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Making money from misery – the TPPA & privatisation of social services

By   /  June 29, 2015  /  16 Comments

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How far has Aotearoa walked from the path of egalitarianism and how many of our values have we traded after a mere 7 years of being led by a vacantly optimistic money trader?

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One of the great successes of Key’s Government is the pretence of idealogical moderation. Read most mainstream media political pundits and they will hold up Key’s middle ground moderation as part of his success. I think it’s the illusion of moderation that has been the secret of his success.

The middle class tax cuts of interest free student loans, Working for Families, property speculation and never ending pensions mean those comfy  journalists and news editors never feel the hard edge of Key’s draconian welfare reforms.

The strangulation of any remaining critical media in NZ means the same myths of moderation will cloak the latest privatisation agenda of National and go mostly unchallenged from the cacophony of National Party sycophants who crowd the remaining media platforms.

This latest attempt to privatise social welfare follows failed charter schools, privatisation of state housing (that policy has become such a failure, Bill English is flying in Australian buyers) and the privatisation of our prison system. These impact the voiceless and weakest members of society most and these people have no one championing their interests in the media.

The holes left in Government coffers created by borrowing for tax cuts to the richest is being covered by a radical corporate slash and burn policy aimed at the Welfare State. This isn’t just ideological, it’s fiscal. The Government have purposely driven down revenue so as to degrade the social infrastructure on the grounds of them being ‘nice to haves’. They’ve covered the pork barrel money needed to win by selling state assets to invest into irrigation for the dairy industry.

None of that is contextualised or explained when Paul and Mike welcome the PM with a hardy, ‘Hey Big J, how was the weekend, get up to much with Max? What about ‘dem All Blacks?’

One realisation however was John Armstrong who had managed to shake off the cloud of the $25 increase for beneficiaries smoke screen in the budget to see what was really happening

Bill English’s latest experiment in the delivery of social services to those at the bottom of the socio-economic heap is the most radical yet to emerge from his Beehive laboratory.

The footholds National are creating into social services is the last great privatisation agenda for NZ…

Government open to outsourcing social services

Private companies like the prison-operator Serco could be used to deliver social services.

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said she would be open to private operators being contracted to provide more social services.

“It would have to be better…but, yes, I would be open to that. We would want to trial it and make sure it works,” Ms Tolley told TVNZ’s Q+A programme.

…despite the mental health issues social housing and lack of available housing causes…

The hidden cost of housing
The stress of coping with Auckland’s high housing costs is making us unwell, a psychiatrist says. Dr Tony Fernando, a Filipino-born medical school lecturer, said housing-related financial strains were now a key factor in mental problems for many patients.

“I’ve been a psychiatrist here in New Zealand since 1998 and the significance of financial hardship is much more palpable in the last few years where that is a main contributor to their unwellness,” he said.

…despite the lack of aid being offered the abused…

Neighbours from hell force Wellington man out of home
A disabled man has been forced to move house to escape continuous abuse from his neighbours, after Housing New Zealand and the Accident Compensation Corporation refused to help him.

Marc McCloud put up with years of his neighbours leaning over their shared waist-high chicken wire fence in Lower Hutt, yelling abuse and throwing rubbish into his yard.

They would taunt him with “Let’s get the white boy,” and would call him “Timmy”, in reference to a mentally and physically disabled boy on the TV show South Park.

McCloud, who is in his late 30s, has a range of neurological disabilities as a result of an operation in 1999, and is in a wheelchair.

…this despite failures in caring for children…

Teen’s caregiver abuse claims backed up in court
Claims by a young man of being abused as a teen in Gisborne by his CYF-appointed caregiver were supported by two young women who were also placed in the house.

It was true the teenager was treated like a “bitch” (servant), regularly slapped and punched for no reason and locked in his room at night in a nappy, the young women told a Gisborne District Court jury yesterday.

They regretted not being able to help him sooner.

…this despite the madness of ‘social bonds’…

Bottom line for mental health services
In the United States, about $2 billion each year is shaved off community mental healthcare funding and funnelled straight into the pockets of the private sector, one way or another.

That’s the model New Zealand wants to emulate, as revealed this week with a tiny taster in the shape of “social bonds” for mental health services. It’s the shape of things to come, as private companies continue to lobby for unfettered access to public monies earmarked for health, education, prisons, and so forth.

