NZ Green Party
The tsunami of child poverty

New Zealand’s “tsunami of child poverty” came under the microscope at the recent Child Poverty Action Group hui at Manurewa marae.

The hui was designed to build activism to end child poverty in Aotearoa. Activism is clearly what is needed to bring about change, was the consensus of speakers and participants.

One of the overriding themes of the Na Ta Tatou Rouro: With our baskets the children will prosper conference was that the recession is far from over, the situation for poor people is worsening and that New Zealand has a shameful and enduring record on child poverty.

Many speakers mentioned The Spirit Level – Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better by Richardson Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, a book that focuses on the consequences of economic inequality

Poor children are discriminated against by Government policies, such as the In Work Family Support tax credit that is not available to beneficiaries.

Everything seems stacked against poor children. Low incomes are bad for the health and for life prospects. Many die early from preventable diseases.

The haters and wreckers syndrome was illustrated by Finlayson Park School principal Shirley Maihi, who outlined the positive work happening at her school, including providing food to hungry pupils, and teaching parents as well as children. But Shirley said that after every newspaper article or TV clip, people ring up to blame the parents and tell her she shouldn’t be feeding the children. Godzone huh?

The disparity between the haves and the have nots is growing, with greater income inequality in New Zealand. The outlook seems increasingly bleak for our most vulnerable children.

But the spirit of those working on the coalface of poverty was more buoyant than bleak.

Conference speaker Sue Bradford – who gave a well-received presentation on New Roads for Activists and was commended for her dedication on helping protect children from violence – was rapt at the energy and the commitment of those present.

“I thought it was really great to see so many people still committed to the kaupapa of working to end child poverty,” said Sue.

“These issues have been big since the early 1980s. So lots of people have been working on it for a long time and have to keep their energy up.

“It was great to see that energy more than ever from people in the health, social services and schools. There were lots of people on the frontline in Maori and Pasifika communities as well as Pakeha communities. And there were academics and university staff as well as frontline workers.

“I think CPAG has done an amazing job over the years. They have really good heart and a commitment to do so.

“I really appreciate their focus on activism, building networks and alliances between people working on poverty issues.”

* The Green Party’s Children’s policy is available at:  http://www.greens.org.nz/policy/summary/children

147 thoughts on “The tsunami of child poverty

  1. I agree entirely with the arguments expressed in this post.

    But not with the “tsunami” reference. I criticised Enoch Peters on other blogs last week for using the same reference (albeit in a racist context – “tsunami of immigrants”), but I don’t think it is a good look for frog to use it either – even in the context of arguments and evidence I support.

    The tragic events in Samoa and Tonga are far too recent for “tsunami” analogies to be appropriate anywhere imo.

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  2. I am not sure that focus on obtaining the WFF tax credit is the way to gain support for more support for families on benefits.

    Many of the public want the WFF tax credit replaced with across the board tax cuts – which if enacted would place working families at risk of poverty as well.

    The cause for beneficiary family children would be better served by advocacy of regular inflation adjustments of the WFF tax credit AND the child support benefits available to beneficiaries (including accommodation supplements). This is alliance building/common cause with working (poor) families.

    Apart from this, promoting community provision for children of poor families – advocacy for various programmes supportive of child well-being – food at schools, access to health care/checks, clothing, educational resources and various group support initiatives – from mentoring to recreational opportunities.

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  3. Working For Families had a specific goal. Which I understood from my correspondence with Michael Cullen.

    The tax regime in this country was such that for a family with 2 children on 60K-90K of income, the effective marginal tax was 90 cents on the dollar. This was illustrated in several cases and documented quite thoroughly. Since I was paying that level of tax from the moment of my arrival here, it made a joke of any raises I might earn. It drove workers and their families overseas. It created a great deal of the impetus to use the LAQC to drive one’s income back under the 60K boundary and hope for offsetting Capital Gains.

    My letters to Dr Cullen started with this tax regime still in place. WFF reduced the hit to more like 60% marginal. Still bad but not quite as insane. The problem is that the effective tax paid on each additional dollar remains at quite absurd levels for most people EXCEPT the wealthy.

    This is an area in which some care must be taken. The “tax advisory” group wants a flatter tax regime. A more progressive regime would IMHO, serve us better.

    Consider that any tax and benefits scheme SHOULD be integrated well enough that the EFFECTIVE tax rate on each additional dollar is a monotonically increasing function. Ideally it would be a smooth function but that would be impossible to achieve.

    We don’t manage anything like that. Cullen claimed it was impossible, that there were not enough wealthy people in the country to deal with it progressively and achieve sufficient government revenues for the country to fund its obligations.

    I found that difficult to believe. I still do. National has inherited a mess, but it is not as bad as what Labour apparently started with, and I have no idea how it got to be as insane as it did, though my considered opinion is that the collective intelligence demonstrated by Labour AND National on this issue does not exceed that of the average pig.

    However, it is important to understand that WFF has a particular inequity in taxation as its target, and shifting the money around will, in all likelihood, restore the inequity as an unintended consequence. Folks in the middle class who are paying an effective marginal rate of 62 cents on the dollar at an income of 60K, see the folks at 100K or better paying 30 cents on the dollar. For those who actually understand what is going on, this is offensive, for the rest it is just an impression that “my taxes are too high”… and resentment towards beneficiaries.

    We aren’t doing a good job of educating people about who gets what and why, and who pays what and why. If we did, we’d do a lot better in elections AND with the attitude towards beneficiaries.

    Which isn’t to say that there won’t be resentment in any case, where the benefit is apparently a “lifestyle” choice. This appears enough that it must be true of SOME people, but my take is that it is actually a side effect of the “war” on drugs.

    respectfully
    BJ

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  4. SPC suggestion of more welfare is unsustainable.

    Currently the New Zealand government is borrowing $50M per DAY just to keep the citizens in the manner they are accustomed.

    That is totally unsustainable and the government expenditure “bubble” will go into default. Tax recipients cannot keep borrowing to fund their lifestyle.

    Either taxes have to go up enormously or government spending has to reduce.

    There is no way we can continue to borrow at the current rate and hope we can literally “dig” our way out like Australia does with exports of coal, iron ore, bauxite, etc.

    While we have huge mineral reserves, the Geens are vigilantely opposed to export them to pay for the deficit.

    So tax more? Cool, except that the tax payer is so hammered already that the smartest and brightest already dont live here and welfare is actually a better option then working.

    Land tax? More taxation on the tradeable sector, no good.

    CGT tax? To slow and low to be effective.

    Business to invest here at current tax regime is highly unlikely.

    The only way out of this is for a government to pare back expenditure to equal the tax take.

    And only borrow for infatructure required to support the tradeable sector. Cut welfare to those that need it, reduce non tax paying state servants levels massively. Free up regulations that allows job creation.

    We would not run a household on constant borrowing, why a nation?

    Suggest reading this by Bernard Hickey for a reality check

    http://blogs.nzherald.co.nz/blog/show-me-money/2009/5/31/borrowing-blow-out/?c_id=1502818

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  5. So tax more? Cool, except that the tax payer is so hammered already that the smartest and brightest already dont live here and welfare is actually a better option then working.

    Gerrit

    There are issues of fairness involved in those moving.

    Also issues of “Where the hell is a job suited to my skills”

    I don’t agree that “pare back expenditure to equal the tax take” is “the only way out”.

    I do agree that restraining government spending is one of the tools to use in making things work, but there is no SINGLE thing that is “THE PROBLEM”.

    Borrowing only for infrastructure is good. I wouldn’t limit it solely to the tradeable sector, but outside the tradeable sector has to have a referendum before it happens.

    But DO have a CGT.
    DO revise the tax structure so it looks to be a monotonically increasing rate right through the range of incomes.
    DO fix the LAQC so that investment in property is not the only way to avoid the mountain that is loaded on the middle class as they increase their income (only keeping 40 cents on the dollar) in their effort to reach the 100k and up level where their tax rate is halved.

    …and end the war on drugs.

    The removal of criminal records and jail for people who are guilty of offenses against themselves would be a good start towards reducing drug use and abuse in this country.

    Removing major funding supporting the gangs and major expense to the welfare sector would leave more money in the hands of those who need it.

    Removing the need for money to support the habit. Removing the money associated with the gangsta lifestyle. Leaves those who persist in it, in a state of druggy paradise at a far lower cost. Both in terms of crime AND in terms of drugs.

    We can then point at them and point out what losers they actually are with some honesty, and they can get treatment, and perhaps work (as someone on heroin maintenance doses who is secure about his next fix can function quite effectively in quite a few roles in society).

    It is never just one answer.

    respectfully
    BJ

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  6. Sapient,

    The flat tax regime has a hugely fundamental flaw if applied to New Zealand.

    We do not have tax payers earning amounts high enough to pay the extra tax to keep the minimum wage payments up.

    Flat tax as proposed by the wiki is great in theory. Not so good when you have one tax recipient for every two tax payers.

    There is not enough taxation cashflow to make flat taxing as you propose a reality in New Zealand.

    And the study that says that the volume of tax recipients wont rise if the state tops up their minimal wages? Yea right. Welfare in New Zealand over the last 50 years has clearly shown that this is not the case.

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  7. I forgot the business aspect of this. Investment in business here is related to the invidious tax favoritism and the horrid investment regulation environment.

    One has to wonder at how comprehensive this social disease of over-regulation is when the investment community is so devoid of accurate ratings and adequate regulation that the investment groups can go under at the rate of one a month. Not that their “Directors” go broke (usually), but the shareholders are all quite thoroughly shorn.

    It seems to be specific to the city councils and the property sector.

    Interesting that THAT sector is where people like to invest. Perhaps the relationship with regulation isn’t exactly what you thought ?

    respectfully
    BJ

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  8. Gerrit,
    That is where the modifications come into play.
    The negative income tax is proposed to function through a flat tax and a universal, un-qualified, citizens dividend. Neither of which is actually needed to gain the benefits of the negative income tax.
    My first alteration would be the qualification of the citizens dividend, this would pay an hourly rate to any working citizen up to 40 hours per fortnight at which point the maximum rate would be obtained. Unemployed would be given the option of working in state projects at a very minimal wage to fill those hours and would be subject to the same limitations provided the work was available. Thus, the citizens dividend would become granted only to those willing to work and would effectively replace the dole all together. The minimal wage paid for that, rather intensive, work to the unemployed would act as an incentive for unemployed to find work as finding that work would have absolutely no negative effects, save perhaps the optional nature of choosing to forgo work. This would benefit greatly those in genuine need of the dole and would remove all advantage to those whom would seek only to bludge.
    My second alteration would be the tax combination. I would keep the over-all tax take (minus citizens dividend) revenue neutral. While a flat tax would ultimately be utilised for income, the addition of a land tax would effectively leave the system relatively highly progressive whilst encouraging investment and allowing the income tax rate to drop substantially.
    I did the calculations awhile back, I may look for them when I return home and post them. While it is not extremely pratical, solely due to the massive amounts involved in the citizens dividend, at present it is still a very real possibility. When combined with pragmatic cost-saving techniques, such as those highlighted by BJ, more practically realisable.

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  9. As a broad principle welfare measures shouldn’t create an incentive such that the need for welfare increases. When the DPB was introduced the numbers shot up and most people acknowledge that (at least) a proportion consider the DPB to be a soft landing and lifestyle option. If the problem does increase relative to the solution then concentrating (only) on the poverty surrounding those children is disingenuous and not justifed by the “principle” of social justice? Given the furore over Paula Bennetts revelations of what a couple of complainants received on the DPB people might feel justified in thinking that the left is more interested in hiding facts than objectively framing an issue.

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  10. toad

    I agree entirely with the arguments expressed in this post.

    But not with the “tsunami” reference. I criticised Enoch Peters on other blogs last week for using the same reference (albeit in a racist context – “tsunami of immigrants”), but I don’t think it is a good look for frog to use it either – even in the context of arguments and evidence I support
    ……………..
    we shouldn’t be *concerned* Toad?

    Ireland’s economic miracle was driven by Germany. Under Labour, ours is being gifted by Communist China. The Germans sent money, the Chinese are sending people.
    http://nbr.infometrics.co.nz/column.php?id=409

    Our policy is the opposite of Winston Peters’,” the Party’s Immigration Spokesperson Keith Locke says.”
    http://www.greens.org.nz/immigration

    “Recently, Wenzhou’s Fortune Weekly conducted a survey of local millionaires. One question was: If forced to choose between your business and your family, which would it be? Of the respondents, 60 percent chose business, and 20 percent chose family. The other 20 percent couldn’t make up their minds.”
    http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2007/06/instant-cities/hessler-text/2

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  11. I didn’t realise things were so bad in NZ. The so called ‘haters and wreckers syndrome’ is so sad to read about but perhaps these articles and tv clips need to highlight the argument better such that these calls don’t happen. I hope the CPAG have the support and momentum to keep it up!

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  12. Gerrit:
    “The flat tax regime has a hugely fundamental flaw if applied to New Zealand.

    We do not have tax payers earning amounts high enough to pay the extra tax to keep the minimum wage payments up.”

    but it is all relative surely?

    I like the idea of a flat tax rate because I prefer an uncomplicated system (like a tithe). I’m not on a high tax rate myself.

    “Land tax? More taxation on the tradeable sector, no good.”
    but the tradeable sector isn’t having to pay inflated prices for land?

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  13. People are thinking about it the wrong way. If a person is poor and can not support themselves, then logic dictates they are not going to be able to support others. Therefore, they should not have children.

    Personal responsibility chaps!

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  14. Kiwireader,
    Yes, it is irresponsible for the parent to bear a child they are unable to support; but should the child receive the punishment for such irresponsibility? If a society with any degree of fairness or equality of opportunity is to be approximated then the child must be cared for. I personally believe that adoption is a far better option where the child would be raised in an environment with little compassion or a communal arrangement is preferable where the parent is caring but made financially unable; alas, neither are politically palatable at present so we are made to deal with these, far less adequate, strategies.
    Someone here suggested that individuals be made to adopt their own children, I like this idea; with certain restraints it has significant potential, particuarally in application to the many many unwanted children which ultimatly end up being maltreated and who’s existance becomes a negative for society.

