Herald on targeting

The NZ Herald editorial:

Sometimes the Government must think it simply cannot win. Take the action plan outlined in the Green Paper for Vulnerable Children. If Social Development Minister Paula Bennett failed to pay particular attention to this group, she would be accused of being negligent and uncaring. But her formulation of proposals to overcome shortcomings in the identification and tackling of has led only to criticism on another count. According to a joint statement issued by 72 non-government agencies, the funding of services for better-off children must be sacrosanct in this drive to help the neediest.

I bet you all 72 of those agencies get most of their funding from the taxpayer.

The agencies’ statement is, in effect, a plea for the retention of universal social spending, no matter the fact that many parents could afford to pay more if they had to. …

In an ideal world, such universal benefits would be retained. But the present situation is far from that.

Actually in an ideal world, there would be no universal benefits outside schools and hospitals. There are significant economic deadweight costs in taking money off people in taxation and giving it back to them in subsidies. We should provide subsidised services to those who can not afford them for themselves – not to everyone.

It is imperative that any fiscally responsible Government adjusts both its spending and its priorities. Those most in need of temporary help should be targeted.

In the context of children, that means concentrating funding where it is most needed and most cost-effective. It makes no sense to provide welfare for the comfortably off as well as the most vulnerable if the burden on the budget cripples the economy on which all New Zealanders depend.


The United Nations children’s fund Unicef, which drafted the agencies’ statement, also said that Ms Bennett’s proposals risk “stigmatising” the 15 per cent of children defined as vulnerable. That, again, is a skew-whiff view of the Government’s intent.

Oh, get out of here. This is like the PPTA saying it is racism to try and improve educational outcomes in South Auckland and Porirua. Helpng vulnerable families is not stigmatising them.

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