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Posts Tagged ‘youth unemployment’

Radio NZ: Focus on Politics for 23 May 2014

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– Focus on Politics –

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– Friday 23 May 2014  –

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– Brent Edwards –

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A weekly analysis of significant political issues.

Friday after 6:30pm and Saturday at 5:10pm

Youth unemployment has decreased since the last election but that still leaves 75 thousand young people in New Zealand who are not doing any kind of work, training or education.

 

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Radio NZ logo - Focus on Politics

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Click to listen: Focus on Politics for 23 May 2014 ( 17′  5″ )

  • Budget 2014, Paid Parental Leave, Free medical care for Under 13s
  • Income inequality & child poverty
  • Youth unemployment (NEETs)
  • wage growth, jobs
  • external deficit, exports, China, dairy industry, tourism
  • housing, capital gains tax
  • government surplus, research and science, innovation
  • health spending, education spending, superannuation spending
  • superannuation age of eligibility, Bill English
  • tax cuts

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Acknowledgement: Radio NZ

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John Key’s track record on raising wages – 6. Youth Rates

11 November 2012 6 comments

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Continued from: John Key’s track record on raising wages – 5. The Minimum Wage

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6. Youth Rates

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When Labour was elected into government in 1999, replacing the highly unpopular Shipley-led National administration, one of their first actions was to radically reform the  Youth Rate,

  1. From 2001 to 2008 the adult minimum wage applied to employees aged 18 years and over. Prior to that, the adult minimum wage only applied to those aged 20 years and over.
  2. From 1 April 2008, the adult minimum wage applies to employees aged 16 years and over, who are not new entrants or trainees.
  3. The youth minimum wage applied to employees aged 16 and 17 years. From 1 April 2008, the youth minimum wage was replaced with a minimum wage for new entrants, which applies to some employees aged 16 or 17 years.
  4. The training minimum wage was introduced in June 2003.

See: Dept of Labour – Previous minimum wage rates

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Source

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It did not appear to unduly impact on unemployment, which consistantly tracked downward in the 2000s, until the down-turn caused by the Global Financial Crisis began to impact on our economy, in 2007/08.

On 9 October, Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson announced that National intended to introduce a new Youth Rate, to take effect in April, next year. The rate would be set at $10.80 an hour – compared to the minimum rate of $13.50 an hour currently, and would include 16 to 19 year olds.

As Scoop.co.nz reported,

That equates to $10.80 an hour, or $432 before tax for a 40-hour week. From April next year, the ‘Starting Out Wage’ will apply to 16- and 17-year-olds in the first six months of a job, to 18- and 19-year-olds entering the workforce after spending more than six months on a benefit, or 16 to 19-year-olds in a recognised industry training course.”

See: NZ teens face $10.80 an hour youth wage rate

It is doubtful if National’s Youth Rate will actually create new jobs. More likely, a drop in youth wages will simply create more ‘churn’ in employment/unemployment numbers.

As David Lowe, Employment Services Manager for the Employers and Manufacturers Association, inadvertently revealed,

Without an incentive an employer with a choice between an experienced worker and an inexperienced worker will choose experience every time.”

See: Starting-out wage will help young people onto job ladder

So there’s no new job for the  younger worker – s/he is merely displacing an older worker. Which probably results in  older workers joining the migration to Australia.

End result; a loss of skill and experience for New Zealand, and a gain for our Aussie cuzzies.

Nice one, Mr Key. Remind us when you took on the role of staff recruiter for Australia?

On top of this, we have this bizarre rationale from Kim Campbell, CEO of the Employers and Manufacturers Association, who is arguing that young people should be paid less because they have less to pay for. I kid you not.

She said,

Remember these people are not raising a family or running a household on this money –nobody expects them to – but it does give them some money to get started on.”

Campbell’s remark are offensive on several levels.

Firstly, National’s intention to return to  Youth Rates for 18 and 19 year olds, as well as 16 and 17 year olds, is simply unreasonable. These people are  young adults, and those studying  at  polytech and  University Students will soon be earning less,  even while having to pay Student fees; course-costs; and living expenses like rent, food, power, and other financial committments.

Secondly, 18 and 19 year old are as able to have families as their older counterparts.

Thirdly, by what logic is it of  Ms Campbell’s business  that “these people are not raising a family or running a household on this money“?! It’s none of her damned business what 18 and 19 year olds spend their wages on.

Conversely, does that mean Ms Campbell will encourage companies to pay a higher,  living wage,to those workers who do happen to have families?!

Yeah, right.

If  National has a secret agenda to motivate more young people to head overseas, such a plan will succeed beyond their wildest dreams.

18 and 19 years olds – old enough to get married; old enough to get drunk; old enough to get killed in a warzone – but not old enough to be paid the same adult rate as a 20 year old?

National should take note;  it’s true that 16 and 17 year olds can’t vote.

But 18 and 19 year olds can – and do. I bet they just can’t wait to vote at the next election.

And precisely how does this raise wages, as per Dear Leader’s promises?

Next chapter: 7. Part 6A – stripped away

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Addendum

In June last year  Prime Minister John Key said the prospect of a new youth rate was unlikely,

“I don’t think there’s a high probability. Whether we’d actually bother embarking on that it’s far too early to say.”

Source: Govt reintroduces youth wage

Ten months and one election later, preparations are under way to legislate.

Is ten months “to early to say“?

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Jobs, jobs, everywhere – but not a one for me? (Part Rua)

18 June 2012 3 comments

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Isn’t it strange how Key and National have a funny habit of making promises about jobs and growth – promises that never, ever eventuate?

It’s fairly easy to keep track of our elected representatives and their utterances. Such a handy little gadget, the “In-ter-Net”. Just the handy tool needed to hold them to account for their promises.

Let’s check out Dear Leader’s track record, shall we?

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= 2008 – 2009 =

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Key’s Promise

More than 25,000 Kiwis aged 15-19 are not in any form of education, training or work – that’s despite Labour’s promise to get that number down to zero. Those young people are disengaged from education and are at a loose end…

… Today, I’m going to announce a new education entitlement – National’s Youth Guarantee.  It’s based on National’s expectation that all young people under the age of 18 should be in work, education, or training.  “

See:  2008  A Fresh Start for New Zealand

The Reality

Social Development and Employment Minister Paula Bennett said the unemployment rise was a concern…

… She said young people were being affected more than any other age group with unemployment among 15 to 19 year olds rising 7.5 per cent compared to a year ago and 20 – 24 year-olds rising by 4.7 per cent

… We know how tough that’ll be – that’s why we’ve created the Youth Opportunities Package, to give them some experience in the labour market.

See:  Unemployment surges to 9 year high

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= 2011 – 2012 =

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Key’s Promise

”  We’ve grown eight out of nine quarters, we have low interest rates, unemployment is falling, we are on track to create 170,000 jobs…

… I believe we can,” he said. “We created 45,000 this year and we’re on track to create the 170,000 in the budget. “

See:  Key optimistic despite global economic fears

4% economic growth forecast in 2012.

