Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The return of the nasty party

The government has released its latest welfare "reforms" - and as floated last year, they centre on forcing sick people to work, parents to ignore their children, and the long-term unemployed to re-apply after a year in the explicit hope that the new administrative barrier will cause some of them to fall through the cracks. Not only is this simply nasty - it is also (in the case of work-testing DPB recipients) ignoring the lessons of history. As was pointed out during the 2008 election campaign, MSD's evaluation [PDF] of solo parent work-testing from last time National imposed it found that it made them worse off and led to child welfare problems. That's why Labour reversed that policy: because it was actively bad for kids.

Then there's the question of where the jobs these people are supposed to do are going to be coming from. We're in a recession, and unemployment is at a 15-year high. Under these circumstances, imposing work requirements on beneficiaries is simply sadism. But again, that's the point: by making demands which are near-impossible to meet, the government will be able to throw these people off their benefits, thus cutting welfare costs. As for the actual welfare of those people or their kids, well, this government doesn't care about that. Tax cuts for their rich mates and "shrinking the size of the state" are more important than whether every New Zealander has food, clothing, and a roof over their heads.

This is a nasty, sadistic move, by a nasty, sadistic government. And it shows that despite its spin and PR, national hasn't changed. They're still the nasty party, just like they were in the 90's.