Judith Collins: Not Crushing the PC Brigade. Just (Mainly) Wrong

Jess Berentson-ShawTax and Welfare68 Comments

Judith Collins happily chucked her “Non-PC” views into the supercharged arena that is the current debate on low-income low opportunity families in New Zealand. What she had to say contained elements of truth. And because the story that is often told about low income families is far too simplistic, when someone steps up with a smattering of some complex truths scattered amongst the mythology it gets traction. So what did she say that was true, and what was myth?

The true bits

Judith Collins tells us that there is money available to everyone who needs it. She is (mostly) right. There is (some) money available for low-income families in New Zealand. Problem is there is not enough of it. Prior to the late 80s and early 90s in New Zealand we had a pretty solid welfare state in the sense that welfare provided more than the bare minimum of support for families who needed it. However in 1991, following mass unemployment after rapid deregulation of the New Zealand Economy, benefit rates were slashed drastically to below poverty lines and they have barely moved since. By most measures the number of children living in poverty rose at that time, and have stayed there since.

So there is money available, just not enough. To add insult to injury, there has been an insidious growth in the conditions and sanctions that come with benefits. These conditions are not based on any evidence that they improve outcomes for families or children, and instead can actually make families more stressed and less well off than ever. And stress as it turns out is the real problem in low-income, low opportunity families.

So Judith Collins is also right that with low incomes and few opportunities there comes as she puts it “a poverty of ideas”. The science tells us that the toxic impact of stress brought about by insufficient resources eats away at family relationships, even at babies and children’s physical development. The grinding stress of having to cover bills, keeping children warm & healthy, worry about whether casual work will become no work is certainly no good for optimal thinking or ideal family functioning.

But then Judith Collins gets it all so very very wrong.

We have previously covered the total lack of evidence for the misinformation that Judith Collins gave voice to. Most low-income parents are concerned deeply about their children’s welfare and want to do their best for them. We see this in research across numerous societies. In the UK for example when cash benefits increased for those on the lowest incomes as part of the child poverty package of the Blair Government, the cash was spent on the children. Clearly they are errors of fact that still have some palatability amongst those who like what Judith Collins has to say. However, she is also wrong in thinking that this is how most New Zealanders see the issue.

Actually the evidence tells us that most New Zealanders place great value on qualities including social justice, helpfulness, equality and respect for others. So they understand that most (not all) but most parents work hard for their children, love them, and want the best for them. They understand that those parents on low incomes with few opportunities find it very hard to deliver good outcomes for their children if the rope they get thrown is just that little too short and has bits of glass embedded in it.

How much is Minister Collins right and how much is she wrong?

Where is her evidence that the poor are bad parents? From what we can see there is none.

What we do know is that there are around 5000 children who have been removed from the legal care of their parents. We do know that not all these children are poor- abuse happens across society.

We also know that there is no evidence the state does a better job of looking after these kids than their parents did. If fact we know these are the kids who do worst in New Zealand.

So people in glass houses much?

If we do assume that the majority of these 5000 children are from low-income families (given the stress pathway there is a link between insufficient resources and parent/child relationships) lets put that in context. There are a number of robust measures of child poverty (despite silly claims to the contrary), but if we take the most severe groups (children who are both income poor and in severe material deprivation), there are about 90,000 of them. So maybe (and that is a pretty huge ‘taking a guestimate finger in the air’ type maybe) around 6% of children in low-income families have parents or caregivers who don’t know how to keep them safe.

So while the Minister might be a bit right, we can’t see any evidence that she is more than 6% right, and even then this is pretty weak data. What Minister Collins has done is tar the other 94% of families with the same brush, when in fact most of them do an incredible job in challenging circumstances.

So what to make of the Minister’s approach?

From an evidence-based perspective it is extremely lightweight. This raises the question as to why the Minister has reached for the megaphone to broadcast a false message:

(a) She likes to take a lightweight approach and prefers anecdotal-based to empirical evidence

(b) she has a political agenda – to reinforce the prejudice that a particular cohort of right wing supporters have – playing to her constituency.

(c) she’s acknowledging that her government doesn’t like the real solutions to poverty and so is deciding to play the “blame” card to disguise that inadequacy

(d) she actually doesn’t care that the bulk of poor people are that way through no fault of their own and is quite happy to call them names, to label them as bad unloving parents in full knowledge of the evidence that shows that’s not correct

Only Judith Collins knows which is correct but the fact remains she is mostly wrong, about 94% wrong by our calculations. Her reasons are hers to acknowledge.

