Managing those who can’t manage selves

Act MP David Seymour has a suggestion to help people who have children while on a benefit:

. . . You might think that if you’re on a benefit it’s a bad time to bring a child into the world.  You’re probably like the overwhelming majority of New Zealanders who think it proper to wait, save and sacrifice before having children, in a comfortable environment, then stop when you feel your family is at a size you can support.

Chances are you don’t begrudge taxpayer support for people who fall on hard times, need to escape an abusive partner, or have any of a dozen other circumstances.  But here is the interesting thing: being on a benefit seems to make you more likely to have children.

Only 10 per cent of working-age people are on a benefit, yet 20 per cent of children are born into families receiving benefits.  In the six months to March 2015, 6000 babies were added to existing benefits.  That’s enough to raise the hackles of those paying tax while preparing to have their own family, but worse is the outcomes for the kids involved.

Benefits seem to make people have kids early, a key risk factor for maltreatment.  As of 2015, in the general population 22 per cent of births were to mothers 24 or younger, but 44 per cent of beneficiary caregivers (mostly mothers but sometimes fathers) with a child born that year were 24 or younger.

The ultimate result has been calamity for New Zealand kids.  University of Auckland researchers have found that, of under-fives who faced maltreatment, 83 per cent were on benefits before age two. . . 

That doesn’t mean being on a benefit causes people to abuse children but it does show those on benefits are more likely to be abusers.

Out of fairness to the taxpayer and the children, we need a new deal.  It’s simply not good enough that the Government taxes some people, who are often waiting, saving, and sacrificing for parenthood, so that it can pay others to have kids earlier.  It’s absolutely unacceptable when we know this policy is enlarging child poverty and abuse.  We need to put children first.

If you’re 18 or younger, you can’t get an all-cash benefit from the Government.  Instead it pays rent, power, and basic necessities before giving the remaining entitlement in cash.  A compassionate government should attack child poverty by extending Income management to any parent who has additional children while on a benefit.

The message would be simple.  If you want to have children while receiving a benefit that’s fine, but the Government will give entitlements in a form that puts the needs of the children first.

Beneficiaries get more money when they have more children.

Providing income management for those who have additional children while on a benefit will help them budget and provide for their families.

This isn’t beneficiary bashing.

No-one can blame children for their parents being benefit-dependent. If people can’t manage themselves and the state is paying them to look after their children it also has a responsibility to ensure that they do.

57 Responses to Managing those who can’t manage selves

  1. TraceyS says:

    It doesn’t go far enough.

    The Sole Parent benefit should be capped at a certain level for those already on it so that children aren’t regarded as commodities.

    I can’t understand why we accept a limitless system which keeps paying more when another baby turns up, and another and another. If people knew that there was no more state income to be gained after, say, the second or third child then I am damn sure that they would find a way to make contraception work.

  2. Name Withheld says:

    Cue green fatuity..

    In…3…2…1…

  3. Dave Kennedy says:

    These comments are dangerous because it makes huge assumptions about who our beneficiaries are and their circumstances. Remember that a huge number of beneficiaries are working people who are getting the accommodation supplement because they can’t afford the rising cost of housing. It is also a huge assumption to make that a high percentage of beneficiaries are having children to access more money. There is a danger of hurting those in genuine need by using a draconian sledge hammer approach. It will end up as beneficiary bashing.

    I think Jacinda Adern’s following response to David Seymour put his comments into perspective.

    Interestingly the biggest jumps in child poverty have occurred under National Government’s. An improvement in the situations for dysfunctional and struggling families won’t be to cut benefits but spend money on the most effective ways to lift them out of state dependency. It won’t be cheap initially but will save billions later on.

    Just so you are aware how government departments like Housing NZ now work, I made an interesting observation when trying to track down support for a housing forum in Invercargill. The 0800 number for Housing NZ for all enquiries and support put me on hold for over ten minutes before I gave up. There was a constant repeated message that they were experiencing high number of calls and I had to listen to instructions for ventilating my home.

    There was another number where you could dob in a housing NZ tenant who was behaving badly so I tried that to see if it would be a back door way of getting to a useful person. My call was answered immediately but they didn’t know of anyone I could contact who could help me. This role had been outsourced to a private company.

    It was an interesting exercise in what those in need are experiencing, if you have a housing need there are delays in getting support, if you want to dob in a beneficiary, instant access.

    No wonder the numbers sleeping rough have doubled.

    In Invercargill, where our state houses were to be sold off, we have a large number of families living in substandard houses and the Salvation Army are struggling to support those in greatest need. No new social houses have been built in Invercargill since the 90s and we have state houses empty with delayed maintenance. many poor families have shifted out of Invercargill to rural towns because landlords can get more money from the growing numbers of SIT students.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/news/81961462/Salvation-Army-critically-short-of-donations

    I don’t think families have suddenly become more dysfunctional, it is clearly the fact that it is harder to survive on a benefit or minimum wage and more children are suffering.

  4. TraceyS says:

    “…it makes huge assumptions about who our beneficiaries are and their circumstances.”

    What assumptions?

    “Remember that a huge number of beneficiaries are working people who are getting the accommodation supplement because they can’t afford the rising cost of housing.”

