Backlash on welfare

August 10th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

I blogged earlier this week on using the example of a guy on a sickness benefit painting his roof, and how it wasn’t fair, and how Shearer won’t tolerate people who don’t pull their weight. I commented:

Almost sounds like a speech from a National MP. How often do Labour MPs talk about ?

A few of the left blogs have complained about it, saying how does Shearer  know that the sickness beneficiary didn’t have a mental health problem. I think they missed this part:

Last year before the election, I was chatting to a guy in my electorate who had just got home from work. In the middle of the conversation, he stopped and pointed across the road to his neighbour.

He said: “see that guy over there, he’s on a sickness benefit, yet he’s up there painting the roof of his house. That’s not bloody fair. Do you guys support him?”

I think we can assume that the neighbour knew enough about the situation to know he was being a bludger. He wouldn’t know the guy was on a sickness benefit, unless he had been told by the beneficiary – and presumably why he was on it.  So I think people are unfairly attacking Shearer for making a valid point.

But one comment was notable, based on who it was from on Shearer’s Facebook page:

Joan Caulfield Unhappy you chose to take a cheap shot at a sickness beneficiary. 

Do you know what his illness is? Maybe he has a mental illness and cannot hold down a job. Passing the test set by Work and Income is very difficult and requires a medical certificate. Sickness beneficiaries I know live in poverty and need support from families to survive. 

I expect a comment like that to come from the Nats.

is the former electorate agent for Mt Albert, when Helen Clark was the MP. To have a staff for the former leader and MP severely criticise the current leader and current MP for Mt Albert is a very rare thing.

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30 Responses to “Backlash on welfare”

  1. kowtow (8,175 comments) says:

    Rights culture gone mad. We see it in almost every aspect of daily life now. It has become entrenched in our thinking and our world view. It will destroy the west.

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  2. Chuck Bird (4,829 comments) says:

    I am pretty sure I recall Joan Caulfield was involved in the destruction of evidence while the police were investigating Clark for fraud.

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  3. Keeping Stock (10,264 comments) says:

    If the beneficiary was “living in poverty”, who paid for the paint he was applying to his roof? And given that you don’t normally paint a home you are renting, ought we then conclude that the beneficiary concerned also owned the hosue he was painting the roof of?

    So many questions…

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  4. KiwiGreg (3,247 comments) says:

    Why shouldn’t families support a member who is unable to support themselves?

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  5. Joel Rowan (99 comments) says:

    I don’t even think the anecdote he told was true. I don’t think there is or was a constituent on the sickness benefit painting his roof in Mt. Albert (and if there was, how did the neighbour know he was on the benefit). I think someone in his PR team has decided he should make all his policy dog-whistles to middle NZ by way of cheesy constituent stories. But that’s just my theory.

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  6. Yoza (1,774 comments) says:

    What Shearer indulged in is called ‘dog whistling’, he is pitching the tone and direction of his comment at a reactionary element whose shallow analysis of society struggles to allow for anything they consider deviates from their perception of normal.

    This makes Shearer look like a puppet of the corporate PR campaign that has spent decades cultivating an environment of contempt for marginalised groups within society they consider easy targets – sickness beneficiaries and ‘criminals'(code for Maori) among the most regular subjects. Anything to distract attention from the the very real threat to society, the increasingly unfettered power corporations wield to hoover up wealth and subjugate communities.

    That the leader of the ‘opposition’ has picked up the corporate spear and is shaking it at beneficiaries speaks volumes for who this mercenary has sided with. Little wonder the Labour party looks like a spent force when the best they can manage is scavenging for scraps from out of the National party’s PR pigswill.

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  7. Brian Smaller (4,037 comments) says:

    Really? I have known dozens of people ripping off welfare over the years – sickness, dpb, dole and even the super. I find this story highly believable.

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  8. Pete George (23,426 comments) says:

    This ‘bennie bashing’ comment by Shearer has causes at least as much angst amongst the party than the Cunlife clobbering. The accumulated effect is a major issue, and Shearer appears to be doing nothing about it.

