Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Who's a "maths challenged dimwit" now Matt?

Matt McCarten made some extravagant claims in his Herald on Sunday column, although there's nothing new in that. He opined:

We all know that some of our politicians aren't very bright. That's not a surprise, given that there are no qualifications for becoming a Member of Parliament.

Most party list MPs get into Parliament because they either learn how to suck up to a bunch of backroom hacks sitting on a list selection committee, or just happen to fit a party's criteria for gender, region, ethnicity or age.

Electorate MPs get there by getting on the good side of a few barons in the local branch or are the least-polarising candidate in a factional fight.

I've known a few MPs over the years who are as thick as two short planks. But I console myself that in a representative parliament, even stupid people are entitled to representation.

But the half-wittedness of senior parliamentarians in the past week makes me wonder if LSD was sneaked into Parliament's water system by secret members of a cell of the Tame Iti Urewera freedom-fighters brigade.

Now apart from a very sly but ill-advised reference to a case currently before the Court (which we have decided we will not blog about until the jury returns a verdict), McCarten is pretty scathing about the quality of our political representatives. But he had a particular barb for Associate Social Development Minister Chester Borrows; read on:

Then there's Associate Social Development Minister Chester Borrows saying he finds it hard to believe single mother Tania Wysocki can't make ends meet on the single parent's benefit. If Borrows could read, he would have had his disbelief dispelled, because Wysocki's household budget was splashed prominently in the Herald.

Even the dim-witted could see by her budget that Wysocki can't look after herself and her kids on the DPB if she goes off and studies.

So much for the Government insisting beneficiaries take up study and get off the benefit. They can't.

Burrows' boss, Paula Bennett, who was once on the DPB, hasn't said a word, although, unlike Burrows, she appears to be able to do basic arithmetic.

Now apart from the fact that McCarten's spelling is dreadful (we haven't corrected it), he's also been delivered a rebuke by the Minister himself this morning, as the Herald reports:

Government minister Chester Borrows yesterday elaborated on his claim that sole parent Tania Wysocki received taxpayer support totalling the equivalent of a $43,000 salary, saying it was a gross figure.

His office provided figures to show it included the domestic purposes benefit, the accommodation supplement, family tax credit and childcare entitlements once she starts her course later this week.

He said that when added up it came to $699.03 a week, or around $36,300 net on a yearly salary.

"For someone in employment to earn a new equivalent salary of $36,300 would require a gross salary of around $43,000, according to IRD's tax calculator," Mr Borrows' spokesman said.

"It is on this basis that the support provided to her at the time she begins study will be the equivalent of a $43,000-a-year salary."

The figures had not included 20 hours of early childhood education which cost the Government $220 a week.

Full marks to Chester Borrows (note the spelling Matt!) for rebutting McCarten's attempted smear. It's clear from the figures supplied by Borrows that the numbers he reported in Parliament last Thursday DO stand up to scrutiny, and that McCarten's comments about Borrows (note the spelling Matt!) and Paula Bennett's arithmetic skills are nothing but grandstanding. Of course, you'd expect that from someone who makes no provision for the payment of PAYE deducted from his employees over a period of eighteen months.

Now we know for a fact that Chester Borrows is a most obliging chap. And if Matt McCarten asked nicely, we're sure that Chester would even help Matt out with Unite Union's tax returns so that future dimwittedry on Matt McCarten's part is avoided.


Jacqueline said...

Yep - $43,000 a year would probably be enough to live on if you are in a two income family and splitting the bills.

I challenge you - or anyone else - to live on your own and support two children on that amount.

It seems like a fair amount when you do nothing but look at the number however you and Chester both seem to have neglected to take into account the huge rise in the cost of living over the past 15 or 20 years. A loaf of bread is nearly 5 bucks these days and don't get me started on milk, petrol, power...i could go on and on.

I think The Herald outlined her outgoings - which were minimal compared to some family's. Every cent is accounted for. 15 k of that 36,000 per year goes on rent alone - and i cringe to think what kind of dump she lives in while paying 280 a week in rent. I didn't think there was anywhere in New Zealand where the rent was that cheap.

Seriously - this woman just wants to better herself in the same way that Paula Bennett did - with the same resources.

What about that is so wrong to you?

We are lucky in New Zealand - to have what help we do have when we fall on hard times - but isn't it better to help and invest in people getting out of those hard times than to just hand them only what is absolutely necessary to survive and not allow them to improve their situation - like taxpayers did for Paula?

Honestly - i'm so mad at people acting like she is receiving so much. YOU try surviving on that in this country where we are happy to spend billions bailing out the wealthy but complain non stop about helping the poor.

Keeping Stock said...

Point taken Jackie; my beef isn't with this woman; it's with McCarten and his attempt to politicise her situation, as did Jan Logie (Greens) and Jacinda Ardern (Labour).

And FWIW, it's less than ten years ago that I went through a midlife/career crisis, and was working in a factory for $10/hour whilst paying child support for two children. I've also had periods of unemployment (thankfully brief), but I have never applied for a benefit.

Yes; a country is judged on how it treats its most vulnerable, but on the other hand, the country can't afford to keep paying out billions year after year whilst nothing changes.

PS: Maybe you should move down here to Wanganui; for $280 you'd almost be able to rent a palace!

Pete George said...

