Mike's Minute: Welfare can't be a lifestyle

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Mon, 24 May 2021, 9:55AM

Mike's Minute: Welfare can't be a lifestyle

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Mon, 24 May 2021, 9:55AM

I don’t want to dwell on the Budget.

But if there is one thing that was missed as the two camps reacted to the handouts for benefits and beneficiaries, it's that the point was completely missed. We are talking about it all wrong.

Camp one, it wasn’t enough, and it wasn’t transformational. Camp two, the gap between welfare and work is too little and therefore you're going to have massive labour issues on top of the labour issues we already have.

But surely the point is the context. I wouldn't mind if welfare was more generous, if it was used the way welfare is supposed to be used.

If welfare was a genuine emergency, a genuine stop-gap, entered into with a belief that there is no way you want to be on it and you're doing all you can to get off it, within weeks if not a month or two max, then why not make it generous? Why not soften the blow of a lost job?

But that’s not the way it's seen anymore, if in fact, it was ever seen that way at all. The reason the money handed out last Thursday is not "transformational" is because too many receiving it aren't on it temporarily. They are on it long-term, if not permanently.

I watched those the news services had lined up saying it would help. It will buy some lunch for the kids, someone was buying a car to drive their kids to school, and someone else was hopping on the bus to go somewhere nice with the kids for the weekend.

In other words, they had seen it as a pay rise.

No one said, "it's been hard for the past 6 weeks but fortunately my new job starts Monday, so any raise will simply help cover the gap and pay the bills that have piled up a bit since I got laid off."

You never heard that because for far too many it isn't like that.

The reason it isn't like that is a multi-faceted social mess that many a government has tried to untangle but failed. What we have ended up with is a welfare state that is growing and an expectation that is shrinking.

Socialism is dangerous in this area. Ask the 36-plus states that are dropping Joe Biden's enhanced welfare because they can't get people into work the states that are re-engaging their demands that if you're on welfare, you look for work and prove it, or else your benefit is cut.

The simple truth in this country is there are record levels of job ads and yet thousands on long-term welfare.

Make welfare a genuine stop-gap and make it generous. But as long as it's a lifestyle for too many, we will reap what we socially sow.