The reason for the drop in welfare numbers

By   /   December 15, 2013  /   24 Comments

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Nowhere in the article does it state where those 10,000 welfare beneficiaries ended up.

There is a underlying reason for this headline,

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Number on benefits drops, reaction mixed - 16.7.2013

Source

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In the above July 2013 article, Social welfare Minister, Paula Bennett proudly asserted,

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said today there are now 309,782 people on a benefit compared with 320,041 last year.

[…]

That’s a reduction of more than 10,000 on welfare over the past 12 months and I am particularly pleased that 5600 of them are sole parents.”

IBID

Nowhere in the article does it state where those 10,000 welfare beneficiaries ended up.

Was it in paid work?

Did they go back into full-time education or other courses?

Or were they simply dumped from WINZ’s books?  Like the recipient of these letters that were recently provided to me? (We will call him/her “Citizen X” – all identifying details have been redacted to respect his/her privacy and protect him/her from possible reprisals by Bennett, her office, or MSD official. Same for the WINZ officials whose names appear on the letters.)

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WINZ letter dec 2013 (1)WINZ letter dec 2013 (2)

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A few days later, “Citizen X” received this letter. Adding insult to injury, they were demanding that an outstanding amount (an amount between $200 to $300) be repaid;

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WINZ letter dec 2013 (3)

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This was despite that “Citizen X” had had her/his unemployment benefit cancelled – not because s/he had found paid employment (s/he hadn’t) – but because s/he had fallen foul of National’s harsh new welfare laws.

In part, the MSD website states,

On Jobseeker Support for more than 12 months

If you still require Jobseeker Support after 52 weeks you’ll have to re-apply for your benefit. We’ll let you know when you have to re-apply and tell you what you need to do.

When you re-apply, you’ll also need to complete a Comprehensive Work Assessment. This will identify what steps you’ve taken to find work and what help you might need from us to be more successful in getting a job.

Source

In effect, National has placed a one year time limit on all unemployment benefits. They haven’t advertised it as such – they refer to it as “re-applying”.

As Simon Collins reported in the NZ Herald back in January (2013),

The Council of Christian Social Services pointed yesterday to “a growing gap between those who receive a benefit and those in genuine need who are either losing or unable to obtain social welfare assistance”.

Unemployment increased in the two years to last September from 144,500 to 170,000, but those on unemployment benefit dropped by almost a quarter from 65,281 to 50,390.

Sole parents on the domestic purposes benefit have also dropped in the past year. Rules for both benefits were tightened in September 2010, when unemployment beneficiaries had their benefits cancelled if they failed to reapply after a year.

Sole parents were required to look for part-time work when their youngest child turned 6, an age reduced to 5 last October.

Christian Social Services executive officer Trevor McGlinchey said his members were reporting increases in demand for their services as people found benefits harder to get.

[…]

Ironically, the tighter welfare rules may also partly explain the rise in unemployment, as beneficiaries are counted as unemployed only if they are actively looking for work. Employment slipped only slightly from 63.6 per cent to 63.2 per cent of adults in the two years to last September, but the “jobless” rose from 7.1 per cent to 8.4 per cent because those not looking for work fell from 29.3 per cent to a record low of 28.4 per cent.

Source

What this  means is that eventually a significant number of people simply give up re-applying for the minimal amount that the dole pays ($206.21 per week).

Constant, repetitive, incessant demands for information and a less than helpful attitude created by MSD policy create an atmosphere of naked hostility.

The complexity of applying, with the multitude of 73 pages of WINZ  forms and other bits of paper, may also prove to be a dis-incentive for many – especially those for whom English, reading ability, and general low education is a real problem.

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73 pages of WINZ forms

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The massive number of WINZ forms and other documents handed out to applicants has been covered in this previous blogpost; WINZ, waste, and wonky numbers

These are some of the bureacratic barriers which National and MSD have created for the most vulnerable and dispossessed people in our country.

All done to “massage” beneficiary statistics.

As Bennett said, back in July,

That’s a reduction of more than 10,000 on welfare over the past 12 months and I am particularly pleased that 5600 of them are sole parents.”

No doubt, National will use this “success” at the next election and a sizeable portion of the voting population will be sufficiently uninformed and  gullible enough to accept this without question.

