NZ Green Party
More from inside the WWG welfare forum

Catherine Delahunty blogged last week about how she, Metiria, and a staff member were excluded from the welfare forum organised by the Welfare Working Group (WWG).  Strangely, given their exclusion, the forum organisers allowed former Green MP Sue Bradford to attend and even to make a presentation (PDF) – although it does not appear on the forum’s website.

I guess, given that Sue is no longer an MP, the forum organisers couldn’t find an excuse to keep her out. Sue has sent me a few reflections on the forum to share:

I attended the WWG Forum last week with some trepidation, especially when I found out that three Green Party people had been turned away at the last minute.

I did not want to be seen as mandating a process which unilaterally excluded people on political grounds, or in which participation implied support for the Government’s agenda.

However, I did go, and mercifully discovered many friends and allies in the room. If ever there was a time when we need to work together to expose and oppose what the Government has in store for us, the time is now.

I am not going to attempt a full summary of the content of the conference, as there have been a number of media reports.  Some of the presentations are also available on the forum website.  I would like, however, to share a little of the flavour to the forum.

The facilitator was TV presenter Carol Hirschfeld, who started proceedings with “The working welfare group (sic) will reflect some of the opinions represented here…” and continued her rather apposite misnaming of the sponsor throughout the next two days.

WWG Chair Paula Rebstock was first up, saying “the current welfare system is not responding to current realities,” bemoaning the low rate of employment among NZ’s sole parents, and the $7½ billion currently spent on benefits.

I sensed a new manufactured crisis coming on.

Minister Paula Bennett came next.  “This debate could get uncomfortable…it could get emotional…we may even see an ugly side of New Zealand…but we will also see compassion and understanding.” I wonder to whom she refers.

She asked, “Who should get welfare, and for how long?  How do we pay for it? …a great deal of thought has gone into assembling this group of people….this is about changing the society we live in.”

At which point I began to get really worried.  The Minister’s comments were very brief – she made it clear that this wasn’t a time for her to give her ideas about welfare reform, but rather a time for her to listen.  Moments later, she left, never to return.

Later on, the Hon David Caygill gave us a blast about the virtues of fully funding welfare liability in the same way as ACC is supposed to do.

However, I found the most frightening speaker of all to be Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi from the Kohanga Reo National Trust Board.  Among other things, she said, “The benefit system is unjustified in many instances,” and that what is needed is an “internal fixit strategy…gaining access to whanau homes is the key.”

The vision that this represents is one that I imagine sends shudders up the spines of many Maori who know they and their whanau are not actually to blame for unemployment and poverty, but rather the economic system in which they live is, and who don’t want even greater interference in their personal lives from either the State or its iwi or pantribal representatives.

Through the course of the conference we had a number of presentations from international and academic experts, the most useful comment perhaps coming from Monika Queisser from the OECD who commented on our very high child poverty rates, and said that ‘lessons could also be learned from the universality, simplicity and effectiveness of NZ Super.”  She talked about a universal child benefit, but also made it clear that she felt it was important that sole parents work.

Despite excellent contributions from Kay Brereton (PDF) and Darren Kemp from the Wellington Peoples’ Centre, and Professor Innes Asher (PDF) from the Child Poverty Action Group, the majority of inputs to the conference, at least that I heard, were from people pushing the following themes:

  • Our welfare system is in crisis and unaffordable, particularly with the high number of people on the DPB, Invalids and Sickness benefits.
  • We should be looking at what countries like Australia and the UK are doing in treating most beneficiaries the same as people on the unemployment benefit.
  • An ACC-type, social or employment insurance model for welfare should be seriously considered.

The one good thing the WWG process has done is to open up the debate on welfare, and create an opportunity to start to educate and organise in ways we may not have done for some time.  The Government would like to get away with the biggest changes to our social security system since the 1930s – whether they succeed or not may depend on all of us who have a different and far more compassionate vision for the future of welfare in this country.

Thanks for that, Sue.  Looks like it is Game On!

73 thoughts on “More from inside the WWG welfare forum

  1. who was the third? I mean my view on her post was that the organisers were right to keep MPs away but if they deliberately chose to not allow a mere staffer…that ain’t too chipper! and letting you in but not them… :evil:

    This welfare issue is one that I think will constantly be with us in one way or another, NZ prides itself on the 8 hour 1/4 acre semi myth that now very few NZers will have open to them… we may need to change that…or open up more jobs….I don’t know , I’ll leave that up to the guys who deal with this

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  2. Yep, stephensmikm, the third was a staffer from the Green Parliamentary Research Unit.

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  3. Well that just isn’t on at all…I think it’s quite right to complain with this now actually

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  4. “The vision that this represents is one that I imagine sends shudders up the spines of many Maori who know they and their whanau are not actually to blame for unemployment and poverty, but rather the economic system in which they live is, .”
    ….
    What alternative (or improved) economic system does Sue have in mind?
    ____

    “and who don’t want even greater interference in their personal lives from either the State or its iwi or pantribal representatives.”
    -
    in the Kahui case Sue Bradford said “they don’t see part of the good side of life” (the whanau took in a cool $1800/ wk).
    Peter Sharples said “it was the sort of place where they (the dead twins) could have had a beer crate dropped on them”
    .
    but such is the wisdom of the Green Party??

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  5. Can’t exclude MP’s from anything – they outrank almost all Public Servants, – call those lazy indolent coppers to enforce your rights!

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  6. If we look at the facts, I don’t think the major issue is with the core benefits (Super, Domestic Purposes Benefit, Invalids Benefit, Sickness Benefit and Unemployment Benefit) – it is with all the other things that have been tacked on over the years; all the income supplements and so on. As I understand it, $14 billion is expected to be spent on the core benefits over the next year ($9 billion on Super, $5 billion on everything else); however, the total social welfare bill comes to $21 billion. Add to that the $3 billion spent on Tax Credits for things such as Working for Families, and we see that we are spending about $10 billion per annum on tax credits and income supplementing benefits.

    Should we not start looking at what we can do with all these other items instead to ensure that people don’t need them?

