Benefit policy: Another value judgment
Posted August 19, 2008on:
Following our discussion of one possible value judgment associated with benefit policy I’ve decided to have a crack at another one. Now note that what I say here is not necessarily my opinion – a fact that should be obvious given that it is completely different from my last post.
This post will be based on an article by Nigel Pinkerton in the Dom post on Saturday (link here). Furthermore, we will start off by discussing the same line as we did last time from the press article:
It is widely accepted now that long-term dependency on welfare benefits should be avoided where possible
Lets see what we come up with:
Should we avoid long-term dependence – hell yes. Outside of the case where people have to have assistance (eg the disabled) long term reliance on a benefit does not make sense.
As long as wages are allowed to change sufficiently, there is no such thing as “long-term unemployment” – all the unemployment we see is transitional (or temporarily structural). The best thing the government can do is remove “barriers” and thereby improve responsiveness of the labour market to changes in economic conditions.
The purpose of the unemployment benefit is to act as a security net for when the economy slow, or changes occur that make peoples skills irrelevant. However, it is not a way of life.
By allowing people to stay on the benefit in the long-term, we are giving them the option to avoid work – now people don’t like to work, so if you can get the same payoff from sitting around watching the Olympics why wouldn’t you. This is the type of dependence we should be trying to avoid – as these are people who could add value to society, but don’t!
Comeon though, hardly anyone is long-term unemployed – where is the dependence?
The “dependence” on government hand-outs – which are not related to the value you add to society or how hard you work, has increased substantially under Labour – even if the number of long-term unemployed has slumped.
The reason for this is Working for Families. Following WFF, large sections of the middle, and even upper-middle class have become dependent on a government handout. This process of taking peoples money and then giving it back to them is a gigantic waste of money. Furthermore, by increasing marginal tax rates, this policy decreases the incentive to work – and ultimately reduces the size of New Zealands economic pie.
It is the people that work in this country that create the wealth. However, an increasing culture of dependency will make it more difficult to generate this wealth, to the detriment of us all.
This time I argued that long-term welfare dependency is exactly the sort of factor we should fight against (As compared to last time when I said it was a straw man).
As I have already said, this is not necessarily my point of view at all, so try to avoid personally attacking me I’ve just tried to make a slightly coherent argument to reach a certain point of view.
Now, is anyone keen to raise a different point of view, or argue any of the specific assumptions. Remember, the focus is this part of the quote:
long-term dependency on welfare benefits should be avoided where possible