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.