Friday, August 29, 2014

MSD employee asks the question on many people's lips

From the NZ Herald:

A public servant is under investigation over allegations that he said beneficiaries were "stupid" for having children.
The man, who works for the Ministry of Social Development, has been suspended amid questions about comments he posted on the Whale Oil blog.
Those comments, posted under a pseudonym, included: "Why is it that people who are *already* poor then decide to have babies and expect that they will be able to make ends meet? "

The man shouldn't have been reading Whale Oil and posting on work time (if he was). Some of his views may be objectionable.

But asking why poor people decide to have babies and expect to cope financially is a question that exercises many people. We know, and probably the commenter also knows, that every year one in five children will be become dependent on welfare directly or shortly after their birth. He may have even read the Ministerial Committee on Poverty report:

There is a significant group of children that spend most of their childhood in a benefit-supported household family and on low incomes for most of their childhood. According to Wilson and Soughton (2011) around 6% of children spend 13 or 14 years in benefit supported households families by the time they are 14 years. Thus, if we translate this
to the current group of children aged 0-14 years, this translates to over 50,000
children (see figure 6). We also see that a further 130,000 children aged 0-14 years are expect ed to have spent more than half of their first 14 years on a benefit (or a further 15% of children), but less than 13 years. These children aged 0-14 years are likely to have the highest risk of material hardship.

This outcome is a direct result of parental decisions.

I wouldn't however call these people "stupid" . Their reasons may be entirely rational. They may be deep-seated and emotional. They may be cynical or just plain irresponsible. But if  the "why" behind the major driver of child poverty isn't properly understood, then responses won't work.


Anonymous said...

The man shouldn't have been reading Whale Oil and posting on work time (if he was).

Whyever not? If listening to Radio Communism and talking about it with fellow leftists at the water-cooler (or the Ministry of Food) is OK - why not reading Whale and posting there in a lunch or tea break?

Whale now has a larger reach than any other media organisation in NZ, include state TV and even state Morning Report.

The real question - especially after the election - is why would you employ a "civil servant" who did not read Whale and was not broadly in line with the political ideas expressed there - and here of course.

Anonymous said...

Their reasons may be entirely rational.

Isn't that your whole point: given NZ's welfare system it is entirely rational to have more kids on the dole, and entirely irrational not to.

There is only one solution to this moral hazard: end welfare. Nothing else will do, because there will always been "need" and "crises" and "special benefits' and charities (kidsCAN etc) to ensure the "children aren't deprived"

Mark Hubbard said...

Yes he was stupid in the manner and tone of his comments, however more people in the public service, and politicians, need to ask this question. The last third of my latest post on race relations, which hasn't updated on the blog rolls for some reason, further asks why the media never asks this question: I've never seen a MSM reporter on the poverty debate query the backstory of those having children in irresponsible circumstances, but until they look hard at causes, there will be an ever growing patched up welfare state feeding the cycle of poverty. And then of course there's the Green Party child poverty policy which can only result in more children subsidised into poverty.