‘Get a job’ mantra to solve child poverty has obvious flaws

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John Key’s latest video, a solo mother’s story is based on an anecdote about how he ‘talked to a young mum’ on a benefit who had only $18 left for food at the end of the week. He advised her to get a job.  She did, at 30 hours a week. Problem solved for Mr Key.

Conveniently ‘Grandma’ is round the corner, just delighted it seems to take up his suggestion to provide day care for 30 hours a week. Conveniently for John Key’s story, Grandma is also on a benefit and the subtext is that she has nothing better to do.

But what if Grandma could work at the minimum wage or more, and is only on a benefit until work is available? Or is she on a benefit because she is sick? If so, how can she do the demanding job of childcare for 30 hours or more a week once daughter’s travel is taken into account?  If she is on NZ super, she is over 65+ and would be unlikely to relish the task of parenting young children with no flexibility for other interests.

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Why did he not suggest that grandpa might be asked, or is this just women’s work?  And what of her opportunity cost? In all probability she has already sacrificed a career and savings to raise her own family. John Key’s next video might well be suggesting that older people should work as long as possible to add to their KiwiSaver, to say nothing of actually needing more than a benefit to survive before retirement.

Let’s assume that this sole mother has a 3 year old and a 1 year old. Ignoring the accommodation supplement, her net sole parent benefit is $15,359 which with the Family Tax credit of $8,164 for her two children gives her $23,523 net.

If she works 30 hours at the minimum wage, she will get $18,676 net and that will be topped up by $4100 to the Minimum Family Tax credit guaranteed income of $22,776.  With the Family Tax Credit of $8,164 and the In Work Tax Credit of $3,120 she will have $34,060 net.

It looks like she is ahead by $10,556. But the net cost of the foregone wages of the grandmother is at least $18,676. The daughter’s gain is at her own mother’s expense. This is especially so, if Grandma has to go off the jobseekers allowance because she is no longer available for paid work. Of course if she is available for work on the jobseeker’s allowance, she can’t be relied on as a babysitter.   In John Key’s soothing and patronising example, the children’s needs are rendered invisible.

If the grandmother can’t look after the children, professional day care for 5 days a week for 2 children could be, even with subsidies, just as high, at $350 or more a week.

In John Key’s world, the children are magicked away, and thus he does not understand the problems that arise when the children get sick, as they tend to do with monotonous regularity. Day-care fees continue but the day-care won’t look after sick children. It becomes very trying for employers when the mother has to take time off. Then, when she loses her job, she will have to fight her way back on the benefit and may suffer a period with little or no money.

The real issue is that looking after small children is real work. Someone has to do it if the mother does not. Why not recognise this work is valuable by paying the sole mother at least the in work tax credit. Let her decide about doing some paid work when she is ready, and be more generous to allow her to stay on a part-benefit at least while the children are young.  Paid work should not impose an impossible burden on either her, her children, her mother or her employer.

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16 COMMENTS

  1. The life of John Key – simplistic and brain dead. Of course for everyone the stars align on Planet Key – more wishful thinking. Must be time for a round of golf – problem solved – f**ken idiot.

  2. jonky’s simply holding a mirror up to us and whispering from behind it ; ” It’s your fault …. it’s all your fault . ”

    The current minimum wage would be fine if we were forty years ago .

    It would also be manageable if we still had a subsidized rail system , health system , ( A health system that now means you’d best make funeral arrangements . ) an education system and now electricity ……..
    Ah , you know what ? Fuck it . I’m over analyzing lazy, greedy, ignorant fucking jonky . Lets just get rid of the bastard . Lets just focus on that . Who cares what he says or what he does or who he sucks up to or what he sells right now . Just please focus on getting rid of him .
    You might think ‘ Easier said than done . ‘ Well that is true but it’s a start . All we need now is a Leader . Not a lying conman .

    Has anyone wondered why the Governor General hasn’t arrested jonky on charges of treason ? I’m fucking serious . Why has that not even been considered ? How much does Jerry Mateparae get paid ? By us . For us . As our head of State’s representative . I hope it’s not millions because the only time I see him is when he’s pining medals or cutting ribbons . Any solo mum could do that job . He has his stupid mustache and his uniform dripping in bells and whistles but what does he actually fucking do ?
    A solo mum wakes up into a Hell of fear , anxiety , stress and misery . She has to pick her way through Right wing Haters and Whiners , past self righteous looking down their nosers and then walk into the WINZ office to have her vagina examined for any use over the last few weeks or months just in case she’s not blowing her vast benefit having good old fashioned healthy stress relieving sex with a dreaded man . Or woman or if you’re a single father then it’d be a woman , or a man , or both you naughty boy . If all single parents looked like hideous paula bennett that would cease to be a problem surely .Personally , I’d never sleep with a woman who looked like she was wearing the rug off the floor of a Gentlemans Club .