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  15. JH

    but it is all relative surely?

    Absolutely relevant. The tax take has to be high enough to pay Sapients “citizens dividend”.

    So lets see a tax structure that will deliver that dividend.

    I suggest that the budget used to deliver that “citizens dividend” is not possible due to our low wages, low dividends, low productivity, lack of goods and services to sell at non-commodity rates, high government expenditure, low education standards, low population density, low investment returns and opportunites, etc., etc., etc..

    You can play with the tax take figures all you like but unless New Zealand fundamentaly changes the way it manages the peoples expectations, you will be chasing more people and investment for growth, away.

    I dont mind any property taxation, PROVIDED that alternative investments are better managed. Until then I will continue to invest in property and the ASX.

    To tax property on the expectation that it will raise the tax take is misguided, to raise it to force people to invest in the tradeable sector is even more misguided. The money will sit under the matress or worse still flow to the ASX or other Australian investments.

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  16. I do agree a child should not be punished for their parents decisions. It’s a shame they will grow up with a poor role model, and in all likelihood mirror their behaviours.

    I think immigration policy can also help here. It is my view that we shouldn’t be letting in those from the third world, or those who do not have a certain level of education. While it is nice to help people, I think letting in poorly educated people just adds to our problems, and becomes a burden on the taxpayer. I would rather see money invested in their home countries, helping to fix the root cause of the problem.

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  17. I dont mind any property taxation, PROVIDED that alternative investments are better managed. Until then I will continue to invest in property and the ASX.

    Absolutely right Gerrit.

    Never just one answer.

    respectfully
    BJ

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  18. “Poor children are discriminated against by Government policies, such as the In Work Family Support tax credit that is not available to beneficiaries.”

    The “in work” payment is not available to beneficiaries BECAUSE THAY ARE NOT WORKING!!
    I am considered poor by the figures that determine poverty in NZ but as a small business owner I still have to pay, ACC, income tax, GST and employer premiums. My neighbours on the dole are on slightly better income than me in real terms and now you want to give them more?
    You are advocating nothing other than welfare as a legitimate lifestyle choice, your attitude is appalling.

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  19. Some basic facts, as too many seem to be unaware of them given their commments.

    Most of the people being supported by benefits are in these 4 categories

    1. a divorced/separated from parent raising up children
    2. a sole parent who loses their job
    3. those on an invalids benefit
    4. those on the sickness benefit

    Those in the 3rd category will be long term, those in the 4th may end up in the third. Most in the first two are on benefit support for a few years before getting into a job or being supported by a new partner.

    A growing problem (internationally), which arises out of increasing the age for super from 60 to 65 is people becoming unfit to work because of ill health – here a particular problem amongst Maori and Polynesians.

    A minorty of people are long term unemployed (and usually this results from poor educational achievement and people becoming unemployed on leaving school) – the numbers went down to 30,000 on the UB – one of the lowest rates in the OECD, indicating the base problem is not that bad when jobs and training for jobs is available.

    As for the DPB our rates are not high by OECD standards either, and they are a function of both divorce rates and the level of unemployment – as few are making continuing poverty a lifestyle choice.

    The evidence is that whenever low unemployment is reached there are few people left long term on welfare support.

    I also know of no OECD country which has an approach recommending or requiring adoption as an adoption because of low income status/poverty.

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  20. Shundra barunda

    Have you considered giving up the business and taking up a minimum wage job – that would leave you much better off than those on benefits.

    The base benefit is $190 a week + money for child support, the minimum wage would provide you with $400 a week plus even more money for child support than available for those on benefits (the In Work payment).

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  21. Kiwireader,
    Immigration is a complex manner about which I know only very little, but from my understanding many immigrants are allowed to immigrate specifically because they are willing to fill in gaps and perform jobs that many of our native residents are not willing to do. In this instance that immigration is quite important and one would presume would need the immigrants to come from countries with significantly less opportunities such as third world African or Pacific Island nations.
    As to immigration where the immigrant is not specifically adding to the skills of the nation or filling in gaps, or a dependant of one such individual, then I am inclinded to agree that they should have sufficent education and resources so as to, at the very least, not become a drain on the New Zealand system through their own activities.

    Personally, I think we need to keep the NZ population relatively low, we don’t realistically know how many people we will be able to support in the future and it seems, to me, to be better to stray on the side of caution. That said, preferential immigration agreements can be a useful political tool; something I expect we will be needing in the coming decades.

    I am a great fan of food in schools and, having only just dodged the boarding school bullet :P , of state funded, parent debted, boarding school for older children and teens who’s parents show themselves unable to support them.

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  22. One other point to be considered. If I, through no fault of my own, should be unemployed (a real possibility) then it is not just ME on the dole. I have 2 children, and 2 other adults who are are dependent on me. My wife is not able to work.

    I am punished by the taxes I pay, to be sure, and the family suffers somewhat that my wife is disabled, but the point is that I may be perfectly responsible to HAVE the children, and yet suffer some misadventure that makes it extremely difficult to maintain the support that I offer them.

    I’m a fair role model… but the entire issue has always been simplified for me by the old philosophical trick… – Suppose you were about to be born. You are given a choice of society into which you might be born, but you cannot choose your parents, their station in life in that society, your gender or race. Choose.

    That perspective gives you a far better grasp of what sort of “fairness” is desired, and how far from it we actually are.

    Not saying we need to give people everything, but that we can do better with respect to children IMHO, without making the “lifestyle choice” any more desirable.

    … and the drug policy our society has adopted is a much LARGER part of the poverty problem than our fearful leaders admit

    respectfully
    BJ

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  23. Gerrit

    How is advocating a focus on inflation adjusting the child tax credits to beneficiary families, rather than seeking the In Work child tax credit payment paid to those working, an advocacy for more welfare?

    It’s the same as adjusting the base benefit to those on the dole, the IB, SB, and DPB which we do each year. It’s the same as an inflation adjustment to the minimum wage each year. It’s the same as increasing the wages of public service workers by the CPI each year etc.

    It’s not an increase, it’s maintining the “real value” of existing income support. As an investor you must understand that.

    Child poverty occured in the decade after National in the 1990′s chose to make across the board tax cuts rather than inflation proof child tax credits to families. Labour reduced child poverty by bringing in WFF – which was a way to both help poor working families in need while also giving middle class families a tax cut. However in neglecting to include beneficiary families in this, poverty caused by the lack of inflation proofing decision made back in the 1990′s is continuing.

    Therefore the correct focus is not on giving the In Work payment to beneficiary families, but increasing the child tax credits available to those on benefits – this is simply restoring the value of this support to what it originally was so that it can do what it was supposed to – minimise pioverty.

    National and Labour in not inflation proofing the child tax credit to beneficiaries have been effectively reducing welfare support to families and children and creating the poverty problem.

    This of course exacerbates the original base benefit cut back in 1991.

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  24. SPC,

    It’s the same as adjusting the base benefit to those on the dole, the IB, SB, and DPB which we do each year. It’s the same as an inflation adjustment to the minimum wage each year. It’s the same as increasing the wages of public service workers by the CPI each year etc.

    You are still just slicing up the pie in a different configuration. It actually does not matter how you allocate the pie as long as you have enough pie to cut up.

    What I’m saying, and people need to get the head around, is that the pie is shrinking and to top it up we are borrowing more pie.

    So slice it up anyway you like. But bear in mind the pie is much smaller due to the tax structure we have.

    So either increase taxes to pay for a bigger pie, or cut smaller slices.

    Increasing taxation has ongoing structural economic problems, and slicing smaller has social problems.

    The answer then is to increase the pie without affecting either.

    That is the argument, not where or with who or when the pie slices end up.

    But how to get a bigger pie without borrowing from the neighbour (who wants the pie replaced plus a few extra slices for interest in the near future).

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  25. SPC

    Under the current system, if you provide an increase in the Child Tax Credit to beneficiaries, it does appear that in a substantial subset of those families the money will be used for drugs or booze, not for the kids.

    Whether this is as true as it appears to be can be argued, but the families that do this are prominently featured in the news reports whenever something really bad happens to a child, and THAT happens far too often in this country.

    I suggest that rather than giving the parents more money, that there be arrangements made to keep the kids in school, keep the kids in other activities, provide places for the kids to have access to tools like computers, and basically make them less of a burden on their parents… but NOT give the parents more money. Which seems to find its way to the Mongrel Mob and get smoked through a funny looking pipe.

    Give the drug using losers all the drugs they need to get and stay stoned. This keeps them out of the way of the process of raising the kids properly.

    BJ

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  26. Gerrit

    Yes I agree about the “economic pie”, but if inflation proofing does not occur for child tax credits to those on benefits then we will be continuing to take off the most in need in our society.

    We have a historic tendency in our society to cite neccessity when the budget goes into deficit, necessity which usually results in the most powerless becoming the victims of our choices.

    The most telling example was the decision to cite the economic circumstances of 1991 to cut a billion dolllars in provision to those on welfare, then only a few years later when the budget was back in surplus “we” still chose to freeze child tax credits and deliver a billion across the board tax cut to working New Zealanders. We took from the poor citing necessity, then chose to hand out the same amount to those who were in work citing a new opportunity to reduce taxation for them.

    This past choice has resulted in the child poverty today and continuing on that path will just makle it worse.

    We have made some gains, the higher minimum wage and the In Work payment mean there are real incentives to be in work if it is available – one thing that still needs improving is to increase and then inflation proof the $80 income (probably to 120) on top of the benefit that can be earned free of abatement, this will help to both motivate people to find what work they can and also reduce child poverty.

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  27. bjchip

    I know of no evidence that those on welfare smoke any more “dope” than those in work. Yet we still increase the minimum wage and professional salaries to those who smoke – and do not care where they spend their money.

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  28. Well, the fact that most places I’ve ever worked have have fairly strict policies about the stuff, and for safety reasons will ALWAYS have such policies, gives me plenty of experience with the notion.

    I need to seek out statistics relating to this, and I probably will, but there has never been anybody stoned in any workplace of mine during the day… at least not for very long.

    The inference is reasonable, but evidence WOULD be better. One needs too, to examine the people inhabiting the household, not just the primary beneficiary. If she’s supplying some guy with money instead of supplying her kids with food… to me this counts. It might not show in stats.

    BJ

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  29. bjchip

    The only difference between working and non working users is the time when they are stoned, some during working hours (from which the reputation derives no doubt) and some in their time off. The way income is used is an issue not dependent on the source of income, benefit or wage.

    I suspect beneficiaries would accept a regime providing a higher benefit (a back-dated inflation proofed child tax credit) than now in return for drug tests. The great majority of the children would soon be better off as a result.

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  30. Poverty is all about more money going out than in, yes?
    How about all export earnings be tax free. That would shift the incentives massively.
    A few decades of negative balance of payments got us here, lets try something else.

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  31. samiam

    Maybe, but in the case of farmers it would merely drive up the price of land and thus the amount of foreign debt (financing the purchase of the farms) would rise – so there would need to be a CGT (payable each year via a land value tax) to mitigate this.

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  32. SPC

    For some drugs the distinction about working hours would be irrelevant. For others it is quite important. I know my co-workers pretty well. Likelihood of anyone spending serious money on dope is indistinguishable from zero. I am not talking about Marijuana alone here, using “dope” in the generic form, to represent all forms of currently forbidden substances… and booze.

    My point however, is that the illegality of the drugs actually creates the conditions for this to compound the difficulties for the beneficiary. If her partner has a scrip for whatever his drug-of-choice is, and gets it for free (without having to engage in illegal activities) the social dynamic in the family unit will change. His added likelihood (currently) of having a criminal record has to hurt his ability to find work and so forces them to be on the benefit.

    I think this is an important point that is being missed by focusing simply on the money for the dole or the current illegality of the drugs.

    The Portugese experience with decriminalization appears to support the notion that this can be important in terms of harm reduction.

    Too bad that nobody has seen fit to actually tickle this sort of detail out here.

    We have to do better.

    respectfully
    BJ

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  33. bjchip

    I think these selected parts of the study are instructive

    1a “For the total population, the rates of any past year illicit drug use and marijuana use were similar across income levels, …

    1b with the exception that people at the lowest level of total family income (less than $9,000) were significantly more likely than those in the other income categories to have used any illicit drug or marijuana in the past year.”

    2.”For example, about 18% of people in households where someone had received welfare reported past year illicit drug use compared with about 11% of people in households without a family member receiving welfare”

    3. “Because significant relationships between drug use and receipt of welfare assistance were not observed for most age groups, the previous findings of significant relationships in the total population, and specifically in the older adult population, should be interpreted with caution.”

    4. “Further analysis of these NHSDA data also indicate that people aged 12 to 25 comprised about 40% of the people in households where someone received welfare assistance (data not shown in Table 13.3), even though these two age groups comprised less than one-fourth of the total population aged 12 or older in 1997 (Table 1.2). These NHSDA estimates are consistent with U.S. Bureau of the Census data, which show that more than three-fourths of people receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) or General Assistance benefits were under the age of 18, and that more than three-fourths of mothers receiving AFDC were under the age of 35 (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1996).28 Therefore, the relationships between drug use and welfare assistance in the total population may be due in part to a disproportionate representation of youths and young adults in the “do receive” welfare assistance category.”

    3 AND 4 negate 2 to the point that they conclude with 5.

    5. “Multivariate analyses could help establish whether receipt of welfare assistance is an independent predictor of drug use, or whether the observed relationship between drug use and welfare assistance in the total population is an artifact due to the confounding influence of age.”

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  34. Sure SPC but that money has to come into NZ to drive up land prices. If they ever try and take it out again they should be taxed. Importers get taxed, exporters not, obviously the dreaded ‘invisibles’ have to be part of this picture.
    A capital gains tax, at the same rate as any other income tax, should also help here?

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  35. samiam

    While nation states are sovereign over their taxation arrangments and can choose not to tax income derived from exports, managing banking finance (taxing it can only really occur in such areas as placing a surcharge to locals taking out mortgage loans) is one area where nation states and banks operating in them are limited by their dependence on foreign funding (and we have to fight “our” banks just to stop them running tax avoidance scams).

