Monday, March 11, 2013
Lindsay Mitchell: Who's 'beneficiary bashing'?
Policies of (usually) the political Left though, like tobacco and alcohol taxes, supposed environmentally-friendly fuel and energy taxes, a proposed fat tax, or Labour's capital gains tax, actually do or will hurt the lowest income people the most. Does anybody cry 'beneficiary basher' when Tariana Turia ratchets up the price of a cigarette yet again? Despite Maori women being the most prolific users of welfare and the biggest users of tobacco?
I was just reading a paper that shows spending on alcohol and tobacco accounts for 10.7 percent of the incomes of those in the lowest quintile in the UK. The same paper shows how government interference in the housing market - and the UK has the same affordability problem as NZ - leads to high rents, again disproportionately hurting the working poor and beneficiaries. Do environmentalists seeking to prevent urban sprawl get called beneficiary bashers? Do climate change activists who campaigned for the ETS get called beneficiary bashers?
But offer free long-acting contraception to a beneficiary sole parent and her teenage daughter and you are not only a basher but a eugenicist! Everything aimed at trying to better the material and social lot of people on welfare and their children - work obligations for those able, short-term retention of benefit while transitioning into work, requirement to partake of child health and educational facilities, income management to ensure essentials get paid for - are all labelled punitive and beneficiary bashing.
Perhaps we should turn the term on the Left at every occasion they suggest making life financially tougher for those on low incomes, be they beneficiaries or workers (or both). Even BUY NZ could be construed as a beneficiary bashing campaign on the premise most cannot afford such indulgent nationalism. It'd be drawing a longish bow but isn't that what the Greens, Mana and Labour do every time they invoke the mantra?
at 9:17 PM