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Monday, September 13, 2010

Child Poverty Action Group Welfare Forum - rethinking welfare for the 21st century


$500,000 to get a job: expert
New Zealand would have to invest about $500,000 in each unemployed person to give them the "human capital" required to get paid work, a welfare expert says.

Professor Peter Saunders, an Australian who is president of the Foundation for International Studies on Social Security, said the only way to cut welfare spending in the long term was to invest upfront in education, childcare and supporting people in work for the first few years.

"Policies will be costly and success will take time," he said.

"If we are going to do it properly, let's put the money in upfront and not expect a return overnight."

Professor Saunders, from the University of New South Wales, is "the other Peter Saunders" - not the Professor Peter Saunders of the right-wing Centre for Independent Studies, also in Sydney, who is one of three international advisers to the Government's welfare working group chaired by economist Paula Rebstock.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett got the two mixed up in a parliamentary exchange in May.


Paula is such a clown, she got the two mixed up in Parliament, she appointed the Peter Saunders who believes class is connected to intelligence, believes corporations should run social welfare, wouldn't front up to the media to explain himself unless the media paid him and of course writes Islamaphobic fiction in his down time - THAT Peter Saunders is the 'researcher' Paula appointed to her Welfare Razor Gang that used voodoo math to justify forcing solo mothers, the sick, the crippled and the mentally unwell back to work in a 6.8% unemployment environment.

I was fortunate enough to be invited by Child Poverty Action Group to this conference last week at Auckland Uni where Professor Saunders spoke.

Chair of the Welfare Razor Gang, Paula Rebstock, spoke first and it was bloody interesting. The room was full of brilliant academics who have all worked on poverty and who all know that the math Rebstock tried to use to justify the cuts she has put forward are bullshit and most importantly Paula knew they knew it. She was nervous and found it very difficult listening to the counter perspectives on Welfare.

There was a brief history lesson on where Welfare has come in NZ, from the 19th Century pension and universal suffrage to the 1938 Social Security Act which expanded free education, public hospitals and state housing as a response to the 1929 stock market inspired depression, then to the post war welfare state aimed at full employment. Then the 1967 ACC legislation to look after the injured in an industrialized world and then the 1972 Royal Commission on Social Security which was followed by the 1988 Royal Commission on Social Policy which both concluded that access to sufficient levels of income and resources to allow all to participate in society was a means to create the genuine opportunity democracy promises.

These desires to allow all to participate and the importance of resourcing that autonomy all went to pieces with the 1991 welfare to work when welfare was suddenly a dirty word and only a 'safety net'. The 2000's work focused reforms carried on by Labour helped lift 160 000 children out of poverty for the working poor, but left almost 220 000 children to live beneath the poverty line.

Professor Saunders argued we need to rethink disadvantage to side step the reactionary voices that dominate the debate, stating that poverty denies people to resource their capabilities and aspirations and that we need to look at welfare as an investment.

Capitalism has a unique ability to co-opt other good ideas and reform itself when under the Keynesian managed style, it had to during the Depression when democracy faced a crises of capitalism in 1929, and as we face the same crises after 2008, we will need to change our selfish views on welfare to once again progress, Professor Saunders is a vital voice in that debate. We should be spending more on public services, not slashing them as this Government are.

There was one ugly moment during the conference that reminded everyone what was at stake. An angry advocate of the unemployed stormed out of the forum frustrated that the tone wasn't attacking Rebstock and her Welfare Razor Gang and was instead trying to 'work with her'. I agreed. We've seen the ugly face of these destructive right wing policies, the fact we are such a low wage economy goes right back to the right wing reforms adopted by National in the 90's that crushed the labour union movement, these welfare reforms need to be shown the same venom and contempt, not 'let's work together' bullshit. The advocates anger reminded all in the room that while we sat in a cosy university lecture room, many NZers on the street right now are suffering and facing the real world consequences of being hurt by these National Party Welfare slashes.

12 Comments:

At 13/9/10 10:47 am, Blogger dave said...

Yeah welfare shifts the focus onto redistribution of income, when what we need is a redistribution of property via expropriation. Poverty goes hand in hand with capitalism - anti-poverty means anti-capitalism.

