Monday, January 29, 2007

Not Left

Ever since the Maori Party was formed, people on the left have been suspicious of where it stood. Are they generally left, or generally right? Results have so far been mixed - support for an increased minimum wage and the abolition of youth rates, votes both for and against Wayne Mapp's probationary employment bill - but I think Pita Sharples' support for Work for Dole provides a definitive answer. Over on Public Address, Tze Ming goes over the evidence showing that Work for Dole doesn't work - it actually decreases employment outcomes over the first year, and does nothing thereafter. But the purpose of Work for Dole was always ideological - to ensure that those shiftless layabouts on the unemployment benefit were properly punished for their misfortune in being victims of government-set monetary policy, not to help them find real work or a way out of poverty. Backing it marks the Maori Party as being definitively on the right and wanting to punish the poor, rather than help them.

Fortunately, being in Parliament also means being accountable to the electorate. I can't imagine this policy being palatable to the Maori Party's voters (too many of whom will remember unemployment in the 80's and 90's), and so hopefully they'll be forced to change their minds. Otherwise, they've just handed Labour a perfect stick to beat them with in the next election campaign.


What is all this "left" and "right" bizzo? You call yourself "No Right Turn" so I figure you're the one to explain it in simple terms that we all can understand.

You say that supporting a Work for Dole ideology "marks the Maori Party as being definitively on the right and wanting to punish the poor, rather than help them." Libertarianz supports No Work for No Dole. This marks us as being definitively on the left and wanting to reward the poor, rather than hinder them. Right?

Posted by Richard : 1/29/2007 03:20:00 PM

"No Work for No Dole"

Heh, no Richard, it puts you in the puerile bucket, just over there, filed under infantile.

Explain to me again who you are wanting to "reward" so generously?

Posted by Anonymous : 1/29/2007 03:44:00 PM

So, Anonymous, are you going to try to explain what "left" and "right" mean?

Or are you just going to take cheap shots?

NRT says that supporting Work for Dole "marks the Maori Party as being definitively on the right". Does that mean that opposing Work for Dole marks you as being "definitively on the left"?

Work for Dole is just a job-creation scheme, and job-creation schemes don't work.

Posted by Richard : 1/29/2007 04:06:00 PM

Now Richard - a party of fringe loonies whose membership could meet in a phone booth is rather difficult to place on a left-right spectrum, so we should leave the Libertarianz out of this.

However, I do try to educate libertarians when possible, so here's a response. You pull the usual libertarian trick of defining reality to suit your point, rather than vice-versa. Consider for a moment: suppose I/S writes that bleeding-heart liberals oppose longer prison sentences, and I write crowing that I, a fascist, oppose longer prison sentences and am therefore, by I/S' criterion, actually a liberal. It's a somewhat pointless boast if the assembled readership is aware that I only oppose longer prison sentences because I'd prefer the death penalty by summary execution to be applied to most crimes. Likewise, your attempt to ridicule I/S' point by claiming that it defines the Libz as definitely on the left only holds up if we ignore the following salient fact: the Libz only oppose work for the dole because they oppose the dole.

You might want to consider whether the desire to "punish the poor" doesn't rather accurately sum up your party's approach, putting them very thoroughly on the right. You may consider that punishment to be helping them, but that doesn't make you any lefter.

Posted by Psycho Milt : 1/29/2007 04:50:00 PM

Well, talking about "cheap shots" perhaps you could explain just where "no work for no dole sits"...

Because it reads more like your position is one of complete opposition to the dole, working or otherwise.

Are you trying to pretend otherwise?

Posted by Anonymous : 1/29/2007 04:51:00 PM

Oops, psycho milt just made my point. Which puts our Libz friend even more firmly in that bucket I mentioned before.

Richard, have you just come out of a boys school debating society?

Posted by Anonymous : 1/29/2007 04:53:00 PM

your position is one of complete opposition to the dole, working or otherwise

Yes, that's right. Work for No Dole or No Work for No Dole - it's your choice.

Lots more abuse, but little progress on explicating the left/right distinction...

