Wednesday, February 09, 2022

Our welfare system is not functioning well

In the clamour against Labour's proposed unemployment insurance scheme something odd has happened. The detractors are praising the existing welfare system as effective and well-functioning. I've heard business commentator Phil O'Reilly doing this and now Roger Partridge, from the NZ Initiative, in today's NZ Herald, writing:

More importantly, New Zealand's unemployment rate is consistently among the lowest in the OECD, thanks to well-functioning labour markets. And when it comes to long-term unemployment, that is, those who have been unemployed for 12 months or more, New Zealand's record is even better. Over the past two decades, the long-term unemployed made up only 11.9 per cent of total unemployment in New Zealand. This compares with 29.4 per cent for the OECD – and 44 per cent for the EU.

Respectfully I don't know what measure Roger is using but of the 187,992 jobseekers registered at December 2021, 62 percent had been continuously on the benefit for more than a year. Yesterday in parliament National MPs were making a noise about how the percentage is increasing.

Much of the proposed scheme criticism has been about how it will increase the time people spend unemployed because it is too generous. But the fact that the Jobseeker benefit has no time limits is the biggest contributor to long-term dependency.

Partridge continues:

With a well-functioning welfare system and the labour market producing comparatively good outcomes, there appear few good reasons for imposing the costs of an expensive new layer of welfare onto firms and workers.

I'd strongly disagree that our welfare system is well-functioning.

Why are 6 percent of the 18-64 year-olds receiving a jobseeker benefit when so many sectors are crying out for labour? Yesterday the Mayor of Westland District Council was on radio imploring people to go down and fill jobs. Yet there are 1,500 people on a jobseeker benefit in Greymouth and Westport.

It is too easy to get on and stay on welfare in New Zealand. Labour have enhanced that ease by reducing the use of sanctions to impose work obligations. They recently shifted thousands of jobseekers onto the sole parent benefit because they no longer had to look for a job. The policy settings changed. It is now OK to keep adding children to a benefit to avoid work. That is not a "well-functioning" welfare system.

So, while I hold no candle for Robertson's proposed unemployment insurance scheme, I'm not going to argue for the status quo either.




Rick said...

I don't know how long this has been going on, this current form of politics. 15 or 20 Years? That's also when a 'debate' stopped being a debate but instead a point-scoring game taught at our universities. Perception and feelings mattered, not facts or logic.

These guys pushing back against the new Labour 6.0 scam are not speaking truth. They're simply taking the strongest 'debate' argument they can to undermine what they're against. They don't care how they win the debate game to undermine their opponent and, besides, nobody else will remember how either.

Good example in the Parnell Rose Gardens protest at the moment up in Auckland. It was an upper-class white protest up to last year and it was failing. They have now re-branded as a Maori protest with all the right lingo and blessings and brown faces on social media. They saw that it worked at Ihumatao.

We're a polity now that cares more about the result than the process. Same mentality as criminals willing to steal if justified by gaining the loot. It undermines our social fabric and our self-esteem but those things count for little in current era. What matters is winning the 'debate' or starting or stopping your project. Certainly it's not about making sense or being good! It will cost us in the long run before it stops and a decent society returns. Meanwhile, read the news with this in mind. It's also called 'realpolitik.'

Rick said...

Now I know what I'm going to write about today..