…this despite the self hatred, fear and loathing in creates in beneficiaries…

Beneficiaries fear profiling stigma
Beneficiaries fear they could be unfairly singled out if the government decides to start profiling to find out how likely parents are to abuse their children.
Ministry of Social Development commissioned research shows it can now take information held by it and other agencies to make fairly accurate predications.

…this despite a far right religious conservative like Bill English describing welfare recipients as drug addicts…

New stats show crime, benefits ‘like a drug’: Deputy PM Bill English
Released prisoners make up a big proportion of those joining the sickness benefit, and their children are falling through the cracks, the deputy PM says.

Finance Minister Bill English said data sharing has revealed that 5500 of the 7500 prisoners released each year join the sickness benefit within 12 months, and nearly half of those go on to reoffend.

He was giving a post-Budget address to the Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce in Heretaunga on Wednesday.

“They [the prisoners] left healthy, trained, probably in their heads not quite rehabilitated, and within 12 months two-thirds of them are on a sickness benefit which means they don’t have to front up for a work test,” Finance Minister English said.

“We’ve had [the prisoners] drug free, alcohol free, fed properly, insulated and warm.

“That is nuts. We didn’t know that until about three months ago – that the main flow of people on to a sickness benefit is healthy former prisoners.”

English said 48 per cent of former prisoners on a sickness benefit would reoffend within a year.

The data-sharing efforts had also revealed about 1000 children were also leaving school at age 14, often with family members in prison.

English said the government needed to do everything it could to stop young people getting on to benefits “because it’s like a drug”.

…the problems here are an underfunded public sector overseen by a religious conservative who equates the benefit to being a drug FFS!

We are going to privatise a social infrastructure that is failing because the Government is starving it for funding over privileges to the middle classes because those who use that social infrastructure most are the weakest in society.

And it’s all going to be governed by some magical ‘free market’ solution that sees greedy corporations making profit from misery.

The twist in this poisoned pus pit is that if we sign the TPPA, overseas corporates who specialise in gouging governments for privatisation of welfare scams would be able to threaten any existing welfare policies as compromising their profit model so force the Government to hand over all welfare distribution.

When the beloved free market rewards CEOs for greed and not talent…

The rapid rise in pay for corporate executive officers, which stands in contrast to the stagnant wages of many Americans, is a key driver of inequality that’s not clearly tied to talent or performance, a new report from a liberal think tank finds.

…using it as a model for our weakest and most vulnerable is rotten.

How far has Aotearoa walked from the path of egalitarianism and how many of our values have we traded after a mere 7 years of being led by a vacantly optimistic money trader?

God defend NZ

Because NZers won’t

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  1. Norm says:

    To be fair this all started a lot longer than 7 years ago.

    As much as National is to blame for our failed neo-liberal experiment, what do you expect from a bunch of Tories?

    It’s the Labour party that really messed things up for this country. Now they are too weak to fix it, even if they genuinely wanted to.

    • Nick says:

      Fair to whom, Norm?

      Everyone knows that the Douglas reforms had the Neo-liberal experiment as one pillar of their philosophy, but much of their enthusiasm was based on a mistaken belief that poorer people would benefit disproportionately from their reforms. They were disastrously wrong, as we now know, but I knew many well-meaning Lefties who were semi-convinced at the time. Particularly at the beginning.

      The Clark administration enjoyed a period of unprecedented expansion and excellent returns to the government coffers which they husbanded prudently. This was a foresight that avoided turning us into another Greece as the earthquake struck and dairy prices tanked.

      An expanding economy disguises a lot of structural risks, so the lack of extra provision for poorer families can sort of be understood. Remember, Auckland house prices became stable after rising sharply with house prices across the country, while there was a hemorrhaging of workers to the booming Aussie economy.

      The Clark government didn’t do nothing, though. They saved students from compounding debt; they introduced the Cullen Fund and Kiwisaver, they introduced Working for Families, all policies designed to encourage people to take advantage of the expanding opportunities that existed at the time.

      I agree, and thought at the time, that more could be done for the least well off, but there was at least a rationale behind their decisions.

      Of course the seeds of everything can be found in earlier times, but the truth is always rather more nuanced. “If I knew then what I know now…” is always more persuasive than reasonable.

      This same argument doesn’t wash with the current administration which started by making a virtue of doing progressively less, and are now succumbing to the neo-neo liberal mantra that seeks to privatize the entire social contract leaving the government largely as a financal conduit from the many to the few.

      There is doubtless a family link to the sale of the railways under Richard Prebble, but we are talking about third cousin twice removed (from office).

