Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Trickle-down doesn't work

Up until this year, the government's chief "plan" to address poverty and inequality has been to do nothing, tell the poor to get jobs (while deliberately keeping unemployment high to keep interest rates low) and pretend that economic growth would help. The problem? It doesn't work, and they know it:

In the paper dated 1 February 2013, officials wrote that the Government had a credible and wide ranging programme to address poverty which targeted a number of its causes and effects.

"The Government's primary approach for addressing child poverty is to promote social mobility through paid employment driven by economic growth, clear work expectations and improved educational performance while ensuring that New Zealand's social security safety net continues to support people who cannot support themselves."

In last year's release the following paragraph was deleted, but this time it has been included.

It reads: "However, in the short- to medium-term this programme is not likely to result in a large reduction in measured child poverty using an incomes or material deprivation basis. Recent experience with the Working for Families package has shown that it is possible to achieve significant direct reduction in poverty, but doing so requires significant additional investment."

But despite being told that their policy was ineffective, the government refused to change it. Instead, they kept up the same failed policy until John Campbell forced child poverty onto the political agenda. Then, they did the least they thought they could get away with (which was, to be fair, vastly better than anything Labour had done or planned to do). You'd almost get the impression that they just didn't care about the poor at all, except insofar as it might affect their polling...

Meanwhile, this also shows us how the OIA's protection of "free and frank expressions of opinion" is routinely abused by Ministers. Advice of a policy's drawbacks and failures is redacted, while advantages and successes are released. The result is to turn official information into just another propaganda tool for Ministers. This is not the purpose of the Act, and it further calls National's implementation of it into question.