Dear Ministry for Social Development,

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Dear Ministry for Social Development,
I realise you probably already know this, but just a wee reminder of REALITY. You know – the reality of the vast majority of us who aren’t making ends meet and are struggling to live on benefits, childcare & accommodation supplements and casual work.

Suspending or cancelling benefits & supplements for missing an appointment, or a bit missing off a form – or let’s even try you guys losing a form or your system failing – might make you feel good in your alternative reality that is ‘people need to make better choices and get a job’.

But are you really just punishing the ‘bludger’? Well yes, but you’re ignoring another reality.

The vast majority of ‘bludgers’ don’t spend their benefit on smokes & alcohol. The money goes to: their landlord/flatmates, power provider, the local supermarket, the guy they are paying off their car/repairs to, their kids school, their kids, their ex’s child support, the caring friend they had to borrow $$ off last time this happened, etc etc etc.

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So who are you also really hurting? The support network you expect them to be surrounded by? And even more heinously – their children?

Yup.

No wonder our Child Poverty Action Group is campaigning for a benefit & assistance system that actually works for all who use it. The above scenario is compounding on top of compounding economic problems for individuals, families, support agencies, our communities, our health, justice & housing systems and more. Ministers for Social Development fronting press conferences crowing about how many bludgers they hope to stomp on this year may please the haters but there is no mention of the economic & human impact of these overly punitive and unnecessary reforms.

And before anyone says ‘there’s no excuse to miss an appt’ etc etc etc, – guess what? LIFE HAPPENS. And massive IT systems have glitches. Staff are not perfect. And call centres can ask you to please call back later because we are overloaded for quite some time – triggering suspensions for not contacting them quickly enough.

This blog started out as a Facebook rant after one of my friends was in this very situation this week. Unsurprisingly it only took minutes for many other examples to flood in.

Are all my friends ‘bludgers’? Heck no. They range from tertiary students, to single mums in part time work, to physical labourers, to temporarily unemployed, to highly qualified professionals in full time work, to people with serious disabilities, or whose children are disabled. People of all walks of life have many reasons to need WINZ assistance. And with the gap in equality forever growing, with the cost of living forever increasing as wages generally stay low, with many working families struggling to make ends meet – even having something like a childcare subsidy cancelled can derail everything.

The most common reasons I have heard of anecdotally are:

  • Health/surgery – including an emergency c-section the day of an appointment, childcare cancelled after a planned surgery that meant taking a few days off pre-school, serious ill health preventing people from getting to their appointment – right down to a normally healthy person with a tummy bug who can’t get through on the phones that day.
  • Out of town looking for work/job interviews/clashes with part time work – someone either unaware of a letter, or ringing to reschedule and speaking to staff who didn’t put in the system properly.
  • WINZ losing forms handed in before the due date. Often repeatedly.
  • Changes of address/contact details not correctly entered in WINZ’s system.
  • Glitches in WINZ’s IT systems cancelling disability & childcare allowances
  • Part-time work hours not being recorded correctly.
  • Malicious accusations of fraud causing instant cancellation. Often clients in this situation, especially single parents with children have to wait some days for an appointment to provide proof that is quickly & easily available – and even then as Catriona MacLennan recently pointed out, they may not be believed.

It’s time to break out of the ‘bludger’ box Anne Tolley, strategists and policy advisors. There hasn’t been a single independent review of our current welfare system that hasn’t raised serious concerns about the impact of these sanctions on our vulnerable.

It’s also time for all parties in Parliament to agree to the Child Poverty Action Group and the Green Party’s plea for cross-party talks on solutions to poverty & inequality.

We need a welfare system that works, and is that is fair. For everyone. Right now we have neither of these utterly vital provisions – just a punitive system pouncing on the innocent in the hopes of catching this apparently huge underclass of bludgers out at being a bunch of useless ferals – an idea that is continually being proven by their own statistics to be a ridiculously miniscule minority.

28 COMMENTS

  1. Didn’t some lying bum scream out to a crowd once ” We are on the cusp of an exciting future ”? not so long ago…..something to do with this country’s grandiose future?

    And didnt another lying bum who Double Dipped with housing claims say once ”We should be glad we have a ‘ LOW WAGE ECONOMY ‘ because it encourages foreign investment” ?

    Oh wait,….that was the ‘ prime minister ‘ and ‘ finance minister ‘ of this current national govt.

    Maybe extended , ongoing poverty for the population of NZ by redistributing wealth ,assets and capital to him and his overseas Rich Lister mates by plundering this country was what he meant by the ‘cusp ‘ of an exciting future would be.

    His future.

  2. Prey tell how cross party talks on solutions to inequality will be able to accomodate a left and right wing perspective on the topic?

    • Well, quite easy , really …simply show the neo liberal thugs the error of their ways , shame them into renouncing their collective treason and avarice and show them the correct way of Social Democratic Keynesianism.

