Tuesday 20 February 2024

Is Applying “Tough Love” To A “Fragile” Nation The Right Answer?

The Question Christopher Luxon Needs To Ask –  And Answer: How was it possible for a nation of barely three million citizens to create and maintain an infrastructure that functioned, schools and universities that turned out well-educated and enterprising citizens, a health system that kept its people healthy, and a workforce whose members could afford their own home and enjoy the weekend with their families? 

“THE STATE OF THE NATION IS FRAGILE.” Such was Prime Minister Christopher Luxon’s sobering verdict on the state of the nation. It was delivered in an address to the National Party faithful that left many questions unanswered – and even more unasked.

How, for example, does one strengthen a state when those charged with administering it believe the elected government is guided entirely by the wrong beliefs? How is public morale to be lifted when the nation’s key influencers hold huge swathes of the population in contempt? How is New Zealand’s crumbling infrastructure to be remedied in the absence of the sort of publicly-owned design and construction agency that oversaw the creation of so much of New Zealand’s key infrastructure from the 1940s to the 1980s? How can the nation’s productivity be lifted without a wholesale reduction in the size and influence of the professional-managerial class across both the public and private sectors?

Christopher Luxon had distressingly little to say about these issues.

It is not as though he doesn’t recognise the hostility of the political class towards the Coalition Government’s plans, or the obstructions being raised against them, it is just that he is unwilling to say much more about this resistance than that his policies “won’t be popular with everyone – I get it.” Someone should tell the Prime Minister that allowing your programme to be defined by the objections of its critics is never a good idea.

It is all very well to describe the state of the nation as “fragile”, but if you don’t then explain why it’s fragile and how you intend to make it more resilient, then all you’ve achieved is a further demoralisation of the population. What the people of New Zealand need more than anything at this historical moment is inspiration. Telling them that their government’s policies won’t be popular will likely be judged as a pretty uninspiring prime-ministerial offering.

Most voters would agree that it is a good thing for an incoming government to carry out its election promises in a timely fashion, but the fortunes of a “fragile” state cannot be turned around in 100 days – or even 1,000 days. Indeed, as a figurative device, this focus on “The First 100 Days” has drifted a long way from its historical origins in the rush of remedial legislation that distinguished the first three months of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration.

These bills, many of them unread by members of congress, were passed in what was dangerously close to a state of panic. Roosevelt had delivered his inaugural address on a day when the doors of virtually every bank in the United States remained firmly closed to its distraught depositors. When FDR told his fellow Americans that: “The only thing we have to fear – is fear itself.”, he was not being rhetorical. There were many who believed that American capitalism stood on the brink of complete collapse, and that if the future didn’t belong to the communists, then it belonged to the fascists.

Roosevelt’s avalanche of legislation was not about ticking-off promises made during the presidential election campaign of 1932, it was about showing the American people that he would do just about anything to haul the American economy out of the hole into which it, and the millions of Americans it sustained, had fallen. Those action-packed “first one hundred days” were immortalised by America’s leading political columnist, Walter Lippman, after – not before – Roosevelt acted.

And action was the key. As Roosevelt declared: “The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation It is common sense to take a method and try it: If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”

It is this commitment to “bold, persistent experimentation” that is missing from Luxon’s State of the Nation speech. Present in spades, however, is Luxon’s condemnation of his predecessor’s experiments, and his delight at being able to purge them from the nation’s statute books. But, public gratitude for an incoming government’s repeal of unpopular legislation, and for its termination of unpopular policies, has a very limited political shelf-life. Eventually, as Roosevelt so rightly said, a government has to “try something”.

What Roosevelt’s admonition does not envisage, however, is trying something that you and/or your party have tried before – many times – only to discover, each time, that it doesn’t work.

What is it about National that leads them, inexorably, to the poorest and most vulnerable people in New Zealand society? The beneficiaries to whom they then insist on delivering fatuous speeches about “welfare dependency”? Luxon was certainly playing true to his party’s form on Sunday (18/2/24) when he declared to his anything-but-dependent audience: “We’ll do everything we can to help people into work, but if they don’t play ball the free ride is over.”

