This post was originally posted at The Daily Blog on 30 March 2013.
The Child Poverty Action Group has released a new background paper outlining the myths and the facts around solo parents and the Domestic Purposes Benefit.
You may recall Gordon Campbell on much the same topic back in February 2011.
Both pieces of work should be considered required reading among people interested in social justice, and/because they send a good, clear message: beneficiaries aren’t inherently bludging scum stealing your taxpayer dollars; and the welfare system is doing God’s work.
But there’s another message I think needs to be said loud and clear – and it can’t be said by groups like CPAG, who fairly enough want to build relationships with senior politicians and influence policy
The message is this: these aren’t myths. They’re lies.
Paula Bennett has an entire Ministry full of policy analysts who could tell her that no one’s “dream” is to live on the DPB forever. The Prime Minister, as Leader of the Opposition, had every option to OIA the Ministry now headed by Bennett to establish if teenagers are “breeding for a business”. And Lindsay Mitchell is paid to write columns on the welfare system despite plenty of evidence which refutes every hateful, judgey thing she says.
These people are not stupid, and they are not ignorant. They are wilfully spinning a narrative about DPB recipients which suits their purposes. They want to force people into such dire circumstances that they’ll take any job going, even if it means leaving their children alone or with strangers.
That means employers can pay less, demand more, get away with shirking their ethical and legal duties. It doesn’t really do anything to help the wider economy – most National Party policy doesn’t – but it does mean business owners making a buck.
Bennett and Key and Mitchell also want you to hate people who get the DPB. They don’t want the voters to think “wow, you must have fallen on hard times” because then they’d start thinking about all the other ways a society should support people, through accessible healthcare and education and childcare. And then they’d stop voting for a party like National which exists to cut everything down to the bone so their mates can make a buck.
Your only alternative is that we have a Prime Minister and a Minister of Social Development and any number of “experts” like Lindsay Mitchell who are literally incapable of seeing the facts before them.
I’m not saying it’s completely implausible, but …