Michael Joseph Savage, the architect of the 1938 Social Security Act, wouldn’t recognise today’s Social Security Act as having anything to do with the kind, cooperative, caring society he envisioned 80 years ago.
Instead society in 2020 has been reduced to a gamble where buying a lotto ticket is the only hope considered by many as a way out of entrapment in the ‘system’. What a clumsy method of redistribution, taking money from the poor to deliver back to the poor.
The recent Tax Working Group and Welfare Expert Advisory Panel findings have delivered in 2019 very conservative and cautious reports on the status of taxation and welfare in New Zealand. Both reports identified opportunities to improve on the present position we are in, but held fast to dated perceptions of the circumstances in which people should lead their lives and the manner in which improvements could be delivered.
In fact, we really need to face the reality of the hardship imposed by the unnecessarily complex rules of entitlement in the current Act. And to consider that is the responsibility of society look after all of society.
This paper challenges you to question why a person who has lost their job, or is not yet experienced enough in life to have a job (e.g. a student or a young mother) cannot receive a benefit and move into (or out of ) relationships in the same manner as the rest of us do.
A quantum shift is needed to generate a coherent society and ensure that all are enabled to participate and receive rewards accordingly. Policy should aim to have each individual accounted for including the homeless and the non-earners. Everyone with a bank account or means of banking by cell phone at the very least. There must be options for development of opportunities for participation by all citizens at every level of society.
Reframing welfare must be a bold move forward ensuring the right to an income, and a means to live is framed in our Bill of Rights to remove the discrimination that exists between New Zealanders now, permits freedom of relationships and the right of ownership of income received.
The key to public acceptance of the need for change now is raising public awareness of the two tier society that New Zealand has become, how low benefits are relative to wages and the need every one of us has for income security at all stages of our lives.