Free ride? As if attempting to survive on a benefit in New Zealand is a matter of sitting back in your taxpayer-funded limousine, peeling-off $100 bills from your bankroll, and using them to light your fat Cuban cigars. That the constant deprivation, the acute humiliation, and the unrelenting stress of never having enough money to live on, is something beneficiaries actually enjoy; something they seek out; something they’ll do everything they can to prolong.

Has Luxon ever done what every prime minister of New Zealand should do – sit down with a group of unemployed New Zealanders for a day and just listen to their stories? The chances are high that he hasn’t. A poll of National Party members revealed that 70 percent of them knew no one who was living on a benefit. Presumably, this is why Luxon is able to describe National’s latest effort at punishing the poor as “tough love”. Well, the “tough” is certainly there, but where is the love?

The fragile state of our nation will not be strengthened by applying pressure to its weakest citizens. If New Zealanders really are the people Luxon describes: a people “big enough and smart enough to face reality when we need to”, then the questions he needs to put to them are pretty simple.

How was it possible for a nation of barely three million citizens to create and maintain an infrastructure that functioned, schools and universities that turned out well-educated and enterprising citizens, a health system that kept its people healthy, and a workforce whose members could afford their own home and enjoy the weekend with their families?

This is the nation that Luxon celebrates in his State of the Nation speech for splitting the atom and climbing Everest. The New Zealand that nurtured its citizens “from the cradle to the grave”, and where the Prime Minister knew the unemployed by name.

At their simplest, the questions Luxon needs to ask boil down to just two: What made that earlier New Zealand possible? And what will it take to make it possible again?

This essay was originally posted on the Interest.co.nz website on Monday, 19 February 2024.


Anonymous said...

Michael Reddell's recent grim analysis of New Zealand's decline as a trading nation should be read alongside this article.

greywarbler said...

How can we take our success so lightly, for granted? As you say Chris. The awful result of my reading and thinking is to at last notice that we are so busy doing, that we forget to think and review. And further we all get used to something and so busy coping, that we put aside measures, thoughts, dreams, possibilities and go for the carrot/carat; money becomes the measure, fills the view if we look though the big end of the telescope.

Serious stuff is SEP and 'they' should be there keeping a watching brief. All eyes up here watching for the pinata to burst, lookee!! Hit it our way, go on thump it.
How to Fill a Pinata: 14 Steps (with Pictures)
wikiHow https://www.wikihow.com › ... › Paper Party Decorations
12 Jan 2024 — Stuff a pinata appropriately for adult guests. If the pinata is for an adult party, consider stuffing in plastic mini-bottles of alcohol, .

LittleKeith said...

Do I think cutting the amount of beneficiaries will solve NZ's financial problems? No, not even close.

Do I think that "unemployed" masks the reality of closing mental hospitals over 30 years ago, at least for a small hard core number of these stats? Yes!

Can I reconcile with years of record low unemployment, how we managed to grow the numbers of unemployed beneficiaries in the past 6 years? No justifiable reason.

Do I wonder why we suffered such a shortage of on the job trained workers (low skilled) for construction and driving jobs with the growth of unemployed beneficiaries that we had to open the immigration gates just so buses didn't have to be cancelled and building sites could continue operating? I surely do. You do not have to be a Harvard graduate looking in at those construction sites to realise were it not for hard working, good, industrious people of South East Asia, those high rises would have not made it past the first floor. None of these guys are here looking for a handout or excuses, just a fair day's pay for a fair days work to live better lives controlled by them!

How did reach the terrible point in the history of this country that we have a thick layer of citizens on unemployment benefits who could/would not do these jobs? And why the Labour government thought that totally acceptable?

And is barely existing on a benefit at the behest of the taxpayers who work, an existence at all or is it a soul destroying easier road to hell? It is not kindness to allow people to quietly self destruct, it's a dereliction of duty by those politicians.

Forget Luxon's semantics of motives for the government's decision to train its guns on beneficiaries and consider this "existence" regime that has become an alternative way of life for the past 50 years has to change. The unemployed consistently feature hugely in antisocial and criminal statistics because as the saying goes, the devil finds work for idle hands. My read of society in 2024 is the tolerance for the welfare system has diminished.

