Tuesday 28 July 2009

What gives moochers a right to privacy? [updated]

What’s this “right to privacy” bullshit that Annette King and co are banging on about on behalf of two beneficiaries.

I know about a right to life -- about a right to liberty – about rights to the pursuit of property and happiness. All those are legitimate rights for all of us -- but I'm not so sure about this "right to privacy."

Furthermore, if you come and take my property, my money, my wealth, and then give it to two people who already look to be on a bloody good wicket and are only complaining because they want to be able to take more (or to 121 people who are on a damn fine wicket, and are always grasping for more), then I have a right to know just how much of my money they’re pulling down.

Right to privacy, my arse. How about everyone's right not to be stolen from.

UPDATE: Revised for clarity after a discussion at KiwiPolitico starting here.


KG said...

It seems No Minister's resident leftoid disagrees with you PC.


Sean Fitzpatrick said...

I find it interesting how the opposition are trying to paint this as a privacy issue and suggest the minister did something illegal there, rather than focus on the amount of money these beneficiaries are already getting.

Gladly, I think, Joe Public has other concerns. The general mood on talk back radio has been 'I work 50 hours a week and don't earn that much'.

Madeleine said...

I'm not sure what I think of this one yet - I need to read more on it. On the one hand I share your views about theft and tax and welfare. On the other, I'm not sure I agree there is no such thing as a right to privacy (not that I'm sure there is either I just think its not completely clear).

One thing I am sure on with the little I know about this case is that if Paula Bennett did realease private details about these women simply because she didn't like their political views or as a move in an argument, then I do find that a bit low. If her reasons were something else entirely then maybe they were justified.

You can tell me more about this one at the Bloggers Bash next week - if no one else is coming let me know this time.... :-)

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I agree there is no such thing as a right to privacy

The question is not whether there is a right to privacy if you are an independent adult. The question is whether there is a right to privacy when you are a bludger, a bennie, on the dole or the dpb, or are a civil servant, or a criminal

And about 5 seconds of reflection will show you that, of course you shouldn't have any "rights" when you have failed at all the responsibilities of a citizen. Yes, including the so-called "right" to vote and the "right" to life.

Independent citizens have those "rights". Bludgers, criminals, bennies, and "civil servants" don't. It really is that simple.

Richard McGrath said...

As one of the looted, whose taxes fill the pockets of these parasites, surely I have a right to know how much they are receiving.

Madeleine said...

I do not accept that one automatically forfeits one's rights just because they accept welfare. Further, I don't believe any of you really think that either - are you arguing that those who are on benefits have no right to life because they are bludgers? Of course not! One's rights are inalienable, they apply by virtue of one's humanity. Yes they can be forfeited but only by restricted circumstances such as due process of law or self-defence where the restriction speaks directly and is in proportion to the wrong action the person engaged in.

Therefore, if a right to privacy exists then it is not extinguished by virtue of a welfare cheque.

Welfare, wrongly, is state sanctioned. Further because of this state sanctioning there exists an environment where women who find themselves on their own raising small children struggle to survive. The fathers of these children are not fully held to account in terms of providing equally for their children so the women often have little choice but to accept welfare. I'm sure you're all aware of the libertarian arguments for accepting welfare despite being opposed to its existence.

A more interesting argument in defence of Bennett's actions might be this. I believe in the right to free speech and in New Zealand this is defined as the right to seek, receive and impart information. If a right to privacy exists then it clearly conflicts with this right as it places a limit on what information can be imparted/received. Is this limit reasonable?

Sus said...

Hi Madeleine .. it's just been reported (TRN 6pm news) that one of the two women's situation was highlighted by the previous govt as being a successful example of transitioning from a benefit to work (via the then tax-funded cleaning business).

You don't think that

a) the women initially opened their own can of worms here, and

b) if the news report regarding the previous govt is true, that there isn't a small whiff of Neelam Choudary? Just a teeny one?

Numerous people in the public eye have personal details published by the media. These women were complaining specifically about a reduction in what they receive from the state courtesy of the productive sector.

SF gets it in his first paragraph, for mine.

Madeleine said...

The thing is Sus that the state did do something illegal here. They are the ones who passed the Privacy Act, they must submit to the laws they pass irregardless of how stupid they may be - we don't get to set aside when it is politically expedient for us to ignore them. So Bennett was wrong to do that. As a minister she must uphold the law.

That said, I agree that the women here did open their own can of worms here, they did hold themselves out as poor and in need of assistance, they are criticising policy around financial support for people in their situation. So I agree that the level of financial support they are in receipt of is relevant. However, the state imposed a law on themselves and everyone else whereby they (stupidly) promised to not reveal that information.

Therefore the women are justified in complaining.

As for the tax/welfare=theft thing - I agree that taxes spent on things like welfare is theft. But who is the thief? Who is culpable for this theft? The state? Or those who find themselves in situations where, due to the over taxation and policies of the state, the mindset that results from this and the lack of alternatives from the voluntary sector end up choosing welfare?

