Herald briefly stops Pimping the Poor

via The Guardian

via The Guardian

You have to wonder about the NZ Herald sometimes. ?There is a definite anti-government, pro-left flavour to the body of articles. ?But occasionally one of the senior people jump in with an editorial and shock us with some common sense.

The news that at least 21,000 beneficiaries have travelled overseas in the past nine months had a predictable response. The airwaves went hot with taxpayers’ anger and disgust at the supposed “rip-off” of the welfare system. Welfare defenders bristled with equal indignation, accusing minister Paula Bennett of “beneficiary bashing”. They seemed to consider overseas travel to be part of today’s average living standard that beneficiaries ought to be able to share.

Labour spokeswoman Sue Moroney said it was wrong to imagine a benefit alone allowed anyone to travel overseas. Often the cost was met by family members or was a gift. She is right, but she and others who talk about poverty in this country ought to remind themselves of this more often.

The Children’s Commissioner, who annually reports on the numbers in poverty as defined by household income and surveys of material possessions, ought to take note of the travel figures. On the income definition all beneficiaries and their children are below the poverty line.

Indeed. ?Like Pavlov’s dogs we all were. ?Including the cries for beneficiaries to be hung, drawn and quartered by Whaleoil. ?Non-beneficiaries work hard for their money. ?They pay their taxes, often a little begrudgingly. ? To find that 21,000 beneficiaries enjoyed overseas travel, some multiple times, when you haven’t had a holiday for a few years is quite likely to get steam up. ?

A return air fare to Australia or the islands for a special occasion is only one of the gifts a sole parent or unemployed person might receive. That does not suggest they ought to make do with less from taxpayers. Benefit rates are enough to meet essential daily living expenses, they are not sufficient to pay for holiday accommodation in this country, let alone a trip overseas.

It is, though, “staggering”, as Paula Bennett says, that as many as 21,000 have had a trip since July, when the rules became more stringent. That is just the number who did not tell Work and Income they were going and consequently had their benefit cut. Of those, nearly 5000 have had their benefits cancelled once eight weeks had elapsed since their departure and they had not re-established contact with Work and Income. It begs the question, what would have happened before last July?

Good question. ?Instead of beneficiary bashing, how about Tax Payer Theft? ? This was seriously out of control, and I’m not sure those who follow the rules are inconvenienced that much either by being among those in statistical poverty.

Overseas travel has come within the means of most people today and it is a principle of social welfare that nobody should be excluded from participation in the ordinary living standards around them. Modern home entertainments and labour-saving appliances are rightly considered essentials for this reason. But an overseas trip is outside the bounds of social participation. The public is not obliged to pay for it. The fact that so many beneficiaries get to go overseas at times is a credit to their families and their private support. It may explain why there is more poverty in statistics than is visible in real life.

Well, NZ Herald people, you could help you know. ?Stop constantly feeding the “Poverty Monster”. ?Measure how many people don’t have a place to sleep. ?Measure how many people miss more than one meal a day. ?Measure the children that can’t afford to go to school. ?Measure the children that can’t afford health care.

You have staff that are extremely busy building a picture of fake poverty. ?We call it “Pimping the Poor”. You should ask why?Simon Collins doesn’t disclose when he pimps his poor how many manage overseas trips his sob story subjects have taken. ?Does he ever ask if they also receive support from private sources? ?Do we ever get to analyse the outgoings? ?(No)

Invariably these people are housed, healthy, fed with access to education, health care and money that isn’t theirs to feed and clothe themselves.