Paula Bennett's ignoble policies lie on an assumption that the poor are different and we can kick them around 'for their own good'.
A friend of mine applied for a menial low paid job three weeks ago. Despite having university qualifications, he never even made it to the interview stage. He later learnt that there had been over eighty applications for the one job. This is not untypical in the midst of the greatest economic crisis since the 1930s and one that continues to threaten to pull down more national economies.
John Key and Paula Bennett are right when they say that there are jobs 'out there'. The problem is that there have are so few of them and an increasing number of people applying for them.
The irony is that while this Government is insisting that there are jobs are to be found, it has, so far, made over 3500 public servants redundant.
It wasn't so long ago that Key declared that his government would create 170,000 new jobs over the next five years. Since John Key’s National Party took office in November 2008, 53,000 New Zealanders have joined the unemployment ranks. That’s a 54% increase in the number of people unemployed to a total of 150,000. This doesn't count of people who have simply dropped out of the workforce nor does it encompass the increasing problem of casualisation. More and more people simply cannot get sufficient hours to make ends meet.
Despite Paula Bennett's puffery about 'a job being a job', if a job fails to meet a person's basic living expenses then this simply only serves to expand the number of 'working poor'. A job isn't a job when it doesn't keep the wolves from the door.
Despite its failure to create an economy that can provide sufficient employment, National has commenced on its goal to create a reduced and more punitive welfare state. The message is an all too familiar one - welfare beneficiaries are responsible for the circumstances that the find themselves them in. It's not the fault of a failing capitalist economy and government policies that have deliberately stolen the money of the poor and given it to the already wealthy.
Somehow, somewhere, the National Government have been able to turn the issue of welfare into a moral argument about how poor people should be treated.
Bennett's moral judgment about getting young mothers back into the workforce take no account of economic circumstances, local labour markets with no jobs. the need for qualifications and the limited opportunities for those who don’t have them. They do not consider the sheer insecurity of so many low-paid jobs, the real and major difficulties of juggling low-paid work with family responsibilities, the life-long advantages that the right parents and the right inheritance can buy you.
In the end, Bennett's ignoble policies lie on an assumption that the poor are different and she can kick them around 'for their own good'.