Friday, August 19, 2005

How Labour gave me Money and Persuaded me not to Vote for Them

The extension to the Working for Families package has me absolutely furious. I loathe it. Yes, we personally will be better off, by a small but significant amount. And I'd like to be the first to say, I'll give that back and you give it to the family of a beneficiary. They have it harder than we do, and I know, because that used to be us.

The underlying principle is quite sound. The initial WFF package is what finally made it financially viable to move off a benefit into working. There were a bunch of changes in circumstances too, like our kids being old enough to get themselves to and from school, and we would have done it anyway because like the vast majority of people, we want to be self-supporting. But at a real tax rate of 102% on anything over $80 a week... well, it's not exactly an incentive.

This, however. Please, give me one good reason why this assistance shouldn't extend to beneficiaries. One. Why are we discriminating against kids on the basis of their parents' income source? Why are we giving assistance to people who pull in $75 000 a year, before the very poorest?

I know there's an unlying desire to punish people for being on benefits. And I could just, if I tried really hard, see the justification in that for people on the UB. Even though we have the lowest unemployment rate in the OECD, and no-one seems to seriously believe full employment is possible any more. But sickness and invalids beneficiaries? They're on those benefits because they have proven (perhaps not to the righteous Right, but to two medical professionals, one of whom is paid by WINZ) that they are too sick to work. We don't feel the need to punish people for being too old to work.

It's no-one's fault that they're too sick to work. It's certainly not their kids' fault. (Heh, okay, in my case, you can make quite the case for it being my daughter's fault.) It's a struggle, physically and mentally, to raise children when you're ill. Why should it be a vicious financial struggle as well? Most medical conditions, even the purely physical, are aggravated by stress. A more comfortable financial environment may make people more likely to recover.

We're about to take our first proper family holiday ever. This is the first time we've been able to afford it. We're not well off by any stretch, but I don't have to worry about basics like clothing or stress over uniforms, stationery, etc. I'd give up this extra now to have it back then, when we needed it.


Anonymous Sethop said...

Well, speaking as a pragmatist, Labour made a good call by not including beneficiaries. That would have cost them votes in the center at the expense of carving into the Green vote, which they can ill afford to do! I doubt they have anything like an ideological unity on this point within the party so the pragamatic line was definitely the one to take.

Speaking as an idealist, good on you for thinking of others and not being swayed by the slight cash up front benefit to your family. I must admit as a chap with no plans to breed, this whole WFF thing irks me a bit too, but for different reasons!

I understand the logic of basing tax relief on need, but I would be vastly more happy if they didn't extend any benefits past 2 children - I think having more than two dependent children is an unnacceptable lifestyle choice if you can't afford to pay for it! But I guess that sort of limit is what would get them called for "societal engineering", and certainly wouldn't appeal to the Catholic vote...bah.

8:16 am  
Anonymous Sayana said...

We get nothing from Labour (being of the 'childless couple' variety of voters. We would be slightly better off under National (as far as tax cuts go - under any other heading, not so much, I think).

Quite frankly, I'd rather both parties took all that money and put it into health, education etc.

9:21 pm  
Anonymous ruthless capitalist pig-dog scum said...

At least those who are truly on the left can see labour's disgusting vote buy- welfare for the middle class- for what it truly is. There is absolutely no targeting of need, merely targeting of those voters they think might be wavering.

In addition to not targeting need, it's completely fiscally irresponsible, severely punishes the (completely valid) decision not to have kids and gives people incentive to have more children than they can really afford.

So the true left are in agreement with us heartless suits on the right. Labour will do anything to remain in power. And you thought we were the darkside ;)

10:09 pm  
Blogger Joe Hendren said...

I agree - by excluding beneficaries it is clear WFF is not based on need. Labour is just buying into a culture of beneficary bashing.

One could say this is merely an extension of a principle introduced in Rich Richardson's mother of all budgets - increase the gap between the poor and the working poor.

5:52 pm  
Blogger stephenbrash said...

There is only party to trust:
The Anti Capitalist Alliance Party: ACA won't be a running dog to capitalism like the greens, alliance and labor.

12:05 am  
Blogger Comrade_Tweek said...

Sorry, Stephen....but...yawn....

9:44 am  
Anonymous Up and to the left said...

I think you're both right and wrong Capitalist Pig Dog - certainly Labour is targeting swing voters at the moment, but they have done quite a lot for "the base" in the last 6 years so I think they should be given a bit of slack in the name of preventing Brash "doing what President Bush would have done" and breaking the economy, screwing the workers, and making a massive intergenerational transfer of cash from todays kids (who will have to clean up his mess and pay all the debts) directly to his golfing buddies.

11:42 pm  
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