170,000 new jobs forecast by 2015, with wages growing faster than inflation. “

See:  Budget 2011 – Building Our Future

The Reality

The Budget deficit is running $1.2 billion worse than forecast as tax revenue continues to lag.  Treasury today released the Government’s financial statements for the eight months to the end of February showing an operating deficit of $8.8 billion.

See: Budget deficit keeps getting worse

The unemployment rate rose 0.3 percentage points to 6.7 per cent in the three months ended March 31, from a revised 6.4 per cent in the prior quarter, according to Statistics New Zealand’s household labour force survey. That’s higher than the 6.3 per cent forecast in a Reuters survey of economists. “

See: Unemployment rate lifts to 6.7pc

Stronger food manufacturing is expected to lift economic growth to 0.6 per for the first three months of the year, economists say. “

See:  GDP growth likely to be slow, patchy

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= 2012 =

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Key’s Promise

The number of pokie machines in New Zealand will continue to fall despite a deal the government is negotiating which will give Sky City casino more of them, Prime Minister John Key says.

Opposition parties are accusing the government of selling legislation through an agreement that will see Auckland’s Sky City build a $350 million convention centre in return for more pokie machines.

Labour says Sky City wants an extra 500 and the government is offering 350.

But Mr Key says it’s a good deal for New Zealand.

It produces 1000 jobs to build a convention centre, about 900 jobs to run it, and overall the number of pokie machines will be falling although at a slightly lower rate,” he said on Monday on TV One.

See:  Key defends casino pokie machine deal

The Reality

Job numbers touted by Prime Minister John Key for a proposed international convention centre at SkyCity are much higher than official estimates.

Mr Key has said a deal allowing SkyCity more gambling facilities in exchange for funding the convention centre would provide 900 construction jobs and work for 800 people at the centre.

But the figures are much higher than those in a feasibility study done for the Government by hospitality and travel specialist analyst Horwath Ltd.

Horwath director Stephen Hamilton said he was concerned over reports the convention centre would employ 800 staff – a fulltime-equivalent total of 500.

He said the feasibility study put the number of people who would be hired at between 318 and 479. ” – Source

See:  Puzzle of Key’s extra casino jobs

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The Stats

Labour Government

Total Unemployment March 2008: 3.6%

Youth (15-19) Unemployment March 2008:  24,200 (13.9%)

Wage Growth to March 2008:  3.4% (adjusted LCI)

See:  Employment and Unemployment – March 2008 Quarter

See:  Wage Growth – March 2008 Quarter

See:  Youth Labour Market Factsheet – March 2008

National Government

Total Unemployment March 2012: 6.7%

Youth (15-19) Uemployment March 2012: 65,600 (17.1%)

Wage Growth to March 2012:  2% (adjusted LCI)

See:  Employment and Unemployment – March 2012 Quarter

See:  Wage Growth – March 2012 Quarter

See:  Youth Labour Market Factsheet – March 2012

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Conclusion

The term “mickey mouse” springs to mind, in describing National’s handling of the economy. Their promises for job creation and economic growth are a fantasy, predicated on religious-like faith in a failed free market ideology. (The same ideology that resulted in the global financial crisis in 2008, and the resulting Great Recession.)

The problem with National is that their blind  belief in the “Market” to create jobs is a trap of their own making. The  “Market” will not create jobs until the economy improves. And the economy will not improve until we have more jobs, so people can buy more goods and services. This kind of economic “Catch 22” is fairly obvious to most people – hence why the French and Icelanders  have elected centre-left governments, and the Conservatives in the UK are polling badly.

With National leaving economic growth and job creation  to the “Market”, any budgetary predictions on their part are meaningless. Thus far practically every prediction made by Key and his Party has failed abysmally.

John Key, especially,  has a tendency to make hopelessly optimistic predictions.  Yet, as with his Sky City/Convention Centre pronouncements, promising around 1,800 jobs – reality soon catches up and shows his promises as little more than wishing-thinking.

Quite simply, Key is not to be trusted on any numbers he  conjures up.  They are Lotto numbers.

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Additional

Business NZ sees no economic plan

Key defends casino pokie machine deal

Unemployment surges to 9 year high

Puzzle of Key’s extra casino jobs

NZ rich-poor gap widens faster than rest of world

Government policy impacting child poverty levels

Low income households less likely to move up scale – study

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Guest Author: David Cunliffe, A Bold New Direction?

– David Cunliffe, MP for New Lynn, Labour Economic Development Spokesperson

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Speech to annual Kensington Swan insolvency function, Auckland, 11 June 2012

Tēnā Koutou

Thank you for inviting me into the lion’s den.

As this is a group of insolvency and receivership lawyers and accountants, it’s a fair guess that your businesses will be booming right now.

If I was speaking to a group of exporters and manufacturers, it’s a fair bet the opposite would be true.

And if this was a group of blue collar workers from my electorate in west Auckland, you can bet your boots the mood would be grim.

So many Kiwis are really struggling to make ends meet. After the 2008 crash they were just getting along. A year later this had turned to anger, a year later to despair. This year, many of them are heading for the departure gate: 50,000 a year in the last year alone. A quarter of New Zealanders no longer live here.

So for their sake, and everyone’s sake, let’s begin this conversation by being frank and up-front.

We all know that much of the business community generally favours National.

Unfortunately, New Zealand is still a democracy, so Labour gets voted back in from time to time. That’s “tiresome”! I know, but that’s the way it is.

So, what “evil plans” does Labour have in store for the business community this time? The answer might be welcome news for all but the insolvency team

Anyone who seriously believes that the economy can somehow heal itself by being left alone, hasn’t read a newspaper for the last 12 months.

Looking at world markets over the last few months, I would have to agree that we are “back at the precipice – with a frayed rope” (Brian Fallow, NZ Herald).

Greece may still reject its bailout package; Spanish banks are still in deep trouble; and Italy is too big to bail, or to let fail.

The Beehive spin doctors are all too ready to blame anyone but themselves for New Zealand’s repeated undershooting of growth forecasts. None of it washes.

The Canterbury earthquake rebuild should by now be a source of positive growth – but it is well behind schedule and the government is squarely to blame.

Commodity prices can’t be the problem. They have only just come off record highs, reminding us that putting all our cows in one basket is way too risky.

The results under the Key Government make depressing reading.

No one these days seriously believes that a totally unregulated economy will work. Just as important, no one seriously believes that a totally regulated economy will work. It’s a question of getting the balance right.

Do I want to return to the days when you needed a letter from your doctor before you could buy margarine? Absolutely not. Do I want to return to the days when people had a sense of security and trusted their leaders? Absolutely.

LESSONS FROM THE LAST GREAT DEPRESSION

It is said that “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” (George Santayana); or in plain language… “History repeats itself because no one was listening the first time.”

One of the things that gets me up in the morning is the sentiment expressed in the media and in the current government that “nothing can be done so we may as well take it.”