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  7. THIS IS A RECESSION and therefore it should be expected that the welfare bill to rise but those beneficiaries can’t be blamed for that; no the recession is clearly the fault of the banking/speculator sector of society who don’t actually produce anything!!!!

    I am curious to know how much corporate welfare has accumulated over the past two years and put that alongside the public welfare and see how that compares.

    MP’s are our representatives right? Then why can’t the likes of Catherine Delahunty attend the Welfare Working Group? As I said on the last post (Caths)the WWG is a total farce it is just one of many instruments to justify the cutting of social services in order to keep Keys promise to his mates (investor/preditors) to cut their tax!!!!

    That’s the bottom line!!!! The minister of Social Welfare is dead scared that the above facts could be too widely known. Hence keeping Delahunty well away from the WWG conference!!!!

    In 1999 this was typical policy of the Shipley government and that put the coffin nails to NAT/ACT for the next nine years.

    Doug Myers is open in his view that he (and other corporate and Round Table elite)does not want to pay for welfare and now they have their boys and girls in parliament in to do their bidding.

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  8. I’m not surprised they kept Green MPs out.

    When you have a group that tends to bash and criticise rather than offer constructive solutions (Ex MP Sue’s comments abvove are a good example) it’s going to have a negative rather than a positive effect.

    Particualrly if you are trying to solve a serious problem that in their minds doesn’t even exist.

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  9. @photonz1

    The Greens have lots of constructive solutions. Some more have recently been released in the Mind the Gap package.

    They are solutions that come from the analysis that the “serious problem” you refer to is one created by political and economic decisions of those with power – not because people have got lazy, which is the simplistic and victimising perspective that Paula Bennett and you seem to be coming from.

    There was a slogan “Blame the system – not the victim” used by the unemployed and beneficiaries movement in the 1980 and 1990s. It is just as relevant today.

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  10. Human systems always float in vortexes of error Toad….this is, imo a lack of proper leadership

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  11. toad says “They are solutions that come from the analysis that the “serious problem” you refer to is one created by political and economic decisions of those with power..”

    Ah – the “blame everyone else except the bad parents” solution.

    You give a good example which exactly proves my point.

    Head in the sand solutions aimed at political point scoring that totally avoid the issue – dysfunctional families acting dysfunctionally.

    The “blame everyone else” attitude is part of the PROBLEM – not part of the solution.

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  12. photonz1, have you ever taken the time to consider what makes the “bad” parents bad. Surely you don’t think they are or “born bad”? [Channeling the "bad" Peter Saunders' view that there is a link between “low average intelligence and low class position”].

    So what are the factors that make the bad parents bad? Poverty has to be at the top of the list, and the ideas of time limited benefits and insurance models for welfare that Bennett and the WWG are throwing around will, if implemented, just make poor families poorer.

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  13. Toad; You may not always have to defend that which is totally correct!

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  14. The trouble with welfare….apart from the use of threats and force against people to become their bothers keeper with no say over how that brother should behave in return,is that it creates the very thing it supposedly is there to reduce and one would think,try and eliminate…that is permanently dependant people.

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  15. “So what are the factors that make the bad parents bad? Poverty has to be at the top of the list, and the ideas of time limited benefits and insurance models for welfare that Bennett and the WWG are throwing around will, if implemented, just make poor families poorer.”

    Toad, how does poverty make parents take drugs, smoke cigarettes and get blotted on booze? If there wasn’t so much money spent by bad parents on these things, then maybe there would be clothes for the children and food on the table.

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  16. If I was stuck in a poverty trap I think i would take the option of forgetting my troubles by staying boozed also. I have taught in a school where some students see joining gangs or having children on the DPB as the only options as all others have been closed off to them. If some of the 9 billion spent on super, for those who do not need it, was diverted to help and tutoring for these kids early in the school system, they would have a chance to be contributing members of society. I got very frustrated with the fact that I needed hours with each child, by the time they got to high school, to help broaden their horizons and aspirations, when effectively all I could give them was 2 minutes shared amongst 30 kids in an hour lesson. I’ve also been on a sickness benefit short term. We started off with clothes, a house mostly paid for and various possessions which long term beneficiaries do not have. It was still impossible to live on. It has taken a long time to get back to where we were before.

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  17. ” permanently dependant people” …………… Are you talking about pensions/superanuation james ?????

    You also dont seem to know that people on the unemployment benefit or solo parents have quite a few rules and stipulations about how they ‘should behave’

    What seems to be happening in NZ and especially under the Nats is that workers who are in the middle, lower-middle and lower incomes are all worse off and penalised. Money has been taken from education and health and redirected towards ……………… the rich.

    Income Tax cuts under national vastly favor ……….. the rich.

    All the other taxes ( gst,acc etc ) and other charges brought in by the govt combined with reductions in spending on education and health ………… hit and hurt average New Zealanders and the poor.

    Then what natianal politicians cynicaly do is blame the unemployed and people on benefits for the hardships which many working New Zealanders face.

    Its divide and rule stuff and it diverts pople away from the fact that the vast majority of us are getting screwed so that the Nats can carve up the country and dosh out the loot to their rich supporters.

    Money has been taken from the poor to give to the rich.

    And John key sais we should not be jealous.

    Instead we should blame our problems on those the Nats hold up as scapegoats.

    Its the ugly reality of Boot camp thinking .

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  18. @john-ston 10:40 AM

    A structural equation model of the effect of poverty and unemployment on alcohol abuse.

    Khan S, Murray RP, Barnes GE.

    Department of Psychology, Tougaloo College, MS 39174, USA. shaila.khan@tougaloo.edu

    Abstract

    The short- and long-term effects of poverty and unemployment on alcohol abuse are investigated using structural equation modelling (SEM) to better understand the observed conflicting relationships among them. We studied 795 community residents who provided complete data in both 1989 and 1991 in the Winnipeg Health and Drinking Survey (WHDS), with equal representation of males and females. Results indicate that (a) increased poverty causes increased alcohol use and alcohol problems, and (b) recent unemployment decreases alcohol use while longer unemployment increases it. It is concluded that the effect of unemployment on alcohol abuse changes direction with time and, thus, both cross-sectional and longitudinal data are required to assess any meaningful relationship between them.