    No. The figures quoted by David Seymour don’t include this group.

    “I think Jacinda Adern’s following response to David Seymour put his comments into perspective.”

    Everyone’s comments will add a little more perspective. That’s why it is dangerous to say that some people’s comments are “dangerous” as you did. Why would you think that Jacinda Adern is more qualified or authorised to comment than me? My personal experience would greatly outstrip hers. My view is just as worthy even if you don’t agree with it. Frankly, I don’t give a stuff if you think what I have to say is dangerous. I will say what needs to be said.

    “I made an interesting observation when trying to track down support for a housing forum in Invercargill. The 0800 number for Housing NZ for all enquiries and support put me on hold…”

    “There was another number where you could dob in a housing NZ tenant…[m]y call was answered immediately.”

    “…if you have a housing need there are delays in getting support, if you want to dob in a beneficiary, instant access. No wonder the numbers sleeping rough have doubled.”

    Gee, what a scientific study you had going there, Dave. How did you perform your random sampling for n=1?

  5. Dave Kennedy says:

    Tracey, I am all for Ele’s suggested support for struggling families accept there is the suggestion that budgeting advice is what is most needed. This may help a little but I hardly think it is the main priority. Too many families just don’t earn enough to cover their basic living expenses. That is why there are 150,000 food parcels delivered a year and why Kidscan is having to feed children at school.

    It is dangerous because it implies that the fault is largely with beneficiary families when they can support their children. As we have discussed before, if we want to stop the cycle of poverty and domestic violence then we must protect the kids and provide the appropriate support to parents.

    Seymour also has it round the wrong way, it isn’t that those on benefits who are more likely to have children, as this implies that the benefit is the cause of the children. In actual fact those with children are more likely to need a benefit because of the expense of supporting families on a reduced income.

    We all now know too that the failures of the state to support vulnerable children has meant that a high percentage of abusive parents were previously on CYFs books and 80% of our young offenders in prison were also CYFs kids. If we want to stop the cycle we need to focus on the causes and it certainly isn’t anything to do with the payment of benefits, if anything they aren’t enough and access them is becoming a nightmare. Many beneficiaries don’t receive what they are entitled to and this just increases their poverty and problems and perhaps even makes the violence worse.

    This is worth reading to get a balanced understanding of what it really means to be a beneficiary, many live in constant fear that they will lose support even when there is good reason for them to have it: http://www.bas.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Access-to-Justice-online-edition-11-Dec.pdf

  6. Dave Kennedy says:

    oops should be ‘except’ in in first line above.

  7. Dave Kennedy says:

    And “It is dangerous because it implies that the fault is largely with beneficiary families when they CAN’T support their children.”

  8. TraceyS says:

    One or two children are easier to care for than six, Dave.

    When I had my second I recall crying on the plunket nurse’s shoulder because it was so much harder than just having one to look after.

    With a large number like six by the time the littler ones come the bigger children can make convenient babysitters. But this often isn’t fair on them or their siblings. It used to be the accepted way when all families were larger but times have changed.

    Honestly, with your green leanings, I thought you’d support smaller families?

  9. Dave Kennedy says:

    Tracey, you are being disingenuous again😉

    I can’t believe that you are suggesting that benefits are causing larger families. Are you also suggesting that cutting the benefit will stop them from happening?…good grief!

    As my wife works in a low decile community as a doctor I am pretty sure most babies in these large families weren’t planned and they certainly weren’t an attempt to access more money.

  10. TraceyS says:

    No I am not saying that.

    I’m saying that state support should not be unlimited. This is an area where it is unlimited and that should change.

  11. Name Withheld says:

    No-one can blame children for their parents being benefit-dependent. If people can’t manage themselves and the state is paying them to look after their children it also has a responsibility to ensure that they do.
    Well said Ele.
    As stewards of my tax dollar I believe they should be prudent custodians of it.
    David Seymour* has this one right and it will take more than a two phone call survey and the opinion of an (obviously(TM) biased GP)
    to convince me and most of NZ otherwise.
    * I note that Kennedy manages to find the christian name for Ardern but balks at typing “David”.
    It is the tiny and seemingly trivial details that reveal the innate nastiness of the true socialist.

  12. Andrei says:

    As stewards of my tax dollar I believe they should be prudent custodians of it.

    We could save some tax dollars by getting rid a parasitic politicians like this chinless wonder

    He will be glad enough of the children the poor produced when he is a smelly old man wallowing helplessly in his own shit and there is somebody there to come along and clean him up

  13. Andrei says:

    What economic “dries” fail to grasp is just how valuable children are.

    But what can you expect from dreary people who spend their lives with their noses buried in spreadsheets shuffling columns of numbers that mean SFA

  14. Dave Kennedy says:

    Although I have trouble with the way you expressed it, I have to agree with you again, Andrei. Children are our future and whether they are born into wealthy supportive home or into a large, benefit dependent family all children should have the opportunity to achieve great things and have a good life. We generally support our elderly well but to many children have such poor experiences in their early years that they become damaged for life.

    NW, at least I did use one of his real names, I won’t bother to repeat what you have called me in the past😉

  15. TraceyS says:

    “He will be glad enough of the children the poor produced when he is a smelly old man wallowing helplessly in his own shit…”

    No one is glad to be wallowing in his own excrement, Andrei.