What actually works?

We are currently finalizing a book on what works best to improve child outcomes for those from low-income low opportunity families. Targeted programmes (like intervening in families and implementing parenting or education programmes) certainly have some evidence of effect, they are popular amongst the voting public and can be very useful for achieving improvements in very specific outcomes for children. However, one of the most effective ways to improve child outcomes (based on the intervention literature) is unconditional cash transfers for families. That means giving them more money without conditions attached to it.

We can understand the effectiveness of this approach a few ways. The main being that, as we mentioned earlier, a significant pathway through which children from low-income families suffer poor outcomes is stress. Both their exposure to stress in the family, and hence poor family dynamics and relationships, and their own stress responses, which limit brain and cognitive development, have long term impacts on their development. Unconditional cash gives parents the opportunity to reduce the stress resulting from insufficient resources in a way that works best for them and their families. No family experiences stress the same way or have the same exact constraints on their resources. That the government would know what yours or my main sources of stress are and how to counter them effectively seems a little ludicrous really.

Of course this is not the whole solution – unconditional cash transfers are modelled to halve the difference in outcomes between low-income children and their better off peers. So targeted interventions will still have a role to play. There will still be some “dysfunctional parents” who will treat their children poorly even if they have a higher income.

However, one of the main issues we find in New Zealand with targeted programmes is while popular they are just not as effective as we think they are going to be. One of the big issues is that they work in a research scenario but when they get taken up by Governments they get changed so much that they are not longer delivering the components that are really effective. We also have a problem with appropriate high quality evaluation. Another reason cash transfers as a first step has a lot of benefits.

All this is covered in detail in the book. But you can read a once over lightly on the issue starting with this blog.

Finally, lets consider again what New Zealanders value. They value respect for others and for whatever reasons Judith Collins is showing very little of this for hard working parents. She is not crushing the ‘PC’ brigade, she is just wrong, wrong on what the evidence says and wrong about what New Zealanders value.

By reminding ourselves of the humans, the parents, the people involved and the respect and value they all deserve, we get much closer to discussing the real solutions for low-income low opportunity families based on the science. So why does Minister Collins and others wish to avoid that particular discussion?


Judith Collins: Not Crushing the PC Brigade. Just (Mainly) Wrong was last modified: October 13th, 2016 by Jess Berentson-Shaw
About the Author

Jess Berentson-Shaw

Dr Jess Berentson-Shaw is a science researcher working for the Morgan Foundation. Jess holds a PhD in Health Psychology from Victoria University. Jess has over 10 years’ experience working on applying science and evidence to public policy. She worked on improving the use of science in public health practice in NZ, before working as a Research Fellow at University College in London, where she researched how doctors and clinicians translate scientific evidence into their clinical practice. While in the UK she also developed a national data collection system, which was used to determine what factors contribute to poor outcomes for women and babies during pregnancy and birth. On her return to New Zealand she directed a research group that specialised in the independent evaluation and application of research and science to health policy and practice. Jess loves science and what it can do to make the world a fairer place.

68 Comments on “Judith Collins: Not Crushing the PC Brigade. Just (Mainly) Wrong”

  1. Thanks so much for this.
    haven’t got time to say much more, but thanks.
    Looking forward to the book

  2. What do you think about a policy of giving beneficiaries (or everyone!) an extra say $50/week for being on long term contraception (IUD, Depo, Implant)? The idea being, that due to discount rates in decision making, the discounted cost of potentially having a child in nine months, is outweighed by the immediate cost of taking contraception. A weekly benefit would provide immediate incentive that offset this.

