Should the government take care of people, or enable people to take care of themselves?

Or both to varying degrees?

Is there a natural progression of community and care (for some) from whanaua to hapu to iwi – to Government?

Everyone wants health care provided, and education, a protective police force and a bunch of other things. And many people like financial assistance and housing assistance, if not to be fully provided for.

Richard Harman raised this in his coverage of Labour’s conference in the weekend:

The most eloquent outline to the conference of what that might be came not from her  but from her deputy party leader, Kelvin Davis.

He said that the Labour party was in government to take care of people.

“As a government, we are not only changing policy and legislation,” he said.

“We are changing the way we see ourselves as a country.”

The same idea; that this was a government that was changing things ran through a speech from Finance Minister, Grant Robertson.

From Kelvin Davis’ Speech to the 2018 Labour Party Conference:

We are tackling many hard issues as a government. Housing, child poverty, prison numbers, climate change, improving the wellbeing of our country. None of the answers are easy. But we know taking on these challenges is the right thing to do.

Because, unlike the other lot, when we talk about eradicating child poverty, helping those whanau that are struggling the most, we are not just talking about percentages, headlines and numbers on a spreadsheet.

Poverty has a face. It has names.

We are talking about our neighbours, our friends, our whanau.

And that is what sets a Labour Government apart from the rest.

In the end we are in Government to take care of people

From Grant Robertson’s Speech to the 2018 Labour Party Conference:

Next month the Treasury will release its first Living Standards Dashboard.  This will show a range of indicators of our current wellbeing as a nation.  It includes the tangible, like incomes and home ownership, but also the intangible like life satisfaction and cultural wellbeing.  It is a work in progress.  We need to make sure it is truly reflective of Aotearoa New Zealand, and all that makes us unique. It will evolve over the coming years. But it is a great start to a new way of thinking about what counts as success.

How much should the Government provide for the wellbeing of New Zealanders?

Moreover, people voted for Labour because they knew that we cared about them, we were part of the community and they trusted us to look out for their families.

Is the Labour Party a part of a caring community? Should the Government be seen as a caring benefactor? To some extent that’s expected. The question is, how much?

Some people want the Government to intervene and to provide for them, they want the Government to help them and care for them.

Others want the Government to keep out of their lives as much as possible, to not interfere, to be a provider of health, education and services in the background only.

We can’t avoid the Government having a major effect on all of our lives, through tax gathering, provision of infrastructure and services. Those of us who survive to 65 get universal superannuation for the rest of our lives.

No one argues against having prisons for those who offend against the wellbeing of others.

Some people need more care than others, Some are genuinely disadvantaged through illness and disability. Their families and caregivers deserve some assistance.

How much should the Government care for the people? Of course we hope that politicians care, but how much care should they actually provide? We don’t pay enough tax to enable the Government to provide the care that people want.

To an extent it is a question of how much we want the Government to be a visible and engaged provider or care, or whether they making things available with a more background role.

Many of us have moved to a more satellite self sufficient society, but some want more provided.

Perhaps there are different cultural expectations. Do Maori (generally) expect the Government to be a more community engaged caregiver? They may think that there’s a natural progression from whanau to hapu to iwi to Government.

That’s quite different to how I see things. That doesn’t mean one is right or wrong, just that there are widely varying needs and expectations.

Should Government be the umbrella caregiver?

Leave a comment

70 Comments

  1. David

     /  November 7, 2018

    The government generally does a shit job of looking after people who should probably put far more effort into improving their own lot in life, making someone dependent robs them of the thrill of being alive and living their best life. We have had decades and decades of it and the rump of dependency still exists so I see it not as a kindness but a cruelty.
    And I dont include the people in our society who genuinely need a compassionate government to assist them.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  November 7, 2018

      Many people still don’t really ‘get it’ that the government has no money; it’s taxpayers’ money. Ergo, when they demand things from the government, it’s expecting everyone else to pay for it and taking money from something and somebody else.

      I remember when Sue Bradford complained loud and long that the scheme whose name I forget where people were paid $20 above the dole and were expected to work (I think) 20 hours was slave labour, expecting people to work for $1 an hour, ignoring the money that they were being paid already to do nothing. If the dole was divided by 20, it was a reasonable wage. I remember a local girl who was interviewed was delighted to be working in an office as it gave her experience and led to an offer of full time work.

      Reply
      • robertguyton

         /  November 7, 2018

        “Many people still don’t really ‘get it’ that the government has no money”
        What about loans? What about investment returns?
        The Government has funds greater than the tax take, surely ?

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  November 7, 2018

          Loans are not someone’s own money ! When we had a mortgage, it was the bank’s money, not ours.