    “We generally support our elderly well…”

    Do we, Dave? It depends who you mean by “we” and it also depends what you mean by “support”.

    I shake my head at your agreement with Andrei’s assertation that the poor are a breeding ground for future bum wipers.

    Why can’t you be more aspirational for the poor?

  16. homepaddock says:

    Andrei and Dave, I share your view on the value of children which is why I want to ensure they are well looked after and given the good start which will make it much more likely they become happy and healthy adults, able to live fulfilling lives.

    The statistics show only too clearly that the chances of that are greatly reduced for children growing up in benefit-dependent families. Helping parents to manage could help them where simply giving them money doesn’t.

  17. Andrei says:

    Helping parents to manage could help them where simply giving them money doesn’t.

    I find that a very patronizing statement – Dave doesn’t like the way I
    express myself but of course I am reflecting pain from my childhood where middle class people with lots of money “helped” our family which they did but were also very condescending with it

    And as for David Seymour he is the very epitome upper middle class twittery and as far as I know isn’t even married let alone a father, so who the hell does he think he is to be involving himself in this issue

  18. Dave Kennedy says:

    “The statistics show only too clearly that the chances of that are greatly reduced for children growing up in benefit-dependent families. Helping parents to manage could help them where simply giving them money doesn’t.”
    And yet there is ample evidence, Ele, to show that in the case of benefits it is more money that they need and more likely set them up to be independent of the state far earlier. Not all struggling families have poor parents, many are just poor.

    Some families obviously will need more than money but lack of money is actually what causes the problems for many families and may even lead to much of the violence. Helplessness and despair is managed in different ways.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/comment/75556427/the-myth-of-how-families-in-poverty-spend-their-money

    http://thewireless.co.nz/themes/value/feature-working-hard-for-the-money

  19. Um…since when is correlation causation? “Benefits seem to make people have kids early, a key risk factor for maltreatment.” Shorthand for leapfrogging to ‘benefits are a key risk factor for maltreatment’, I guess. For goodness sake, it is not the fact of benefit receipt per se, it’s the length of time spent on benefit that seems to give rise to increased risk factors. And even then, the authors of the Dunedin study were very careful to say: “The associations found should be interpreted with care, and not taken as necessarily indicative of causal relationships. No attempt has been made to control for potential confounding factors.” Oh…and this: “From this initial analysis, we are unable to say whether the associations reflect a causal adverse effect of longer-term benefit receipt on outcomes.”

    But don’t let that stop you, David. The street is wet, so it must have been raining after all, right?

    https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:SbNPXK6CyVQJ:https://www.msd.govt.nz/documents/about-msd-and-our-work/publications-resources/research/sole-parenting/lifecourse-factors-associated-with-benefit-receipt-summary-report.doc+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=nz

  20. The kids have to come first which means the parents have to be able to put them first. Surprise children do happen too!

    Therefore, if they fall pregnant on the benefit they should enter another level of benefit which provides the marginal extra cost in terms of goods and services required for an infant (easy to figure out) but also requires family planning education and financial planning information for the parents.

    If they fall pregnant a second time while on the benefit then it should simply remain static.

    If they fall pregnant a third time while on the benefit then the benefit amount should fall to a single person or couple level as applicable and a Child Welfare worker should visit weekly to ascertain what’s going wrong (domestic abuse, rape, mental health, addiction etc could all explain irrational actions) and perhaps take the children away. Perhaps even put the mother and children in residential care where they can be looked after until back on the rails.

    If they fall pregnant after that then continue to reduce the benefit by 30% each time until it’s gone because by that time they have had every opportunity to dig themselves out of the hole.

    This system would be more expensive in the short term but if done well it would likely save a lot of money in the long run.

  21. Andrei says:

    jamesusernametaken.

    it is ordained by God, or if you prefer evolution via natural selection that young men and women come together and make babies

    This is a feature of humanity not a bug, as they say

    And recognizing this is the first step in ordering society in a manner that provides the structures in which the young men and women of our nation may go about the worthwhile and important activity of raising the next generation as a cooperative exercise

    Alas our cultural elite who are noted for both their vapidity and stupidity have spent the last fifty years dismantling the structures that allowed for this

    We have for example airhead feminists describing marriage as a “patriarchal institution” effectively sneering at males who devote their time energy and financial resources into raising their offspring and encouraging parliament to pass laws to weaken marital bonds and punish male oppressors of wimmin who have sired a child or children with one

    We live in dark times and the night is coming

  22. Mr E says:

    Sparrowhawk,

    Just as the research does not provide evidence to support David Seymour’s claims it also does not support yours.

    You have fallen into the same trap David when it comes to making such claims as: ” it is not the fact of benefit receipt per se”

    As you point out the research does not provide evidence to support that view point.

    I have experiences of families dependant on long term benefits. In my view, there are many factors that contribute and they are varied in each case.

    I am aware of some where it appears that the many varied factors have lead to what I would refer to laziness. I think it is difficult to ignore the possibility that the some benefits are supporting that laziness and dependency in some people.