    1. So are you saying the issue is that ppor people should not breed?

      1) People move in and out of poverty, usually due to a) unpredictable life events (such as job loss, relationship breakdown, disability and death) and 2) economic forces way outside of their control (the global financial crisis for example). Many children in poverty are born into sufficient economic circumstances and then luck turns against their families.
      2) There are some parents in already in severe poverty who have children and they may not be making entirely rational decisions, in fact we are very clear that long term poverty causes stress which impacts decision making (BTW 30-40% of all children are unplanned regardless of income groups)

      Regardless of how children ended up in poverty, the primary issue here is how do we improve their lives? Our obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child require we assist these children, as a civilised society we need to help these children and because not helping them costs us $8 billion a year, economically we need to help them. The next question is what is the most effective thing we can do to help them? Irrespective of your individual prejudices about families in poverty the evidence says improve the incomes of their families. Full Stop. If you read the evidence we present income supplementation gives families sufficient economic resources to work with (which they choose to spend on their children) AND reduces poverty related stress (which improves outcomes for parents, children and following generations) .

      1. Are there any contexts that you _would_ support additional benefits as an incentive? For example, incentives to attend a quit smoking course, incentives to attend an upskilling course.

        The concept is of course paternalistic, but I think also _realistic_. People are subject to all sorts of cognitive biases, and instead of just letting people loose on the world – I think it’s better to provide some kind of framework or guidance.

        >Regardless of how children ended up in poverty, the primary issue here is how do we improve their lives?

        An incentive for contraception won’t improve the lives of children who are already born, but may prevent a generation of children being born into poverty in 5-10 years.

        1. Many Churches are opposed to contraception , and abortion in their eyes it harms true love and denies the sovereign role of God in the transmission of human life.

          A dollar value David suggested won’t even scratch the surface of true believers,indoctrinated into religions belief systems .

          He presumes another set of paternalistic values to replace the churches (Good luck to that ).

          1. If The Churches are Opposed to Contraception then Those Churches Should Step up to the Plate and Take Full Responsibilities For Every Child Born to People from their Church or Religion Because of their Stupid Rules.

      2. its not unreasonable that if they are unable to fund their family they should restrict themselves to, say, 2 kids. Which is what most middle class people do because its what they can afford.

        1. Do we restrict wealthy people in any way deemed to be detrimental to society or the planet? People with exceptional wealth often have few children by excessively consumptive lifestyles meaning their ecological footprint can be that of several dozen people, It’s all about viewpoint and context. We still let the wealthy do whatever the heck they want.

      3. Sounds fair but you’ll be the first to agree that this idea on it’s own will not get much support from taxpayers and voters. I guess Judith Collins is saying it as so many kiwis do – truth or lies.

        Unless the government is prepared to also spend and focus on other things like reducing the availability of drugs like P, making a wider range of learning facilities and resources available through schools for children struggling with the basics, more police, more probation officers, more for organisation providing shelter and care for ex prisoners, battered women, drug rehab. The list goes on. Without these sorts of changes I suspect few will support giving “unconditional” extra benefits.

        The government appears a) incapable of getting all their agencies and contractors, charities and local government to hold hands to implement a comprehensive focused solution so that any extra money given to poor families was generally spent on the good of their children and those in their care. b) Unprepared to get the money to pay for this proposal from the likes of Google tax-dodgers, the carbon credit rip-off merchants, capitalist fat-cats and white collar thieves.

        I think the word that is missing from Jess’s evaluation is “hopefulness”. Besides more income, to help the parents and care-givers of these children and reduce the resultant stress and anger, they need HOPE – for something better for themselves and their family. That’s something they’ll never get from this “head-in-the-sand” government.

      4. Gareth, regarding you point (1). Nobody is saying the poor should not have children but what is being suggested is that the poor shouldn’t be having MORE kids than the middle classes – which I believe is the case at present.

        I would be happy if some of my taxes went toward a financial inducement for these people to have long term contraception, thus giving the smaller family they do have a better chance in life and thereby helping to break the vicious circle of ignorance, poverty, neglect and abuse. A great social investment!

        Sadly our society has previously done just the opposite: It has paid solo mothers to produce children who (according to the Youth Court) have a high chance of being neglected & abused and future criminality. (It just proves that the road to hell is indeed paved with good intentions.)

        1. Very valid view. Stats support this, we’re growing the problem under the present set of rules. It isn’t the kids fault sure – society’s framework builds the outcome. Which can be horrible to contribute towards let alone witness

        2. You are doing exactly that Andrew , why should real housewives of Auckland have more right to children than someone who is poor

        3. All humans whether rich or poor are compelled by nature reproduce. You can not fight nature, so I find your line of discussion completely ludicrous. Also, it should be within the nations interest to assist families as there will be a return on investment due to the fact each child eventually becomes a life long tax payer. As a Nation I believe we need to invest more into our children, and if that means more welfare for solo mums then so be it. The more we put in, the more we get out.

