Saturday, June 30, 2012

Why 22 percent of children born are on a benefit by the end of the same year

NZ Herald social issues reporter Simon Collins does a great job of seeking out 'real' people. And his statistics have integrity. Here are some characters from today's article about the new rule that will work-test mothers who add a baby to their benefit when that child turns one. If you read the full article and get to the objections bear in mind that the work required could be a little as 15 hours a week so hardly represents a wrenching child-mother separation issue. (I started a business when my first child was 6 months old. Luckily I had the help of my mum when needing to visit prospective customers. My devotion  to my baby - now a very stable and well-adjusted 18 year-old - was no less. There might be exceptional cases but the legislation provides for discretion to waive the rule anyway.)

Tough welfare reforms now going through Parliament may deter some women from seeing the sole parent benefit as a viable lifestyle - but at the risk of long-term harm to their children. Social issues reporter Simon Collins reports

Otara administrator Delaney Papua, who turns 20 next month and is expecting her first baby in November, says going on the benefit seems to be just what you do when you get pregnant.
"All the people that I know that have kids go on it, so I kind of just assumed that you have to be on that," she says.
The babies' fathers often have no role in the families they help create, giving them no anchor in society. Papua doesn't expect her baby's father to support her....

Melanie Hoto, 33, worked in a lunch bar on the North Shore and then at a fish market in Tauranga but eventually ended up on the DPB.
"I came back to Auckland and lost interest [in work]. It was so hard trying to find work. I even applied to work here at McDonald's," she says over a hot chocolate at McDonald's in Glen Innes.
"In the end I fell pregnant with my daughter and I thought, 'I get a good amount of money on the benefit, why bother working?"'
Her partner "was never in the picture".
"It was a one-night stand," she says. "He's in jail now for robbing a shop. He was into drugs - a lot of people are into it, it's easy cash."

Another woman, Renee, became pregnant with a flatmate while on the benefit when her first two children were 8 and 5, and says it "was never a boyfriend/girlfriend thing". She also thinks the new law is "fair".
"If the law had been in place, I just would have been probably more cautious," she says.
At another McDonald's recently, she overheard two young mothers with babies talking about how they were trying to get pregnant again.
"I'm loving this benefit shit," one said. "I'm going to have another baby, I'll keep having them, it's free money."

Friday, June 29, 2012

What $32 million worth of change looks like

MSD are investing $31.65 million to get from here... here.

(P = service providers of which there are 2,300)

I wonder how much went on the pictures? At least they make more sense than the Whanau Ora ones.

And I also wonder how many times MSD has re-organised its structure and operations over the past few decades?

Bill English questions parameters of drug-testing

Bill English apparently mooted drug-testing all beneficiaries - not just those on the new dole - the Jobseekers Support. That predictably brought a variety of responses. But there doesn't seem to be any guiding principle at play.

Not all workers are drug-tested. Why should all jobseekers? If someone fails to get or keep a particular job because they are failing a drug-test then they shouldn't be eligible to taxpayer suppport.

The broad principle should be anyone causing their own ongoing incapacity to work make themselves ineligible for a benefit. And that would include any working age person.

The bigger issue with drug-testing is how widespread will it become and to what purpose?

Imagine this.

Cannabis is fully legalised but use it, and you will never work.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cat seeks camouflage

Thomas Sowell's political glossary

Thomas Sowell's political glossary
"A more positive term that is likely to be heard a lot, during election years especially, is "compassion." But what does it mean concretely? More often than not, in practice it means a willingness to spend the taxpayers' money in ways that will increase the spender's chances of getting reelected. If you are skeptical — or, worse yet, critical — of this practice, then you qualify for a different political label: "mean-spirited." A related political label is "greedy." In the political language of today, people who want to keep what they have earned are said to be "greedy," while those who wish to take their earnings from them and give it to others (who will vote for them in return) show "compassion." "
Hat tip The welfare State We're In

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Painting poser

This doggie was painted posthumously. The unusual thing about him was he had a missing front leg. So I crafted the painting in such a way as to put the attention on his face rather than chest. Looked like a very appealing chap. I see it is unsigned so it might not have been finished when I took this photo. I think he was a bit hairier by the time he left.

