Rodney Hide reckons the unemployed should be auctioned on Trademe

Rodney Hide has hit on a brilliant idea, auction the unemployed on Trademe.

To be fair it wasn’t his idea, but he is certainly looking into it.

We have 50,000 people on the unemployment benefit and plenty of work that needs doing. The 50,000 represent 1000 years of work that doesn’t get done each and every week. The waste is horrific.

The waste follows from the failure to match the unemployed to the jobs that need doing at a price potential employers are willing to pay.

The matching part of the problem is a perfect job for the internet. And, sure enough, US techno whizz Morgan Warstler has the fix: match the jobs and the unemployed on eBay and pay them through Paypal.

In New Zealand our equivalent, Trade Me, is the perfect set-up linking Kiwis wanting to sell with those wanting to buy. It’s similarly perfect for matching those looking for work with those with jobs that need doing. Trade Me should be used to match jobseekers to jobs.

Under the Warstler scheme the unemployed would register on Trade Me to receive their benefit payment each Friday night.  At present, an unemployed 20-year-old receives a benefit payment of $190.84 gross a week.  Let’s make that $200.

Once an unemployed person is registered on Trade Me anyone wanting work done can bid for them to do it.  It’s the perfect way to match the jobs that need doing to those who can do them.  

How would it work?

The bidders must establish their real identity and deposit their money though a platform like Paypal before any work is undertaken. The work to be done must be fully described through a checklist.

As it stands, the unemployed aren’t supposed to be sitting at home doing nothing: they must be actively seeking work and laggards have their benefit reduced or cut completely.

Once the unemployed are registered through Trade Me the work comes looking for them.

The unit of work on offer is a 40-hour week. And the bids start at $40 a week. That appears impossibly low but the government still pays the $200, so the least anyone gets paid for a week’s work is $240.

The low starting bid ensures the market clears every week. Local retirement villages and community groups would be actively bidding to help the unemployed into work and to get work done.  Specialist contractors would move in to bid for the unemployed and to offer their work to the marketplace.

It’s hard to see the price staying at $40 a week. Especially for good workers.

The bids increase in $20 increments, with the government getting back $10 of each $20 hike. The worker gets to keep the other $10. For example, if the bid goes to $200 the worker keeps $320 and the government contributes $120 of his or her pay.

Trade Me enables feedback possible both ways. Anyone familiar with the site knows how that works.

The good workers and the good employers would soon be identified. There would be no better CV than a string of positive comments on Trade Me. Those workers would get their wages bid up and would soon have a permanent job.

The impossibly lazy would also be identified. They could be followed up by government agents.

Likewise, the bad employers would be weeded out. They would be dealt to just as bad dealers are dealt to on Trade Me. The Warstler scheme provides total transparency.

I’m all for it, let’s hav at it…or will we now watch the liberal left media attack Rodney Hide for having the temerity to request the indigent and indolent actually do something for their government stipend?


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  • Quick re brand this as fast as possible.. The left will call this a slave auction.
    But the idea at least gets people working.

    • Patrick

      Stuff the left they shouldn’t have a say, after all they are one of the biggest causes of the problems with welfare. All the free money doled out for sitting around breeding or studying crochet at university.

      • Mishi

        Hoi! I’ll have you know there is nothing wrong with crochet. Even studying it at Uni isn’t an issue. Obviously it wouldn’t be a mainstream line of study just something to fill in a spot here and there in a timetable. Crochet like any craft is a great destressor especially for those of us who work fulltime++++ or the retired who donate their work to charity.

        • Patrick

          I agree, people can choose to study whatever they like. Where I have an issue is when the taxpayer funds this via free student loans and there is absolutely no benefit to be had by the taxpayer.

          • Pissedoffyouth

            Exactly – the government could subsidise degree’s which will increase NZ’s GDP, and exclude shit like art history and bartending

      • Mr_Blobby

        With National left of Labor and ACT on its last legs what or who is the right.

        • With ACT allegedly being “on its last legs” for over a decade now, we’re the ultimate political millipede.