          1. Maybe we’re all compelled to have intercourse and the consequence sometimes is actual reproduction, if precautions are not taken. 😉
            The problem I see is that we are indeed fighting nature and this is distorting our society. I have two children of child-bearing age and both have put off children because they feel they don’t have the money to fund them. This despite the fact that they’re both honest, middle class people earning above the median wage and have partners who work.
            But that attitude seems not to apply to professional beneficiaries who are funded by taxes from the middle class and whose progeny fill the courts, the hospitals and the prisons.
            We have decades of evidence to show that children born into bad scenarios cannot easily be helped no matter how much money and effort is applied. Abuse, neglect, FASD, poor diet, illiteracy, and an absentee father cannot be repaired by government intervention.

      5. To answer your question

        >So are you saying the issue is that ppor people should not breed?

        No, infact I’m sympathetic to people in minimum or similar jobs trying to raise a family, and I think they should get all the help they can.

        I think people who are _not fit to parent_ should not breed. eg. People with addictions that will take precedence over looking after their children, or people otherwise in a cycle of abuse or anti-social lifestyles.

        This doesn’t come from a place of hate, but _empathy_. I can put myself in the shoes of someone who perhaps has an addiction, and no apparent better life prospects, and see how having children is a fairly reasonable decision – a guaranteed income from the government, satisfaction of being a parent, and not having to change one’s lifestyle to fit a job. I think providing an incentive to not bring children into this mix is a pragmatic, long term solution.

          1. No Religious people do .they want to Breed More Catholics etc to become the Dominant Religion by Numbers. ..Poor people often Tend to be “Blessed” with Big Families. The Churches who don’t want them to use Contraception should take full financial responsibility for every child born to their Followers who have been Brainwashed to Believe it is wrong to prevent conception but ok to have 5 or more children.

      6. Gareth I Personally Know of a Number of Women who Got Pregnant just to get WINZ off their back about getting a Job. If you check the papers now the Main Employment Opportunities for Women is in the Sex industry “Massage Parlours” Gentlemens Clubs.etc. By Getting Pregnant Winz Treat them Differently they Pay Extra Money ,Housing Corp Used to Find Houses for Women on DPB Plenty of Spare Rooms for the Kids and a Boyfriend to Move in to Help pay the Bills. If Women were Offered a Financial incentive to have an IUD fitted it would save Thousands and save Lives of kids who become Victims of Violent Boyfriends and we have seen far to Many Kids Bashed to death. . So Many of these Women have Children from Multiple partners as they find the WINZ Pressure to get a Part time or Full time job to much .Some Mothers are Wonderful But sadly i have known a number of women who Don’t care that much ..so the Kids grow up angry ,violent and start the Cycle all over again. when they are teenagers. WiNZ No Longer Tries to Help find Jobs that is up to the Person receiving the Benefit. they are now trying to get people Not to visit the Offices but to Go ONline . but they still Need two or three Indian Security Guys who stand or sit playing on their Cell Phones all day as they are Glorified Doormen.Opening and Closing Doors Costing Taxpayers Many Thousands of Dollars per Year..if there were Less Children Being Born to Poor People the Government Would Be able to Increase Rates of Benefits. Unwanted kids would not end up as the Next Round of Criminals or Pregnant Teenagers. Children Should Not Be Born into Poverty in NZ but it is Backward thinking Governments who like to Punish people for trying to get work..If you Earn 5 cents over $80 a week you go from Losing 30 cents in every dollar earned to losing 70 cents for every dollar earned so in Many cases people are Working but getting LESS and are paying the Cost of travel and other expenses.

        1. What a load of bigotry , spewing out of your mouth , your mixing two things up being poor
          And winz beneficiary fraud . Just because you are poor doesn’t mean you are committing a crime , or is it a crime that you are poor .

