Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Just marketing to the base

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  • giovanni tiso,

    the value i add to society is my ability to think! can i help it that this pays better than my old job washing dishes?

    Maybe not, but it's us thinkers who set the rates.

    otherwise, touche.

    It was meant for the both of us...

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    You skirted around one issue: as a society we need children, they are a resource.

    See, Giovanni, if I say things like that I'm shoving waifs up the nearest chimney and flogging the little bastards if they don't hem my trousers properly. :)

    Did anyone else think when National released its delightful policy yesterday: "Nine years in Opposition, and that's the best you can do?"

    More: "There's some people you're never, ever going to satisfy, and if you try you're just going to end up with self-inflicted migraines."

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

  • Lucy Stewart,

    No, but I thought it an odd policy given that Nats all know that when given the choice of doing 15 hours a week work/training once your child turns six, or having another baby, a teenage DPB mum will always choose to get herself knocked up again. And then claim not to know who the father is, which is probably true, because they ... y'know ... are quite free with their favours.

    Please tell me there's a missing sarcasm tag attached to this.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    once your child turns six, or having another baby, a teenage DPB mum will always choose to get herself knocked up again.

    For her to be a "teenage DPB mum" with a six year old, she would have to have been 12-13 at the age of her first pregnancy. I assumed it was sarcastic, since no-one sane would make this assertion so boldly.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Blake Monkley,

    They rolled it out last month. It's all about screwing over unions and allowing employers to fire at will for 90-days. No commitment to increased workplace flexibility __for employees_ at all.

    What sort of workplace flexibility are you looking for?

    Low skilled workers at present are sourced mainly from labour hire companies that are able to get around the 90 Day rule already.

    Auckland • Since Jul 2008 • 215 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    Some work I was involved in a few years back in NSW estimated the costs of training long-term unemployed and people with disabilities to a sufficient level for them to be employable. The costs were significantly higher than training school leavers but not prohibitively so.

    I'm genuinely interested to know whether, along with the cost of that scheme, you paid any attention to measuring its success rate in placing those people in genuine, sustainable, gainful employment. It's something we hear next to nothing about. Hopefully your project wasn't part of the Howard-era 'job network', where privatised 'providers' pointlessly churned the unemployed through spurious short-term 'training schemes'.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    There's room for both however. Some work I was involved in a few years back in NSW estimated the costs of training long-term unemployed and people with disabilities to a sufficient level for them to be employable

    Sure, but that's not what this policy is about. instead, its about expanding the labour supply, by forcing people doing a valuable job (parenting) into the workforce.

    The fact that when they do do, they'll face effective marginal tax rates of 91% just makes it sadistic.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    What sort of workplace flexibility are you looking for?

    Deborah has the details here. Basically, its flexibility on the employee side, not the employer. And on that point, its worth noting that National opposed legislation which would increase workplace flexibility for working parents, on the basis that employers didn't like it. Which shows how little commitment they have to making this work.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Increasing the level paid to those on the unemployment benefit would also induce flexibility in the workplace, by giving people a measure of security that allows them to switch jobs with lower risk.

    If National was innovative, and actually wanted to be Labour + rather than just appearing so, they might promote 'flexicurity'. Instead they're raising the corpses of Richardson and Shipley.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Susannah Shepherd,

    Well, it's definitely good - and long overdue - to see the abatement levels increased, but unfortunately it was the exclusion of the widow's benefit from the work test that makes me think there's more in the way of dog-whistle than policy under this.

    I can't see that a woman born in, say, 1955 is any less able to look for work than someone who is ill or a long-term unemployed man of the same age (and, incidentally, receiving less in benefit $) - after a decent grieving period, of course. I bet we all know women in the 50-64 age bracket who went back to work in middle age despite having been out of the workforce for a long time and/or not having a lot in the way of 'recognised' skills. It might be a shock to the system for some, sure, but no more than for many others who find themselves unwillingly at the mercy of the state due to circumstances beyond their control...

    P.S. Someone earlier was sceptical that the ageing population had anything to do with the increase in sickness beneficiaries. I don't have the figures to hand but I have seen some recently which showed that the growth in numbers is overwhelmingly in the 50-64 bracket. Bloody work-shy baby boomers :-)

    Wellington • Since Jan 2008 • 58 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    Joe said:

    I'm genuinely interested to know whether, along with the cost of that scheme, you paid any attention to measuring its success rate in placing those people in genuine, sustainable, gainful employment.

    The study, here, has been somewhat superceded by Commonwealth reforms and what's known as the Productivity Places Program (warning; it's very dry in an economic sense that is).

    But no, it wasn't part of the the Cmwth government's job network reforms - it was for the NSW government.

    Your question is difficult to answer however, we've got lots of targets for increasing training participation rates for broadly defined "disadvantaged" people/communities and we're developing "wrap-around-services" that improve employment outcomes however, like too many things in Australia IMHO, the federal system is an impediment as the Cmwth leads employment policy but not training... I'd need to have a look at the data to answer your question (and I'll get back to you).