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  19. toad – your abstract states “Results indicate that (a) increased poverty causes increased alcohol use and alcohol problems,”

    It’s also obvious that increased alcohol use causes increased poverty.

    Your abstract states “(b) recent unemployment decreases alcohol use while longer unemployment increases it.

    It’s also obvious that increased alcohol use in longer term unemployed decreases job chances.

    There’s two sides to every story.

    Interesting that your study concludes that more info is needed to have any meaningful conclusions between alcohol and unemployment.

    It sounds like you’ve already come to your conclusion though.

    One of the major problems in NZ is the “it’s everyone elses fault” attittude (that you are perpetuating).

    Without a certain level of taking responsibility for ones self and family, little that any social services will do will make any difference at all – it’s all just pouring resources down a black hole.

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  20. Having worked with parents from all levels of society over the past 30-40 years I can confidently say that so-called ‘bad’ parents exist across the board – the effects are simply revealed in different ways. It always amuses me that somehow the ones at the bottom of the heap are supposed to be more sensible, moral, thrifty and hard-working than the ones at the top. Many of us believe that they are where they are simply because they are ‘bad’ people making bad choices. Well, of course, they are making bad choices – but since when has that been confined to those at the bottom. I’ve made a helluva lot of bad choices in my life, and naturally they’ve affected those around me, including my children. But I don’t think I’m a bad person or a bad parent.

    I agree with Toad. How willing are the critics on this post willing to deeply examine how “bad” parents get to be that way? The simplest answer is that they learn to be that way. All of us learn from what we are exposed to from day one. Our brains are literally wired by the experiences we encounter. We learn our customs, mores, values, beliefs, etc. most from those who intimately surround us. Please tell me how someone from the family of a third generation mill-worker in Murupara is going to learn the same norms and values (including about parenting)as someone from the family of a university professor living in Remuera.(And I’m not suggesting that the mill-worker is necessarily going to be a worse parent than the university professor. It could be the opposite.)

    Stop casting old sweeping judgements about human beings and think about the issues!

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  21. et al. once a minister talks about ‘the underclass’ in the house – there is a problem, most immediate – i’m with the Toad

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  22. toad asks “So what are the factors that make the bad parents bad?”

    Meanness
    Selfishness
    Not Caring for Others
    Giving their children the lowest priority
    Having children they don’t want
    Spending too much on things that are non-essential
    Lack of ambition
    Laziness
    Violence
    Abusiveness
    Criminality

    Of course as others have said, all these characteristics can apply to people across the spectrum, but if you do have these characteristics, there is a good chance that your personality and choices have put you on the bottom of the pile.

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  23. toad – I can’t see anything in the green package that does anything to help families make better decisions – all it is is eight ways to throw more money at beneficiaries.

    When you have two families on the same benefit – one getting by and the other completely disfunctional – then better decision making is clearly the thing that will make the biggest change.

    If a family is already making bad decisions, more money won’t do much – more money for drugs and alcohol may even make things worse.

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  24. Again – We have it both right and wrong at the same time.

    We as a society have GOT to support the children of all parents, good-bad-indifferent-drugged-sick-immigrant-native-pakeha…. ALL of them. We have to give every one of them as even a chance to become what they can become and as good as they can be. That would replace WFF per-child related tax breaks and per-child related monetary benefits both.

    At the same time we have got to make the practice of having children to increase the family income a non-starter.

    That means supporting children through schools, pre-schools, after-schools, religious organization, social organizations and pretty much every other way EXCEPT direct monetary outlays to the parents. We’d have to put a lot of effort and money into this, as it is the “hard” way to do it.

    Handing out money is easy. Nobody argues about what is being taught to the kids. Nobody gets stroppy about parental rights to raise kids the way THEY want to raise them. This IS harder to do.

    Has to be done this way though, because the EASY way gives generation after generation of negative results for some families.

    respectfully
    BJ

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  25. @photonz by only listing attributes of individuals you demonstrate a failure of imagination

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  26. @photonz1 11:33 AM

    An interesting list of attibutes, photonz1. But they are attributes, not causative factors. My question was directed to what causes people to be bad parents.

    As an aside, several of the attributes you mention (meanness, selfishness, not caring for others, giving their children the lowest priority, spending too much on things that are non-essential, violence, abusiveness, even criminality) are also seen among very successful businesspeople, not just beneficiaries.

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  27. rimu – sounds like you have the “blame everyone else” syndrome?

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  28. toad – you seem desperate to shift the blame from people simply being bad parents – to some sort of cause.

    It just more of “blame someone else” syndrome again.

    If poverty is the “cause” for this behaviour, how do you explain it in rich people?

    As I’ve said already, these negative characteristics are found across the spectrum, though often they will be the reason a person is at the bottom of the pile.

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  29. The Chippie Nails it again – are we gonna love our kids?
    Support Motherhood?: nah….
    Name blame shame games are never productive
    The only rubbish one can deal with
    is the baggage one owns
    ….smells like

    no Flies?

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  30. ” permanently dependant people” …………… Are you talking about pensions/superanuation james ?????

    You also dont seem to know that people on the unemployment benefit or solo parents have quite a few rules and stipulations about how they ’should behave’”

    I know that quite well…..I had almosta year on the dole when I was around 23…….17 odd years ago.And It was the closest Ive ever been to being addicted to something that was destroying me.Under the table jobs,fibbing to Winz,laying about watching vidoes and eating crap….I did it all so I know something about it.Now I work in a branch of law enfortcement and can see the results from the otherside…..State welfare with no corresponding responsibility or incentive to uplift onesself from it is a monstorous evil and those supporting it should be ashamed.

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  31. @james 1:43 PM

    I had almosta year on the dole when I was around 23…….17 odd years ago

    Ah, right at the height of the Douglas/Caygill/Richardson induced ’90s recession and when the Shipley benefit cuts were making their heaviest impact.

    And now you seem to support Paula Bennett’s desire to “finish the job” Shipley started by screwing beneficiaries even more than you were screwed in that era. Curious?