It's bad no matter how it's played. The politics of "kindness" kicked in but like all of Labour's best intentions, and many other governments before, the outcome inverted to opposite, the politics of cruelty.

The Barron said...

Remember July 2022 when Christopher Luxon addressed the UK right-wing think tank Policy Exchange in London? He called NZ business "soft". This was to impress the same people that were to advise Liz Truss and Chancellor of the Exchequer, Kwasi Kwarteng several months later in the September mini-budget that crashed a nation.

We have had the austerity speech, we look a head to the unnecessary tax cuts for the rich, we have been told the poor and disempowered are to blame for fragility...

Not sure if the right actually believe their policies work after all evidence suggests otherwise, or they are only interested in a smash and grab of resources and wealth with no regard for the people or future. I suspect a little from column A, a little from column B.

David George said...

Good summing up Little Keith.
There are people I know well that have been habitual beneficiaries for most of their lives. It's a seriously bad way to live; to be an adult pathetically dependent on your community for your sustenance, not because you are incapable but, put simply, because you can't be bothered to support yourself and your family. No amount of feigned validation can ameliorate the soul crushing meaninglessness and dependency of your existence.

Our unemployment (and general) benefit criteria is one of the loosest in the world - alongside the super soft UK in that regard.

The Danish, for example, require that you: Be registered as a job-seeker at your local job centre from the first day of your unemployment and have been a member of an unemployment insurance fund for at least one year and have an approved CV within two weeks of registering as unemployed at the job centre.

"If you are deemed to be responsible for the fact that you are made redundant or if you have been given a notice of termination that is too short, you will be given three weeks' quarantine, where you cannot receive unemployment benefits.

If you already have a prior quarantine within the last 12 months, you will lose your right to unemployment benefits.

You must be able to work full-time as an employee. You must seek and apply for work yourself and you must be ready to accept the job that the job center may offer you."

The UK have similar problems to ours with people refusing to work, instead of courageously confronting the issue they've opened the door to mass immigration - with all the social (and now political) problems associated with that.

Brendan McNeill said...


Are you aware that one in five New Zealand babies are born into benefit dependent homes in New Zealand, many live without a father present. These children will grow up to be over represented in all the negative social statistics, educational under achievement, substance abuse, early engagement with the justice system, physical and sexual abuse, crime, under employment, relationship breakdown, mental health problems, the list goes on.

That is the likely future for 20% of newborn children.

Does anyone other than this Government think this might be a problem? Our mainstream media can only frame beneficiaries as victims of Government cruelty.

New Zealand’s productivity compared to the rest of the developed world is abysmal. With 11% of our working age population on some form of tax payer funded benefit perhaps our lack of productivity is to be expected. I don’t know how large that number has to become before the welfare state becomes unsustainable however I suspect we are approaching some kind of tipping point.

It’s not just a question of economics, these young people are being thrown on the scrap heap of humanity. They deserve much better. National is attempting to build a fence at the top of the cliff. We can only hope they will be successful.

Tom Hunter said...

I'm sorry to say that I regard NZ businesses less as "soft" than just plain stupid, hence our crap productivity levels leading eventually to stories like Fletcher Challenge losing $120 million in their latest half-year. Which led to this rather extraordinary demand from one analyst:

“Fletcher Building: is it the only Private Monopoly in the World that can’t make a buck? Time to break it up

I see mention of Michael Reddell above. He's had a number of posts over the years on our appalling productivity stats and the failure of anybody in the public or private sector to do anything about them, including the useless "Productivity Commission", which is yet another State institution that should be scrapped.

Tom Hunter said...

As far as beneficiaries are concerned there was a whole bunch of thoughtful, non-bene-bashing posts on the subject (that's the index post) done over at Kiwiblog in 2023 by one "PaulL", complete with some very solid numbers analysis.