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  9. Joel Rowan (99 comments) says:

    I’m not saying that there isn’t anyone ripping off welfare. Merely that the anecdote was bullshit.

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  10. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    Let them tear themselves to bits argueing among themselves.

    With any luck the world financial situation will get so bad that even countries like NZ will have to really review the welfare system and to throw some of these recently developed ideas of rights into the trash can.

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  11. PaulL (6,024 comments) says:

    The best anecdotes in politics are made up. What’s the point?

    For a Labour supporter (which I’m surely not) they should be looking at the message and seeing if they agree with it. If it were true that there were a sickness beneficiary (physically disabled implied) painting his roof (implication being he’s bludging), then is the Labour party position that “the Labour party won’t tolerate people who don’t pull their weight”? Or is it the party position that it’s OK, and we just need to accept some leakage around the edges so as to avoid stigmatising every beneficiary.

    FFS, the Labour party supporters need to get with the program if they ever want to get back into power. This is a defining question, and they’re arguing semantics instead of standing up to be counted.

    Yoza is a classic example, instead of addressing the question of whether the Labour party tolerates bludgers, he dives off into an argument that there aren’t very many of them and that doing something about them stigmatises all beneficiaries. The problem is that for the average joe who knows a bludger or thinks he knows a bludger, he’s just heard that the Labour party thinks that’s OK. Lost vote right there.

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  12. anonymouse (709 comments) says:

    @Joel Rowan
    Merely that the anecdote was bullshit.

    Irrespective, it shows a deliberate statement by Shearer and it is at least the second time he has related the same incident, so it is not a slip of the tongue or mis-speak

    “That ‘guy in my electorate’ must be quite some guy. Because when I interviewed him back in March, Shearer told me the exact same anecdote”
    http://gordoncampbell.scoop.co.nz/2012/08/09/gordon-campbell-on-labours-recent-bout-of-mid-flight-turbulence/

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  13. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,876 comments) says:

    IV2

    He used to work on a road maintenance gang. You’ll find his roof is painted ‘double line yellow.’

    (BTW – forty years ago there was a house on the way into Albany WA, painted a distinctive MRD yellow.)

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  14. DylanReeve (182 comments) says:

    The problem with any “benefit bashing” is that it’s taking individual cases and using them to draw conclusions about a large group without considering whether they are representative or not.

    It’s very possible that the guy was abusing the benefit (although I believe that’s not as easy as many would suggest) but it’s equally possible that he had some sort of sickness that prevented him working, but not painting. Or that the neighbour was just entirely wrong about the situation. Or that it never happened.

    Unfortunately it’s almost impossible to have any real discussions about social welfare because they invariable turn into meaningless anecdotes (“I know a guy who earns $1200 a week on the dole and has never even tried to get a job”). The reality is that the majority of beneficiaries don’t fit into the stereotypes, but that’s far too hard to have an exciting political point-scoring debate about.

    It’s sad that the Labour leader would exgage in the same hyperbolic attacks that we’d tend to expect from a more right-wing party, but not really surprising anymore.

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  15. s.russell (1,590 comments) says:

    Critics of Shearer are ignoring what he actually said:

    From what he told me, he was right, it wasn’t bloody fair, and I said so. I have little tolerance for people who don’t pull their weight.” [my empasis]

    So Shearer acknowledged that there might be circumstances in this specific case which would explain matters and was talking about the generalised case.

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  16. hj (6,825 comments) says:

    Gareth Morgan seems to have the answer: pay everyone (?) welfare but no more for e.g “but I have 7 kids”.

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  17. southtop (264 comments) says:

    Hmmmm
    http://www.theveteransvoice.com/Put-me-in-charge.html

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  18. simonway (381 comments) says:

    I think we can assume that the neighbour knew enough about the situation to know he was being a bludger.

    Why would you assume that?

    But I think Joel’s probably right, anyway.

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  19. UpandComer (528 comments) says:

    It’s interesting.

