Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"National's war on the poor"

Sue Bradford seems to pop up all over the show wearing different hats. The last one I saw her in was BAIS (Beneficiaries Advocacy and Information Service). Yesterday it was Auckland Action Against Poverty. Never short on hyperbole she describes the reforms that went to select committee yesterday as "shameful", "punitive", "paternalistic", "harassment" and "an important strand in National's war on the poor."

What is she describing?

- The expectation that beneficiary parents to be available for part-time work when their youngest turns five. Most mothers return to work before then.

- Paying young beneficiaries power and rent directly and limiting their benefit cash to an allowance.

- Providing enough childcare to allow young mothers to stay in education.

- Warning beneficiaries if they have another child while on welfare, and their existing child is at school, they will only get one year free from work expectations - the same as for non-beneficiary parents under parental leave.

Bringing beneficiaries into the real world, having the same expectations of them as everybody else, is a great thing. Sue Bradford could be reminded about the 'soft bigotry of low expectations'. That's where she seems to be at.


David said...

The real problem in countering Bradford's horrid and spiteful hyperbole is that it is like playing "whack-a-mole".

She pops up and down and rarely commits to a discussion or debate where her words can be challenged and her rhetoric shot down for the logical nonsense that it is.

If she had any claim to legitimacy, she would appear in forums like this and engage in a meaningful debate.

Sue Bradford said...

Hi Lindsay and David,

Interesting to read Lindsay's feedback this morning re our Auckland Action Against Poverty comments on the latest Social Security Amendment Bill, & David's remarks also.

Rather than necessarily engage in an extensive debate here, just to say that - as I hope Lindsay would realise from times we've shared platforms in the past - I am always happy to debate issues with people from other political backgrounds, I think it is the essence of democracy, and I relish such opportunities.

Just a brief note re our substantive criticism of the Government's welfare changes - we're not about trying to limit peoples' expectations, quite the opposite. Rather, we think that our welfare system in NZ does need a radical overhaul - that the top priority for helping people off the benefit and into work should be through the creation of decent jobs for the unemployed - and that intimidating and harassing beneficiaries who are already struggling and vulnerable does nothing to increase their ability to improve their lives.

But as I say, I realise this is a big debate, more than there is time or space for here - and I am happy to pursue the public discussion, any time, any place - as resources allow.

Anonymous said...

reforms that went to select committee yesterday as "shameful", "punitive", "paternalistic", "harassment" and "an important strand in National's war on the poor."

umm, why are any of these things bad?

All sounds like sensible policy, even if only 1% as "punitive" as it really needs to be!

Peter Pumpkinhead said...

We need to find a way to limit the 'democracy' the Sue speaks of.

The world is crumbling under the evidence that a politicians' job is to gain support for whatever cause will get them the most votes and get them into power.

From there they are free, within that 'democracy' to do whatever the hell they like with our rights, trampling over the true minority, the individual.

We have turned welfare into some industry, an uncaring monolith that thrives off misery, sets groups against one another and breeds failure.

The welfare of our most vulnerable lies with us in communities.

Believe in people.
Believe in communities and individuals ability to support their fellow man.

Leave it to the community. Leave it to employers. Leave it to local charitable organisations.

But in the first instance stop relying on government and its use of force to solve our problems for us.

David said...

Thank you Sue for explaining where you are coming from. If your desired outcomes (i.e. reducing the welfare roll and increasing the numbers in work) are so closely aligned to those espoused by the Minister and , as I understand it, by Lindsay Mitchell; why are you so vehemently opposed to a balanced approach that creates more jobs and rebalances the differential between income from working and income from welfare. The Government has made a priority of increasing economic activity through policy settings and is proposing to impose some expectations on those who are welfare recipients as a logical part of the social contract that beneficiaries enter into by accepting welfare.

Is it that your basic philosophy is that it is Government's role to create jobs and also to reward anyone who chooses not to work with an income at least equal to what they could realistically expect to receive given their ability and education thus elevating unemployment to an enhanced social status in a society that was built on hard work, initiative, enterprise and acceptance of responsibility to provide for one's dependants?

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Hi Sue, Appreciate your feedback. The policy itself doesn't "intimidate and harass". If WINZ staff behave in an intimidating or harassing manner that's another matter. You talk about the "creation of decent jobs for the unemployed." But I don't think you regard people on the DPB as "unemployed". It is primarily the DPB this latest policy tackles. At least in terms of numbers who will be affected.

What worries me is that the language you use about reform actually alarms beneficiaries unecessarily. They fear that WINZ is going start making unachievable demands which will result in loss of benefit, as opposed to implementing reasonable obligations where they can be met.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

BTW if anyone else wants to join in this conversation, play the ball. Sue has always been civil in her dealings with me. I will delete anything unpleasant (though I know most regular readers are interested in ideas over insults.)

Mark Hubbard said...

Just one question for Sue. How can the government create jobs any better than just getting out of people's way (in every sense - out of their lives, out of their businesses (stop taxing and regulating), etc)?

I put it to you a government can't create a single job that creates wealth for all of us. Only the private sector can do that - and importantly, only the private sector can do that while allowing all of us to live free lives. For many of us that last is everything, but your politick has completely taken our lives from us, and handed them to the State.

David said...

So, just like that. Sue pops her head up, spouts some garbage about how we don't redistribute sufficiently then vanishes back. Several attempts to engage have fallen on deaf ears and the hammer hits an empty spot on the whack-a-mole board.
If more proof is needed about Bradfor's lack of commitment to open debate, you don't need to look far.