Turns out that government is already a big part of the problem, and not because of the cash handouts but the tax restrictions that don't encourage people to get out and make more money. I summarised some of his posts over at No Minister with The Government Trap, and here's just one excerpt from PaulL that shows the insanity of our current system:

For this household 83% of the increase in the minimum wage actually flows to the government in taxes and clawbacks. This household is a perfect example of the type of household we’d typically talk about when increasing the minimum wage – a single wage earner with two dependents. And yet, that minimum wage increase costs business a lot of money, most of that money flows to government.
EMTR Other Demographics: for people who are lowly paid and part time, there is relatively little incentive to increase hourly earnings – for every extra dollar per hour you earn the government claws back 70% or more. This may reduce the likelihood people would invest in training or moving into more responsible / onerous positions.

Were I on the benefit facing that crap I wouldn't be doing anything extra either. The benies are actually being rational.

Tom Hunter said...

And since I've linked to Riddell I'll also include his post from several years ago that will Chris choking on his cornflakes, <a href="https://croakingcassandra.com/2018/11/01/did-state-houses-make-much-difference-to-housing-supply/>Did state houses make much difference to housing supply?</a>.

Short answer is no and he has the numbers to prove it. The key chart of people-per-dwelling shows a slowly decreasing trend which is no different before the great State Housing program of the 1930's-1940's than it was before.

But then that's one of the problems with your whole post; it's as if NZ pre-1935 exists only as some hell hole. In fact NZ had built itself up into being one of the richest nations in the world before WWI, and the stats on health, education and housing show that effect. There's no question that the 1890's Liberal government did good work focusing on the poorest sections of the community that had been left out, as did Labour in the late 1930's.

But stop kidding yourself that Labour's policies from 1935 on were the single revolution that delivered all the good times of the 1950's and 1960's. The private sector, especially the massive productivity increases in farm production in those times, was what delivered the revenues Labour re-distributed, and when those sources started hitting problems in the 1970's and 1980's there wasn't much any government could do about it.

Tom Hunter said...

Those action-packed “first one hundred days” were immortalised by America’s leading political columnist, Walter Lippman, after – not before – Roosevelt acted.

Well yes, as with our First Labour Government a lot of myths around the FDR era were created long after the time - and before certain facts were acknowledged.

Rexford Guy Tugwell, one of the architects of Franklin Roosevelt’s policies of the 1930s, explained, “We didn’t admit it at the time, but practically the whole New Deal was extrapolated from programs that Hoover started.”

Even funnier is to read the following account from the 1932 US election:

During the campaign, Roosevelt blasted Hoover for spending and taxing too much, boosting the national debt, choking off trade, and putting millions of people on the dole. He accused the president of “reckless and extravagant” spending, of thinking “that we ought to center control of everything in Washington as rapidly as possible,” and of presiding over “the greatest spending administration in peacetime in all of history.” Roosevelt’s running mate, John Nance Garner, charged that Hoover was “leading the country down the path of socialism.”

Why on earth would FDR, of all people, go around saying that about the Republican Herbert Hoover when everybody knows that Hoover was a huge advocate of “hands-off,” laissez-faire, economic policy that allowed unfettered capitalism free reign before it crashed in 1929 and brought much else down with it. If you watch the opening theme to the famous American TV sitcom, All In The Family, you’ll see how this myth was reinforced every week before tens of millions of viewers decades after it ceased to be a political argument – while still being a powerful piece of ideological propaganda.

Politicians and propagandists eh?

David George said...

TB: "We have had the austerity speech.....the poor and disempowered are to blame for fragility"

That's not a fair description of TSOTN speech, there was a lot of positive vision - as well as a frank admission of the challenges we face.

"We need to get our mojo back.

We need to celebrate ambition and aspiration – and back ourselves to take on the best in the world.

There’s so much, so much more that unites us than what divides us.

However, you got here, whenever you arrived, and wherever you’re going – we all want to leave our kids, our grandkids, and our community with more hope, more opportunity, and more confidence in the future of this great country we call home.

Kids born this year will be turning 16 in 2040.

When I wake up in the morning I’m thinking about the country we create for them to live in.

But we can’t wait 16 years. We need to make life better in 16 months. In 16 weeks.

So, when I wake up in the morning, I’m ruthlessly focused on

*rebuilding the economy,
*restoring law and order, and
*delivering better schools and hospitals.

Full transcript here:

There's a hell of a lot more than mere economics at stake if we foolishly indulge in state funded indolence though. I don't think the future for a society that abandons the principle of reciprocity is a good one.

