Rebuilding Christchurch highlights the need for flexible benefits



It’s a great time to go on a family trip before Christmas. Yesterday evening we walked the streets of central Christchurch. While much has been done since 22/02/11, and the entrepreneurial initiative is obvious, the empty and still to become empty sites speak volumes of how much more is yet to happen before the new city emerges.

It’s therefore a time to remember that when we say the cost of recovering something is, say, $10 million, we really mean $10m worth of something else must be forgone. Or we mean that some leisure must be forgone. In times of youth unemplogment, the market value of the forgone leisure of the young unemployed is not high. It means that the cost of recovery is always very low in a recession, just so long as the bureaucracy does not impede the mobilisation of the unemployed.

The most important thing is that a significant part of the way we support our unemployed should be unconditional. It means that we can get back onto an unemployment or whatever benefit whenever a temporary job is completed.

Once we see cost as either foregone stuff or foregone leisure, and not simply as a sum of money, then our problems become easier to solve.

Happy Christmas and New Year to all readers of the Daily Blog. 2014 promises to be an interesting year.


  1. Yep, this is an overdue contribution, and I would span the canvas even much, much further. I think the Danes have created a flexible welfare system, that guarantees solid, reliable support for all, whenever they need it. They do of course encourage and support those able and available to work into jobs, and they do it rather well. Those that fall sick, or only have temporary jobs, they get the support they need when there is no longer a job, or a capability to work. Naturally that also applies to sole parents.

    They do not have such a punitive, draconian and mean spirited system as the New Zealand welfare system under WINZ and especially this government has become.

    That is one of the first things I expect a Labour – Green government to bring into place, a fair, decent, reasonable and humane welfare system, that is fair to all.

    We do not need such madmen like Dr David Bratt, the Principal Health Advisor for MSD and WINZ, who likens benefit dependency to “drug dependency”. That is stuff few radicals in ACT would ever think out, but yes, that is what he tells people, even the media, and DOCTORS.

    So those who are sick and disabled, and who are now also increasingly pressured to look for jobs, at least part time or casual, they face sanctions like having their benefits cut or stopped, if they do not abide by the mad new approach by WINZ under this government. How “helpful” is that, to cut a mentally ill person’s benefit into half, or even stop it, if they cannot cope with some bizarre “work expectations”? The UK reforms of even more draconian ways have proved to be a disaster.

    I am all for helping sick and disabled into work, but do not put all the pressure on the affected, rather first look at the employers and their staff, yes the wider public must be told to be fair and respectful, and give sick and disabled a fair chance. If a job does not work out, for health reasons, or other justified reasons, a person should not be punished with unreasonable stand-down periods, with sanctions and so forth.

    Bring back a true partnership in the supposed “social contract”, please. More info can be found here, on what goes on now in NZ, and what some research of the Danish model revealed:

    Under “part 12” in that last post on ACC Forum one link is not working, but this one gives a glimpse on a report on how the Danish “Flexicurity” model works:

    We should stop copying failed policies from the UK, that were thought out by ones like Prof. Mansel Aylward, who was paid by a corrupt US insurance corporation to work out “research” fitting their agenda, same as certain governments, hell bent on cost savings and little else.

    Fair welfare now, away with Bennett and the present lot running WINZ!

  2. Excellent post and excellent response by Marc. We need benefits to address the INDIVIDUAL needs of people. This is not about numbers. The few people who rip of the system are indeed few and the hunt that goes on demeans every person need assistance. We live in a punitive finger pointing society, that came out of all that stuff from the eighties, me me me me me. Why should I have to support anyone. I noted in the paper a week ago when we saw a photo of the queues at the city mission (The Herald) someone responding saying ‘if that man can afford a cellphone he shouldn’t be queuing up for a food parcel’. The haves always telling the have nots how to live.

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