    The problem with a simple CGT is that a full rate (at income tax levels) tax is only payable by those who sell their farm and many farms are managed by family trusts and are never on-sold – which is why a land tax form of CGT for rental property and farms is supported by some (me). The land tax paid can be accounted against any capital gain when the property is sold (if it is) and any further CGT liability can be paid or a refund made.

    PS In the case of farmers I support returning all the money gathered by the land value tax back into farming in some way of other (the sector needs capital and R and D). I don’t see the land tax/CGT as revenue raising but as a way to build up our industry. Similarly from rental housing land tax form of CGT, this is money for state hosue upgrades, new state housing and the accommodation supplement.

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  36. Sorry mate… I simply looked for the study and read the headlines. Since they didn’t DO the multivariate analysis it isn’t likely to be real clear. Nor is there much distinction between use and abuse. Which is one I think has to be made.

    In any case, my point was and is very much a logical one:

    People who actively do drugs are more likely to have criminal records in this society.

    I don’t think that’s even remotely arguable.

    People with criminal records are more likely to be unemployed in this society. Ask any businessman how he feels about hiring an ex-con.

    Again, this is one of those things that is damned hard to deny.

    The conclusion I take away from this is that people ABUSING drugs WILL more often wind up on the dole.

    The apparent situation (from the media and what I see on the street) is that men will latch on to women and use the money intended for the kids.

    I think you are making a mistake about why I am pointing this out, as my point is not that the public money leads to people using drugs. My point is that the illegality of drugs leads to a siphoning off of benefits from the people for whom they are intended.

    Moving this debate towards some recognition of the role of drugs in exacerbating the negative IMAGE associated with being on the dhb seems to be difficult.

    respectfully
    BJ

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  37. Samiam,

    ;How about all export earnings be tax free.

    Seems a good scheme accept that the tax free component goes to the last person to touch the product.

    So for example a forestor growing trees would not get their income tax free, even though the export furniture manufacturer of the timber does.

    It could result in the forester exporting raw logs to China for furniture manufacturing overseas to get the tax free earning.

    So while tax free exporting is a good incentive, it has a few fish hooks.

    Same for farmers, why sell raw milk to Fonterra if the tax export to send the raw milk to China makes it more profitable.

    Could end up with all commodities going overseas but no finished goods.

    Not something to be encouraged.

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  38. “..bjchip
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 2:07 PM

    SPC

    Under the current system, if you provide an increase in the Child Tax Credit to beneficiaries, it does appear that in a substantial subset of those families the money will be used for drugs or booze, not for the kids…”

    my god..!..b.j..you come out with stuff so reactionary..it is skin-crawling..

    you advocate maintaining the status quo..of children of benificiaries living in poverty..

    because..some benificiaries ..smoke some pot..?

    where is the/any evidence for your claims any increase of benificiaries payments..

    ‘will go to the mongrel mob’..

    (i mean..could you push more ‘national inquirer/truth-buttons..?

    you left ‘p’ out..!..)

    where is your evidence for this claim..?

    or..as i suspect..

    ..did you just pull that out of a particularly reactionary-orifice..?

    so..we can conclude that you are happy-as with our world-beating rates of child poverty..?

    you know..that such a person as you..with attitudes like these..

    has such (apparant) influence in the green party..

    ..chills my blood..

    you should be in act…

    why don’t you go there..

    and form a new ‘green-wing’..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  39. Phil

    I think you’ll understand better when you go through the remaining of mine. You got the wrong notion of where I was going. Which is excusable from the first post in the series because I didn’t explain fully in that one.

    respectfully
    BJ

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  40. “Have you considered giving up the business and taking up a minimum wage job – that would leave you much better off than those on benefits.”

    I have considered and rejected that proposition. My business is viable and I have a passion for what I do, if I do the basics right I should be able to improve my income. One of the great things about NZ is how good ideas and hard work are rewarded, all people need is the motivation to get going.
    When people are advocating welfare as a lifestyle choice they are doing society a disservice, welfare dependency is no way to live a fulfilling life. Proposing that non workers receive an in work payment is ridiculous it is effectively killing people with kindness, it is immoral.

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  41. Shundra barunda

    I guess you are not in an export business being crushed by the dollar’s volatility and tendency to swing upward on international money flows (including bank borrowing to fund mortgages). Some good businesses are being forced to sell to offshore buyers who move production to cheaper producers and repatriate their profits back to another country.

    While I may agree with you that beneficiaries should not get the In Work payment (well actually I don’t mind but don’t see it as a realistic option and see better ways of achieing the intended goal anyhow), I have some concern that you have no problem with child poverty and do not support inflation proofing of the In Work tax credit or the child tax credit available to beneficiaries.

    I suspect you think placing children in poverty is supposed motivate parents to find work and therefore that child poverty amongst beneficiary families is good … . Thus such language as providing sufficient income to people so children are not raised in poverty is “promoting a welfare lifestyle” (despite the fact that even those on the minimum wage are much better off than those on welfare) and its “kindness doing them harm” – I suppose you oppose foreign aid on the same basis …

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  42. SPC:
    Some basic facts, as too many seem to be unaware of them given their comments.
    ………..
    1.My problem with the “basic facts” is that we have to take them on trust: people go off the unemployment benefit and on to the sickness benefit (and the sickness beneficiary goes before the court for assaulting someone in a pub). There was a feeling that the fox is minding the chickens when it comes to welfare policy (under Labour and the Greens).
    Sue Bradfords response to Paula Bennetts making known what two women took home on the DPB suggested (to me) that the facts are dirty linen.

    2. year on year do numbers on the DPB increase or have they hit a max (and is that acceptable)? Lindsay Mitchell said that in the past year it cost the state $50m for unsupported pregnancies ( and this represents an ongoing cost).

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  43. I don’t think tax payers should have to pay for unsupported pregnancies where those parents could have had an abortion (and I’m prepared to take the risk that I’ll go to hell for maintaining that position). Let those who are opposed to abortion pay a separate tax.

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  44. “you know..that such a person as you..with attitudes like these..

    has such (apparant) influence in the green party..

    ..chills my blood..”

    hmmm note the leaf on the Green Party logo (not hammer and sickle).

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  45. JH

    Phil clearly didn’t read the full series, and the first post was open to the interpretation he took.

    Recognizing that my target was the drug law, not the beneficiary, could only happen after my 3rd or 4th entry.

    That’s MY fault, not his.

    respectfully
    BJ

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  46. this is what Lindsay Mitchel says:

    1/ The number of babies (0 years) relying on welfare has grown 17 percent since 2005 whereas the growth in total births has grown by around 11 percent. More people are going on welfare from the time their child is born.*

    2/ Many people seem happy with mothers (usually the benefit recipient) receiving a benefit when their children are very young. Yet 67 percent of the children are 5 or older.

    3/ The number of children on welfare has dropped since 2001. Labour made a big deal out of reducing ‘child poverty’. But given the period featured record low employment and good economic growth (so we are told) the drop in the number of children on welfare was relatively small.

    4/ According to NZ Statistics population estimates there are 1,149,000 children aged 18 or younger. So around 1 in 5 is on welfare. In the poorest areas this will jump to 2 or 3 in 5. That means being on a benefit is normalised and thus the tendency is towards more benefit receipt.

    5/ In the 0-2 age group the ratio rises to 1 in 4 children being on welfare. That is fairly sobering stuff.

    *Doesn’t this show that an unintended consequence of the DPB is that more people make a choice to go on it “Because it’s there“. Now I could be wrong, could be wrong, could be wrong, could be wrong,……..

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  47. SPC, I guess I struggle to accept that crippling poverty really exists in a country with such an advanced social welfare system.
    If kids are going hungry because their stupid parents spent the food money on gambling or substance abuse, that is not poverty it is child abuse.
    If you think the only answer is to give these people more money then I think you are supporting welfare as a legitimate lifestyle choice.
    There is no valid excuse for anyone to go hungry in NZ, the only poverty is relative ie no boat, no V8, and no mansion on a hill.

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  48. Call it advanced, say its enough even though it was cut x% in 1991 and is cut in real terms every year the child benefit is not inflation proofed, how many years of that before you will stop blaming the parent for the child’s poverty?

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  49. So you really believe that inflation and not poor parenting by beneficiaries is the reason these kids are in trouble?
    I think that is profound delusion, live in a lower socio economic area like I do and you will see what I mean.

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  50. SPC,

    Remembering that we go further into debt every day to the tune of $50M.

    How many years of that before we are all in poverty due to crippling rerpayments on foreign loans?

    You cannot do anything about child (or anyone elses) poverty till we start living within our means.

    Because once we are all in poverty the need to dig up the coal just to keep warm will be greater then any ecological message.

    One cant abolish poverty nor live a “green” lifestyle until the borrowing stops.

    Till then we all face poverty with ecology and the environment taking a back seat to staying alive. Read Maslow’s levels of heirachy.

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  51. Shunda barunda

    If any person, whether on a benefit or on a wage, was to experience 10 years of not having their (child benefit) income increased to compensate for inflation, what would the net result be? They would increasingly struggle financially.

    Then there is the factor of one of their major costs power has gone up by more than most others. And we know that cold homes will result in poor child health.

    And in the case of beneficiaries their base benefit income was cut in 1991 to place them in a vulnerable position in the first place.

    To then blame the parents is very uncharitable.

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  52. Gerrit

    The billion dollar cut to base benefits in 1991 is more than enough hardship to place on those not in employment for the sake of budgetary management.

    But to compound this with no inflation adjustment of the child benefit component is just plain meanness.

    And for all your mention of current budgetary concerns, let’s note a pattern of history.

    The same crisis existed in 1991 when the base benefit cuts were made. But a few years later there was a billion dollar budget surplus and was the money taken out of welfare returned there when we had the money again, no it was given out in tax cuts to those in work. And to make this affordable across the economic cycle in the future, child benefits were not inflation proofed.

    Of course to justify this taking from the unemployed to give to the employed, sterotypes of the sort of parents on benefits had to be created to dismiss complaints about children now being in poverty.

    Are those on benefits to suffer more and more every time there is an economic cycle resulting in a period of deficits and those in work to be given tax cuts whenever the economic cycle returns to budget surplus?

    One part of the cycle justifies the beneficiary making a sacrifice and the other part the worker getting a tax cut. Talk about the haves enriching themselves by taking from the have nots. How long can that go on without the “advanced” (western style) welfare system being a charade and a myth?

    PS An inflation adjustment to the child benefit is just maintaining the welfare share of the economic pie, to not make the adjustment is cutting its share. Only those tax paid workers accepting a nil wage round are doing the same, and none have, or ever will be asked to do so for as long as those raising up children on benefits.

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  53. If any person, whether on a benefit or on a wage, was to experience 10 years of not having their (child benefit) income increased to compensate for inflation, what would the net result be?

    That they had just spent ten years on the government teat that should only need to be relied on in totally out-of-the-blue emergencies? The acceptance, both by the child and by the parent, that they dont have to pay the full price of their activities for the state will pick up the tab? Less money to those whom actually deserve and need it? The subsidisation of the breeding of the irresponsible? Ideocracy?

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  54. People

    If you put money into poverty, you get more poverty. If you put money into education you get more education. If you put money into government, you get more government. If you put money into criminalizing drugs you get more drugs and more criminals and more cops and more jails. If you put money into….

    Without being too blunt about it Gerrit and others here have a very valid point.

    Giving people MONEY does nothing to give them pride in themselves, responsibility or an incentive to work. Given the step function issues in people getting a job and losing the benefit (effective tax rate anyone?) the situation is even worse.

    You have to stop the substance abuse drain on these families. You have to give them assistance that is in as many cases as possible NOT monetary. You have to give them a tax and benefits system that provides clear advantages to actually working for a living, and you have to make sure there are actual jobs for them to work at… which means you have to have industry HERE, not in China… and you have to make investment in business here as safe and profitable as it is in Australia or in property.

    We haven’t done even ONE of those things right. However, giving more MONEY to the poor, which is absolutely the wrong thing to do, is often advocated instead. This problem cannot be fixed that way. Spending money on the support systems and schools and health for their kids is OK… but giving them more money? Not smart.

    respectfully
    BJ

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  55. SPC,

    Of course to justify this taking from the unemployed to give to the employed

    Well technically it is not taking from the unemployed to give to the employed but not taking from the employed to give to the unemployed in the first place. Big difference.

    While I agree that the funding should be indexed to inflation I do not agree that it is lack of money that is causing the problems nor do I agree that they can be solved by trowing money at the parents. I want to see the children thrive but that will simply not happen under your approach, it is far more fair, both to the person whom actually works for their income and to the child themselves, to invest the money in things such as food in schools. While I note that this is not presently done, it would be a far better option than your cited modifications; also not presently done.

    If you increase the desirability of being unemployed people will favour that option more than otherwise, if you decrease the desirablity of being employed people will disfavour that option more than otherwise. That is not to say there would be a run-away effect, there is after all many benefits to being employed (as there is to being unemployed), but there will be a reballancing.

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  56. jh

    I note you do not support single people who become pregnant getting welfare. While I may not agree, it would at least prevent impoverishing people who were receiving welfare and punishing the child because you did not like her being able to get welfare after her pregnancy.

    (I note you don’t care how many children would be aborted if the mother was unable to support her child.)

    But if this policy was enacted, would you then move onto opposing sole parents who were raising up children while working receiving welfare if they lost their job (even though those on the UB would qualify when they lost their’s), or only oppose women who sought a divorce from receiving welfare to raise up their children afterward?

    Would this leave only (women formerly working?) widows, or women abandoned by their partner receiving DPB welfare?

    This would result in claims by wives leaving their partners (that they had no choice and therefore should get DPB welfare) that would be akin to a return to fault divorce (rather than no fault) and that would make a mess of our courts and harm parental relations and consequently the children (the state receives child support from the absent parent under the current no fault system).

    Once “blame” of the welfare applicant comes into the equation where would it stop?

