Welfare reform: A radical solution

Continuing on with Peter Cove’s article about what he learned in the Poverty War, he proposes a radical solution for welfare reform:

My experience with long-term welfare clients has led me to propose a radical solution: that we abolish all cash welfare, as well as food and housing assistance—except for the elderly and the physically and mentally disabled—in order to move from a dependency culture to one of work-first. This recommendation may sound impractical at a time of high unemployment. But the work-first principle can easily be implemented even in a down economy, as America Works proved by getting jobs for more than 500 ex-convicts in Detroit—a local economy with 14 percent unemployment—in the past two years. After all, despite the economic downturn, more than 3 million jobs per year go unfilled in the United States.

If it works for ex-convicts then why can’t it work for others?

[The] government would use the huge savings from eliminating welfare to create or subsidize private-sector jobs, sending money to companies to reduce the cost of hiring and paying new workers. The government could also create programs similar to those run by the Depression-era Works Progress Administration, paying workers to build parks, refurbish bridges, clean streets, and so forth. The workers’ wages would pay for the basics—food, clothing, and shelter.

But once we dismantle cash welfare and other forms of aid and offer paying jobs in their place, what about the children of those few people who simply refuse to work? I think that we should seriously contemplate removing these unfortunate children from their irresponsible parents. Under current child-welfare laws, social-services agencies can already take kids away from their parents if their home environment is unsafe. Is it so extreme to extend that policy to homes ruined by willful poverty and neglect? I concede that the alternatives here are not pretty; government-regulated foster care, in particular, has its own risks of abuse. Adoption, however, works fairly well in most of the country. Another solution would be the establishment of government-funded institutions, operated by voluntary and religious nonprofits, to care for the children.

Jobs can’t replace all welfare and poverty programs. There will always be some people who are emotionally or physically unable to work and who require government assistance. But even the so-called deserving dependents should be more carefully scrutinized. In the last ten years, the number of newly enrolled recipients of SSDI, a federal benefits program that provides aid to disabled people who can’t achieve gainful employment, has risen 44 percent. That suggests that many people are abusing the system.

We know that the current system of welfare isn;t working, we see it every day in our crime statistics…but to date there have been no politicians with the power or the stones to actually do something.

Is there a leader in New Zealand who has the courage to reform welfare in a meaningful way?


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  • Sir Cullen’s Sidekick

    Here is what uncle Matt McCarten says about John Key:

    This year has finished him. His evasiveness over Kim Dotcom, his shonkiness over the SkyCity casino deal to give more pokies for a convention centre, his weakness managing his ministers and his forgetfulness on details of his job is starting to form real doubts that
    he’s on top of his job. We like nice guys but we expect them to know what they’re doing. This is the year he became a two-term prime minister.

    • Gazzaw

      Yes I agree. Matt McCarten’s opinions are to be so highly valued. Forgetfulness on details of his job is a great example for Matt to bring up. I would have thought that $158k of outstanding tax payments on behalf of his employees is quite an important detail of Matt’s job. Did he forget or did he just spend it?

      • Sir Cullen’s Sidekick

        Uncle Matt says – “I can’t recall”.

  • Liam Jorgensen

    this blog seems like little more than a laundry list of right wing ‘hate points’ and other sensibilities – no doubt beefed up by the authors anonymity.

    Firstly – yes an incentive based work culture will do more for the poor than state redundancy, and education incentives (rather than disincentives) would help the issue.

    Heres the thing – what is an economy built on, really – not the service sector or odd jobs in council caretaking as you propose. The reality of globalization and laissez-faire capitalism is that there aren’t production jobs here.

    Also – contrary to what you might at first think, welfare state economies, such as the western European model experience greater productivity per annum than the US because of workforce flexibility.

    • thor42

      “…welfare state economies, such as the western European model experience greater productivity per annum than the US because of workforce flexibility.”

      Two words in reply to that.

      “Hong Kong”.

      • Liam Jorgensen

        thanks for your two work reply

        • Mostly_Harmless

          Concision is a virtue.

          • thor42

            Thanks, MH….. :)

            To expand on my reply a little – Liam Jorgensen put the case that welfare-state economies are more productive than the US.