It will be up to those who oppose National and it’s virulent brand of right-wing politics to spread the truth; under this party, poverty and inequality will continue to worsen.

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Hungry kids scavenge pig slops

Source

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Because even the Prime Minister has had to reluctantly concede the enormity of what we are facing,

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Key admits underclass still growing

Source

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Pushing people off welfare, regardless of whether or not they have jobs to go to, just to massage welfare statistics, is a vile obscenity.

This will not “lift people out of poverty”, as Key has promised.

It is increasing poverty.

How long will it be before this growing poverty, sense of hopelessness, and constant attacks by National and MSD results in the inevitable outbreak of violent civil disturbance? Desperate people tend not to care – especially for the empty promises of well-fed, well-housed, comfortable politicians.

Is this really what New Zealanders want for their country?

The clock is ticking…

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clock

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*

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Sources

NZ Herald: Welfare rules force people to struggle on without benefits

Fairfax media:  Number on benefits drops, reaction mixed

Fairfax media: Hungry kids scavenge pig slops

NZ Herald: Key admits underclass still growing

References

Work and Income:  Jobseeker Support

Additional

Gordon Campbell: Ten Myths About Welfare -The politics behind the government’s welfare reform process

Previous related blogposts

Class act, National – taking money of widows?!

How Paula Bennett and National are wasting our taxdollars

National ramps up attack on unemployed and solo-mums

Random Thoughts on Random Things #4…

OIA Request points to beneficiary beat-up by Minister Chester Borrows

The REAL level of unemployment

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= fs =

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24 Comments

  1. Andrew R says:

    A lot of emphasis on on-line form filling. The census showed about 15% of population doesn’t have access to the internet. Would a large proportion of this ~15% be getting govt assistance?

  2. Groucho Marxist says:

    They have created more hurdles for reapplication under the new system.

    Previously the forms were mailed with the letter. Now if you want a hard copy it has to be downloaded and printed. I was steered to the pdf but the 0800 adviser wasn’t “sure if that was the right one”.
    I was encouraged to fill in the application online.

    The old My Account is obsolete. The new system requires authentication through Real Me, the new govt ID service. To set up the Real Me ID requires a mobile phone so they can send a one-time password. This allows log-in which drops out after 5 mins inactivity and then requires another one-time password by text. None of this can be done by email – mobile only.

    When my wife required the same setup procedure we found that the same phone could not be used. We couldn’t use our son’s because he had registered with Real Me for Studylink.

    So now the poorest of the country who are already under extreme duress must have a personal mobile phone and an internet connection before they can even commence the tedious process. I pointed out recent census statistics on lack of landline and cellphone ownership but I was, after all, only talking to the messenger.

    I asked W&I how people on $206 gross ($171 net) are supposed to afford a phone and an internet connection as well as rent, power, transport, and food. She said most of them use their phone to connect to the internet. Oh right! They all have smart phones and can afford the top-end charges for mobile internet? The form takes at least 20 mins to fill in.

    It now appears that the management level of government are so high up in the ivory tower that they can’t see clearly down to ground level.

  3. Tiger Mountain says:

    Well written Frank, unlike the Kafkaesque letters (really) that NZ citizens receive from the WINZ labyrinth. My partner has been a beneficiary advocate so I am familiar with some of the cruel grinding horror stories.

    Dole numbers down so it can be predicted that in Dec, Jan, Feb:
    • foodbank services and volunteers stretched to the limit
    • more overcrowded living, families doubling and tripling up
    • more beggars/homeless on suburban not just CBD streets
    • more assaults on family members and thieving from neighbourhoods
    • more financial disasters, mortgagee sales, repossessions,
    • more assaults on citizens by Police, more road rage and other inappropriate expressions of anger
    • more cases of depression and wider alienation
    • more youth suicide

    I don’t want to get into linkage and causation just now but lets talley up my predictions in March.

    • Marc says:

      Kafkaesque, that is right, that is how some of their letters must be viewed.

      I get reminder forms upon reviews that are due. The review is for set periods, and the time given is a fair few weeks further ahead in the future. The reminder claims – or laments – that I had failed to hand in the review by such and such a date, while the time allowed to respond and present it has not even lapsed.