    I/S said:

    Sure, but that's not what this policy is about. instead, its about expanding the labour supply, by forcing people doing a valuable job (parenting) into the workforce.

    The fact that when they do do, they'll face effective marginal tax rates of 91% just makes it sadistic.

    You'll get no disagreement from me on that. I think National's missed an opportunity in preference for stupid politics. It's like the ghost of Peter McArdle...

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • Suze Vermeer,

    The DPB is not more than the dole, it's the same amount.

    Short of eugenics, the underclass can't be stopped from breeding and, as the underclass won't be going away any time soon, let's throw meaningful health and educational resources at these children so they can have a the sort of start in life every social specialist seems to agree that they need. Let there be schools with creches so these young solo mothers can complete their education, such as one in Welly which has excellent rate of educated young mothers and healthy children. There's nothing wrong with teenage girls having babies. They are at the right biological age for breeding. If alot of these are solo parents, let's support them, not make it hard for them. Let's build on this so the peole we need to contribute to society in the future aren't angry and anti-social. So no one tapes over our mouths in the old folks' home.

    And good on youse, all you paid thinkers. Of course you deserve your pay packets, but let's fund these babies coming into the world in unencouraging circumstances and see if there are any potential intellectuals/analysts out there among the poor. We'll never know otherwise. And unless you've got heaps of examples of Once Were Warrior children becoming policy anecdotes, no anecdotes please.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 29 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    Thanks for that link Paul - it's certainly a visionary document compared to the spiteful and punitive policies that were implemented by the federal government of the time.

    Unfortunately National appear to have next to no interest in investigating "how vocational education and training can help overcome skill shortages, improve labour market outcomes and raise economic growth." With Katherine Rich out of the picture the "dob in a solo mum" mentality seems unchanged since the Muldoon era.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Suze Vermeer,

    "And unless you've got heaps of examples of Once Were Warrior children becoming policy anecdotes, no anecdotes please."

    Sorry, that was meant to be policy analysts, not policy anecdotes!!

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 29 posts Report Reply

  • Susannah Shepherd,

    Suze said:

    The DPB is not more than the dole, it's the same amount.

    Unless you're on the women alone/widows DPB - $191.83 after tax per week, compared to unemployed/sickness benefit of $184.17 for a single adult over 25.

    Sorry, I'm really not meaning to pick on the widows, older divorcees, and women who have been looking after aged relatives, but does anyone know why the (small) discrepancy?

    Wellington • Since Jan 2008 • 58 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Sorry, I'm really not meaning to pick on the widows, older divorcees, and women who have been looking after aged relatives, but does anyone know why the (small) discrepancy?

    Because they're the "deserving" poor, as opposed to "undeserving" divorcees, malingerers, and slackers.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    unless you've got heaps of examples of Once Were Warrior children becoming policy analysts, no anecdotes please.

    you mean, other than me?

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

  • Che Tibby,

    just realised i should qualify that. *once were warriors* would be an overstatement. but only once i reached about 8.

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

  • A S,

    P.S. Someone earlier was sceptical that the ageing population had anything to do with the increase in sickness beneficiaries. I don't have the figures to hand but I have seen some recently which showed that the growth in numbers is overwhelmingly in the 50-64 bracket. Bloody work-shy baby boomers :-)

    Normally, not due to being "work-shy" but more due to age discrimination.

    Sure, but that's not what this policy is about. instead, its about expanding the labour supply, by forcing people doing a valuable job (parenting) into the workforce.

    How do you figure that? The numbers involved are insufficient to do anything significant to labour supply. Perhaps the policy isn't about providing slave labour to the hospo industry, as a lot of posters are keen to imply, perhaps it is just what it says it is....

    The fact that when they do do, they'll face effective marginal tax rates of 91% just makes it sadistic.

    What are you basing your EMTR figures on here? As far as I can recall, the abatement of benefits varies considerably depending on the supplementary benefits you are entitled to receive. If someone is in receipt of accommodation supplement, it abates from the first dollar earned. Other supplementary benefits abate differently. Unless things have changed radically, any assessment of EMTRs depends on a range of factors and don't work at a flat rate.

    Unfortunately National appear to have next to no interest in investigating "how vocational education and training can help overcome skill shortages, improve labour market outcomes and raise economic growth." With Katherine Rich out of the picture the "dob in a solo mum" mentality seems unchanged since the Muldoon era.

    Nor do the current govt, who presided over the dismantling of the majority of second chance education, the dis-establishment of the majority of WINZ employment programmes, the overhaul of the training incentive allowance, and the abolition of the majority of motivational programmes such as hikoi ki paerangi and wahine ahuru,and who effectively emasculated the compass programme. Collectively, these were programmes that proved to be quite successful in building up the self esteem of sole parents to a point where they were more likely to exit benefit into something sustainable and worthwhile.

