The National Party's resurrection of the infamous 'work for the dole' schemes, confirms again - if any confirmation was needed - that beneficiaries will, once again, be a convenient whipping boy for the National Party during the election campaign.

If National was serious about addressing the issue of unemployment, they might of raised questions about the failure of the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) to accurately measure the rate of unemployment. - as a means of measuring unemployment the HLFS method has been rejected by a growing number of OECD countries because it is inaccurate and unreliable.

If National was serious about tackling unemployment they might have liked to consider what the real unemployment rate is - economist Keith Rankin, for example, has pointed out that the real figure is something like 160,000, not the 80,000 or so the Government claims.

While the Government trumpeted the recent unemployment figure of 79,000, the same data also showed that 160,000 were jobless - that is, 'those without a job and wanting a job'.

If National had done these things they might have then got an explanation as to why one in three New Zealand children live in poverty and food banks are reporting an increasing demand.

But no, they have refloated the punitive 'work for the dole' schemes, schemes that reinforce the myth that the unemployed are responsible for being jobless and must be expected to 'give something back' for the pittances they receive as a benefit.

Making people work for the dole will not do anything to solve the unemployment problem.

Participating in a work for dole scheme for two days a week, which is what the National Party is proposing, directly reduces the amount of time people can spend looking for real work.

Nor does it help a person find work - an unemployed person is hardly to tell a prospective employer that they have been on work for dole scheme.

And work for dole schemes have the potential to actually destroy real paid jobs by the state providing the private sector with publicly funded free labour. Why employ someone to do a job when you can get someone on a work for dole scheme to do it for nothing?

As Sue Bradford, the Green Party spokesperson on unemployment has commented; 'Programmes like this undermine the wages and conditions of employed workers; and people on forced labour are not usually able to join a trade union. '

Of course, promoting a work for the dole scheme will appeal to the redneck vote - the people who ring talkback radio and blast beneficiaries, solo mothers, Maori, etc, etc.

Willie Jackson, former unionist and former Alliance MP, has been travelling rightwards at a steady rate of knots.

He's now doing talkback on the low rating Radio Live, with right-winger John Tamihere.

How right wing has Willie Jackson become? Well, not only has he embraced the reactionary nationalism of the Maori Party, but last week he was heard supporting National's proposed work for the dole scheme.

It seems that the richer Jackson has become, the more reactionary he has become.

'I'm not a socialist!' he cried on his talkback show recently. Too true.


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