    I don’t think any tax payer likes the thought that their money could in part be supporting unnecessary welfare dependency.

    Given that there is a risk posed, I think it is reasonable to make sure these risks are minimised in a reasoned way.

    What is a reasoned way? It is minimising the risk without creating a great imposition. To create a great imposition without strong evidence to support it – would be wrong in my opinion.

  23. Dave Kennedy says:

    Mr E, I am interested that you use the word “laziness” to describe what could be related to poor metal health, despondency, lack of coping skills, limited intellectual ability, addiction, abuse…

    Over 30 years ago some teachers described under-achievers as lazy and this has long since proved to be a dodgy term because it shifted the blame and responsibility onto the child. Many labelled as lazy were found to suffer from dyslexia, deafness, abuse, coping with the effects of transience, or were being bullied…. Calling these children lazy, often written on their reports, generally made things worse.

    I note that many of the comments on this blog are related to blaming the poor and beneficiaries for their situation and the now the suggestion that many are are just lazy. I would love you to tell that to the face of any young person who was shifted out of an abusive family into the abusive care of CYFs (and many different foster homes) and then abandoned by the state at 17 to fend for themselves. They would love to know that it is laziness that contributed to their anger, depression, lack of social skills, inability to get a job and getting pregnant.

    “I don’t think any tax payer likes the thought that their money could in part be supporting unnecessary welfare dependency.”

    My belief is that benefits should be relatively easy to get because those in desperate need or in a bad mental space cannot deal with the heavy load of paper work and evidence necessary to get support. What should be most important are the wrap around services that could then determine the extent of need and the best support for each individual. The goal should always be to move people out of welfare dependency as soon as possible by putting in place the most appropriate support.

    Interestingly a young woman I know once worked as a social worker but resigned because she was thrown a case load that was far beyond her experience and skills to manage. Social workers and mental health workers etc are so under-resourced and poorly supported that they barely manage their heavy caseloads. The CYFs review exposed the frailty and dysfunction within the organisation, perhaps a lot of the spending needs to go to better support services.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11504565

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/77415627/Canty-mental-health-workers-face-burnout

    I guess it is easier and cheaper to blame beneficiaries for their situation and call them lazy.

  24. Mr E says:

    Dave,
    In the examples I am referring to, none of the things you have mentioned apply.

    Capable people choosing to be dependant. Laziness.

    In one of the examples I am referring to the a couple has split because ‘he was holding them back’

    That guts me. And I feel gutted that the system has let them down.

  25. Yes, Andre, I know that, but quality is as important as quantity when it comes to child rearing. A balance must be struck to ensure that there is enough motivation for parents to support their own families and to ensure that those who are unable to do so for whatever valid reason can get the support they need. No point perpetuating the poverty cycle. Better to interrupt it.

  26. Dave Kennedy says:

    “Capable people choosing to be dependent. Laziness.”

    Mr E, believe it or not it is hard work living on a benefit and I think you will find that the vast majority wouldn’t choose to be a beneficiary if they had other options. That you would even refer to laziness and imply it could be a widespread problem based on such limited information is appalling. To also suggest that the welfare system destroyed their relationship is even more extraordinary.

    I have a friend who is highly intelligent and capable and was even a good teacher for a few years, he had to leave teaching because he couldn’t keep up with the work requirements. He struggles to hold jobs for long and now lives on a sickness benefit. Some may call him lazy but I know he has battled depression for most of his life through no fault of his own. I would be very careful how you throw that lazy word around and judge people.

    I have another friend who deliberately employs people with criminal records who have struggled to find employment. He treats them respectfully and provides a lot of support initially. Very few have let him down and most have developed into very reliable workers. Many would have been called lazy too.

    “No point perpetuating the poverty cycle. Better to interrupt it.”
    James, how? Are you proposing to remove their benefit?

    Another article in support of my main argument.
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/comment/75523420/giving-cash-to-the-poor-is-the-best-way-to-fix-poverty

  27. JC says:

    “Another article in support of my main argument.”

    What a joke, the program gave one to two times annual income to the very poorest people they could find in Kenya, Ghana, Vietnam, Uganda etc and reported how these desperately poor people responded.. which was very well.

    On this basis they came up with some ideas..

    1. The very poorest people in the world did best.
    2. It was best when given to women.
    3. Unconditional giving was good but giving with strong conditions was best eg, the children had to attend school.

    http://thenextdeal.org/te-cash-to-the-poor/

    Its hard to imagine a more different situation to NZ.

    JC

  28. Dave quotes me:
    “No point perpetuating the poverty cycle. Better to interrupt it.”
    James, how? Are you proposing to remove their benefit?

    No. Here is my comment from above – I will paste my suggestion here again for your attention. The idea is to provide the help without allowing the unnecessary dependency. There will still be some dependency due to valid reasons though:

    The kids have to come first which means the parents have to be able to put them first. Surprise children do happen too!

    Therefore, if they fall pregnant on the benefit they should enter another level of benefit which provides the marginal extra cost in terms of goods and services required for an infant (easy to figure out) but also requires family planning education and financial planning information for the parents.

    If they fall pregnant a second time while on the benefit then it should simply remain static.