That we may as well accept appalling emigration levels, high unemployment and record high youth unemployment, an accelerating increase in poverty, and debt that leads to regular international credit downgrades.

We should expect more from each other than that.

There is absolutely no inevitability about economic decline.

We do face utterly fundamental choices about our economic future. Effective change will occur when tens of thousands of us behave differently in our firms and unions, boardrooms and Ministries, classrooms and farm sheds.

Of course it is easier to say what we should not do, than what we should do. So in these remarks I want to draw some lessons for what we should do differently:

1. Regulate Financial Markets

The Great Depression, for those who haven’t studied history, was caused by a lack of government regulation. Then, just like now, the vast majority of businessmen strongly resisted any attempt at government regulation.

Then, after the banks sent themselves bankrupt through unregulated speculation with their clients’ funds, the bankers tried to pretend that it wasn’t their fault.

The 1929 stock market crash triggered an economic tsunami that all but flattened America. Just like now, it was the ordinary people that bore the brunt of the crash and the depression that followed it.

And, as if the crash itself wasn’t bad enough, the government still refused to intervene, so the situation got worse. Bank after bank collapsed, along with the millions of families who had entrusted those bankers with their life savings.

By 1933, 11,000 of the United States’ 25,000 banks had failed. That’s nearly half.

People had no money, so they couldn’t buy manufactured goods. Because people stopped buying manufactured goods, factories closed down. Because factories closed down, workers got fired. Because workers got fired, they couldn’t buy manufactured goods.

And so it went on, and on, and on, until, by 1933, nearly 13 million Americans were unemployed. That was a quarter of the total workforce.

And what was the government’s response: nothing. Why? Because the government was intensely opposed to any kind of regulation of big business – the same view as many of the people in this room.

The then US Secretary of the Treasury was Andrew W. Mellon, who was, by curious coincidence, one of the wealthiest men in America.

Mellon strongly opposed government regulation of the banking sector. However, he strongly pushed for austerity measures to balance the budget. Does this sound familiar?

Mellon advised President Herbert Hoover to:

“liquidate labour, liquidate stocks, liquidate farmers, liquidate real estate… it will purge the rottenness out of the system. High costs of living and high living will come down. People will work harder, live a more moral life. Values will be adjusted, and enterprising people will pick up from less competent people.”

Alas, no. What happened in America was exactly the same as is currently happening in Europe. The austerity measures, which were supposed to turn the economy around, instead sent it into a nosedive.

You know, one of the wonderful things about democracy, is that voters sometimes show a good deal more sanity than the politicians or the vested interests.

In America’s case, the voters threw out Herbert Hoover and voted in Franklin D. Roosevelt. Roosevelt heavily intervened in the economy, regulated the banks and the stockbrokers, and set America on the path of its longest period of economic growth in history.

I mention all this, because we are currently looking over the economic precipice once more. The world’s three largest economic zones: America, the European Union and Japan/China are already in decline.

And, amazingly, the economic purists in the West are still advocating exactly the same policies as the ones that caused the Great Depression. Really? Have we learned nothing from history?

Who carried the can when the whole house of cards came tumbling down? Certainly not the bankers that set up the house of cards in the first place. As usual, it’s the ordinary people, who pay taxes and naively expect politicians to look after their interests, who are paying the price.

Despite all the promises that the European economic austerity measures would turn this tragic situation around, the opposite is occurring.

When you start firing all your workers and closing down your government departments, those people have no money to spend. Because the workers have no money to spend, the local businesses suffer. So they start firing staff. So the economy goes into deep recession, with no easy way out.

The Labour team believes this is lunacy. If New Zealand goes into a recessionary spiral, what we are close to, we will have to be expansive too.

An increasing number of journalists and politicians are saying what ordinary people already know: that many of the economic policies of the last 30 years have ended in disaster.

You hear the National government taking about the need to sell assets because we have so little money in this country. Do you know why we have so little money in this country? It’s because a large percentage of our economic assets are overseas-owned.

For example, when the Australian-owned banks make billions in profits here, that money isn’t returned to New Zealanders. The money goes straight back overseas.

That financial drain is one of the main reasons we are not paying our way in the world – our external deficit is getting bigger and bigger.

2. Keep and build our assets

And, as if that were not bad enough, the government now wants to sell our major state assets, which is simply going to mean higher power prices for ordinary New Zealanders and still more profits disappearing overseas.

And I’m not the only one who thinks this is nuts. The economic consultants BERL, concluded that the asset sales programme would leave the public accounts looking worse, not better.

BERL’s chief economist, Dr Ganesh Nana, concluded the effect of asset sales on the wider economy would be even worse because the dividends lost to the state would quite likely go to foreign shareholders, adding to the country’s external deficit and national debt.

So why is National proceeding? Is it partly because of its promises to big business? It is partly because many National Party politicians may have links to the very people who will profit from these asset sales? Or partly because the National Party is simply blind?

No matter how many independent analysts report that the asset sales will be an economic disaster that will further increase our national debt, John Key simply looks the other way.

For how much longer, I’m not so sure. I think it’s increasingly obvious that the National government will be dog tucker at the next election. National is hoping that by then, the assets will have been sold and there’ll be nothing we can do about it.

Be that as it may, don’t get me started on the risks of selling off a major stake in our energy system at a time when the world is entering unparalleled energy scarcity and skyrocketing fossil fuel prices – that is the subject of another speech!

3. Get people back to work

If the last Great Depression provides some chilling lessons of what went wrong, it also provides hope for what can be done better.

Much of New Zealand’s response to the Depression in the 1930s and early 40’s is still working for us:

• Around 50% of the state houses still around now were built in the 1930s and 1940s
• Around 40% of all schools still in use were built in this era
• Almost all the North Island dams, and the same of the pylons and substations
• Thousands of rural bridges
• Most of Auckland’s water supply dams and systems
• The core of the Crown Research Agencies, in the form of the DSIR
• Around half of New Zealand’s still-existing hospitals,
• The great North Island pine forests, and
• Most of our government departments now existing were formed, all in that era

Eighty years ago we saw an economic development plan rolled out that turned us all from Depression to development. Like the United States New Deal, the Savage government’s plan altered the course of the country.

For at least 30 years after the end of World War II until the oil shocks of the 1970s, the Government response to the Great Depression still dominated political and commercial life.

In the 1960s, business and the public sector continued this partnership with the great Kinleith Mill near Taupo, and New Zealand Steel at Glenbrook.

Private capital was making money at the same time as the public sector achieved its policy goals.

By the 1980s, the whole system was in need of reform. However, in place of reform, we got a system that closed down productive industries, encouraged energy wastage, created massive unemployment and, above all handed most of the wealth and power to a small elite who the so-called ‘free’ market.

It was this unregulated market that lead to the twin meltdowns; first the 1987 stock market crash, then the 2008 meltdown. Since 2008, the scale of our decline has been substantial.

Throughout the world, pro-business governments have imposed austerity measures and throughout the world, these austerity measures have been an unmitigated disaster.

