We have to dismantle our social welfare system because it is fundamentally flawed.
Welfare in New Zealand is no longer a safety net but has become a web of destruction for families. The worst affected are vulnerable children and teenagers.
New Zealand is ignominiously in first place in the developed world for teenage suicide. We also have one of the highest rates of child abuse in the developed world and one of the worst rates of child death by maltreatment within the family.
It is no coincidence that 16% of our children live in jobless households putting us third highest in the developed world.
We know that sole parenthood and long-term welfare dependency are two of the most serious risk factors for children.
We also know our current welfare system is not moving enough able-bodied beneficiaries off welfare and into work.
Welfare was designed in 1938 by Richard Seddon’s Labour government to ensure every New Zealand family achieved a minimum standard of living following the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Interestingly at that time, we had a “make work” scheme in place whereby work was provided to the unemployed on government projects during the depression.
The depression days are long gone but welfare dependency remains a way of life for our third generation welfare dependent families.
Advocates of welfare-dependents rail against labelling them freeloaders saying they are decent people who just need a hand up. This ignores the lack of self-worth that keeps them on welfare and can only be addressed by taking individual responsibility for becoming a contributing member of the community.
It’s all about the mindset. A flawed mindset of entitlement has been passed on to successive generations of freeloaders.
And we, the hardworking members of our community are subsidising a welfare system that is working against us as a nation.
Instead of being the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff our welfare system is a bus full of freeloaders heading off the cliff into despair, depression, teenage suicide and child abuse.
Our welfare system does not give hope to children born into this cycle of dependency.
We like to think our education system is picking up the slack for dysfunctional families by teaching children skills to succeed in life. It isn’t.
No matter what our educationalists say, they cannot redress the problem because they are not family. A child learns from their family not by what the adults around them say but what they do.
A child of a single mother will become a single mother herself despite sex education in schools if this is the only family model she knows.
It will be harder for a child of welfare to gain the life skills necessary to achieve employment if there are no working role models in the family.
The two parent family in New Zealand has fewer children than the welfare dependent family because the cost and time required to prepare their children for adulthood is well recognised by hardworking parents wanting a future for their children.
Until we address the poor family model supported by our welfare system we will continue to see New Zealand lead the developed world in child abuse and teenage suicide statistics.
We need to dismantle the welfare system to give our children a hope and a future.
The unemployment benefit should be phased out. “Make work” schemes similar to the 1930s should be implemented and run by the government or private enterprise or both.
In practice, removal of benefits would require a huge step up from food banks and relief agencies as benefits were phased out. This alternative support network would operate out of charity not entitlement.
It’s also time to disincentivise solo parent families by phasing out the domestic purposes benefit. Although we are accustomed to the solo parent family research proves a child does better with two parents.
The goal is to replace the mindset of entitlement with a mindset of hard work and charity. That is, if you are able to, you should work. You work to support your family and also help those around you in need. This is charity. It builds community.
Then we come to state housing. Implemented in 1905 as a subsidy for workers dwellings it has morphed into heavily subsidised housing.
In Auckland we saw protests from Glen Innes residents asked to move out of their state-funded homes, now sitting on prime real estate, by government agencies needing to free up cash to accommodate more families needing housing.
These beneficiaries believed they were entitled to live in a community of their choice even though they were not financially paying their way. Another example of the entitlement mentality we have fostered.
As Auckland groans under the weight of insufficient housing, it becomes a financial reality that housing needs to be further out.
After all, if working families can’t afford to live in Glen Innes why should the beneficiary who is living off their taxes?
If you’re able-bodied but haven’t worked in, say, three years and are living in a state house you should be moved to a satellite city outside Auckland where we can affordably accommodate you. You will get a roof over your head but it won’t be on prime real estate.
The “make work” schemes would not predominantly be in Auckland central. Better to site them in cities and towns with affordable housing.
If you are a beneficiary and you know welfare benefits would be being phased out in a few years you’d have to seriously consider getting a job, where you could live and the number of children you could afford.
Take a look at the UK, a society very generous with welfare handouts and a magnet to third world migrants. If the generational welfare burden was not enough it is now collapsing under the socio-economic burden of EU-mandated-migrants. Could this be us in 20 years? Undoubtedly, unless we do something about it.