      There are many other experiences I had over years, they are unbelievable, and the harassment dealt out at times, it has ensured my health has anything but improved, it has worsened due to endless worries and anxiety.

      WINZ is (at the top) run by perverts of sorts, and by psychopaths, I have no doubts anymore!

  4. Countryboy says:

    News Flash !

    ” 10,000 beneficaries turn up outside paula bennetts front door with tar , feathers and one large hi ab , flat-deck truck . “

  5. Countryboy says:

    Another News Flash !

    ” Gigantic , sticky , turkey eaten after truck hijacked by starving children “

  6. Andrea says:

    It would be a real advance if WINZ spelled out what they actually do to help job seekers instead of asking job hunters to tell WINZ what would be helpful, only to have the ‘computer says no’ response.

    Do we still have a ‘labour exchange’ system running in this country where work offers are posted by WINZ?

    ‘looking for jobs at least 30 hours a week’ – seems crazy. Have the wonder workers at WINZ actually broken these hours into the tasks and time required? Or is this simply about keeping those otherwise idle hands busy? Is there really a strong correlation between hours spent and results? Over how many months before it’s time to switch tactics and strategies? And what are these effective strategies? Why not teach them upfront, then connect workers to employers, without all the frustration and humiliation in between?

    If thirty hours a week is supposed to get results – what about the anomalies of people sending out hundreds of applications to get no results over months?

    And how exactly do you prove you’ve done your 30 hours? Time clocks? Tracking devices? Eyeball monitoring? Can anyone get these numpty administrators out of the 1970s?

    Seems like the Lego castle has been kicked to bits and National has no idea what to build next, that will use all the pieces. No clues. None at all. Hope the other lot can do much much better.

    • Groucho Marxist says:

      The “labour exchange” or job listing was sent out as an email link every week until about 18 months ago.
      They stopped it without explanation. Go figure that one.

    • Groucho Marxist says:

      My letter states “look for jobs of at least 30 hours a week” which is a bit more logical than “for at least 30 hours a week”.

      At 30 hours work a week a worker is clear of Jobseeker payments.
      The benefit starts to abate after $80 gross is earned on top of the dole so assistance has gone by about 24 hours for an under 25.

      30 hours also qualifies a worker for Family Tax credits and Working for Families if children are involved.

      • Groucho Marxist says:

        Correction: it is only Working for Families that kicks in at that level – Family Tax credits is not connected

  7. Mamakins says:

    Hi I was wondering if you were aware that for sickness beneficiaries the reapplication process is three monthly and if you fail as I did to get the required medical certificate in from your GP by the deadline date without further notification the benefit is cut. Then I was told that because I had “forgotten” to have this in on time that it would not be reinstated as a priority and may take up to 5 working days to complete. The conversation was punitive in nature it kind of took the theme of you failed to meet your obligations next time make sure you have this to us on time. A month or so earlier when I was in the WINZ office I saw a team of workers run to the support of the receptionist as a client lost the plot verbally now I understand why. These punitive procedures cannot be pleasant for a young receptionist to implement telling people that their basic human needs will go unmet afterall benefits are often a last resort for people. I have phoned the human rights commision and I intend to make a complaint.

  8. jane says:

    Another surreptitious change: the recoup of student loans has passed with no information regarding this being distributed. Previously student loan was paid back after earning $17k p.a; now student loan is automatically deducted even if one is working part time, minimum wage, secondary tax, effectively earning $8 per hour.
    To apply for an exemption, again, download and print off a form, every three months. When you’re earning $8 an hour a printer cartridge starts looking like something from Van Cleef & Arpels, or another trip to a library or internet cafe to use their printer is akin to Harry’s Antarctic slog over the ice (what)

    • Anonymous Me says:

      Wow, so the regular repaying of student loans even on wage work is a recent thing? I get taxed on my loan about $100 each pay and I don’t even have fixed work, on top of that I’m being taxed crazy amounts of job seeker support because I still need them on my side to be sure of being able to pay rent if I happen to not get the hours enough to do that. I’m busting my ass in customer service everyday, owe the almighty W I N Z hundreds due to their shocking and uninformative Declare your income system, owe landlord hundreds due to payment circumstances simply beyond my control at time of transition into this work (won’t be paid off til after Christmas) and therefore in between not having as much time to myself to think without collapsing in exhaustion anymore and having to repay debts, I still have barely had any chance to fill my empty fridge, so the diet to support this new ‘full-time’ work is just not available.