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  57. “..We haven’t done even ONE of those things right. However, giving more MONEY to the poor, which is absolutely the wrong thing to do, is often advocated instead. This problem cannot be fixed that way. Spending money on the support systems and schools and health for their kids is OK… but giving them more money? Not smart..”

    still pushing the reactionary crap..eh b.j..?

    fact:oecd child poverty stats show us as being amongst the ‘worst’

    (we used to be the best..before the greedy bastards took over..

    and started looting..)

    now..one thing that those countries at the top have in common..

    is higher tax rates..and realistic levels of state support for those who need it..

    what is wrong with this concept..?..bj..?

    i mean..!..cd u be more rightwing/reactionary on this..?

    national created this underclass of poverty..

    when they gutted state-support payments..

    in their ‘mother-of-all-budgets’..

    and labour..to their eternal shame..did nothing to undo their evils..

    but just perpetuated/piled on more misery for those with least..

    (c.f…their (heartless) exclusion of the poorest families..from working for families..)

    before national did this..we did not have these shameful rates of child poverty..

    what can’t you f*cken understand about that..?

    (and you sit back on your heels..and ‘faux-intellectualise’ that giving more money to people in poverty is a bad thing to do..eh..?.

    how f*cken disconnected from reality are you..?

    and..y’know..your vehement opposition to/campaigning against sue bradford is coming more and more into clearer focus..

    eh..?

    and that clarity is making you/your anti-bradford campaigning look more and more manipulative..shabby..

    and dripping ‘hidden agendas’..

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  58. sapient

    How long before punishing unemployment and rewarding employment (a billion dollar welfare cut in base benefits in 1991, 10 years of no child benefit inflation proofing (mid 1990′s -2005 and now re-continued) and reducing the share to the poor and increasing the share to those not poor before the poor are in real poverty? How much rebalancing can occur before it has gone too far but no one wants to do anything about it because to help the poor sends the wrong signal?

    And to how many on welfare are receiving these signals anyway? There were only 30,000 on the UB when unemployment fell below 4%.

    Besides increasing the minimum wage does more to provide signals (and no UB under 18-20 – being in education, training or work experience is another), which will ensure the well-being of workers as well (we don’t really want low wage jobs in a first world country that itself creates the relative poverty of not being able to afford a home).

    Are those on SB and IB able to receive these signals (there will still be more on these two than on the UB even when unemployment peaks 2009/2010). Is a widow raising up children alone able to? Are women leaving failed relationships, or being left by partners, to be “shocked” by their new poverty into becoming sole working parents if they cannot afford child care on their income?

    Is taking the TIA away from sole parents the way to provide signals?

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  59. Phil

    I pointed out where to spend the money. I didn’t say spend less money.

    I in fact said nothing at all about how much money to spend.

    Pay attention to details like that please. You misinterpret what I say badly at the moment and I really think you need to look again.

    BJ

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  60. Sorry bjchip

    I am with phil u on this one.

    Your thinking on this is laced with right wing positions and attitudes towards the poor and those in need of income support. They seem to have ACT cloned you on this issue.

    The hand up, rather than a hand out idea came from the same people who brought you trickle down and as the commander in chief of that ideology said “I want more rich Americans and these rich Americans richer than ever before” (his son received campaign donations from these rich Americans and as President he cut taxes for the richest Americans and so it came to pass that he fulfilled his fathers dream – and then came the banking crash). Maybe voodoo economics came in two different kinds – Reagans and that of Bush both.

    I will agree the $80 maximum amount of other income that can be earned before the benefit is abated (at a rather high rate) is far too low to encourage people to take the steps required to obtain an improvement in their longer term income – especially as it has remained at this level for some time, while the minimum wage has been inreasing (meaning its now only 6 hours work, it was based around c12 hours when the minimum wage was $7 an hour).

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  61. SPC,
    First, it is not punishment. The benefits are granted to them, not something they have an inate right to. Decreasing the benefits is more akin to decreasing ‘rewards’ rather than any acutal punishment as the granting of any benefit, even if unsubstantial, betters their circumstance. Likewise, decreasing taxes is more akin to decreasing the punishment to workers than to increasing the rewards as it is taking away from the money they earn, not giving to it.
    I AM supportive of the DPB but, as with the UB, only as a safty net, not as a life style. The DPB should ensure that the child is not punished for the actions of the parent. A side-benefit may be that it makes it easier for a parent to leave an abusive relationship without detrimenting the child to too greater extent.

    As to the minimum wage; you are wrong. We need it lowered. We are a country with low wages, this is true, and that is exaclty why it needs to be low; a high minimum wage does not increase wages on the whole, it only strangles companies and destroys employment. It is exactly because we are a low wage country that we need those low wage jobs; we cannot afford to comfortably support so many net tax recipients. We are a third world country, with a third world economy, but we are trying to live like a first world country; it simply is not sustainable. We need to encourage higher wage industry and higher tech jobs. This is done by increasing infrastructure and decreasing tax. By having a higher minimum wage we vastly increase the needed tax take and thus thwart the acheivement of a higher wage.

    In relation to widows and those leaving relationships, I have discussed this previously and it is their irresponsibility that has landed them in the hot water. The DPB should be there as a safty net to help them but they should roll off it as soon as possible so its availible for others; it should not be a life-style choice. And yet it is. When it becomes otherwise, maybe then we can raise the amount.

    As to SB and IB, alot on there are perfectly able to work in another area, some are not. Those that are not should be supported but not allowed to have additional children, likewise with those on there temporarily. The children should of course be supported, but this is best done, as BJ says, not through giving them money but through other investments. I know many on the SB, and have known a good number on the IB, whom are perfectly able to work in a low skill feild or on a decent wage if they should retrain. I myself qualify for the SB, and have for years, but instead I choose to study to widen my opportunities despite the roadblocks i find because of said qualification. In my opinion someone able to study or work in a different area should not actually qualify but since the criteria are so lapse I do.
    The signals was not an arguement against it, mearly a comment. Make it more attractive and they will migrate. Infact, it looks prety damned attractive to me; if only I didint have a drive to actually acheive something in life.

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  62. Gerrit

    If saving the environment is to be associated with living within ones income I suppose you oppose tax cuts while we still have public debt (just to be consistent)?

    If poverty is to be associated with not being as able to accept focus on environemnt sustainability, are you advocating the Greens abandon championing social justice on the grounds that only well educated and well off people without any debts (except for investment for capital gain) and living within their high incomes are natural supporters of the Green cause?

    Well one result of that line of thinking is that such an environmental movement party would never challenge Labour for centre-left leadership and if it did, it would no more threaten the staus quo than Labour has done (1984-1990 and 1999-2008).

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  63. SPC,

    How long can that go on without the “advanced” (western style) welfare system being a charade and a myth?

    We cant as of right now, the welfare system is a charade. We borrow to fund it. Does that make sense to you? Well good, it does not to me.

    The billion dollar cut from welfare back then (and justifyable again today) did not even come close to balancing the books.

    Now if we were to borrow to build schools (infastructure for growth) that is a positive borrowing in as what to BJ alluded, money for educaton and eventual increased productivity.

    More productivity equals a greater tax take, equals more poverty relief.

    However to borrow from our children to pay for poverty relief now is down right stupid.

    No matter how you spin it, we cant afford to borrow and simply give that money to the welfare system.

    We need to build the education, health, transport and business environment up with those borrowing so that our kids have a future.

    Not to people spending their canabis smoking days on a benefit while putting their kid through school.

    We cant afford to feed these people PLUS build a future for our kids (and grandkids) on the income and cashflow we are generating at the moment.

    All those state sector workers are already on notice. No increases in their salaries, expenditure or “entitlements for at least 10 years.

    So if you are a state sector worker, start educating for a private sector job. The tradeable sector will get wage increases, the non tradeable (including state servants) wont.

    Once that happens the tax take will go up and the government can start funding the nice to have welfare support systems we cant afford at the moment.

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  64. SPC – I don’t think you’re paying any more attention than Phil.

    I didn’t say to use less money to help people and especially their kids.

    I said to give people money is a mistake.

    I pointed out a very easily observed socio-economic phenomena. People go where the money is.

    I pointed out that the drug policy exacerbates the second point. Repeated that one more than once and STILL nobody seems to notice the relationship.

    I pointed out the tax issue – which you agreed with.

    I pointed out that there are additional issues around taxes and property investing and jobs and industry leaving NZ that need to be addressed… and didn’t elaborate much as my views have been published here often enough.

    …and I agreed with Gerrit that we need to balance the gozintas and gozoutas.

    Which all has about as much to do with ACT policies as fish have to do with pinwheels.

    I didn’t discuss punishing people for being poor. I don’t agree with it.

    I didn’t advocate punishing them for having kids. Also not agreed with.

    I advocated spending money on supporting the kids an enriching their lives.

    I did however advocate arranging things so that poor people have no incentive to have more kids.

    I also advocated arranging things so that poor people have no incentive to steal to get drugs or to use any of the money they do get on drugs.

    If I don’t advocate handing out money we don’t have to people in ways that are easily turned to misuse, that doesn’t make me an ACT clone. Can you point to a position of mine that is “right wing” in truth? Go ahead, take your time, read through the thread thoroughly.

    respectfully
    BJ

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  65. All I can say is, it’s no wonder Bradford left, when party members start to sound like ACT on welfare and minimum wage policy, this only encourages the right to use the frogblog as their alternative to Kiwiblog. I can see the attraction for them, if anyone interested in a sustainable environment based society and economy comes here to read, they will read as much in the comments advocating a right wing economic line, a challenge to global warming science and an arguement that a truly environment focused party would disconnect from the social justice cause. It’s little wonder so few party members who actually support the party on its current range of policies (including social justice) actually post here. It would be so discouraging for them.

    As someone not a party member I have little problem, but it’s little different to debating on Kiwiblog on this issue, only at the Standard is there actually much solidarity on environment AND social justice issues.

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  66. SPC,

    If saving the environment is to be associated with living within ones income I suppose you oppose tax cuts while we still have public debt (just to be consistent)?

    Absolutely.

    The government must pay expenditure from taxation cashflow. Only borrow to increase productivity (meaning schools, health, transport, etc.).

    So if that means no tax cuts, that is a requisit.

    The rider is that people (like investments) with qualifications and life/work skills are very mobile and like water will flow to those areas where they can get the best deal for the life they have chosen.

    So New Zealand has ended up with a double conundrum. How do you entice people to stay here and pay the taxes that allows the welfare state you so desire.

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  67. Gerrit

    So your policy line is simply that cutting welfare again and again and otherwise freeze state sector salaries (so Treasury and Foreign Ministry staff and other public sector staff – I presume you exclude teachers, nurses and doctors – but do you?) so this was seen as the option for less able workers) as the only way to allocate shares of the economy when we go into budget deficit.

    Further on tax cuts – would you use any budget surplus to cut taxes rather than restore cuts to state sector worker wages and cuts to benefits? What was your position a few years back when we had an actual budget surplus but one more in appearance than reality, as it was not an economic cycle surplus just a temporary one – did you support tax cuts then?

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  68. SPC:

    I note you do not support single people who become pregnant getting welfare. While I may not agree, it would at least prevent impoverishing people who were receiving welfare and punishing the child because you did not like her being able to get welfare after her pregnancy.
    ……
    the problem is administering welfare without encouraging people to do it again or copy as when the DPB becomes a lifestyle choice. The suggestion that it is a lifestyle choice is denied but many people point out that people on the DPB can aquire extra benefits and cheat (father is “flatmate” etc, etc.) If numbers increase that must be telling. I once saw a suggestion where dormintaries could be built for unsupported pregnancies rather than a normal life in a state house. The issue is creating a solution which increases the problem, if this occurs it doesn’t matter whether you are left-wing or right wing you will have to do something eventually.

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  69. now..one thing that those countries at the top have in common..

    is higher tax rates..and realistic levels of state support for those who need it..

    what is wrong with this concept..?..bj..?
    —–
    what does “at the top mean”?

    do they have ever increasing numbers going on a DPB ?

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  70. Yes bjchip, I see the idea that people on welfare cannot be trusted to receive money and use it properly as a right wing idea, so much so that National leaves this field to ACT when they are in their centre centre-right mode. It is the central plank in their attack on the welfare system, an attack on those on welfare as possibly undeserving and or untrustworthy, one which you join to.

    You are arguing against Green Party policy on providing access to the In Work payment to those on benefits and the alternative of inflation proofing the child tax credit they are eligible for.

    This is the thread issue and your position is clear.

    You accept that becasue a few stereotypes of beneficiaries exist they should influence the delivery of welfare to those not in work. That is inherently right wing and reactionary thinking.

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  71. LOL, SPC accuses BJ of reactionary thinking when of all on this blog he is probally the least so. SPC’s thinking is more reactionary: “oh, they are poor, lets throw more money at them”. Atleast we are discussing things that will solve the underlying problem rather than exacibate it.

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  72. jh

    If you go to Lindsay Mitchell’s blog ask her to show a comparison of the numbers on the “DPB” in a range of countries – and also ask her to relate this to the number of people of child bearing age in each country (as the numbers will be larger in any country with a younger population). Post her answer back here.

    Our DPB numbers peaked at over 110,000 a few years ago and then began to fall as unemployment fell below 4%. They are probably increasing back up again now though as sole parents get laid off work and those on the DPB looking for work find it harder to get (I don’t think they are back at their former peak yet though).

    At a certain point, there are only so many women and partners separating and the only factors influencing DPB levels are the demographics of the population and the unemployment rate (the existence of the DPB and even its rate then no longer has anything to do with it – the rate factor however depends on a high enough minimum wage to provide the gain from work).

    PS I think our DPB rate is quite low compared to that in Europe, but probably our best comparison is with Australia’s, no doubt like our wages it is lower than their’s too).

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  73. sapient

    Are you not really saying that Green Party policy on “social justice” is reactionary (for calling for more income to the poor on benefits) and using me as your foil?

    Given my first post here on the issue and agreement with bjchip on some particular policy additions (apart from disagreeing on the benefit level one) I am quite open to a range of options – but see no need to continue with cutting the share of the economy going to beneficiaries, this is not a sustainable policy direction.

    The idea that continuing cuts to welfare are required to prevent some exacerbation of some welfare lifestyle option is inherently reactionary thinking. It is akin to continuing wage cuts are required to obtain full employment.

