Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Social obligations

To be honest I find it difficult to understand why anyone would want to mount an argument against children being enrolled with a doctor, completing WellChild healthcare checks (things like ante-natal weight monitoring and vaccinations), go to kindy and then onto school. This is what a large majority of parents expect to do as part of raising their children responsibly. It's also what what parents on benefits do. But some don't. Some do not even register the birth of their child. This results in  those children described as "falling through the cracks". Paula Bennett has a way of trying to prevent this from happening. Using their benefit to motivate them to do all the right things by their children.

And I don't have a problem with it. Yes, it's state intervention and state compulsion but it is also the state protecting children whose parents are not up to the job.

And in the final analysis if you don't like these social obligations then don't go on a benefit. The rest of society has social obligations; to partners, to employers and to the government, like it or not.

Just did a pre-record on National Radio with Child Poverty Action Group's Janfrie Wakim. She wanted to make it a political fight. I think it's going to play after 8am if they use it.



Update: Interview here

Yes shock, horror I end by calling for the government to be allowed to do what it can to get the estimated 5 percent of children from highly stressed and dysfunctional families enrolled with a doctor, attending kindy and then school. Just remember, I am asking for this within the context of a benefit system which isn't going away any time soon.

27 comments:

Mark Hubbard said...

This is what we who advocate the civilised society, more pertinently, children, are up against. From Twitter last night - editing to get straight to the point (anyone can check my Twitter stream @MarkHubbard33).

Myself:

Is there a case for parental responsibility and accountability anymore? A benefit has to be a contract.

Richard Hills (@RichardHills777)

140 characters doesn't give me space to explain how ignorant, selfish, cruel & stereotypical your comments are.

Myself:

Do you know how offensive it is to call me 'cruel' because I advocate responsible parenting? #Think

And here's the real problem. Richard, who runs a protected account - I've never come across a libertarian protecting their account, but many of the Left do - has the following profile:

26, Kaipatiki Local Board Member & Community Health Worker. Fighting 4 a fair, equal & exciting community & country!!

He's one of the guys running the welfare state. Note all the caring words, fair, equality, rah, rah, all which I write on in my blog. I have no idea how society fixes problems on this scale, because it's in the heads of people, and changing people's minds one by one is never going to do it. They will continue, from 2014 when Bennett's compassionate work will be overturned, to put kids on the scrape-heap of societal made poverty of the mind, and its consequences.

... oh, there followed all the usual stuff about the social contract. Fortunately I wrote a blog post especially to counteract that argument: Rousseau and ‘The Social Contract’ (1762). Clearing the Confusion.

K said...

Well of course it's a good idea.

There are problems with being able to enroll in medical practices (when I moved out to the suburbs it took me two years to find a GP out here who didn't have their roles closed, and I was lucky).

I am concerned that yet again policy has been made to appease the public, but the supports to implement the change aren't there.

There is a CHRONIC GP shortage in this country and I have heard there are issues with enrollments at kindy too.

Luc Hansen said...

Lindsay, this post is a perfect example of extremist 'liberterians' who "just know it ain't so, Joe!"

To dispense with your straw man first, I haven't heard anyone arguing that children should not be enrolled with doctors, completing health checks and sent to kindy and school. Where is your evidence that some do? It's certainly not what Beverly Wakim was advocating!

As regards your interview with Beverly, you questioned her use of the word 'ideology'. Ideology is identifiable by the lack of evidence for its stance.

You (and Bennett) present no evidence in support for Bennett's punitive policies other than that most favoured by right wing extremists, the moral imperative: the easy, self serving differentiation between the deserving and the undeserving poor.

This is where you part company with the Beverly Wakims of this world.

My experience, and the United States provides the most graphic evidence with their ongoing natural experiment with their particular moral imperative applied to welfare provision, has taught me that what Bennett's policies will do is force even more in this unfortunate demographic to withdraw even further from society.

What will you do then. Build more prisons? Put the kids to work as janitors in schools to learn the work ethic?

An alternative is active intervention, counselling, paying mothers to cover the costs involved and above all, ignoring the siren call of what you "just know to be right" (my inference from your words).

