Unemployment; A right way and the Government way…
As per usual, the National Party conference this year has focused on beneficiaries and social welfare. Listening to these people, who seem utterly oblivious to the harsh realities of New Zealand in a recession, we have the Prime Minister, John Key, saying that the current social welfare system,
“…is not working and needs to change.
When young people go on welfare, by definition, they stay there longer and cost the state more…and rob themselves of a tremendous opportunity.
Every New Zealander can be entitled to that brighter future, no moreso than young people”.
Nowhere does Key or any of his colleagues acknowledge that 160,000 people are currently jobless. The current rate of 6.6% is double that prior to the beginning of the recession in 2008, when it stood at 3.8%.
I wonder – does John Key or any other National MP believe that 80,000 New Zealanders woke up one morning in late 2008 and decided to chuck in their jobs, where they earned $600, $700, $800 or more – to go onto the dole to receive $201.40 (nett, p/w, single person 25+)? Or $335.66 (nett, p/w, married couple)?
I doubt it.
I harbour a suspicion – not backed up by any firm evidence, I admit – that National MPs are not actually thick enough to believe that the vast majority of unemployed New Zealanders prefer to be jobless.
So why target unemployed Kiwis who happen to have had the mis-fortune to have lost their jobs – and are still being made redundant every day?
Simple. Beneficiary bashing – or “welfare reforms” to give it a more palatable, acceptable term – wins votes. There is a part of middle class New Zealand that envisions every single welfare recipient to be a character out of “Once Were Warriors” or a dope-smoking hippy.
This chunk of middle-class New Zealand is harshly punitive in it’s attitude toward poverty, welfare, and solo-mothers (but not solo-fathers). They see the poor; the unemployed; and solo-mothers as being there because of deliberate “bad lifestyle choices”. Holding such prejudiced views is easier than having to think hard and deep about the complex economic and social causes that have created our own under-class in New Zealand. If someone is to blame, for their own mis-fortune, we don’t have to act.
And if there’s one thing that human beings love; it’s simplistic answers to hard questions.
National (and it’s right-wing cousin, ACT) understand this dark streak in our collective psyche and exploit it to the last possible vote.
However, it does nothing to address the very real social and economic problem of unemployment. Bashing beneficiaries is like criticising someone for getting sick – ultimately futile and counter-productive.
To date, this National government has done very little to create jobs; to reduce barriers to education; to train young New Zealanders for life in the 21st Century.
National’s contribution to job creation has been… the cycleway. They have also cut the TIA (Training Incentive Allowance) which, for many, was a ticket off welfare and into paid employment. That happens to be the same TIA that Welfare Minister, Paula Bennett used to get off the DPB.
Nice one, Ms Bennett.
John Key says that the “current system is not working”.
Wrong, Mr Key. The current system is functioning as it should; feeding people who are without incomes.
It is the unemployed who are “not working”.
Where are the jobs, Mr Key; where are the jobs?
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For a better New Zealand…
~ Cleaner rivers
~ No deep-sea oil drilling
~ Less on Roads - more on Rail
~ Minimum wage @ $15 p/hr
~ Marriage equality
~ Strong, effective Unions
~ No secret free-trade deals
~ Breakfast/lunches in our schools
~ Introducing Civics into our school curriculum
~ Cut back on the liquor industry
~ A fairer, progressive tax system
~ Fully funded, free healthcare
~ Ditto for education, including Tertiary
~ Fund Pharmac for Pompe's Disease medication & other 'orphan' drugs
~ No state asset sales!
~ Rebuild public TV broadcasting!
~ Keeping farms in local ownership
~ Reduce poverty, like we reduced the toll for road-fatalities
~ Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!
~ Being nice to each other
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