    We HAVE TO STOP taking jonky and is minions seriously . They’re making us look like international laughing stocks . They’re embarrassing . They make millions for themselves and we whine and complain and watch as they do so . What the fuck is that about ? That hook nosed , pinstripe wearing , mincing , social fungus is abusing us , what about that is so hard to fathom ???
    What would you do if he came to you in the street and said ‘ Look , I’m taking your groceries , give me your car keys , where’s your house ? I’m going there to pimp out your daughter , I’m going to dump your son into a worthless job , I’m putting granny into a aged care slaughter house and then you can go and live on the Auckland Islands because I’ve just cut this crazy good deal with Israel for what was once your country . ‘ What would you do ? Because as mad as what I’ve just written seems , that’s almost word for word what that wanker has done to us .
    He’s pushing me into writing this angry stuff when I should be working on my life plan . Like having fun , being with my friends and fucking . Instead , here I am , spending my precious time trying to help with a Heads Up strategy to make sure good , innocent , other people don’t get intimidated by a short arsed psychopath with a cock itch for the money of others . He is the archetypal kleptocrat . He’s mad . He’s a little mad man and he has us afraid of him … Fuck that !
    ( kleptocrat |ˈkleptəˌkrat|
    noun
    a ruler who uses political power to steal his or her country’s resources. )

    • Countryboy! I’m shocked! You Ranted, with scarce a breath taken!

      And I liked ‘social fungus’…like thrush and athlete’s foot, perhaps.

      Seems like nothing’s changed since Marilyn Waring’s ‘If Women Counted’.

    • Love your comments Countryboy. You have a talent for expressing rage which makes for therapeutic reading. Keep it up and hang on in there.

  3. The 180,000+ on their $100,000+ are so removed from the reality of the approx $25,000 mean income that they can’t grasp the hardship so many have been suffering.
    Propaganda from govt and media hide the fact that there is a definite shortage of jobs and a general lack of wellbeing for many of us.
    Those with money have this sense of entitlement about living off the interest from their capital by doing nothing for it. Their demands for high dividends is causing increased separation in incomes.

    The admiration of the wealthy must be turned so that we show them how pitiful they are with their psychological flaws. Their relentless striving for more money regardless of the cost to other humans is a very deep seated illness that the accumulation of more money does not cure.

    What they really want is control. They will never achieve the control that they want because it will never be enough to satisfy their mental maladjustments.
    The power of humans when they feel they have nothing to lose will eventually overcome these sick bastards. Maybe peacefully,maybe not.

    When I read the thoughts of COUNTRYBOY it gives me a strength because I realise that there are more and more people out there who are gathering the nerve to speak out against what has become the accepted norm.

  4. Unfortunately, most New Zealanders have no understanding of the welfare system, nor of the limited number of jobs.

    Nor do many even know how much the dole pays. When I pointed out that it paid around $196 a week, net, for a person over 25, they refused to believe it. Many thought that the Accomodation Allowance pays 100% of a person’s rent or mortgage – it doesn’t. It pays only a portion. The balance has to come from that $196. As well as power, food, transport (to and from WINZ “seminars”)…

    Every single New Zealander should be made to live on the dole for 6 months.

    That would transform the fabric of society more radically than Douglas ever dreamed. But for the better this time.

  5. Thank you, Susan.
    The comparative wealth chart you have posted shows us some things:
    1) there are three sorts of tax credits
    2) elder abuse: is this now state sanctioned?
    3) $2,340 childcare p.a.(my calculation); this must be costed at the bare minimum, not including travel and medical allowances for when children get sick at daycare, which they do a lot as it is a hothouse environment
    4) this kind of straightforward information is not actually available anywhere, (WINZ officers’ manuals seem to change frequently) and it should be; there are an awful lot of misconceptions regarding what WINZ will actually pay for, the accommodation allowance being a mere fraction of one’s actual costs is just one example.

  6. I must be a glass half full sort of person because all I see are the positives.

    1/ Better to pay one benefit than two.
    2/ Work has more than just financial returns. Some people enjoy the company, the mental stimulation, the opportunities to meet new people, a new partner possibly.
    3/ The children get to see Mum going to work which builds their expectations of doing the same. Indeed, this instance may be a case of breaking the inter-generational cycle of dependence.
    4/ The grandmother will probably share in the extra income so she is better off too.

  7. Everyone in nz should go on a benefit 4 6months? Lol seriously??!! Why? I understand lifes financially hard for some people but we all choose the path we take in life. I never had a great upbringing and left school without any qualifications. That was wen i was 15. Im nw 28, hv wrkd my ass off doing wateva job pays n hv neva bn on a benefit. Neva wanted to b hence the reason why i wrkd doing any job around (cleaning.vineyards.caregiving etc)….nw im a nurse. I studied hard for 3 years n wrked along the way jus to survive. I will neva b on a benefit becoz i wont let myself. I know wat i want in life n its to hv beta than i was eva given. Hw cn sum1 sit bk n say WE ALL need to experience living on a benefit wit minimal money. Its nt everyones fault that a minority isnt financially comfortable. Us that wrk, r proud to n chose to……..jus saying!!!

    • I’m on a benefit Jenna. I have rheumatoid arthritis which has crippled me and caused me to lose two careers. According to your smug judgmental ignorance I ‘let myself’ get ill and I ‘chose this path’. I feel sorry for your patients who will suffer from your lack of empathy. Finally, please learn to spell!

    • If you never want to be on a benefit, go to the courts and write a statutory declaration saying that you will never under any circumstances accept help from the social welfare system.
      It will look something like this:

      I neva want yooz muny. I is big girl.

      Then get someone to translate it to English and sign it, with witnesses, in front of a court registrar.
      Otherwise you’re just another stupid blowhard.

  8. Groucho Marxist

    Look at the demographics. The 65+ group is going to grow and the 18-64 group is going to shrink – relatively. That means there are going to be more jobs, especially in caring and health, and fewer people to fill them.

    It’d be great if there was a focus on keeping people in their own homes as they age, allowing them as much independence and quality of life as possible. An enabling workforce could be paid from the Health budget instead of distributed as benefits by MSD.

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