          The investment of tax money is only possible because of tax money.

          Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  November 7, 2018

          You sure don’t think that something lent is the borrower’s own property? Remind me not to lend you anything, like one of my first editions.

          Reply
          • robertguyton

             /  November 7, 2018

            The borrower is the Government. They can deploy it as they choose. Investments may be made possible by tax monies, but are not themselves, tax monies. Governments can generate money beyond what they extract from taxpayers. I wouldn’t borrow from you, first editions especially, unless it was The Hobbit.

            Reply
        • Gerrit

           /  November 7, 2018

          No government/state has more money than can be collected from the tax payer (tradeable sector). It has however other choices to buy anything.

          It can print money.
          it can borrow money.
          it can sell assets.
          It can license to mine and sell minerals or water.
          It can reduce the size of government/state to free up capital to spend elsewhere.

          Each has its own pitfalls.
          I suggest the biggest problem for any government/state is the lack of size and growth in the tax paying tradeable sector to fund expenditure.

          I don’t see any measures from the CoL to invigorate and promote the taxpaying tradable sector. Quite the reverse in fact.

          Reply
          • robertguyton

             /  November 7, 2018

            Yeah, Kitty, print money. And the other things Gerrit said.

            Reply
          • Blazer

             /  November 7, 2018

            heres what the previous administration did to grow the tradeable sector in 9 years= 0!

            Reply
            • Gerrit

               /  November 7, 2018

              And CoL is doing…what? (or squat)

            • Blazer

               /  November 7, 2018

              too early to judge them yet!

            • Blazer

               /  November 7, 2018

              delicious…Simon Louisson

              ‘As predicted by the ANZ Bank’s dire business confidence surveys, today’s unemployment data revealed that unemployment has fallen to a disastrous level of 3.9 percent, its lowest rate since the global financial crisis a decade ago.
              This bleak news follows the catastrophic GDP data showing the economy grew at 1.0 percent in the June quarter and the even more calamitous $5.5 billion government budget surplus for the year to June.
              “This confirms all our worst fears that predicted the economy and the country are going down faster than Donald Trump,” said ANZ Bank economist Philip Dorkin. “We were totally confident that our Business Outlook Survey showing the lowest business confidence since the GFC would deliver the recession all we bankers wanted. Investor confidence was at rock bottom, so this is hardly the result we wanted.”
              “It means banks like the one I work for, that are close to receivership with a derisory $2 billion profit, will have to close even more branches and jack up fees even more just to survive.”

        • Pink David

           /  November 7, 2018

          “What about loans? What about investment returns?
          The Government has funds greater than the tax take, surely ?”

          The only reason a government can borrow is because it can extract the money from people at gun point.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  November 7, 2018

            In Monopoly, if the bank runs out of money, more can be printed ( or, more likely, written on scraps of paper) but I know enough about economics to know while that’s all right in a game, it wouldn’t work in a country. The money would be worthless.

            Would you accept a lot of money printed by me on the printer belonging to my PC as payment for your house, Robert?

            Reply
            • Gerrit

               /  November 7, 2018

              He would if he could get the butcher, baker and candlestick maker to take your printed money in exchange of goods. Similarly if the butcher, baker and candlestick maker, suppliers would also take your printed money as tender you have a currency.

              In fact local money is not uncommon.

              Worth a read

              “Local currencies have existed for a very long time. Community currencies are typically initiated by community leaders and usually have a specific economic, environmental or social objective. They don’t necessarily need to be money-like and can be issued as time-credits or digital-credits for producing solar energy.

              The most famous one is the WIR Franc from Switzerland, founded just before World War II. It has over sixty thousand participants and stimulates local trading between businesses. This helps to balance out both negative and positive economic effects caused by fluctuations in the Swiss Franc. ”

              https://worldpolicy.org/2014/06/23/infographic-alternative-currencies-in-europe/

            • robertguyton

               /  November 7, 2018

              Thanks, Gerrit. I despair at Kitty’s …reluctance to engage with reality.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  November 7, 2018

              In that case. may I buy your house for $5,000,000 that I will print off (on recycled paper) on my printer? I’ll make it 5 $1,000,000 notes.

            • Gerrit

               /  November 7, 2018

              Not all rosy for local currencies as the state has no way to levy GST, PAYE or other transaction taxes. Almost a legal black market.

              A state that has no control over the currency is not going to allow local money printers. Hence why bartercard is not taking off or become popular.