British PM: Welfare system eroded culture of responsibility

 The following is an excerpt from a speech about welfare just delivered by British PM David Cameron:

"Now when we look at how we got into this mess, we can go back in time and see a lot of good intentions.
Why does the single mother get the council house straightaway when the hard-working couple have been waiting for years?
Because governments and local councils wanted to make sure children got a decent start in life, so mothers were given priority for council housing.
Why do we have people on big salaries living in council houses?
Because governments wanted social housing to support hard-working people, so the eligibility criteria were set wide and the tenures long.
Why has it become acceptable for many people to choose a life on benefits?
Because governments wanted to give people dignity while they are unemployed – and while this is clearly important, it led us to the wrong places…
…to job seekers being called ‘customers' instead of claimants…
…and to conditionality on benefits being set at the bare minimum.
As well as the good intentions of governments, there was that assumption of trust at the heart of the system…
...that people would naturally do the right thing…
…that they would use the system when they fell on hard times but then work their way out of it.
This may have worked when the welfare state was born, when there was a stronger culture of collective responsibility in this country.
But as I've argued for years, the welfare system has helped to erode that culture."

It's a lengthy speech and it's all there in respect of recognising the problems.

But there remains a sense of avoiding tough answers.

"Back in the 90s the Clinton administration in the US started time-limiting benefits, and they saw federal case-loads fall by over 50 per cent.
Instead of US-style time-limits – which remove entitlements altogether – we could perhaps revise the levels of benefits people receive if they are out of work for literally years on end.
It is extraordinary that there are 1.4 million people in this country who have been out of work for at least nine of the past 10 years.
So softer time-limits – that increase the incentive to work, that stop people getting stuck in that welfare trap – could be something we consider."

The US reforms were the cumulative result of many states experimenting with reform ideas. I've looked at them extensively and consider they are the best implemented. Cameron misrepresents them here by talking about the total removal of entitlements. There are exemptions from time-limits and enormous assistance-in-kind programs. And individual states/counties still have autonomy with their own funds.

Crucial however is telling able people that the state will help them to a point and beyond that they are on their own. Britain and New Zealand are still too afraid to make that call.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Welfare targets are very soft

According to the NZ Herald:  

"The Government wants Work and Income to cut the number of long-term beneficiaries on a working-age benefit by 30 per cent over five years.....Result. Reduce the number of people who have been on a working-age benefit for more than 12 months by 30 per cent by 2017."
Of the 322,951 working-age beneficiaries at March 2012 214,440 had been on a benefit for more than a year. Back to the NZ Herald: 

"That would see the number of people on working age benefits drop from 78,000 to 55,000 by 2017."
Something isn't adding up. That's because the long-term beneficiaries the government has identified are a discrete group. Those who will be transferred to the new Jobseeker Support. Within that category the government is aiming to move 23,000 into work.

That represents 7 percent of the overall current total.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

The tale of two ex MPs

What a contrast ex MPs Rodney Hide and Georgina Bayer make.

I thought i'd be unemployed about now. Happily it's not turned out that way. I have spent the week up to my eyeballs in mud, knocking over a concrete wall. Who'd have guessed?.....When I was a politician I was supposed to pretend sympathy for people without a job. The truth is I never had much. I always figured there's work to be done for anyone prepared to get stuck in. I now know that's true. I got a job pushing a wheelbarrow and swinging a hammer. Why can't the so-called unemployed? We all know why. They're too picky. The jobs don't suit. It's a bit cold. It's a bit wet. It's a bit hard.
Former Labour MP Georgina Beyer says she is broke and living off the unemployment benefit in a one-bedroom granny flat.... Ms Beyer admits she has been told to "lower her sights", but says some jobs are off the agenda. "I do draw the line at being a crew member at McDonald's. I'm a little bit past that sort of thing."
Remind me which one belonged to Labour - the party for the workers?

Will The Greens supplant Labour?

My Friday June 15 column from The Truth is now on-line.

When last in power Labour introduced an incentive to entice parents on welfare into jobs, the In Work Tax Credit (IWTC). 

The Child Poverty Action Group decided this constituted discrimination against children of beneficiaries and took a case to the Human Rights Tribunal. They lost. 

The Tribunal found that while discrimination was occurring, the government was justified in applying it. 

The Labour government stood firmly behind its policy, bringing in overseas experts to argue their corner.


Other columns here