There are a whole bunch of people who seem to think there is some sort of conspiracy occurring, John Armstrong included. I don't know what the word for this psychological phenomena is but where I would once have participated I now observe it. If you have ever worked your way up through large organisation for instance, at the bottom you imagine that management are in cohorts and have a plan. They are invulnerable and omnipotent. As you get closer to the top you understand that you are not necessarily dealing with a group of like-minded individuals at all but individuals with their own agendas, ideas, and varying abilities to make those ideas come to fruition.
I don't believe that National has a radical plan for welfare at all. Various players will be making it up as they go, some winning, some losing. But political inertia is a strong force. Back to Armstrong;
Bennett's remarks should have rung alarm bells in the institute's ivory towers about the highly divisive direction in which the welfare working group's work is likely to move. Rebstock's paternalistic talk of the current system locking "many people" into life on a benefit which "robs them of their potential" is the giveaway of the kind of agenda operating here.
What Rebstock said is undeniable. But not only does it rob people of their potential, it robs their children.
Such talk also does not equate with the facts. Ministry of Social Development data shows those getting the domestic purposes benefit number about 110,000.
But that disguises the stream of sole parents flowing in and out of that category. About 31,000 people signed up for the DPB in the year to March. But in the same period nearly 26,000 came off it.
And? What about the other 80-odd thousand? What about the ones I focus on, who go onto a benefit pitifully young, 16 and 17 year-olds, and stay there for many years continuously, or habitually cycle on and off? And he ignores that most of the people signing onto the DPB are either transfers or returners.
...The figures suggest the current system does not lock people into benefits and that people want to work, but the determining factor is the state of the labour market.
If everyone wanted to work why was the drop on DPB numbers during the economic boom, when NZ had the lowest unemployment rate in the OECD, so small? Because people lack skills and self-discipline; because they lack confidence; because benefits can pay more and offer more security; there are myriad reasons, only one of which is there isn't a job for them.
Armstrong doesn't understand what he is writing about in more ways than one.