      • bad12 says:

        Nick, your defence of the Lange and Clark Labour Government’s actions in largely ignoring or fostering,(it was the Lange Government which imposed income tax on beneficiaries), the growth of Poverty in New Zealand reads to me like one hell of a good reason NOT to vote for them,

        To describe what the Lange Government inflicted upon low waged working New Zealand as somehow misguided but well meaning is simply to suggest Government by idiots who don’t have a clue,

        The question then becomes one of idiocy versus deliberation and no matter the answer the conclusion would have to be that Labour in it’s previous two incarnations should never have been let anywhere near the Treasury Benches…

        • Considering that part of the Lange government contained an agent for radical right-wing “reforms” in this country (which no one voted for), you most definitely have a point. More on this tomorrow, in an upcoming blogpost.

    • Sam Sam says:

      Actually the smelters Muldoon bought reeked the budget, the same budget the Clark government inherited and finally repayed all that money Muldoon borrowed. Now we have another god dam National Party borrower ticking up $100 billion. If you actually believe the national party fiscal management is better than labours your financial literacy is very poor.

  2. Mike the Lefty says:

    The most important drug in this article is the National government’s is good old fashioned Tory arrogance. Arrogance is the drug that carry’s National governments through any crisis – the arrogance of believing that they are always right and that everyone else is wrong.

  3. sufficiently appalled says:

    This is not the Kiwi Way . What are we as a people becoming?

  4. Jack says:

    Seriously…. Who cares about the past… Look at what is happening now… TPPA is gonna stuff NZ…

  5. Farmer Guy Farmer Guy says:

    Ho-hum “benefits are like drugs” sayeth Bill English who gamed his accommodation allowance so taxes could fund his over valued Family Trust accommodation in Wellington. Bill doesn’t like competition when he’s stealing off the government !
    Isn’t our Prime minister a lovely specimen ? his refugee family got housing benefits he doesn’t want the next generation to have. Still he sounds working class so must be one of us.

  6. elle says:

    This isn’t only a NZ problem, UK Canada. Australia. America.
    are all operating the same system.The so called leaders of these countries are doing what they are told to do by the controllers of worlds elite.
    The final outcome is total domination ,TPP will ensure that. unless all these countries come together with civil disobedience and nationwide strikes,that affects the finances of dominators.
    The world government overseeing everything ,lies about global warming and climate change. They do this to put fear into populations . Al Gore made a fortune going worldwide to spread the story about climate change,the weather is just weather,every so often extreme weather events happen ,the controllers just took advantage of these events.
    The public is being treated like fools manipulated to do whats needed to be eaten up by guilt and fear ,Key is just following the rule book.
    In time all these “leaders” will realise how they too have been manipulated,and hated by everyone they have caused damage to.
    Lets hope the BRICS alliance overcome USA and EU dominance ,which they are being organised for. USA dosnt want to share power so it could be taken off them. Its to be hoped the people of USA are aware of this and prepare.

    6 from 7 =1 in case captcha says its an error.

  7. elle says:

    The Greek situation is told very succinctly in todays news in Wake up New Zealand,Greece says it dosnt owe the money and wont pay it. After the second world Germany owed millions in reparations for damage caused to Greece,they never paid so Greece shouldn’t be expected to pay the continuing high interest that EU demands,its usuary.The article says if everyone in the world refused to pay the money suckers the whole Money grab would collapse.

    3+3=6 no error.

  8. Save NZ says:

    All true.

    Kiwis will defend their way of life.

    Looking for a leader to unite under. Any suggestions?

  9. Sam says:

    We just need to hurry up and get the TPPA through. Free trade and investment by multinational corporations is the best way forward for New Zealand.

    • If it’s so marvelously good for Aotearoa, Sam, why is it being rammed through in secret? Any ideas, aside from your somewhat childish cheerleading?

      • Sam says:

        All trade agreements are done in secret including all other trade agreements New Zealand has previously signed such as the China FTA. This has been done by all governments in the past not just National. The reason this is done is to avoid issues like this and to avoid showing your hand to the other parties to the agreement. You should never go into a negotiation with the other parties knowing what you want to achieve, you would get nowhere. There have never been concerns with other trade agreements that New Zealand has concluded but as soon as you add the USA people assume it is the worst thing that could every happen. Free trade is actually a good thing for a country as it allows our exporters access to foreign market with highly reduced tariffs leading to higher exports and more jobs so it cannot be that bad. Depends what you want in a country though…a poor international backwater country or a progressive country that is a major player in the international community. I know what one I would rather live in.

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