    I note that you work in law enforcement – perhaps that colours your opinion. The beneficiaries you will see in law enforcement are not a typical cross-section. I suspect you never see the many people who have a few weeks or months on the dole or three or four years on the DPB, having no interaction with law enforcement, and then get on with their lives largely independent of state support. They are the vast majority.

    If benefits are time limited, or reduce over time, how do expect people affected by that will survive. If overseas experience is anything to go by, I suspect it will be by activities that find them running foul of law enforcement agencies. I guess that will make you feel secure in your job, but it will make the families affected even more vulnerable than they are today.

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  32. Philip,

    People start from different points and make different choices. The choices that are made determine where they end up. Those choices are dictated by their previous learning which, as you say, tends to be influenced by their starting point. This is essentially a truism.

    Another truism is that everyone whom is on a benefit is on there as a result of their previous choices. With the IB these choices tend to be of a different nature but are choices none-the-less. With the UB and DPB it is very much their choices; they are there exactly because they have made bad choices. If people start from a higher point then they need to make more bad choices, but it is as a result of bad choices none-the-less. People are on these because they have made bad choices which have left them unable to find employment or to support their offspring.

    One can argue that people are the product of their environments, and this is true to the extreme. Humans do not have free will, we are naught but a reactive mass. But we must realise that how we treat others is a part of that environment and ultimately influences others. That is to say, there is a point in keeping benefits at subsistence level only as having them any higher, and allowing it to be a lifestyle choice, decreases the negative punishments and increases the positive punishers associated with those choices and ultimately makes that state more desirable and deemphasizes the need to strive or even try. Behaviours which are then modeled to offspring.

    What you will find is that I, and BJ, propose that what is needed is provided but provided to the child directly where possible. The point of this being that through doing so we can raise the starting point and allow a more equal start while simultaneously providing more desirable behavioural shaping and modeling.

    We should be providing all we can to children through the direct means without the need for parental mediation, we should keep choice benefits such as UB and DPB at subsistence level only, and we should be a bit more generous to those whom are not able to work because of serious injuries (though there should be training incentives, of course). Ultimately we have limited funds and this is the most effective way of spending them, by doing so in this way we maximise return, discourage undesirable behaviours, and encourage desirable behaviours; we simultaneously decrease the incidence of bad choices and increase the starting point buffer.

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  33. I’m with BJ on this – it should be about supporting children and creating a society in which everyone is valued and has something to contribute. There is no one magic answer to this – abusive parents are not going to suddenly become wonderful because they get plenty of money. They are not going to change into great parents if the money is removed either. Forcing single parents to look for work when there is very little available, while withholding educational opportunities from them doesn’t make a lot of sense either.
    I do think we need to make a lot more use of people’s skills and expertise in parenting, starting at high school. We need to value such skills much more than we do. Good parenting often goes with good budgeting too – more learnable skills. I went to a positive parenting course at night class years ago, run by a couple of very ordinary women – and it was great for all of us. Other courses that used to run were in such things as budgeting, cooking, gardening – but these are no longer run as night classes. Too frivolous apparently, cost money.
    How can we expect people to become good parents and citizens with no role models in their lives, no way of learning how and no expectation of them?
    Education cuts really will hurt all of us in the long run – in the short term, children are being hurt by benefit cuts.

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  34. @Sapient

    Another truism is that everyone whom is on a benefit is on there as a result of their previous choices. With the IB these choices tend to be of a different nature but are choices none-the-less. With the UB and DPB it is very much their choices; they are there exactly because they have made bad choices.

    What a load of crap!

    How is it someone’s choice to be born with spina bifida or to develop schizophrenia? How is it someone’s choice to be made redundant by his or her employer? How is it someone’s choice when his/her (usually her, which doesn’t say much for this country’s men) partner leaves them with three kids under 5 and refuses or is unable to pay for the care of the kids?

    And the one I experienced when I found myself having to apply for a benefit to care for a child (not even my child, because the biological father had long since done a runner) – how is it someone’s choice that their partner gets cancer and dies?

    @Janine 4:49 PM – Agree completely. The ACE cuts will make the problem of inadequate parenting skills worse. Such hopelessly shortsighted policy – it seems Nats can never think beyond the next election.

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  35. Ah, right at the height of the Douglas/Caygill/Richardson induced ’90s recession and when the Shipley benefit cuts were making their heaviest impact.”

    That had nothing to do with it.I actually got the year wrong.Looking back through my records it was 1997 to 1999.My previous boss at the time lost his contract to provide security on the sets of Zena and Hercules and so I was jobless.I bumbed around on the dole for a year until someone at Winz made me go down for a job interview which I passed and I was back as a productive member of society.I was also quite a Labour shrill who would ring talkback and debate with Leighton Smith when he bagged Labour.But then I heard Lindsay Perigo’s show,read a lot and thought about things and turned 180 into a Libertarian.

    So yes….I am firmly in favour of tough love for those on long term benefits….its the kindest and best thing that can be done for them.

    I know.

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  36. @James 5:53 PM

    The personal experience you have related would support a “tough love” policy for those on short-term benefits, as you were.

    I support that. That is why I oppose the parts of the Future Focus Bill that will require unemployment beneficiaries to undergo a comprehensive work assessment after one year on benefit.

    One year is far too long. The comprehensive work assessment should occur after 3 months. There should be strenuous efforts by Work and Income to get unemployment beneficiaries into full-time employment as quickly as possible.

    But those who are on other benefits for reasons other than that they cannot find a job should not be treated the same way. They have good reasons to be not looking for full-time work, usually not through any fault of their own, and it is our community responsibility to support them through the transition – if any transition is possible, which it may well not be for many people on invalid’s benefit.

    James, now you have outed yourself, can you, as a libertarian, suggest who should pay for the continued existence in society of people who have conditions such as serious spina bifida and schizophrenia that will preclude them from ever having an earning capacity?

    Or should we just let them die (and in the case of the schizophrenic patient, perhaps take a few other people with them when they go)?

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  37. Toad,

    I was hoping you would bite.

    How is it someone’s choice to be born with spina bifida or to develop schizophrenia? How is it someone’s choice to be made redundant by his or her employer? How is it someone’s choice when his/her (usually her, which doesn’t say much for this country’s men) partner leaves them with three kids under 5 and refuses or is unable to pay for the care of the kids?

