Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Stop stealing from the poor

NZ HERALD:
"Children have been left behind in the economic prosperity enjoyed by New Zealand over recent years, child health advocates say... Despite some bright spots,[a new] report describes a clear emerging trend, with those living in poverty significantly more likely to suffer... They are urging politicians to reconsider the use of money for initiatives such as tax cuts, and what it could do to improve the health of children - those suffering most where poverty exists... The overall picture painted by this work is not a pretty one," said Paediatric Society president Nick Baker... Public Health Association director Dr Gay Keating said the report showed that there was still an "underclass" of children and young people with poorer health. GP Nikki Turner said the overwhelming message from the reports was that the strongest risk factor for getting sick was being poor."
Sobering reading, huh. Here's a simple suggestion to help the poor: stop stealing from them.
  • You could remove GST in its entirety and still leave the government's accounts in the black, and at a stroke you will leave money in the pockets of the poor to pay for food and housing and heath care. But it won't happen.

    It won't happen because the poor are such good lobby fodder for a certain kind of politician. They put politics before people.
"The poor are always with us" say the politicians -- the very same politicians who really need the poor. They need them as lobby fodder. It's the poor who provide their power base. Who else would see the poorest of the poor and still want to take the money out of their pockets they could have used for food, but a politician? Who else could watch the poorest of the poor struggling to afford the places in which they have to live and still want to severely restrict the supply of new housing -- who else but politicians?

It's time to put people before politics. Stop stealing. Get the hell out of their way.

Seventy years of welfare in New Zealand has made things not better, but worse. In the last ten years alone around $150 billion has been taken from taxpayers and spent in a war on poverty, that's one-hundred and fifty billion dollars on a war that no one is winning; not the government, not the taxpayer, and as recent studies all show, not the 200-300,000 or so who've been the targets of this war over the last ten years: we're all worse off except for the politicians, for whom this massive sum amounts to very cheap and efficient vote-buying.

That's $150,000,000,000 -- enough to have given every beneficiary in the country a massive $500,000 each to start their own war on poverty, and it still hasn't worked. And it won't. It never will. To paraphrase PJ O'Rourke,
the spending of this truly vast amount of money -- an amount more than half again the nation's entire gross national product in 1995 -- has left everybody just sitting around slack-jawed and dumbstruck, staring into the maw of that most extraordinary paradox: You can't get rid of poverty by giving people money.
When do we realise that government welfare doesn't work -- not for anyone -- and least of all for those who it is supposed to help. Let's try something else. Let's try to stop stealing. let's give people back their future and the money stolen from them, and let them get on with fighting their own goddamn war on poverty.

If these reports tell us anything at all, they tell us it's becoming urgent.

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19 Comments:

Anonymous Sus said...

I think Gay Keating submits the same press release every year.

Just another xample of repeatedly doing the same thing, expecting a different result.

11/27/2007 12:06:00 pm  
Anonymous Why am I bothering? said...

I agree, welfare helps nobody in the end, but your suggestions on how to improve the situation are pure fantasy.

"You could remove GST in its entirety and still leave the government's accounts in the black"

That part is true enough, as is the part about politicians needing the poor.

"...and at a stroke you will leave money in the pockets of the poor to pay for food and housing and heath care."

Um..really? So a tax rebate of 12.5% is going to allow poor folk to suddenly pay for food, housing & health, sorry big boy I don't think so. That extra $150 bucks ain't going to go that far with todays house prices where they are relative to wages.

"You could relax restrictions on land use so that people can build wherever and whatever they wish, at a stroke promoting choice and reducing housing and rental costs, allowing the poor a crucial foot up on the housing ladder."

By building shanty towns, great idea! Lets just let people throw up any old shit any old where, that will sort it out! You really need to open your eyes PC, vast tracks of land in Auckland have been filled with housing over the last few years and house prices have just continued to skyrocket, it's not demand, it's perceived value and inflation.

Earth to PC, is anybody there?

11/27/2007 02:51:00 pm  
Blogger Anon said...

So what do you suggest?

PC's suggestions are unlikely to be welcomed by Conservatives as well and 'Liberals', but he has objective reality on his side.

Conservatives look at the poor/beneficiaries with the same quiet scorn as those from the Left, wanting to merely cut benefits, ban beneficiaries from buying alcohol and tobacco and other such BS. They just don't dress it up and rationalise it to sound liberal and enlightened as those on the left do.

