Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The do-nothing government

Just last month, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett was praising her "community max" scheme as the solution to youth unemployment. Today, she's killing it off:

A recession programme to help young people find jobs is being wound up, disappointing a council that took on young workers.

The Community Max programme was introduced by the Government last year and aimed at unskilled 16 to 24-year-olds with few or no qualifications.

It provided thousands of youths with six months' work placement on a community or environmental project. Work and Income subsidised each person's wages and also provided a training component of up to $1250 a person. It cost the Government $40.3 million.

So what's changed? Youth unemployment is still at a staggering 18.2%, compared with 10.8% before the recession (HLFS June 2010 and September 2008). Young people are still failing to find work. But the scheme has apparently reached its maximum 3,000 placements (less than 5% of the total number of unemployed young people), so that's that. Its a perfect example of National's arbitrary and ineffective policies for handling the recession, and the way they have been aimed more at presenting the impression that the government is Doing Something, without actually doing anything useful.

This isn't good enough. Faced with the worst recession in 80 years, the government has basically abandoned the public and done nothing, while helping themselves to tax-cuts and taxpayer-funded pinot. They're simply the modern incarnation of Nero or Marie Antoinette, telling us all to eat cake and fiddling while the economy burns. Kiwis expect better than that, and we should make that expectation plain at the next election.