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Welfare Reformers Gather Momentum

Welfare Reformers Gather Momentum

Last night a public meeting about the DPB problem was held in Lower Hutt. The first question from the floor was ; "I notice that there are mainly older people here tonight. If you wanted to have a meeting about the DPB and get beneficiaries to come along, why didn't you do something about providing childcare?"

Momentary silence. There is the problem in a nutshell. A more telling question I could not have invented. Here is the attitude that pervades today's society, 'What are you going to do for me? You are at fault - I am not.'

The mood of the audience was rapidly revealed as people excitedly suggested friends or relatives might be obliging baby-sitters or why not bring the kids?

When I remarked that I had children being looked after by my husband, the subtlety of my point, that the DPB actively undermines marriage, was lost on the claimant. My observation simply acted to reinforce her demand.

So let's see. What the lady wants is more money doesn't she? Money to pay a baby-sitter. Not only does she expect us to pay to bring up her children; now she wants us to pay more so she can come and tell us why.

Another man held that the DPB provides autonomy -options and choice - it gives people the freedom to walk away from an unhappy relationship. Paying for the DPB doesn't provide options and choice for the taxpayer but again that didn't seem as obvious to the protesting gentleman as it did to me.

A further agitator (the body language would be comical if it weren't so distracting) asked for instant solutions for people who, frankly, are probably already beyond help; the worst child abusers and the child killers. He failed to grasp that not paying these people to have more children would be a good start to breaking the cycle of violence. I know he didn't get it because he repeated his question five or six times before the audience told him to sit down and give somebody else a turn.

Because those calling for a return to self-responsibility wanted a say as well. Two hours after we began, hands were still shooting up, as people clamoured to make a point. The meeting answered the question - are people in the mood for welfare reform? They are.

Welfare reform isn't a passing whim. It will happen. It cannot be avoided. It is only a matter of time. Some of us are impatient and would hasten the process and so, last night we made a start. We have the passion and the stamina. We want children to be safe, happy and healthy, to be little bundles bursting with wonderment and expectation. We don't want our kids growing up imbued with the destructive idea that they must live for their neighbour's gain and sake.

Freedom isn't paying for a welfare state that destroys character and effort. Freedom lies in opportunity, industry and independence. We should be free to live for and care for those we choose - our partners, our families and our friends. If we all did a decent job of that we wouldn't need the state.

Lindsay Mitchell

e-mail dandl.mitchell@clear.net.nz

04 562 7944

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