Waging War on Beneficiaries | The Jackal

29 Jul 2011

Waging War on Beneficiaries

Earlier this year Social Development and Employment Minister Paula Bennett, as part of National's divide and rule agenda announced a "War on Beneficiaries."

The exact details on just what form that war is going to manifest into are still largely unknown, but there's a few preemptive strikes that have impacted on the poor of New Zealand greatly, entrenching poverty further and increasing the wealth divide.

First National broke an election promise by raising GST to 15% which had a disproportionate effect on the poor. The small increase in benefits a few months afterwards was a token gesture so that National did not appear to be uncaring. In context to the increased cost of living, it effectively meant nothing.

National said they implemented a policy that would see benefits match inflation, but there's been a huge increase in the cost of basic goods and services and National has clearly decided that increasing benefits to match that will not be adhered to. It's much easier to have an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff than ensure people are not living in desperate circumstances.

After running a controversial campaign of shame the beneficiary, which included breaching the privacy of welfare dependent people, National then kicked a large number of people off benefits and made the criteria to reapply even harder.
The right base their entire argument concerning welfare reform on misconceptions. They believe there's something different about people on welfare, that they are somehow sub-human and therefore less deserving. Effectively National is trying to use such misconceptions to gain public support by scapegoating the poor.

It's the same old game of trying to gain traction for policies that have little credibility, by appealing to peoples baser instincts.

Welfare dependent people are no different from you or me. The reality of the situation is there's not enough jobs and that has resulted in high unemployment rates. Such a dynamic is clearly not the fault of the welfare dependent.

Recently a British right winger, Iain Duncan Smith visited New Zealand to stump up National's failure to gain wide spread public support for their bene bashing policies. He believes that the debate in New Zealand is out of date and that "austerity measures are being imposed on every sphere of British society," as justification for his proposed welfare reforms. What a load of rubbish!
It's the same old ruse whereby the rich become richer and the poor become poorer. This divide has been identified as one of the most damaging things a society can have.

The negative dynamic in New Zealand was confirmed again with yesterday's release of the National Business Review's annual Rich List, showing that the combined wealth of the richest has ballooned 20% in less than a year from $38.2 billion to $45.2 billion - the highest total ever.

Meanwhile thousand's of New Zealand children go hungry every day whereby KidsCan had to distribute 1.6 million food items to decile 1 to 4 primary and intermediate schools last year, and has a further 105 schools on its waiting list.

The negative social impacts from childhood poverty should not be underestimated, and one gauge that cannot be ignored is New Zealand's high youth suicide rates, the highest in the OECD. Youth from impoverished families are twice as likely to commit suicide.

Despite the various negative effects that a life in poverty causes, the right wing believe that a "broken society" can be attributed to the welfare system. They are of course wrong! There's one main area to attribute blame, the so called recession that is afflicting many western civilizations. In turn the recession is a direct result and byproduct of greed by the already wealthy.

The right wing tries to use the effects from that greed dynamic to promote welfare cuts, believing that those least able to pay should make further sacrifices for something they have no control of. The problem with that is it will cost society a lot more further down the line, and not only in financial terms.