Psycho Milt says that the Libertarianz Party "is rather difficult to place on a left-right spectrum" but doesn't say why.

He says that a desire to punish the poor puts one "very thoroughly on the right". But there isn't anyone in New Zealand politics who wants to "punish the poor". Treating the unemployed the same as the rest of us - people who work for a living - is not punishment.

Posted by Richard : 1/29/2007 05:46:00 PM

Thanks for the clarification Richard. Guess what, you also fall into the "I don't give a shit" bucket and you are also pretty easily defined as extreme right wing economically. The abuse you sense is disdain for your attempts to "prove" a point with puerile silliness

Your totally free market economics demand that people get chucked out of work as circumstances change and the economy retains its flexibility (shocks happen, things change, new skills are required, old skills are not - get the drift).

Despite this expectation of occasional destitution visited on those 3 to 10% who meet this economic necessity you are willing only to recognise their individual "fault" in their generally temporary strained circumstances.

Therein lies your hypocrisy.

So, nothing hard about that, was there? What made you think you were so outside the spectrum again?

Posted by Anonymous : 1/29/2007 05:59:00 PM

Guess what, you also fall into the "I don't give a shit" bucket

I believe that we each have a moral obligation to help the genuinely needy - including those who are temporarily out of work and in financial difficulty due to the operation of the free market. I believe in, and practise, voluntary charity - not state-sanctioned coercion.

and you are also pretty easily defined as extreme right wing economically.

Anonymous, you still haven't said what "right-wing" means, and I don't think you can. I don't think you understand the concept, you just like to use "right-wing" as a term of abuse, abuse being your forte.

Posted by Richard : 1/29/2007 06:31:00 PM

I agree that job creation schemes do not work.

I don't believe that "work for the dole" necessarily involves creating job creation schemes.

NRT, I simply don't understand your claim that the unemployed are victims of monetary policy. Are you just applying random economic terms to your argument, or what?

Inflation has consistently been low over the past sixteen years. We have reached a stage of full employment, with widespread skills shortages in both unskilled and skilled employment markets.

It is a simple and basic fact--which, if you actually had the courage to walk through Otara or Cannons Creek--that there are many people who are victims of welfare dependency. They do not work mainly because they are psychologically unable to work. They are not sickness beneficiaries. They are not any less intelligent than you or I. They are not physically or mentally ill. They simply come from multiple generations of families that have never worked in their lives.

These people, as long as they remain on welfare, are incapable of functioning in normal society. It is not normal to be on welfare, consuming illegal drugs. It is not normal to be on welfare in a state of constant alcoholic stupour. It is not normal to be on welfare, subjected to domestic violence, poor education, health, and housing outcomes, and an existence of no hope.

The purpose of work for the dole is not to immediately move a welfare-dependent beneficiary into a job. It is to move them psychologically out of welfare. Do all the liberal finger-wagging as you like. You pinkos thrive on a welfare-dependent society.

It doesn't work. It fails all of us.

Posted by Insolent Prick : 1/29/2007 07:15:00 PM

Richard - I suggest that you read Ronald Inglehart's Modernization and Postmodernization for an explanation of the left-right divide.

IP - the evidence shows that working for the dole schemes prevent people from getting jobs and being completely un-reliant on the state. Surely it would be better (from your point of view) that these people find their own jobs than being given menial tasks to do?

Posted by Anonymous : 1/29/2007 07:51:00 PM

G7 - hey, thanks. I've added it to my reading list. From the review here, it sounds fascinating.

Posted by Richard : 1/29/2007 09:23:00 PM

Unfortunately in this world of victim-hood (where even paying them a subsistence makes them a victim) we've forgotten the essential qualities of struggle, hardship and triumph.

The Maori Party are saying their people can break the cycle. If they want to take it, we owe them that chance.