              Worth a read

              https://www.energise.co.nz/blog/bartercard-is-a-waste-of-money-time/

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  November 7, 2018

              And I can’t imagine any government allowing people to DIY on their printers ! 😀

        • Trevors_elbow

           /  November 7, 2018

          Dont be dense any loan a government enters into requires repayment plus interest… backed by taxation. Is a bring forward of tax revenue….

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  November 7, 2018

            I suspect that there will never be a time when I can print my own money and use it; don’t I wish. Anyone who took money from the Bank of Catkin would be a fool. That’s not ‘local currency’, it’s fraud and the only reaction from a shopkeeper would be a belly;laugh at the thought that they’d be considered mug enough to take it. They might as well take the scraps of paper with $100 on them that people write when the Monopoly bank runs out.

            If a government decided that the country didn’t have enough funds, so simply printed off a lot more money, it would not make the economy strong again…if it did, Greece and other places would do this and be prosperous again, It would be worth no more than Monopoly money and people might as well use that..

            How on earth is this being unrealistic? It’s unrealistic not to know that it can’t happen.

            In the past there were a lot of small banks which were very vulnerable; All went well until there was a run on the bank, and those who failed to get their money before the bank ran out were out of luck. The situation in Cranford where the farmer innocently hands over a banknote which he doesn’t realise is worthless because the bank has gone bust happened in real life.

            Reply
          • Gerrit

             /  November 7, 2018

            Depending what the loan is for, borrowing is a good thing. Borrowing to install the Auckland City Rail loop is good as the interest and principle can be amortised over the many generation that will utilise the infrastructure. Same for capital projects like hospitals, schools, etc.

            It would be bad to borrow to pay for beneficiaries or state servant’s top ups (including superannuation) as that would be kicking the can down the road and loading up future generations with debts to which they cannot have a gain from.

            That needs to come out of today’s taxation.

            Reply
  2. Bill Brown

     /  November 7, 2018

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=12130945

    Roger Douglas penned an interesting piece on what could be options for NZ to consider

    Certainly makes you think !

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  November 7, 2018

      Some interesting ideas…none of them original.
      ‘Government debt to the retired and existing workforce exceeds $700 billion for income and health. The real cost of healthcare is expected to rise from today’s $18b a year to $108b in 40 years. As well, retirement pensions are likely to increase from $14b today to more than $50b.

      Unless productivity growth increases at twice its present rate over the next 40 years (a nice thought but it’s not going to happen), future governments will have to make massive reductions in other areas, including education, to avoid bankruptcy.’

      His guesses 40 years out are quite worthless .He cannot know the impact of a multitude of factors.

      Reply
      • High Flying Duck

         /  November 7, 2018

        No point planning for the long term, because some things may change?
        History is a reasonable pointer as to things like growth in Government revenues and costs.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  November 7, 2018

          is that right!
          A quick glance at traffic bottlenecks around NZ cities would suggest forward planning and foresight does not exist .


          ‘History is a reasonable pointer as to things like growth in Government revenues and costs.’
          this is true if only because of the ffect of compound interest on debt.

          Reply
          • High Flying Duck

             /  November 7, 2018

            So you are saying because NZ has an abysmal record of NOT planning adequately for the future is good reason to ignore future planning?

            The fact the revenue trends can be predicted is reason enough to be able to rely on them to some extent for future planning, with high and low projections to allow for movements.

            Why it is true is not relevant unless those conditions are expected to change, in which case, it can be planned for.

            Reply
            • Blazer

               /  November 7, 2018

              so how do you factor in ‘unknown unknowns’…and ‘no one saw it…coming’?

            • High Flying Duck

               /  November 7, 2018

              You find out what you can, then plan for what is known, and have contingencies to cover for what is not.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  November 7, 2018

              The fact that almost all governments have abysmal records of planning anything means they should not be given responsibility for planning anything that matters.

            • Blazer

               /  November 7, 2018

              @HFD can you give any real time examples of this methodology?

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  November 7, 2018

              Duck, a late friend and I once sang My Darling Clementine in Latin to Roger Douglas…

  3. Corky

     /  November 7, 2018

    Good question. Many opinions. All I know is there are many Kiwis who are ungrateful for whatever help the government gives them. You just know these people have never seen real poverty with their own eyes.

    Reply
  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  November 7, 2018

    The balance between freedom and risk aversion defines a nation. The inexorable trend towards socialist risk aversion seriously impacts both freedom and productivity. Unions that run the Labour Party don’t care.

    Reply
    • It is worth noting that the more protective a Government is to the people the more dependent the people become on the Government, and the more powerful and less accountable the Government thus becomes. This can be seen very clearly in all major criminal gangs such as the Mafia. It is not a road that intelligent people should encourage their government to take.

