Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Gordon Campbell - is anyone on the left prepared to deal with realities?

There is opinion, and there is wilful misrepresentation.

Yesterday, Key-the-moderate was engaged in the age-old right wing election year rhetoric of welfare bashing.

More in sorrow than in anger though, of course. The current system was “broken”. It was “unaffordable” And it was “unsustainable ” – unless most of the wilder ideas of the Welfare Working Group are put into action. A Cabinet working team and government departments are now to be tasked with furthering the WWG recommendations.

These welfare alarums are bogus, of course. Only three years ago, this same allegedly broken system had benefit levels down at record lows.

Sickness and invalid benefit levels were at record highs and the DPB levels were not far off flat-lining. Only unemployment benefit levels were "at record lows". Yet the welfare reforms, as recommended by the WWG, barely touch on the unemployment benefit.

The main determinant of beneficiary numbers is a functioning economy where jobs are available – and that’s something for which Key takes no responsibility whatsoever. Instead, the government seems to be hellbent on making beneficiaries keep their side of the social contract – while taking no responsibility as managers of the economy, for failing to keep its side of the bargain.

In that respect, the government’s welfare reform rhetoric is as dishonest as the timeframe that Key chose to introduce the topic at yesterday’s press conference. In 1970, Key twice pointed out, only 2% of the working age population were on benefits, while 13% were on benefits today. Conclusion: the system is making it too easy for people to get on, and stay on benefits. No concession that he is measuring those beneficiary numbers at the employment trough of the worst global recession since the 1930s, and in the wake of one of New Zealand’s worst natural disasters.

The main determinant of beneficiary numbers can not be a "functioning economy". If that was the case, after the economic boom under Labour, there wouldn't have been ten percent of the working age population dependent. There would have been 2 or 3 maybe.

The system is making it to "too easy for people to get on, and stay on benefits" regardless of the state of the economy.

Were things really as wonderful 41 years ago as he was intimating? Back in the 1970 that he carefully chose for comparison, there was no Domestic Purposes Benefit at all. Is Mr Moderate saying that the DPB has been a mistake?

Of course it has been a mistake. Any benefit that has 40 percent of all Maori women aged between 20 and 30 dependent on the state is a drastic error of policy.


Kiwiwit said...

You make the mistake of thinking the debate is one of reason, Lindsay. Of course it is not. Facts and evidence are tools of a rational mind and rationality went out the window the day we introduced the first welfare benefit that was funded from money forcibly obtained from those who earned it. After that, reason has no place in this debate any more than it has a place in negotiating with a mugger.

Anonymous said...

Is anyone on the right prepared to deal with realities?

The reality that if we stopped every single benefit - including super and WFF - we'd still be borrowing billions to make the government accounts balance?

The reality that the only reason our nett debt is so low is because the NZ Dollar is at an all time high?

The reality that the 2025 taskforce plans - back to 2005 spending levels - wouldn't make any real difference whatsoever to our debt now?

The reality that the Welfare Working Group plans - involving massive investment in free childcare, remedial education, and then tertiary education, and expensive aggressive case management - are far more leftist policies than they are "right wing extremism" - and of course we still can't afford them.

The reality that the only solution is to stop flushing taxpayer's money away on any benefits, any super, any health or education - and if we did that we'd still be borrowing hundreds of billions.