The Privatization of Poverty – forcing the mentally unwell back to work


milking it

While John Key looks straight down the barrel of the media and tells the country that he is center right, private contractors earning large large fees will be trying to force the mentally unwell back into the workforce.

Will the same manufactured disqualification regime used to cut benefits be employed here as well I wonder? Will the depressed and the anxious be urine tested for cannabis use and then expelled if they fail the test?

Eventually. That’s how the private contractor gets guaranteed their profit margin. Cannabis use is high, disqualify those who use it, get a juicy fee. If there is no stick to this regime, no means to punish the depressed for none compliance to work testing, the whole things falls over as pointless.

For all the NZers we can surely spare some compassion for, isn’t it the mentally burnt out and fried that society piles high around itself as collateral damage for capitalism whom we can give sympathy to?

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Per year, National has handed back $400m in tax cuts to the wealthiest NZers, you can’t tell me that we are unable to divert some of that into sparing the mentally depressed from further anxiety?

Isn’t it perverse that private contract Drs will be sent like hit teams into evaluate and rubber stamp the unwell to employment status? How many depressed and mentally unwell were speculating on Wall street? How is the global economic meltdown their responsibility in any way? These are the people we protect from the ravages of the free market, they aren’t the ones we sacrifice to it.

While Key’s popularity soars due to incredible spin and brand management in an uncritical media environment, National are pushing all their top shelf far right corporate induced policy crucifying the poor. Without a visible Opposition, he’s succeeding.

Forcing the mentally unwell back to work using private contractors makes Caligula look compassionate. What are we becoming?


  1. “Key’s popularity soars due to incredible spin and brand management”. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if NZ had a site like MediaLens ( that attempts to hold the commercial press accountable for their distorted news reporting?
    Will the Kiwi versions of David Edwards and David Cromwell please stand up!

  2. As an ACC receiver for a long time I have seen how money warps the system. I have seen ‘hatchet doctors’ who for money have directly lied in their reports about what has happened in their offices with regards to me. One even had the gall to say that he followed me back to my car where apparently half way I “straightened up”and stopped limping before jumping into my car and driving away. Admittedly he was a type of physio work estimator and not a doctor. This was a straight out lie, even ACC did not believe him as they know that I am a genuine case.

  3. ” What are we becoming ? ” Or should that be ” What have we become ? ”

    Who said ” We become that which we hate the most ? ”

    We Kiwis scorn laziness and malingering and yet … etc .

    The problem with working is that the very act of it must induce a sense of achievement . If work per se gives nothing back but of a means of existence , then what the fucks the point .

    People are not stupid ( Well , some people are but for the sake of an argument . ) and if they find they work harder , as those who tell them they must work harder are getting richer … you can see where I’m going with this .

    My questions are these ; How do they do it ? How do they blithely do that which they do ? How does johnky-stien get away with his outrageous lies ? How does bennett get away with deliberately hurting the most vulnerable ? Seriously , I’m asking those questions because I don’t know the answers to them ! How does parata cause such anxiety to a whole city full of people who’re already suffering terribly by murdering schools and gets completely away with it ? She can roll up to a school meeting and actually be tearfully thanked for sparing that school while others are closed down . How-does-she-do-it ? What , about the psychological methodology deployed is so effective as to render us without defense , without hope , without one single effective course of action at our disposal ?

    Sure , we write here and we vent but nothing comes of it and they know nothing will come of it , and we know that they know that we know nothing will come of it ???

    You out there ! Those of you with great skills and good hearts ? Is there not some way to organize a protest ? A protest that has a great, big , dangling pair of balls ?

    Are we so far gone that we can’t even shout out a decent anti- government chant or carry a placard ? If we’re that far gone , then what the fuck am I doing wasting my time writing here ?

    New Zealand is being colonized by Corporations . Private Corporations with an eye to profit and survival . Not some army with an opposing point of ideals . Corporations who want to make money from you and I and our stuff and steal away with our beautiful lives and turn us into monsters in our own living rooms .

    Johnky-stien isn’t a Parliamentarian for fucks sake ! He’s a banker ! We’re afraid of a puny , punk arsed banker and a few bloated crims in suits ?

