The dignity of work

They were young by today’s standards when they married and had four children in just over four years.

He was the sole income earner but she worked too and a lot of her work (gardening, preserving, cooking, sewing . . . ) made a significant contribution to the family economy by saving a lot of money.

Saving was necessary because although he was a tradesman he wasn’t a well paid one. The family would have had a better income if he’d stopped work and claimed a benefit.

The dignity of work is an old fashioned concept but this was part of what motivated them to stay off a benefit even if, in the short term, it would have given them more money.

They took a long term view and it paid off. His income gradually improved and when the children were old enough she started part-time paid work.

Now the children are independent adults, both parents have fulltime jobs, their house is mortgage-free, they have good savings and money to spare to give them both security and choices.

The dignity of work and the long-term benefits of it must have escaped Tao Wells. He’s the artist who received a $40,000 grant from Creative NZ to create a beneficiaries’ office which promotes the benefits of being unemployed.

He described himself as an unemployed artist with a masters degree who had been “off and on” the unemployment benefit since 1997. Wells said he was receiving welfare and admitted his benefit was at risk by him speaking out.

Late yesterday afternoon his benefit was cut off after Work and Income learned of the project.

This doesn’t reflect well on two government agencies – Creative NZ which signed off the grant while unaware of  the installations “precise contents”; and WINZ for being unaware a beneficiary was double dipping.

But it paints an even worse picture of the artist who:

. . .  advocates the opportunities and benefits of unemployment and says it is unfair that long-term beneficiaries are labelled bludgers for exploiting the welfare system.

Wells’ installation, The Beneficiary’s Office, urges people to abandon jobs they don’t like rather than suffering eight hours of “slavery”.

Tell that to the people who are working, sometimes for less or little more, than a benefit to pay the taxes to support this madness.

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20 Responses to The dignity of work

  1. Inventory2 says:

    To WINZ’s credit, Wells’ benefit has now been cut. But what an idiot he is.

  2. Adolf Fiinkensein says:

    In the blink of an eye, he’ll be snaffled for Labour’s list.

    New blood, new ideas.

  3. robertguyton says:

    He’s an artist. He has suckered you all.

  4. IHStewart says:

    Some observation of mine from my blog on this issue.

    What really pisses me off is that we have about 6% unemployment at the moment and this sort of bullshit will add to the discrimination these people are subjected to through no fault of their own. The people who apply for every job that they see, people who desperately want the dignity that employment offers. I see that he has a state funded Masters degree and that given his age means that he has sat on his backside doing nothing productive his whole life. Given we have had fairly much full employment from the late nineties up until the Global Financial Crisis this guy needs a major kick in the backside.

    Can you believe his sense of entitlement. Where does he think the money that has funded the whole of his life comes from. The hard work of employed New Zealanders. I have said many times that I am in favor of welfare the vast majority of people who are on welfare deserve the support the tax payer provides. I don’t want to live in a society where people are living in poverty also I would like to point out he and his professional bludger mates failure to work has an effect on our Governments ability to provide international aid. In a very real sense he has stolen the rice from the hands of some child in the third world and that child has starved to death.

  5. IHStewart says:

    @Adolf. Having supported Labour all my life why does you observation make me distinctly nervous.

    @Inventory2 I see he didn’t actually inform WINZ of his new circumstances also $53,000 for an office that will stay open for about 2 weeks ? I hope that when he opens on monday someone from the relevent agency is having a look at where that money went. Is that invoices I hear being created ?

  6. homepaddock says:

    I2 – the sentence about WINZ cutting off the benefit was in the quote I used.

    Adolf – not event he desperate would think this new idea is a good one, surely?

    “He has suckered you all.” – But not you Robert?

    Ian – he’s obviously got entitilitis. What is your blog?

  7. IHStewart says:

    It’s on MySpace Elle probably not your cup of tea although I have stolen some of your recipes and posted them with a link back to your blog

    http://www.myspace.com/ihstewart/blog

    Hopefully this will get you to it.

  8. homepaddock says:

    It did get me to it and I think I’ve been there before – maybe when you linked to a recipe.

  9. robertguyton says:

    Not me Ele.
    It’s easy to sucker those who feel Righteous Indignation.

  10. homepaddock says:

    Is there Leftous Indignation?

  11. robertguyton says:

    Only from Labourites 🙂

  12. scrubone says:

    Time was when someone who was an artist did something worthwhile, and you admired his skill.

    Now, it seems that the purpose of art is to do something useless and have people express disgust.

    That doesn’t seem like an improvement.

  13. adam2314 says:

    No Inventory2 he is not an idiot.

    WE ARE !!.. for allowing our employees to fund him and many many more of his ilk in their life styles..

    Cameron in the UK is showing the way..
    It is time for this welfare nonsense to be curtailed.

  14. IHStewart says:

    Apologies to all if I have destroyed your Sunday morning

  15. homepaddock says:

    Thanks Ian, you’ve just shown us a naked emperor and it’s not a pretty sight.

  16. skinny says:

    for any of you who have failed to properly gather the facts before misapprehending the situation and broadcasting a fairly predicable and programed set of views… mr wells received only $2000 for expenses and running costs of his contribution (said beneficiaries office) to this wider ‘letting space’ initiative, who as the curators/organizers of program of public exhibitions in unused commercial spaces around wellington received the original $40000 grant from cnz.

    what ever you feel regarding the merits of this project lets not for get $2000 is not, in general terms, a great deal of money and that once all the associated cost of the project have been accounted for very little – and significantly less than the benefit – will be left for mr wells who in generating such widely engaging and passionate debate about this issue may in fact be providing a particularly cheep public service…

  17. robertguyton says:

    “So to everyone who’s found themselves incandescent with righteous fury, uttered slogans like “the world doesn’t owe you a living!” or called for the disestablishment of Creative NZ or defended Wells and his absurdist position — this includes the media who’ve covered it from the ‘benefit scandal’ angle; obviously WINZ, who’ve cut his benefit; and most notably David Farrar and the KBR, whose response has been nothing short of magnificent — you’re part of the show. You have been trolled.

    So as far as that goes, well done, Tao Wells.”

  18. homepaddock says:

    The amount he received from CNZ is much less but the principle of using public money to advocate for the opportunities of unemployment and his attitude to work is still pertinent.

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