    If they fall pregnant a third time while on the benefit then the benefit amount should fall to a single person or couple level as applicable and a Child Welfare worker should visit weekly to ascertain what’s going wrong (domestic abuse, rape, mental health, addiction etc could all explain irrational actions) and perhaps take the children away. Perhaps even put the mother and children in residential care where they can be looked after until back on the rails.

    If they fall pregnant after that then continue to reduce the benefit by 30% each time until it’s gone because by that time they have had every opportunity to dig themselves out of the hole.

    This system would be more expensive in the short term but if done well it would likely save a lot of money in the long run.

  29. Dave Kennedy says:

    Thanks for repeating this, James, I had hoped you may have offered more. What you are essentially saying is that all beneficiary mothers who have children while receiving a benefit will get increasingly less money to teach them a lesson. While it is hard enough to survive on the usual benefit their children will be forced into increasing poverty.

    These mothers will be assessed for their level of dysfunction and potentially have their children removed if they can’t cope on a deceasing income that few could actually survive on without severe emotional stress.

    Your focus is on establishing what is wrong rather than what they need and punishing them for their behaviour through cutting financial support and removing their children. I hope CYFs can build enough residential homes and find enough cheap but competent staff (they have struggled up to now).

    Good grief!

  30. Mr E says:

    Dave,

    It is funny watching you claim that laziness does not exist. Why they invented the word – who knows? It appears that for you a spade is not a spade. It’s a spoon. One that needs to keep feeding those without need.

    The examples I refer to are not sickness beneficiaries, nor do they suffer from mental illness, apparently. I’m guessing as time progresses that possibility does exist though. Sadly.

    All this denial of real, obvious issues, reminds me of the extent the Greens will go to win votes. It seems refusing to help those in need is a cost the Greens are willing make to scrape up a handful of votes.

  31. Dave Kennedy says:

    Mr E, I think the term ‘lazy’ to define a person is the same as ‘mad’ was used in the past to describe someone with mental illness. It is unhelpful and at best should only be used to define an individual action rather than the whole person. The fact that you mentioned it at all suggests that you feel a significant number of beneficiaries are just lazy and shouldn’t be supported.

    “It’s a spoon. One that needs to keep feeding those without need.”
    Interestingly we pay billions to all those over 65, and a good number don’t need the support. Many earn more through superannuation than someone with a permanent disability who also has to continually reaffirm that their permanent disability is still permanent.
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/9356093/Mums-WINZ-battle-over-Down-son

    In reality a it would be very difficult for a ‘lazy’ person to gain and continue receiving a benefit.

    James is suggesting that all those who have children while on a benefit should have their benefit cut, their suitability as a parent scrutinized and their children potentially removed before any attempt to help them. Mr E wants all “lazy” people to have their benefit cut.

    This is all very revealing😉

  32. TraceyS says:

    A punitive system such as suggested by jamesusernametaken is only really ever going to do harm.

    But paying people more in order to raise their kids well carries some definite cautions too. If you pay people for specific outcomes it tends to reduce their intrinsic (internal) motivation towards those outcomes if the incentive doesn’t reflect their competence.

    So when the level of Sole Parent benefit increases with a new baby, it will predictably have a positive effect on the intrinsic motivation of already competent sole parents (of which there are many). For those whose parenting competence is poor (they know who they are), the effect on intrinsic motivation of an additional ‘reward’ is likely to be negative; precisely the opposite of what would be desired because a strong inner desire and motivation to change is precious, if not critical, for them and their children.

    This, essentially, is the key argument against performance pay. It has a positive effect on intrinsic motivation generally when the reward reflects competence. Otherwise the effect is negative. Many studies over a long time period, and in varied settings, have replicated this effect and it is widely accepted as a theory. I’m not against performance pay, but care must be taken in the design of such systems to preserve intrinsic motivation and to avoid wasting funds.

    I would not like to see the Government paying people to do a better job of raising their kids. The negative effects could potentially be mitigated (research studies have shown this) but it would be complicated given the varied circumstances to which Dave refers. This would have to be a very clever and well-designed system. It would take an intimate knowledge of each participant and a huge bureaucracy to support it.

    There must be another way but I do not know what it is (this was the topic of my doctoral thesis which I never got to complete).

  33. TraceyS says:

    “In reality…it would be very difficult for a ‘lazy’ person to gain and continue receiving a benefit.”

    Replace “lazy” with “unmotivated”. They are out there, Dave! Not born that way but gifted to them and reinforced by poor quality experiences during their developmental phases and by the trap of a system which they subsequently fall into.

    I was in that trap for a while at age 16 and would have chewed my leg off to get out. Luckily I was offered a job and didn’t have to.

  34. Mr E says:

    Dave

    “Mr E, I think the term ‘lazy’ to define a person is the same as ‘mad’ was used in the past to describe someone with mental illness. It is unhelpful and at best should only be used to define an individual action rather than the whole person. ”

    Interestingly the only person who has referred to people as “lazy” is you. I have referred to laziness. Describing actions which seems acceptable to you. Obviously.

    You then go on to say: “In reality a it would be very difficult for a ‘lazy’ person to gain and continue receiving a benefit.”

    And

    “Mr E wants all “lazy” people to have their benefit cut.”