    In the immortal words of the Dalai Lama … WTF ?

    • I’m right with you Countryboy although I can’t help out with the big dangly balls bit.

      For several years now I have been in a constant state of confusion as to how our leaders (eg your examples above, Parata, Bennett, Key etc) can behave in such a sociopathic way and how we let them get away with it. I’m so ashamed and so angry and it is so tiring being like this when there is is no action. This new and twisted move to force people who are coping with mental illness into situations that could potentially further exacerbate their illness, and use a bonus system orientated outsourced provider to do it is beyond cruel and thoughtless.

      So why aren’t we standing up? Where are the organised groups that would include “us”? I don’t know the answers but my suspicions are thus:

      Division. As a society perhaps we have become divided and fragmented by the reality of our personal economic circumstances wearing us down, and fearing for our share of increasingly scarce resources we become distrustful of one another. We don’t feel as ‘civilised’ as we used to be. In Gordon McLaughlin’s book “The Passionless People: Revisited” (published 2012) he discussed how we have moved from being citizens to being consumers and tax payers. If this is the case then how can we be unified as we are no longer a citizenry, looking out for another as we should be in the face of the erosion of our democracy.

      Indifference: Seriously, how well organised are we on the left, in real life? How many active groups do you know of that make an impact with their statement and intentions? Like you say it’s all very well talking as we are, and it’s great to be informed by authors and share info with one another but in terms of change, what does it achieve? Are we scared? I don’t know. I know I’m not scared only slightly encumbered by physical illness. Have we become too blase and lazy because technology and social networking makes it so? I don’t know. Walking past Parliament the other day I couldn’t help but think how mighty quiet our voices are. Why are there not thousands of us at those steps protesting at a time like this?

      Personally I’d love to see a nationwide campaign from an organised group of like minds from different backgrounds who are all affected by this government. And that’s most of us. It could be the HEY! HEY! HO!HO! JK MUST GO! campaign with the ultimate aim being to force an early election as a result of the incompetence of this government and the detrimental effect of their policies on the lives of hundreds of thousands of NZer’s. But hey, you’d need a strong and united opposition to do that, and politicians are just part of the answer so maybe back to the drawing board with campaign ideas……….

      • I agree but I think this is what we have to work with until there is a time when people who believe in a revolution for this cause gather momentum in physical voice.
        The government is loving the chance to watch us be massively hindered by the burden of our time: technology. Why would we want to step outside into the harsh cold world when we have the world at our fingertips on the Internet? Cooped up in our cages eating a strict rice diet, worrying about our grim job prospects. They don’t want us out on the streets becoming a case similar to that in Turkey recently. Our voices can be suppressed on the Internet so easily, by paying off Google to lower political blog search results in favour of the leading party in New Zealand, by relying on big popular neo-liberalist movements e.g. the gay marriage movement to cover up the headlines of their own short-comings. If anyone can’t see through that they are being naive. If a big headline comes up implicating themselves they do their best to shift the attention, e.g. hack at beneficiary numbers and point the finger towards the poor and vulnerable in a pathetic display of a game of hot-potato.
        Anyway, I think the fact of the matter is, social media and technology is something that we really do need – to gather the people. And we need to always keep on top of technology, because they will make their presence known/message delivered. We need to think a step ahead of them. We need to gather the people, they need to realise that they should be downright angry about the tyranny going on, and stop getting angry about the tired old “YOU’RE spending MY hard-earned taxes on booze and drugs”. It’s all “me, me, me!” in this country, just like they want it to be. The lucky few in jobs need to stop consuming the hatred they are fed and using their work exhaustion as an excuse to be engineered into little fuming worker ants with little to no compassion. They need to start thinking about, on a personal and individual per-case level, why each of these so-called “bludgers” are there and then realise they do not have the qualifications to generalise on that as the government manipulates their minds into doing. Revolution has to be physically at their door for it to take effect, unless it is as compelling as that Kony 2012 campaign, but people love to get up in arms about something in a far-off distant land when they are told all they have to do is sign a chequebook to a friendly organisation online. We wouldn’t know that Turkey had problems if they weren’t out physically fighting on the streets, making a ruckus. At least the UN now is noticing the flaws in Turkey’s government e.g. calling for them to acknowledge the peoples’ right to peaceful assembly and stop their police from wrongly using violence on the protestors. Here they rely on us being lazy shut-ins, which is what they are reducing people down to because they become disillusioned/disenfranchised with the country and society. Quite tricky and accordingly the country’s people are very ruthless when it comes to silencing the truth. They say: “Hush, hush, the rugby’s on.”, “Quiet down, I can’t hear the rugby”. They are running on 1. Our (growing) 21st century complacency 2. Our gullibility 3. Our rising anger/hatred/tensions. I think part of the fact is they are scared, of what we could really do with all the spare time the joblessness they have prescribed to us. We could be on the streets rioting and bringing international shame to them as leaders, or similar. But they rely on the age-old blame the poor, keep them down, drive them mad, shatter their confidence, make them the scapegoat, the villain. Divide the people, stir the pot. Sit back, and enjoy the show.
        They really do take us for fools, I think there should be more for New Zealand and its people than all of this rich vs poor rubbish. We need to get people with a CONSCIENCE in power. The truth is, I feel like a stranger in my own country. However I feel a revolution may not be too far off. Here’s hoping.