          It must be hard for you to be so bitter a bigot and a raciest

          1. it must be Hard for you to Accept the truth …I have made Comments on What i have Personally Witnessed ..this is Reality not Made up. I have Seem Indian security Guards acting as Doormen at a couple of WINZ Offices I have Not Been to Every WINZ office to see if they are ALL Indian Guys. But these Guys Stand around All day Playing on their Cell Phones it must be such a Boring Job. They are Not Armed so if a person turns up with a Shot Gun they Won’t Stop Him They Can Only Ring the Nearest Police Station and Ask For Assistance So WINZ Could in fact Give Jobs to Unemployed People to act as Door Men and Pay them Less to play on cell phones all day ..I would Do it .I Have Lived in a Flat With a Woman who Had Kids .she was a Solo Mum And did not show interest in Helping them after School or Making sure they did their Homework.. She was more interested in Partying with her Mates. Or Working as an Escort for Extra Drinking Money…i Know of Two Women who Got Pregnant Just to get off the Unemployment Benefit Who were “Friends” but have Met other Women Who have done the same To Survive ..if they were Given a Little extra a Week for Not Getting Pregnant or Having a Child i am Sure they would have Gone for it as they discovered Having a Child is a Full time Job.. Harder than a 9-5 job and for less pay. no freedom to go out at night..etcv…

        2. This may be your experience, but this does not mean you can paint all single mothers and struggling families with the same brush.

          Will people just breed if we give them more money?

          This is a valid question; do cash payments for children encourage people to have more children? The economic theory goes that incentives increase behaviour, but fortunately human behaviour is not dictated by theories of the market.

          If we look at NZ data less than 25% of those parents who receive sole parent payments have more children while receiving the benefit and only 6% or 1500 women have 2 or more children while in receipt of a benefit payment. Hardly a moral hazard in action.

          Evidence from the US shows that policies that are designed to put a cap on fertility through reduction or denial of welfare have little or no impact on fertility rates.
          Conversely evidence from Canada and Israel designed to increase the number of children born through increases in child benefits did lead to more children being born but for only in families who were richer NOT in poorer families. In Russia the same type of fertility reward system lead to only very small long run increases in fertility (0.15%) and the poor did not respond differently than the wealthier (i.e. they did not have more additional children).

          Evidence from the UK welfare reforms, which saw significant income increases to the poorest families, found that there was a small effect on increased fertility in women in couples for their first child. While for lone mothers the reforms saw a small decrease in fertility

          Policies that provide financial benefits associated with children may create a short term increase in fertility rates that are small and concentrated in better off families.

          It would be valuable to carry out research in NZ on this issue. However, as Jonothan Boston notes the current policy approach in NZ favours families with one or two children and the result is to increase hardship in families with more than 2 children. Given the lack of evidence that such approaches actually affect fertility rates it would seem more likely to increase costs not decrease them..

      7. True but our systems which are now in place are placing many families in the position of giving the low income families a state fund mentality. They need these supplements to full there food cupboard. I are one of those low income families. And when I entered the work force in 1989. GST was not on the table. and I paid 18% tax. Working is the shed’s. The government departments employee’s have to much power. They are the only people whom have placed all these systems we now have in parliament. The poor have never had there input. I as a poor person say no to PAYE on the first $20,000 I earn. And no joint income tax for 2 parent families. Yes the poor have the ability to make money but the office workers in these government departments jobs have to much state power. And the poor have no way of saying no. To a system which needs the poor for there guaranteed future income.

    2. Discount rates can’t be generalized across society, because a given sum of money may be negligible to people on high incomes, but for people who can barely keep body and soul together it would make a huge difference to them. People from different income bands would respond different to this inducement to use contraception depending upon their financial position. Rather ethically challenged mechanism to influence peoples’ decisions as to whether to have children.

      1. So those earning less would be more likely to take up the option? Well, that’s exactly the idea!

    3. Research has shown that the more educated and financially independent the women the less children they have.
      So if you are concerned about poor women having children, make them richer.

      1. is that a correlation or a causation? I think more educated women choose to have less kids, because (a) they want a life that’s broader than kids and (b) they know they can’t afford more kids. I don’t think handing over more money will solve the issue – maybe get them more educated so they naturally are more financially independent?

  3. i think they should start investigating why so many people end up committing benefit fraud, i know when i first got done for it it was just survival, so my son could eat and go to school and we had a roof over our heads. 2nd time was bullshit as i had no one supporting me or helping with finances, i just had the phone in someone else’s name…but i am still fighting that one.