David George said...

Little Keith:
"The politics of "kindness" kicked in but like all of Labour's best intentions, and many other governments before, the outcome inverted to opposite, the politics of cruelty."

Yes Keith, and nicely summed up here:

"We care so our incompetence was virtuous.

Satan" Jordan Peterson

Gary Peters said...

"That the constant deprivation, the acute humiliation, and the unrelenting stress of never having enough money to live on, is something beneficiaries actually enjoy; something they seek out; something they’ll do everything they can to prolong."

I think that maybe like many in the National party Chris you also do not know many on a benefit.

Having worked with people for over 40 years I can assure you that very few are living in a state of deprivation and I would venture that only those actually employed on a minimum wage and living in a major city are facing anything like a state of deprivation. And yes I have met those on benefits and seen young women select pregnancy with a benefit over employment and "unemployed" actively relocate to an area with scant employment prospects.

I have spoken with those at the pointy end in both the employment sector and in the benefit providing sector and while there may well be a few that live as you describe due mainly to poor life skills the vast majority are just fine with state provided welfare, subsidised accomodation topped up with a little behind the scenes revenue gathering. Ask WINZ how many active gang members and their families are beneficiaries then look at their $50k Harleys and tell me they're deprived.

Look at the thousands on WFF now able to invest in a rental property or holiday home.

There is naivety and there is ideologogical ignorance. Where many sit is usually an ideological choice, looking out and looking in, in my opinion.

David George said...

Chris: "How was it possible for a nation of barely three million citizens to create and maintain an infrastructure that functioned, schools and universities that turned out well-educated and enterprising citizens.......

Perhaps it's not (or not only?) a "New Zealand that nurtured its citizens “from the cradle to the grave” that made this country what it was.

Bloody hard work had a lot to do with it - and a grateful, self reliant, trusting and honest people all too well aware of how things can go seriously awry if those values are forgotten.

"Could the US have constructed the interstate today?

States fail because red tape and corruption exhaust them.

Poverty is caused the same way.

When individuals act morally and a trusting society therefore emerges the very deserts bloom."

"A truly responsible people will take it upon themselves to become their own leaders, and protect themselves in that manner from the despair and hopeless nihilism of the desert chaos and from slavish subservience to those who will wield power for their own purposes.

An educated, responsible citizenry dispenses with slavish habits, adopts the mindset of true maturity, looks to the best of the past to guide the future, and forges its own fate.

It is a paradoxical truth, as well, that the voluntary shouldering of precisely the responsibility of self-governance lends to life the meaning that keeps hope alive and despair at bay, even during times of trouble, when simple happiness is far out of reach." JP

Gary Peters said...

The other problem is that welfare stimulates the economy massively as does all government spending and without careful juggling we risk sliding into a massive depression.

The government's aspiration to get people of the couch and into employment is laudable but when those who are comfy on the couch have little intention of doing so and zero incentive due to high levels of benefit or low wages, depending on your politics I suppose, you end up with an unwilling workforce who create more problems than they solve.

Couple that with a declining education output and what we have is a perfect economic storm scenario that we can lay squarely at the feet of the ardern/hipkins/peters term of government.

In my opinion.

David Stone said...

The start of serious numbers of unemployed was Roger Douglas's neoliberal theory that 5 or 6% unemployment created an added incentive to work narder for lower relative wages and thus improve productivity. That worked well for most of a generation as people expecting to work and not being able to find a position were realy motivated and seriously worried and humiliated by not being able to find work. But that psychology had a limited life cycle , and those growing up in social environments where unemployment was normal have understandably not felt the pressure that earlier unemployed people felt. Hence a population has grown up who do not expect to be employed and have fully adjusted to life on the dole and supplemented y petty crime and drug peddling .
How to fix that now is a major puzzle.

The Barron said...

...and you believe Luxon is about quality training and employment?
It is about forcing people into the gig economy. The attacks on union rights and beneficiaries are coming, the objective is a disposable workforce.
This is not about dignity in society, it is a blame game to allow his donors to exploit our people.

New view said...

