Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Competing on cruelty

The right-wing message calendar is clearly reading "cruelty" today, because both National and NZ First have released beneficiary-bashing policies. National is promising a "traffic light" system to police and kick beneficiaries, which will no doubt be accompanied by arbitrary internal targets to classify people as "orange" or "red" to keep the police and kickers busy (and cut costs). Meanwhile, Winston, a zombie sitting pretty on his UBI, has announced a two year lifetime time limit on jobseeker benefits.

This is pretty dubious for unemployment, equating to a 4.4% working lifetime average unemployment rate. How the Reserve Bank feels about that is unclear, but given that their job is literally periodically throwing people out of work to save rich people's yacht money "the economy", their opinion seems kindof important. Its also unclear how it would survive a s19 BORA challenge for indirect discrimination, given that some groups suffer higher unemployment due to systematic discrimination, and therefore can be expected to have a higher lifetime average unemployment rate and so be harshly impacted by the policy. But jobseeker benefits are also for disabled people, and there Winston's policy descends into pure nonsense. A two year lifetime limit on permanent disability? What part of "permanent" do you not understand?

But then, its not supposed to make sense, let alone work. It's just supposed to be performatively cruel, to attract the votes of vicious arseholes who can only feel good from the suffering of those "below" them. And when some other government has to clean up the resulting social mess, that's all the better, because that can then be criticised as "cuddles" and "waste", and they're off for another round on the cruelty wagon (which is probably a Ford Ranger).

It is appalling that in just six short years we've gone from "kindness" to parties competing on viciousness. And it really makes you wonder about what is wrong with our political class, that it produces so many vicious arseholes. And what is wrong with us, that people keep voting for them.