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  74. “..what does “at the top mean”?..”

    it means those countries with the lowest level of child poverty..(and associated social ills..)

    we are ‘at the bottom’..

    meaning the highest numbers of children living in poverty..

    and associated social ills..)

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  75. “Almost always, Japan and the Scandinavian countries are at the favourable “low” end, and almost always, the UK, the US and Portugal are at the unfavourable “high” end, with Canada, Australasia and continental European countries in between.”

    Japan doesn’t have a DPB.

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  76. Gerrit

    If Australia (Europe and the USA) was to adopt your policy would they not have to slash welfare because they have a current budget deficit and would they not have to adopt policies to favour the skilled and high income earners to prevent workers leaving to higher paid jobs in the US and Europe.

    That second line is akin to the idea that countries have to keep cutting company tax (for how long until the idea is that companies should not be taxed, only shareholders receiving dividends in their place of residence and then of course that if nations wanted to receive tax from rich people they should have lower top rates of tax for them).

    However they like us to date have not done this and I would imagine some have chosen to inflation proof child tax credits despite being in budget deficit.

    There is research showing that income disparity can negatively impact on economic growth prospects.

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  77. SPC

    If Australia (Europe and the USA) was to adopt your policy would they not have to slash welfare because they have a current budget deficit and would they not have to adopt policies to favour the skilled and high income earners to prevent workers leaving to higher paid jobs in the US and Europe.

    Absolutely.

    They are in the same boat as New Zealand.

    Ubsustainable borrowing. (or in the USA printing money).

    The welfare bubble is bursting.

    Australia is lucky in that they can literally dig their way out of the recession. Iron Ore, Coal, Bauxite, Natural Gas, Uranium, etc.

    We wont so will have high taxation and borrowing to keep the welfare system going.

    Losing the smartest, brightest and highest tax payers while retaining tax recipients.

    The welfare bubble is unsustainable, face up to it.

    So far you have not uttered one word on how you would prevent it. Just claiming more “entitlements” without a cashflow to back it up.

    Dreamland stuff.

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  78. SPC

    I am afraid that I hold the logical view that if someone who is otherwise fit and capable of working winds up on the DPB, they can expect my support to the extent that they need it to maintain a minimum standard of living until they can get off the dole. That standard extends to decent clothing, shelter, health care and food. Enough money for those things, or perhaps in the case of shelter, the thing itself (public housing being what it is and not getting into that).

    I haven’t expressed myself AT ALL on the standard that currently is providedI am left of center, but I am not stupid. .

    I also have the view that any children in that family get support through schools and libraries and other institutions (some possibly not currently existing) to enrich their lives sufficiently that they can compete as equals with any child of ANY family in the country…. but that support cannot be provided through handing the parents a big check.

    …because if it is, we are creating a situation in which it PAYS them to have more children.

    … and because some of them are not trustworthy.

    Particularly with the drug laws and penalties set up the way they are. The abuse of that payment for the child is very obvious to everyone when it happens. Often leading to the abuse of the children themselves. It also leads to the stereotypes and I KNOW that those are often wrong.. but the abuse of support DOES happen… and it provides grist for the ACT mills.

    Yes bjchip, I see the idea that people on welfare cannot be trusted to receive money and use it properly as a right wing idea, so much so that National leaves this field to ACT when they are in their centre centre-right mode. It is the central plank in their attack on the welfare system, an attack on those on welfare as possibly undeserving and or untrustworthy, one which you join to.

    Lets be clear. I’m OK with the idea that I should help people and that people really need that help and that I am taxed to do it. That’s not “Right Wing” ideology. I’m happy to trust them to spend money that is sufficient FOR them on their own needs. That’s fine.

    I am NOT happy to give them a means of increasing their payments by increasing the population of people I am obligating myself to support. That’s simply not on.

    Now you can spin it any way you like mate, but I am not happy to give away money to make the problem worse, and in the presence of the current drug policies, I am ESPECIALLY reluctant to let that happen.

    - on to WFF –
    You are arguing against Green Party policy on providing access to the In Work payment to those on benefits and the alternative of inflation proofing the child tax credit they are eligible for.

    I pointed out the actual reason WFF was created and I advocated a different solution to the problem than simply handing WFF to beneficiaries. I didn’t say not to make the system fairer, and if you read it properly you’d have realized that I am advocating even higher taxes on people who earn more.

    If actually extending WFF to beneficiaries is part of Green policy (and I haven’t looked) then the policy is wrong. Not the first time that has happened. Creating incentives to make problems worse in the long term is NOT a good idea.

    I didn’t even discuss the “inflation proofing” argument, ANY benefit has to be inflation adjusted. Failure to do so is legislative incompetence.

    However I also hold the child payment as wrong in principle. The requirement that having children should NOT significantly increase the money available to/controlled by a beneficiary is important. Less important if the drug laws are fixed but still important.

    More progressive taxes is a Right Wing idea?

    Ppphhht!

    BJ

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  79. If Australia (Europe and the USA) was to adopt your policy would they not have to slash welfare because they have a current budget deficit and would they not have to adopt policies to favour the skilled and high income earners to prevent workers leaving to higher paid jobs in the US and Europe.

    http://blog.greens.org.nz/2009/10/13/general-debate-october-13-2009/#comment-93395

    The distance between the Rock and the Hard-Place is diminishing rapidly.

    BJ

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  80. “..I am afraid that I hold the logical view that if someone who is otherwise fit and capable of working winds up on the DPB, they can expect my support to the extent that they need it to maintain a minimum standard of living until they can get off the dole. That standard extends to decent clothing, shelter, health care and food..”

    do you see that ‘minimum standard’ as being below the poverty line..?

    above the poverty line..?

    or right on the poverty line..?

    and if above or below..by how much..?..

    do you think..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  81. “..I also have the view that any children in that family get support through schools and libraries and other institutions (some possibly not currently existing) to enrich their lives sufficiently that they can compete as equals with any child of ANY family in the country…. but that support cannot be provided through handing the parents a big check..”

    you do say this a lot..eh..?..(one of your mantras..?..)

    so..what further support do you approve of .. for children from poor families in schools/libraries..?

    and which ‘other institutions’ did you have in mind..?

    and what exactly would they do..?

    i ask these questions..’cos i suspect you are just whipping up an ideologically-flavoured souffle here..

    and actually have no answers to these specific questions..

    could you address these specific questions please..?

    (surely you must welcome the invitation to pontificate..?..)

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  82. “..what does “at the top mean”?..”

    it means those countries with the lowest level of child poverty..(and associated social ills..)

    we are ‘at the bottom’..

    meaning the highest numbers of children living in poverty..

    and associated social ills..)

    Are we talking about the OECD and/or the most egalitarian countries? I’m all for being egalitarian. What sort of welfare policies do these countries have are they wealthy countries?

    One reason I’m a bit anti the DPB is that rather than producing fine upstanding citizens they seem to end up over represented in criminal activities. That may be false but it seems to be the way of life for societies lowest common denominator.

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  83. well it’s what the Commies are aimint to fix jh.
    I took your pointer and went along. Whew – i don’t think your chances of voicing effete middle-classism is gonna wash with these dudes……something about the Big Lie?
    any way must shuck the duffle coat and study the Manifesto

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  84. I think phil is getting worried,

    No increases in his dependency payments for 10 years.

    Maybe instead of asking he could set the depth at which child poverty is reached (just before he gets a job and becomes a tax payer).

    Households with $10,000 income and four kids?

    How is poverty measured?

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  85. “do you see that ‘minimum standard’ as being below the poverty line..?

    above the poverty line..?

    or right on the poverty line..?

    and if above or below..by how much..?..

    do you think..?”

    rather than “poverty line” the question should perhaps be at what point do people stop seeing the DPB as a lifestyle choice. Some people claim that no women gets pregnant just to go on the DPB but if a woman looks around and sees her friends do it and calculate the entitlements plus state house plus (perhaps) a defacto who doesn’t officially live there and the odd under the table job and sees it as desirable then entitlements are too high. Unfortunately there are genuine cases as well as free loaders and the freeloaders spoil it for genuine cases but the problem is that only those around the people know the character and circumstances of those involved.

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  86. I would have to have some idea what the “poverty line” is to really answer, and I believe that if that is an income level it would have to be relative to the region in which someone lived.

    In each case it also has to be appropriate for the goals associated with the role the person is in:

    For the Job Seeker:
    It has to be enough for the person to be indistinguishable from the rest of us in appearance, communications and ability to get around. Slightly less than minimum wage, but minimum wage should have enough in it for more than one set of clothing, self-cooked meals, and daily transportation to work as well as a dignified if not elaborate life.

    For the single parent:
    Similar to the job seeker but a bit more generous to the beneficiary. The kids are discussed separately. Again the goal is to make the family look pretty much normal from the viewpoint of the children and considering the interactions with the outside world.

    Long term disability or some other benefit be different: All has to be thought through carefully.

    No more than necessary for a person to live with a modicum of self-respect. I would hazard the guess that we don’t approach “comfort” for most beneficiaries as a rule. The society cannot afford to be as generous as I personally would wish to be.

    It is when it involves a family with children that I diverge here. There the individual beneficiary gets pretty much what I listed above, with a room for each gender of child. The kids get to go to school where there’s a decent breakfast and a decent lunch available to them. Food-Stamps or something like that to cover the other meals and appropriate clothing through some similar scheme.

    A computer with full net access once they are old enough… I’d have to be mad, but for the kids, it is needed to get parity and I it is likely better done through school or library or lease arrangements.

    Other stuff. The parent would get a small amount of extra money which would be intended for snacks, treats, gifts… for the child, but the bulk of support around the child would be organized without money going to the parent. I have not thought about ALL the details and there’s no doubt it would need to get clever at points.

    Boarding school appears to be a partial option perhaps.

    The point is only to prevent there being a “reward” for making things worse in the long run.

    I want being on a benefit to be no handicap to participating in society. Especially for the kids. Momma may be an addict, the kid has to have a shot… and shouldn’t have a brother or sister just because Momma or her partner wanted more spending money. If she and her partner WANT another kid, it has to be about wanting the child, not monetary incentive.

    By taking the drugs out of the equation… well it can still be a “lifestyle choice” but the emptiness of a life like that would seem to obviate some of the incentives to have lots of kids … I think.

    Did that make sense? I am seriously sleep deprived at this point and have had multiple interruptions.

    I’m going to just hit send.

    ciao
    BJ

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  87. ‘The poverty threshold, or poverty line, is the minimum level of income deemed necessary to achieve an adequate standard of living in a given country..”

    there you go..

    there is your benchmark..

    so..how much should an unemplqyed/sole-parent family receive in relation to that..?

    over/under/or on..?

    it’s a simple question..

    eh..?

    cd u plse try to answer it..?

    thank you..

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  88. PhilU,

    Where is your line? How much should a person receive to be above your defined poverty line?

    And how much would you borrow from your childrens children to pay for it?

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  89. and should it be above what working people earn and if it is should working people be able to swap (volunatrily unemployed ) no questions asked.
    What Phil wants bj to say is sole parents, unemployed shouldn’t get more than people who work. Blame people who make the choice to (hmmm) take advantage of the system (moral hazard) they are the the people to blame as much as greedy heartless people. Most people accept a need to help out but not the idea that people be lifestylers.

    The question is how do you seperate those on the DPB by choice from more worthy cases. If you could be sure it wouldn’t be so much of an issue.

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  90. Hmmm… I preferred my case by case, as the “adequate” standard of living is defined at least partly in terms of what purpose the person has in living. I don’t expect or require that I have as much income when I am retired. With the off-peak train access and a library card I am probably set pretty well for entertainment.. and when parliament is in session I can always go in and watch the circus.

    However, to answer you Phil, the poverty line with perhaps enough leeway above to account for the economy going boom and bust… and adjusted for regional differences.

    For a singleton without kids, a little below, that person should be looking for work. For a single Parent with kids not yet in school a bit above and vouchers for kids stuff, as that person needs to be able to add something to the lives of their kids. When the kids are in school the system takes over as the main support, then a bit less above.

    With that said, that applies to the now. Not to a hypothetical time when the economy is doing well. Having more we should aim to share the wealth to some degree.

    It isn’t about punishing people for being poor. It is about not rewarding them for making the problem worse… and trying to keep the costs within reason.

    JH, you can’t separate out those who choose the lifestyle. The key is to make the lifestyle choice one that is minimally satisfying or self-terminating. Living that way is fine, having kids while in that situation doesn’t make the situation better. Unless you want and love the kids.

    In which case, with the supports in place the KIDS will be successful enough to graduate out of poverty. Wasting one’s life is… not that appealing to most people. Not really. Not if other options exist. Right now the drug laws make the gangs the alternative. Not real bright of us.

    respectfully
    BJ

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  91. According to Child wellbeing and income inequality in rich countries the problem of income inequality is that people on lower incomes suffer from lower status and that the poverty issue is relative (not absolute).

    “For example, among OECD countries, we found that public social expenditure as a percentage of national income accounted for very little of the relation between income inequality and the Unicef index.”
    ————————————–
    Note also that Australia has more inequality but does a lot better on the Uniceff child well being index
    ———————————————————–
    New British research, from the Institute of Fiscal Studies, has shown that increased welfare payments have coincided with a boost in births and drop in contraceptive use among the group most affected by the higher payments. New Zealand fertility trends reflect those in Britain and it is entirely possible that the same trend is occurring here.
    “In 2006, the New Zealand Medical Association deputy chairman, Don Simmers, told a conference that too many women are contemplating pregnancy on a benefit.”

    http://lindsaymitchell.blogspot.com/search?q=Child+poverty+action+group
    http://www.bristol.ac.uk/cmpo/news/2008/369.html

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  92. Frog:
    “One of the overriding themes of the Na Ta Tatou Rouro: With our baskets the children will prosper conference was that the recession is far from over, the situation for poor people is worsening and that New Zealand has a shameful and enduring record on child poverty.”

    Can’t you read Frog it is relative poverty that is the issue in NZ.