Do we really want infant exposure or screwed up kids who spend their lives in daycare because the state steals from people? I'm all for an end to the welfare state but this has to happen in an environment where people are not being overtaxed and can actually support themselves.

If a person pays taxes and the government steals from them their entire working life. They have children within marriage and their partner turns violent and takes off on them and their kids are young and they've been out of the workforce responsibly parenting them and there are no laws that enable them to force the defaulting parent to provide properly for their children and the culture does not have strong voluntary culture because the population believes it is the government's job not theirs and their family cannot help because they're overtaxed then what should they do? Starve their children? Adopt them out? Dump them in daycare when they're little thus producing messed up adults later in life?

The blame needs to be put on the state for creating this state of affairs and the defaulting parent who walks away, not the person who did not abandon the child or the relationship and who is taking the responsibility for the daily care of the children.

I don't what the solution is as to how to end the welfare state. I am not comfortable with its continuation, I want a society where state welfare does not exist but I don't want to see dead babies and mothers worn out to the bone either. I want a way of getting to the just situation that results in the least amount of suffering.

Where are the ex-husbands of these women? How come no one is calling them bludgers? They walked, get to keep the bulk of their income, pass the buck to the rest of us.

Madeleine said...

"we don't get to set aside when it is politically expedient for us to ignore them."

Should have been:

we don't get to set aside laws when it is politically expedient for us to ignore them.

KG said...

"Therefore, if a right to privacy exists then it is not extinguished by virtue of a welfare cheque."
If it's not extinguished then it ought to be. No welfare recipient should have the right to keep the amount and sources of their income secret from those who are forced to pay it.
Especially since the government agencies concerned are doing such a rotten job of policing it themselves.
I recently travelled through some remote East Cape areas and there were whole communities who weren't working and therefore must have been on welfare, yet they also somehow managed to own some quite expensive boats, Harley Davidson motorcycles and countless 4wd quad bikes and the like. And most of the run-down rural slum houses has Sky dishes.
Where are the investigators? When did the IRD ast audit these people?
Bugger privacy--they take my money, I want them accountable.
I'm not so ideologically pure that I'm prepared to be stolen from without so much as a whimper.

gregster said...

I want all beneficiaries' names PUBLISHED. That includes those on Invalids' and ACC.

We pay 'em, we want accountability, with the system as it is. FUCK THEIR EMBARRASSMENT!!


LGM said...


Receiving stolen property is criminal. It is an act which shows no recognition for Individual Rights. A person undertaking this forfeits such rights by failing to recognise them.

Regarding the idea that fathers of bastards be chased up by the state and made "responsible":
The last thing required is yet more state action. That costs yet more money and yet more resource which, of course, had to be paid for. Once again it falls to that handy source, OPM (other peoples' money)- forcing other people to pay!

The best thing is to do nothing whatsoever. Pay no DPB at all to anyone. Take no money from everyone else to pay for it. It is not the business of government to worry about who some filthy breeder spread her legs for or to worry about who she allowed to give her a fill or to worry about how many bastards she managed to ooze out. Nor is it the business of government to force other people to pay for any of this.

By refusing to pay anything to these critters the result will be that they soon get the message and modify their ways. They are not completely mindless so they'll rapidly learn to be a lot more careful about who they mate with and why. Problem solved.


Sus said...

Madeleine, thanks for your response.

But I must agree with KG, Gregster & LG in the greater scheme of things; albeit less "descriptive" than LG on this occasion! :)

State welfare *is* a psychological and fiscal nightmare. And the DPB breeds welfare, literally. It *must* stop. It's truly unsustainable as it is, and I know that you don't disagree with that.

In reply to your scenario -- and I'll try to be brief; long posts get old, fast -- about the partner-turning-violent etc, that was (as you will be aware) the reason for the implementation of the DPB way back when.

Sadly, that unfortunate scenario has always happened -- and always will. Newsflash! We don't live in a perfect world!

But the most incredibly stupid response is to allow the state to assume responsibility. This is where the media-sanctified "whanau" comes into play, or damn well should. Families and even caring neighbours looking after their own. It's where charities and churches have always played a role in line with their philosophies.

The "answer" to the elephant in the living room that is welfare?

Depoliticisation. The sooner, the better. No-one's suggesting that it'll be easy .. far from it .. but the sooner the dismantling begins, the better, don't you think?

And as for this beneficiary-income right to privacy? Still can't agree. If you derive your income via the state, the payers have a right to understand the basis of your gripe; ie, know what it is that you're grizzling about ...

Madeleine said...

So basically the state is allowed to act as if it is above the law when said action agrees with libertarian values?

Sus said...

"So basically the state is allowed to act as if it is above the law when said action agrees with libertarian values?"

Good question -- or is it?

Q: Did Bennett break the law in announcing what the women each specifically netted?

She certainly would have, had they not initiated proceedings in a public fashion.

But they did.

