Let he who is without sin cast the first stone

By   /   July 18, 2017  /   22 Comments

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The poor are ground down by a welfare state more befitting the 19th and 20th centuries than today.  But there is at last a bright spot. There were two breathtakingly bold policies buried in the depths of the Green’s paper Mending the Safety Net that have scarcely been discussed:

Nothing is more unsavoury than the well-off pontificating about the morals of the poor. The taxpayers union are a case in point.

When poor families bend the rules they do so in order to survive. When the smug middle class do it, then it is just outright greed not necessity. This can be in the form of clever tax manipulation like ‘employing’ spouses so as to pay less tax, claiming private benefits as business expenses and using trust funds to hide income. Or daily fudging, nod nod, wink wink stuff such as paying a lower cash rate to tradies to avoid GST, lying about the ages of their children to get cheaper rates for holidays and shows, transport, meals and so on.​

The Greens speak the truth when they say the welfare state is broken and must be fixed.  In Britain in the 19th century people were deported for stealing a loaf of bread- we have our own versions of cruelty.

The poor are ground down by a welfare state more befitting the 19th and 20th centuries than today.  But there is at last a bright spot. There were two breathtakingly bold policies buried in the depths of the Green’s paper Mending the Safety Net that have scarcely been discussed:

The first far-sighted and visionary policy tackles the assumption of female dependency. The policy allows sole parents to keep their sole parent support when they attempt to repartner.  She is the one to say, not WINZ, when she is in a partnership in the nature of marriage. This policy is a sensible first step towards treating people as individuals. It does not assume that a new boyfriend will automatically take on the financial support of her and her children when they claim she is in a relationship. It removes the fear of prosecution and gives a new relationship a chance to grow into something that will actually help her and her children.

It was great to have Metiria Turei refer to Kathryn’s story

That is a appalling story of a mother had up for relationship fraud when she was grieving for a son murdered by an ex partner. Even though she had a 4 year old she was imprisoned and even though she was imprisoned MSD have hounded her for repayment of her so called debt for the past 17 years.

The Greens have opened up this issue for debate.  The benefit system also needs to be put on an individual basis by aligning the different rates for single and married. All of this accords with the principles of simplicity and neutrality to marital status more fitting to the 21st century.

The second visionary policy is making the In Work Tax Credit available to all low income families.  Wow. Wow. Just WOW.  This is the bit that is missing from Labour’s Families Package.

The Greens know that you simply cant cure child poverty by relying on increasing the Family Tax Credit (FTC) alone. Of course that has to be done too to restore the lost value for working low income families.  But increasing the FTC by enough to address child poverty would be prohibitively expensive.

The Greens know that the In-Work Tax Credit doesn’t work as a work incentive and simply punishes families when they fall on hard times. It is grossly unfair to parents who have to meet rigid numbers of hours of work when the labour market is so uncertain.

Effectively the Greens join up the IWTC with the rest of WFF and by doing so, simplify a complex system, remove discrimination and significantly reduce child poverty in a very cost effective way. Full marks!

 

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About the author

Co-director retirement policy and Research Centre, CPAG management committee

22 Comments

  1. WILD KATIPO says:

    Hehehe… we need Labour and the Greens governing this country quick smart. A lot of catch up work to be done.

  2. Afewknowthetruth says:

    What most people in industrialised societies fail to understand (or deliberately ignore) is that our current way of life is totally unsustainable because it is totally dependent on fossil fuels. And fossil fuels are in terminal decline.

    They fail to understand that all the ‘benefits’ that have been derived from burning fossil fuels over the past two centuries (a very short term aberration in the grand scheme of things) -that is food, housing, transport, clothing etc.- will disappear over coming decades (or years) as an inevitable consequence of declining energy availability: without energy nothing happens and in a declining energy predicament less happens as time goes on.

    They also fail to understand (or deliberately ignore) the fact that continuing to burn fossil fuels in order to temporarily prop up the current standard of living compounds the Abrupt Climate Change predicament.

    The average unformed person living in NZ -who is lied to continuously by the political establishment and the mainstream media- does not recognize that the financial system is a product of burning fossil fuels, and that it is rapidly approaching the point of collapse as the energy supply necessary to maintain it goes into decline.

    And the self-serving liars that constitute parliament and councils around the country, people who have been informed of the dire energy predicament and the dire environmental predicament time and time again and ignore all the evidence, even as the planet goes into accelerating meltdown, continue to behave as though nothing is wrong, and their sense of entitlement is perfectly valid and justifiable.

