Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Let them eat cake

It just keeps getting worse. Yesterday it was all about ministers randomly decided that a certain number of beneficiaries in the same place was dangerous - in much the same way that more than three people makes a riot.

Now Judith Collins is in on the act, her proposal is selecting some beneficiaries and giving a third of their money directly to a supermarket and (no explanation about what they're going to do about people who don't have a car and aren't walking distance from a supermarket). She said:

It wouldn't have to be everybody who's a beneficiary, but for those who are clearly not looking after their kids in terms of being able to get them fed before they go to school, we should be looking at it.
Now leaving aside how they'd decide which beneficiaries weren't feeding their kids (you want teachers to become spies on parents? If you want teachers to take on a more social welfare role then you'll have to take other work out of them, and also consider the possibility that this wouldn't be best acheived if they were taking a punitive role). The benefit is not supposed to be enough to live on.

For anyone who missed that: the 1991 benefit cuts took the Unemployment Benefit, the Domestic Purposes Benefit and the Sickness Benefit were all cut to a level that you couldn't live on. They estimated the bare minimum required to buy enough food, and then cut it significantly. If people can't live on the benefit it's not because they're doing anything wrong.

If you want to make sure kids have breakfast then give them breakfast at school. Stop with this punitive shit and provide resources to those that need them.


  1. Hobbo: not according to Treasury, it isn't. Or indeed the lived experience of those who have actually been on a benefit for any period of time.

    Numerous right-wing politicians have offered to "prove" how shiftless beneficiaries are by offering to live on a benefit for some period of time. Universally, they cheat (ignoring rent or morgage payments, for example) - and then run screaming when they see how hard it actually is.

  2. Trouble I see your point, but I don't think that having a whole bunch of non-parent adults around a child is a bad thing. In fact I think it can be a very good thing, both for the parents and children

    I think the isolation parents and children face is part of the problem.

    Although I see your point is the important thing is that parents aren't making the decisions about who they live with out of desperation

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  4. "If you want to make sure kids have breakfast then give them breakfast at school."

    This happens in the UK and does two things. Firstly, it is an enormous subsidy to the middle classes who can afford it, and means parents don't need to engage with their children in the morning rush. Secondly, the easiest meal for children to prepare for themselves becomes a stodgy combination of cheap poor quality unhealthy food. There is something esteem raising about kids pouring milk into cereal or making toast - to make breakfast something you just get at school, means that they learn not to make it. On top of that, when meals are bought and distributed en masse (Khmer Rouge style) the quality is poor because those giving it out don't need to care if it is cheap, nasty, undercooked or overcooked - they get paid by the state no matter what, and the kids eat what they are given, especially if it is fatty sausages, mashed potatoes, bacon and fried eggs.

    UK food habits are atrocious, so many can't cook and meals at school makes it worse.

    After housing, feeding the children should come first - over any entertainment. If they can't, then they need to ask for help.

  5. Trouble - I think we're basically agreeing with each other.

    Liberty Scott - the benefit is not enough money for the

    Also the problem with school provided food is that it is subcontracted out to the British equivalent of spotless (come to think about it probably is spotless) - and the food is made for profit not for nutritional value that's capitalism's fault (plus there's no reason that the kids can't be involved in the making of the food).

  6. Maia - please explain how Socialism in North Korea or the USSR produced better nutrition for their children?

    Breakfast is the cheapest easiest meal of the day to make. Making one dinner rather than having take out is normally sufficient to provide breakfast for nearly a month. What is frequently needed is budgeting and food education in the home (maybe a home economics class should be compulsory for any benefit?).

    What is needed is for many households to take *more* responsibility for their childs health and eating habits - not less.

  7. Oh for the love of God, who said the USSR and North Korea were the political models for anti-capitalism New Zealanders?

  8. iiq374, Home Ec was certainly compulsory when I was in intermediate school, and I believe it still is.