Politicians of all stripes are the most greedy, money-grubbing, selfish, hooray-for-me-and-fuck-YOU people in this country today.

11/27/2007 05:46:00 pm  
Blogger ZenTiger said...

Conservatives look at the poor/beneficiaries with the same quiet scorn as those from the Left, wanting to merely cut benefits,

I so do not!

I haven't seen such a big broom since H1 came to town. You want to tone down those sweeping statements a little?

11/27/2007 06:20:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

Ha, you are SO totally sprung, Zen. Like what kind of conservative says "I so do not!"

Pwned.

;^)

11/27/2007 06:53:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

Why are you bothering?

Pure fantasy, you say? Really? We have a city with the land area of London, yet with the population of East Dulwich. That's a fantasy that can't last

If you follow some of those links, WAIB, you'll see that freeing up land seriously increases affordability while at the same time increasing quality and increasing choice.

Time to do some learning.

11/27/2007 06:56:00 pm  
Blogger Anon said...

Most conservatives, like you Zen if I may say so, love the poor in a Mother Theresa type of way...if you know what I mean...

At root Conservatives long for some resurrected version of a feudal order...they found the disintegration of the aristocracy spiritually repugnant.

Well dats me 4 da nyt.

11/27/2007 07:02:00 pm  
Anonymous lgm said...

Little one, you need to understand a few things about how the World works. Consider by way of an example, the difference between being a perpetual renter or owning your own home is as little as $20.00 per week. Go ask the bank when it decides whether to let you have a mortgage or not. Think about it.

Now what we are examining here is known as "on the margin." It can be applied to other things like whether or not a person becomes a perpetual welfare recipient, permanently poor and useless or whether that person has the chance to be independent and live life as it should be lived.

Not having to pay GST makes a big difference to a household budget. It makes a big differnce to a person who is striving to make a decent life for him or herself. It is a burden that can and should be immediately lifted.

Council restrictions on where one can build a house and what features it must have result in massively increased costs for anyone building a house. That extra cost means that ALL houses become more expensive. The cost of entry to the housing market (and also for renters) is significantly increased. Despite demand, less new homes are built than would otherwise be the case. Shortages occur. Prices rise. This is an example of govt actions distorting the market. It is not beneficial to any of those who are poor. To support such an iniquitous rort is little better than enslaving, tortuting and abusing such unfortunates. Such cruel prejudices are unworthy of you.

In the end a decision has to be made. Can you afford to have the luxury of a huge mob of politicians and bureaucrats and make-work public servants? Is it worth the cost? Or would your money be better invested elsewhere?

Rather than stealing from the poor (and others) the ideal would be to allow ALL people to decide what they can afford to give and what they are prepared to offer up as tax. They'll soon demonstrate their priorities and preferences. And as it is THEIR money, that is exactly as it should be.

If you really are interetsed in the poor you'd do well to cease and desist from protecting the self-indulgent, non-productive political class and its cronies. Instead start seriously lobbying to remove the burdens placed on everyone else by the parasites.

LGM

11/28/2007 06:10:00 am  
Anonymous Why am I bothering? said...

My overall impression here is that there is a 'when your only tool is a hammer...' mentality, everything can be solved by cutting tax and removing law, which seems about as intelligent as raising tax and adding law in response to every problem. I find this symmetry very amusing.

"If you follow some of those links, WAIB, you'll see that freeing up land seriously increases affordability while at the same time increasing quality and increasing choice."

I'm sure thats exactly what those links say, and I'm sure I could find a bunch of others that would say quite the opposite...but anyway, I'm fascinated by this assertion that 'building anything, anywhere' is actually going to increase the quality of housing, perhaps you would like to explain this rational?

11/28/2007 09:26:00 am  
Blogger PC said...

Show me your shanty town, WAIB, and I'll show you somewhere built in the absence of property rights -- as Hernando de Soto and others point out, in the absence of property rights it's rational to build your furniture before your roof, this giving shanty towns their distinctive flavour.

You appear to be under the illusion that I'm suggesting building without property rights. Far from it. Even a cursory examination of those links explains why un-zoned land in which property rights is protected doesn't and hasn't led to the shanty town situation you claim -- in fact, quite the reverse.

