well be the Ministry of Silly Walks!

    Rotorua • Since Mar 2007 • 317 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Gordon Campbell responds to this latest report.

    The WWG has a core problem in selling the notion of a welfare system in crisis, and a nation lacking the motivation to work. Reality check: when work was available in the 2000s and job searches were being case managed, unemployment sank to record lows with fewer than 20,000 on the dole. Conclusion: when jobs are there, people work: and when they aren’t, they can’t. It’s not as if a motivational crisis has suddenly engulfed the country in the last two years, when none existed before the recession.

    Not that the WWG seems interested in an honest evaluation of the statistics on employment anyway, and the academics on this panel should be ashamed at putting their names to the distortions used to support the report’s ideological bias. The panel is happy for instance, to trumpet a headline rate of 338,000 people of working age on benefits. Over at The Standard, there is an excellent unpicking of the ingredients of that figure: 85,000 have severe mental or physical disabilities. 58,000 have been documented by medical professinals as sick, 112,000 are raising children alone, and 65,000 are actively looking for work. As The Standard concludes :

    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.

    ...

    So…. we don’t have a welfare crisis. Nor do we have a motivational crisis revolving around our readiness to work.
    ...

    In reality, what we have is a job-creation crisis in the wake of a global recession, and the responsibility for dealing with that crisis rests with central government and, to a lesser extent, with employers and investors. They alone have the tools to bring about positive change in work creation. No amount of positive attitude by a solo mother is going to create a job in her local supermarket, when it is currently laying off staff.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19683 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    People not on the dole by choice, eh? Who’da thunk it!

    Next you'll be saying that people are so desperate to work, they'll queue in their thousands for hours for a handful of menial jobs. But that would be ridiculous, right?

    Oh, and this guy has just reminded me why you'll get me to vote tory when you pluck my vote from my cold, dead hand. Not in that country, not in this country, not in this lifetime.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Ian MacKay,

    Andrew C. Have you heard the argument that because there are some very nasty people in prison, therefore everyone who breaks the law and ends up in prison deserves the harshest treatment and the longest sentence? SST?
    Actually like with the dole I would far rather cater for the most, and avoid worrying about the very few bludgers.
    So please do not use your 3 friends as examples of a dole failure or examples of failed doctors????

    Bleheim • Since Nov 2006 • 498 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Isn't Andrew trying to constructively tease out a counter argument?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19683 posts Report Reply

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