    I did mention that IB were partially of a different nature and that they should be accommodated, but I will start with those first since you mentioned them first.

    Spina bifida is a very wide ranging disorder and many with it can work fine, those without full functioning can still perform other tasks, but we will go to the most extreme cases where the person can hardly do anything. Their choice is quite simple; they have chosen to live. They have chosen to live in a fracked up state that contributes nothing to society and does naught but drain funds. They live at the expense of others and really should be thankful for even enough to eat. The ethical thing for them to do would be end it so that that money can be better spent on improving the lives of people whom actually will be of some value.

    The development of schizophrenia is an interesting one. It would seem mostly genetic but to have environmental causes. Like spinal bifida most have no say in if they actually get it (though there is increasing evidence as to the environmental variables, such as pot, which can cause it to materialise). In the most extreme cases the individual will be in care and thus not on the benefit, in the more mild cases drugs are normally incredibly effective even if they do leave you as a zombie (for which I have some sympathy). Those that are able to function under drugs are able to work in limited to full capacity. Even those with schizophrenia are able to make decisions that will bring them to a better place. Failing that, they have all, like those with spinal bifida, chosen to live and they do so at the expense of others; if they can truly not cope then, ethically, they should off themselves.

    As to being made redundant: it was that persons choice to not train up or to train up in the area they chose; it was that persons choice to be employed where they were employed; it was that persons choice to not prepare back ups; and it was that persons choice to neglect the state of the market and the business and not pre-empt the move. All of these things are manageable by even someone the army would turn away should they actually take concern. It is their fault, all of it. Failing that, they should feel free to knock themselves off.

    Now for one of my favourites; the abandoned ones. Now, this is an unfortunate situation but stupid to the extreme. People never change. Even amnesia does not substantially change a person. This abandoned person made a choice to get with this individual, arranged marriage or not, and a choice to have these children. This individual made choices that lead them to partner up with someone unfit to be a parent. They chose the wrong person, it is their failure; they could have seen it coming but they didn’t bother. At the least, they did not ensure that there was a easy way to provide left as a contingency should the partner leave. Even were it a case of death rather than abandonment this would still be the case; the individual chose to bare (and this is the case even where abortion is illegal) offspring when they did not have sufficient guaranteed means to raise them to independence. They took a gamble and they lost; tough cookies, its still due to their choices and its still their fault (just like its my fault that I lost the vast majority of my savings to Hanover). I wouldn’t go so far as to suggest knocking themselves off for this one due to the children, and I have repeatedly stated the need for money to cater for the children, but if the parents are so stupid as to not think out these contingencies and rely on others to provide for their stupidity then perhaps the children would find better role models in the pedo priests (yes, that is a deliberate exaggeration).

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  38. (and in the case of the schizophrenic patient, perhaps take a few other people with them when they go)?

    Careful toad, perpetuating negative stereotypes! You had better watch your back, you never know what those crazy people will do, and its the ones who semi blend in that you most have to worry about (probably a few of those around parliament)!

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  39. @ Sapient 6:22 PM

    Don’t take me for a mug, Sapient. I don’t have a qualification in either medicine or psychology, but I have in the past worked in the mental health area, both as an advocate and an administrator.

    So I know what patients with schizophrenia can do if left untreated or if bullied into attempting to work, which is what is likely to happen under the “work first” regime Bennett and her government seem hell-bent on implementing.

    And it ain’t gonna be pretty!

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  40. Toad,

    I will take the fact that you have chosen that part to comment on as a concession.

    I would suggest that you have a sampling bias there. A false generalisation. Many with schitzotypical behaviour are never even diagnosed and its only when a major break occurs, or drugs exacerbate it, with schizophrenia (with some obvious exceptions) that it tends to be brought to the attention of authorities. CBT has been shown to be effective in treating the mild to moderate cases and drugs are very effective in removing the positive symptoms. Negative symptoms are less problematic and are treatable in a manner similar to depression and through training. Most of the problems with the mild to moderate cases relate to the cessation of medication due the perception that its not needed or dissatisfaction with its side effects. The studies vary in results but, of those admitted, there tends to be between a 1/6 to 2/6 making a full recovery with 4/6 showing overall improvement. Most of these could, and do, work given the environmental stress it not too great. Many go on to raise families (unfortunate though that may, ultimately, be). I have my final non-practical coverage of this matter next semester, I will be happy to discuss this in more depth then.

    That aside, the suicide option is there (going into clinical would be a bad idea for me, one thinks).

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  41. @Sapient 7:10 PM

    Sure, it is anecdotal. And sure, there is an obvious sampling bias that I admit to. Much like the sampling bias that coloured James’ comment on this thread @1:43 PM.

    But that doesn’t detract from my comment – just one schizophrenic patient who commits suicide, and even worse, just one who kills innocent people – is an indictment on our health and welfare policy.

    The policy should be directed to minimising patient and related deaths and injuries – not attempting to legitimise them as “collateral damage” because the cost of doing anything else is too great for the public purse.

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  42. jesus sapient ……………. the nazi regime was not pretty but what a brave chap you are to out yourself as one of those who would “dispose” of the useless in society………….. just like the nazis.

    People with a totall lack of empathy and who call for the sick to “off themselves” would seem to be displaying bad psychopathic traits . In other words your rather ‘sick’ yourself ……

    I think its best I just call you subhumane and we all realize you have nothing of value to add to any debate where humanity may be involved …….

    Earlier in this thread photoNz1 put up the traits of bad parents. Reading it I initially thougt it was the common traits of National politicians and voters. I’ve pared it back a bit but I’ve left what motivates and drives ‘right wingers’ if life ………..
    Meanness
    Selfishness
    Not Caring for Others
    Giving children the lowest priority
    Hateing children of the poor
    Spending too much on things that are non-essential ( bribes )
    Lack of ambition ( for our country )
    Laziness ( of policy )
    Violence ( it always increases under the nats as the levels of anger rises with their divide and rule, take from the poor to give to the rich style of governing)
    Abusiveness ( hey Pauline )
    Criminality ( Doug Graham, Brownlee, Heatley, Grosner pissed on the plane etc etc etc )

    It seems bad parents and the natianal party have a lot in common photonz1 ……….

