We’ve finished our work and the report is on its way. We have considered
Our three main recommendations are set out in detail below. I thought I’d give you a sneak preview.
Welfare Working Group
PS Our invoice is attached.
Summary of Recommendations
1. Fun Camps
The image of the welfare reform movement needs to change if we are to be serious about bringing about change. The public need to understand that there is nothing frightening or alarming about reform proposals.
In short, welfare reform has to be fun.
The money spent on administering the benefits system would be better utilised in the establishment of a series of Fun Camps. These large-scale camps would house the majority of beneficiaries and provide all the daily nutritional needs of the guests. The provision of a uniform would ensure than nobody was judged by their appearances, but instead on their successes. Guests will be divided into groups and encouraged to undertake group activities and games, such as Dig the Latrines, Bash the Bludger, and our favourite If You Don’t Get Off Your Lard Arse And Start Carrying Those Rocks I’ll Flog It Till It’s Raw.
Day trips to various fun scenic locations (mines, quarries etc) will keep our guests active and ensure everyone is getting enough exercise. It really is true that healthy bodies create healthy minds! And to keep everyone mentally engaged and alert, we’ll have random wake-ups at all hours, with specially trained fun-troopers storming into the sleeping facilities in the dead of might yelling and screaming, and hauling away the luckier of our guests for a thrilling game of 20 Questions.
These camps may be all about fun, but there’s a serious side to them too. It’s all about inspiring people to push beyond their limits and achieve something fantastic with their lives. To help achieve this we’ll have motivational speakers giving talks about the purity of the market and the role of deregulation in building the foundations of a strong economy, and there will be inspirational signs up around the camp giving uplifting messages such as “Work Will Make You Free”.
There will even be a graduation ceremony, bit this too will be based around fun, rather than the receipt of a stuffy old certificate or diploma. Graduates will be encouraged to Run The Gauntlet. This will involve running in between two lines of ACT Party members, New Zealand Herald columnists and editorial staff, and right-wing bloggers. Just to spice things up we will give the people in the two rows the chance to play tricks on the runners, using any old thing that comes to hand: party balloons, knives, and clubs, for example. It is almost certain that the camp guests will be all rolling around the floor to the sound of laughter by the end of the ceremony.
2. Give Beneficiaries a Purpose
Research shows that the "keeping it fun" approach will not work for everyone, and responses to welfare-dependency will need to be tailored to meet the needs of some people. Evidence has shown that low self-esteem can be debilitating and can be one of the main reasons why someone ends up trapped on a benefit. Giving someone a sense of purpose can lead to a reduction in dependency.
Most beneficiaries instinctively know that they are bludging scum, living like parasites off the blood of the taxpayer. Those who feel the bite of this parasite the hardest are the working poor: those who earn little, but don’t qualify for state assistance (e.g. company directors, bankers, stockbrokers etc), and for whom each day is a struggle. They have been hit by the cost of fuel, so their late model European cars are now more expensive to fill, and the land rates on their holiday homes continue to rise. On top of that it has become more expensive than ever before to buy fresh food. Meat and dairy products are becoming more unaffordable.
It seems absurd that we have a group of people crying out to be of some use to society, while we also have a group demanding affordable farm produce. The solution ought to be obvious, and yet until now it has been regarded as politically impossible to introduce plans to farm beneficiaries. But if a proposal were to be packaged right we are confident that beneficiaries would be lining up to participate.
3. Keep Families Together
There are too many women with children on welfare. They are the real hardcore beneficiaries. In many cases they have simply walked out of a perfectly solid relationship over some trivial matter (e.g. domestic violence), preferring instead to raise their children at the expense of the state.
Something must be done to encourage women not to leave their partners. There will clearly be some situations where the decision to leave is the right one. But for many women the decision not to live with the father of their children in a personal choice. Choices have consequences. There may be some who find a forced reconciliation less than desirable, and some so-called experts have even suggested that imposing a punitive regime on solo mothers will only force women to stay in abusive relationships, because they cannot afford to leave and still feed the kids.
These concerns overstate the problem considerably. Amongst our professional elite athletes, such as rugby and football players, broken noses, black eyes and other fractures are commonplace. For football players, being felled by a stray kick is just part of the game. Do our sportspeople give up and quit their chosen sport the moment they get tapped around?
Does a firefighter refuse to work because he may need to be in an environment where things can get a little hot?
So there really is little excuse for women to leave their relationships. If they make the decision to leave they cannot expect state assistance. And if going without welfare means their children suffer from poverty and deprivation then, while that is regrettable, the children will certainly learn a powerful lesson.