The headline says: PM about to take stick to welfare system.
The story says:
The welfare system will be the subject of Prime Minister John Key’s speech to the National Party conference this weekend and that means solo-parents, sickness and invalid beneficiaries could get hit.
If you read on you get some balance:
Picking up a benefit is part of life for many people whether they like it or not.
There is always been some kind of queue and Mr Key says it is time it was shortened.
“I think you judge a society by the way it looks after it’s sick and it’s vulnerable. But you also judge a society by how many dependent people you create and I think as a country we are creating too many dependent people.”
But neither the headline nor the end of the first sentence are news, they’re views. The choice of language makes them opinion rather than fact.
There is another view – that increasing independence is better than fostering dependence, that welfare reform wouldn’t be hitting beneficiaries but helping them and wider society.
Why should anyone work for just $1 an hour? the opponents to the government’s plans to work-test sickness beneficiaries are asking.
The answer is: is the abatement rates which impose a high marginal tax on extra income for all beneficiaries.
But if the benefit isn’t abated, beneficiaries would get more for part time work than some others would for fulltime work and that’s definitely neither fair nor right.
The problem isn’t that beneficiaries are working for just $1 an hour, it’s that they aren’t working for all the other dollars they get.
There are good reasons why some people need a benefit temporarily. There are good reasons why a few people will need a benefit permanently.
But getting those who are able to work in to work, albeit part time, is better than leaving them to do nothing on a benefit.
Working isn’t just about the money you earn, it’s about satisfaction, standing on your own feet, and requiring less from the public purse which frees up money for those who need it more.
It’s unfortunate but unavoidable that some beneficiaries may find they’re only $1 an hour better off than they would be if they weren’t working. But they won’t be working for only $1 an hour.
They’ll be working for all the dollars the taxpayer gives them plus the $1 an hour.
That’s better for them, better for the economy and better for society.
Labour leader Phil Goff’s latest bright idea is to pay the unemployment benefit to people who lose their jobs even if their partners are working.
His party introduced taxpayer funded maternity leave which wasn’t means tested. It turned middle and income families into beneficiaries with Working for Families. It’s a logical next step to make the unemployment benefit available for those who don’t necessarily need it.
How long will it be before he calls for everyone to get a benefit?
How long after that will it take him to work out that taking too much money from the taxpayer, churning it through a bureaucracy and giving some of it back to people who can afford necessities themselves is inefficient and costly in both economic and social terms?
Using taxes to help people in genuine need can be justified. Using taxes to turn people who don’t need help into beneficiaries can’t.
If this wasn’t so serious it would be funny:
Some voters distraught by election night results resorted to calling police, with one man ringing a counselling hotline and then 111.
Spooked beneficiaries also rang a Government family helpline because they were “stressed” their payments would change.
A Wairarapa man was so upset by National’s crushing win he reached out to Youthline and then called the police emergency number.
This is a sad reflection on the credulity and dependence of people who must have been told, and probably told repeatedly in spite of reassurances to the contrary from National, that if the government changed their benefits would be cut.
It’s also a really bad reflection on left wing politicians who don’t realise or don’t care that when they demonise the right, it’s the vulnerable who become the victims of their propaganda.
They need to remember that playing politics is a serious business because some people are silly enough to believe them.