    Even as all the repercussions of Peak Oil emerge (declining average standard of living) and the dire repercussions of burning fossil fuels (messed up Jet Streams, climate chaos and melting ice sheets) burgeon the psychotic sociopaths that pretend to be community leaders continue to lie to the masses about the future and make ‘promises’ they have no intention of keeping and that the Earth is not mathematically capable of delivering.

    Just how much longer this bizarre situation can continue is anyone’s guess; many analysts declare not more than another three years, and some say a global financial meltdown is imminent.

    https://ourfiniteworld.com/2017/06/12/falling-interest-rates-have-postponed-peak-oil/#more-41943

  3. M H says:

    This is a really good analysis. Thank you for this Susan.

  4. chris McMahon says:

    Great stuff. We seem to be inching towards a UBI.

    • Sam Sam says:

      IMO the success of a UBI depends on who is doing the retraining with the idea being that a UBI streamlines expensive paper work and those administer paper work with qualification in name only, and no ability to perform on the job training. The staff at WINZ have no idea what makes a good labourer and so on signalled by the high staff turn over experienced by WINZ clients, but they will keep miss-matching clients with on the job training.

      As a Chef I’v received WINZ clients, on job placements. In the vast majority of CV’s that would come across my desk WINZ clients would show up unprepared and ill informed and with no starter kits, with the only goal to get a job, not a career. My experience of training WINZ clients was not a good one as I found myself going outside my job description by providing basic tools and transport. And these are a few examples of the nuances a UBI must address to be effective.

      • LOSTRELIC says:

        “The staff at WINZ have no idea what makes a good labourer and so on signalled by the high staff turn over experienced by WINZ clients, but they will keep miss-matching clients with on the job training.”

        You’ve raised some worthwhile points, SAM. There is a problem here with incentive itself: WINZ staff are trained to think their job is to “get people off benefits and into jobs”. Beneficiaries are often struggling with life circumstances, or at best frazzled by WINZ demands, and are mainly searching for stability and security. It’s not that they need more “work preparation” – which I’ve heard, amount to bootcamps, where they’re simply drilled, grilled, and told they have to do XYZ as fast as possible or they will lose everything – it’s that there is so much being thrown at them at once, with everyone trying to get rid of them, and they themselves just trying to find security in the chaos.
        The job miss-matching is a huge part of that problem – when WINZ “case managers” see an individual, often they simply see fresh meat: an opportunity to be shoved into the first job available. It puts enormous pressure on the individual to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances, and a role that often isn’t suited to them, or that they don’t want – but aren’t allowed to state as such to WINZ. This also causes problems for employers, who get employees who are, at best, half interested, because their main concern was *obtaining security*, not selecting a life path that they *want* to immerse themselves in.

        As I see it, a UBI potentially solves the above stated problems by neutering the state’s ability to coerce and giving people choice: a person won’t be pushed into “a job” but actually has the freedom to work out how they would like to spend their time on this Earth.

        But a UBI does leave challenges with bridging the gap between those who do need preparation skills to get into work in any given industry – particularly those most marginalised individuals, from broken homes, with broken educations, and resulting severe mental health issues et cetera. As I see it, those individuals are the ones most in need of a UBI – they’re the ones most neglected and hard-hit by the system – and so their hardships justify the expenditure of a universal “care” towards them, in the form of uncoercive income support. Anyone who has spent time with severely challenged individuals knows, it is massively difficult – in fact impossible – for most middle or upper class earning individuals to imagine the extent and severity of hardship faced by some people in our community.

        As far as I am concerned, homelessness ought not ever be a thing. It only exists because of the reason Herman Melville points to, above. It exists because of our lack of putting ourselves in their shoes – our ignorance – our lack of compassion, courage, and humanity.

        • Sam Sam says:

          It is integration that matters. Approaching students before O week, understanding the resources needed to complete trade certificates. Then going straight to suppliers, Victorinox, and putting in bulk orders for discounts, having credentials to put in those orders. At this level, contracts must be in order. Cutting out middle men create well funded enemies.

          Sorry not sorry.

    • Susan St John says:

      Chris
      The policies of the Greens improve the system in terms of simplicity non conditionality, individual treatment and adequacy. Inching towards the UBI by adopting its principles sequentially is the best way to do it. You don’t reach Nirvana overnight and any policy that is too radical is unlikely to succeed. They have made an excellent start

  5. Siobhan says:

    “The second visionary policy is making the In Work Tax Credit available to all low income families. Wow. Wow. Just WOW. This is the bit that is missing from Labour’s Families Package”….
    Andrew Little on RNZ this morning declared a very strong ‘NO’ to any prospect of a benefits increase. He declared that the heating allowance was enough. That and changes to In Work Tax Credits. Which beneficiaries aren’t entitled to.
    What is it with Labour and beneficiaries?. Its like an allergy of some sort. Do they fear being seen as ‘the bludgers party’ by soft blue/red middle NZ?

