No Right Turn says “Labour chooses to be cruel to beneficiaries“. So we must fisk.
RNZ reports that WINZ is systematically racist and misogynist about debt, with Māori being forced deeper into debt, and women and Māori forced to repay at a higher rate than men and Pākehā.
Here’s the elephant in the room: no one has identified any policy or practice that says “Maori must pay more”, or even “women must pay more”. No one even thought to ask, because such a thing would be unthinkable.
So is this systematic? No, of course not. It’s just the result of Maori being poorer, and less educated, and having to play by the same rules as everyone else. The answer to that is obvious – more education. Weirdly that never comes up in NRT’s analysis.
From past statistics, most of this “debt” is due to benefits being too low in the first place
A very easy claim to make. In reality, benefits are one of the largest costs on the government’s budget, and even a small increase means a huge increase in cost. Of course everyone wants benefits to be higher, who wouldn’t? The reality is that beneficiaries, like everyone else, have to live within their means. It’s free money, after all.
(and almost all of the rest is due to WINZ fucking up and overpaying people)
If it really is a WINZ screw-up, then such debt isn’t very fair. However, it’s made quite clear to all beneficiaries that you need to make sure you’re receiving what you’re entitled to, and to update WINZ if your circumstances change. People don’t do that, they rack up debt when they’re found out.
so its prima facie odious.No, not really.
Meanwhile, high repayment rates grind the poor deeper into poverty. Hardly any of it will ever be paid back.
This is true.
The obvious solution is simply to write it off.
Also true, that is the most obvious solution. But that obvious solution comes with an obvious problem – if you just write off debt, why would people bother avoiding it?
Kāinga Ora have already implemented the equivalent policy with housing – no one gets kicked out, no matter how bad their behaviour. The results? Pretty horrible for those who have to live with them.
So the problem is actually a much more difficult one than NRT gives credit.
But enough about that, we’ve got a simple, unworkable solution – let’s demand the government implement it!
His post then goes onto complain that the government could change this immediately, and are thus cruel. All in all, it’s yet another example of faulty reasoning leading to faulty conclusions.
This is why the left finds it difficult to solve problems. If you don’t have an honest take on the problem, and all its facets, you’re going to struggle to fix it. Screaming more won’t change that.
Again, the Minister can do this at any time, with the flick of a pen. So when she pretends to be helpless, she is lying. The government can end this cruelty whenever they want. They choose not to. They choose to further immiserate the poor and destitute, out of festering NeoLiberalism. And we should hold them accountable for that choice.
I suspect there’s no real solution to this problem, short of intensive, invasive intervention on a per-case basis. But there are solutions to poverty in general, and one of the biggest is education, and promoting education. So I’m ending on that, much more useful, thought.