      Quite simple , when you look at it logically , isn’t it. Even a Ning such as yourself should be able to see that.

      Toorah , old chap.

      • So it won’t accomodate a left right perspective. You are essentially wanting the parties on the right to become left wing. That would be like someone pushing for cross party support for Free Trade agreements. It not only won’t happen but would be positively damaging for our democracy if it ever did.

        • Na mate….the destruction of democracy has been regularly occurring ever since Roger ‘Dodgy’ Douglas introduced legalized theft of the public purse back in 1984.

          What I meant wasn’t so much dialogue or compromise ,- but the final eradication of the criminality and treason by thug neo liberals from our shores. Similar to getting rid of vermin that causes plague.

          Now THAT would be a return to a true exercise in democracy.

          Social Democratic Keynesian economics – style- democracy.

          And whoever said that thug neo liberal’s were ever interested in democracy?…. that’s an oxymoron if ever I heard one.

        • “You are essentially wanting the parties on the right to become left wing. ”

          Why not?

          There are plenty on the Right who want left wing parties to becomes right wing.

          Of course, this has probably escaped your attention, focused as it is on your own distorted world view.

          • Not sure there is. I know people on the right don’t want left wing parties to get elected in to power but generally most that I am aware of is comfortable with left wing parties espousing left wing ideals and policies. Maybe in relation to Free Trade agreements but that essentially is restricted to center left rather than all parties.

        • You honestly believe that Jack the Ripper would be a good baby sitter as well, mate, don’t you…

          Supping with neo liberal thugs ,- with the very self same people who created these conditions in the first place….cross party consensus?…what a joke!

          And while the Left is wanting to talk about the appalling conditions in this country now for large sectors of society…..you honestly believe these same neo liberal thugs will be thinking about anything but how this will affect their grip on power and stolen wealth!!??

          L0L !!!

  3. @ Rachel Goldsmith . ( Sigh . )

    It’s very sad , and frustrating , to read such an impassioned Post from a caring person on a devilish situation that seems to have no end , no point and no solution . Perhaps even more sad is the fact that I’ve read , and have written , similar pieces before , years before , and to date nothing has happened , unless you regard a worsening situation as something happening .

    We have an elephant in the room . ( No disrespect to actual elephants should one be reading this . No paula bennett . You’re not an actual elephant . Sorry , you lack the grace and class darling . )
    How did it get there given the door into the room is significantly smaller than the Elephant ?
    I think the answer is that it strolled in as a tiny baby . An insignificant little thing with a black heart and a raft of agendas . It was led in by the circus master ; roger douglas .

    But we know this right ? We , The Great Unplugged know this . We human – beings know what the problem is . The so-called bludger , having long since lost hope and enthusiasm know this .

    ( People who lose hope , are unhappy and who are haunted by depression and anxiety will ‘ relax ‘ into a hopeless situation and give up . People will embrace their poverty as at least something in their lives . It’s a cruel myth that people enjoy bludging IN POVERTY . They do not . It’s the people who bludge on obscene wealth that truly enjoy their idle days of sadism and parasitic habits . Sir Michael Fay . $790 million dollars NET WEALTH ? )

    So , we know what the problem is right ?
    In case you don’t ? It’s this . Psychopaths have taken over our government . It’s that simple . We are being governed by mentally unwell people . People of a sound mind do not call their charges ‘ bludgers ‘ .

    Clearly , what we don’t know is what to do about it .

    It’s my humble view that all the might of The Daily Bloggers should focus on crowd sourcing a fighting fund , a war chest , to take out jonky and his cronies .
    It’s got NOTHING to do with upending our democracy , it’s got nothing to do with undermining our politic , it’s got nothing to do with offending our Sovereign state . We just urgently need to rid ourselves of this pestilence .
    I’ve followed Tumeke for years , I now enjoy the company of TDB and if there’s one thing I’ve noticed is that the calibre of the minds who Post here are exemplarily . Particularly compared to the Right wing Blogs who are embarrassing for their ignorance and stupidity , and frightening for their violence and hatred .

    The Children of The Poor ( John A Lee ) are going to lead the charge to a new New Zealand . One of despair , poverty and ignorance .
    Unless we stop it now .
    I think [ we] should focus on action and make a change . The time for analysis is over .

    And if you’re thinking Labour ? Ha ! Think again .

    There is NO political party that can do that which must be done . Sideshows like Mana and The Internet Party were doomed to fail at the time of their conception . NZ First ? Oh God no . The Green Party ? Knit me a vest and pass me a scone ? Russel Norman would have punched jonky out in public six years ago . That would have done it for me .