        • Rachael, I also feel like a stranger in my own country. It has become very isolating living in such a divided and increasingly compassionless society.

  4. Has there ever been another government that actually persistently attacks New Zealanders rather than works on their behalf?

  5. Oh Ha Ha Jon Key…you have to admit he has a great sense of humour.
    Here are some job descriptions for the insane, paranoid and generally depressed:
    1) politician
    2) work broker
    3) drug tester
    3) guinea pig for pharmaceutical company
    4) organ donor
    5) quality control at cigarette plant
    6) budget counsellor (budget, what’s that?)
    7) work broker, oh, I already said that but then there’s going to be a huge demand for work brokers as it’s going to take an awful lot of work to persuade an employer that they should employ anyone crippled by mental illness, blinded by second rate pharmaceuticals and so under resourced they only have one pair of trousers and can’t afford deodorant, shavers, etc let alone transport and lunch….so…
    8) work broker,
    9) work broker,
    10) work broker…are you getting my drift?

  6. 1. I suspect that many of those who speculated on Wall St suffered from some sort of mental disorder.

    2. I think this program should be trialled on Cameron Slater.

    3. I am appalled that a government can even propose this crap. It shows how far we have fallen as a people. Health and Welfare policies should not be run by schoolyard bullies.

  7. Before anyone can be ‘forced back to work’ there have to be employers who will take them on.

    Now: which will it be? The bribes to potential employers to give these malingering skivers a couple of days before the 90 day game allows them to be tossed off and start the humiliation/stress again?

    Work for free – but pay the employers compensation?

    Sanctions and stand downs for invented reasons so these malingering skivers disappear from the ‘welfare’ statistics, or move to a different set of statistics?

    Cut any/all assistance to agencies that provide work opportunities and understanding that recovery is not guaranteed, so practical compassion may be needed, as well as flexible working conditions?

    Welcome ATOS with open arms and cry crocodile tears for the inevitable suicides?

    Take your pick. The sanctimonious indifference level is certainly high enough – and protests can easily be met with the ‘hard times and we’re sorry you were offended’ standard reply. Bless.

  8. This is the true face of National, of John Key and also of Paula Bennett, who once benefited herself from a then perhaps more respectful welfare system that WINZ offered, when she accessed it.

    Now she has been busy for a few years, kicking the lower rungs off the ladder, so fewer can even get benefits, many get a cold shoulder treatment and are denied even special needs grants for food in increasing cases.

    I knew this was coming, when the Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill was introduced and going through Parliament. One highly concerning new provision was for the outsourcing of services by the Ministry of Social Development and its largest department we know as WINZ.

    So they have been busy in the background, already drawn up plans, and have invited tenders from certain organisations (trusts, companies, whatever), to offer “mental health employment services”.

