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John Minto: Straightjacket Solution To Youth Unemployment

Straightjacket Solution To Youth Unemployment

Article - By John Minto.

So National's big plan for youth unemployment is out and - surprise, surprise - not a single job in sight.

Instead just a $20 million arcane system trying to ensure these young people spend their benefit money on bills the self-righteous citizens of National think should be their first priority. 16 and 17 year olds not in training or in a job will receive a benefit by way of a small amount of pocket money and a swipe card which can only be used for paying the likes of the rent, groceries and electricity. It won't be able to be used for cigarettes or alcohol said the Prime Minister who paused for the rousing applause which followed.

Key said, "We simply cannot continue to give them money and trust they will do the right things with it. That approach has not worked." The approach that would work - investing in job creation - was not on the agenda.

No matter that Key's pointless exercise won't make a blind bit of difference to how benefit money is spent. Young people will find ways around it easier than John Key finds ways to avoid paying tax.

But the rousing reception this hapless plan received from the good citizens of our higher-income suburbs shows that perception is a powerful drug. Attacking the unemployed and the poor confirms National Party members as the successful, morally superior citizens they see themselves to be.

Those cheering and clapping this attempt at straitjacketing the young unemployed are so often those who are addicted to receiving untaxed, unearned incomes at everyone else's expense. They typically have family trusts and all manner of mechanisms to avoid paying their share of tax and many would be seriously put out if they couldn't have a fourth overseas trip each year or put a third bathroom in at the bach.

The nanny state is fine if it applies to the government directing how the poor should run their lives but if anyone tells the good burgers of Epsom they must use more efficient shower heads then - horror, horror - socialism is on the loose and all hell breaks out. The nanny state only applies to the rich when they need a taxpayer bailout or a contract with a regular stream of government cash.

They need to be able to blame the unemployed for not having a job. Otherwise they'd have to admit they like a decent number of people not working because these unemployed keep downward pressure on wages and help keep profits up.

I've said before that the dole is the amount of money our politicians and business elites are prepared to spend to prevent the government investing to provide jobs. If there was no danger of the government being pressured to provide jobs there would be no dole. If the poor get restive the government will use the police and the army to crackdown on what they call "hooligans and criminals" as is happening in London. They will do anything but solve the problem by investing in job creation because unemployment is good for business.

So what is the answer to all this stupidity at the National Party conference? Get rid of the dole by having everyone in productive employment. The private sector can't do this so we need a national development plan alongside regional development plans to invest in creating real jobs for real people.

It's not difficult and the money is there - albeit being siphoned off at the moment into a tiny number of bulging pockets. The wealthiest 150 New Zealanders - John Key included - increased their wealth by $7 billion last year. Just think what kind of national development plan could be kicked off with that unearned wealth for a start.

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