Community Max

February 16th, 2011 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff has a couple of stories on government funded community max schemes, where the outcomes have been very dubious – catching horses to release them again, and a Maori Internet business directory which is not online.

Personally I am dubious about many of these taxpayer funded community schemes. They can provide useful skills and experience to those who don’t have any, but they can also cost a lot of money and not produce much in the way of outcomes.

say the majority of participants in the two examples above, have gained skills and are now off benefits. But paying $175,000 for a project (a Maori online business directory) that it seems wasn’t even needed (there are existing ones) is an expensive way to go about it.

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13 Responses to “Community Max”

  1. big bruv (13,552 comments) says:

    Community max schemes are a great idea if for no other reason than they get people off their backsides and out of the house for the money we pay them.

    If I had my way nobody who had been on the dole for longer than three months would be paid to do nothing, same for the DPB, each and every one of the breeders (long term DPB recipients) would be forced to attend some type of workshop for the money we give them.

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  2. ben (2,414 comments) says:

    Well let me speculate that these scheme must be a waste of time. There is a reason people haven’t voluntarily put their own money into these schemes by choice: that’s because they’re not commercial ideas. This is one reason why government keeps funding losers – adverse selection. Other reasons are that government is poorly set up to see opportunities, and is subject to all kinds of non-commercial incentives.

    The counterargument is that getting people into work is worth it per se. I think this is wrong. Far better to have people working in sustainable businesses that don’t plan to get rid of them. Asking people to join unsustainable enterprises that lose money and will eventually lose funding means those people invest in skills that, to the extent they are specific to the unsustainable enterprise, are useless, and to the extent they are not may have no bearing on either what the market is demanding or what the person being trained is actually interested in. If the deal for these people is that they have to take the first offer that comes up regardless of their preferences then these make work schemes are a terrible idea. WHat faster way to convince them tht life on the dole is superior to work they don’t like.

    However, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. If post make-work outcomes are so superior that the scheme pays for itself and then some, then good enough. If anybody is actually measuring that I would be surprised, and would be floored if it really did pay its way, rather than be simply another drag on taxpayer and beneficiary alike.

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  3. Nick R (500 comments) says:

    Yeah, well if Paula Bennett could take a moment out of her globetrotting lifestyle to do some work perhaps they would start asking questions about value for money instead of leaving it up to TV3.

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  4. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    I cant help but think back to the mid eighties when the cry was “why do we need all these people in the railways – all these engineers and staion masters etc – bugger them – fires the bums, let them get a real job and we can get anything we want done by the taiwanese …” (The chinese werent up to it in those days)

    So – what happened – 20,000 people went onto the dole, we slowly but surely ruined the apprenticeship system (the majority of the fitters and turners in NZ were trained in the railways), the rail system was flogged off, and guess what…..

    We weve now spent a lot more to buy it back and we are going to have to spend a bloodty lot more to get it up to a safe standard. Add to that the dole costs over the years and its obnvious that the whole scheme was just insane.

    It would have better to keep the railways as they were at the time and slowly bring in the SOE model – but there was no sense in making so many people redundant and to put them on the dole.

    So – these make work schemes – better that even if there was no out come – than sitting at home getting into trouble and bringing the next generation into a life on the benefit

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  5. malcolm (2,000 comments) says:

    Broken window fallacy, Brian. The problem is not that the railways got rid of surplus staff, it’s that the welfare system has encouraged people to remain/become dependent on the state (i.e. other productive people).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_broken_window

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  6. artemisia (224 comments) says:

    I expect the public servants get measured on numbers who come off benefits, and numbers of long term beneficiaries. So it is in their interest to set up schemes which do one or the other, provided some level of merit can be demonstrated, however tenuous. (Am assuming for long term beneficiaries the clock restarts if they go back on the benefit after their time on a minimum wage.)

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  7. malcolm (2,000 comments) says:

    Sorry, comment above was for Barry, not Brian.

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  8. backster (2,122 comments) says:

    Far more could be done for youth unemployment by introducing youth rates and reducing compliance and other regulatory costs to business….but if you thought these schemes were a waste of money just wait for the squandering that will go on under Whanau Ora, it will have the same mentality to wastage as the Super Council Maori comictragedy.

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  9. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    Jumping Jack Rabbits MALCOLM – I thought I was developing a Split Personality Disorder (disambiguation) – that would almost be enough to get me a disability allowance………..

    Call it what you like – putting people on the dole when there are no replacement jobs isnt some unintended consequernce – its stupid.

    One of the important changes in society over the last 30 or so years is that there are more available workers than there used to be – there are more workers than jobs.
    30 years ago a family could get a good living on one income – thats how the pay system was set up. But things have changed. No longer do female teachers (for example) have to resign their jobs when they get married. The reasoning for this was on the assumption that all families got one income – before any family got two incomes. There was no unemployment when a family could live on one income – mothers stayed at home and supervised the growing up of the children (as many readers on here would have experienced).
    But changing the employment ‘rules’ so that everyone who wanted a job – and who couldnt get one – was thus able to get the dole – means that there would forever be an unemployment queue.

    If there was ever an unforseen consequence- this has been one of the biggest that has descended on society. Add to this the consequence of open importing – and thus exporting some of the few jobs that there were – to china – makes the situation even worse.

    Its not the the welfare system that causes all this – its the changes to societies rules. Thats not to say that the welfare system is any good – its not and needs much changing – but if you increase the number of people who are ‘entitled’ to jobs (and thus the dole if they cant get one) then you will have huge increases in welfare costs – as has happened.

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  10. Sam Buchanan (502 comments) says:

    Make work schemes are usually going to be pointless – if the work was really needed it would already be being done. But when you have a government trapped by its own ‘anti-bludger’ rhetoric, work schemes are the easiest, though by no means cheapest, option for getting dole numbers down. Much better to invest in real jobs and training that last, and accept that there’s no quick way to cut unemployment.

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  11. nasska (10,897 comments) says:

    If a work scheme had a commercial value & provided a service or goods then the local business people would be up in arms about subsidised competition & rightly so. The value these courses provide is less than actual skills taught than getting the participants learning, getting out of bed in the morning & therefore becoming employable.

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  12. KH (694 comments) says:

    A son of mine is on such a scheme and it’s been a lifesaver. Not sure if it is Community Max. But just a great step up for him from a very low base. I will thank whoever who will listen.
    But the objections to how these schemes are mostly run are absolutely correct.
    The criteria is quite warped. A well run business that provides good role models to the participants is almost precluded from getting this money to do the work. If you are incompetent, doing useless make work, living for the moment and dare I say it Maori, you will be shovelled money with no need to actually do the job. Winz just won’t deal with proper privately owned businesses that will do the job responsibility.
    And the schemes are all short term in existence and inevitably fly by night. Not sustainable like any person or business must be to claim success.
    And what sort of role modeling is that for young people?

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  13. John Ansell (874 comments) says:

    Seems even hip-hop tours are back.

    Clarxism remains alive and well – Nat members should hang their heads in shame at the hypocrisy.

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