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Why National's beneficiary bashing is really dog whistle politics

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Why National's beneficiary bashing is really dog whistle politics
Martyn 'Bomber' Bradbury

National has promised a spiteful range of draconian measures against beneficiaries that have nothing whatsoever to do with helping those on the benefit and everything to do with dog whistling to National's reactionary base.

In the minds of National's reactionary base, beneficiaries are solo Māori mothers, by attacking beneficiaries, National are attacking Māori and women, and for those angry voters who harbour grudges towards both groups, beneficiary bashing is a voting goldmine that never stops paying out.

The welfare measures National are suggesting are all punishment based. $3000 fines for parents of truant students, more punishments for tiny breaches of protocols, cutting the number of beneficiaries by 25% and requiring gang members to prove they don't have illegally-sourced income before receiving the benefit.

What's worse than attempting to appeal to the lesser angels of our nature electorally, is that these welfare policies are all counterproductive.

If there is truancy at home, that is a signal of problems and fining the parents $3000 won't help with any of those problems! It will only exacerbate them!

Enforcing petty sanctions that cut the tiny pittance in welfare won't help any of these who are vulnerable. Using desperation, poverty and hunger as weapons for compliance is egregious and beneath a civil society. This is social policy as spite, it isn't what a modern society endorses.

Simply cutting beneficiaries by 25% is endlessly stupid, if the need for welfare is there, then simply dumping 25% off will see an explosion of homelessness, which is what we got the last time National as in power.

As for this crack down on gang members and removing their welfare, that is a vast ricocheting up of state intrusion into a persons life that could easily be expanded to anyone else and surely you want to build bridges for gang members to transition out of gangs rather than build barriers to them obtaining that?

National don't care about any of these questions because the punitive bashing of beneficiaries to attract reactionary voters is the point here, not the welfare of the beneficiaries themselves.

It's counter productive social policy at its dumbest and meanest.

Martyn Bradbury
Editor -

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