    • Gazzaw

      ‘Slave Me’ has a good ring to it.

  • One other problem. I pay you the minimum increment. I pay the rest in cash.

    • Yeah, right. And have your Trade me reputation ultra low. These things matter: a few DHBs have “Black box” reputations from feedback from The RMOs — who used to grade employers annually. Guess which ones had locals competing to work for them.

      It is a good idea. The unions, of course, will hate it, which makes it a better idea.

  • cows4me

    Cool, our own craigslist.

  • And leftie outcry in 3,2,1…

    • Gazzaw

      Come in fozzie – 5, 4, 3, 2,………………….

  • Mishi

    However the jobs of selling drugs and B&E etc don’t count! Wait a minute lets have another kid that will solve the problem of having to work. Maybe Machiavelli could set up an auction for a couple of wars then the indigent/indolent could go be sent off there.

  • williamabong

    One of the biggest problems we now face is the generation that has been bought up believing they don’t have to work.
    In the mean time we’re distracted by stupid issues like if poofters should be allowed a wedding ring, sort of ignoring the elephant in the room really.
    We made this problem, and the education system must take a large part of the blame, we allow this system to let kids bail from school scarcely able to write their own name and call this acceptable, when we accept an education, which is almost free in this country, is a life skill we are on our way to solving some of our problem.
    Less social engineering, and more parenting, and before all the happy clappers leap on board about lost faith etc, your lot have helped create the problem, religion isn’t the cure-all.
    It may to late to fix todays problem but we sure can do something about tomorrow.

    • Mr_Blobby

      100% correct. With social engineering the Plan is to Fail.

    • StupidDisqus

      One of the biggest problems we now face is the generation that has been bought up believing they don’t have to work

      Most city councils builds perfectly good gutters in which they can starve

      • JonathanP

        Yes lets deny people the right to live. Good idea. I wish I could say I’d love to see you suffer and starve but I’m a better person than you and would help you out. Of course you’ll come across all proud and probably say you’d sooner starve than take help which would make you even more foolish.

        Its 2013 not 1513. Get with the times. You don’t like the price of society LEAVE.

    • cows4me

      Careful, you are only aloud to talk sense for 2.5 seconds, obviously your comment breaches this rule. Your friendly government representative will be around to shrink your brain.

    • JonathanP

      Todays generation is a product of yesterdays generation and the generation before (parents and grand parents). THEY LET IT HAPPEN, and now here they are bleating on about a problem that they created wanting someone else to fix it for them. Yes kids today are self entitled lazy little shits, becuase they are allowed by their parents to be. Do you blame and punish a child born into a welfare family or do you blame the parents. One has a choice, the other doesn’t. Start at the root of the problem instead of trying to excuse yourself for your shitty actions.

      Sorry not directed directly at you williambong but at the generations mentioned.

    • unsol

      Marriage Equality is a completely separate issue & to bring it into this debate shows a desperation to push your ideas & your wee minority (in terms of the population) of friends that agree with you on the rest of the country.

      If society wasn’t moving in the direction of extending full citizenship to the LGBT then this Bill wouldn’t even gotten off the ground.

      Secondly & more importantly since it addresses the actual topic, “We made this problem, and the education system must take a large part of the blame, we allow this system to let kids bail from school scarcely able to write their own name and call this acceptable, when we accept an education, which is almost free in this country, is a life skill we are on our way to solving some of our problem” is only correct in part.

      “We allow the system to let kids bail from school” is absolute bullshit.

      The system is perfectly adequate in terms of MOE guidelines & truancy laws that try to discourage children from wagging.

      The fault of all truants & all children who fail to learn how to read, write at complete basic math problems lays entirely with their parents.

      Very few teachers in NZ are useless, most are capable of at least achieving the basics.

      The real problem likes with wastrel egg & sperm donors who palm off all their parental responsibilities to the school.

      So rather than worrying about whether less than 10% if the population living in legally recognised & acceptable relationships get married, you would be far better to focus your concern on all those assholes who fail to provide nurturing, stable, supportive & emotionally healthy family homes. Who fail to feed & clothe their children & who never read them books or support them in their school work.

