Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Just marketing to the base

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  • Graeme Edgeler,

    the highest marginal tax rates in the land will be faced by those trying to get off the bottom rung.

    No, they might be high, but the abatement on the student allowance allowance above the earning threshold is 100% (which is a decrease(!) since the last election).

    Every dollar a student earns over the abatement threshold is a dollar they lose from their allowance.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3207 posts Report Reply

  • rodgerd,

    And, of course, the biggest group of beneficiaries face no abatement. But taking money from rich old people isn't a vote winner in the way taking money from poor single parents is...

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 512 posts Report Reply

  • Mikaere Curtis,

    The problem with "marketing to the base" is that there might be some real-world implications once this policy is rolled out.

    For example on Morning Report, when asked whether they were going to need more frontline staff, Judith Collins blithely talked about there being "quite a lot of fat" in WINZ, implying that they would somehow transmogrify their current staffing configuration to have more frontline staff at no cost.

    And the organisations that will be required to provide the increase in mandated budgeting advice are asking where the funding will come from to pay for the increased output.

    Tamaki Makaurau • Since Nov 2006 • 528 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    I ranted irritably about this yesterday to anyone who would listen. Honestly, single mothers are damned no matter which way they go. Work all the hours god sends, get blamed for neglecting the kiddies; stay on the DPB and try to raise them on $200 a week or whatever it is, get blamed for being a bludger, as if raising children isn't work that should be highly valued anyway.

    It should also be noted that a single woman (only a woman? Not sure) over 50 with no dependent children can get the DPB. Most of those people will be women who were out of the paid workforce for most of their lives raising kids, and who will have been divorced or widowed. They'll be in semi-retirement. What on earth kind of employment prospects will they have?

    Meh.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Pound,

    I agree about the time spent versus results back of this being all out of whack. Why not spend all that time on something useful and electorally attractive - like - for example:


    I would love to see National - with their plentiful lawyers, accountants and businesspeople - -propose some solid policies to stop tax evasion and the rorting of family trust set-ups that mean so many of the property developers whose irresponsible trading caused many of the finance company collapses end up materially unaffected by bankruptcy.

    Surely that would throw up more savings for the state and provide the kind of moral leadership they talk about the DPB and welfare policies providing.

    That said - I didn't think there was really anything in the policy announcement that wasn't something Labour could have come up with. I mean really - if they were in for another term I wouldn't have been surprised if they got around to putting a check-up mechanism on the sickness benefit or some form of work incentive on DPB mothers. They aren't exactly nasty why don't the poor eat their babies ideas...

    MFAK • Since Nov 2006 • 20 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    They aren't exactly nasty why don't the poor eat their babies ideas...

    DPB mothers/fathers *are already working*. They're raising children.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Lx,

    Am I missing something here? The abatement threshold for the student allowance is $180 - considerably more generous than that for the DPB. Is tertiary study so much more important than merely raising kids? I'd love to see the policy rationale behind the disparity.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 24 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Also, there are already checks on sickness benefits. You have to provide regular doctor's certificates. See here.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    <quote>DPB mothers/fathers *are already working*. They're raising children.<quote>

    Nonsense, everybody knows that after the age of six they practically raise themselves. What with the Internet and all.

    Somebody (I think the child poverty action group woman) pointed out on Morning Report that single parents on the DPB are twice as likely to be raising special needs kids than the parent population at large. The policy will feel particularly kind to this lot.

    How did Peter Dunne manage to make his inane views heard so many times in the course of the last few hours I'll never know. But that's so by the by.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Stevens,

    I know a lot of people who have used the DPB over the years, men and women, and as far as I can see they usually do so very responsibly, and are very keen to get back to work when they can. the idea that there are thousands of people out there having babies as a career move just doesn't match up to what I've seen.

    great dog-whistle stuff though.

    The abatement rates are self-defeating, and should be higher than $100 I believe, I'd think more like $200 in today's economy.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 230 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    The abatement rates are self-defeating, and should be higher than $100 I believe, I'd think more like $200 in today's economy.

    So, so hard for Labor to claim the moral high ground here though, it pains me to say. Did they have to wait for National to link the benefit to the freaking rate of inflation?

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Susan Snowdon,

    15 hours a week at $12 an hour, multiplied by 52 weeks. $9360? Take away the abatement, I have no idea how to work that out. Take away tax. I don't know how much child care costs for primary school children, but let's say you use up 4 weeks holiday from your '15 hours a week, only in school hours job', that leaves about 8 weeks of school holidays to cover. (Remember, the nature of DPBs is that they have no partner to help.) Take that away. Transport, to and from your 'job'. (Ignore transport to childcare in school holidays, they can walk.) Take that away.(You could walk too, if Pak'n'save is handy. Although you might have to go further afield if all the DPBs from your impoverished suburb have got in before you.) What's left? A sense of achievement? Yes, that's comforting, they can eat and clothe ourselves in that...

    Since Mar 2008 • 110 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Also, there are already checks on sickness benefits. You have to provide regular doctor's certificates. See here.

    I actually don't mind the idea of occasionally referring sickness beneficiaries to designated doctors, as a check on the system. Although I suspect the incidence of tame doctors signing off on benefits for people who don't truly qualify isn't really very high.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • JohnAmiria,

    Yes, as Judith Collins pointed out, the number on the sickness benefit is the highest it's every been, but so is the population -- and that population is, demographically, only going to become more infirm over the next few years.

    Are you seriously suggesting that it is our aging population that is to blame for our rising rate of sickness beneficiaries?

    DPB mothers/fathers *are already working*. They're raising children.

    Nonsense, everybody knows that after the age of six they practically raise themselves. What with the Internet and all.