 
At 13/9/10 1:22 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Poverty goes hand in hand with capitalism"

LOL. Unlike the really wealthy Socialist and Communist states of... um....ah... well.... nevermind.

 
At 13/9/10 2:23 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The room was full of brilliant academics who have all worked on poverty and who all know that the math"

Yeah from an office in some university.

Strangely enough in the US financial markets there were brillant academics who worked on how to securitize residential mortgages into bonds and subsequently insurance on those bonds and who knew that maths.

I wonder how that turned out?

 
At 13/9/10 2:39 pm, Blogger Bomber said...

"The room was full of brilliant academics who have all worked on poverty and who all know that the math"

Did you cut my quote off on purpose to attempt to misdirect my point anon? The full quote of course was...

The room was full of brilliant academics who have all worked on poverty and who all know that the math Rebstock tried to use to justify the cuts she has put forward are bullshit

...my point was that the math Rebstock has tried to use to justify her welfare cuts were accepted as junk. The weird point you have tried to make here is that somehow recognition of the falseness of Rebstocks math is somehow equitable to the greedy corporate maggots on Wall St using academics for hire within America's exclusive business school that created the intellectual arguments to adopt neoliberal policy deregulating markets which ended up crashing the global economy.

How you have managed to make this point from what I have written reminds me that people see what they want to see, how bout you sit this one out champ?

 
At 13/9/10 2:56 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"How you have managed to make this point from what I have written reminds me that people see what they want to see, how bout you sit this one out champ?"

Shock horror can't have people holding actual opinions contrary to academic wisdom can we, who knows where it will all lead.

PS I bet you warmist love certain posters to sit out debates especially where falsified global warming data is concerned. Can't have too much scrutiny can we bomber?

 
At 13/9/10 3:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Third, we have to face the reality that traditional kiwi values are being destroyed by a government-funded culture of welfare dependency. National will stop communities wasting away on welfare. Sitting at home on welfare should never be an option, as the Labour Government seems to believe.

 
At 13/9/10 3:29 pm, Blogger Bomber said...

Shock horror can't have people holding actual opinions contrary to academic wisdom can we, who knows where it will all lead.
Oh. My. God. That is your comeback? Did you even comprehend the point I made?

PS I bet you warmist love certain posters to sit out debates especially where falsified global warming data is concerned. Can't have too much scrutiny can we bomber?
Jesus wept, you really are out of your depth here aren't you? For the 1000th time anon, there was NOTHING in the climategate emails that called into doubt the science showing man made pollution is warming the planet. I bet you really think it's all a hoax don't you Anon? Stick to Mac Drs climate denial site and listening to Leighton Smith. But Anon's final point is the money shot for ignorance, let's have it...

Third, we have to face the reality that traditional kiwi values are being destroyed by a government-funded culture of welfare dependency. National will stop communities wasting away on welfare. Sitting at home on welfare should never be an option, as the Labour Government seems to believe.
That's right folks, welfare destroys people, the very points made at the Forum that welfare as investment is necessary for autonomy is utterly lost on you isn't it?

I bet anon here believes Obama is a Muslim not born in America as well, I see why you post anonymously, I wouldn't want to put my name to your ill thought out opinions either.

BTW you would need two points before your third point to make the third point a third point.

 
At 13/9/10 3:41 pm, Anonymous AAMC said...

'Third, we have to face the reality that traditional kiwi values are being destroyed by a government-funded culture of welfare dependency. National will stop communities wasting away on welfare. Sitting at home on welfare should never be an option, as the Labour Government seems to believe.'

In light if the current unemployment situation perhaps you should just bus them to the gas chamber Anon. Or we could adopt Americas 99 week policy where they get kicked off welfare after 99 weeks and move under the nearest overbridge. What I'm interested in Anon is what your solution is, as that seems to be missing from your posts.

 
At 13/9/10 4:37 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I acknowledge that there are problems of Maori socio-economic disparity in some places, mostly rural. We will focus our welfare reform efforts on those areas. We will not have entire townships, and some suburbs, on the dole.