      But you wanna know the worst part; just to add insult to injury, the student loan I racked up was only from a three month-ish stint early in the year when I had some sort of delusion that the job a W I N Z course (now no longer in operation)& (horrible, disrespectful witch of a woman – might I add) work-broker set me up in a 90 day trial at would be sufficient alongside full student loan living costs (without student allowance which just because of my parents I am ineligible to receive) to support my studying living cost but as soon as the employer found I was moving off job seeker support onto study, rendering them ineligible to collect a subsidy on me from W I N Z, they dropped me without any contact – honestly I looked at the termination date they had filed somewhere without telling me, to see it actually fell about a week past the end date of the 90 day fire-at-will-without-expressed-reason clause – but with all the other crap going on for me I couldn’t be bothered going about disputing it/taking to small claims (a situation/attitude I think they rely on to avoid meeting consequence of their actions). They didn’t give me the minimum thirty hours work per week they promised either, in fact couldn’t even manage to give me more than 8 hours despite my requests for AT LEAST 15, 10 absolute minimum. Unbelievable.
      So I went on my semester study break to find that upon review of the state of my ongoing finances for the year so far, including constant bailouts from parents, I actually could not nearly afford living costs whatsoever. It costs less to be on job seeker support than actually studying higher education in pursuit of one of the only better chances at getting a job. That, to me, is just nuts.

      So in summary, I racked up about a 10,000 uni debt just for studying three months and then being forced out due to incompetent organisations/government/big corporate employers, which I am now paying off at around $100 a pay packet along with $100 to landlord. It’s just a huge, terrible, unfair mess really.
      But at least now I have a WAY better job with people who actually care.

      In short, paying off student loan even on unstable wage pay schemes is nothing short of ridiculous. Heavens know whether I’ll return to the study I put on hold due to all this, but at this rate I am just trying to keep head above water (customer service is very draining, especially for a reserved introvert lol) and hope to have some food in the fridge again one day soon. Like most other young people in New Zealand; I don’t have entitlement issues, I just want a fair deal!
      Excuse the rant, just felt the need to paint the picture of the times
      “These are the days of our lives..” Lol

      • Groucho Marxist says:

        I see student loan repayment starts at just over $19k gross p.a. It hasn’t been adjusted upwards much over the years. It kicks in at less than the minimum wage for a 40 hr week.

        The real gut punch is that now when it triggers it will be 20% repayment instead of the previous 12%.

        I can not comprehend how someone on minimum wage is supposed to pay that amount and carry on living on the balance.

        Best wishes and good luck with your struggle Anonymous Me.

  9. Countryboy says:

    It’s the humble view of this tired old campaigner that there is one vital ingredient missing in the hideous process that is ‘ job seeking ‘ . ( Little bit of sick )

    And that is that one must be enthusiastic about finding that mythical ‘ job ‘ ( More sick ) otherwise , fuck it . Stick to crime .

    What is a ‘ job ‘ after all . ( Yep , sick a plenty )

    ‘These days’ , a ‘job’ ( Urp ! ) is polite slavery to pay for the stuff and the things you need a meager income to be able to borrow against to pay for that which was yours in the beginning fool . After all , loans , like mortgages are never meant to be repaid , only serviced . So … well WTF ? Springs to mind .

    Remember . Pubic debt is money in the bank for your masters . There’s the small matter of the Global recession that’s a great example of that .

    paula bennett is bold face- edly creating slaves . Yes , she is . She’s using a capital resource for the benefit of her masters .
    The poor , who are as much a product of a capitalist venture as are Vietnamese sneakers , are expendable , renewable and profitable . We should all know by now how easy it is to create a poverty stricken underclass .

    The unemployed / impoverished are a resource . They’re the product of a production line manufacturing process and almost everybody at management level wins , unless you become one of them . Then you have the option of dying or working until you die . That’s the only choice you’re going to have very soon .