We need to think with that degree of boldness and clarity, while carefully managing our financial resources, to truly turn back the degree of risk and decline that we now face.

4. Rewrite the invisible plan

By contrast, National is nothing if not predictable in its policies and in its results. From 1990 to 1999, and from 2008 to 2012, the same economic leadership and same result:

• Almost no economic growth
• Public sector cost-cutting that drove recession ever-deeper
• A state that is weaker year after year, and
• A country where wealth transferred from the many to the few, to the point where law firms find it harder and harder to get clients, except in the Receivership Team.

Business is bad. And it was bad the last time National was in, and it’s no coincidence.

Let’s project the same policies after another three years. Here’s how it runs. Treasury again over-predicts GDP growth and hence tax-base income. Private debt remains high and focused on rental housing. The population stagnates and starts to decline even in Auckland.

Respectfully, a buoyant insolvency and mortgagee sector is not the economic sign we want. On the track we are on, it’s what we will get.

When the credit ratings agencies downgraded New Zealand last year, they told us that our biggest problem was not public debt, which is relatively small by world standards, but total private debt and our inability to pay our way in the world.

A new direction is needed.

Let’s not fool ourselves that just doing a little more or a little less of what we have been doing before will save us

LESSONS FROM SMALL SMART COUNTRIES

Small smart countries around the world are grappling with the same issues – how to sustainably grow jobs and incomes in an open, export-oriented economy amid a turbulent world market.

As part of my Economic Development portfolio work, I have commissioned a study of six such countries: Denmark, Finland, Singapore, Taiwan, Ireland and Israel.

The most obvious conclusion of this study so far is that none of them leave their future to chance. The weakest, Ireland, was the one that lowered taxes, opened up to unrestrained foreign investment, and trusted the invisible hand of the market to bring future prosperity.

But whether they have governments of the centre-left or centre-right, all these countries have set a clear vision for where they want to get to, what they want to be, and how they will get there. All set policy targets and timetables and measure their progress.

Take Denmark. It wants to be among the top 10 richest, most innovative countries in the world. It wants to be top 10 for quality labour supply and top three for renewable energy.

They have a 10 year plan to achieve that.

They manage their interest rates, control their housing market, and peg their exchange rate to the Euro.

They manage productivity growth by setting hard targets for education, research and innovation performance, for example:

They invest 3% of their national income in research and development: 2% from the private sector and 1% from the public. That is still dwarfed by neighbour Finland with nearly 4%. New Zealand’s total is less than 1%.

Their innovation strategy is led by the Danish Economic Council, a broad-based top level group including key government agencies, business and labour representatives, and labour experts.

They are careful with their money, and they understand the value of investment.

They invest in research and development, they invest in their infrastructure, they invest in their forests and their environment, but most of all they invest in their people.

To the Danes, investing in education, innovation and infrastructure, is not a liability but an asset. Because without all three, their economy cannot survive.

Is it working? You be the judge – they have fewer natural resources than us, higher population density, and a rubbish climate.

But their income per person is US$40,169 compared to our US$29,882.

Even more importantly, their exports per person are around NZ$ 26,000, compared to our NZ$9,000.

They gain about the same amount from agriculture as us, but many times more from niche manufacturing, environmental services and high technology.

Let’s acknowledge that Denmark is a member of the largest economic union on the planet and has the captive market that comes with that.

Labour under the leadership of both Phil Goff and Helen Clark had a proud record of responsibly improving our trade access. Labour also pushed for environment and labour standards in trade agreements, something we will need to continue to advocate in future.

INVESTMENT, INNOVATION, AND EDUCATION

We need to learn from small smart economies like Denmark. We cannot just leave it to chance, or to the market forces that have got us into this mess.

So Labour went into the last election campaigning for new and better ways to grow our economy.

At the core of our economy-wide measures were big changes to boost capital for business investment, technology and skills. These are the fundamental drivers of productivity.

Our Leader, David Shearer, and Finance Spokesperson, David Parker, have both recently reaffirmed the importance of these changes.

While John Key was hard at work lining his own pockets, David Shearer was getting his hands dirty, feeding and sheltering the people in some of the most depressing and dangerous places on earth. He managed billions of dollars of tax-payers funds with consummate skill, fought corruption and faced down warlords.

Which party leader do you think is better suited to lead us through this time of crisis?

So what will Labour do that shows we have learned the lessons of history?

Number one, we will have to stop the sort of speculation that got us into this mess in the first place.

We have to get investment flowing where it can do the most good – into productive businesses and exports, rather than unproductive financial or property speculation. Like both Treasury and the Reserve Bank, Labour supports a capital gains tax.

Now, nobody in this room, myself included, likes paying tax. And nobody in this room, myself included, likes seeing their hard-earned tax revenue wasted.

I think we all agree that the tax system has to be simple, transparent and achievable.

For example France and Germany are now looking at simplified forms of indirect taxation, such as a financial transactions levy.

It would be so small that most bank users would never even notice it, would be simple to collect, and would raise enough revenue to fund lowering other taxes while fully funding infrastructure development without incurring further public debt. I am delighted that our revenue Spokesperson, David Clark, is keeping a weather eye on these developments.

Another tragic result of the so-called free market is that, the country is now saddled with the multibillion dollar liability of supporting the casualties of this economic religion – the long term unemployed, the single parent families, the pensioners who can no longer afford to warm their houses.

Any economic policy that does not put the unemployed back to work, rebuild the productive sector and help us to pay our way in the world is doomed to failure, and very expensive failure at that.

The current government said they wanted New Zealand to catch up to Australia.

Well it’s working: every week, thousands of Kiwis leave the country in search of a better life across the Tasman.

Why? Because they get paid so much more in Australia. Why are wages higher in Australia? Because the Australian government sees it’s working people as an asset, not a liability.

What’s the National Government’s solution to this – to lower wages still further while doing nothing to improve productivity. Genius.

Clearly no-one told Steven Joyce that Germany, one of the wealthiest countries on the planet, has both high wages and high productivity.

National has again walked away from common sense. One of the key ingredients to Australia’s success has been its compulsory, employment based savings scheme.

Because New Zealand’s workers don’t earn enough to save, the country’s vital savings pool is alarmingly small.

So our second major policy is to lift sustainable local savings and investment is a universal Kiwisaver scheme. This would hike our savings rate four times faster than National’s pallid plan and give every working Kiwi a huge nest egg for their retirement.

To make matters worse, National’s approach to superannuation resembles a man on an iceberg in the sun. He thinks he is on solid ground, but he has built his future on some tragically false assumptions.

The third big policy change from Labour is getting our innovation engine revving. At the moment it is hardly even idling. Total research and development investment in NZ is less than 1% . In Denmark it is 3%. In Finland they are targeting 4% .

Our innovators deserve a break – there are huge public benefits from a vibrant innovation system, and our proposed R and D tax credits reflect that.

By supporting research and development in our business community, we invest in the pillars of economic growth, innovation, education and innovation.