    It seems very unpleasant that you are describing people as lazy Dave. Especially after you went to great lengths to explain how it shouldn’t be done. (When nobody had but you).

    You seem to like the phrase “own goal”. It seems fitting here.

  35. Dave Kennedy says:

    Ah Mr E it was you who suggested ‘laziness’ (as a state of being) was a reason for being dependent on the state.
    “Capable people choosing to be dependant. Laziness.”

    You are pin dancing again😉

    Just heard a disabled person being interviewed by National Radio regarding continual over payments from WINZ. Apparently many beneficiaries are having to deal with the stress of increasing amounts of over-payments that they didn’t request (but have to pay back) and it is presented as a debt. WINZ now has over $600 million of over payments on their books. Together with those in desperate housing need having to pay back the costs of motels where they were placed it’s no wonder that many beneficiaries distrust Government departments and it is easy to see how many could be trapped into debt not of their own making.

    While some here are blaming beneficiaries for “lazily” seeking support from the state and giving birth to earn income, the reality is that the vast majority of beneficiaries are genuine and deserving of support. However many are treated badly and have unnecessary stress put on them through poor systems, lack of compassion and requirements that are often difficult to meet.

    An obvious reason for the drop in beneficiary numbers when homelessness and poverty is growing is because many find it too hard to access a benefit when they need it and this is supported by a community law investigation:
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/68162272/beneficiaries-scared-stiff-of-work-and-income

    And we all know that the worst fraudsters in New Zealand are largely being ignored. However, WINZ will go to extraordinary lengths to recover a few thousand dollars of over payments to a disabled or deceased beneficiary:
    http://www.victoria.ac.nz/research/expertise/business-commerce/fraud-sentencing

  36. Dave Kennedy says:

    Uber and other tax dodging companies are the ones commenters here should be attacking rather than ‘lazy’ beneficiaries and damaged young women who have too many babies:
    http://www.newshub.co.nz/politics/labours-grant-robertson-uber-new-zealand-tax-bill-a-joke-2016071406#axzz4EKYLStiL

    Uber is using our people, our roads and our services to make millions in profit but pay just few thousand in tax. Turn your heads away from beating up (metaphorically) beneficiaries who largely deserve our support and attack those who really deserve it. As the tax expert said, the behaviour is clearly immoral.

  37. Mr E says:

    “Ah Mr E it was you who suggested ‘laziness’ (as a state of being) was a reason for being dependent on the state.”

    Nope – I was referring to their actions, not their so called “state of being”. In fact I was referring to a number of very specific actions. Not that you cared to ask.

    You go on to say this:
    ‘damaged young women who have too many babies:’

    I never see people as “damaged”. I think that is very unkind to people who may be going through challenging times.

    I would also never refer to anyone as damaged and I am mortified that you think it is acceptable.

    I thought the Greens typically defended beneficiaries, yet here you are referring to some as “Lazy” and “damaged”.

    For what it is worth I think you are wrong. People don’t get “damaged”. They change. Being different does not make you damaged. It makes you different.

    You seem to like the phrase ‘Good grief’. It seems fitting in this instance.

  38. TraceyS says:

    Grant Robertson proves he is not fit to be anywhere near the finance portfolio:

    “He says it’s a joke Uber paid just $9000 tax despite earning $1 million in revenue in New Zealand, and if it wants to operate here it should pay what others pay.” (my bold)

    No one here pays tax on revenue.

    “Xero, the darling of the cloud accounting industry and the New Zealand tech startup community, announced its 2016 results with $NZ201 million in revenue and an $NZ82 million loss.”

    http://diginomica.com/2016/05/12/xero-looks-for-a-path-to-profit/

    Xero has never made a profit.

    Do you think that they paid tax on that $201m, Dave? Do you think that they should?

    What about Dunedin company Blis Technologies?

    “Blis Technologies expects to report its first annual profit in 2017, the first for the biotech company since listing 15 years ago after sales more than doubled in 2016. The Dunedin-based company reported a net loss of $816,000…from a loss of $1.4 million, or 0.12 cents, a year earlier, it said in a statement. Revenue more than doubled to $5.6 million, and Blis expects that will rise to $8 million in the 2017 financial year which will underpin its first surplus, having accumulated losses of $33.3 million.” (my bold)

    http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/blis-targets-maiden-profit-ending-16-years-losses-after-more-doubling-2016-sales-b-189361

    Do you think that Blis should have paid tax on $5.6m, Dave?

    Furthermore, hundreds of farmers along with dozens in associated industries in New Zealand will post losses on revenue of more than $1m in the last financial year. They will pay no tax on that revenue but will have used our infrastructure and resources in the process.

    All of these examples enjoy the use our infrastructure and resources. Some more than others and in different ways. Should they be chased out of town? If so, which ones to be fair?

    It is not as if no one is paying tax on the economic activity generated by Uber:

    “Whenever a passenger takes an Uber ride…[t]he company typically sends 80% of that ride payment back to the driver via yet another Dutch subsidiary and keeps the remaining 20% as revenue.”

    http://fortune.com/2015/10/22/uber-tax-shell/

    So 80% of the revenue generated is available in the host country is available for taxation.