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  43. Small typo but ” if ” should be “in”

    I’ve pared it back a bit but I’ve left what motivates and drives ‘right wingers’ IN life

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  44. Toad,

    Related deaths will happen regardless. Providing money can decrease stress and decrease some such deaths and suicide. This is true, though it is questionable as to if more money to them will do anything (though more spent on therapy likely would). Again, I have said that we should be generous to those on the IB where we can afford such. That is totally aside from the fact (which was the topic of debate here) that they have made a very real choice by choosing not to knock themselves off (and I would point out that anything that could be improved by CBT but is not could, technically, be considered a choice).

    Again, I would consider suicide the ethical option if they can not make a contribution. Encouraging it is somewhat dubious, but it is desirable none-the-less.

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  45. Sure, why not? I don’t get enough of that.

    The world would be a better place, or at least would have more disposable resources, in the absence of such individuals. If it would be with their suicide is somewhat more dubious, but I think a good argument could still be made for it. Certainly, abortion can be argued as a net positive.

    Goodness, if they didn’t exist in the first place we might even not have Judaism or Christianity.

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  46. So, Sapient, you are a eugenicist.

    Gets difficult to debate when you disclose such an extreme position.

    [frog: Good call, Toad. Don't debate it. The thread is about welfare reform, not eugenics. Until Sapient's intervention, it had been a good thread with constructive debate. Sapient: if you seriously want to advocate eugenics, this is not the blog to do it on.]

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  47. Toad,

    My position on eugenics has been discussed several times here. As I recall, a few discussions involved you and you brought up Hawking.

    As to the position being extreme; hardly. Eugenics was widely accepted up until Hitlers bastardization of it and eugenics is still practiced throughout the world in more benign forms. That it is less widely discussed now is due to the likes of yourself.

    Regardless, the thread headed here because you questioned a factual statement I made in a benign and on-topic post and I backed it up.

    There is no right to life and there is no right to bludge off of society. There is no reason to bring in to this world an individual whom can do only that, or even one whom is likely to do that.

    ~

    Frog,

    In the first instance, bullsh*t.

    In the second instance, such a debate is seriously lacking and such a position is advocated by many leading ethicists, including the founder of the animal liberation movement. There should be no topic not up for debate in a political forum, especially one which claims to care about suffering, overpopulation, and the future of humanity. One can not claim to be genuine in such concerns and endorse the suffering inflicted by bringing these individuals into the world and by diverting resources to them and away from other needy.

    My suicide comments may have been in partial jest, but eugenics is certainly not a topic which should be ruled out. Especially considering maladaptive and cruel eugenics advocated by most members on this forum and all representatives of this party.

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  48. Eugene – call it euthanasia – suicide, however well meant – gets bad press.

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  49. NZ Native,

    I do not advocate that style of eugenics and my advocacy of eugenics is far more to promote discussion than to actually introduce even the milder forms I discuss. As to your reaction, it is a brillent example of Godwin’s Law and your lack of sensable argument.

    As to my sanity, it is well established that I lack any. Yet, it would seem, I talk more sense than the vast majority of contributors, yourself included.

    As to the issue of my empathy, while I try to remove it from my decision making, it is ultimately what motivates my actions and drives me. My empathy, I would suggest, trumps that of most, if not all, others here.

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  50. Can ya water the systemic Tangi’s Sap?
    I never know what to say to a mother that suddenly looks 50 years older
    Even if i know the truth.

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  51. I do not know what you mean by watering the systematic tangi’s. I assume, given the rest of the post, that you are talking about meeting and comforting the parents of a suicide?

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  52. Sapient

    Logic can unfortunately, take you to some inhuman places, and people who take religion and philosophy too seriously are dangerous to the society. The lack of ability to apply any values other than the ones in their logically constructed and limited world view, lets them contemplate that which the society as a whole recognizes as totally unacceptable for a society.

    Moreover, as someone who has some close experiences with this I have to agree with Toad. The likelihood of them actually taking their meds continuously is small and their likelihood of recovery is smaller, and a job is completely out of the question.

    (going into clinical would be a bad idea for me, one thinks)

    One agrees ! :-)

    As to being made redundant: it was that persons choice to not train up or to train up in the area they chose; it was that persons choice to be employed where they were employed; it was that persons choice to not prepare back ups

    That’s pure bunkum. I have been made redundant by a company failure. My boss did not give any warning that the company was in trouble, but I found myself on the street anyway. I’m fortunate to have what could reasonably be termed a “strong” resume’ but I was out, and I AM old. The next job took some time to find.

    Not everyone in the company was in that fortunate situation. Moreover, in a recession the number of jobs available is simply reduced, like a demented game of musical chairs, the job market becomes survival of the fittest of the fit. You place blame where there is none to be had. When you finally figure out that it can happen to ANYONE, that “there but for the grace of God go I”, you recognize why it is necessary to provide assistance to everyone.

    People never change. Even amnesia does not substantially change a person.

    ( I will leave out schizophrenia, which develops after a marriage )

    You do realize that while they don’t change they DO lie.

    You also realize that the brain-chemistry changes that are loosely termed “love” are basically a form of insanity. This has a cure ( marriage ), but it is often too late at that point. You cannot reason with someone who has been smitten by this illness. Liberal atheist anti-gun female marries conservative, born-again Christian, gun-loving cop. Marriage duration, 4 years. Everyone knew what would happen but the woman and man involved. Smart lady too, but not for that critical year or so, and so it goes. Mother nature has more ways to persuade us to procreate than you are admitting.

    ________________

    The number of people completely invalided and wholly incapacitated is actually pretty damned small. They are not the problem. They are not I think, ever to be a problem.

    In favor of the following however, in addition to the things I have suggested to date.

    1. Drugs to be decriminalized. For most of the families that are on benefits and abusing them in some way, there is an addiction involved. Making one or both parents into criminals is not about to help, and the price they pay for their recreational pharmaceuticals comes straight out of their children’s mouths.