As Economic Development spokesperson, I will be pushing for much higher levels of investment in research and development in both the public and private sector and for a serious overhaul of our innovation ecosystem.

Remember that infrastructure is not just bricks and mortar. Our future depends on having a world class information backbone.

It is a crying shame that it took the current government nearly three years to even begin rolling out its so-called ultra-fast broadband plan. If three years delay is ultra-fast, I’d hate to see ultra-slow.

Fourth, we never forget that our best resource is our people. Education and skills must be a top priority and it must be for all – not just those who can afford them. These three pillars of skills are education skills, physical skills and life skills.

It disgusts me that the National cabinet was prepared to maintain subsidies for their own private schools while firing teachers in everyone else’s schools.

How would Labour fund further investment in education? The answer is simple: stop investing in failure. It is social and economic insanity to be paying people the dole while there are forests to be planted and infrastructure to be built.

Labour will get school leavers off the dole by ensuring a seamless transition into work. We will fund thousands of new apprenticeships by redirecting dole money to job creation with real skills. We will ensure that every young New Zealander under 20 is either earning or learning.

In the twenty first century no-one should expect to be in one job for their whole working life. That’s why learning must be life-long. Denmark invests billions each year into adult and community education, in New Zealand we invest pocket money.

LESSONS FROM THE GRASS ROOTS

Our economy, under National, is like an oil tanker with the captain asleep at the wheel.

Robert Wade, a New Zealand professor at The London School of Economics, summed up how governments should work with their economies. I’ve paraphrased his views:

When the economy is working well, leave it alone.

When the economy has problems or failures that can be fixed, fix them.

And when an economic policy fails altogether, do something else.

Sounds like common sense to me.

A key lesson of the Great Depression is that unregulated financial markets invariably suffer catastrophic failure. The recent Global Financial Crisis is a classic example.

From New Zealand’s economic development perspective, we can turn around the failed policies of the past.

So that means working with individual industries, regions, businesses and communities to help make good things happen.

You have a build a wall one brick at a time.

You have to build a business one customer at a time.

We have to build our economy one region and one industry at a time.

And we must rebuild our community one family at a time.

So we could have all the fine ideas in the world about economic growth, but if it does not put one unemployed worker into a job, or put one more high value product into an export market, then it will not turn our economic boat around.

Renewing our commitment to industry sectors, regions and communities, will be a key part of Labour’s economic development agenda…

I know it’s trendy to talk about recycling. But we’ve overlooked something here. What about “recycling” human beings? There isn’t a person in this room that isn’t deeply concerned at the numbers of young people, especially young Māori and Pasifika who are not only unemployed, but in some cases, currently considered by some to be “unemployable”.

We also have vast tracts of public and private land that is currently badly under-utilised.

Can we please, please, learn some lessons from history. Where did New Zealand’s great commercial forests come from? Where did America’s great commercial forests come from? They were both planted in the Great Depression by the unemployed.

The American Civilian Conservation Corps is a textbook case of turning the economy around by turning people’s lives around.

Throughout America, these groups planted trees, built roads and improved both their lives and the lives of their descendants.

Labour embraced the Conservation Corp idea in our last manifesto. For Labour, the Conservation Corp has always been about skills and training, with the community benefitting. I’ll bet someone will claim that National’s already proposed this. Nonsense. What National wants is to punish the poor and prepare them for a life of dead-end jobs as lowly servants of the rich and powerful.

Instead of merely paying the dole to fit young people, Labour’s Conservation Corps plan includes education and training that will take them on to sustainable employment. I’d like to see them earning a living wage in return for a fair day’s work.

They could learn structure, discipline and life skills. They could then be sent out to do the work that’s currently not being done, from planting trees to disaster relief. Imagine, for example, the difference it would have made if we had had 5000 fit young people available for disaster relief after the Christchurch quake.

New Zealanders loved the Student Volunteer Army and the Farmy Army that helped clean up Christchurch. However, the famers and the students soon had to go back to work. Imagine the difference a full time group would have made?

It’s not just the country that would have benefited, either. Hard work is a great healer for unemployed lives. With training, this same army could now be rebuilding the houses that the Christchurch people so desperately need.

But for now, New Zealand needs more forests. If we could replant some of our unproductive land into forests, we could create one of the world’s greatest carbon sinks. We could create thousands of jobs planting trees, and thousands more processing the timber in a few years.

These new forests could be placed in trust for the benefit of future generations, and New Zealand could be on its way towards becoming carbon neutral.

However, there’s a deeper problem with our current forestry sector: most of the timber simply gets shipped overseas for processing. This robs New Zealanders of jobs and export revenue.

Because many of our best forests are overseas owned, by companies that have absolutely no interest in New Zealand jobs.

Labour is keen to see higher levels of value added in our primary sector, and as Economic Development Spokesperson I am going to be pushing to get New Zealand logs processed in New Zealand mills.

CONCLUSION

While politicians squabble about balancing the government’s books, our ship is in dangerous waters.

The Labour Party is not your enemy.

Your enemy is inefficiency, corruption, and the wastage of both public and private wealth.

Your enemy is a cosy corruption that helps a few friends of the government get very rich at the expense of the community, including most of the business community.

The three pillars of our survival are investment, innovation and education.

An educated population that earns decent wages will work in your factories and offices, will buy your products, and invest in your shares.

Even as we speak, the global crisis deepens. We cannot solve the crisis of the present by repeating the failures of the past.

New Zealand rose to the challenge of the Great Depression and emerged as a prosperous and functional democracy that was the envy of the world.

There are no winning sides on a sinking ship. While we squabble on the deck, our situation grows graver every day.

Our ship cannot sail itself. We can’t wait for the crisis to overwhelm us before we respond.

A global economic tsunami could sink us. We have to work as a team; rather, we have to work as a crew, remembering that we’re all in this together. We all prosper together or we all sink together.

Thank you.

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Blogger’s Analysis

Cunliffe’s   sums it up nicely,

“No one these days seriously believes that a totally unregulated economy will work. Just as important, no one seriously believes that a totally regulated economy will work. It’s a question of getting the balance right.”

Balance.

One word to sum up the need to do away with the  cock-eyed extremism of neo-liberalism.

One day, in the far distant future, voters will understand, and laugh, at Parties like National. Until then, we will see-saw between National stuffing things up, and a centre-left government  having to fix it…

Can’t we just eliminate the Stuff-up Phase and just keep a balanced economy?!

As things stand at present, every six years or so, a sizeable chunk of voters experience a rush of blood to their head and vote for National. Even despite knowing that National’s policies will destructive and will impact on our social services – voters still tick that ‘National’ box.

*facepalm*

Electing National for a second term will prove to be an expensive exercise for us all. Once National privatises our energy companies, expect power prices to rise as investors expect to maximise returns on their investment,

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking

Hikes defended – Otago Daily Times – 30 July 1999

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Trans Alta was formerly Capital Power, 100% owned by Wellington City Council up until 1994. In that year, by a narrow majority, WCC voted to privatise 49% of the power company.