    When I look at what this govt has done to beneficiaries, I think the nats might actually more to offer beneficiaries than the incumbents.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2007 • 269 posts Report Reply

  • A S,

    Because they're the "deserving" poor, as opposed to "undeserving" divorcees, malingerers, and slackers.

    Or maybe that those caring for the sick and infirm often face higher costs in doing that which are taken into account when setting rates? Maybe when the numbers on widows benefit is quite low, making poor elderly widows worse to suit a particular ideology off isn't a good look for any government?

    Deserving and undeserving has bugger all to do with it.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2007 • 269 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Leaving the sole parents aside for a moment, I see no way those 5600 "work-ready" sick or invalid folk will get a job until any government invests in changing the ignorant, discriminatory attitudes of many employers about hiring disabled and mentally ill workers.

    Many sickness benefit recipients are there because of mental illness, and I wonder if at least some of the increased numbers simply reflect improved awareness and lowered embarrassment because of the successful Like Minds and Depression campaigns.

    How many sign-ups are a result of our ludicrous national overworking habit? Are our managers not able to divide up the work sustainably amongst more people or could it be that we have poured money into more prisons rather than training to ensure enough of the right skills?

    How are employers going to be ready to play their part? The greatest weakness of this policy is the focus on only one side of the employment equation. Sadly that oversight seems common in other countries addressing the same demographic pressures on benefits.

    There are many costs involved in doing this properly, as Deborah notes. That is of course if doing it properly is the intention, rather than satisfying the punitive impulses that have resurfaced in some forums since this announcement.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19728 posts Report Reply

  • Susan Snowdon,

    About this work or training (or starve) idea. I used to go to computer classes run by MIT (Manukau that is), which was a place up the road open every day of the week and late on some nights. All I had to do was phone up and book. I could go any time, any day, as often as I wanted, all year long. It was almost always full. All sorts of people went, old, young, men, women, mothers, grandfathers smart people, idiots. We all seemed to be learning useful and different things.Then they shut it because it was 'out of their area', or some such nonsense. We were supposed to go to night classes at the local college. As if one hour a week at 7pm on a Tuesday would suit everyone... Now that was the sort of thing that really was helping people with work skills. I wonder if John Key has that sort of investment in mind for the unemployed proletariat?

    Since Mar 2008 • 110 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    A S: Information on the DPB's clawback regime can be found here. As you can see, earning over $180 a week - the minimum you can legally get from 15 hours at minimum wage - puts you in the 70% clawback zone. Throw in 21% PAYE, and you're looking at 91%.

    DPB recipients may also lose other assitance, but I haven't been able to confirm the clawback on the Accomodation Supplement by looking around the WINZ site or by browsing the Social Security Act 1964. They have information for non-beneficiaries, but nothing for beneficiaries. But if there is a reduction, depending on the rate, it coul draise the EMTR to over 100%.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    A S:

    When I look at what this govt has done to beneficiaries, I think the nats might actually have more to offer beneficiaries than the incumbents.

    OK, having been out of NZ for all but the first couple of years of Jim 'n Jenny, I had to do a quick Google to discover that the "motivational programmes" you mentioned - hikoi ki paerangi, wahine ahuru, compass - were initiatives of the Bolger era. Thank you, v. interesting.

    With Bolger now something of a pariah in Nat circles, thanks to his involvement with Kiwibank & resurgent rail, it seems that the more 'progressive' initiatives of his time as PM are now seen by his party as the fag end of discredited Muldoon socialism. You're right, in the dark with the light behind them the present government can appear comparatively mean and punitive. Then again, the kinder 'n gentler initiatives from Bolger's time could be seen as token palliatives for the Ruth Richardson - Bill Birch-driven benefit slashing of the time.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • paulalambert,

    Someone I know well with one child is on the DPb and grateful to have it. Apart from the supermarket they rarely go anywhere that costs money, she very often wear secondhand clothes, tries hard to maintain a home and property in some semblance of order. She said today after that Nat's announcement that she's grateful for their relative security, courtesy of the groaning taxpayer via WINZ. She gets the basic one child rate plus Accommodation supplement of the maximum $75pw and out of that is currently paying off what she owes WINZ for buying school uniform and stationery.

    She'd started a degree but after about eight papers part-time study at that level (ironically) it became too difficult to successfully juggle once her child was of school age, but part-time casual work has been an option sometimes. There is an absentee father and no family for any reliable or free help.

    She said parenting didn't get easier once the child was six, it got harder and, if she wasn't usually at home for her now early teen, seriously wonders whether she'd be sometimes searching the streets or mall. Or whether that is still to come.

    She also says no matter how loving and rational she has remained during her beneficiaryhood shes found children can grow up a bit confused and angry at the public distaste for beneficiary children bashing.

    Yes thats how that child has seen it, heard it, interpreted it. From school, not from hearing about it at home.

    I can't really imagine what it would have been like as a kid to have grown up feeling a bit like a stigmatised powerless political football.
    Not 'Once Were Warriors' but not nice.

    chch • Since Dec 2006 • 107 posts Report Reply

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