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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Submission To The Welfare Working Group (NZ)

The following is my submission (under the introduction and questions) to The Welfare Working Group on the benefit system in New Zealand (Dec 22, 2010).

"The Welfare Working Group has been asked to make recommendations to Government about how to reduce long-term benefit receipt. We would like your views on the practical options for change. We have identified a number of questions about the range of options for reducing long-term benefit receipt that we consider to be important when thinking about the benefit system. Your responses to these questions will help us develop our final recommendations to Government. When you are responding to the following questions your submission could consider:

* whether we have asked the right question;

* whether there are options that we haven't identified;

* which options will work to reduce long-term benefit dependence in a cost effective way; and

* which options are most likely to carry significant risks for the community and taxpayers, beneficiaries and employers."

1. What changes could New Zealand make to the structure of the benefit system to improve the focus on early intervention to reduce long-term dependency?

Get rid of the benefit. Introduce a base income for everybody.

2. What changes could New Zealand make to the structure of the benefit system to improve the focus on paid work?

Get rid of the benefit. Introduce a base income for everybody. Enable non-discriminatory support and advice to enhance the contributions of all people. Focus on people's fulfilment first, incomes second.

3. What changes do we need to the Unemployment Benefit to improve social and economic outcomes?

Get rid of the benefit. Introduce a base income for everybody. Focus on fulfilment first, income second.

4. What changes do we need to reduce long-term benefit dependency of sole parents and reduce child poverty?

Get rid of the benefit. Introduce a base income for everybody.

5. What changes do we need to reduce long-term benefit dependency of people on the Sickness Benefit and the Invalid’s Benefit?

Get rid of the benefit. Introduce a base income for everybody. A non-discriminatory, non-means tested base income enables everyone to contribute and heal. Provide whatever support you wish to further enhance and enable people's ability to contribute. Put fulfilment first over finance.

6. What changes do we need to reduce long-term benefit dependency among Māori?

Get rid of the benefit. Introduce a base income for everybody. And as above.

7. What changes do we need to reduce long-term benefit dependency of people who enter the benefit system at an early age?

Get rid of the benefit. Introduce a shared base income for everybody from as early as eleven years of age. Free people to contribute and to all be a part of our national income.

8. What changes do we need to financial incentives in the benefit system (including supplementary programmes) in order to reduce long-term benefit dependency and increase the uptake of paid work?

Introduce a shared base income – this is a base income made up from a half share of what is earned from trade in our goods and services. The base income is universal. It is never lost. Half of everything earned over the base income is retained, the other half is shared back into the base income that everyone shares in. In this system, there is no disincentive to the benefit as there is no benefit, and the base income is always retained.

The primary incentive is fulfilment in what we contribute - profit and income is a secondary factor of our contribution. The emphasis is on fulfilment as this should be what our system and its components facilitate. A system that emphasis the financial incentive over the incentive of fulfilment is dysfunctional.

On another front, open up organisations to enable contributions from diverse sources so more people can contribute more efficiently in more organisations. Distribute responsibility, share information, enable accountability and individual decision-making, and democratise collective decision-making.

9. What changes do we need to improve the approach to funding and delivery of employment and other services?

Open it up. Don't discriminate. And of course, get rid of the benefit and introduce a shared base income as a right that will hopefully force whatever institution remains (if any) to treat other people with respect.

10. What changes do we need to involve and support employers to achieve better employment outcomes for beneficiaries?

Getting rid of the benefit and introducing a shared base income makes the very dynamic of employers – employees, and beneficiaries, very different. We become members, equal members, of society, of organisations, and of the economy.

We should be looking at how we can increase fulfilment for all people via an economic, judicial, social and organisational system that focuses on this outcome. Keeping the focus on finance and full-time paid employee work simply ensures the same mistakes continue to be made and that we don't get a system that enables greatest fulfilment for everyone.

Creating a system that enables our greatest fulfilment via our best contributions is also a system that enables our greatest productivity, although it is fulfilment, not money which is the true measure of value.

11. What changes do we need to address fraud and abuse?

Get rid of the benefit and introduce a base income.

12. How should a new benefit system be introduced?

Don't. Get rid of it and introduce a base income. Explain the nature of our system and how this will, from now on, influence how we approach and improve it. Let it make sense.

13. What are the key components of a successful package of reform to reduce long-term benefit dependence?

Eliminating the benefit and introducing a shared base income.

14. Are there other questions and areas for change not discussed that are critical to reducing long-term benefit dependence within the scope of the Welfare Working Group’s Terms of Reference?

Eliminating the benefit and introducing a shared base income is not within your mandate. Your mandate is at fault. You can't sensibly improve the system if you are not examining it from the perspective of the whole system.

Ben Wallace
Author of The Common Purpose Manifesto

2 comments:

  1. hi there Ben, i'm 51yrs old, started working as soon as could walk, as I was bought up on a dairy farm, continued to work up until 12 mths ago due to kidney failure. Now I feel what the hell did I work for? you certainly don't get any acknowledgement for your contributions (taxes) over the years, i'm reduced to feel like a leach on society requiring an 'invalids' benefit, just the name is so demoralising. I have declined any medical help as I have no faith in our health system, as they are partly responsible for my kidney failure anyway - presciption drugs ; anti inflamatories etc. Whats the point to our existence, does anyone really give a shit any more, what a sad society this is. WINZ must be the most condescending and demoralising system there ever was, I am distressed and concerned for the future generations, I dont fully understand your concept on shared base income, but it sounds that it retains dignity for all which is a winner to me. NZ really needs people like you to bring about the changes desperately required, meanwhile our greedy, corrupt leaders are looking forward to driving around in $200,000 BMWs, thats so wrong and its abusive behavior. I pray that everyone wakes up and demands equality, and demands a massive change to the entire monetary system. lets be heard
    Debbie Boyland

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  2. An unconditional income recognises that we are all together in this world, and that we are all entitled to a common level of respect and dignity. It enables people to work in whatever capacity they can, recognising that there is a world of contribution which is unpaid but is still vital for the contribution it makes and the fulfilment it gives.

    I agree about WINZ - they award no-one any degree of common human decency. If they cannot help they won't, and if they must it is with contempt.

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