    I’ve been done schooling myself up on the nature of debt and re insuring . I’ve discovered that there’s huge money in poverty and unemployment . The fit bit is that if you’re the one foisting such inhuman and vile demands on the unsuspecting , you can easily cover up your cock stiffening ( Or if you’re paula bennett then it becomes vagina slackening ) greed by deflecting blame and responsibility onto the victim . In this case , the dirty , lazy , worthless bennie . Brilliant . Profoundly evil and inhuman yet brilliant .
    The industrialization and consequential capitalization of the human condition .
    Fuck .
    I’m going to bed . I pray that all this is but a dream within a dream .

    Oh , before I go . Has anyone else noticed how insidious Google has become suddenly on trying to sell shit ? I had anti tracking software installed on FireFox and it got murdered . And Google has just bought Boston Dynamics ! Freaky shit . Or is it just me . Seriously , can someone tell me , is it just me ? Fuck ! I hope it’s just me .

    • @ Countryboy…

      I’ll be phasing out using my Gmail and Yahoo accounts. Their servers are potentially too compromised by NSA spying activities (which can then quite legally be passed back to the GCSB as part of the so-called “Five Eyes” arrangement.)

  10. Marc says:

    Yes, Frank is right, and since July this year at least, all benefits are stopped after 12 months, unless a person re-applies. As far as I know that even applies to those on Supported Living payments now.

    So naturally, many will be poorly prepared and get nasty surprises, others may prepare, but may well be surprised by tighter pre benefit activities and higher expectations in proving efforts to find work were made. I have heard from many unemployed that they have to make at least 20 to 25 applications or evident efforts of trying to get a job a week. So how does that work in a small town, how does it work in depressed areas, and even some urban distant suburbs, with poor transport? If there are no jobs, what are people supposed to do? Some have been forced to hitch hike for 40 kms or more, to get to expected appointments at local WINZ offices.

    And what many in the public still do not know, there are now many sick and with disabilities, that are pressured to look for work, after WINZ biased “designated doctors” (giving “second opinions”) issue medical certificates that force sick to be work tested and look for jobs. So with much tighter standards to qualify for deferral from work testing on the Jobseeker benefit, and to also qualify for Supported Living payments, doctors are increasingly collaborating with WINZ case managers and internal health and disability advisors, to cull people off benefits, even though they are sick and disabled.

    Endless info on all this can be found here, I hate to repeat myself, but it is revealing and true:

    http://accforum.org/forums/index.php?/topic/15463-designated-doctors-%e2%80%93-used-by-work-and-income-some-also-used-by-acc/

    http://accforum.org/forums/index.php?/topic/15264-welfare-reform-the-health-and-disability-panel-msd-the-truth-behind-the-agenda/

    http://accforum.org/forums/index.php?/topic/13301-what-to-do-if-you-are-required-to-see-a-winz-designated-doctor/

    It is like that now: If you are on crutches or in a wheel chair, they may say, you can assemble ball point pens while sitting, so you can work! In the extreme, that is what they do in some cases now!

  11. I’ve read the comments here and felt that the facts presented should be shared at a higher level. Accordingly, today I emailed Labour’s spokesperson on Welfare issues;

    FROM: “f.macskasy”
    SUBJECT: Current Welfare/MSD Culture
    DATE: Mon, 16 Dec 2013 06:28:56 +1300
    TO: Jacinda Ardern

    Kia ora Ms Ardern,

    I draw your attention to this blogpost on “The Daily Blog”,
    ‘The reason for the drop in welfare numbers’ (link:
    http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2013/12/15/the-reason-for-the-drop-in-welfare-numbers)
    and the stories that are coming through on how WINZ/MSD
    treats welfare recipients.

    Please take a moment to read the blogpost and stories which
    have been posted by readers. I would welcome any comment you
    might be able to make on this increasingly problematic
    situation.

    It appears that WINZ/MSD policies are geared toward creating
    barriers for people to access WINZ services and financial
    support, and to penalise people on the slightest pretext.

    My questions are,

    1. How will a new incoming Labour-led government deal with
    this increasingly bleak, punitive situation?

    2. Is there a culture of abuse developing at WINZ/MSD?

    3. What conversation (if any) will you be having with the
    Chief Executive of MSD on these problems?

    I look forward to any response you might have.