    This appears to be a large scale trial, involving about 600 mentally ill young persons up to the age of 26 in Auckland alone (per year I believe), and clearly the expected results are paid for by high fees. If anyone will be put under pressure here, it is first the service providers to make their service worth a while (i.e. “profitable”), and to place such mentally ill into jobs, and then the pressure will be on those referred to them by WINZ, to go out and compete for jobs with the fit and healthy, as this is all about open employment on the job market, not sheltered jobs in special work places.

    Those that know a bit about the Principal Health Advisor for WINZ, A Dr David Bratt, who follows rather draconian ideas for work capacity expectations – preached by one professor called Mansel Aylward in the UK – are aware, that this agenda has been prepared for years. Already since 2010 the pressure was put on sickness beneficiaries to be work tested, and many are now. The pressure was put on invalid’s beneficiaries also, to prove they are as sick and disabled as their doctor stated. So WINZ already uses their internal health and disability advisors to question the client’s health conditions and send them to WINZ paid “designated doctors”, who are in some cases quite biased and display a hard line. Indeed some of them are used very frequently and others less so, likely because they make the recommendations WINZ expects.

    So mentally ill will be put under pressure, same as physically incapacitated, to either prove they are unable to work, otherwise these “hatchet doctors” will tell WiNZ, send her or him off to the outsourced provider to get them into work!

    Professor Aylward actually goes as far as claiming that about two third of mentally ill are not really that sick and incapacitated, he basically claims there is no diagnosed proof of physical illness causing symptoms that patients have. So he claims it is all in the person’s mind! Dr Bratt shares that view, as can be seen by looking at many of his “presentations” that can be found on the internet even by “googling” his name.

    I fear for the mentally ill they will put the pressures on. And yes, Martyn, they will face sanctions, as WINZ will see them as “fit” for work, when their doctors say so, and when their biased Principal and Regional Health Advisors say so. Case managers will rely on their recommendations and send mentally ill to these new providers to be contracted soon.

    So we will have similar pressures on sick and disabled beneficiaries as they have put on the ones in the UK. Similar horrific consequences must be feared.

    Meanwhile Paula Bennett is in Europe and must be surprised about this “leak”, same as Jacinda Ardern and others in the opposition. It has been mighty quiet on this from Labour, one must say. I wonder why? Bratt was appointed under their government in 2007, so perhaps they planned something similar all the way?

    Bennett’s travel announcements:

    One of Dr Bratt’s “favourite” presentations, comparing benefit dependence to “drug dependence”:

    • This is valuable info Marc. Heartbreaking but valuable. Thank You.

      Dr Bratt’s presentation was really disturbing. That twisted attitude will only serve the increase hatred and division within society.

      • Rosie – Have you noticed the silence from ALL parties in Parliament on this topic?

        One would have expected some comments from Ardern, Logie and so forth, but there is nothing coming. There have been NO press releases at all. It is dead silent in all quarters.

        So, as worrying and scary the plans by MSD and WINZ are, it seems that nobody has much of a “problem” with it.

        I fear they have never seen and heard what Dr David Bratt and his underlings of “advisors”, same as the WINZ-trained hand-picked doctors are about. But if they do, I am really scared for the well-being of unstable mentally ill, whom they will try to usher into some kinds of jobs, that will be scarce to find for healthy.

        It is unbelievable what goes on in New Zealand, and other media have not reported on this either!

  9. National has mis-calculated – again.

    What they’ve forgotten is that most folk with disabilities or mental illnesses have families. And those families are going to be mightily f****d off when their loved ones are suddenly being coerced to find work they may or may not be suited for.

    Those families vote.

    So if the Nats want to alienate many more thousands of voters – this is another means by which to achieve that goal.

    And take my word on it; those families will get pissed off because they’re the ones (along with their caregivers and support workers) who will have to cope with the added stress these pressures will create to find non-existent jobs.

    So if anyone from the Nats happens to looking in – I bet you that’s something you missed, eh?

    Thousands of family members – voters – whom you are pushing into the arms of Labour, the Greens, etc.

    Oh, well done.

    By the time 2014 rolls around, the Nats will be scrambling to fix this mess.

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