As usual, Wellingtonians were promised the usual; lower energy prices; greater efficiencies; blah, blah, ad infinitum-blah.

Wellingtonians swallowed the BS, and re-elected those City Councillors (led by then-mayor, Fran Wilde) who had supported the privatisation of the first half of Capital Power.

In 1995, soon after local body elections, the remainder 51% was sold to Canadian energy company, Trans Alta.

Then the power price rises started.

This blogger has said it before, and will keep saying it again; no one does this to us; we do it to ourselves.

Thankfully, National’s use-by date has passed, and voters’ fascination with John Key  is rapidly waning.

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Acknowledgement

Tumeke

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From “Nanny” State to “Natzi” State?

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Frank Macskasy Blog  Frankly Speaking National Nanny State beneficiary bashing

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National has been working overtime (do they pay their media advisors, strategists, and spin doctors overtime?) to deflect public attention away from their mis-management of the economy, and one scandal after another.

See Blogpost:  The wheels are coming off, and there’s a funny ‘plink-plink’ sound

Whether it’s Nick Smith/Bronwyn Pullar/Judith Collins/ACC; John Banks and Kim Dotcom; John Banks and Sky City; John Key and Sky City; Murray McCully and wasted millions of taxpayer’s money over the aborted MFAT re-structuring –  John Key has had one ministerial scandal after another. It has been  an eye-opening, horrendous (for the Nats)  litany of failure, stuff-ups,  and dodgy dealings.

With a majority of just one seat, Dear Leader cannot afford even one resignation and by-election. It could cost him his second term in government.

On top of scandals, there are the non-stop bad news stories, on the economy and social problems,

* Unemployment continuing to rise – now at 6.7%

* Paula Bennet admitting there were were not enough jobs

* Youth unemployment up from 58,000 last year  to 87,000 this year

* Current account deficit widens to $2.7 billion

* Jobs-driven migration to Oz at high of 53,000

* Wages continue to lag behind Australia

* $12 billion student debt a national liability

* Treasury’s Monthly Economic Indicators – Numbers reveal National disgrace

* Child poverty growing, and children scavenging for food scraps

And adding insult to injury, Australian businesses are coming to New Zealand to set up shop, to exploit our lower wages,

* Aussie firms sending business across ditch

It’s been one failure after another, and people are starting to take notice; National is falling in public opinion polls.

This blogger predicts that the bad news is not about to end any time soon. National’s reliance on the private sector to provide jobs and growth is based on blind adherence to neo-liberal dogma – not on any common sense ideas. Blind adherence to ideology, and wilfully dismissing indicators of continual failure, is a process that is ultimately futile and doomed.

Just ask the Russians. It only took them about seven decades to realise that their experiment in marxist-leninism was dragging the USSR backwards, not forwards. They abandoned it, and that was the end of that particular episode in human history.

Neo-liberalism – the reverse side of the coin of extremist socio-economic systems – is on the same path to doomed failure.  There are those who understand this perfectly.

Rightwing governments, such as National, are political dinosaurs – watching the asteroid of change  rushing towards us – but not understanding the implications of the revolutionary change that is impending and inevitable.

Instead, National’s party strategists, media advisors, and contracted publicity/campaign  strategists have embarked on a time-honoured, proven course, of deflection; beneficiary bashing.

The strategy involved;

  1. Assessing public attitudes towards welfare, beneficiaries, and solo-mothers
  2. Identifying key issues regarding welfare, beneficiaries, and solo-mothers
  3. Putting together a plan, complete with media releases and policy “drafts”
  4. Priming friendly media, NGOs, and political allies
  5. Release, and stand back.

See Blogpost:  The Dark Art of ‘Spin’ – How It’s Done (Part #Rua)

The result was a two-pronged “blitzkreig” on the public,

  • “voluntary” contraception for solo-mothers
  • making immunisation mandatory for welfare recipients, by linking it to recieving state benefits

This blogger should point out that National most likely does not, for one moment, believe it’s own propaganda. People like John Key, Paula Bennett, et al, understand the statistics and realise that prejudice surrounding welfare beneficiaries is based largely on misinformation; anecdotes; and a fair measure of misogyny (demonstrated by the fact that attacks on solo-parents are always focused on solo-mothers – never  solo-dads).

They know, for example that the number of young solo-mothers aged 18 to 19 is 2.7% of the total number of welfare recipientsdown from 3.1% in 2007,

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Source

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It is also worthwhile noting the following fact,

Five year trend

 The number of clients receiving a main benefit at the end of March decreased from 266,000 to 256,000 between 2007 and 2008, then rose to reach 332,000 in 2011 before decreasing to 323,000 in 2012.

 Between March 2007 and March 2012, clients receiving a main benefit became slightly more likely to be aged 18–24 years and to be male.

 Changes between 2007 and 2012 which have affected the number of clients receiving a main benefit include demographic changes (eg an ageing population, people having children later in life) and changes in economic conditions.

Source

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Note the relevant points:

1. The number of clients receiving a main benefit at the end of March decreased from 266,000 to 256,000 between 2007 and 2008, then rose to reach 332,000 in 2011 before decreasing to 323,000 in 2012.

 2. Changes between 2007 and 2012 which have affected the number of clients receiving a main benefit include demographic changes (eg an ageing population, people having children later in life) and changes in economic conditions.

Point 1: the increase in welfare recipients  directly correlates to  “changes in economic conditions” – the global banking  crisis in 2008, and the resulting recession.

Point 2: The number of people on the DPB can be affected by “an ageing population”, as this Benefit can be paid to individuals caring for an elderly person, as well as children.

The overall rise in welfare recipients also correlates to,

  • a steadily growing rise in youth unemployment, from 58,000 last year  to 83,000 this year,
  • National’s  policy which calls for job creation by the private sector, and not by central government,
  • failed relationships, leaving the mother (generally) to care for children*, adding to those already on the DPB.

This is not rocket science. This is fairly basic economic facts which everyone understands fairly well.

Which then begs the question; what does contraception and immunisation have to do with an increase in welfare recipients that was caused, mostly, by “changes in economic conditions” ?!

The answer, of course, is nothing.

But then again, National’s proposals to “offer” contraception and “link”  immunisation to welfare payments has been a red herring from Day One, as outlined above.

National cannot announce to the country that ” all beneficiaries are diseased, reckless breeders“. That would be… crass. Not very subtle at all.

The more subtle way to go about vilifying and demonising a group in our society is to do it by innuendo.

Do not call solo mothers (but never solo dads) “reckless breeders”.

Do “offer” them free contraception.

Result: No direct association has been made between solo-mums and “reckless breeding” – but the unspoken  innuendo is there, hanging in the air.

Do not call beneficies “dirty and diseased”.

Do make immunisation compulsory for their children.

Result: No direct association has been made between beneficiaries and calling them “dirty and diseased” – but the unspoken innuendo is there, unsaid.

That is Phase One of National’s deflection strategy.