Do you have specific examples you can cite of places where unzoned land in which private property is protected have turned into shantytowns? Or are you just blowing smoke out your arse to try and protect the self-indulgent, non-productive political class and its cronies?

11/28/2007 10:25:00 am  
Anonymous Why am I bothering? said...

I'm afraid the last part of your diatribe resides only in your imagination, but that is your prerogative.

Maybe "wherever and whatever they wish" should be modified to "wherever and whatever they wish on their own land", I think you will agree that there is a subtle difference in there.

Besides this, you still haven't really answered the question, what does the above have to do with the quality of what gets built?

11/28/2007 11:18:00 am  
Blogger PC said...

"Maybe "wherever and whatever they wish" should be modified to 'wherever and whatever they wish on their own land'"

Fair point. Have done so.

"...what does the above have to do with the quality of what gets built?"

Perhaps you need to re-read what I've written. Un-zoned land in which property rights is protected doesn't and hasn't led to the shanty town situation you claim, as many of the links I've provided in my post show.

The floor is yours to prove otherwise, madam.

11/28/2007 11:41:00 am  
Anonymous Why am I bothering? said...

Without wanting to belabor the obvious, my initial statement was made under the understanding that your were advocating anarchy in urban development. So I'm not sure why you want me to prove the statement, when it is quite obviously a product of misunderstanding what you had initially written.

So Sir, over to you once again, how would freeing up development (in the prescience of property rights) lead to an increase in the quality of structures?

11/28/2007 12:00:00 pm  
Blogger ZenTiger said...

Most conservatives, like you Zen if I may say so, love the poor in a Mother Theresa type of way...if you know what I mean...

You may not, and yes I do.

To the first: You may be wrong about most conservatives or not, I'm not going to debate that. But it is debatable. However, I can say with certainty, you are wrong about me. Not surprising really, as a few comments and blog posts wouldn't really give you a clear picture on how I actually live my life.

To the second - I'd like to reply, but this debate comes around here every now and then and its not worth starting it early. We'll wait until Hitchens needs to restock his bar and try again then.

11/28/2007 12:22:00 pm  
Anonymous Why am I bothering? said...

...anyone see dem tumbleweeds?

11/29/2007 09:39:00 am  
Blogger PC said...

You've now read those links and wish to comment?

Or you don't intend to read them, and wish to carp?

11/29/2007 11:29:00 am  
Anonymous Why am I bothering? said...

I have looked though your links PC, I see nothing that directly addresses the question of quality control, which is why I'm asking.

I may have missed something in the information provided, if so I apologize, but if it's really so obvious then I expect I should not have to read endless articles in an effort to get an answer, you should be able to sum it up in a couple of sentences I expect.

So are you going to answer the question?

11/29/2007 12:18:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

Your question, WAIB, assumes that quality requires regulation.

It doesn't.

Do writers, artists and musicians need regulations to produce quality? Or does the demand of their buyers' require it?

Do food producers, restaurants and bars need regulations to produce quality? Or does demand produce it?

Do manufacturers, inventors and producers need regulations to produce quality? Was it regulations that produced the laptop, the iPod, the iPhone, the internet? It wasn't the regulators that produced these, was it -- it was producers motivated by consumer demand that produced ever newer, ever better and ever more quality products.

Do you suggest housing is somehow different? Why so? Why so when history constantly shows otherwise -- that (as some of those links show)the more housing regulation there is the more conformity results. That (as many of those links show) many of the very worst places to live are those produced by the regulators themselves. That (as some more of those links show) many of the very best places to live, or at least those in the most demand, are those that were produced with the benefit of light if not non-existent regulation.

Them's the facts, m'am. If you have examples that show otherwise, then let's hear them. And please answer with reference to the all important major point: that reducing housing regulation reduces the financial burden on the poor.

11/29/2007 01:26:00 pm  
Anonymous Why am I bothering? said...

Ok, I see your line of thinking now, in retrospect I guess I should have seen 'the market will sort it out' coming about 2 days ago. I actually agree with your the negative aspect of your point, I only have to drive 10 minutes in any direction to see the result of current housing regulation. However I'm not sure a lack of regulation always leads to better product.

E.g. how do you explain the flood of crap products coming from unregulated Asian manufacturers (e.g. label knock offs, copy dvd's, lead based paint etc), surly in your framework the demand for such things would have dried up long ago in favour of there higher quality counterparts?

11/29/2007 01:55:00 pm  

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