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  93. jh

    It may be Mitchell’s efforts to imply that welfare system has to be changed to prevent those few who have further children while on welfare that explains National party policy.

    So while they will inflation proof the base benefit to the adult on welfare, they won’t inflation proof the child tax credit, which means that those on benefits with children get poorer relative to those without children.

    Which is why child poverty was largely reduced amongst households receiving the In Work payment, but remains for those on benefits.

    The other excuse for limiting benefit levels – to establish work incentives is no longer valid.

    The base dole rate is under $200 a week, it’s a little more on the SB and it’s between 250 and 300 for those on the IB, assessed as being the sort of income required for someone to cope for any length of time).

    (to compare the single super rate is about $300)

    The minimum wage is now $500 before tax and over $400 after tax. The increase in minimum wage from $7 to $12.50 an hour has changed the issue radically.

    No one on benefits gets nearly as much as they would in work (even if it was only minimum wage).

    In terms of parents with children

    The base rate for the adult is under $200 (even though there is longer time frame for those on the DPB than for most on the dole) and whatever child payement they get on top of that they will not catch up with working parents with children – not with the increased minimum wage, the In Work tax credit for them and also the child tax credits unavailable to those on benefits.

    There are about 300,000 adult people on benefit support. Possibly half or more have children. Issues sterotypically associated with those on welfare might apply in c10% of total cases, there a lot of children raised by 90% of these parents being kept in poverty because people don’t won’t to send more money to bad parents.

    No matter how much people like Mitchell might like to think they are on the side of advocating better policy, the consequence of their work seems to be that it does more harm than good.

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  94. bjchip

    It appears that your thinking is totally influenced by some fear that provision for children paid to parents encourages them to have more than they would otherwise.

    Therefore you would have opposed the Family Benefit, as you oppose now simply inlfation proofing child tax credits and WFF

    That is the Mitchell and neo-right line that parents should afford their children and that the tax system should be tax nuetral – that is taxation be unrelated to the number of children of the parents being taxed.

    Whether your tax system would be more progressive than hers, is in fact irrelevant to this point.

    Your own words

    {but that support cannot be provided through handing the parents a big check. …because if it is, we are creating a situation in which it PAYS them to have more children. … and because some of them are not trustworthy … I am NOT happy to give them a means of increasing their payments by increasing the population of people I am obligating myself to support. That’s simply not on. Now you can spin it any way you like mate, but I am not happy to give away money to make the problem worse}

    (and in the presence of the current drug policies, I am ESPECIALLY reluctant to let that happen.)

    Ignoring your attempt to cite drugs – irrelevant to the vast majority of the 300,000 adults on welfare support as to general policy on adequate provision to people.

    Have you not considered that people with children lose jobs, people with children lose partners, people with children get ill …

    and you think keeping the child tax credit low to provide some disincentive to them having more children while on welfare is the right way to help these people support their children when they need help. Keeping the child tax credit affects all of these people by limiting how much support they receive when they go onto welfare and it causes these people to raise up their children in poverty.

    “I pointed out the actual reason WFF was created”

    And that’s holy writ is it … . Well it’s not . The then Labour government and National argued about whether support to families was the way to go, you take the side of National, that’s clear enough. Whether you have a flatter, or progressive tax scale is irrelvant, you just don’t want to allocate out tax credits via children whether in WFF or in child tax credits available to those in benefits.

    You don’t support collective provision by singles and by those post families to those still raising them – you don’t want to transfer support to families while parents have child rearing costs coinciding with paying off the mortgage. Whereas I think this is part of the social contract in a community, one which makes it one.

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  95. The Green Party will:

    1. Work towards eliminating child poverty in New Zealand by 2014. As a first step to achieving this, the Green Party will urgently develop indicators to measure poverty and regularly monitor poverty levels, especially for children.

    2. Introduce a Consumer Price Index-adjusted Universal Child Benefit. The base rate as of September 2007 would be$16.25 per week for the first child and $11.50 per week for every subsequent child. This non-income tested payment to the primary caregiver would be similar to the Family Benefit that was scrapped in 1991 and can be capitalised towards the child’s first home.

    3. Review and reform family assistance policies. International research has shown that family assistance policies play a crucial role in reducing child poverty rates. The real value of family assistance policies has decreased as successive governments have not increased income thresholds. The Greens will undertake a major review of family assistance policies, and in particular:
    a. Ensure family assistance payments keep pace with the cost of living.
    b. Review targeting provisions and adjust abatement rates to reduce poverty traps.
    c. Remove barriers to work for those on benefits who are moving into work or those in work seeking to increase their wages.
    d. Abolish income-tested stand-down periods for benefits, as these are acknowledged to adversely affect levels of child poverty. And allow Work and Income to make a provisional assessment of eligibility on the spot and award a non-recoverable temporary benefit while it does its checking. Waiting a couple of weeks while the department makes a decision can be very detrimental to families.
    e. Remove discriminatory policies to ensure families in and out of work are treated equitably (e.g. the In Work Tax Credit currently discriminates against beneficiaries and those not in the workforce) and incorporate such tax credits into the Universal Child Benefit regime proposed above.
    f. Increasing the minimum wage, to alleviate the unnecessary subsidising of the earnings of low-income families through targeted income support assistance such as Family Assistance and Accommodation Supplement.(see Industrial Relations Policy)

    4. Extend paid parental leave in line with the Families Commission recommendations of September 2007 to ensure parents are provided with a total of 13 months paid leave.

    5. Support the provision, without the imposition of a work test, of benefits to single parents and partners of beneficiaries whose primary responsibility is caring for dependent children.

    6. Oppose the introduction of any provision that financially penalises single parents who give birth while in receipt of benefit.

    7. Repeal section 70A of the Social Security Act, which penalises single parents who refuse, or fail, to identify in law the non-custodial parent of their child or who refuse, or fail, to make a child support formula assessment application. While we believe that that non-custodial parents should be required to take financial responsibility for their children, we believe this would be more effectively achieved through a review of the Child Support Act, together with more effective education of children and young people about the responsibilities of parenting, rather than by financially penalising some of the most vulnerable families in our society.

    8. Provide accessible and affordable support and education programmes for parents. All parents should have access to programmes that will support and develop their parenting skills.

    9. Provide additional support for parents in the first year of each child’s life. Review and increase resourcing of programmes such as Plunket to ensure that every child is seen regularly in their first months of life.

    10. Make the first $5000 of everyone’s income tax-free. This would have a direct impact on child poverty by giving low-income families more money in their pockets, and reducing the poverty trap.

    11. Support a full and wide ranging public debate on Universal Basic Income. As a first step, more research is required on how a UBI would be applied in NZ. The UBI recognises the value of caring for children and the many women and men who stay at home full time to look after their children and other dependants.

    12. Work towards setting benefit amounts at a level that is sufficient for all basic needs.

    13. Work towards full employment that provides a decent income.

    I suppose this is the red stuff, some in the party are of a mind to reject.

    bjchip and sapient should look at 3 e and 3 f

    Of course helped by gerrit they will claim we cannot afford the red stuff anymore and it will have to be a brave new world Green Party with another policy in 2011.

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  96. Great discussion. I don’t agree with much of it but it’s well said and everyone’s being civilised about it :)

    It’s all very well for us to sit here (all comfortable, educated and secure) and pontificate about causes, solutions and blame but the people in question are not well represented here. Maybe they don’t have internet connections?

    I respect what my mother did by choosing to stay at home and raise her children. She put her own interests, (personal growth through work, achievement and having work-mates) aside and did what’s best for us, despite the fact that it meant going on the DPB. That’s a huge sacrifice. And she did it because she loved us, not because it was an ‘attractive lifestyle option’.

    I am glad we live in a society which makes that possible.

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  97. SPC,
    Okay, part of the problem here is that there are premises on both sides which are not accepted by the other.
    I believe that the purpose of government is to pursue the best ends for society. Subsequently, I believe that resources should be allocated to those processes which best further this end. Any allocation which is to a process less effective in furthering this end than another process would be is detriment society due to the “next best option forgone” expense.
    Those individuals brought up in a life of poverty do suffer and as a result of that suffering often face impairment educationally, socially, and economically latter in life. Crime is far more proliferate among the lower socio-economic deciles. This is in-fact the reasoning behind the first (i.e. Egypt and Rome), and arguably present, social welfare systems; that by reducing their poverty slightly so to may the crime decrease and their force be allied rather than opposed. In todays society it serves many more purposes but this is still the prime function.
    I see it as beneficial to society for there to be total class mobility and for individuals out of work by a unforeseen event to not immediately loose everything they have worked for. Universal education and the support of the children are among the best ways to obtain such class mobility and serve also to increase the over-all wealth generating ability of the society and thus the ability of the society to generate a safety-net for those in unfortunate circumstances. Thus I support resources, even a large amount of such resources, being diverted to this pursuit.
    However, it remains true that resources are limited. Every time the government spends a dollar in one place that is a dollar that cannot be spent elsewhere. It is thus important that the government pursue those routes which return the greatest return-on-investment. Because of economies-of-scale and because of the trust matters discussed by BJ previously (and because of the effect on public perception) it is more desirable, because of the greater ROI, for the government to invest the resources first in things such as universal education and health care, followed by investments in food in schools and the provision of clothes to children, followed by access to technology and means of further social and educational engagement, followed by provision of extra money to the parents. The provision of money to parents holds the smallest ROI and the greatest potential to kick us in the behind, it is as such a far smaller priority and a matter far more delicate than the others.
    While it would be nice to fund all of these pursuits that cannot realistically be done as the resource supply is limited and their are other areas which must also be funded. If we collect too much in tax then we will discourage investment and production, in so doing decreasing both the tax take and the ability of the society to support the pursuits so desired while similtaniously increasing unemployment and thus the masses which need support; decreasing the support providable to any individual. The laffer curve is far from perfect, but it has a basic truth to it; taxing more, once past a certain point, will do more damage than good.

    The matters of incentives discussed earlier are the nitty-gritty details but are important. An individual will weigh up two choices and choose that which is more desirable, different individuals hold different perceptions of desirable but this will always be the case. Providing more resources to the unemployed will inevitably incentivise unemployment; this is not always bad but in any society with a given tax take there will be a point of balance where-by an increase in the resources will encourage more people to become unemployed, and thus decrease the tax take, to such an extent that the attempt to improve the well-being of the unemployed will actually harm the unemployed and by extension society, at that same point the opposite is also true. We must strive to obtain that point and stay there, not go bellow it or go above it; where that point is will always reflect the economic situation of the society. Not doing so hurts the most vulnerable, it does not help them. A mistake frequently made by those seeking to help.

    e. Remove discriminatory policies to ensure families in and out of work are treated equitably (e.g. the In Work Tax Credit currently discriminates against beneficiaries and those not in the workforce) and incorporate such tax credits into the Universal Child Benefit regime proposed above.
    f. Increasing the minimum wage, to alleviate the unnecessary subsidising of the earnings of low-income families through targeted income support assistance such as Family Assistance and Accommodation Supplement.(see Industrial Relations Policy)

    As to (e), the same approach as highlighted above would benefit those in work in the same manner as those without. While the incentives must be considered, as per my previous points, those in work should not receive more than those out of work. They should both receive only what is necessary to obtain the greatest social benefit; an ends which would likely entail a small bit of discrimination as an incentive.
    As to (f), increasing the minimum wage is a perfect example of hurting those you are trying to help. While the minimum wage certainly has its place it is presently far to high; through being so high it increases unemployment and decreases the tax take whilst, as a result of the unemployment, increasing the money needed to support the unemployed at any given standard. The minimum wage should be set at such a level that it allows for almost full employment but provides enough on which to survive. It is presently far above this point; the problem lies in people trying to live as citizens of a first world country whilst we maintain a third world economy, people living outside not just their own means but outside the means of society to support them.

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  98. Sapient,

    A most elequent summation. Top marks.

    The minimum wage should be set at such a level that it allows for almost full employment but provides enough on which to survive. It is presently far above this point; the problem lies in people trying to live as citizens of a first world country whilst we maintain a third world economy, people living outside not just their own means but outside the means of society to support them.

    We need to face up to that reality.

    Well said

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  99. SPC

    Have you not considered that people with children lose jobs, people with children lose partners, people with children get ill …
    …did you read what I wrote?

    the point is that I may be perfectly responsible to HAVE the children, and yet suffer some misadventure that makes it extremely difficult to maintain the support that I offer them.

    … just look up the thread a bit. You are not paying attention to what I am thinking. Just with your own peculiar view of what I somehow MUST be thinking.

    Of course people with children lose jobs. That does not change the situation. If you are supporting the CHILDREN properly it does not matter how the parent winds up on a benefit. If you paid attention enough my standard was that the children in that situation should be indistinguishable in terms of their opportunities and resources, from anyone else in the country.

    …or are you so enamored of redistributing wealth by giving money to people that you can’t accept giving them services and opportunity in its stead?

    Ignoring your attempt to cite drugs – irrelevant to the vast majority of the 300,000 adults on welfare support as to general policy on adequate provision to people.

    Ignoring that is to ignore the CORE of the reason why everyone else in this country has a hard-on for the beneficiaries. I read the Green policy statement and I agree with a great deal of it. I think I made it VERY CLEAR that I am simply opposed to handing the parent a check based on the fact that there is a child because SOME of those parents misuse the benefit. I didn’t say all of them SPC and I didn’t make any bones about it.

    …and the ones who misuse that benefit are the cover stories in the newspapers and the leading examples provided by the opposition and they are CORRECT in being opposed to giving people money to act in this fashion. Which is not, in the Green party policy or your desired world, controlled at all.

    I am morally obliged to help the people who are trying to do the right thing with their kids and I am morally obliged to help people who are jobless and even those who are working but poor, but I do not accept that I have to let money I give to a child be turned into beer and swilled down by their dad or pumped into a pokie by their mom.

    My objective is actually higher than yours in terms of the CHILDREN, but you don’t care. I won’t do it by giving their PARENTS money so I must be an evil ACT clone.

    Therefore you would have opposed the Family Benefit, as you oppose now simply inflation proofing child tax credits and WFF

    …did you even read what I wrote?

