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Contact:
Foundation for Economic Growth,
P.O. Box 10-282,
Wellington, N.Z.
Email
The Foundation for Economic Growth is a group of like-minded individuals who have decided to act rather than accept New Zealand's continuing poor economic performance. The Foundation is not affiliated with any political party. Add Your Comments Here.

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Most recent update: Mar 3rd, 2014 - 11:01:36

Welfare
Un-PC Thinking on Unemployment

We have suffered some strange thinking from our employees in parliament over the last few decades. A classic case is the legislation for same sex marriages where one clause held that if two females married and one of them had a child then the other was to be called the father. I don’t remember the reverse situation where two married males had a child and one had to be called the mother – but logic would suggest that this would be the complete picture. Every child with a “mother” and a “father”!

People forget how strange PC thinking is but when we see it happening in real life we begin to feel as if we are with Alice in Wonderland. How on Earth did we get to employ such twisted thinkers into parliament? It takes a real effort to think about real problems and discuss them rationally with words meaning what the dictionary says they mean. But unless we make the effort then the “Word Twisters” will win and we will all become “Politically Correct”.

It seems that politically correct means that when a politician is wrong but insists on being correct they re-brand words and become politically correct; wrong in fact but correct in politics. Eventually they get so strange that the population bursts out in howls of laughter and some action (but only the minimum) is taken.

And so it is with unemployment. Now we all have visions of starving peasants begging in the streets and some of us who have traveled may have seen such things. This is a bad thing and we would certainly not wish to see that in New Zealand so when our economy goes awry and jobs are in short supply we feel duty-bound to assist those who have lost their jobs. What strikes me as odd is that we think that instead of finding work for them to do we should just give them money.

People like working. It provides a sense of achievement and satisfaction. Why should we take this away from people? I remember the case of a young chap who was a bit of a slow thinker and had special education and assistance from the rest of us but he wanted a real job so that he would feel like a normal fellow and go to work each day doing something useful and achieving success. Eventually the Council of Dunedin found him a job collecting rubbish which was blowing around the hills. This worked fine until Mrs Dogooder decided that this was a demeaning job and that he would be better off not working but being paid anyway on a benefit. It was interesting because they were all interviewed on TV and the young chap was very annoyed to lose his job because he was no longer needed. He went from being an important fellow with a job which earned money and praise to sitting, doing nothing. Mrs Dogooder obviously knew very little about human nature.

Everybody is better off if everybody is working at paid employment. Workers get money and a sense of self-worth and self-belief. We do not have a section of the population who are not working and then turn to mischief or crime. Everybody is the same. If one doesn’t particularly like one’s job, one can always change it. If a new job needs more education then we have plenty of capacity for providing that – how it is done must be the subject of another discussion. But essentially we should have all people the same and working in a job that pays wages. The question is, “How do we do it”?

There will always be people who are unemployed, either temporarily or because they cannot get the first job after leaving school. What we need is a useful job that anyone can do, that is worth paying wages rather than giving a benefit and which does not interfere with normal commerce. We need a job that is available at all cities and towns around the country so that no-one is obliged to shift home.
After considerable thought and discussion it seems to me that there is a useful job that needs doing and that private enterprise is not involved at present.

New Zealand is rated as a very beautiful country yet when we drive along the roads to and from our cities we pass many ugly sights and very ordinary looking road-sides. In the interest of enhancing our beauty and making New Zealand even more beautiful and attracting even more high paying tourists we would do well to plant trees along the roads – starting with the ones leaving town.

This would mean that as we drove from town we would leave through avenues of our best native and/or sections of foreign trees forming a beautiful vista unknown anywhere else in the world. When we arrive in a new town we would likewise come in through their particular brand of beauty. All the towns and cities would have a vested interest in having beautiful roadways in and out of town. Towns might even start vying for the prize of having the most beautiful roads.

But, how to pay for it? Believe it or not we are already paying for it – it is just not being done. The money that is now being paid out as a benefit should be made available to towns so that they can add workers – at a suitably small hourly rate - to their work force in the Parks and Reserves departments. These workers would be involved in all aspects of growing seedlings, then trees ready for final planting then going into the country and lining our roads with avenues of beautiful trees.

Because there would be no unemployment benefit there would also be no need for any bureaucrats to manage this department. They could be allowed to move into the real world and if all else fails they can join in with the tree growing project and exercise their managerial skills in producing the most tree lined road for their town’s dollar.

Lots of the jobs would not need much skill or training or even much physical strength so many people who are currently feeling unappreciated on the sickness or the invalid benefit could join in the fun and be useful.
All this enterprise, if handled right, would give the participants a new lease of life. They would have a genuinely useful job earning a genuine pay packet and be much appreciated by all and sundry to boot.

We could arrange competitions between towns of similar size and have national winners in various classes. Reducing the bureaucracy in the sickness/invalid area would provide handsome prizes and money for the winning teams. This effort would produce a feel good sensation around the country.

Some of the reduction in centralised bureaucrats would pay for the small increase in costs at the local town hall so town rates would not change. No beneficiaries, no benefit department soaking up millions in salaries and benefits for bureaucrats, one less job for politicians to worry about and make into a continual mess. We might even be able to do with one less politician! What a saving that would be.

So with this system everyone would have a job. If you couldn’t get anything else you would always be able to join the beautification brigade and make the roads into the most beautiful sight in the world. If the current unemployment benefit pays $160 a week then we should be able to pay $5 per hour so that workers could earn $200 per week for a normal 40 hour week. We could even allow overtime on Saturday morning for those that were keen and had done their 40hours. This could be at the rate of $7.50 per hour and give them an additional $30 per week. $230 instead of $160 sounds like a good deal.

Any workers who wanted time off would of course be free to take what time they needed to do what ever they wanted – they just would not be paid if they were not working. Those who had worked for 3 months would be entitled to one week off on full pay as a holiday. These weeks could be accumulated for up to one year to give four weeks paid holiday per year.

Any worker who needed time to study could take what time they needed. Time off for a job interview for a better job would not be a problem. The worker in this special job could take off whatever time they chose. They just wouldn’t be paid for hours not worked.

What a simple system. It would cost no more than the present system and maybe even less if we can reduce the bureaucracy sufficiently. Everyone is a worker. Shirkers don’t get paid. Young people working for a living are not getting into trouble because they are bored sitting around doing nothing. We would be engendering a spirit of competition between towns which would enhance community belongingness. The kids would be proud of their work and would be involved in creating beauty instead of defacing buildings with graffiti.

It is all benefit (excuse the pun) and no down-side. At no cost we beautify every road in the land and make New Zealand the most beautiful place on earth. Everyone has a job and a sense of purpose. If you don’t like the “tree” job then use your initiative and get a different one just as everybody does at present when they want a change. This would teach self reliance better than anything else.

Think about it!


Nov 23, 2005, 13:16

Welfare
Economist and the Welfare State

Here is an interesting article from The Economist about taxes in the Welfare State. Again we see discussion of how our tax systems seem to work by taking money from the workers and redistributing it around other workers and the shirkers. Thus providing great incentives not to work and developing a "black" economy where we all do "perk jobs" with payment in cash on the side or in kind. The introduction of Welfare For Families is pushing us further in this direction and will reduce growth in our economy.


May 8, 2004, 09:59

Welfare
What is poor in world terms?

Can we continue with low rates of growth for the next fifty years? If we do then our most vulnerable citizens will lag further and further behind the poverty level of first world countries. Low growth affects the poor worst.


May 6, 2004, 21:02