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Archive for 8 February 2013

To intervene or not to intervene, that is the question…

8 February 2013 8 comments

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To intervene, or not to intervene, that is the question:

Whether ’tis nobler in this government’s mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous recessionary fortune,

Or to take arms against a global sea of economic troubles,

And by opposing end them? To be hands on, and interventionist…

(With apologies to The Bard…)

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Farmers get it…

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'Well-deserved' $80m for irrigation

Full story

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Rich families get it…

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Richlisters up for Govt bailout

Full story

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Kids from rich families  get it…

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$43 million should be saved from private school subsidy

Full story

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Insurance companies get it…

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Government announces $500m bailout for insurer AMI

Full story

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Even cute, furry-footed Hobbits get it…

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OECD knocks 'Rings' films' multimillion tax subsidies

Full story

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And more for the Precious

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Hobbit tax rebate swells to $67.1m in second year of production

Full story

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Hell, practically everyone can get it…

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business.govt.nz Grants & incentives

Source

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Subsidies for everything and everyone…

But not, it seems, to assist struggling construction companies until the Christchurch re-build kicks in, in earnest, and they can trade their way out of difficulties,

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Mainzeal collapse 'tip of iceberg'

Full story

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In a brutally frank analysis of the industry,  NZ Herald journalist Anne Gibson wrote this piece about other failed construction companies and the effect it was having throughout the country – see: Recession hammered building firms, say chiefs

Greg O’Sullivan, of  Takapuna-based building consultants Prendos, said,

The recession has hammered the industry to the ground.  It becomes a very acrimonious environment. Builders are having to watch every penny to survive.”

Source: IBID

And it was all so unnecessary.

No government could  not have prevented the recessionary effects of the Global Finance Crisis. But a more proactive government could have mitigated the harshest effects of the international recession with careful stimulation of the economy.

And by “stimulation” I do not refer to the wasteful, blunt-instrument-style tax cuts of 2009 and 2010. Those tax cuts added nothing to economic growth and only served to cut government revenue (see: Outlook slashes tax-take by $8b).

Thousands of jobs could have been saved. Thousands more jobs created.

A proactive government, with Ministers able to look ahead, would have immediatly implemented strategies to counter damaging recessionary effects;

  • a dynamic building programme post-2009’s “Job Summit” (and I don’t mean Key’s wretched cycleway idea – see:  Cycleway jobs fall short)
  • increased investment, incentives, and  subsidies for apprenticeships and other training/education for young people and other unemployed New Zealanders
  • reform of tax laws which see inefficient investment in speculative house-buying/selling less attractive, and re-direct investment into productive industry

National should never have allowed our economy to get where it is now.

This is a government that is derelict in it’s duty, and for Steven Joyce and his cronies to carp on about  “overseas investment” is a moronic cargo-cult mentality that simply defies understanding.

If New Zealand businesses leaders and Captains of  Commerce still believe that National is a “prudent manager of the economy” – then going by the last four years and events in the 1990s – I promise you that you will get what you richly deserve if they are re-elected in 2014 (or earlier).

This isn’t governance. This is economic decline by a thousand cuts.

Expect things to get worse.

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Other Blogs

Keys bald-faced lies

Additional

NZ Herald: Collapse ‘gut wrenching’ for roofing business (9 Feb 2013)

NZ Herald: Rise and fall of a very modern businessman (9 Feb 2013)

NZ Herald: Brian Gaynor: Mainzeal collapse needs investigation (9 Feb 2013)

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= fs =

WINZ, waste, and wonky numbers

8 February 2013 41 comments

From previous blogpost,  Bill English: When numbers don’t fit, or just jump around

… Paula Bennett has directed WINZ to make life more difficult for the unemployed, when registering with WINZ. As if losing one’s job wasn’t stressful enough, Bennet has forced the implementation of some draconian rules and requirements for beneficiaries. (The implication being that it’s the fault of  the unemployed for being unemployed?!)

One of the bureacratic bundles of red tape are the number of forms issued to WINZ applicants.

For those readers who have never had the “delight” of dealing with WINZ – these are the forms that are required to be filled out. Note: every single applicant is given these forms (in a little plastic carry-bag).

And if you have to reapply to WINZ for a benefit (if, say, you’ve lost your job again) you are required to fill out these forms all over again.

This is where taxpayer’s money is really going to waste in welfare.

All up, seventythree  pages of information and forms to  read, understand,  fill out, to collect information,

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73 pages of WINZ forms (1)

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73 pages of WINZ forms (2)

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(Blogger’s Note: for a comprehensive view of each page, please go to previous blogpost:  Bill English: When numbers don’t fit, or just jump around)

This system becomes even more laughable when one considers that if an an applicant has been a WINZ “client” (ie, beneficiary) before, they remain on MSD’s computer files. Much of the information sought is already  on-file.

The cost of this must be horrendous, and it is ironic that at a time when National is cutting “back room” support staff to save money, that they are permitting taxpayer funding for this ‘Monty Pythonesque ‘ exercise in out-of-control form-filling. (More on that below.)