    This won’t solve gambling problems, but it will take a big bite out of the social ills.

    2. Allow the suicides where that is a rational choice. I know I have just given you a hard time about your willingness to have people kill themselves, but there are circumstances when it may well BE reasonable. This cannot however, be encouraged by any lack of support for the other alternative.

    Sapient, you know better and I think you are basically just winding us up here.

    I can’t see the point of it if you are.

    respectfully
    BJ

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  53. NZ Native – you say that people who vote national are –
    Mean
    Selfish
    Not Caring for Others
    Giving children the lowest priority
    Hateing children of the poor
    Spending too much on things that are non-essential ( bribes )
    Lack of ambition
    Laziness
    Violence
    Abusiveness
    Criminality

    Why do you live here when you attribute appalling characteristics of dysfunctional parents to 45% of the population?

    Perhaps you’d be happier in a nice socialist country with nice socialist polititians – somewhere like Zimbabwe perhaps.

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  54. BJ,

    Contemplation is needed, me thinks; regardless of application.

    I started a more comprehensive response, but I think I will just address it all at once:

    I AM NOT ADVOCATING THE ELIMINATION OF THE BENEFITS.

    What I am stating is essentially a tautology, in so far as humans may be said to be able to make choices. How fair something may be is irrelevant to the fact that the choice is there and was made. The individuals perception of the present state of affairs is, likewise, of little consequence as to if the choice was, itself, good or bad in light of desires and the actual state of reality; invalid reasoning and partial knowledge does not negate choice. That we are discussing any of this is because Toad decided to call me out on a minor fact that we have discussed at length previously and which he has conceded previously.

    –————————————–

    Yes, subsequent to Toads interjection, I have been deliberately provocative; but the arguments themselves do have a fairly solid foundation and are worthy of discussion, in need of discussion, and entertaining, personally.

    Encouraging suicide deliberately, as I mentioned earlier, is dubious at best. It is a point I bring up as an extreme for the sheer purpose of encouraging debate on the matter. A common debating tactic akin to starting above the price one is willing to sell at and with strong psychological backing.

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  55. Actually, the factual of it is that most people who vote National are being fooled. National is working for the good of the top 5% of New Zealanders. It isn’t at all interested in the well-being of the rest. So the other 46% who voted for National are either guilty of wishful thinking or just plumb foolishness.

    :-)

    BJ

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  56. Sapient

    The rest of us aren’t interested in debating eugenics and euthanasia here, we’re interested in solving problems around child welfare.

    That is what we were thinking/talking about.

    The journey off topic was received less well than usual.

    Partly because bringing it up in the context of a discussion about child poverty and general benefits leads people to draw conclusions about your argument that are… quite unhelpful.

    This was REALLY a bad place to do that.

    Now just say you’re sorry so we can forgive you and get on with it. :-)

    BJ

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  57. BJ,

    My original post was both on topic and pertinent. It approached the subject in a calm manner and, I thought, explained the nature of contingencies sufficiently well for the purposes of this thread. Where the discussion has headed is the result of the interchange between Toad and myself. While it is I whom brought up suicide as an illustration, it is Toad, whom has lead the charge off topic. I admit that I was wrong, in this instance, in pointing out the unethical actions of some of those whom claim invalidacy.

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  58. I would point out also that my original post deemphasised the role of choice in the state of many on the IB. By no means was this a deliberate hijack until such point as frog decided to intervene (that is, other than my suicide quip).

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  59. Right… I think :-)

    Just don’t do it again :-)

    (* image of confused policeman wagging his finger at a malefactor who has convinced him against his better judgment *)

    respectfully
    BJ

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  60. toad

    You say you support a comprehensive work assessement after 3 months on the dole, rather than the specified 12 under the Future Focus Bill. Do you know what the “comprehensive” work assessements are?

    PS Are you aware the requirement for 16 and 17 year olds on the dole to take up education and training activities is to end. Is this a sign of the government saving money by reducing training and education spaces?

    • removing the need for activities to be agreed in the activity
    test for 16- and 17-year-olds on independent youth benefit and
    for participation in education and training to be the preferred
    activity:

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  61. James, how will you handle reaching the age of 65 … and living on Super payments ….

    as you say “being on the dole for a year was the closest thing you expereinced to being addicted to something that was destroying me. …laying about watching vidoes and eating crap….I did it all so I know something about it.Now I work in a branch of law enfortcement and can see the results from the otherside…..State welfare with no corresponding responsibility or incentive to uplift onesself from it is a monstorous evil and those supporting it should be ashamed”

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  62. john-ston

    The income supplements include accommodation supplement which is required and also child tax credits – some exclusively for those in work WFF. The AS is the means to relate support to local housing costs and the child tax credits to family size. The WFF tax credits build in an incentive to work (as has done the rising minimum wage (the $9 to $12 an hour increase 2006-2008) and a reward from work.

    The alternative is worse, work providing only a basic standard of living – working parents with children in poverty (which WFF ended) and the only incentive to find work being loss of benefits and an income support/family crisis.

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  63. bjchip

    How do you deliver support to children without giving parents the means to house their children in a home? The per child tax credits are vital to parents affording rent or mortgage payments. Or do you propose simply boosting the accommodation supplement to do the same (and include mortgage payments?).

    You say that “we have got to make the practice of having children to increase the family income a non-starter”. I do not think that is the case. Some women lacking a job might consider going oto the DPB, or having another child to remain on it, but an extra child does not of itself increase her after costs income.

    Those who oppose WFF and those who want to reduce the size of families of the underclass by cutting off access to new child tax credits to those already on welfare, might find your approach appealing. But it would gut programmes to “support children through schools, pre-schools, after-schools, religious organization, social organizations and pretty much every other way EXCEPT direct monetary outlays to the parents” and use the money saved by budget cuts for tax cuts.

    Better to increase targeted funding to realise healthier homes, better educational outcomes in schools and better nutrition in low income families.

