Wow. Wish I had kids.
I'm sure that there are many happy families out there as a result of Labour's promise to extend the Working For Families package.
I'm not impressed. Hardly surprising I suppose, single professional male that I am.
Labour's policy release takes me back to a discussion I was having with my blograde Tze Ming at Russell's birthday the other day. And yes, it's true, we do all hang out, singing 'Solidarity Forever' and drinking – anything as long as it's red.
My point was, and still is, that I don't like the idea of the Government turning more and more people into beneficiaries. Not because beneficiaries are bottom feeding scum or anything similarly reactionary and neo-con, but because I don't like the idea of increasing numbers of people becoming beholden to the state.
There's a touch of The Matrix about it.
When people are reliant on Government assistance, it gives the Government the ability to impose conditions. Some might be reasonable to most people, i.e. Thou Kids Shalt Attend School, but I don't think it's a huge leap of faith to imagine Thou Shalt Immunise Thy Children, which raises all sorts of issues. (No, I'm not some anti-immunisation nut, but I'm pro-choice, where that choice is informed).
By extending the Working For Families package to provide assistance for parents, Labour isn't just helping out those families who are really struggling. They're also making life a little cosier for those who aren't doing as well as they might, had they not dropped as many sprogs as they did. So why should I be paying for that?
According to Labour's new WFF calculator (smart move by the way, people love that shit), even if you're earning $150,000, you'll receive a benefit in 2007 – as long as you have six kids. So what gives? Are they chasing the Catholic vote? Why is Labour suddenly valuing the family higher than everything else when it comes to tax relief?
The problem is, and it's a problem I dare say National has been trying to deal with ahead of its tax policy release on Monday, when you try and give everyone something back, you don't get much bang for your buck. Rather than spraying it around like confetti, it's best when it's targeted. National is probably quite happy to target the middle and upper wage earners (while still delivering on its promised "tax cut for everyone"), because that's where the votes count.
Labour on the other hand, wants to be seen to be good to families, with an emphasis on those on lower to middle incomes. And here's their issue. You can't cut the bottom tax rate without giving everyone, including the rich (goddamnit), something back. And that's expensive. So the only way around it is to turn the tax cut into a benefit, where an income ceiling is imposed.
'What's so bad about being a beneficiary anyway', Tze Ming asks, as Russell turns to throw another copy of Atlas Shrugged on the glowing birthday bonfire.
It might be an ideological position, but it irks me. It's bad enough the Government takes as much as they do in the first place, now we're supposed to be grateful we can ask them for some back? Not on my watch.
For what it's worth, I like the new National ad, although as a friend pointed out, it probably makes being in the Labour Government seem a hell of a lot more fun than it is.
Finally, I found this Matrix quote vaguely amusing in the circumstances. Don't read too much into it – I'm still officially undecided.
Morpheus: This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.
PS: In my last post I mentioned going to the Solomons and New Caledonia last weekend. The trip was fantastic (thanks for asking). We followed 80 Pacific war vets back to where they fought and to visit the mates they left behind. It was incredibly moving, and I felt extremely privileged to be there. But as I've written before, old soldiers do that to me.
So anyway, if this sounds like a bit of you, be sure to watch Sunday (7.30pm Sunday on One).