No wonder that this was reported in Fairfax media,

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett this morning said latest figures showed 328,043 people were now on benefits, with 57,058 of those on an unemployment benefit.

Reforms passed by Parliament require people on an unemployment benefit to reapply for it after one year. Bennett said this change had led to 5000 people cancelling their benefit.

More than 1400 of those said they had found work, more than 2600 didn’t complete a reapplication and more than 1000 were no longer eligible. ”

See: 5000 beneficiaries quit dole rather than reapply

How many people with minimal education or poor command of the English language could hope to fill out so many forms of such complexity?

By contrast, applying for a bank mortage is vastly simpler – an irony considering the vastly greater sums of money involved.

In fact, an application for an ANZ Mortgage comprises of eight pages (four, double-sided),

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KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

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Eight pages for a mortgage to borrow anywhere from $250,000 to $1 million and upward.

And 72 pages for an unemployment benefit of  $204.96 per week, net, for a single person over 25. (See:  Unemployment Benefit – current)

So how much does all this cost us?

Last year, this blogger emailed the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) with an Official Information Act (OIA) request, asking what the cost of all these pamphlets cost,

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Date: Tue, Wednesday, 14 November 2012 1:38 PM
From: Frank Macskasy
Subject: Information Request
To: Paula Bennett “Paula.bennett@parliament.govt.nz”

Kia Ora Ms Bennett,

I would like to make an official Freedom of Information Request.

Please provide information as to the costings of the following forms and information leaflets produced by MSD/WINZ;

“Work and Income Employment-Earnings Verification” (VO6-mar 2011)

“Work and Income Find a job build a future Tools to help you find work” (JOBSW0007-nov 2010)

“Jobz4u Manual Jobseeker Enrolment” (-)

“Work and Income Unemployment Benefit Application” (M18-JUL 2011)

“Work and Income Unemployment Benefit Application – What to bring” (M18-JUL 2011)

“Work and Income How can we help you” (CM0001 – OCT 2010)

“Work and Income Online Services”  (-)

“Work and Income” plastic carrybag for above items.

Please provide total costings for EACH item printed, on an annual basis for the last four years, and a break-down of costings for usage per year and per WINZ client.

Thank you for your assistance in this matter.

Regards,
-Frank Macskasy
Blogger

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After seeking an extension, on 4 February this year,  the MSD replied with these costings,

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MSD 1 Feb 2013 OIA response (1)

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MSD 1 Feb 2013 OIA response (2)

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Firstly, it’s disappointing to note that of the eight items that I requested costings for, MSD could provide figures for only five. They admitted not have costings for two documents (“Jobz4u Manual Jobseeker Enrolment” and “Work and Income Online Services” ) and made no mention of another (“Work and Income Unemployment Benefit Application – What to bring” ).

However, based on figures provided for other documents, we can certainly make some rough guesses. If MSD’s  figures are correct,  over four years, the cost of printing these 72 pages is around $1 million. Not a hell of a lot, when considering that WINZ benefit’s will be approximate $4.9 billion for just this financial year alone (see:  Budget 2012 – Vote Social Development).

But if a Bank can offer mortgages from $1 to millions of dollars, using an eight page application form – then why would a government department be wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars – millions over decades – for a measely $204.96 (per week, net, for a single person over 25)?

The reason is fairly obvious.

A Bank welcomes a new client in the hope of offering a financial service – eg, a mortgage. Banks view clients as assets.

Under the current government, WINZ is actively discouraging people from signing up for welfare assistance,

Reforms passed by Parliament require people on an unemployment benefit to reapply for it after one year. Bennett said this change had led to 5000 people cancelling their benefit.

More than 1400 of those said they had found work, more than 2600 didn’t complete a reapplication and more than 1000 were no longer eligible. ”

See: 5000 beneficiaries quit dole rather than reapply

Yet, at a time when we have a critical shortage of skilled workers in this country – especially tradespeople for the Christchurch re-build – National views those seeking welfare assistance as a liability.

This is about as short-sighted as a conservative, market-oriented government can get. It shows a lot about the narrow-sightedness of National’s ministers when, like a bank, they don’t see that 170,000 unemployed is an asset waiting to be upskilled; trained and supported into new careers.

Just imagine; 170,000 new builders, computer technicians, doctors, electricians, nurses, quantity-surveyors,  scientists, teachers, vets, etc. Imagine the economic growth this country would have if National viewed an army of 170,000 unemployed as an asset waiting to be tapped – rather than discouraged.

I can imagine it.

National evidently can’t. Not when they prefer to spend millions on 72 pages of bureacratic rubbish, which would put of a lot of people.

I wonder how much business a bank would get if they demanded that new clients fill out 72 pages of forms?

Not much,  I’d wager.

So why does the government do it?

Addendum

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Unemployment rate falls as more give up job hunt

Source

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This is the predictable consequence when a hands-off government does nothing to grow the economy and generate new jobs.

This is the predictable consequence when a government treats unemployed workers as a liability to be discouraged and labelled as ‘bludgers’ – rather than recognising the asset that they really are.

This is the predictable consequence of a National government.

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