    I didn’t even discuss the “inflation proofing” argument, ANY benefit has to be inflation adjusted. Failure to do so is legislative incompetence. … just look for the text up the thread… it is a direct quote.

    I am opposed to the way it is provided, but if we have any benefit that we are paying people by law, it has to be inflation proofed. I note that the method of providing services and support rather than money is inflation proofed automatically. As the government is paying for the services and support rather than handing money over for that purpose.

    The copy of Green policy (thank you for that) pushes me to accept that I have neglected something, and that is that the process involved with WFF IS discriminatory. Regardless of its purpose. Which was to end a different sort of discrimination against the middle class. I know you don’t give a rats rear end about the middle class, but if that policy of taxing me 90 cents on the dollar hadn’t ended SOMEHOW, I was prepared to leave myself… as was every other person who could imagine a way to do so. It wasn’t the solution I wanted, but it was the one Labour provided. More shame on them.

    The proper answer is that the support for children I was describing should not be dependent on whether someone is a beneficiary. It should be provided for every child in the country. Period. With an end to WFF and other “per-child” payments to the parents. All of them.

    Haven’t you ever wondered about the issue? Having a child is an enormous burden on parents. The financial hit for doing it right is crippling and the people who make that choice are punished severely in the lower and middle classes. Why is that acceptable. Why is it acceptable that the children of the wealthiest families have big advantages over the children of the poorest? THAT is not acceptable to me.

    Most of the policy is quite well thought… it is simply that the manner of the payments that lends itself to misuse and the underlying mechanisms of support for children in general, will invariably favor those with higher achieving parents. I propose that that as well should be altered. This would accord well with the idea of a “Universal Child Benefit”… except that it would not be done by giving MONEY.

    If the problem is inequity, the answer is still not to simple mindedly throw more money at the people with less. That helps some, but it wastes more… and it leaves residual inequity as long as the people who ARE earning a decent wage are allowed to keep any of it, and it invites abuse and resentment.

    Try to remember the test I apply at the top of the thread. Ah… but you don’t really read all that I write, so here it is again.

    – Suppose you were about to be born. You are given a choice of society into which you might be born, but you cannot choose your parents, their station in life in that society, your gender or race. Choose.

    …and yes, that is the standard I apply and what I said further up the thread.

    So… given that SOME parents will take the money for their kids and p!ss it away, and there is significant residual inequity in the system no matter what I can imagine doing with the system as it exists… which way of dealing with this approaches my standard more closely?

    Giving more money to the parents or setting up a system of child support for ALL children that encompasses a not just schools but food and clothing and computer access and even entertainment… but ending per-child entitlements to PARENTS through taxation and benefits.

    CHOOSE

    I’ve told you repeatedly that you misread me. Clearly enough you occasionally don’t read all of what I say.

    I note that even with my initial proposal, what Rimu’s mom did would be perfectly possible and likely he/she would have suffered no disadvantage compared to what was actually experienced.

    However, doing it properly, as the Green policy statement pointed out, means removing the differences between in-work and beneficiaries.

    Which means making the child-services I argue for universal, Just the same as the child-benefit in item 2, but not as money paid to the parent. In which case, done properly, Rimu would not have noticed any differences at all. However, Rimu’s Mom did it right in any case and is not really an issue. Someone else who’s Mom went for the booze or into the pokies, THAT person would notice a significant improvement in their chances…

    That’s where I want to go. My way, by eliminating the drug siphon and the temptations of money, reduces the problem over time and the resentment of the people who pay taxes… and probably would cause anyone in ACT to burst into flame because it takes some of the responsibility for the kids away from the parents.

    That’s OK. I’m sure that the advantages of having them burst into flame outweigh the cost in carbon credits to cover it.

    BJ

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  100. SPC:
    “No one on benefits gets nearly as much as they would in work (even if it was only minimum wage). ”

    Details of state benefits received by two solo mothers have been made public by the Government after the pair criticised cutbacks to a training allowance. …

    The $715 a week benefit is equal to a job with an annual salary of $46,700 a year. And the $554 a week equal to a job with an annual salary of $35,800 a year.

    as someone said “if you see one fish there are probably a lot more”.

    There are about 300,000 adult people on benefit support. Possibly half or more have children. Issues sterotypically associated with those on welfare *might* apply in c10% of total cases*, [and if so] there a lot of children raised by 90% of these parents being kept in poverty because people don’t won’t to send more money to bad parents.

    a. when it comes to welfare entitlements I wonder what % are likely to lie. My guess is a significant number?

    b. those associated with “Issues sterotypically associated with those on welfare” *might* be more like 60%? How would anyone know?

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  101. Note that what I am saying about supporting children is not affected for good or ill, by any setting of the minimum wage, which has NO PLACE in a discussion of child poverty or its resolution.

    Its presence in the children’s policy is a clear indication of a problem. Children don’t earn a wage. Shouldn’t have to. The minimum wage should have NOTHING to do with them.

    BJ

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  102. You don’t support collective provision by singles and by those post families to those still raising them – you don’t want to transfer support to families while parents have child rearing costs coinciding with paying off the mortgage.

    OK… what does the first part even mean? You’re telling me I don’t support something, but “collective provision by singles” is a set of english words that don’t apply to any subject I have described. It is either jargon or gibberish.

    Next, what is a “post family” or who are “those post families”

    Please clarify. I am not a social worker, and use of jargon will, if it is unclear to me, be unclear to almost all other readers.

    “you don’t want to transfer support to families while parents have child rearing costs coinciding with paying off the mortgage”

    Funny, I don’t remember saying that… oh yeah.. that would be because I NEVER said it.

    Now maybe you haven’t noticed but ascribing positions to people that don’t correspond with what they are actually thinking tends to be extremely effective at making them angry with you.

    I should point out however, that this issue is like the minimum wage…. it is entirely irrelevant in the context of child poverty.

    BJ

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  103. Whatever Green policy is people will need more information unless their views already mirror that policy. Welfare is a whopping issue. I wonder if policies could be developed by way of an online think thank which aims to present points of view/ arguments fully pulled apart before a choice is taken.
    I think Lindsay Mitchell does a good job providing balance.
    This discussion is a little like discussing a block of cheese which no one can see and disagreeing on how mouldy it is.

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  104. JH,
    I was actually contemplating starting up a blog for that purpose. I would probally need to wait a year or so till I actually have time though. :P
    I think it would be good to have a place where everyone can hammer it out with a view to creating pragmatic policies able to be adopted by interested political parties. :P
    A little bit of a pipe dream though.

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  105. Re tax, and the current review toward broadening the tax base:

    We have the 11th most traded currency in the world.

    It’s because there’s a 3 hour window when nobody’s foreign exchange market but ours is open.

    If anyone can introduce a go-it-alone Tobin Tax, we can.

    Japan is about to loosen the peg on its currency. It’s on one side of the three hour window. If we played our cards right, it might like to go into a Tobin Tax with us.

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  106. Britain has made noises about wanting one as well, and I would expect to be able to interest the Aussies.

    I only wish we had someone in government with a working brain.

    BJ

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  107. sapient

    There is no incentive to unemployment involved in the case of those on the SB and IB (and there are more on these 2 than UB). There is no incentive to unemployment to being left by a working partner. Nor in losing ones job while a sole parent (which would account for most of the 300,000 adults on welfare).

    And if receiving a sufficiency to remain healthy while looking to work is regarded as an incentive to remain unemployed, what will happen to the reserve workforce during a prolonged recession (they might end up on SB)?

    As for your concept of our minimum wage being too high, it’s lower than across Europe and Oz and with it we reduced unemployment to one of the lowest levels in the OECD (and despite Bollard high OCR to break the housing price bubble).

    And as to incentives, the dole and SB for a single adult are $200 less than the after tax minimum wage. But reduce the minimum wage and you reduce the incentive.

    As I discussed with bjchip, before the debate pressure got the better of him, there is the issue of the $80 extra earned before high abatement. This acts as a disoncentive to get the person in full-time work via part-time work. The $80 exemption from abatement is only 6 hours work.

    An idea

    $190 dole (over 25) (less under 25, note the plan here is to have those under 20 in education, training or work experience rather than the dole)

    1 days work (community or private sector) and the pay is 230
    2 days work (community or private sector) and the pay is 270
    3 days work (community or private sector) and the pay is 310
    4 days work (community or private sector) and the pay is 350
    5 days work (community or private sector) and the pay is close to the minimum wage 390/c400 after tax.

    $40 a day for the unemployed person is basically – 8 hours at half the minimum wage (meaning the work half work for the dole/work experience and half paid work).

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  108. gerrit

    “bjchip and sapient should look at 3 e and 3 f

    Of course helped by gerrit they will claim we cannot afford the red stuff anymore and it will have to be a brave new world Green Party with another policy in 2011.”

    I sort of predicted what your post (and their call for some new pragmaticism removed from their own party’s current policy) would be.

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  109. jh

    There is no dispute from me that adequate research information is part of developing good policy.

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  110. jh

    I wrote that (No one on benefits gets nearly as much as they would in work (even if it was only minimum wage} and I stand by that.

    “Details of state benefits received by two solo mothers have been made public by the Government after the pair criticised cutbacks to a training allowance. …The $715 a week benefit is equal to a job with an annual salary of $46,700 a year. And the $554 a week equal to a job with an annual salary of $35,800 a year. as someone said “if you see one fish there are probably a lot more”.

    I need not do any work to clear up your misconception. A columnist by the name of Tapu Misa wrote in the NZ Herald about this issue. You will find that if the two women had been working even just on the minimum wage they were entitled to sufficient extra help to be earning more than they did on the benefit. They had situations which required special allowances (allowances not restricted to those on the DPB).

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  111. Fair Dinkum Frog; – there is no such thing as ‘have-have nots’.
    According BJ’s limbo levels, anyone who can find Bellamy’s, is in!!!
    Send us invites you slippery old frog…..
    no explosions ….promise….the nearest moslem must be 5,0000 miles away – send troops OK….long as they don’t have to walk…..unlike the locals…say….watchout!!!!

    We all should share the wealth?
    Comrad?
    Kids are only poor when their parents are starving
    Get Obvious you Greens!

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  112. SPC,
    The benefit is half of the wage one would get on minimum wage if working full time. If working half of that, as would reasonably be expected of a parent supporting children, the the amount is equal to the wage. The difference being that for work they actually have to work where-as for the benefit they can sit on their arse. Ultimatly though, the incentives are only a very small part of it and you have failed to address the other major points (and you are dreaming if you think there are no incentives for SB and IB, and incentives for leaving partners have been discussed previously by several posters).

    I am incredibly intoxicated and frankly I am suprised that I can string two words together; I don’t have the patience to put up with your deliberate ignorance. Everything has been addressed previously, all you have to do is read. Your ideological approach has been shown to be nothing but harmful and you have deliberatly ignored the points raised by BJ, Gerrit, and myself. Remove your ideological blinders and think about the welfare of the children for once.

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  113. “Children” are’nt poor – their parents, and communitites are. Children are born Rich.

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  114. SPC,

    Of course helped by gerrit they will claim we cannot afford the red stuff anymore

    So you are saying that borrowing $50M per DAY is affordable to maintain (as Sapient so elequently put it) this first world lifestyle in a third world economy.

    Play with your house of cards anyway you choose, just remember who has to pay back that daily $50M plus 5.5% interest. Your children, your childrens children plus most likely your childrens children children.

    Trying to eradicate child poverty in this generation while borrowing $50M per day does only one thing.

    Absolutely sentences the next generation of children to child poverty.

    Pretty selfish.

    You may not place much faith in me but try reading the Greens favourate economic commentator Bernard Hickey.

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  115. Gerrit – it seems we follow the US mindlessly – they are borrowing themselves another forty fathoms deep – but for NZ?
    It doesn’t make any sense – isn’t necessary.

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  116. SPC

    As I discussed with bjchip, before the debate pressure got the better of him

    Right… are YOU on drugs? I’ve been waiting for you to show your face again :-)

    I note that you still haven’t clarified the gibberish or jargon question, and haven’t acknowledged my posts prior immediately prior to that question.

    I note that you haven’t had an answer to anything I’ve said since… 8:58 yesterday morning. Unless the notion that you “predicted” what we’d say is of some value. It isn’t actually an ANSWER of course. Did you think we would not notice? :-)

    I know you’ve got an axe to grind, but Sapient makes more sense drunk.

    Gerrit is pointing out a SEVERE restriction on any ambitions to share the wealth – and that is the supply of wealth. HE has agreed as have I, that higher taxes if necessary ARE acceptable – you notice how different this is from ACT or National rhetoric? His only demand and I second it, is that they be actually used effectively, on necessary assistance, not to give away money to anyone who misuses it. Not to waste it.

    I have pointed out that helping children directly is more efficient on several levels and reduces the possibilities of waste. It simplifies taxation massively as well.

    YOU pointed out the Green policy and went silent. Fair go. I’ve been into the forums and I am starting in on the two problems with that policy.

    One is minor. It shouldn’t contain any reference to minimum wage. Children don’t earn wages and should not be a source of wages.

    The other is the point I have been making here. You don’t give MONEY to people for having children. Paying people to make the problem worse is a waste of money.

    You persistently mistake this for other things…

    You need to recognize that we aren’t ACT clones with an agenda of pushing the party to the far right. We want to accomplish the goal WITHOUT breaking the bank, offending the middle-class or funding the Mongrel Mob.

    Yet the goal we have in mind is no different from what is described at the top of the thread. We want EVERY child to have an equal shot at the brass ring.

    No child poverty in NZ.

    Personally I don’t know what will come next from you. You seem like a pretty bright sort… just a little single minded. Maybe you’ll figure out that this is not about Sue Bradford. The Children’s policy you cite is excellent. The only error is that it ignores the secondary consequences of giving money to people.

    …and that it includes reference to the minimum wage, which is irrelevant.

    So we’ll see now. Have we persuaded you that we aren’t ACT? Will you accept that we disagree about a method, not a goal? THAT isn’t an unusual problem in the party.

