Wednesday, May 24, 2017

"Social investment" is just another word for cuts

The Spinoff interviews economist Simon Chapple on the government's new craze for "social investment". The core problem? It's just a disguise for cuts:

Bill English learned from that episode [the "Mother of all Budgets"]. In a sense the ‘social investment approach’ is pursuing the same goal – smaller government – but in a more subtle way. English’s claim is that social investment is a win-win by reducing the size of government while simultaneously enhancing people’s outcomes. However, when the nuts and bolts are examined, the principal win that government is measuring and incentivising is fewer fiscal dollars, not the secondary win which is better outcomes for people.

[Emphasis added]

That misplaced focus fundamentally undermines the entire exercise. It means for example that WINZ sets goals around throwing people off benefits, not getting them jobs, or making them better off. Meanwhile, its grossly invasive of privacy, while not really solving the problem of false negatives. What it will leave us with is social assistance that focuses on denying people the help they need, rather than helping them, solely in order to save money.

This obviously suits National, who care more about tax cuts for the rich and drowning government in the bathtub than they do about the poor. But it doesn't suit ordinary kiwis, who use and need those services. But since when has National ever cared about us?