      These people are the reason why some children are failing. Not the teachers. Sure of course some teachers might be useless, just the same as some heterosexual men are pedophiles, but they are in the minority.

      They might be annoying blobby unionists, but they still teach.

  • thor42

    This idea has a HEAP of merit!

    It basically sidelines ***bloody useless WINZ*** and puts the unemployed “out there” directly.

    Like all great ideas, it is beautifully simple and elegant.

    The matching of job and worker.

    *Go for it*, Rodney!

  • In light of the issues employers have getting reliable staff, this system would be good for hard workers trying to get a break, as the market will soon establish their value, and allow them to maximise the reward for their effort. The main option for those out of work at the moment is to go through labour hire and accept being a price taker regardless of how hard they work. This cutting out of the middle man for those in the low skill labour market has the potential to achieve more than any posturing about living wages and other crap peddled by the filthy unwashed left.

  • Steve R

    Better still set the minimum wage at the same as the dole ( Id prefer scrapping it )

    Then pay people what they are worth . At least we would get rid of most of our unemployment stats . So if someone is a good worker they get what they deserve if not , well quite frankly who cares ! We need only folks in this country that want to contribute not take away from society .

    Yes, there are some companies that will take advantage of workers , however the good ones will always shine through . Ever decent employer Knows the value of good people and wont risk losing them just the same as now .
    Just concider this . What must happen to a persons spirit if they sit at home on the dole , at least with my idea they have a reason to get up every day and hold their heads up because when alls said and done they’ve played their part in making New Zealand the great country we should be .
    Lastly , repeat after my

    • StupidDisqus

      Scrap both the minimum wage and the dole.


      Fuck that: how about: I work, I get to eat.

      • Steve R

        If yo saw the size of me you’d think i was extremely lucky by your standards

    • StupidDisqus

      What must happen to a persons spirit if they sit at home on the dole

      I really, utterly, completely do not give a shit

      What I care about is what happens to my sprit paying taxes every day to feed clothe educate & care for bludgers.

      • JonathanP

        You mean the same way that your parents and grandparents got the one off payment when children are born and the same way someones taxes went to pay for your education? You dirty dirty bludger you.

      • Steve R

        Well thats the point , By making it cheaper to hire them they wont be at home sucking up our tax money and theyll hopefully develop a good work ethic and help us be a great little country

    • StupidDisqus

      Better still set the minimum wage at the same as the dole ( Id prefer scrapping it )

      NO NO NO NO NO. If min wage = dole, then there is absolutely no incentive to work! The minimum wage (if we have one) needs to be far above the dole. A little reflection reveals the only way to achieve this is dole = 0.

  • Excellent idea, but would this detract from permanent jobs if employers can get a floor sweeper (totally no skills required) for a hugely discounted rate of $40/wk with no holiday pay or kiwisaver to pay?

    • There’s no such job as floor sweeper. Many jobs involve floor sweeping but it is the value that the worker adds to the remaining tasks that will allow them to realise their true worth much more efficiently than at present

      • Actually there is, (I once had a furniture factory where I employed someone to keep all the shavings swept up) but what I was referring to is completely unskilled work which now has a fully employed person but if an employer could get a different person each week for the same job and only pay $40/wk then wouldn’t there be more unemployed? Just wondering. It may be that productivity might increase and allow for more skilled people to be employed, but in principle I agree that the idea has enough merit to receive serious consideration by Govt.

    • StupidDisqus

      Hell yeah! And that’s a bad thing precisely why?

    • JonathanP

      The recent prison inmates taking work from already employed workers is a prime example.
      People already gainfully employed being replaced by far far cheaper labor.
      And whats hilariously funny in this case is said business is falling behind in production too which is brilliant. Serves them right.

      Let the market decide aye StupidDisqus…DUHH

  • peterwn

    Only if Trademe makes provision for negative bids (thinking of the undertaker who was paid 10 quid by the workhouse for taking Oliver Twist off their hands).