            I was giving an example of a place that is not a welfare-state economy, and yet is one of the most productive in the world (and Hong Kong *certainly* has “workforce flexibility” too).

    • Hagues

      “no doubt beefed up by the authors anonymity”

      Suggest you get your facts right before showing your ignorance.

      “Whale Oil Beef Hooked is the personal blog of Cameron Slater. I set it up….”


      • Liam Jorgensen

        sorry – I’ve not read the Truth since 1991, mostly I read international papers and from people with an education. I’ll clarify – Cameron Slater is an obscure blogger somewhere in New Zealand. If you google him you can find some negative references and so on. Thats relative anonymity as far as I’m concerned.

        • Obscure…snigger

          Yeah I’m sure NewstalkZB let obscure people run their radio shows for three hours at a time…and I’m sure obscure people become editors of newspapers…yeah I’m obscure alright.

          TV3 didn’t think I was obscure: http://www.3news.co.nz/Cameron-Slater-takes-helm-of-Truth/tabid/423/articleID/274886/Default.aspx

          NBR didn’t think I was obscure: http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/cameron-slater-named-truth-editor-promises-overhaul-ck-131562

          Fairfax didn’t think I was obscure: http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/7888115/Blogger-Slater-becomes-Truth-editor

          Judge Harvey didn’t think Iw as obscure either when he wrote 69 pages of a judgement against me. In fact he went out of his way to point out that had I in fact been obscure then I would not be facing the charges I faced.

          OTOH no one has heard of Liam Jorgenson…now that is obscure.

          • Liam Jorgensen

            You want the truth ? Whale Oils dad was rich but he’s a fat, acne ridden, insecure depressive amateur boxer and right wing hate pundit with a penchant for tabloid sleaze and page three titty girls. Whats next? Cocaine scandal? Dinner with Ann fucking Coulter? Sorry dude, but your insensitivity to my ‘anonymous’ quote seemed to take up all of your mental space; not the actual, rational, considered comments I made in response. Why is it exactly that your ego is more important than the discourse? Who knows. I won’t be back sir, oh, and by the way – being a yellow journalist in New Zealand doesn’t make you ‘big time’. Don’t provoke me further please.

          • Mitch82

            Yeah.. this is really going to end well.

            First to say it: NFWAB.

          • Travis Poulson

            Another head for the trophy room :)

            “I won’t be back sir” ended with “Don’t provoke me further please.”

            Does that mean he’ll be back to see if he’s being provoked or not?

          • Yes you will, you’ll be back…bet you a hundy.

          • “Don’t provoke me further”…I mean WTF…you came here idiot…spewed all over the place…got a smacking and now are crying like a sook…

            Don’t provoke you further….or what?

          • Mostly_Harmless

            Or he’ll cry. Mind you, he probably already is.

          • Ronnie Chow

            Enter blog…..check

            Post comment ‘laundry list of right wing ‘hate points’…….check
            Ridicule host……check
            Exit blog…..check
            Search and destroy mission….failed
            Target unscathed…..woops

    • thor42

      “The reality of globalization and laissez-faire capitalism is that there aren’t production jobs here.”


      Orchardists have to get workers in from Fiji because NZ beneficiaries can’t be bothered to get out and pick fruit.

      Dairy-farmers have to get Filipinos in to work on farms because NZ beneficiaries are too lazy to work.

      If life on the dole is “so hard”, then why do some beneficiaries who *do* get a job deliberately get themselves fired so that they can go back on the dole?

      Also, I quote from a recent media article about beneficiaries having babies while on the dole.

      This is a teenager from Huntly –

      “I heard that you really crack it when on the benefit. I’m going to have lots of babies.”

      • Sir Cullen’s Sidekick

        Yes thor42 – Sheep and his cronies will happily pay for the babies taxing the hell out of other hard working Kiwis. Welcome to 2014

      • Ronnie Chow

        Not to mention the IRD bringing in Indian software programmers for much of the work on their new platform , allegedly due to insecurity over locals ‘having the keys’.

    • You fucking idiot…I am not anonymous.

      • Liam Jorgensen

        You are quite anonymous – I haven’t read the Truth since 1991.