Mark, what about a check list for those in our society who have benefited most from the trickle down tax cuts to see what they have done to deserve this largesse? I'm sure your reply will be something along the lines that success should be rewarded with more money and failure punished with transferring what little they have to those more deserving i.e. the highest earning and wealthiest. Yes?

Sheesh, you guys talk about entitlement, just which sectors of our society have the most deeply ingrained sense of entitlement?

Shane Pleasance said...

Luc presents Marks case, perfectly.

Mark Hubbard said...

Have to agree with Shane.

Luc, first, as a libertarian I'm not 'right wing' (which denotes conservative).

You're as mixed up as Richard was regarding 'entitlement': the only thing the private sector feels entitled to is the wealth it has generated (ie, its own property). The only problem with entitlement comes via the welfare state which had trained too large a proportion of the last four generations that they are entitled to the property of others without having to do anything for it.

All Bennett is saying via this policy is that if you live off the state, then there's an implied contract and you must do what the state asks: don't like it, get off the state. Further, Bennett was very clear that she is trying to change behaviour away from welfarism, (false entitlement) - the first Welfare Minister I've heard say that so clearly for a very long time - and that you can only change behaviour when there are actual consequences for delinquency. I'm really starting to respect her.

Having said that, there is one argument against this policy that I can think of, which I heard from a caller to Leighton Smith this morning, vis a vis, the caller did not agree with the 'lefty indoctrination' at her pre-school, thus she would rather have sole influence over the crucial molding of her children in the pre-school period. Given I have a sister who has home-schooled (very well) her two boys right through to the end of High School age, this is one reason I could appreciate. However, and call me cynical, this being a big factor for the sector of society we are talking about here, I don't think it a major for this policy.

But we finally have a welfare minister that understands what the 'father' of the welfare state, Mickey Savage, had intended when he set up a 'safety net', and that welfare that kills self reliance and self responsibility is a bigger societal problem than what it was set up to remedy.

Mark Hubbard said...

Typo: That second paragraph should read 'has trained', not 'had trained' ...

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Luc,

That was Janfrie Wakim. Beverly Wakim is the Ombudsman.

I didn't raise the concept of ideology. She did, after making sure she'd told the audience that "Lindsay Mitchell is an ACT Party member" which I am not. I corrected her. The exchange was cut from the interview. Now, to me the opposition to this set of reforms is ideological because if it had been Labour proposing the same I am sure that Plunket, CPAG, etc would not be protesting in the same way. And they might have. After all Labour used sanctions when work obligations were not met. And they introduced the IWTC now so loathed by the left.

What I hear is people trying to shout down practical attempts to improve child outcomes. Obviously any unintended consequences should be identified and monitored.

bsprout said...

Lindsay, I am a great supporter of ECE and the services provided by GPs (my wife is one), but I do that the Minister has done due diligence in researching her decision. In the case of the Roads of National Significance the cost/benefit analysis was done after the decision was made and I hope this isn't the case in this situation.

You say that any unintended consequences will be identified and monitored but past experience of this government is that decisions are made and there is often a lot of mopping up afterwards. I'm thinking here of the decision to require budgeting advice before receiving financial support and housing new Zealand's new call centre.

I express more of my misgivings in my blog post: http://localbodies-bsprout.blogspot.co.nz/2012/09/polluters-benefit-beneficiaries-bashed.html

Anonymous said...

What is wrong with home-based ECE though? Who is the government to tell parents what to do? No, it's nanny-state Lindsay, it's little more than Big Brother.

Anonymous said...

As an aside, CUE TV have been showing German documentary about the collapse of the Berlin Wall, and East Germany. It would seem most people in NZ never understood, or have forgotten how appalling socialism was and is; and that it just does not work -anywhere. The untold misery perpetuated in India because of socialism preference was staggering. Some improvements now with having dropped it as official policy.
Peter

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Anon, Nothing wrong with home-based ECE. But you imply a sole parent with no form of financial support other than a benefit will continue to require other people to compromise their choices to fund his or hers.

bsprout said...

Lindsay, Paula Bennet was a solo mother and so was Metiria Turei, both were supported by the state to enable them to both look after their children independently and study. Both women have more than paid back the investment as do most.
http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/nz-politics-daily-paula-bennett-super-star-solo-mother-ck-111289

It is more than funding their choices, it is investing in productive futures.

