Laws on Welfare

Michael has avoided the “h” issue in his SST column and insteads talks welfare:

LAST week 70 NGOs – mostly voluntary and agencies – met in Auckland to declare war on child . But not in the Cameroon nor Colombia, Niue nor Nicaragua.

In good old New Zealand.

According to their later communique, chaired by Barnardo’s chief executive Murray Edridge, more than 220,000 Kiwi kids live in direct poverty as a result of their parents being dependent upon a welfare benefit. And because the value of a benefit “is way below the poverty level”, the NGO summit demanded an immediate increase, plus tertiary training incentives, and the provision of breakfast in all decile 1 and 2 schools.

The best thing is for a parent to move off the welfare benefit and into the workforce. New Zealand has a huge fiscal deficit and the notion that we can afford to pay people more money to not work is madness. We need more people in work.

“We want our kids to be barristers, not baristas!” declared chairwoman Ani Pitman. They didn’t want them doing “menial jobs”.

All that is wrong with New Zealand, the welfare system and NGOs was probably summarised in that last point. Better to be on the dole than in a menial job. Better being a criminal defender than a skilled worker. And if none of these options are immediately at hand then just give us more money.

Almost any job will make you better off than being on welfare. And not just about the money. I’ve worked as a cleaner to earn $1.99 an hour.

This calculated and continuing attack on the taxpaying workers of this country demands reply, not simply to respond to the silly sophistry of this latest gimme summit, but because it refuses to address the real cause of all child deprivation in this country: their parents.

There is not one child in this country who should be going to school without breakfast. If there is, then that is a mandatory call to CYF. Clearly, the parent or parents are unworthy of the name.

Similarly, if the welfare benefit is not enough to house, feed and clothe your kiddies then there are two possibilities. First, the parents in the equation are smoking, drinking, gambling or huffing the taxpayer money intended for their children. Or, second, that their boyfriends are. Either way, it is testimony of child abuse and neglect, not child poverty.

Laws over-generalises here, but his point is basically sound. There are times when a family does get hit with an exceptionally large one expense such as a medical or dental bill. However there are grants and loans from WINZ to cover such situations. The welfare system does not give a life of luxury, but it is certainly enough for the vast majority of families on it to give their kids breakfast. Breakfast does not cost a lot. it is about priorities.

Except for those permanently incapacitated by injury or mental illness, the welfare benefit is a bridge. From independence to independence, not from sob story to lifestyle. That the summit NGOs don’t get this is the reason why NGOs exist: to create a need and then to amplify it.

And for those permanently incapacitated, I don’t think we do enough.

Yes, it’s true that New Zealand has more unskilled labour than we have jobs. But even those unskilled and I use my council’s litter and graffiti teams as an example perform valuable community service. They are probably of greater value to my city than the entire legal fraternity. But, according to the summit, these are unworthy and menial occupations.

Heh. Poor lawyers. Always picked on.

This country’s welfare system does not deliver poverty. Rather it rescues people from it. It is generous on any international scale and probably to a fault. And it is neither the cause nor the solution of our country’s underprivileged, undernourished and underloved children.

That exclusive responsibility rests with the people who brought them into the world, and the people responsible for their ongoing “care”. This country has too many crap parents. End of story. Until we start facing that reality, we will continue to blight the lives of those we most profess to care for.

Hard to disagree with that conclusion, even though I am sure many will try.

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