    That probably generates enough money to cover wear and tear on roads etc.

  39. Name Withheld says:

    As the tax expert said,….
    No…… as the………..
    Writer, Political and feminist commentator and Labour Party activist
    Said…..the behaviour is clearly immoral.
    No she didn’t..
    It might be helpful if you carefully mouth the words out loud while you read. Children find this helps with their comprehension. You might also.
    Uber is using our people, our roads and our services to make millions in profit but pay just few thousand in tax.
    Er..I’m not sure where you get “millions” from, out of your backside perhaps?
    The only figure quoted is $1 million in revenue. No mention of “profit”.
    Once again try forming the words out loud as you read.
    And it may have escaped you only the financially illiterate would believe that nobody pays tax on revenue, only on net profit.
    I assume you have introduced Uber as a diversion from the main topic.
    Think squirrels.

  40. TraceyS says:

    “Uber and other tax dodging companies are the ones commenters here should be attacking rather than ‘lazy’ beneficiaries and damaged young women who have too many babies:”

    Dave, no one is attacking anyone here. You are the only one suggesting that anyone should be attacked.

    Everyone here seems concerned (to some degree) about “damaged young women” having “too many babies”. For anyone who is damaged (contrary to Mr E I believe some are) having lots of babies cannot be expected to heal them or make their lives better. In fact, it can add more stress and difficulty which they do not need.

  41. Name Withheld says:

    Grant Robertson proves he is not fit to be anywhere near the finance portfolio:
    TraceyS….I think Grant Robertson knew exactly what he was saying, just looking for a sound bite. After all everybody knows that tax is paid on profit, not revenue…
    Right….Oh wait….
    If he managed to suck gullible idiots into swallowing it, then more credit to him.

  42. Mr E says:

    Tracey,

    ‘(contrary to Mr E I believe some are)’.

    We’ll have to agree to disagree.

  43. TraceyS says:

    OK. All good with me Mr E. We don’t always have to agree.

  44. Dave Kennedy says:

    Mr E, you are trying to shift the debate away from your own error😉

    The Dunedin studies clearly shows that those who are abused in their early years experience ongoing emotional damage and struggle to function effectively in managing their lives. They struggle with relationships and make poor decisions. What would you suggest as an alternative? Perhaps emotionally disabled? However they have clearly been ‘damaged’ by their earlier experiences and Tracey supports this view too.

    Tracey, have that argument with Robertson, my point was that many multinational companies earn considerable incomes and profits from their New Zealand businesses and clearly don’t pay enough in tax. If they are profiting from the services and infrastructure provided by the New Zealand taxpayer, they too should pay their share.

    I believe blaming beneficiaries for their situation based on personal perceptions and suggesting the removal of their benefits is indeed an attack. It has created a climate where genuine beneficiaries feel it is shameful to ask for support and many are treated disrespectfully in WINZ offices according to research.

    “No-one can blame children for their parents being benefit-dependent. If people can’t manage themselves and the state is paying them to look after their children it also has a responsibility to ensure that they do.”

    This was Ele’s concluding statement and it implies that many people are on benefits because they are incapable of managing themselves. While this may be true in many cases it is not true of most. The majority of people on benefits are there because of a huge variety of circumstances that they have little control over. Unemployment, increasing housing costs, disabilities, abusive partners, looking after a disabled child, family tragedies, accidents, unexpected debt, illness…Benefit dependence isn’t because of laziness or lack of ability, in most cases it is just bad luck.

    Rich people also do dumb things and make poor financial decisions, but if you have a large income you can absorb these and recover. Those on low incomes who purchase a lemon of a car or lose income through illness end up with debts they can never recover from. One minor traffic offense can mean no food for a week if a poor family want to pay the fine.

    NW, have that argument with the tax expert and listen to the end of the interview where she describes the behaviour as immoral.

  45. Name Withheld says:

    This was Ele’s concluding statement and it implies that many people are on benefits because they are incapable of managing themselves.

    Oh dear….You really are having a “bad comprehension” day today. Not taken up my little tip then?
    Not even in a wild dream could anybody draw that conclusion from what Ele said. Or are you just making stuff up again?
    “If” is the word you may have missed. Small, but very important in understanding the point.
    At least you are back on topic, having shot the squirrel riding in the Uber cab.
    Or have you realised just how stupid that argument was.

  46. Dave Kennedy says:

    NW, so your view is that Ele doesn’t think many beneficiaries are incapable on managing themselves? That’s reassuring😉

  47. Dave Kennedy says:

    oops, “incapable of…”😛

  48. homepaddock says:

    Dave – Managing on a low income, be it from wages or a benefit, is difficult. When you have less money you have fewer options and are far less able to cope with day to day costs let alone anything extra.

    I agree that people of all means make mistakes. Changes for the worse, whether through poor judgement, bad luck or just life, can happen to anyone.

    Those with more money are able to cope with more than those with less.

    If people make mistakes and get by with their own money it’s their business.

    If people do something, by accident or design, that requires more from the taxpayer as a result, what’s wrong with the help including help to manage? If the managing enables the family to get by, they are better off than without the help. if the managing doesn’t enable them to get by it could prove that a benefit isn’t enough and provide a case for an increase.

