The thing that depresses me the most about National’s so-called welfare reforms is that they are fuelled by outdated Tory thinking. Here was me thinking that the ‘modern’ National Party was not bogged down in ideology, and was focused on “what works”. But no, it is a “kick in the pants” and time to stop “living the dream”. For National unemployment is the fault of the unemployed, and if only they pulled their socks up everything would be all right.
I have said before on this blog that I, along with most people, am appalled if people rip off the system. Where that happens we should crack down. But let’s also not accept the myth that the current system is all carrot and no stick. At the moment people on the unemployment benefit have to be seeking work. Work and Income monitor benefit recipients closely. It is true that there is no work test for DPB recipients. So much for family friendly National. I am anxiously awaiting to hear of the thousands of jobs conveniently timed for 9-3pm that have flexibility over sick days.
A kick in the pants might sound good, but in the end if we are to actually move people off benefits and into work it requires a constructive, active approach to go with clear rules. Most other countries we normally compare ourselves to had massive investments in job creation through the recession. We had a cycleway.
The reality is this policy does not have any vision for how we move more people into work, because it is not about helping to create jobs, or to find ways to work with long term unemployed. It is straight out dog whistle politics that seeks to re-inforce an image of ‘bludging no hopers who are a drain on resources’. No matter the evidence of the thousands of people who lined up for jobs at a supermarket in Auckland recently. If it plays well with some prejudices that might exist in the electorate then it seems National want to go there.