Luc Hansen said...

Lindsay

Thanks for the corrections. But my points still stand.

As for trying to "shout down practical attempts to improve child outcomes", no, I'm opposing "punitive" attempts to improve child outcomes." Especially when the punitive measures are based on intuition. If the evidence said they will work without deleterious effect on the ultimate victims of the policy, innocent children, sure, I can change my mind.

Since you say you are in the field of research, perhaps you could obtain for us such research as there is behind this policy. My opinion is that it's simply a return of the age-old concept of deserving and undeserving poor. Please prove me wrong.

And please don't confuse me with a Labour supporter, thanks. Tweedledum-tweedledee rule in the Shaky Isles!

Consider this, this government is happy to provide tax cuts to the highest income earners to supposedly incentivise them, but can only wield the stick for those at the bottom of the heap. As Janfrie mentioned, we could actually pay these parents (mainly single mothers, as I understand it) to get their kids along to
ECE.

A couple of side issues exist here: one is that we have traditionally only made schooling compulsory from age 6 (7 in Finland, which ranks higher than us), so this is a big policy in that regard; and the second is if ECE is so great, why isn't it compulsory for all? With sanctions, as there are with schooling after age 6?

Mark, I referred to Lindsay's post as liberterian extremism. I don't know if she is or not, or you, but you seem to have outed yourself, anyway.

So, in my experience, Liberterians (self-interested, proto-privileged anarchists?) have to wear a "wing" label that suits their utterances, and in your case you fit nicely into the "right", it seems to me.

Your final sentence in reply to me is a sweeping statement. Any research to back that up? Looks a bit to me like a Niall Ferguson thesis - you know, sure we killed a couple of hundred million of you native Americans and Africans but, hey, we brought you institutions and growth. Be grateful!





Lindsay Mitchell said...

Luc, I am waiting for the cabinet paper relating to this policy to be posted at the MSD site then we will all know what evidence is behind the decision to implement it. It's floating around because Simon Collins referred to it.
Social obligations is not a policy I have ever advocated but I can see sense in it. But as I said to bsprout, it'll need monitoring for unintended consequences, something that doesn't regularly happen in NZ. Perhaps we should adopt the US practice of requiring reauthorisation of legislation after a period. That way a proper appraisal is made as a matter of course.

The social obligations are aimed at protecting a certain group of children. Those that are the most likely to be at risk of poor health and educational outcomes. National should be more overt about that. I generally don't support universal policies or compulsion. There is a case however for treating some people differently. If they don't like that then they need to avoid putting themselves in that situation. We've a heap of people who can't take responsibility for their own lives, let alone their children's.

Re paying people on benefits to get their child to ECE. That just makes the benefit package (DPB, accommodation supplement, family tax credit, existing free childcare etc) more attractive. And I can point you in the direction of a number of studies that link the level of welfare payment with the rate of single parenthood. Here's one:

http://www.econ.upf.edu/~gonzalez/Research_archivos/IZAwp.pdf

Now, even when poor family income levels are the same, children in those whose main source of income is from a benefit have worse outcomes.

http://www.msd.govt.nz/about-msd-and-our-work/publications-resources/journals-and-magazines/social-policy-journal/spj18/children-in-poor-families18-pages118-147.html

Anonymous said...

Lindsay are you allowed to post on Frogblog?

James said...

There ARE deserving and un-deserving poor....and that's why welfare should be private and voluntarily funded so we can pick and choose which get our help and which can get stuffed.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Can I comment on Frogblog? Yes but I go in 'moderation' because I'm not registered apparently.

thor42 said...

Sheesh... do YOU despair, Lindsay (as I do) with all of the whining, moaning, namby-pamby panty-waisted people in this country?

For GOODNESS sake - it has been SPELLED out.

If you receive welfare, you have both rights *and* OBLIGATIONS.

Given that *I*, as a taxpayer, am helping to fund this system, what is so "unfair" about that?

If beneficiaries "don't like it", then **get off the benefit".

It is *that simple*.

Beneficiaries are SUPPOSED to be "adults". It is time that they started *acting* like adults (instead of like spoiled brats).

