Monday, May 29, 2023

Erase this odious debt!

The Herald reports that WINZ debt has reached the staggering total of $2.4 billion, with the usual racism and sexism in who owes and how much they pay:

Anti-poverty groups say the poorest Kiwis are caught in a debt trap as the total amount of money owed to the Government balloons to $2.4 billion.

More than $250 million is also owed to Inland Revenue by families who were overpaid their Working For Families tax credit.

The top 10 per cent of people with debt are paying on average $26 a week out of their benefits - higher than the Winter Energy Payment support - and with disproportionately higher rates of repayment for women and Māori.

Māori women owing debt to the Ministry of Social Development have a balance on average 50 per cent higher than Pākehā women and more than twice as high as Pākehā men.

The total amount of money owed to the Government - which includes loans for essentials ranging from clothing to household appliances and bill payments - has ballooned to $2.4b as of March.

As the last paragraph shows, this debt is odious, essentially imposed by the government as a consequence of its own policy failures. In a properly functioning welfare system, people would have enough to lead lives of dignity, and would not need to borrow for essentials. But New Zealand gave up on having a properly functioning welfare system long ago, and instead immiserates the poor with debt, which has the added bonus of counting as an asset on the government's books, helping to meet its net debt targets and keep mortgage rates for rich people low. It is simply immoral, and the government should erase it.