    1. My eldest son – an ex police officer and a qualified lawyer – worked for MSD for a short period as a benefit fraud investigator. He was so sickened by the punitive zeal with which the investigations section of MSD go about the business of prosecuting and persecuting people for minimal amounts of money that he resigned and wrote his masters thesis on it. Basically his view is that MSD should not be concerned about chasing every “iddy bitty” bit of benefit fraud and put the resources instead into accurately qualifying people for a benefit and then paying them a proper living wage. In this way the admin resources would be used at the front end of the process and benefit fraud wouldn’t exist in the proportions it does because they would only be chasing up cases of genuine criminal activity. They are currently spending huge amounts on chasing and prosecuting paltry misdeameanours which people are forced into by inadequate benefit levels.

      1. To True .. I Earned a few hundred dollars after getting 3 days work. my Employer did Not email my pay rates to WINZ officer as she Promised to do ..So I had No idea of the amount of pay Before tax. .. I got Punished for Not declaring the Full income .I showed the WINZ Officer my Bank Statement Showing how Much i got to Spend io said i was Not Told how Much tax was taken off. so i could only show what i Got.. after Weeks of Letters i had to attend an investigation meeting in Auckland Which Cost Me Money . that i Normally spent on Food. I asked How much Pay was Being Given to the Investigators Fighting the $90 “Over payment” i estimated they spent 3-4v times the $90 just to prevent me having the money. ..Crazy but True.

  4. You’re right, so right, but there is a big group of Kiwis who are never going to be convinced and ‘The Judy’ is playing just what they want to hear.
    I’m alright Jack, push the boat out.

    1. Well, you see Mike it is my money, because I pay taxes. I vote too!
      I would be willing to subsidize long term contraception for ‘at risk’ women in order to gradually diminish the cycle of ignorance, neglect, abuse and criminality that feature in certain sections of our society, but beyond that I’ll keep my cash in my own pocket thanks.

      1. Long term contraception for at risk…….there was a bloke in the 30’s in Europe who had those sort of ideas, didn’t work out too well.

        1. One big problem with this segment of society is that they tend to have larger than average families (pity that didn’t factor in the analysis too!). The reality is, people think having as many kids as you like is a right, but actually its not. if you can’t earn enough to fund them, stopping at two is hardly unreasonable. So yes, i think they should encourage contraception.

          1. Too right Louise. Children are a blessing & a gift however lets be practical as s society

        2. Incorrect. You’re thinking of eugenics. There was no birth control pill in the 1930’s.
          What you done is demonstrate Godwin’s Law. It’s what people do when they have no rational response to a point.

        3. That Bloke was Catholic and wanted to Eliminate Jews and Gypsies and Breed a Master Race of Blue eyed Blondes ..

        4. Yar you are so right , not only in Europe but America as well , Eugenicists believe that the human race can be improved by controlled breeding.These people are regurgitating the same thoughts and contempt ,

  5. Judith Collins has a record of doing and saying what best suits her ends. She dismissed a report by a retired Canadian judge into whether David Bain should receive compensation because she did not agree with the conclusion. Not a person to whom real evidence matters she just “cherry picks” what suits her desire outcome.

  6. Last night I attended a MSD meeting. I are one of those State classed clients and vulnerable families. The fact is the state are paying that much money to these agents and all these staff whom do absolutely nothing for there money. Government Agent and Government Agent are creaming all the funding before the money even goes to these families.?. As for this vulnerable children Act . There is another commissioner, CEO, and now another office with $100,000 wage staff . And not one of these million’s dollar staff agents will cook one meal for any bodies child.? The fact is all these women whom work in these government departments. Like Judge Judy have husbands.? The have no idea and the prejudice these house wife’s have towards the under lower class families is gross. They are very dangers government department employee’s. Whom don’t answer.? At this meeting it was disclosed that the government was pressuring these lower class women to tell IRD whom the fathers of these children were.? I said . I tell women not to disclose whom the father is because the state takes the child support of the father after he has paid his tax. IRD hang on to this for 6 weeks. Then it goes to the woman whom is taxed again. Good on these woman for not paying for these $60,000 IRD staff whom don’t cook nothing for there children. Child support is Taxed twice in this NZ 30-40cents out of every dollar goes to these parents kids. Overseas starving get more value for money than our own children.? And not one of these married women said boo.?

      1. Thanks my life is good. But our system is wrong. Oh and I are married now for 13 years.?. Been on both side’s of this fence. And tough’s whom come from one side of this fence, some of these woman have no enthalpy, and are very dangerous when given power.