    BJ

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  117. Actually that’s not fair to Gerrit. I suspect he has a couple of other requirements before agreeing to taxes and I should not pre-empt him. Something I apologize for Gerrit. Didn’t mean to speak for you. You speak for yourself quite well thanks.

    respectfully
    BJ

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  118. Mark

    I hesitate to ask what you mean by some of these things… you seem to be PeterQuixote reborn.

    Bellamy’s ? Restaurant for parliamentarians?

    So anyone who can get into parliament is in parliament.

    What is the point ? …and what are my “Limbo levels”? Bending over backwards… to do what? To get into parliament.

    One can’t quite tickle a point out of your posts, and while I find some of them amusing I am mostly just perplexed. Can’t answer.

    BJ

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  119. The fact is that the notion of doing this through services and substance has ever every possibility of working much better through involving Sue’s CPAG organization and the community than just “letting the government do it” by delivering checks to poor people and tax breaks to wealthier people.

    It does take a village to raise a child IMHO, and we’ve been neglecting that in this country and it has cost us.

    BJ

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  120. Sorry Chippie – some comments need expanding – your quality of Debate imo stands well above the Norms – here, in Bellamy’s, Parliament – just my opinion mind…but yes, limbo into Parliament(if you are not there already) and do us all a favour by raising the standard of Q&A.
    It’s why I don’t like the dichotomous aspect of “Like” or “Dislike” on this Blog – the truth does not break down so simply.
    Oh hell – that’s no clearer is it?
    Just take it as a compliment

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  121. BJ,

    The only proviso I have for any addtional taxation is that it be fair and binding and that they improve our produtivity.

    From productivity comes poverty freedom. Never ever from borrowing.

    The honey (money) jar is empty, the only way to fill it, in my opinion, is through productivity gains.

    I guess SPC calling that ACT party thinking shows that there is a long way to go in rational thinking on the part of some.

    In fact if he studied ACt party thinking he would know that their forte is for tax cuts and reduced government expenditure. That way more money will be in the hands of individuals to invest in a productive economy.

    We are not at the point where that can take place. We need to actually increase short term taxation to reduce borrowing while at the same reducing expenditure by cutting government spending to less than 20% GDP.

    Tie this in with a restructure of the economy that makes productivity investment a priority.

    Once we have borrowings, government expenditure and the economic structure in place and under control we go for tax cuts.

    Wealth distribution is a problem and can be used to alliviate poverty.

    We can grow enough food to feed the nation, we have enough material to house the nation, we have enough resources to keep those houses warm, we have enough computers (THE ARK in Auckland here has a warehouse full of recycled computers) to get in-home eductation on line in every house.

    Notice wealth distribution, not money distribution. Which is more your position and one I totally agree with.

    Wealth must be distributed through a voucher system, not a monetary handout.

    SPC has not come up with one notion that addresses the problem of child poverty except to top up the jar with borrowings.

    The challange is for SPC to come up with a wealth distribution system that provides not just with todays child poverty but their childrens children.

    Increasing the monetary payout from an empty jar is simply not sustainable.

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  122. All these issues will have been thrashed out somewhere. The issue, however is getting the most enlightened policy into action via the political system. That’s where the politicians shuffle, whaffle and the media tosses it back and forth and voters vote on a parties mix of policie. A political organisation needs a strong argument well presented and thrashed out> and that’s why I like the idea of policy developed via an online think tank made collectively with members of an opposing point of view which has as it’s initial aim to analyse points of view and narrow down issues (express/discuss/ learn/ teach/study/ evaluate/sumarise/ refine decision making thru critical thinking…. argument mapping the most retractable issues). Following that process parties choose a position but the intil process provides the reference.

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  123. Wat,

    Interesting site.

    The 43% of children without safe water, some of that’s engineering history and climate.

    If we privatised our water supply, I don’t think we could get to that level, but I suspect we’d be worse of than we are now.

    BJ & Gerrit,

    If we distribute services instead of money, do you have ideas about how to cheaply measure the effectiveness of that? Shooting from the hip, I could imagine a more-democracy solution where we just ask the people they’re meant to be helping; what do you see as the side-effects of that?

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  124. Lets ask these disproportionately uneducated and mentally impaired ‘people’, whom do not necassarily care about the children, where it is best to spend the money set to help children when they have an option to divert it to that which benefits themselves but not the children?

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  125. How to MEASURE it? Hadn’t even thought of…. but you are right, this is going to be necessary.

    My standard is that it should be difficult to impossible to tell the economic status of children’s parents by observing their performance in school, their access to sports, their participation in scouts/drama/dance/arts….

    Measuring the differences on those things however… May be part of the problem. We are so used to measuring things with money, because that is easy to measure… but it isn’t the measure of a child’s life experience at all.

    Educational success as a function of wealth, corrected for IQ? In theory we would expect smarter kids to succeed better (of course), no matter whether they are rich or poor. In other words wealth not being predictive, if IQ is equal.

    Have to ask the kids more than we do?

    Examine the populations of the various programs for Arts/Music/Scouts… etc and work that up as a function of wealth.

    I am perfectly happy to hear how others might approach this. I’m not sure I know a good answer or if what I suggest is useful.

    respectfully
    BJ

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  126. jc2,

    Australia is the driest continent, so we can’t blame climate for the fact that a huge number of people living in Africa don’t have potable water.
    It’s due to poverty. Real poverty. Not the politically invented notion that the self-interested Greens try and sell with their crocodile tears.

    So not only is it in extremely bad taste for the Greens to claim a “tsunami of child poverty”,
    but when what they go on to describe is not the genuine desperate global poverty but only the slight differences in wealth between people living in a particular rich country, it’s time to reach for the sick bag.

    And, of course, the left would sooner children continue to die by the million than acknowledge that Capitalism is the solution:
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704107204574474731971741364.html#articleTabs%3Darticle

    Here’s a suggestion: all the money extorted from taxpayers in the name of helping the poor should all be sent to this foundation: http://www.childrenwithoutworms.org/

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  127. JC2

    If we distribute services instead of money, do you have ideas about how to cheaply measure the effectiveness of that?

    It is one of the biggest problems. Hard to measure, just as hard it is to measure “poverty” levels.

    I live in South Auckland and dont see any physical poverty. Poverty of ambition, motivation, desire and resources yes. Poverty of no money to feed kids, less so.

    Notice the Restauraunt Brands share price rise on the back of increased KFC turnover in this depression? Corrolation beween that and lack of parental choices for their kids upbringing? (long bow, I know but??)

    BJ has some indices that measure the nations well being that the Green party should be trumpeting. Well worth discussing.

    Wealth distribution is not just vouchers but includes active participation by recipients.

    For example we should be gathering all the recycled computer in one place and have those with even rudimentary computer skills reformatting hard drives and reloading software. In return they get a free computer after six months plus monthly grocery packs.

    Others would catch a bus from the local post office and spend a fortnight working in communal gardens in return for a months worth of grocery packs. Work for 6 months and get a free computer.

    etc., etc., etc,. These are just top of mind examples and not gospel. Just random thoughts.

    That type of recipient involvement is required to get the work ethic growing.

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  128. Back in the 1970′s the OECD nations promised to deliver .7% GDP in foreign aid, few kept the promise. This is not because it would send the poor the wrong incentive, or because there were not NGO’s to deliver the aid … but sometimes it was claimed that third world governments could not be trusted to deliver the aid to the people – so there was “good reason” not to keep the promise.

    This is similar to the argument used on this thread that parents cannot be trusted (this occurs whenever they are unemployed, but not while they are working) to spend child tax credits on their children, so the child tax credits should not be inflation proofed …

    It is this concept of blame, as an excuse, that allows war, famine and disease to continue in the wider world and social injustice to occur within affluent nations.

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  129. SPC

    I think you missed something. I made it quite clear up the thread that neither Child Tax Credits nor Child subsidies should be paid out in terms of money. Basically No subsidies. No child tax credits. One system for everyone. Go on back up the thread and read.what.I.said. 8:58 on the 16th. I daresay you still haven’t waded through it. I will help you out.

    The proper answer is that the support for children I was describing should not be dependent on whether someone is a beneficiary. It should be provided for every child in the country. Period. With an end to WFF and other “per-child” payments to the parents. All of them.

    BJ

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  130. It’s not all about you bjchip, there were other people on the thread.

    That your joining opposition to inflation proofing child credits for beneficiaries and those on WFF is couched in terms of opposing all child tax credits is/was noted – and that it also includes opposition to a modern form of the older concept of the Universal Family Benefit promoted by your party is also noted.

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  131. SPC,
    Lol, it is true that the governments could not be trusted. The newer approaches of purchasing the materials directly and supplying them to the needy has worked far better and is now the predominant approach used except where the giving government is looking to gain and doesint actually care anything about the people.

    BJ may not be the only one on the post, but the opposition you cite seems to bein full agreement with him so for all intents and purposes he is correct in addressing you as if you were speaking dirrectly to him. The thrust of the thread seems to be not that we shouldint inflation proof the credits but that we should do away with them in favour of a far more equitable and effective system such as proposed by BJ. There seems to be mass agreement that benefits should be inflation proofed, where those benefits should be in the form of money.
    In this thread you have constantly been out argued and have been unable to make a coherant arguement; it is almost painful to watch. Give up or try actually reading the posts.

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  132. Sapient

    Can you explain why the .7% of GDP in foreign aid promised is not given if there is a way to deliver the aid and achieve its purpose?

    You claim full agreement between “4″ posters I have debated with on this thread – gerrit, jh, yourself and bjchip?

    gerrit did not speak to it only affordability (which is not the same as preferring one form of spending on welfare over another), jh debated other matters rather than speaking to this point. So you mean yourself and bjchip. Two people opposing their own party policy. Where you and bjchip agree maybe your idea of consensus in our time, but it’s not mine.

    The proposed solution of bjchip, to which you grant your blessing, has it been tried anywhere in the world, or trialled anywhere, or even modelled? Not to my knowledge.

    Parents need the money to house their children, to pay the power bill in a family home etc, there is no way to deliver this support but to the parent and by child tax credits.

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  133. Read Gerrit’s post at 9:52 on the 17th.

    He’s on the same page. He is NOT me… we disagree somewhat, but we also understand each other well.

    BJ

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  134. His advocacy of “wealth distribution” via vouchers, rather than money, is however not focused on support to children, but more general (where would the cap be?)

    Where we disagree is that I see most parents, whether on welfare or in employment, as people who can be trusted to do right by their children.
    I don’t see how one can separate out help to children when they are dependent on their parents for shelter and power etc.

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  135. Shelter and Power are not money. It might require and I think SHOULD require some individualized consideration in those areas, as one family’s resources will not match the next, but there is no necessity to cut a bigger check on that basis.

    You’re right MOST parents can be trusted. Say 95 percent can be trusted. The other 5 percent wind up in the newspapers and their kids wind up in the hospitals… using taxpayers money. It simply makes it too easy for the folks who want to blame people for being poor to score points.

    The only reason to cut a bigger check is to allow parents to be parents. That can’t be a lot.

    Giving people “money” is a mistake in terms of incentives, and it is a mistake in terms of publicity, it is a mistake in terms of involving people in caring for children… and it is a BIG mistake for that 5%. However, providing adequate services and vouchers and support is not a handicap to the 95%

    I have to turn in early. I have to go to Wellington tomorrow. I will have 10 minutes to make my points so I will need my wits about me.

    respectfully
    BJ

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  136. SPC,
    I will address your second point first.
    I do not know of any country which impliments exactly that which BJ proposes, but it is approximated in many, if not most, OECD countries. Universal education and health-care being examples of this. Where a country provides food in schools the approach is further approximated. Publicly funded buses, textbooks, uniforms, etc. would be another, though weaker, example.

    As to the granting of the promised amount; it would seem to be simply because they felt that there was no political benefit to doing so. They don’t exactly need some great moral justification.

    As to trust; only the cognitively impaired trust blindly. One should only trust others to act in their own perceived best interests. The high rates of child abuse in this country and the neglect many children experience would appear to directly counter the concept that parents can be implicitly trusted to do right by their children.

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  137. Hi Sapient,

    I have one comment and one question, which are both about peripheral issues:

    The stories I’ve heard about voting say that people vote their identity, not their self-interest. So if their identity is different from your perception of it, they may not be able to be trusted to act as you would expect.

    I hope that most parent (beneficiary or not) can mostly be trusted to do the right thing as they see it most of the time for their kids. (Yes, you could drive a bus through that assumption.) The ones who can’t, and the times when they can’t, are an expensive and/or damaging problem. So, any idea what the factors are, that influence the proportion of non-trustworthy events?

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  138. JC2,
    Quick post; I have a bus to catch.

    In relation to your comment, the two are not necassarily mutually exclusive; in fact they are often the same. The emphasis is on ‘perceived’. People will tend to grant greater credance to those similar to themselves, it is basic in-group/out-group psychology. Because of this, adaptive, tendency to see those similar to ones self as more trustworthy, people will tend to vote for individuals similar to themselves as they perceive those individuals as more likely to pursue ends which will be in the individual’s self interest. Its perfectly rational; if i am a big fat corporate white guy then another big fat corporate white guy is likely to share more interests with me, and thus pursue more similar interests legislativly, than a skinny impoverished *pick an economically disadvantaged ethnicity*.

    I am by nature an optimistic person, but being optimistic is not a good thing when it comes to legislation; we can not afford that, we must be as pessimistic as possible and cover our arse as much as possible. Being optimistic may result in the death or suffering of hundreds of children, being pessimistic means that the parents have slightly less choice as to where they can use the resources given them by state. Its a large benefit at very little cost and is even more so when you take account of the economies of scale and the secondary effects.
    As to the factors, I can think of a few. Psychological dysfunction in attributing blame, remarkibly common, would have a negative effect. As would aggression and egoism. Stress management is a biggy. The child being unwanted seems to be the biggest factor and has shown up time and time again as such. JH has posted many studies which show this trend. Unfortunatly all of these, with the possible exception of egoism among the upper classes, tend to be greatest in the impoverished, and for the most part eather result from that impoverishment or are the cause of that impoverishment. And it is those individuals whom tend to migrate on to the benefits; thus we get a rather high concentration in this particular subset.

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