      A wise government that is genuinely concerned for the people it is employed to serve will, rather than materially improve their lives, provide them with the education and incentive to do it themselves. Governments that provide featherbeds for their people generally do so in order to soften them up so they are more easily controlled and dictated to. The same is often seen in families. It rarely ends well for those low in the pecking order, being weakened like this.

      Reply
      • Pink David

         /  November 7, 2018

        A government that gives you everything you want, can take everything you have.

        Reply
    • Blazer

       /  November 7, 2018

      one party maintains the status quo=risk averse=National.

      Reply
  5. High Flying Duck

     /  November 7, 2018

    Expecting the Government to provide for you requires accepting what the Government provides as being the best thing for you. This will almost never be the case.
    Self sufficiency is the best way to ensure you are able to provide according to your (and your family’s) own wants and needs.
    Governments should exist to provide the basic framework for society to function and thrive, and to, as much as possible, provide equality of opportunity to be educated and succeed.
    This includes a safety net for those who fall between the cracks.
    Anything beyond that is an intervention on individual freedoms.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  November 7, 2018

      Give yourself a tick (up) because I can only give you one.

      The government is there to plan for things like roads, education and health that need a lot of money, so we all put a bit in to make up the amount needed rather than DIY. I know that this is an oversimplification, but you know what I mean. They manage our money for us because most of us wouldn’t know how to make highways, run hospitals (and health systems generally) and so on….it’s like paying powercos and telcos, but on a much larger scale.

      Reply
  6. PartisanZ

     /  November 7, 2018

    If society is a mirrorball with hundreds nay thousands of facets, this is a giant, one dimensional, single-facet view of it – the orthodox economic viewpoint … Only and exclusively the orthodox economic viewpoint.

    Ideally a democratically elected government should mostly enable people to self-actualize. For many, probably the great majority, this may take the form of an orthodox economic ‘occupation’ … But for others it doesn’t.

    For some, possibly many, ‘productivity & efficiency’ in a competitive, Darwinian, jungle-economics, capitalist marketplace does not suit their strengths, abilities and/or dispositions.

    Why should they be ‘ruled’ by a narrow-minded prevailing economic ethos … just one of many possible ways of organizing society?

    Add to ‘orthodoxy’ the fact this Darwinian economics is considerably based on violence, exploitation and addiction and that governments must ‘re-regulate’ to allow corporate-political elites and businesses to put people out of work, by destroying organised labour and ‘outsourcing’ both materials and labour to Third-World economies … and you have a perfect recipe for blaming the victims …

    Reply
    • Corky

       /  November 7, 2018

      ”Ideally a democratically elected government should mostly enable people to self-actualize.”

      Are you talking from a Maslow or Gurdjieff perspective?

      Reply
      • Gerrit

         /  November 7, 2018

        Maslow is the better at explaining the process.

        Reply
      • Blazer

         /  November 7, 2018

        have you applied Occams razor to help you distinguish between them Corky or do you think there is an underlying categorical imperative they…share?

        Reply
        • Corky

           /  November 7, 2018

          You tell me!

          ”In science, Occam’s razor is used as a heuristic to guide scientists in developing theoretical models rather than as an arbiter between published models. … In the scientific method, parsimony is an epistemological, metaphysical or heuristic preference, not an irrefutable principle of logic or a scientific result.”

          Reply
          • Blazer

             /  November 7, 2018

            no I am asking you!

            Reply
          • Blazer

             /  November 7, 2018

            Occam’s razor (or Ockham’s razor) is a principle from philosophy. Suppose there exist two explanations for an occurrence. In this case the one that requires the least speculation is usually better. Another way of saying it is that the more assumptions you have to make, the more unlikely an explanation’

            Reply
            • Just to clarify:
              “Occam’s razor is the problem-solving principle that the simplest solution tends to be the right one. When presented with competing hypotheses to solve a problem, one should select the solution with the fewest assumptions. The idea is attributed to William of Ockham, who was an English Franciscan friar, scholastic philosopher, and theologian.” — Wikipedia

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  November 7, 2018

            I am waiting for Corky to explain his quotation, but think that it’ll be a long wait.

            Reply
          • Corky

             /  November 7, 2018

            In fact Gerrit’s answer is correct in the context of Parti’s post. I was actually waiting to see if Parti was self actualized with regard to what he writes.

            Gurdjieff’s self actualization comes from self observation.

            Maybe I should be a good adherent of the spiral theory?

            Reply
            • robertguyton

               /  November 7, 2018

              You’re a Gurdjieffian, Corks? I once had Madame Blavatsky’s works at hand. Opaque.

            • Corky

               /  November 7, 2018

              No, I’m not. His methods are too severe in my opinion. Madame Blavatsky was fraud.