Phase One, I hear you say? There’s more?!’

Oh yes, this strategy is a two-fer-one deal. The unspoken labelling of beneficiaries as “dirty”, “diseased”, and “reckless breeders” is only the first part.

The second part is the predictable (and justified)  outcry from opposition political parties; NGOs; prominent citizens; bloggers (hullo!); etc, etc. This draws further attention to National’s grand strategy, giving it media ‘oxygen’.  In drawing attention to this vile policy, the public and media attention are drawn away from bad news stories about the economy and social problems.

As Business NZ CEO, Phil O’Reilly, stated on TV3 news tonight (13 May),

“… we have an economy that’s struggling.”

When is the last time we heard a news report on unemployment? The John Banks/Sky City/Dotcom/John Key/Sky City/ACC/BronwynPullar/Judith Collins scandal(s)? A stagnant economy? More New Zealanders fleeing the country to Australia? The worsening poverty crisis? The growing gap between income earners? Asset sales? Poverty-related diseases? Etc, etc, etc, et-bloody-cetera…

The bad-news media reports are there – but now displaced from page 1 of newspapers or lead-stories on TV/radio – and relegated as secondary or tertiary priority stories. Instead, those issues are now replaced with stories about beneficiaries, contraception, and immunisation.

National got it’s money’s-worth I’d say, on this propaganda exercise.

In case anyone still harbours doubts that National is really, truly, whole-heartedly not remotely  interested in the health  of beneficiaries, let me remind the reader of Labour’s attempt to remove fatty food-products from school tuck-shops, from June 2008,

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Full Story

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National’s response to this and other health-related concerns?

This is how much they cared for the well-being our this nation’s children,

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Frank Macskasy Blog  Frankly Speaking National Nanny State beneficiary bashing

Full story

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Frank Macskasy Blog  Frankly Speaking National Nanny State beneficiary bashing

Full story

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Frank Macskasy Blog  Frankly Speaking National Nanny State beneficiary bashing

Full story

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And true to it’s word, when National came to power in November 2008,

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking National Nanny State beneficiary bashing

Full story

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Which kind of proves how much concerns National has toward the health of the nation’s children.

Which is not very much.

In Germany in the 1920s and 1930s, the far right used gypsies and jews as scapegoats. We don’t have gypsies, and if the Nats tried demonising Jews, they’d find an Israeli crack-commando squad  knocking on John Key’s door  and asking, “can we have a quiet word with you, sunshine?”.

I guess beneficiaries are the next best thing.

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* Note

This blogger’s partner’s cousin, “Shannon”,  is now caring for her three young sons after her husband walked out on the family – youngest child was 18 months old at the time. He was having an affair and has  moved in with a female co-worker from his office. “Shannon”  is now a solo-mum, on the DPB.

She did not “breed” whilst on the DPB. “Shannon”  was married when she had her three children, and the family was on a reasonable income.  So what should she do now? According to some right wing nutjobs, should she euthanase her children so they do not become a “burden on the state”?

Whilst “Shannon” is now labelled a “DPB bludger” by National and it’s supporters, her husband is free to start another family with his new partner. If he walks out on her,  and any children they have together,  as he did with “Shannon”, he still avoids responsibility – and his new partner is labelled a “bene bludger”.

Are folks picking up a common theme here?”

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Media

NZ Herald:  Stuck for ideas, Govt preys on powerless

Previous Blogposts

Why did the fat kiwi cross the road?

You’ll have a free market – even if it KILLS you!

Christmas – would you like fries with that?

The wheels are coming off, and there’s a funny ‘plink-plink’ sound

Bennett confirms: there are not enough jobs!

No poverty and food scavenging here

And MORE beneficiary bashing!!!

Other Blogs

Tumeke:  And now, forced vaccination of beneficiaries & never ending detention – this week has been red neck heaven

The Standard:  Teenage dreams

Waitakere News:  Pike River will be Key’s undoing

The Dim Post:  Talkback bait

The Jackal:   Myth-busting rightwing prejudices

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The Dark Art of ‘Spin’ – How It’s Done (Part #Rua)

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Continued from:  The Dark Art of ‘Spin’ – How It’s Done

And relevant also: The wheels are coming off, and there’s a funny ‘plink-plink’ sound

And: How Paula Bennett and National are wasting our taxdollars

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Make no mistake – National’s scheme to “offer” subsidised contraception is a cunning plan to deflect attention from a raft of bad news that has been in the headlines lately,

Three years of neo-liberal “reforms”;  slashing state services; tax cuts; introducing labour market “flexibilities” – have produced very little gain for this country.

On top of that are the run of scandals afflicting National; Nick Smith and Bronwyn Pullar;  John Banks, Sky City,  and Kim Dotcom; Murray McCully and MFAT; John Key’s secret deals with Sky City…  It is an eye-opening  litany of failure, stuff-ups,  and dodgy dealings.

Cue – the Spin Doctors.

Method;

  1. Pick a dog-whistle issue, preferably one loaded with misconceptions, prejudice, and moralising
  2. Choose a vulnerable group in our society who are powerless and easily demonised
  3. Offer a naive, simplistic “solution” to a problem that doesn’t exist – but still pushes people’s emotional buttons
  4. Encourage moral hysteria, before calling for “calm”.

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Full Story

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There is good reason why National has released this crazy plan at this point in time.

It has nothing to do with assisting beneficiaries in any way, shape, or form.

It has everything to do with deflecting attention from National’s own failures.

If National was truly interested in assisting people with subsidised contreaception – it would offer this choice to everyone.

And along with free contraception, National should be offering free dental care for children; meals in schools; and other programmes to help New Zealanders.

Otherwise, Paula Bennett’s “offer” of subsidised contraception for beneficiaries should be seen for what it really is: Spin Doctors deflecting public attention away from National’s shocking economic performance. It’s pointing a finger and yelling, “Look over there“!

Once upon a time they burned women as witches.

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Bennett confirms: there are not enough jobs!

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Paula Bennett Q+A Shane Taurima

Source

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Last Sunday (29 April), Shane Taurima interviewed Welfare Minister, Paula Bennett, on National’s proposals to “reform” welfare in this country. Taurima also questioned Bennett on National’s track record on job creation, and the availability of jobs for the unemployed.

The results  were disappointing, if not a little startling.

First up; the explosive rise in youth unemployment.

Youth unemployment is defined as anyone between the ages of 15 – 24.

Shane Taurima asked,

SHANE
83,000 young people aged between 15-24 not in education, employment or training. Now, that’s roughly the population of Palmerston North doing nothing. What are you doing about it?

Bennet immediatly defaulted to Politicians Defence Posture #1 – she tried to ‘fudge’ the figures,

PAULA
… We’re seeing the unemployment rate of benefit go down, so we sort of peaked in January 2010, 23,500 young people 18-24 on benefit. We’re now at about 15,500.

No, Minister, the  number is not 23,500, nor 15,500, nor 7 dwarves – it is 83,000. Focus, woman, focus!