    In 1991 before the mother of all budgets we had:

    Only 80 thousand more fulltime workers then welfare (of some kind) recipients
    All of our PAYE tax was going into welfare.
    A full third of our budget was paid out in benefits.

    How diabolical was that – then we got the same arguments ‘don’t bene bash’, ‘corporate pillagers’, ‘If you want to change this situation, you hate babies’. It’s moronic.

    It’s very interesting when you press Labour people on jobs. The refrain is ‘there are no jobs’. Then you question further and you get the elaboration ‘worth doing for New Zealanders, and with high enough pay’. The idiotic nature of that second part of the argument that always comes is infuriating.

    That anecdote sounds reasonable to me. Cameron Slater does necessary work, but how he got hundred of thousands for having depression is beyond me. I know people with catatonic depression who drag themselves to work because they have too. Our sickness benefit/beneficiary profile makes it look like we’ve been in a war. It’s beyond me why this is okay for Labour people.

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  20. Reid (16,202 comments) says:

    It’s sad that the Labour leader would exgage in the same hyperbolic attacks that we’d tend to expect from a more right-wing party, but not really surprising anymore.

    What the hell is hyperbolic about what Shearer said? The left seem to regard any suggestion whatsoever that anyone could ever abuse a benefit ever as being just outrageous and completely untrue and this would and could simply never happen under any circumstance and to ever suggest it ever does or could happen is not only all the foregoing but also an outrageous and heartless attack on helpless and vulnerable people who are unable to defend themselves except from we courageous lefties who leap in valiantly and shield said victims from this heartless and vicious and ruthless and unjustifiable attack.

    That’s what they say, whenever this suggestion is raised. By anyone.

    As they have again, with the attempted mental health issue angle. They can’t this time raise the old “outrageous and heartless attack on helpless and vulnerable people” because it’s one of their own this time but all the rest of the defence is there, as it always is.

    Cameron Slater does necessary work, but how he got hundred of thousands for having depression is beyond me.

    He didn’t UaC, why the fuck would you think that’s what happened. Der. He had a security business with a partner. His partner ripped him off, the business collapsed. His marriage collapsed. Cam got depression as a result of all of this. I’m not sure of the sequencing but that’s the broad picture. Cam was wise enough during the good times to take out Income Protection insurance. That was his choice. The income he had when he started WhaleOil was coming from that insurance. A year or two ago Cam blogged something happened. I don’t know the details. So no, Cam did NOT get hundreds of thousands for “getting depressed” or if you think what you alleged adequately covers what I just explained happened then you don’t use the same English language that I do. BTW I gleaned those details over the years from what Cam has said, I have never spoken to the man, I may be wrong and I apologise to Cam if I have misinterpreted anything I just said previously.

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  21. UpandComer (528 comments) says:

    Okay, income insurance is all good. I didn’t even know that kind of insurance existed. So all good.

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  22. duggledog (1,498 comments) says:

    It’s interesting how there’s always so much venom directed at ‘welfare bludgers’. When there ought to be universal sympathy for those less fortunate.

    Here’s the reason from my experience; literally every single working person in this country who takes responsibility for themselves knows at least one person who has ripped off the system. I have known quite a few over the years.

    Or; many people who hoover up many state services while producing precisely fuck all. For their entire lives. And have produced a whole litter of offspring who are gettin’ set to carry on the tradition.

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  23. Sean (300 comments) says:

    @ kowtow 10:03, you are so right – this is why I will never return to NZ to work and pay taxes. None of this bs in Asia.

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  24. Johnboy (15,903 comments) says:

    “Gareth Morgan seems to have the answer: pay everyone (?) welfare but no more for e.g “but I have 7 kids”.”

    But he didn’t go far enough hj.

    It should be pay everyone welfare and increase it if they are useful. If not, then deduct the extra they cost through ineptitude and lack of common sense from the total.

    Hence you start out with say $1000 a week and that gets increased if you make a useful contribution to society and reduced if you are just a useless mouth. Criminal activities would attract a deduction, not a top up (Sorry FESter!) :)

    Dodos that have never worked, except on their backs, and produced half a dozen useless clones would obviously get fuck all when it comes to welfare/super/medical aid etc.