Oh, how CRUEL it is, expecting beneficiaries to enrol their children at school and at the doctor! /sarcasm

Anonymous said...

I don't give a shit if the bludgers like it or not. Nor do I care about their so-called "obligations" - really just spurious makework to try and convince hardworking middle New Zealanders that welfare is something that's worth keeping.

Well it's clearly not, look at the latest figures, unfunded liabilities into the trillions! It may have been affordable when there were only 30 bludgers inthe countryt, but now there are 300,000 core bludgers and another 2000000 WFfers - not to mention ACC, EQC, and all the rest.

Pissing about with "obligations" will fix nothing.

Simply stopping paying welfare will fix everything.

Anonymous said...

It would seem most people in NZ never understood, or have forgotten how appalling socialism

Walk into any suburb in NZ and look around - walk into any state house, any state school, any WINZ office: what you see is socialism

Dave Christian said...

The state has an implicit contract with beneficiaries and can write that contract any way it likes, given that beneficiaries bring nothing to the negotiating table.

I don’t like the current terms of that contract: Resources will be taken from taxpayers and given to you for nothing in return.

However, if I were to write a list of things which beneficiaries might be required to give in return, surrendering their children to state institutions wouldn’t be top of the list. It wouldn’t be on the list at all.

I think that there are more serious issues than transfer payments (the size and mostly pointlessness of the public sector), but if we really want to address this issue then we should be promoting time limits. Everything else is just political posturing.

Shane Pleasance said...

Taxation is theft.

Anonymous said...

Lindsay, you didn't answer are you allowed to post on Frogblog or do their boys and girls come over to your place?

Anonymous said...

A bit off topic maybe?Landlords in this country directly benefit from Welfare benefits and Accommadation supplements.Both of these government aids keep rents high and therefore house prices high.Landlords are under no obligation to provide a decent standard of housing (Clean,warm,dry and so forth).My daughter has gone to Australia to live because work
pays more and the government takes care of families better.Am I sad?Yes and no.I do not like that my
retirement savings are miniscule due to paying for trips to see my
Grandchildren.However at least they enjoy a nice ,dry house for less
rent than they could ever pay here for some mouldy,dirty dump.What
John Keys should be very concerned
about but is not:That the people leaving New Zealand for Australia
are the ones wanting to work.There
is no help for them over there if
they dont.We will be left with all
the ones who have never
worked,dont want to work or a just
plain unemployable.And of course
the suckers like me who dont want
to leave but stay and pay taxes
for all the rest.

Anonymous said...

A bit off topic maybe?Landlords in this country directly benefit from Welfare benefits and Accommadation supplements.Both of these government aids keep rents high and therefore house prices high.Landlords are under no obligation to provide a decent standard of housing (Clean,warm,dry and so forth).My daughter has gone to Australia to live because work
pays more and the government takes care of families better.Am I sad?Yes and no.I do not like that my
retirement savings are miniscule due to paying for trips to see my
Grandchildren.However at least they enjoy a nice ,dry house for less
rent than they could ever pay here for some mouldy,dirty dump.What
John Keys should be very concerned
about but is not:That the people leaving New Zealand for Australia
are the ones wanting to work.There
is no help for them over there if
they dont.We will be left with all
the ones who have never
worked,dont want to work or a just
plain unemployable.And of course
the suckers like me who dont want
to leave but stay and pay taxes
for all the rest.

Anonymous said...

I do not like the 15 hours. Kindy is 6-12 hours for 3 year olds so Kindy does not qualify. Playcentre (not playgroup, there is a big difference) where parents are taught child development as well as a range of office and management rolls as they run the centre, liaison with CYPS if needed and MoE all skills that cross over into the workforce) does not meet 15 hours, falling short by 10 hours. Kohunga in most areas do not meet 15 hours either. Talking to teachers, they also say that all three of these options are fine and valid.

If it was changed to 3 sessions a week (therefore not cutting out community based ECE centres as this policy favours for profit ECE centres only) then I will be for it. But as it stands I do feel that Kindy, Playcentres or Kohunga are okay choices for anyone (even those receiving help).

That is my concern with this policy.

Anonymous said...

That was supposed to read, falls short as only offers 10 hours.