Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Just marketing to the base

356 Responses

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  • giovanni tiso,

    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.

    Wait: I thought you said you weren't good with numbers.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Caleb D'Anvers,

    The way the earning threshold for student allowances is enforced is just contemptuous. I know a lot of people who've spent their twenties being shadowed by IRD over quite minor sums of money 'misearned' in this way. If I were being cynical, I would suggest it's another example of Baby Boomer generational warfare. Sure, we spent our twenties being irresponsible and out of control, but we're damned if we're going to let anyone else do it.

    I'd suggest also that Mora and the other charmers on the Panel are another manifestation of this trend. Haterz.

    London SE16 • Since Mar 2008 • 482 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    Because I'd imagine it's only pubs and cafes that need people for 3 hours around lunchtime

    a lot of those places struggle to find staff so end up with lamo, not-caring students. a lot of experienced workers would be good for the industry.

    otoh, it would increase supply enough to drive wages down.

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

  • Craig Ranapia,

    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?)

    Well, yes... Then again, I'm not exactly the kind of person who finds the regular visits to the doctor where you're asked rather intimate questions about whether you've flipped out recently a lot of fun either.

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

  • Emma Hart,

    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)

    And not in the 14 weeks a year the kids are on holiday, right?

    Wait: I thought you said you weren't good with numbers.

    Yeah, I lied.

    But not to my doctor.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Ohhhh, that 15 hours a week is cunning! According to WINZ, if you earn between $4,161 and $9,360 a year, the DPB abates at 30c/$1. Conveniently, 15 hours at $12/hour is precisely... $9,360. At $9,361 the abatement jumps up to 70c/$1.

    Stand-by for a proliferation of minimum-wage part-time jobs. And isn't the minimum wage meant to be increasing to $12.50 at some point?

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Take a moment to mentally combine this policy with the 90 day probation period.

    If National win the election it'll be a matter of months before the media will have the first horror stories of vulnerable solo mum's being threatened with being summarily fired and losing their DPB if they don't reciprocate the bosses advances.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    BTW, the next time someone uses the phrase "beneficiary bashing" without ironic air quotes, I'm going to demand to see the hair-and-blood caked beneficiary club.

    Donna Wynd of the Child Poverty Action Group was on the radio this morning openly musing about what secret agenda might lie behind an initiative that implied a hell of a lot of policy work for quite little bang. I don't actually think there is a secret agenda here. It's just marketing to the base, is all.

    I'm actually mildly surprised that nobody seems to have asked Wynd the rather obvious follow-up -- and what do you think was the motivation, Donna? And considering your not at all secret agenda, what the hell could National or Labour actually do to satisfy you? Apart from a telephone number-sized cheque?

    You know, the same kinds of question business lobbyists and industry sector groups get asked.

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

  • JohnAmiria,

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

    It's ironic that one possible outcome of this policy will be that low income beneficiaries will be utilised to allow high income parents (presumably the mother) time away from their kids to go shopping, sip lattes, or volunteer at Hospice. But the reality is that the last people high income earners want left alone in their house is a low income beneficiary who really doesn't want to be there anyway and will probably just case the joint for their thieving P-smoking boyfriend ...

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

  • George Darroch,

    Life in the benefit line is already hell. Very little money, constant denigration by society (and a cohort of children feeling ashamed of their station in life), regular deprecation by WINZ.

    The results of 18 years of this policy are stark, shocking, and a stain on our humanity. We have 230,000 children alone living in poverty.

    More than one-in-five children are living in poverty, the report says, putting them at risk of educational failure, undermining job prospects and making them more likely to suffer sickness, abuse, or die young

    The present Government brushes these aside, since they're about 'lifting people off welfare'.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    And considering your not at all secret agenda, what the hell could National or Labour actually do to satisfy you? Apart from a telephone number-sized cheque?

    Say, that's an idea! But then of course leaving the benefits at 1990 levels, shaming the victims of what is essentially structural unemployment, and cutting taxes are the solutions on both side of fence. Hooray.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    If National win the election it'll be a matter of months before the media will have the first horror stories of vulnerable solo mum's being threatened with being summarily fired and losing their DPB if they don't reciprocate the bosses advances.

    Wow, Tom, I've obviously missed the National Party workplace sexual harassment policy. Is this part of that secret agenda I keep hearing so much about

    Or have you been listening to Neil Young again?