    Seems logical really. :)

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  25. Cactus Kate (550 comments) says:

    Why apologizing for Shearer?
    Sickness beneficiaries don’t go around telling everyone they are on one when they’re home owners and painting their roof.
    I suspect ths story is bs.
    A real sickness beneficiary would have gone to WINZ and got a grant for “someone else” to paint the roof.

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  26. kowtow (8,175 comments) says:

    Sean

    Don’t I know.We could learn alot from them. Work ethic,pride,family,striving in education to get ahead,exploiting natural resources if you have them……..things that this once great country was happy to do.It’s still there but it’s like a light being starved of oxygen,slowly dying. Where did it go wrong? I believe socialism is at the heart of it.Saps initiative,personal responsibility and inculcates an entitlement mentality.

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  27. Johnboy (15,903 comments) says:

    True Cactus. Better for a wealthy sickness bene to carry on growing the crop or running the lab while a poor tradesman gets the contract for the roof. :)

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  28. Nostalgia-NZ (5,093 comments) says:

    ‘hj (2,697) Says:
    August 10th, 2012 at 12:00 pm
    Gareth Morgan seems to have the answer: pay everyone (?) welfare but no more for e.g “but I have 7 kids”.’

    Looks like a very good idea, big reduction in administration costs, an opportunity to average out and reduce the figure paid. The administration of the current system is some kind of insane and has grown beyond sense. Be good to see a universal benefit situation phased in, it would increase what is paid at the bottom and reduce what is paid at the top and kill arguments over entitlements.

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  29. big bruv (13,688 comments) says:

    “but it’s equally possible that he had some sort of sickness that prevented him working, but not painting.”

    Hang on, if he can paint he can work.

    It might not be his job of choice but clearly he can get a job painting roofs.

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  30. smoog (3 comments) says:

    big bruv: that’s not necessarily true (assuming the story isn’t just made up b/s). For all we know, it took him a week or more to paint his roof. No business is going to hire someone who takes 3 or 4 times as long to do the job they’re expected to.

    Few years ago, the old guy living next me was on sickness. He had a broken back from a car accident. Not paraplegic but still a couple of vertebrae at the tail end broken and not healed properly. He was in constant pain. Couldn’t sit for more than a few minutes without his back seizing up and going into spasms. I saw this happen once: It wasn’t pleasant to see. When he watched TV he had to kneel on a cushion on the floor and every 10-15 minutes get up and walk around. Same with sleeping: he couldn’t sleep for more than an hour or two before the spasms kicked in. He was on painkillers constantly. No way could anyone expect him to work.
    But he still did loads of stuff around his house (which he owned) and garden. And mine. He even helped put in a hot water cylinder one time. He’d even go off some days with his mate, a chippie, and help him out. Unpaid: he did it just to get out of the house.

    Point being: he could do loads of stuff you’d consider work and thus consider him bludging. But he could only do these things at his own pace and for a very short space of time. No business would’ve wanted him.

    Same with my own father. He had a broken neck from rugby. Again not paralysed but it obviously still affected his mobility. He kept working – he was a teacher – for almost 20 years after the injury. He’d go for bike rides, even runs for a while, to keep in shape. If you’d seen him then, you wouldn’t know he was injured and in constant pain.
    Unfortunately his condition deteriorated over the years til the point where he couldn’t use his right hand properly. Had no fine motor controls, which meant he couldn’t hold a pen. Can’t write, can’t teach. He also couldn’t turn his neck to the right and wasn’t able to fully extend his right leg – meaning his walk became more an odd shuffle/lurch.
    He had to go on to ACC. Again, like the bloke above, he could still do loads of things around the house & garden. And again had you watched him mowing the lawns, working in his garden and walking down to the supermarket & back, you no doubt be shrilling that he was a bludger who could work if he wanted to. Name me any job where you don’t need to write, don’t need to use both hands and never need to look to your right.

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