Posted by Anonymous : 1/29/2007 10:03:00 PM

IP - The monetary policy that (I assume) I/S is referring to is the mechanism whereby the Reserve Bank adjusts interest rates to maintain a deliberate pool of unemployment. Brian Easton (amongst others)has written extensively about the process and mechanism.
The principle is that full employment is considered undesirable because lack of available labour then becomes an economic bottleneck. The 'solution' is to manipulate interest rates to 'cool off' the economy when unemployment falls too far. This has been Reserve Bank policy since the 80's.
Now if the state is intentionally *creating* a pool of unemployed, it's absurd to blame those affected, and inhumane not to provide them a living allowance. It's true that individuals may rise above their circumstances and obtain work etc through motivated effort, but it's simply impossible in this type of economic regime for everyone to obtain work.

Posted by Anonymous : 1/30/2007 08:22:00 AM

Ah yes, the "genuinely needy". I wondered when the "deserving poor" phrases would be trotted out. All we need is you, Diane Foreman and Roger Kerr to tell us which individuals are deserving and which are not.

The case you and IP are making about people dependent on benefits just is not born out by, you know, facts. The facts are, if there is work the vast majority of unemployed folk take it. That is why unemployment has fallen from over 10% to under 4%. In the 80s when unemployment was high we had your sort telling folks to "get on their bikes and find work" when there was no fucking work and the likes of Don Brash and co. knew that. Now there *is* work, guess what, people are taking it...

You pick a minute portion of the population who you feel are "undeserving" and take a hug stick to apply to the rest of the population doing far more harm than good.

I am not quite sure why you object to your economic policies being described as "right wing". They have been standard RW mantra for over 20 years now (longer if you go back to the halcyon days of Queen Victoria). Left wing parties tend to favour a less judgmental view of people receiving state support figuring that in the medium term destitution is bad and costly for the health of society.

These labels are broad and of course there are nuances and positions that span the spectrum of ideas and, hopefully, evidence. Richard and IP are at an extreme end which basis policy on gut instinct more than anything else.

By all means, be my guest and change the labels.

Posted by Anonymous : 1/30/2007 09:36:00 AM

Why the surprise, or the disapproval, over Pita and co being "Not Left?" Given that they call themselves the Maori Party and not the Left Party, I would expect that they are more concerned about achieving results for their people than having their policies fit into one or other ideological framework.

Posted by Anonymous : 1/30/2007 10:57:00 AM

"we each have a moral obligation to help the genuinely needy...I believe in, and practise, voluntary charity - not state-sanctioned coercion."

And what happens to the genuinely needy if the voluntary charity of you and your fellow selfless wealthy isn't sufficient to meet even the bare minimum of their needs for food, shelter, and healthcare? Plenty of people are happy to ignore their moral obligations, or disagree that such obligations even exist, so the burden placed on such paragons of virtue as yourself in the absence of state intervention would be quite large.

Posted by Commie Mutant Traitor : 1/30/2007 11:06:00 AM

Peter, have a look at the expectations of those that voted for the MP. They gave their party vote to Labour. One would expect some economic alignment at least and if not, it is pertinent to point that out clearly to those voters.

I also think that if they want to try out WFD then they are hypocritical to ask that it be applied across the board. Try it out on their supporters and if works out so damn well then the rest of us can have a second (third) look, ok.

Other than that, of course no-one expects the MP to be 'Labour' light.

Posted by Anonymous : 1/30/2007 02:36:00 PM

I agree that job creation schemes do not work. I don't believe that "work for the dole" necessarily involves creating job creation schemes.

You're confused then. Have a lie-down.

In terms of schemes that actually deliver people in real jobs, rather than makework on the public purse, Work & Income actually has some real success stories: for example, in the course of the Pacific Wave scheme, Pacific Island unemployment in Auckland halved. The rate for PIs under 25 fell by two thirds. And them's real jobs.

Posted by Russell Brown : 1/30/2007 05:32:00 PM

Before you start getting all hoha about this, may I point you out to a Maori Party press release saying that benifits should be raised to minimum wage, and accessibility to courses such as Taskforce green, conservation corps, LSV, be made easier.

Im not opposed to work-for-the dole schemes in principle, but the work has to be meaningful, and not digging ditches for $150 a week.

Posted by Anonymous : 1/30/2007 11:04:00 PM