A government-appointed task force recently released a report that advocated, among other things, that single mothers be pushed onto long-term contraceptives to stop them having more children. It disappeared from the headlines after the earthquake in Christchurch, but it’s still quietly percolating (or should that be fermenting?) in the backrooms of the Beehive. They won’t adopt the most radical of the suggestions, but the report writers’ assumption that beneficiaries are a reckless, feckless, spendthrift bunch who need to be kicked around for their own good, will be the assumption underlying any welfare reform. It’s a frightening shift.
Tapu Misa has sensible things to say about the callousness and stupidity underlying the report.
But even if the working group’s every premise about beneficiaries is right, they would still be missing the point.
When things go wrong, we need a system that responds to people as individuals – human beings with real needs and struggles who deserve our help – and not as some amorphous, faceless group of people intent on cheating us.