Rodney says auction the unemployed on trade Me!

March 24th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

in NBR writes:

We have 50,000 people on the benefit and plenty of work that needs doing. The 50,000 represent 1000 years of work that doesn’t get done each and every week. The waste is horrific.

The waste follows from the failure to match the unemployed to the jobs that need doing at a price potential employers are willing to pay.

The matching part of the problem is a perfect job for the internet. And, sure enough, US techno whizz Morgan Warstler has the fix: match the jobs and the unemployed on eBay and pay them through Paypal.

In New Zealand our equivalent, , is the perfect set-up linking Kiwis wanting to sell with those wanting to buy. It’s similarly perfect for matching those looking for work with those with jobs that need doing. should be used to match jobseekers to jobs.

Under the Warstler scheme the unemployed would register on Trade Me to receive their benefit payment each Friday night.  At present, an unemployed 20-year-old receives a benefit payment of $190.84 gross a week.  Let’s make that $200.

Once an unemployed person is registered on Trade Me anyone wanting work done can bid for them to do it.  It’s the perfect way to match the jobs that need doing to those who can do them. 

So how would it work?

The unit of work on offer is a 40-hour week. And the bids start at $40 a week. That appears impossibly low but the government still pays the $200, so the least anyone gets paid for a week’s work is $240. 

The low starting bid ensures the market clears every week. Local retirement villages and community groups would be actively bidding to help the unemployed into work and to get work done.  Specialist contractors would move in to bid for the unemployed and to offer their work to the marketplace.

It’s hard to see the price staying at $40 a week. Especially for good workers.

The bids increase in $20 increments, with the government getting back $10 of each $20 hike. The worker gets to keep the other $10. For example, if the bid goes to $200 the worker keeps $320 and the government contributes $120 of his or her pay.

So basically the benefit abates.

Trade Me enables feedback possible both ways. Anyone familiar with the site knows how that works.

The good workers and the good employers would soon be identified. There would be no better CV than a string of positive comments on Trade Me. Those workers would get their wages bid up and would soon have a permanent job.

The impossibly lazy would also be identified. They could be followed up by government agents.

Likewise, the bad employers would be weeded out. They would be dealt to just as bad dealers are dealt to on Trade Me. The Warstler scheme provides total transparency.

You could trial this with the long-term unemployed – those who have been on the unemployment benefit for over six months.

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24 Responses to “Rodney says auction the unemployed on trade Me!”

  1. MT_Tinman (3,092 comments) says:

    I love it.

    Let’s do it!

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  2. iMP (2,349 comments) says:

    It’s silly, because how do you ascertain the quality of the work to determine bids; make them turn up; or ensure a good job? Why does the bid increase?

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  3. Fentex (912 comments) says:

    Warstler has mooted this idea several times on other sites I visit over the years.

    It’s not a good idea.

    Not because it mightn’t work, the technology and any neccessary tweaks to it experience may reveal required doesn’t seem unworkable, but because it might work.

    Creating a functioning market for peasants is not a good idea.

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  4. Brian Harmer (686 comments) says:

    The problem I see with this is that it is all to easy to fake compliance … to appear willing yet do a job badly. Government agents would struggle to distinguish between incompetents and the “impossibly lazy”. I am not persuaded that the problem is one of matching opportunity and capacity. Instead it is educating people to believe they need to make a contribution to the utmost of their ability in return for a fair wage.

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  5. radvad (733 comments) says:

    Aaggghhhh, the naysayers are here already.

    This is a fascinating idea, the kind of lateral thinking needed to help solve our entrenched social issues. Sure, there will be warts and wrinkles to the system (but considerably less than what we have at the moment) that can be ironed out over time. It could be a win/win/win for employers, beneficiaries and taxpayers.

    Set up the scheme, put a sunset clause on it of 3 years and then revisit it to decide its future.

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  6. Cato (1,095 comments) says:

    The problem is that it is optically so similar to a slave market – like in Roots.

    It isn’t the same at all substantively, of course, because nobody is forced to take a benefit. However, I am sure DPF would agree that it is beyond the bounds of political possibility.

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  7. kowtow (8,103 comments) says:

    For sale.

    Ex politician,short,bald and opinionated. Can dance,but little else.
    As is, where is.

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  8. Mary Rose (393 comments) says:

    Auctioning people?
    Not sure if it sounds like the old hiring fairs of agricultural workers of centuries past – or slave labour.
    Would an unemployed person registering be optional? Or compulsory, if they wanted to go on getting benefits?
    If someone bid for them, would they have to accept the work, whatever it was?
    Would it only apply to long-term unemployed?
    Is cost the only reason some people are unemployable?
    What happens if no one bids for someone?
    Unless two employers were fighting over one potential worker, why would they increase their bids?