  49. Dave Kennedy says:

    Ele I fully support your last comment. I think helping people to help themselves is always the best approach.

    However it concerns me that while there will always be one or two that abuse the system, the majority who actually need help often feel that the support they would like isn’t always forthcoming and too hard to get. Many even become indebted to the state because of overpayments etc that weren’t their fault. There is also a stigma attached to being a beneficiary that is difficult for many.

    Perhaps there could be advantages of a simple UBI that will remove much of the bureaucracy and operate like superannuation. We are already paying out $4 billion annually in working for families and the accommodation supplement and student debt is rising at an alarming rate. It could be easily afforded if we could recover a greater % from tax fraudsters. This idea needs investigation and it is interesting that more countries are exploring this idea:

    “The idea of replacing benefits and tax credits with UBI has huge intuitive appeal. No means-testing of benefits, and thus no families stuck in poverty traps where benefit withdrawal erodes any increase in earnings. No out-of-work claimants afraid to take up short-term job offers for fear of losing benefit entitlement. No intrusive testing of benefit eligibility, no punitive sanctions regime, no jobcentre advisers hassling people to apply for the lowest-paid jobs. No fraud and no gaming the system. Most of the bureaucracy of the welfare system swept away.”

    http://morganfoundation.org.nz/why-the-guardian-is-wrong-on-ubi/

  50. TraceyS says:

    “No means-testing of benefits, and thus no families stuck in poverty traps where benefit withdrawal erodes any increase in earnings.”

    So the UBI would have to be set at least the living wage right Dave? I make that ($19.80*40) $792.00 per week.

    “No out-of-work claimants afraid to take up short-term job offers for fear of losing benefit entitlement.”

    I didn’t think that you were a fan of short-term jobs, Dave.

    “No intrusive testing of benefit eligibility, no punitive sanctions regime, no jobcentre advisers hassling people to apply for the lowest-paid jobs.”

    No support for those who need job search training and assistance.

    “No fraud and no gaming the system. Most of the bureaucracy of the welfare system swept away.”

    As long as there is a system there will be gaming and fraud. Dave, you have stated that this element is minimal anyway.

    With a UBI, I wonder how “damaged young women” having “too many babies” would fare? Would they get the same UBI as a young professional with no kids and a good job? Or will there be a payment-for-more-babies type add on?

  51. Dave Kennedy says:

    Tracey, there are various versions of the UBI and superannuation is paid with few problems and little abuse. Clearly there needs to be some research into UBIs systems already in operation to workout the pitfalls and how it could be applied here. I have no problem with fixed term jobs where there are valid reasons for them, I just don’t like zero hour jobs or unnecessary casualisation. Families need certainty of income to have stability and to be able to buy a house.

    Like superannuation tax will kick in over certain incomes and the UBI will provide the security to retrain and up skill.

    I think all your questions should be asked and addressed and i don’t know enough to answer them all, but I think there is potential for it to work if it’s properly designed. Gareth Morgan has written about one version.
    http://morganfoundation.org.nz/product/the-big-kahuna-turning-tax-and-welfare-on-its-head-in-new-zealand/

  52. TraceyS says:

    Dave, there are versions, true. There’s the universal version and then the non-universal versions.

    As Gareth Morgan says:

    “…adapting UBI to a more realistic universe undoes most of the advantages claimed for it. We can see this by looking in turn at UBI’s main selling points: no conditionality, no means-testing and equal payments to all.”

    http://morganfoundation.org.nz/why-the-guardian-is-wrong-on-ubi/

  53. Dave Kennedy says:

    “There’s the universal version and then the non-universal versions.”

    Tracey, that is Gareth’s take, I guess it depends if you think he is the ultimate authority or not. There are all sorts of things that would need to be established, what age should it start, what level of income should it provide, what tax system would be applied, whether we should have a graduated income that changes depending on age (the UBI could start at birth as a lower payment, similar to the child benefit…).

  54. Dave Kennedy says:

    Also there would have to be enough income generated to fund the UBI otherwise we would end up with the problem we have with superannuation.

  55. You seem to have failed to understand the suggested policy, Dave. In fact you have misunderstood other comments on this forum too.

    You say: “What you are essentially saying is that all beneficiary mothers who have children while receiving a benefit will get increasingly less money to teach them a lesson.”

    No. They get more money.

    Their second pregnancy on the benefit gets them the same amount of money because accidents can happen twice.

    It only reduces at the third benefit funded pregnancy as you would be naiive to think the third one is an accident in most cases. Hence the motivation to keep having children on the benefit is removed. My suggested policy takes into account the fact that children just happen sometimes. The social worker in the home at the third pregnancy would hopefully pick up any reason why the benefit shouldn’t be cut at the third pregnancy and would get the mother and child the help they need depending on their circumstances.

    Basically it’s about drawing a line somewhere to help those in need without the same pool of resource being drained by people gaming the system. It’s not really that punitive is it?

  56. Dave Kennedy says:

    James no I didn’t, it’s what others were suggesting should happen. I think you will also find that most mother who keep having children don’t generally don’t do so to earn money.

  57. OK, in that specific situation then it won’t matter if they get less at number 3. The father needs to take some responsibility too.

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