So, as the Minister concerned, what was she to do?

1. Respond by addressing their specific individual financial payments, or

2. Respond 'anonymously' as in "DPB recipients receive such-and-such".

Option 2 would be very broad due to the myriad of payments, supplements, entitlements and top-ups etc, that exist, resulting in varying payments to recipients.

But let's say Option 2 *is* what she chose.

Would the media have left it there? I doubt it.

Would the tax-paying public have left it there? I doubt that, too.

I'm not a fan of Paula Bennett specifically, but you don't think she was just doing her job in her *public* response to a *publicly-made* complaint?

Madeleine said...

LGM not everyone on the DPB is a "filthy breeder."

If you woke up tomorrow and decided some 20-something tart was hotter than your wife and thus left her and your babies and paid only the bare minimum towards your children's upkeep that IRD's Child Support department demanded would it be right for me to describe your wife as some filthy breeder?

Some of the people who land on the DPB end up there because they did NOT walk out on their kids.

They did NOT take the easy route.

It is bloody easy to have a successful career and earn lots of money and support yourself when someone else is taking care of your children.

Partners who walk off and leave other partners holding the baby should either be held to account properly and should not be able to hide behind the shields currently in place.

I never said the state should chase these fathers who leave their wives to raise young babies on their own.

I'm saying that the state should get out of the way so the courts can make the bastards pay instead of the rest of us.

And that you have to keep the bigger picture in mind when you target those on the DPB. People do not end up on it in a vacuum. It is very convenient and incredibly naive to label everyone who is on it as a "filthy breeder."

Every woman who has a child is vulnerable to finding herself in a situation where she needs help. Being heavily pregnant or having a young baby takes one out of the workforce. This is a fact. If a woman has entered into a commitment with another person and that relationship is financially afloat and in that context chooses to have a child she is doing so responsibly.

However, even women in such situations can be done over by their partners. I think you are out of line calling such women filthy breeders.

Some on the DPB are on it in circumstances like I have described. They have partners who could be helping them, as they promised to, but due to stupid child support laws are able to dodge their responsibilities. Such women stay on the DPB while their babies are young and get off it when they are older.

We all know there are people on the DPB who are not in this situation and who are there and who stay there by their own hand but spare a thought for those like I described before you bag the whole lot in one basket.

One final thought, if someone steals from your are you not entitled to try to get your property back?

Madeleine said...

I'm not a privacy law expert but I am a law student so my ability to read law and understand it is fair. I cannot see a defence in the legislation for her actions, further people who are legal experts in privacy law agree she does not have one.

I agree that she probably has a moral defence to what she did - if you are claiming you are too poor to afford something then your income level is definitely relevant and if your income is tax-payer based then the tax-payer is entitled to know how much you are in receipt of.

However, Bennett does not have a legal defence for what she did. The law is pretty clear, just because someone else arguably got away with it in the past, just because we think she should be able to do it doesn't make it legal. The state must not be permitted to act above the law.

If a law is stupid or unjust, as it appears this one is, then the state has options to deal with that and it has to face up to the fact that it imposed this law on itself - so tough titties, the law applies until repealed.

hooligan said...

No privacy right exists for people who receive stolen money! Especially when they grizzle they didn't get enough loot!

Peter Cresswell said...

Madeleine, I can't help but point out that the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, which overturned the US ban on abortions, was handed down on the reasoning that upholding that such bans "violate a woman's right to privacy."

I'm sure you can appreciate the irony, and draw for yourself all the necessary conclusions. :-)

Sus said...

Madeleine, I accept that you have a point in the moral v legal defence, but I would suggest this issue is not that clear-cut, yes?

Regarding your response to LG -- and I'm not speaking for him; he's a big boy & more than capable, etc .. but you do know that he enjoys stirring the pot just a tad! -- there is a simple solution to miserable runaway, pay-dodging dads:

Removal of the state from marriage/partnerships and replaced with contract law.

Just imagine the almost overnight irrelevance of the agencies involved ...

Personal responsibility, eh. Fancy that! ;)

LGM said...


1st. I'm not interested in leaving my wife for some bimbette. It just isn't going to happen.

2nd. If a man leaves his heavily pregnant wife that is not a justification for forcing anyone else to pay for the upkeep of that woman or her offspring. It's her problem. She should deal with it. I'd add, more fool her for choosing to mate with the wrong person.

3rd. Anyone who chooses to receive stolen money for breeding more than deserves to be called whatever epithet I bring to bear. Such people are well inferior to a street whore. Here is why. At the very least, with a whore you get something for your money. With a DPB breeder you are forced to pay for nothing.

4th. Sus has it right. Contract is one good way of dealing with the issue. There are others as well. Point is, I'm not interested in what provisions or arrangements people make to deal with issues such as this in their lives. The only thing that concerns me is that the arrangements are voluntary and that they do not involve me or anyone else being forced to make payment for something we were not involved with in the first place.


If someone steals from me I make it my business to get the property back where possible.