    Conventional politics are not going to fix what we have that’s broken . We need an entirely new approach . We need clever marketing and we need every New Zealander / Aotearoan who gives a fuck to cough up money for a team of lawyers all focused by a personality figure . A handsome / beautiful brilliant personality who can read a script and follow direction .
    And who directs you ask ?
    We do . And we can have input on a Daily Blog basis . You’ve seen the ‘ Polls ‘ section here at the top of the page ? Why couldn’t that be a barometer of our sentiment then script our plan accordingly ?
    Better than clumping pointlessly to a voting booth to partake in that farce surely ? And in these heady times , three years is a fucking long time to endure the criminally insane .

    • Thanks Countryboy, I agree. You should probably know that as a Green pollie, I do knit, not vests, but I am working on a poncho right now, which is probably worse. I also prefer lamingtons 😉

      • Na bud , – the main issues is that you pick up on a minuscule phrase or peripheral point and try to make a major case out of it. Lawyers do it all the time to deflect from the real issues at hand.

        The fact is your thug neo liberal mates are guilty of creating the aforesaid conditions for over 35 years in this country and it is time -and will happen – that the NZ public become awakened to just who caused them in the first place.

        And these thug neo liberals couldn’t achieve it democratically ,- they had to use the devices of guile , deceit , economic thuggery , obfuscation and downright treason to achieve their aims of theft.

        Therefore it is patent for all to see they are the enemies of democracy. Totally ANTI DEMOCRATIC , Gosman,…go tell that to your neo liberal thug masters. The games up.

        Snapped.

  4. My bludger daughter, after finishing her first semester Bachelor of Nursing studies, applied to the warehouse for a job. She was offered night time re-stocking, from 6pm to 3am at $15.02 an hour (please note Bernard Hickey), one day a week.
    Her boss was very pleased with her as 3 of the 10 new employees had already left the job as the work was so gruelling.
    She earned, after paying the secondary tax rate, $69.00. $100 was subsequently deducted from her bludger weekly payment.

    I suppose she should have tried harder…….or something…..somehow.

  5. See, here’s the problem. When only one side of the political divide takes the more equitable restructuring of society as their leitmotif, the other side begins to consider that opposition to that position is patriotic and almost an obligatory position.

    There are two areas that must be sectioned off from this kind of partisan allocation. This is the first. We know from periods in our history of full employment that there need be neither a social “underbelly” nor “feral” sections of the population. When work is available, everyone works or can at least choose to. The challenge is to structure society in a way that distributes resources and offers the opportunity to work in a way that advantages the entire population. Not just everyone but the “underbelly”. Everyone.

    The second area is, of course climate change.

    Both these areas, if they become the province exclusively of the Left, will be vigorously opposed by the Right. We need these areas to be front and centre whoever is in power.

    This implies a step-change for both Left and Right.

    How do we get there?

    • Yes, please do tell how you think that it will be possible to get there. Also please explain what, if both sides agree on the solutions to these issues, they will be disagreeing on.

    • Your putting a power of trust in thugs and traitors to effect change with the milk of human kindness , mate,

      Short answer is : it aint gonna happen.

      Sorry to burst your bubble but that’s thugs for you. Neo liberal thugs.

      Cast out the thug’s first from your midst so that there is no corruption or alternative agenda’s , and then you will have a decent chance at having a cross party consensus .

      Without that , your appealing to people who couldn’t give a damn

      • Translation – These are partisan political matters so the author is wrong to call for cross party support to deal with it.

        • Yes but as you consistently fail to see , one of those groups isn’t interested in genuine democracy. Thus cancelling out cross – party politics and neutralizing any hope of compromise or consensus altogether.

          They’re called neo liberal thugs.

          • Just to be clear then. You think the author of this blog article was seriously mistaken in her call for cross party support for efforts on anything let alone child poverty.

            • Don’t be so goddamn stupid, Gosman.

              Katipo made no reference opposing cross-party talks.

              You are truly pathetic when you wilfully distort what someone has written, just so you can appear to be a clever little boy. Grow up.

                • Noone mentioned cross party talks Frank. I’m not sure why you bring it up.

                  Gosman, are you suffering brain-fade?!

                  Your own words;

                  Gosman says:
                  December 15, 2014 at 9:39 am

                  Prey tell how cross party talks on solutions to inequality will be able to accomodate a left and right wing perspective on the topic?

                  Gosman says:
                  December 15, 2014 at 11:28 am

                  So it won’t accomodate a left right perspective. You are essentially wanting the parties on the right to become left wing. That would be like someone pushing for cross party support for Free Trade agreements.

                  Gosman says:
                  December 15, 2014 at 12:28 pm

                  If you want cross party support then yes, yes you do

                  Are we going to have to remind you what you said, as well as correcting all your other bullshit? *facepalm*

                  • Cross party support is what was mentioned in the original article. I will grant you that I did mention cross party talks in one of my posts. In that I was mistaken and will have to apologise for the confusion caused. Cross party talks is what happens in parliament all the time. That is very different to cross party support on a particular topic though.

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