            • Corky

               /  November 7, 2018

              MB- fraud..also my opinion.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  November 7, 2018

              Do tell us what his methods are.

    • Gerrit

       /  November 7, 2018

      Interesting the experiences of Israeli kibbutz socialism with a Marxist bend.

      It worked really well for years but then the cycle started with

      “People wanted more control over their own lives and economics. They wanted to make their own decisions, and have their own car and their own telephone. It is very difficult to live this strong communal life. It is very tiring.”

      Worth a read

      http://volokh.com/2010/01/26/formerly-socialist-israeli-kibbutzim-discover-the-virtues-of-private-property/

      I guess the western world is heading toward state (local or national) control and long term the cycle to independent thought goes full circle again and again and again.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  November 7, 2018

        i knew three families who sold their houses and bought a three storeyed one together. Each family had their own place for bedrooms etc, but the living and kitchen were communual. All went well for a while, but it inevitably fell apart because people wanted their own space. Heaven knows what happened when one lot wanted out.

        Reply
    • High Flying Duck

       /  November 7, 2018

      I agree with this:
      “Ideally a democratically elected government should mostly enable people to self-actualize.”

      In order to self actualise you need a Government that steps very lightly on the populace and imposes the minimum amount of restriction to enable peaceful living. A simplistic statement for sure, and with many grey areas as to where the line should be drawn – but that is politics in a nutshell.

      And there is a commensurate responsibility on the populace to take self responsibility and own their actions.

      Self actualisation does not include taking flights of fancy while others foot the bill.

      Reply
  7. Blazer

     /  November 7, 2018

    ‘Self actualisation does not include taking flights of fancy while others foot the bill.’

    tell that to those bailed out on ..Wall Street.

    Reply
    • Gerrit

       /  November 7, 2018

      tell that to those bailed out …on a social security benefit.

      Reply
    • High Flying Duck

       /  November 7, 2018

      I abhor corporate welfare as much as any other distortion created through Government intervention.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  November 7, 2018

        I take it that you are not a fan of KiwiBuild providing houses for people on huge incomes, who will be able to flick them on for a risible penalty.

        Reply
  8. wooden goat

     /  November 7, 2018

    The government should be “encouraging” people to take care of themselves, as much as each person can do so.

    We see the result of people who just want “the gummint to take care of everything” all around us. Spoilt, whining, ignorant millennials.
    Dependency is *ugly* and is the last thing that a healthy country needs.

    Somehow, the concepts of self-reliance and independence have fallen out of fashion. Why, I’m not sure. It could be that those concepts involve another thing that is also unfashionable – hard work.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  November 7, 2018

      do stop tugging goat…tell me what ‘hard work’ these captains of industry do…go on.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  November 7, 2018

        If you have to ask the question, you wouldn’t understand the answer.

        I disagree that hard work is out of fashion, Goatie. There are many innovative young people who are also hard workers. I knew of two who set up a cafe in Hamilton, worked like slaves and sold it at a profit. At some times they were barely making enough to live on, their share was well below the minimum wage. But they believed in themselves, There are quite a lot who are like that..

        Reply
        • PartisanZ

           /  November 8, 2018

          Whether it’s fashionable or not, hard work – as we historically understand it – is becoming increasingly unnecessary …

          This is a good thing IMHO.

          Imagine a world where we mostly worked 3-and-a-half or 4 days a week, chose to have one-and-a-half or two shopping-less days per week and across the board stress was generally reduced, relaxation and healthy leisure encouraged and magnified …

          Perhaps combined with a Universal Basic Income … and you could work harder if you wanted by not at the expense of other people’s leisure freedom … (hence, I imagine, the working week and wages/salaries would have to be protected) …

          Meantime, government expenditure on health, social welfare, social & emergency services, crime etc etc plummets … Just what the Rightie Doctor ordered huh!?

          Fulfill the dreams of the Right …. GO LEFT!

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  November 8, 2018

            That scenario is dreaming, ir will never happen, It doesn’t take human nature into account. It also doesn’t take into account things that need doing like building, roading, making power lines and so on….they can’t be done at a leisurely pace.

            Reply
            • PartisanZ

               /  November 8, 2018

              Of course they can be done at a leisurely pace Miss Kitty …

              By comparison to today things used to be done at a leisurely pace when we had a 5 + 1/2 day working week …

              And aren’t human beings essentially lazy?

              I feel I’m constantly being told they are by stress-ridden Righties who have bought into the neoliberal nightmare and plan to die young from stress-related illness … or live-long on expensive stress-reduction medications – with stress-laden side-effects – and medical interventions …

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