        • Pissedoffyouth

          Fuck you’re a cock, Liam.

    • Mitch82

      I’ll just leave this here:


      You’re officially ‘somebody’ if your Wikipedia page has a ‘Personal Life’ sub-section.

  • Are people still really spouting this crap? How about offering meaningful work instead of welfare, why make it compulsory, have you ever worked at WINZ and heard some of the tragic stories of people on welfare (many are sexually and physically abused victims of crime, who can’t get help, not that the writer or editor of this site gives a shit). What if I have a mental health issue (a stress disorder) you’re telling me I’m going to be left to rot in poverty with inadquate welfare for how many more bloody years?
    I get paid to be a loser by the NZ government
    Forced to be on welfare hardly a dollar I’d call well spent
    In order to get paid of course by the NZ government
    You have to turn up and beg with the latest forms they sent
    This torture wheel of hell, this sea of degradation
    This oppressive system that’s a blight upon our nation….
    (I get arrested, censored and trespassed from places for reciting and writing this sort of poetry – in NZ in 2012, wake up self-righteous sheep you ain’t seeing the whole story.)
    What this out-of-touch elitist bigot is suggesting is more degradation, can you imagine how many people would be forced onto the streets and into crime if welfare was removed? We don’t live in a third world country, yet. Are you people so miserable and so stricken by poverty yourself that you have to attack the poorest people – when are you going to start attacking those at the top, doing a shit job, getting overpaid, wasting and misdirecting money and resources, etc etc.

    It’s not social welfare we need to reform it is corporate welfare, grossly overpaid public servants, economics, banking, trade, the media, politics, etc.

    This whole long term bludging beneficiaries is a load of bullshit, they reakon it is less than 1% of people in that category, but everybody on welfare, especially abused and disabled people, gets tarred with the same brush – that is called discrimination and bigotry by the way.

    • thor42

      If you took the time to read the article that WO refers to, you’d see that the so-called “crap” that you refer to actually *works*.

    • Dion

      > “when are you going to start attacking those at the top”

      This blog isn’t exactly soft on politicians – or the “grossly overpaid public servants”.

    • cows4me

      “I get paid to be a loser by the NZ government”, seems to me they pay you to much then. If you have the means to moan about your situation on this blog you must either own a computer, pay isp fees or have the cash to spend at an internet caff. You plead poverty, oh fucking please. Sir/Madam life isn’t fair or equal , it never will be . Blaming the banks, public servants, media etc is not adressing the real cause, have a look in the mirror, there you find the answer.

    • Speaking of bludging beneficiaries…how’s it going drawing chal drawings in Ghuznee Street? Are the indigent and stupid still talking to you?

    • Ronnie Chow

      Just one question , Murphy . Could you load shelves at a supermarket , 8 hour shift , 6 days a week ?
      We will , in deference to your hyper-sensibilities , allow you to think your own thoughts , while you work .
      YOU ON ?

      • Economist

        How about a 15 hour shift 7 days a week. For a dollar a day, say. Plus some expired food.

  • williamabong

    Stop treating the dole and DPB as a career option then the winds of change may blow through the nation, also start placing some limits on the amount of draw down individuals have on the welfare system, 32 years old with 12 kids is taking the piss.
    As draconian as it sounds actually make benefit fraud a serious offense and not a joke as the judiciary seem to think it is.

    • better still make non enforcement of benefit crime a serious crime
      make winz workers have to report anything suspicious under threat of some serious fines made even more serious if non ewnforcement is against members of their own ethnic communities
      drivers, doormen barmen etc can all get fined for not doing their jobs properly
      its time winz was subjected to the same sotrt of controls

  • a better solution would be to stop importing people to drive down wages and conditions
    to stop the parents of immigrants having their 48 month exemption from having to declare their overseas income in nz enabling them to qualify for a benefit after 2 years of earning nothing here while being very wealthy
    to stop other immigrants income sharing by paying their school age kids up to 29 hours a week so they can still qualify for working for families and all the top ups
    why do you think they really buy dairies
    not just to be held up and struggle on their extremely low declared earnings surely noone is still that guilible
    and all of it is legal
    if real nzers had these options there would be no need for most benefits sadly theynever will