  7. It is interesting that almost no one, certainly not the now ‘identity’ infested ‘left’, bothers to mention the connection of broken families to poor economic outcomes. If broken families are mentioned it is only as poor income leads to broken families.

    Yet our society in common with the whole west has 50 years of feminist theory impacting our society which made no secret whatsoever of its disdain for blood family and the weakening of community that arise from our high level of marriage failure.

    This ideology was aided with government policies of no-fault divorce and sole parent benefits. Corporate media chipped in with a bombardment of why ‘our’ lives are lacking on behalf of the consumer marketplace which includes all manner of industries feeding off social dysfunction…and direct promotion of gender conflict on behalf of the neo-liberal agenda to change the face of the paid work market here in the west. Weakened men, weakened family and weakened community including excess workers into a limited labour market allowed the smashing of male union power, the export of ‘our’ work to the 3rd world, the change of full-time work to all manner of impermanence (part-time, casual and contract) etc.

    The feminising of home, education and the workplace creates a more compliant easy to manipulate society!

    Poverty will continue as a means of control on the road to totalitarian state demanded by the current ‘left’ usefully in support of the globalised marketplace agenda.

    Even the odd feminist writer has connected the two agendas together albeit as ‘unfortunate consequence’ in their opinion. Others might judge more unkindly as by design.

      1. I think he’s saying that people should stay in bad relationships and its only due to the DPB that they don’t. Women shouldn’t have the option to leave, etc.

        I don’t think feminism is the problem, its as much the men walking away from their parental responsibilities when relationships break up as anything. Both financial and physical.

  8. Parenting is not income reliant. There are many ccomfortable and rich who make bad parents. The level of discussion seems to be around political lines. Purely from an observational stance just throwing more money at any problem cannot be only the answer if success is wanted.
    We expect accountability from the public purse, so to not have strings attached to where money is spent at any level is not the way. With modern technology this must be solvable, not easy but solvable. Because I do agree that any one on low income, including a beneficiary ahould have access to enough to live in a healthy home, eat healthy food, pay for basic clothing, transport, receive a good education and participate in society etc. I do not believe though that sociiety should pay for bad choices of the individual, though we are at the moment with kids not reaching full potential. So a solution must surely be inbetween the 2 stances. And surely if it cost more a bit on our taxes, but saved us from the ills madsive inequality beings then that would be worth it. And longer term it may save us in health, crime etc costs.

    1. I agree that providing a family has an income level that is adequate for their needs in both sufficiency and reliability, then parenting is not income reliant. But when income sufficiency and reliability is removed or never attained, parenting does become income reliant.

      1. I can see where you are coming from and yes I agree it does become harder to be a good parent when you are stressed etc, but given there are many poor people all over the world who are great parents, doing their best giving what they can and providing all the love and skills, while their homes are being bombed abd/or living in poverty etc, that is where I am coming from. They are not beating their kids or depriving them, that depravation or violance is coming from elsewhere.

        Sent from my Samsung device

        ——– Original message ——–

    2. At the moment the poor are paying for the bad choices of our Government. Or, are you trying to tell me that the number of people making bad choices just suddenly increased with the destruction of society since the 80’s and 90’s.

      1. Absolutly not, I genuinly feel that everyone needs to be on an agreed min level of income necessary to live adaquetly. If that income comes all or in part from us via the govt, I need to know that it is not going freely to that 6% so that their bad choices I end up paying for again and in principal to me that is a fraud. Controls on how it is spent need to be there. What I am saying really is that parenting is not only income dependant. Otherwise every parent over the world living in poverty would be a bad parent when in fact that is far from the case. Love protection discipline and guidance can be given without cost ….. it is only the material that coats. And ONLY throwing more money at a problem will not solve all the issues, it merely madks them. Oh and I have no problem paying more in tax for a solution that works.

  9. Hey, i get and accept the conclusions of this, but i really wish you’d do better analysis. Lets talk about those 5000 children that have been removed from their families which you later effectively define as “children in low-income families have parents or caregivers who don’t know how to keep them safe.” Well no. There are P for Plenty more parents doing a rubbish job of parenting, these are the ones that are so bad they get noticed because their kids are going to school with bruises or similar. Saying that those 5000 appalling cases represent “parents who fail to keep their kids safe is like saying that men that men that beat their wives are not good at maintaining their relationships with their partners. When we know that lots of people are no good at maintaining good relationships but don’t resort to beating their partner. I can think of numerous examples to describe what you have done here and its frankly beneath you. You don’t need to stretch truths to reach your conclusions – all you’ve done is undermined you credibility.

