Sunday, September 13, 2009

A surprising invitation

Surprise, surprise, I have been invited to attend this child poverty summit next week.

Surprise because generally, the views of Every Child Counts and mine would clash. But let's see. I'm keeping an open mind.

Every Child Counts, a coalition of non-government agencies that includes Barnardos, Unicef, Plunket and Save the Children, estimates that of the 60,000 children born in New Zealand this year, 10,000 would be born into in poverty.

That'd be right. Around 3,000 to mothers who have no form of support even while pregnant and relying on the sickness benefit.

6,000 to mothers aged 28 or less granted their first DPB before the child was 12 months old.

5,000 babies added to an existing benefit.

But this is normal behaviour. It goes on outside of a recession. There are probably valid reasons for it increasing during a recession. Unemployed men are more dependent on their DPB-incomed partners and more babies equals more income. Job opportunities are fewer for females and motherhood is a viable alternative.

Of course what worries me is the summit will be looking for greater transfer of wealth so the needy have more money in their pockets. Whereas my view is always that the more bad decisions and behaviours are rewarded, the more they happen.

What about a transfer of wealth framed differently? If more of the babies being 'born into poverty' were (openly) adopted out to parents with the means to raise them, the desired wealth-sharing would still be achieved. Be it would be achieved voluntarily and quite possibly, with better outcomes for all parties.

Rather than spending more on benefits why not reward people for not having more babies. Give them a bonus for turning up for their long-acting contraceptive injection. It wouldn't be a difficult scheme to implement.

What about paying some attention to those industries where there is demand, like aged and childcare? Surely there is an opportunity to match some of the DPB population with that demand.

With those sorts of ideas I will probably be a fish out of water, a whale out of water even, but that's OK. There are those who agree with me and someone needs to take their ideas to the table as well.


bez said...

The question will be whether you will actually be allowed to voice your opinion, and whether that will be twisted and spinned in the eventual 'manifesto' or whatever is supposed to be the outcome of this summit, in other words, who guarantees that your views are taken seriously and you are not being treated as some freak sideshow, in a cesspool of handwringers only interested in how the can advance their own and their organization's access to the fount of money that will be thrown at these issues.

Anonymous said...

Go for it. Someone has to say there is a better way.

Dave Tattersfield said...

You have the right sort of approach anyway Lindsay. What a surprise to actually be invited. I'll wait to hear back how you fared and whether you believed you were actually listened to.

baxter said...

You have my support to, I wonder how many Commissioners will be there.

Anonymous said...

First, they recognize you are a force to be reckoned with. So they may try several tactics. One is to first co-opt you. The second would be to try to embarrass you when the first doesn't work.

At best they would claim, later, that they tried to dialogue with you but the failure was entirely your own. See, dialogue in those circles means, come, listen to us, apologize for disagreeing, and change your mind.

Good luck.

Oswald Bastable said...

At least one there won't be howling at the moon!

Anonymous said...


it's just gone on for far far too long. Contraception bonuses, childcare bonuses, etc etc - nothing but tinkering around the edges.

We thought it would be hard to stop all benefits in NZ. But it's not. An order in council would do it. Time to end all this craziness, once and for all!