    National's says that this policy will only take effect once the youngest child is six ie at school from 9am-3pm. Are you seriously suggesting DPB parents spend those 6 hours a day washing ironing, cleaning the house, doing the shopping, etc? That's 30 hours a week.

    Having said that, although I like the idea in theory I know that in practice it will be completely unworkable. There simply aren't enough part time jobs out there for parents whose kids are at school. I would anticipate a proliferation in 15 Hour Weekly Training Courses as the only nett outcome with this policy.

    hither and yon • Since Aug 2008 • 215 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Pound,

    They aren't exactly nasty why don't the poor eat their babies ideas...

    DPB mothers/fathers *are already working*. They're raising children.

    Indeed - no argument there - never said they weren't.

    It is interesting how the whole point of a post can be missed so one line that suits preconceptions can be hauled out.

    Yikes.

    MFAK • Since Nov 2006 • 20 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    It should also be noted that a single woman (only a woman? Not sure) over 50 with no dependent children can get the DPB. Most of those people will be women who were out of the paid workforce for most of their lives raising kids, and who will have been divorced or widowed. They'll be in semi-retirement. What on earth kind of employment prospects will they have?

    Retailers are still desperately screaming out for more staff; a 30-something relative of mine who suffers from a severe mental illness has a job for the first time in her life because of the dire shortage of workers in the retail sector. There's plenty of jobs out there for people with no skills who want to work.

    great dog-whistle stuff though.

    The selfish evil DPB beneficiary casts a large shadow over the psyches of the far right; lazy, greedy and sexually promiscuous they're kind of the conservative corporate version of the Soviet Unions wreckers and saboteurs.

    Still, its worth remembering that only three years ago the National Party welfare policy was to punish women on the DPB who had additional children by totally cutting off all their benefits. Its a stark reminder of how far the party has moved to the middle, as well as how utterly batshit insane it really was under Don Brash.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    Although I suspect the incidence of tame doctors signing off on benefits for people who don't truly qualify isn't really very high.

    not so sure. i read somewhere that the incidence of small-town doctors being bullied/harassed into siging s/b forms is actually rather hi. apparently signing is easier than dealing with the beneficiary.

    which suggests two things.
    1. there are obviously people who really should be on the s/b.
    2. the one time i read kiwiblog seems to still haunt me.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Blake Monkley,

    There simply aren't enough part time jobs out there for parents whose kids are at school.

    Could be when they role out the Industrial relations policy.

    Auckland • Since Jul 2008 • 215 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    I would anticipate a proliferation in 15 Hour Weekly Training Courses as the only nett outcome with this policy.

    i'm not so sure. there are lots of part-time jobs in the service industry.

    but, the usual hours (in my experience) are 6-10pm fri/sat nights. and maybe sunday lunchtimes.

    otoh, housecleaners are frequently in demand in hi-income households. and perhaps nannying.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Blake Monkley,

    Roll not Role.

    Auckland • Since Jul 2008 • 215 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    DPB mothers/fathers *are already working*. They're raising children.

    And parents who actually go out to work are neglectful and abusive monsters? Sorry, I just thought we'd better balance the trite soundbites here.

    Still, I'd love to see the Labour/left go out there and lay that guilt trip on working parents -- including a hell of a lot of women, Danielle, who.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    I actually don't mind the idea of occasionally referring sickness beneficiaries to designated doctors, as a check on the system.

    It seems a disproportionate cost in terms of the benefit it might produce. If there really are crooked doctors out there, the occasional spot check and audit (biased perhaps toward physicians who happen to refer quite a few people) seems a more logical step to take. Asking sickness beneficiaries to be examined by a total stranger to see if their story checks out (wouldn't you find it a little humiliating?) is perfectly consistent with the notion that the world is full of bludgers, but it's not as if we have to buy into that now, do we?

    Plus, so long as we're being suspicious, who's not to say that these more trusted, 'special' doctors won't be under veiled or in fact explicit instructions to find people not meeting the criteria?

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    Still, I'd love to see the Labour/left go out there and lay that guilt trip on working parents

    labour don't have to. read the local fem.blogs, they're working through that issue already.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Asking sickness beneficiaries to be examined by a total stranger to see if their story checks out (wouldn't you find it a little humiliating?)

    It's hugely stressful, that's for sure. Especially when your actual doctor is an expert in your condition, but the designated doctor you get sent to doesn't 'believe' in it.

    And what happens then? What do you do with the people you kick off benefits for not 'complying'? Let them starve?

    Abatement rates are fabulous things. It's changed a bit now, but back in the mid-nineties, we horrified a guy at WINZ by sitting down with him and doing the maths on a piece of paper. At the point where for every dollar we earned, we lost $1.05, he yelled 'that can't be right', and did the maths again himself.

    When we went back two weeks later he'd resigned.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • JohnAmiria,

    there are lots of part-time jobs in the service industry but the usual hours (in my experience) are 6-10pm fri/sat nights. and maybe sunday lunchtimes.

    Yes, which is why I like the policy in theory only. I'm presuming National are only forcing DPB beneficiaries to work/train 15 hours a week within that 9am-3pm window (effectively 9.30-2.30 if you allow time to drop off and pick up the kid/s) which opens up a can of worms. Do you lose your DPB if the only available part time work clashes with that window? Because I'd imagine it's only pubs and cafes that need people for 3 hours around lunchtime. Or telemarketers, possibly. And how will that affect existing staff? Will they be 'rostered off' at lunchtime and forced to work a split morning/evening shift because the lunchtime/afternoon shift has been filled with DPB beneficiaries?

    As I said, it won't work in practice.

    hither and yon • Since Aug 2008 • 215 posts Report Reply

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