Welfare recipients will be offered retraining, and offered some activity by which they can earn, and be seen to earn, their welfare cheque. Their children will see their parents constructively engaged in the community each day, not marginalised by it. That, more than anything, will restore their dignity.

But these are not Treaty issues: they are social welfare issues, and Maori New Zealanders who are in need are as entitled to assistance as any other New Zealanders who are in need.

Similarly, a National Government will continue to fund Te Kohanga Reo, Kaupapa Maori, Wananga and Maori primary health providers – not because we have been conned into believing that that is somehow a special right enjoyed by Maori under the Treaty, but rather because National believes that all New Zealanders have a right to choice in education and health.

Finally, we ask Maori to take some responsibility themselves for what is happening in their own communities. Citizenship brings obligations as well as rights. The Maori translation of Article 3 was very clear about that. We all have an obligation to make the effort to build a culture of aspiration – as the great Maori leaders of the past, and indeed some of the Maori leaders of the present, have advocated – not a culture of grievance. Like everybody else, Maori must build their own future with their own hands.

Most are doing that already, and it is crucially important that government policy encourages this, not discourages it.

The spirit evident in the Maori response to the new opportunities that emerged in the mid-19th century is alive and well today. It is displayed in the outstanding performance of Maori in fishing and other primary sectors, and in a range of entrepreneurial business, sporting and cultural activities.

Their efforts, their aspirations, and their focus are light-years away from the handout mentality being fostered by this Government.

A culture of dependence and grievance can only be hugely destructive of the Maori people and, if left unchecked, destructive of our ability to build a prosperous nation of one people, living under one set of laws.

Let me make one final concluding comment.

In many ways, I am deeply saddened to have to make a speech about issues of race. In this country, it should not matter what colour you are, or what your ethnic origin might be. It should not matter whether you have migrated to this country and only recently become a citizen, or whether your ancestors arrived two, five, 10 or 20 generations ago.

The indigenous culture of New Zealand will always have a special place in our emerging culture, and will be cherished for that reason.

But we must build a modern, prosperous, democratic nation based on one rule for all. We cannot allow the loose threads of 19th century law and custom to unravel our attempts at nation-building in the 21st century.





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1 Simon Chapple, “Maori Socio-economic Disparity”, Political Science, Vol 52, No 2, December 2000.

2 Roger Sandall, The Culture Cult, p 114.

3 James Belich, Making Peoples, 1996, p 157.

4 See Belich, ibid., p 195; and R M Ross, “Te Tiriti o Waitangi: Texts and Translations”, NZJH, Vol 6, No 2, October 1972.

5 Michael Bassett, “Halt the Treaty Gravy Train”, Dominion, 6 February 2002.

6 Chris Trotter, Dominion-Post, 12 December 2003.

7 Chris Trotter, op. cit.

8 This section relies heavily on material from Simon Chapple, op. cit.

27 January 2004.

 
At 13/9/10 10:01 pm, Blogger dave said...

Blah blah blah. The culture of dependence applies only to bosses. They are dependent on workers making their profits. Workers live on welfare because there are no decent jobs they can live on. If you want to get rid of dependency get rid of capitalism.
I wrote this in 1987 when the last Nationalites attacked beneficiaries as lazy, dependent slobs.
http://www.scribd.com/doc/36826019/Dependency
Wannabe bosses, aspiring bosses arseholes, make me sick.

 
At 14/9/10 10:34 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

500,000 holy...crap..!!!

Is that some sort of misprint - are we training them to be Astronauts??

Christ alive, how many people is this supposed to apply to???

 
At 16/9/10 9:21 pm, Blogger Paddy O'Dea said...

Hi Bomber - an excellent & well-referenced post. Thank you. You might be interested in this - a move towards Peter Saunders' 'social investment' state as opposed to a social welfare state - well at least a mix of both: Here's the link: www.schoolgates.org.uk
I am desperate to lay my hands on a copy of the Saunders report - do you know where I can find it. I'm usually a whizz at finding things, but this one eludes me!
thanks, Paddy O'Dea, London, UK
(moderator/manager of www.learning-exchange.org.uk - and a kiwi :-))...

 

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