Government's welfare reforms just too timid


By Michael Laws

You know the world is out of whack if the liberal left starts complaining when the Government is giving it something for nothing. But such was the reaction from various beneficiary groups at the prospect they no longer need pay for the pill, an IUD, or a novelty condom designed to stop babies.

The reaction was one of universal scorn, of an insult to their right to unprotected, drunken sex with anyone who might produce progeny.

It was the most curious rerun of the Vatican's view that every sperm is sacred. In this case, especially if you are on welfare.

I must admit to a similar outrage. But mine was that of a taxpayer, and that I was denied more free stuff simply because I work. Far from making welfare unattractive, it made it even more desirable. Stay on a benefit and let the Government subsidise your sex life.

Conservative Party leader Colin Craig said as much, and was slapped down by everybody as some sort of wowser. He proclaimed New Zealand women were among the world's most promiscuous, and hardly needed encouragement to go horizontal.

Ironically, he was criticised for being both correct, and judgmental. Feminist groups reckoned other countries' sisters were looser, while asserting the rights of women to sleep around. Most heterosexual men merely smiled. Of course there were other wrinkles to the policy.

It is not just beneficiaries who will get free contraceptives from October, but their 16 to 19-year-old daughters, even if they are at school or working, and no-one is offering guys vasectomies or similar, despite Social Development Minister Paula Bennett's reply to Craig that rutting men who father kids with numerous women are the real problem.

I'm delighted the Government has adopted a policy position I've always advocated – that only women can get pregnant, so only women should take responsibility for contraception.

The idea that males should second guess some exotic situation has always bemused. Conception and therefore contraception are the exclusive preserve of women. Nature has decreed it.

We recognise this reality in other forums too. Women can choose to have an abortion no matter what the father wants. His view is irrelevant. And Kiwi women have abortions by the bucketload, some 16,600 a year – an incredible number whatever one's moral stance.

There is another reality to factor in. No matter the availability of contraceptives, most kids are born unplanned. Humankind seems never to have got the link between action and consequence when it comes to sex.

Although the idea that our own parents similarly lost control still gives us shudders, it should be a pointer. Beneficiaries suddenly won't stop producing kids simply because Family Planning will no longer apply its minor charge.

And Monday's announcement still doesn't deal with the real scandal behind most child abuse in this country. Namely that the welfare system is still geared to encourage some to breed. The lack of targeted compulsion in Bennett's announcement was precisely its weakness.

It is that timidity that underscores all this Government's so-called welfare reforms. This National administration has laboured, and gained electoral approval, only to produce a sprat. A mere tinkering at the edges, no matter the faux outrage of the stroppy and voluble losers of the left.

The part-time work demand placed upon DPBs with children aged 5 and above is utterly dependent upon work being available. Most of this country's 110,000 domestic purpose beneficiaries actually want to work. Their problem is the market is incompatible with their skills or education or circumstance.

Or geography. If you want a welfare lifestyle head now to the areas of greatest socio-economic deprivation. Northland, the East Coast, Whanganui/Rangitikei and the like. There are few unskilled jobs in those areas. You'll be on the benefit forever, if that is your wish. At least there are nice beaches in Gisborne.

And no-one is going to require you to move or relocate. Another fundamental flaw in the Government's package. You can head up the Whanganui River and never come back, your welfare direct credited until you die.

No, this is a Government that has categorically fluffed and flubbed on welfare. Like Rob Muldoon with the gangs in the 1970s, a National administration has been handed a mandate and done nothing. If anything, it entrenches the lifestyle it wishes to eradicate providing more taxpayer dollars to reward the wrong choices.

Like breeding, there is still no correlation between action and consequence.

It has listened too much to its Wellington policy advisers and the politically correct lobby groups that litter welfare policy. Both have shut out the hard-working taxpayer from a say upon how their taxes are being spent.

Nothing is going to change. A grand opportunity has been missed.

Sunday Star Times, 13th May 2012.

source: data archive