    Regards,
    -Frank Macskasy
    -Blogger

  12. The atmosphere is adversarial, and negative in any WINZ office i.e. you go into a room with a lot of people rather than just the WINZ staff. They ask briefly about your situation in a crowded room i.e. ‘why are you here?’, and overall it is demeaning. But I guess that is the point, to make people so afraid of WINZ that they never apply (even if they need the help). The people are going off the books into the care of family, or into homelessness. There is no reduction in unemployment or poverty, rather the reverse.

    • ak says:

      It’s a massive, deliberate, systematic campaign of Passive-Agressive abuse. Google it, and click.

      No beatings, no bruises, no profanities: couched in polite, anodyne “caring” rhetoric – but knives to the emotional heart with every petty hurdle and frustration.

      A deliberate, relentless, methodical onslaught on the most vulnerable.

      Every delay and obfuscation, every routine mention of “obligations” and “sanctions, a chilling reminder of the victim’s utter vulnerability to the caprice and whim of indecipherable cant administered by poorly-trained hapless clerks. Victims themselves.

      And like all victims of prolonged, relentless, passive-aggressive abuse, emotional wreckage trapped in the hell of impotent despair.

      The fate now of thousands: writhing while they can at incessant soft knives to the heart of self-worth, health and sanity: till finally the formerly-sound physiology yields to the inevitable. And Chester gloats.

      A broken mass; crushed, meticulously emasculated and lobotomised by a giant mattress of tiny, bureaucratic scalpels.

      By a small coterie of simpering murderers. Natzies of the 21st century with the final, elegant PA solution.

  13. Alan Alan Benton says:

    The Enterprise Allowance scheme is another interesting course they operate — this course keeps no stats on what they fund, why they fund the businesses they do end up funding, what people who have been helped into business end up doing if the business fails, and all this while saying to people “We’re awesomely successful at what we do, we don’t see 70% of the people we fund into their own business back on the dole”

    The obvious question being – if people like WINZ and the like do not keep actual information on where people really end up to get their stats, they have no business quoting their “success” rate… ever. It was interesting sitting in one of these courses with an ex-Forensic Auditor (out of work). His questions to them on that basis were met with a firm and repeated “No, we can’t tell you that, we don’t keep records on where they end up in the end actually …”

    “And you people get funding based on this ‘success’?”
    “Yes…”
    “But how can you justify that if you can’t actually quantify that success? What data do you collect to back these claims up?”
    “We don’t. We’re just successful, that’s all you need to know…”

    And around and around that conversation went.

    Reclassifying people as being on MSD-sanction courses and claiming this is dropping official unemployment is the worst kind of statistical manipulation, as is not reporting what effect people leaving the country has had on those same stats, or where enrolling in another course at university or similar because of the sheer tediousness of filling out a Job Seeker application – but people are falling for these BS stats crap hook, line and sinker. And the supporters of the Nact policy simply get even more self-righteous in their attitudes as a result, baying as they do about “lazy bludgers” because apparently jobs are falling off trees somewhere in their universe. There’s been a spate of sackings, layoffs, redundancies that have been the headlines lately, quite the opposite of what they purport as saying is happening under this government.

    Another thing that has happened is that while there is great trumpeting about the economy being improved, when one does read further, it often turns out that even where there is supposed confidence in the economy, this does not mean firms are actually translating that into job creation – they’re putting themselves in a holding pattern: safe for now, but not risking the bottom line too much by turning that confidence they claim into more people employed. This much was made clear by an article in the Waikato Times a month ago, and the same can be seen when one reads the actual reports on the Ministry of Business and Innovations site, and avoiding the official spin in the daily paper or nightly “news”.

    In terms of general laziness, the only lazy thing that has happened is people not wanting the real story, coupled with some extremely narrow-minded reporting on the part of our MSM. Not that the MSM has done any real reporting in the last few years … only when things become hideously beyond repair and in the country in a state of near ruin do a lot of them actually turn their gaze to the facts as they actually are, as opposed to what they’d like people to believe. In terms of general bludging, the high end of town has clearly far exceeded the average dole recipient in the “handouts” stakes, this much is blatantly clear.