  6. Priss says:

    Those who condemn the welfare system seem very happy to benefit from other aspects of it like free hospitals and educations that is largely free. Hypocrisy is rank throughout the Right.

  7. OncewasTim says:

    This “casting of stones” has become psychpathy. I’m not sure the reason…..it’s a phenomenon everywhere there’s a growing gap in wealth (check out comments on any media rag that provides the opportunity whether it’s Stuffed or the Indian Express where Modi is the latest subject of Hero Worshipm)
    I suspect it’s probably fear as the growing majority emerge as the natives get restless.
    How else so you explain a James, or a Wayne commenting over at TS.
    One obviously delights in just being contrary, the other who really should be doing a Bolger at this time of his life I suspect are at LEAST shivvering in their untreated pine framing timbers.
    I suspect both have very average sized diks

  8. In Vino says:

    I fully agree with what you have written, but I am bugged by your heading.
    “Let he” is grammatically incorrect. We say “Let him go,” not “Let he go.”
    If you check the King James version of the Bible you will find that the correct quote is:”Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”

    • KarenB says:

      Your reference is incorrect. The KJV says ” He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”
      John.8 – Bible, King James Version
      https://quod.lib.umich.edu › kjv › kjv-idx
      You may have a NKJV?

      • In Vino says:

        TBH, I did not consult the Bible: I simply Wikipediaed the common expression, and it came up, ‘Let him who is…

        Grammatically, the point stands. ‘Let him cast…’, not ‘Let he cast.’
        In the above title, ‘who’ (relative pronoun) is the subject of the verb ‘is’. ‘He’ cannot be subject – it is the object of the verb ‘Let’.
        The whole thing sounds tacky – somebody trying to write in Old English style when they do not know how to.

        • Susan St John says:

          Thanks for that correction- I had just hauled the quote out of my memory banks being steeped in Presbyterianism from an early age. It reminded me however of my father’s advocacy of bending the rules if it sounds better- he was passionate about the English language and taught it for many years. I also thought- what If I had written

          Let she who is without sin cast the first stone– wouldn’t that be vastly better than

          Let her who is without sin cast the first stone??

          • JohnTrezise says:

            No, because the substance of the sentence is “Let her … cast the first stone.” Great column, though.

          • In Vino says:

            It wouldn’t sound better if we all actually spoke Olde English – it would sound downright incorrect ‘Let her who is without sin…’ is correct. Using ‘she’ is the equivalent of ‘Let she go!’ in modern English.
            But as you say, one can do almost anything to secure special effect, and if you feel it sounds better nowadays then who is to say you should not innovate? Every other great writer did, so I will subside into silence.
            Except to repeat – great post.

          • Ken May says:

            The problem with our politics, or politians today is that they are all negative. Instead of realising the fundamental fact that they are elected to govern the country by instituting policies for the benefit of all by debating in an intelligent manner, they denegrate themselves by bleating mindlessly about the inadequacies of each other’s policies. The Greens are no better than National, are no better than Labour, or NZ First, etc..
            All I see is that if the current government isn’t re-elected, NZ’s debt will again start to skyrocket, the Armed Forces will cease to exist and we will be open house to every immigrant, or self proclaimed refugee in the world.
            I have worked since I was ten years old. I have paid my taxes and have studiously avoided any tax avoidance, despite being advised to do so when I was self-employed. I recognise that people have difficulties in life and can’t see any other way out of those difficulties without holding their hand out, but there are other ways out, and legal ways out, without criminally defrauding the welfare system.

  9. Jack P says:

    Lying to the welfare system for 3 years is a no no in my book. She should resign. This neoliberal bullshit, yes even the greens are a part of, needs to stop. I don’t put any credence on the Greens distraction with NZ first buying their tshirts from China. You can use “He who has not sinned cast the first stone” against this argument but I don’t hear it while 99 percent of the population have Made in Asia clothes.

    You’d think while earning 200 thousand a year, she would have paid it back. What else has she lied about? This double standard is disgusting!!!

    • Priss says:

      Not much experience with the welfare system, Jack?

      your black and white view of the world might apply to your comfort zone in middle class suburbia, but for those having to survive on welfare because they’ve lost their jobs or their hubby has run off with the company secrertary, it’s a different matter entirely.

  10. countryboy says:

    The great thing about poverty is its slimming effect.

  11. CLEANGREEN says:

    NACTIONAL = LOST CAUSE TO ENRICH THE RICH.