    1. Even the Government has had to admit that CYF’s has even worse outcomes for foster care than dysfunctional families.

  10. Good on you for saying the obvious.
    Poverty is because of insufficient income.
    However why skate around the fact that National MP’s are either ignorant or blatantly lying. There is no other option.

  11. This brief history of the way that NZ used to support poor families and how it changed this support, is most instructive. “Prior to the late 80s and early 90s in New Zealand we had a pretty solid
    welfare state in the sense that welfare provided more than the bare
    minimum of support for families who needed it. However in 1991,
    following mass unemployment after rapid deregulation of the New Zealand
    Economy, benefit rates were slashed drastically to below poverty lines
    and they have barely moved since. By most measures the number of
    children living in poverty rose at that time, and have stayed there since.” This more than anything else explains the situation as it stands. Its depressing to see how many people have knee-jerk reactions to this, like contraception is the answer!

  12. Thanks for a sound article to counter political desires to poke the blame on to people they dont rely on for votes. The question I would ask, is what do people actually think money does? Do those who get indignant about ‘their’ money being given to others, imagine that those who are poorer are putting it in tax havens? stuffing their mattresses with it? hoarding it like winnings? i sometimes think they must. As a solo mother I had a few years on a DPB and many more in which I had had (just) adequately paid work..
    I hoarded virtually no dollars. Instead I saw myself as a sort of plumbing system – money passed through me from its source, to the supermarket, garage, electricity company, bank mortgage, telecom, shoe shops, sports fees etc etc – get the picture? Society benefited from what ever dollars came to the input pipe.as they went straight back out. “Money was made round to go round” was my father’s dictum. Of course people should have enough money to be participating members of society. On the subject of who owns it, people have become quite mad. We all own the economy., Now lets stop its steady migration to the top. Its disgusting.

    1. Actually Most of the Money people get on Benefits actually Benefit the property investors who buy up old houses and rent them out at Inflated prices ..75% of of most Benefits or More Goes to Landlords wiuth out touching the hands of the Tenant. what is left over pays the Bills and Food Maybe Even Clothing or Shoes?

  13. Spot on Jess. Thanks for telling it like it is, using evidence based data rather than prejudice and right wing political rhetoric. When will the NZ media take her to task? Kim Hill had a go on the radio, but was not informed enough to really put Collins in her place.

  14. When I had my child I was on my own, a recovering addict who smoked cigarettes but I was never into drinking. We slept on a mattress on the floor, I hand washed towels, sheets and clothing in the bath and hand wrung them until my hands locked up (no washing machine). I was on the DPB which covered the rent, power, phone, $20 petrol, $25 per week for court imposed debt repayments and of course my cigarettes (about $20 for the week at that time I think). After all of that I had approximately $35 for food each week. Cigarettes suppressed my appetite. I budgeted food to the cracker. I started working as soon as my child started at pre-school cleaning while they were there so I didn’t have to run the car twice or pay for child care. WINZ taxed what I earned over the limits and I would sit up at night trying to work out how to pay for power and keep food on the table. There was never any money for doctors, clothing, haircuts, car repairs etc. Once my child went to school I worked school hours cleaning and looked into study. At that time WINZ offered a tertiary allowance which basically paid for the gas to get to uni. I got into uni and started studying a science degree…winz abolished the tertiary allowance that year – but as I was already studying they continued to pay that allowance for the following two years. I got my degree and landed a job as soon as I graduated. I quit smoking that year and now earn 5 times the amount I was trying to raise my child on (yep paying back all that tax I sucked up). My point is I didn’t need someone to tell me to go on contraception, I didn’t need someone to tell me to quit smoking, I raised my child in a clean, safe home. Education was my key out of poverty, an ability to pay my bills helped me quit smoking (stress). I agree Gareth, money helps. We need to bring back the pride a person has when they are able to feed their children, and the ability for every child to feel they have just as much chance as another born in fortunate circumstances.

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