Drug Testing the Unemployed – National’s Epic Fail at Job Creation
This blogger has three questions for John Key and the National Party,
1. Is is true that Paula Bennett made a correct statement when she admitted on TVNZ’s Q+A, on 29 April 2012,
” No. There’s not a job for everyone that would want one right now, or else we wouldn’t have the unemployment figures that we do. ” – Source
2. If National can claim the Global Financial Crisis as the reason for New Zealand’s low economic growth – why does the same rationale not apply to the unemployed, and if it does, why spend an estimated $14 million on drug testing when joblessness is a result of economic circumstances, and not drug-induced laziness?
3. How is National’s pledge to create 170,000 new jobs – made in November last year – working out? Especially when unemployment recently increased from 6.7% to 6.8%?
A day after National announced it’s intentions to drug-test the unemployed, Solid Energy broke the news that it was planning to make up to 263 of it’s miners, contractors, and other staff, redundandant. Workers from Huntly East Mine and Spring Creek on the West Coast will lose their jobs.
This follows on from other redundancies announced just this year alone,
- ANZ; 1,000 redundancies
- Hakes Marine; 15 redundancies
- Telecom; 400 redundancies
- Brightwater Engineering; 40 redundancies
- Pernod Ricard New Zealand; 13 redundancies
- Depart of Corrections; 130 redundancies
- Summit Wool Spinners; 80 redundancies
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade; 80 redundancies
- Norman Ellison Carpets; 70 redundancies
- IRD; 51 redundancies
- Flotech; 70 redundancies
- NZ Police; 125 redundancies
- CRI Plant and Food; 25 redundancies
- Te Papa; 16 redundancies (?)
- PrimePort Timaru; 50 redundancies (?)
- Kiwirail; 220 redundancies
- Fisher & Paykel; 29 redundancies
- Goulds Fine Foods; 60 redundancies
- Canterbury University; 150 redundancies (over three years)
- Solid Energy; 363 redundancies
- Tiwai Pt aluminium smelter; 100 redundancies
How many of the above redundant workers will Bennett insist be drug-tested?
But more to the point – is this really a problem? Or, as is likely, is this a shameful attempt by National to deflect attention away from rising unemployment; their failure to manage an economy to generate new jobs; and to deflect blame onto the unemployed?
Because any sane, dispassionate analysis of this problem does not indicate that drug taking is the cause of 162,000 people currently out of work.
Especially when in 2007, unemployment stood at 3.4% – or 77,000 people!
What has changed?
As National ministers like John Key, Bill English, Gerry Brownlee, et al like to consistently remind us – when their economic track record is held up for scrutiny – it’s called the “Global Financial Crisis”,
“We did inherit a pretty bad situation with the global financial crisis. ” – John Key
See: View from the Top
“In the midst of a very deep global downturn we expect volatility and low growth, as we are seeing around the world economies.” – Steven Joyce
“However, the government deferred the increase due to the challenging economic circumstances New Zealand was experiencing as it continued to recover from the global financial crisis and the Canterbury earthquakes.” – Gerry Brownlee
“The global economic situation is like a dark cloud on the horizon and it’s not going to go away possibly for a generation – certainly for 15 or 20 years.” – Bill English
It’s abundantly clear that National has no reservation in blaming the Global Financial Crisis for the sad state of our economy. They refer to overseas influences time and time again.
So why does the same economic situation not apply to other economic indicators – like unemployment?
Why try to smear unemployed – who up until recently were in full-time, paid, employment – and brand them as drug-taking, lazy, “bludgers”?
Why did Bennett make this statement,
“Recreational drug use is simply not an acceptable excuse for avoiding available work. Thousands of working New Zealanders are in jobs requiring they be clean of drugs; it’s reasonable to expect someone looking for work to do the same.”
Bennett is implying that someone looking for work must be on drugs? Why?
The answer, I submit to the reader, is that National is playing to it’s audience of middle class, low-information voters; right wing extremists; and the plain crazy nutjobs. These are the target demographics for the Nats.
Because any sane person will look at the above list of redundancies from the likes of Brightwater Engineering, Telecom, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, etc, – and wonder – WTF?! Why is National spending $14 million of my tax dollars on drug-testing redundant engineers, telecommunication workers, diplomats, etc?!
Because it plays to an audience of predominantly middle class (and quite a segment of the working class), who find it all to easy to believe the cliched stereotypes that depict All Welfare Beneficiaries Are There By Choice. Internet fora are full of uninformed, prejudiced, and outright crazy ‘trolls’ who revel in their distorted view of those on welfare, or low-paying jobs.
Never mind that four years ago we had half the unemployment we do now.
Do those ignorant fools believe that unemployed are out of work by choice, having given up their average wage/salary of $800 to $900 per week, so they could live in luxury on $204.96 (net, weekly unemployed benefit)?
Drug testing the unemployed has nothing to do with any perceived problem with drug abuse.
This is a carefully constructed, skillfully diseminated, lie.
National is spending $14 million on a problem that does not exist.
National is desperate to turn public attention away from,
- Increasing unemployment
- Increasing poverty levels
- More and more New Zealanders heading overseas
- A stagnating economy
- National’s lack of traction in creating the 170,000 new jobs they pledged last year
Middle Class voters are being targetted by National’s tax-payer funded spin doctors and political strategists. Their agenda is clear and simple;
- Brand the unemployed as “lazy” and “on drugs”.
- So it can’t be a failure on the part of National to create the 170,000 new jobs they promised us.
Above all else, National’s nasty little strategy is an admission of failure on their part. They have failed utterly to,
- grow the economy
- create jobs
- raise wages
- stem the flow of skilled New Zealanders to Australia
Because clearly, if a government was building an economy that was generating more and more jobs, then what would be the need to create a bogeyman of lazy, drugged unemployed?
Especially when Labour presided over a growing economy with low unemployment,
There was no talk of “lazy/drugged unemployed” in 2007.
No Global Financial Crisis either.
Truly, National has hit rock bottom with this vile strategy. How long, one wonders, before the middle classes out in Voterland realise that they are being conned by some very cunning politicians and their back-room strategists?
A question for the Middle Classes;
We live in uncertain times. Any one of us are only one step away from being unemployed ourselves. How would you feel being branded a possible drug-user by the likes of Paula Bennett and John Key?
Not too happy I’d suspect?
And one final question for the Prime Minister,
Where are the jobs?
Previous related blogpost
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