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  64. “The income supplements include accommodation supplement which is required”

    SPC, the accommodation supplement has become a subsidy for landlords. I don’t advocate its immediate removal, but as soon as you address the cost of houses problem (through reform of the Resource Management Act and removing Auckland’s MUL), then you should see a decrease in rents. With rents having decreased, you should be able to get rid of the accommodation supplement without significant adverse effect.

    “child tax credits – some exclusively for those in work WFF”

    That should not continue – we should not be subsidising parents who decide to have children, especially those who have large families. Not only is it unsustainable, but it doesn’t address the core problem, that obviously being low wages.

    “The alternative is worse, work providing only a basic standard of living – working parents with children in poverty (which WFF ended) and the only incentive to find work being loss of benefits and an income support/family crisis.”

    SPC, Working for Families might have reduced poverty, but as a programme, it can only increase in size as the years go by – we don’t have an endless pool of cash, and something is eventually going to give. Also, it is a very inefficient programme – you are essentially taxing people and then giving them back their own money, having first fed it through a bureaucrat. It would have been a lot better to have introduced a zero tax threshold up to let us say, $15,000.

    The other problem is that Working for Families discourages people from aiming to get higher wages. If you are being taxed at 30 or 33 cents in the dollar, as well as losing 20 cents in the dollar worth of Working for Families entitlements, then are you really going to want to get higher wages?

    I do believe that we need to reform the welfare system to ensure fairer and more efficient outcomes. This will probably mean an increase in the core benefits as well as a simplification and even elimination of non-core benefits. For every $8 we earn as a country, $1 goes into welfare, and I don’t think that such a large amount being spent on welfare is going to be sustainable in the years to come. I don’t think that such a large amount of spending is what the likes of Seddon and Savage foresaw, or even wanted.

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  65. john-ston, the AS came in with the benefit cuts, it was of a decision to

    1. reduce the universal rate and provide housing cost specific support in mitigation
    2. support a policy of allowing the minimum wage to fall in real terms (not allowing an increase in line with inflation) and making available the AS to working people.

    Given the minimum wage has been restored (not entirely till it’s at $15 an hour) in part what could happen once we reached a $15 an hour minimum wage is a loss of the AS for those in work. But if we did that there would be calls for a higher minimum wage in higher housing cost areas such as Auckland (as occurs in places like London).

    That could only happen for those on benefits if the 1991 benefit rate was restored otherwise there would be poverty.

    I note your qualification about reducing the cost of rent first (unlikely after the loss of the depreciation allowance and the impact of RMA changes would be years away) – but I don’t see this as consistent with your claim that the existence of the AS is a subsidy of landlords. The AS of itself does increase the cost of rent, and this pushes up the cost of housing (for those who buy). The main advantage of removing the AS is that it would make homes more affordable for those who could afford the mortgage, but at the cost of overcrowding for those renting and this would have health costs.

    My prefered change here is to allow landlords to write off investment in insulation and energy efficient heating as repairs and maitenance – that would lower power costs for those renting and this might allow a lower rate AS subsidy.

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  66. SPC

    Cut back direct money or tax rebates that the parents can take in their hot little hands to spend on whatever the parent wishes, and replace it with direct payments to landlords or mortgage supplements that go directly to the bank.

    The difference between my approach and the approach you espouse is that I would expect to raise taxes and put more money and effort into the schools, libraries and other organizations that deliver structured support to the kids, to the extent that for ANY person, having another child is a supportable choice as it costs very little extra, but at the same time it does not provide ready cash.

    I do not think that is the case. Some women lacking a job might consider going onto the DPB, or having another child to remain on it, but an extra child does not of itself increase her after costs income.

    That is only true if she owns her responsibility to care for the child. The truly awful stories that continue to surface, of child after child being neglected while the parent(s) are drinking and buying drugs make that “lifestyle” impossible to support through public funds. It is only a very visible minority but it is IMPOSSIBLE to justify allowing it to continue if there is a way to prevent it, and there is. It is part of the reason National got elected mate, and I can think of few worse outcomes for the country than THAT.

    Better to increase targeted funding to realise healthier homes, better educational outcomes in schools and better nutrition in low income families.

    We are aiming as carefully as we can AND adjusting for windage… but if in the end, the family is dysfunctional there is NO way to get the aid to the child with your methods. That indicates that the approach of giving monetary assistance to parents is the wrong way to deliver assistance to kids.

    Not true of the majority of parents, but that all too visible minority is a powerful reason why people get the impression that all is not well with the system and vote against putting more money on the line to fix it.

    So to make it EQUAL the assistance goes to ALL the kids, All the same, and the difference between a beneficiaries kid and a taxpayer’s kid is smoothed down to nothing. Which means that WFF is made redundant and actually sorting the benefit/taxation effective tax hit properly goes back on the table, as WITHOUT WFF the benefit clawback led to an effective marginal tax of 90 cents on the dollar. The changes cannot be considered in isolation.

    respectfully
    BJ

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  67. john-ston

    Since we introduced Family Benefit and the family home mortgage tax credit decades ago, we have been subsidising family. The child tax credit system itself is essential to supporting people with children who lose their jobs. So this is a core benefit.

    In so far as WFF tax credits are concerned, they are just a form of targeted and income tested (thus not universal) family benefit. They are affordable as they do not increase relative to the size of the economy (in fact reduce if they are not increased in line with inflation).

    The existence of WFF reduces child poverty, preference for the alternative, income tax cuts unrelated to family size, is ideological. You can argue that the concept of WFF (a form of pay tax in and receive tax out insurance scheme to cover the period of time supporting children) is collective provision (to mitigate the risk of being unable to afford both children and housing costs while of child-bearing years), but then so is ACC to cover employer risk of employeee injury for exactly the same reasons. Such schemes are necessary if we are to avoid child poverty or small employer business crisis.

    Ultimately the objection to WFF, is that too many of the larger families are amongst those on lower incomes. This demographic fact occurs the world over: rising incomes do reduce family size. So the answer is to increase wages/after tax incomes for those at the lower income level. Something WFF does and rising minimum wages would do (and which focusing tax cuts at the lower level and not the upper level would assist in).

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  68. There are several ways of focusing “tax cuts” and the CGT and a couple of additional tax brackets we don’t have would help a hell of a lot in making that happen.

    BJ

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