  • Graeme

    This is brilliant. Make it hire by the day. I need someone to come around and clean out my gutters and mow my lawns.

  • Andy

    The idea isn’t that new. There are websites where you can bid for IT projects (generally small, a few hours) TradeMe etc would be an ideal platform to enable small projects or handyman type work. Of course, it presupposes a workforce that can be bothered to get of its arse

    • Patrick

      There is one here in Aus (fifobids) where you lodge your skills & experience & employers bid for your time.

  • This system would work quite well, we already have income deduction when you earn money so we could merge this with a online job system. There are a few features that we need to add to this system.

    1) People get at least a weeks work. Otherwise things start to get messy as they try and fit in all the different jobs into a week.

    2) The govt remains an employer of last resort if there are no jobs on offer for a particular week.

    3) Transport costs will need to be assessed, a bus ticket in Hamilton costs $2.40 and thus would eat up a huge amount of earnings. Make the Greens happy and cut transport costs. Not everyone can cycle around.

    4) Make sure the first $80 is tax free. Because you don’t lose any benifit for this and you incentivise work.

    5) Change employment law to make these contracts far simpler. Only allow grievances for serious breaches of the law etc. If things get complicated you cut the number of employers. Make sure you have simple easy rules for employers and employees.

    6) Don’t introduce this system unless you can have it running within 12 months of winning an election. The longer such a system is running the more harder it becomes to remove it. Give labour nightmares with headlines like – Labour to sack 70’000 workers.

  • StupidDisqus

    Dunno about bidding for bludgers: but I’m sure there are some body parts – kidneys, livers, lungs, hearts, retinas – that lots of people worldwide would like to bid on.

  • StupidDisqus

    I’ve a much, much, simpler idea.

    Cancel the dole, cancel the minimum wage.

    problem solved

    The market will sort out the rest. Hell there is already Amazon mechanical turk that can pay people in NZ. No need for any government involvement or subsidy or anything.

    • JonathanP

      You are so full of shit the mind boggles.
      The market won’t do shit you moron.
      What do you think caused the global financial crisis? The so called trusted market.
      You give businesses half a chance in NZ and they will pay people the absolute minimum and then below.
      Sure you might come back at me and say “the workers will just go elsewhere” but what are they going to do when the next business offers them sweet fuck all as well.
      Pull your head out of your ass.
      The market is greed and greed fucks up everything.
      Im certainly not suggesting some communist lefty hippe solution but market solutions are fucked up and doomed to fail due to human nature.

      • Actually Governments caused the crisis…as its done all the others.. Credit expansion and forcing banks to make bad loans was due to government.There is nothing in a free market to cause such an event. There is no free market in existence so expect more crashes.

  • JonathanP

    Can’t say I’m for or against this.
    What I would like to see is people who are paid by winz (the government) working for winz (the government) be it gardening, picking up rubbish in parks etc. Jobs that councils pay large amounts of cash for.
    Beneficiaries are already being paid so that will free up a bit of cash and then because councils won’t need to charge out or pay people for those jobs rates could drop.

    Im all for people working for their benefit but not at slave labor rates.

    Its always nice to sit in the ivory tower and look down and cast judgement but when your tower crumbles and your sitting in the heaps the perspective is pretty different.

    • StupidDisqus

      Im all for people working for their benefit but not at slave labor rates.

      they’re not people: they’re bludgers.

      • JonathanP

        And your either an elaborate troll or just and out and out fucking moron.

  • Mediaan

    In some Californian towns, job-seeking migrants, often Mexicans who came in illegally, simply go and stand in the square at 8am each day. There is a bunch of them, milling. Work offerors drive past and check the look of them. They stop if they see one that looks right for the (short-term) work in mind. After a chat, the migrant if accepted for the work goes straight to the worksite. The rate is around $10 per hour. Works well.

    • StupidDisqus

      Yeah but they’re wiling workers. NZ’s bludgers aren’t worth $10 / hour.
      Probably not $10 / day.