I don't think anyone was claiming $43k would be easy to live on. But it sounds like a fairly substantial amount for someone not employed - especially when you multiply it out by many times.

I've never used a benefit, but most of the twenty years raising kids money was tight, sometime very very tight. Most families don't have excess money.

But there are things to be grateful for - $43k is much better than the alternatives in the first half of last century.

And most people find ways of managing - by not buying $5 loaves of bread for a start, large good quality loaves not on special are more like $4 here, and bread is often on special so can often be bought for $2.50-$3.50

And making your own bread, scones etc is cheaper still.

Gosman said...

She should get a student loan to fund her studies. Then she can pay back societies contribution to helping her get out of her current situation. Interesting though that apparently Whaleoil has pointed out that she wishes to train to become a Vet assistant. This only pays in the area of $45 K at the top level. I'd have much more sypathy for her if whe wanted to be a Medical professional, IT professional, or Engineer.

Tinman said...

Jaqueline, what a load of codswallup!

A loaf of bread can be purchased for $2.

The "lady" doesn't work so not only could she be baking her own bread (<$1) but growing her own vegetables as well.

Petrol, why? What's wrong with a bloody pushbike, she's not in a bloody hurry to get to work is she?

Milk for children the ages quoted in stories would cost SFA, power a bit but savings can be made, as you stated rent is comparatively cheap.

Her (and your) problem is not what she is given but that she wants more so she doesn't have to sacrifice anything.

And "lady", I've lived the last year on savings while working 60 hours a bloody week so don't give me the "You don't know how hard it is" crap.

I've also done the solo-parent thing.

Jacqueline said...

Tinman - To say this is MY problem is totally incorrect.

I am doing fine. I have borrowed to support myself while i study and i am doing just fine thank you very much.

Unlike you though - i have a bit of empathy for people who are in a worse situation than myself and don't feel the need to be a condescending asshole while a displaying my exceptional skills at martyrdom.

Jacqueline said...

And KS - i would move to a place like Wanganui to live in a palace for 280 a week if it was not in my children's best interest to live near their father.

I would also ride a push bike if that was a realistic option just like i am sure that Tania Wysocki would be happy to. I am thinking with two pre schoolers in tow though - that is a bit unreatistic - unless of course we could fit two child seats on her bike or make it legal to leave your children at home unattended.

Heck - i am surprised that not one of you did not suggest that we just morph her back to the 1950s.

That would fix her problem! She wouldn't be a solo mum then because she would have been sent off to another city in shame until she popped her kids out and gave them to someone else or they grew up being abused in some orphanage!

Yes! That is what we should do!

Kane Bunce said...

KS, it is indeed cheap down there. I lived there for about a year while doing a horse course and the guy I lived with charged me just $120 for everything but food (even Sky TV (in the lounge) and internet). I am not in Wanganui any more, but it was one of the better times in my life - and not just for time with horses and learning about them, but also the cheap rent, which meant no financial stresses to worry about.

As for the amount of money, while I am not saying it is easy to live on with 2 kids, in the nations with truly poor people, they'd consider the way you can live here on that money with two kids, to be "living the high life". So one needs to consider that how version of being "poor" isn't all that bad compared to many other countries.

And you can get cheap bread for 3 loaves for $4.50 up here in Parakai. Many other areas have shops that do that. You don't have to get expensive loaves like Vogels to get bread.

Jacqueline said...

On that note - why doesn't she own a cow so she can get free Milk as well? You lot already have her baking her own bread - so why not suggest a cow for her too?

Kane - was the man you were living with for $120 a week happy to support your two kids as well?

Someone up there made the comment that because a vet nurse only earns 45k a year - that it is not worth it for Tania to study. That is another amazing point. Heck - 2 k is not much of a difference so rather than earning 45 k a year herself - working - Tania might as well sit on her butt for the 43 k a year that our government is willing to give her - for hte next 18 years. Yeah - that makes fantastic sense for the taxpayer!

Cameron Slater phoned me this afternoon. He actually took the time to go and meet Tania and speak to her personally. I think you lot might have a different view of her and her situation when you read what he now has to say about this.

I'm sure you lot will be interested to see his thoughts when he posts them. Your right wing blogging leader has the exact same opinion that i have - HELP people like Tania get off benefits. Spending a few extra dollars now - saves everyone in the long run - for people that want to better themselves.

Kane Bunce said...

Jacqueline, I don't have kids. But more importantly, I was replying to KS's comment about how cheap it is in Wanganui by saying I have experienced that fact. It was not about the woman, just backing up KS that Wanganui is indeed a cheap place to live.

I was also expressing my gratitude to have such an opportunity. I was on the benefit then and some time before that, so I know how hard it is to support even yourself with so little money, let with kids. Sure, I don't know for sure how hard it is with kids, but I know it is hard with just yourself, so it must be a lot harder with kids.

Hell, when I was a kid, my mum struggled as a solo parent to feed and cloth me and my sister when working two jobs and one of my uncles boarding there and helping with bills and watching us when she done her night job so she didn't have to hire someone to do it. Yet she still struggled despite being a master budgeter and reusing practically everything rather than throw it away.

So, I do appreciate that it is damn hard unless you are at least moderately well off and I do feel sorry for the parents that struggle and the kids that struggle as a result. I may not know what it is like to be such a parent, but I know first hand what it is like to be such a kid.