    Wouldn’t it be easier just for employers to do a deal with government: we’ll advertise this job at $40 a week if you make up the difference in benefits?

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  9. RightNow (6,961 comments) says:

    I think it would take jobs off people who really want to work. It would distort the job market due to the heavy subsidy provided by the government.
    A better method, since the government is already providing that subsidy, is to make them work for their dole doing work we don’t really need done (and therefore wouldn’t be created in a free market). Things like picking up rubbish along the side of state highways and making hiking trails in places nobody wants to hike.

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  10. Tom Jackson (2,553 comments) says:

    They could even take the surnames of their buyers…

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  11. radvad (733 comments) says:

    They could even take the surnames of their buyers…

    I presume you mean their employers.

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  12. Viking2 (11,335 comments) says:

    I kinda like the idea of having a house slave. Say 18-19 blonde, good figure, trainable, nice attitude, no attachments and Govt. subsidized.

    Would be great for productivity.

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  13. jaba (2,117 comments) says:

    not that dissimilar to pro soccer players .. clubs bid for them and if the price is right (and the player agrees) the off he goes. Is that slave labour??
    If a player sucks then everyone will know it and he will be let go. A lesser club may take him on but at a low transfer price (if any) and at a lower salary.
    The will be many fish hooks in this idea BUT it is an idea and better than what we have now.

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  14. Black with a Vengeance (1,755 comments) says:

    Apparently there’s 170 000 govt created jobs lined up in the next 4 years as part of the brighter future election promises.

    No need for workers to sell themselves short…just keep the faith!!!

    Its all milk and honey on the gravy train to the promised land here on Planet Key.

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  15. Mary Rose (393 comments) says:

    > milk and honey on the gravy train

    Sounds disgusting. I’d rather have yesterday’s Apple turnovers.

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  16. Black with a Vengeance (1,755 comments) says:

    So you see dumpster diving for Macca’s desserts as the brighter future Mary Rose?

    Probably right. Soon we may not be able to afford milk, honey will be fake cos of bee extinction and the gravy train only runs for the 1%’ers..

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  17. duggledog (1,484 comments) says:

    Just like those clowns in South Auckland last night chucking bottles at Police, we have no real way of dealing with these issues anymore save a bit of tinkering.

    Good idea though. It’ll never happen.

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  18. Viking2 (11,335 comments) says:

    Sounds disgusting. I’d rather have yesterday’s Apple turnovers.

    As in ” honey turnover and lettuce root salad.”

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  19. KevinH (1,191 comments) says:

    What a brilliant idea Rodney, lets be the first country in the world to introduce e-slavery. Yeah right.
    Why discriminate against the unemployed only, lets expand the range to include lawyers, doctors, dentists, accountants and of course politicians and also ex Members of Parliament who got the elbow and write nonsense stories for newspapers.

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  20. Ancient Dan (45 comments) says:

    Actually it was done in silicon valley where they had the equivalent of hiring fairs in the 90’s
    Worked ok
    And are the HR firms much different from Auction sites?
    Its a labour market and I personally am willing to be exploited for any sum above $45 per hour.
    The assumption is that the wages would be low. There are some intelligent skilled people on the dole.
    It would work fine and the price of good skilled labour will always be high especially in a country where most of it shoots through to Australia.

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  21. Kea (11,878 comments) says:

    KevinH (892) Says:
    March 24th, 2013 at 9:34 pm
    What a brilliant idea Rodney, lets be the first country in the world to introduce e-slavery.

    I have never heard online advertising for employment called “e-slavery” before. It is so hard keeping up with all those trendy terms for new technology, don’t you think ?

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  22. Aredhel777 (286 comments) says:

    I applied for a dozen jobs including as a checkout operator in the local supermarket over the summer and didn’t get offered a single one because I didn’t have “experience”. Perhaps I should email Rodney Hide and demand work. It disgusts me when arrogant well paid politicians posture about unemployment- they aren’t the ones struggling with this job market.

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  23. Mary Rose (393 comments) says:

    BWAV:
    For a comment, see my post of March 24th, 2013 at 10:16 am

    For a joke, see my post of: March 24th, 2013 at 12:16 pm
    And if it passed over your head: milk and honey and gravy don’t mix.
    And the turnover of the company Apple was a thread on KB a couple of days ago.

    I won’t give up the day job for the comedy circuit.

    But feel free, if you are looking back at this thread, to explain why you imagine I would: ‘see dumpster diving for Macca’s desserts as the brighter future ‘ Because I have no idea what you are talking about.

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  24. RRM (9,745 comments) says:

    We are already paying them, why go through this charade when it would be simpler to truck them all to the transmission gully site, issue a wheelbarrow and pick each and set them to work?

    Think of them less as beneficiaries, more as civil servants.

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