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

  • Carol Stewart,

    It's a daft policy in isolation. As I understand it, once their youngest child turns six, lone parents will be required under this National policy to find 15 hours a week part time work.
    This is going to require a certain number of employers who are prepared to offer 15 hours work per week, on a very flexible basis and presumably keeping 14 weeks free for school holidays.
    I'm lookiing forward to hear about the incentives that National are going to introduce, to enact these new family friendly policies in the work place. Must be a Tui billboard in there somewhere..

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 828 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart,

    Also, those 15 hours per week really need to be between 9am and 3pm - the whole thing about lone parents is that they are LONE and don't necessarily have much help with looking after kids outside of school hours.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 828 posts Report Reply

  • Glenn Pearce,

    and that population is, demographically, only going to become more infirm over the next few years.

    How does that work ?

    If you're sick and >65 do you get to choose between the Sickness Benefit or National Super ?

    Auckland • Since Feb 2007 • 504 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Don't be so thick Mr. Ranapia. The 90 days probation period is the sort of thing a sexually predatory male's wet dreams are made of. Its all ABOUT entrenching the absolute power of the boss.


    "You know I can fire you without giving reason, don't you?"


    Do you really believe that line won't be used to sexually exploit vulnerable women who've already been told they must work primarily as pennance?

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Craig, I'm sorry, but that's exactly what the bill National is trying to pass does. It takes away the rights of new employees for three months. Fire at will.

    When you have a power relationship like that, and someone who needs that money to survive (and getting a benefit is going to get a whole lot harder - WINZ caseworker: you walked out on that last job, didn't you?), then that power is there to be exploited. Most won't, but don't pretend there aren't people who will.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    i read somewhere that the incidence of small-town doctors being bullied/harassed into signing s/b forms is actually rather hi.

    It was Judith Collins in parliament a few weeks back. She claimed that she had letters from doctors claiming to have been bullied into signing medical certificates, but had no proof, just that scowl she always seems to have on her holier than thou face.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Beneficiaries

    Just a reminder of current rates for Unemployment , Sickness and Domestic Purposes benefits (scroll down). By the way, those numbers (in the first 2 cases, at least, and the third, I presume) include Accomodation supplement.

    Very few people, I'd wager, would subject themselves to that sort of income level unless they had to.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    It was Judith Collins in parliament a few weeks back. She claimed that she had letters from doctors claiming to have been bullied into signing medical certificates,

    Even if that were true, it reinforces the idea that any investigation of potential wrongdoing would start by talking to (some of) the doctors, rather than harassing (all of the) patients.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Way back on page 1, Danyl noted:

    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.

    This wasn't the case.

    At the last election, National discussed whether they might remove the automatic right to a DPB increase for recipients who had additional children while on the DPB. E.g. a DPBary with two dependent children and who received a DPB at a level calculated for one parent with two dependent children, who gave birth while on the DPB, might still receive the DPB at that level, instead of automatically getting the DPB at the level calculated for one parent with three dependent children.

    Not saying I think it was a great plan, but it wasn't nearly as bad as you make out.

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

  • George Darroch,

    might still receive the DPB at that level, instead of automatically getting the DPB at the level calculated for one parent with three dependent children.

    So that parent had to magically feed, clothe, educate, and raise that child with nothing?

    I know it isn't National policy now, but I wonder what instructions for magic tricks are hidden in the new policy.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Very few people, I'd wager, would subject themselves to that sort of income level unless they had to.

    It's not just that: we have structural unemployment in this country. If the unemployment rate dips lower than five per cent, as it has been for quite some time, economists get jittery and our reserve bank governor starts hiking interest rates, lest a workforce with too many options start getting frisky and organise and demand wage increases. So you're always going to get a percentage of unemployed, no matter what, and the number is cyclical - as does the economy so does the job market - whereas if we truly had a class of people who can't be bothered to work, they would stick to the plan so long as a benefit was available to them.

    The genius of Reagan was how he marketed the notion that the unemployed are a wilful burden, as opposed to victims of the way things work, the couple o' layers of people at the bottom who are needed for the economic gears to turn smoothly (and whose chief function, as George Carlin once put it, is to scare the shit out of the middle class).

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart,

    Judith Collins .. had no proof, just that scowl she always seems to have on her holier than thou face.

    It takes a lot of concentration, channelling Ruth Richardson..

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 828 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Don't be so thick Mr. Ranapia. The 90 days probation period is the sort of thing a sexually predatory male's wet dreams are made of.

    Well, Tom, I think the only sexual fantasies we're getting any insight into are yours. What contribution is being made into a marginally less Dickensian and hysterical policy debate is up to others to judge, I guess.

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

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