Last year, Duncan Garner wrote on his blog,

Where are the jobs? Seriously. Where are the real jobs for these young people and sickness and invalid beneficiaries? The only way to really stop the number of beneficiaries going through the roof, is jobs, jobs and more jobs.” – Duncan Garner, TV3 journalist, 16 August 2011

See: Unemployed youth would fill Eden Park

That dramatic statement was made in regard to the scandal of 58,000 young people, between the ages of 15-24, who were not in any  education, training or work.

That was eight months ago.

The figure now, is 83,000. The number has increased by 25,000 since Duncan Garner wrote those imploring words, demanding to know  “Where are the jobs?”

Shane Taurima questioned Paula Bennett on the rise of out of work young people,

SHANE         
So when are we going to see some results, though, Minister? When will we see the reduction in these numbers? Go back to the 83,000 figure. 83,000 young people doing absolutely nothing. When will we start to see results? When?

PAULA         
Yeah. So what you see is those that are on the unemployment benefit-

SHANE         
When will we start to see results?

PAULA         
They’re the ones that are the hardest hit, yeah? We are already seeing results for them.

SHANE         
We’re not seeing results…

PAULA         
We are. We have fewer…

SHANE         
We are not seeing fewer people doing nothing, Minister.

PAULA         
We are actually seeing more young people in work now than there were two years ago, and that, Shane, is a fact.

So point one: National Ministers excel at doublethink. For them, going from 58,000 to 83,000 is a decrease – not an increase. Why couldn’t that nice Mr Taurima see that?

Next; when Shane Taurima asked,

SHANE         
Can I ask you about work, though? Do you think that there is a job out there for all these young people who really really want a job? Is there a job out there for young people who really want a job?

Bennett’s reply was jaw-droppingly honest. In fact, she was frankly speaking when she said,

PAULA         
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.

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.

In which case, Minister Bennett and Prime Minister Smile & Wave – what is the point of spending millions on welfare ‘reforms’, when it’s not welfare that is broke – but the availability of employment, FFS?!?!

What is the point of the insane idea of issuing debit cards to 16 and 17 year old beneficiaries; to prevent them buying booze and tobacco – when it’s already illegal for retailers to sell them booze and tobacco?!?! If that’s a real problem – shouldn’t the police be prosecuting those retailers?!

What is the point of blaming beneficiaries and claiming that they are on welfare because of lifestyle choiceswhen 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???

In effect, it is not welfare that needs  “reforming”. Welfare is working perfectly fine as a life-support mechanism for people out of work. So we don’t have to step over  cold,  stiff corpses on our footpaths because they had no shelter, food, warm clothing, medical care, etc, to stay alive.

Yet, blaming welfare beneficiaries is precisely what National is doing. At every opportunity they refer to beneficiaries as the problem, instead of the lack of jobs,

This week I announced a ministerial group to lead work on improving New Zealand’s welfare system.

I want this country to have a welfare system that encourages personal responsibility, helps people into paid jobs, and protects our most vulnerable.

The independent Welfare Working Group’s recent report shows our welfare system isn’t working as well as it could.

We have to do better for hardworking taxpayers, for beneficiaries who are falling far short of their potential, and for children growing up in welfare-dependent households.

Long-term welfare dependency robs people of confidence, motivation and aspiration. Ultimately it can rob their children of these things, too.

This Government is not prepared to leave this large group of New Zealanders behind. I’m ambitious for what we can achieve in this area, and I look forward to announcing our welfare reform policies before the election.” – John Key, 3 June 2011

Key’s  June 3rd statement above makes not one single reference about any job creation policies whatsoever. It refers once to helping “people into paid jobs“. Nothing else.

So where are those jobs, Mr Prime Minister?

And why did John Key announce a “a ministerial group to lead work on improving New Zealand’s welfare system” – when it ain’t the welfare system that is broke – but the availability of jobs?!?!

Isn’t that rather like running out of fuel in your car and then telling the mechanic to fix the car’s engine???

This has been part of the problem: National continuing to blame beneficiaries for being on welfare. The question is,

Why doesn’t National implement job creation policies, apprenticeships, and skills training?

Why doesn’t National invest in projects such as building 10,000 new state houses – which would not only ‘soak up’ unemployment and reduce the welfare bill – but would stimulate the economy and provide desperately needed homes for many families in this country?!

The reason is very simple. And mind-numbingly stupid.

Further into the interview, Shane Taurima asks Bennett,

SHANE         
Are you proud of the 20% increase, though?

PAULA         
Of course I’m not, but I actually – it’s business that makes those jobs out there. We’ve been supporting them. We’ve seen that the number of youth unemployed come down.

Bennett said it: “… it’s business that makes those jobs out there“.

Gerry Brownlee, the Minister for Earthquake Recovery said precisely the same thing recently, when Cantabrians were trying to convince him that there was a desperate housing/accomodation crisis developing in Christchurch. Brownlee said that “the solution is best left to the market”,

The idea that the Government would set up a big work camp somewhere in the city I think is just a little bit too much of a stretch.  You’ve got contractors who are coming into town … to make money.  And there’s nothing wrong with that, but I think you would have to ask the question, ‘Where is the obligation for the Crown to provide accommodation in that event?’

National is fixated on adhering to the neo-liberal, market-driven ideology.  As such, it does not believe in state intervention – it believes that business should be providing solutions.

Employment and housing are two examples where National is waiting for private enterprise to take the lead.

In which case, they will be waiting for a very long time,

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Full Story

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The report goes on to state,

The number of people employed in construction fell to 174,600 from 178,800, while education and training fell to 192,900 from 199,300.”

We are going backwards in construction!?

At a time when an entire city needs to be re-built – we are going backwards in construction?!

On top of that, those in training and education fell from 199,300 down to 192,900???

The problem is not with welfare nor with beneficiaries.

The problem is with National, refusing to engage  and implement programmes to address these problems. Instead, by relying on the private sector, it washes it’s hands of any meaningful solutions – and when those solutions fail to materialise, they talk of “welfare dependency” and “welfare reforms“.

Anyone holding out for National’s promises of 170,000 new jobs and rising wages will be sorely disappointed. As Minister Bennett admitted on 29 April – “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“.

Unfortunately, going by John Key’s comments today, when he responded to the report of rising unemployment – our Dear Leader is seriously out of touch with reality,

The number of people on the benefit’s going down. Just the feedback we have from employers is that they are feeling more confident. Part of that creation of part time work I think is just then taking our first tepid step towards actual full time employment for people.”

No help there.

It seems we will have to wait for a new government to fulfill National’s pledges.

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References

TV3 Duncan Garner:  Unemployed youth would fill Eden Park

TVNZ Q+A: Guyon Espiner interviews Bill English

TVNZ Q+A: Transcript of Paula Bennett interview

NZ Herald: Unemployment rate lifts to 6.7pc

Yahoo News: Failed economic management drives up unemployment

John Key:  Speech to National Party Northern Region Conference

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