So the National Party, under millionaire leader John Key, has discovered the underclass. No, they’ve discovered (or rediscovered) the art of the dog whistle.
The policy released this week that would ‘encourage’ single parents on benefits to work for up to 15 hours a week is, on the surface, about getting the country ‘back to work’.
But, as the NZ Herald editorial put it so nicely:
National’s efforts will be felt mainly by those with few skills and poor earning capacity and, frankly, Mr Key ought to have more important things to do. This policy does more to stroke the shibboleths of party supporters than meet any pressing social need. He should return to topics that count. [Inflicting pain for little gain]
The Nat’s ‘policy’ is classic dog whistling.
Think about it. Beneficiaries can earn up to $100 a week under this policy and will have to work around 15 hours. Do the math! It works out at $6.67 an hour. That’s not helping the disadvantaged or getting the economy working, it’s just about slave labour.
But it plays well in Orewa and that’s John Key’s real message.
This is not a paid party political broadcast, but I urge you to vote for just about anyone except the Nationals. John Key’s sanctimonious play for hearts and minds by declaring he would donate most of the PM salary to charity if he’s elected is sickening.
“I already donate a good part of the pay I receive as Leader of the Opposition to charities and other good causes. I will continue that practice should I become Prime Minister,” Key, told Sunday News.
It indicates just how far out of the ordinary this bloke is. He’s on the NBR 50 top rich list and so filthy fucking loaded that he can afford to give up a $300,000 salary to appear generous.
It makes him look like an out of touch rich prick. Which is good because that’s what he is. Then a few days later he gets all pious about National’s “unrelenting” focus on work.
“National is going to have an unrelenting focus on work.
“Paid work is the route to independence and well-being for most people and is the best way to reduce child poverty. Long-term welfare dependency locks people into a life of limited income and limited choices.
“National will extend the part-time work obligation to two groups of beneficiaries – DPB recipients, once their youngest dependent child is aged six or over, and people on sickness and invalid benefits who have been assessed as being able to work part-time. About 5,600 sickness and invalid beneficiaries have been categorized as capable of working right now.
“These beneficiaries will be required to spend at least 15 hours per week in employment, training, or job-seeking activities. National focuses on work
“These beneficiaries.” You can hear the white, conservative ‘heartland’ baying for the blood of “these beneficiaries”.
The rest of the Nationals’ policy is play-by-play from the Howard-led Liberal Party in Australia. The key words in terms of playing to the heartland audience are typical coded language aimed at hardcore and dour National voters:
- re-apply for their benefit and undergo a comprehensive work assessment
- unemployment beneficiaries will be required to do what it takes to secure employment. This may include practical training, attending a basic skills course, or attending drug and alcohol rehabilitation
- they will be required to actively look for a job, go to any job interview they are referred to, and accept any suitable offer of employment. If they don’t comply with these obligations, their benefits will be reduced in the first instance; then suspended, then cancelled
In other words, “these beneficiaries” are lazy, drug-addled no-goods and are content to sponge on decent, hard-working Kiwis.
You can see how well this policy plays to National’s rusted on dribblejaws constituency over at Kiwiblog.
Over at Scoop there’s a nice pisstake graphic that I’ve taken the liberty of pasting here for your enjoyment.
Gordon Campbell’s blog at Scoop also puts a different spin on the policy announcement.
This will do nothing to lift children out of poverty and in fact, could well worsen the financial hardship faced by such families – by imposing a 15 hour work activity requirement that will cost money in transport, and provide little advantage in terms of income gains or genuine work. All it may do is help reduce labour costs at KFC and New World.
Why do it ? It is as if National felt the need to beat up on beneficiaries somehow, and somewhere – and so it picked primarily on solo parents, the group of beneficiaries widely recognized as being in LEAST need of extra motivation to get off the benefit.
The bottom line is that apart from the bluster and the rarking up of anti-beneficiary rhetoric there’s nothing in this policy that’s actually going to address any real issue of substance. I heard on the radio this morning that there are less than 40,000 people in the benefit category that’s been initially targeted here. The number that counts though is the voters who are encouraged to tick the Nationals’ ballot because the party is ‘doing something’ about the bludgers.
We can expect more of this calling out of the hounds as the election gets closer.