No matter how kind a government is, if it’s fiscal management is poor any benefits designed to help the poorer in our communities is doomed to failure because inflation takes away buying power. If our economy is strong and inflation low, what money you give beneficiaries buys them more. It’s the only place to start. As for the benefit culture, this starts with poor education. If you leave school barely able to write your own name and no idea whether you have the right change when you buy something you are unemployable and will have no confidence to enter the work force. Luxon may not have all the answers but increasing the benefit so you can live on it more easily seems a bit cockeyed to me. The government will fail with its strategy if it fails to distinguish between those who need to be on a liveable benefit, and those who are taking advantage of it. Am I confident they will get this right. No.

David George said...

NV: "if it fails to distinguish between those who need to be on a liveable benefit, and those who are taking advantage of it."

It's almost impossible for the state behemoth to fairly make those kinds of distinctions, the Danes (outlined above) make a reasonable attempt but there will always be those that A/ game the system (less so in a country that has largely retained strong personal ethics and social cohesion) or B/ are unfairly treated. A case for applying subsidiarity principles perhaps; though I've no good ideas on how that would work in practice. Anyone?

new view said...

David, the reason for my comment comes from the continued stupidity of government departments that won't be helped by lack of personnel running them. I agree that the government needs to make a better effort to encourage those back to work who choose unemployment as a lifestyle of sorts, but they continually get it wrong and will be heavily criticised for it. My son is a good example of how the labour government didn't get these decisions right. He Has worked hard as a nurse, bought and paid for his own house , and is in his forties. He now has severe depression, nearly died with weight loss, and has chronic fatigue. He resides in a rest home and although has improved a lot is barely able to walk any distance let alone work. He is on job seeker and has been asked to attend interviews which is ridiculous. To avoid public criticism government agencies need to get these decisions correct. they won't because those agencies are undermanned and over worked.

Brendan McNeill said...

Dear ‘new view’

I’m sorry to hear about your son’s circumstances which are all too familiar for many families. Hopefully he can obtain a doctor’s certificate that excuses him from this job seeker requirement. Would he best qualify for the sickness benefit?

The difficulty with the ‘entitlement’ approach to welfare that all New Zealand Governments have been operating under for decades is that it is a blunt instrument. While it may work for 90% of people, by design it fails to take into account individual circumstances resulting in the anomalies you describe.

Back in the early 1970’s when 2% of the working age population was on welfare it may have been possible for individual circumstances to be taken into consideration. Today however with 11% of the working age population on a full time benefit individual nuance has become virtually impossible. Furthermore I’m not confident that maintaining these numbers of working age New Zealanders out of employment is sustainable socially or economically.

How did we transition from 2% to 11% on full time benefits in the space of 50 years? What are the contributing factors? Is anyone aware of studies or reports that have been commissioned to address this question?

David George said...

Yes new view, sorry to hear of your son's predicament.

"those agencies are undermanned and over worked"
So overwhelmed they are forced to make arbitrary rulings that embolden the genuinely greedy or deprive the genuinely needy - things that would be instantly recognisable in a small community perhaps? Though fair to say that nepotism and coercion are a danger there as well. We don't live like that now anyway so I'm not sure what the answer is.

The Barron said...

Just to add some substance to New View's contribution.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome may effect 2-3% of the overall population. This does not include those with Long Covid, a subset of ME / CSF. The vast majority are undiagnosed. There is limited training on ME / CFS at medical schools. There is no government programme to ensure that General Practitioners have awareness and skills. Three-quarters of those diagnosed are women. NZ does not keep any stats on ME / CFS so we are having to extrapolate from overseas studies and statistics. In both the UK (from inter-party Parliamentary enquiry) and Australia (Emerge Australia) ME / CFS is the highest health reason for school absence, yet not included in any NZ Govt discussion on truancy. US stats suggest 56% have contemplated suicide and a six time higher instance of suicide, yet this is not part of the Govt suicide prevention conversation.

Extrapolating from US, UK and Australian govt and accepted papers, the cost of ME / CFS to the NZ economy is likely to be $3 Billion. Australian surveys show three-quarters below the poverty line. 25% of sufferers are bed or house bound. This has a profound impact on the families and care-givers. It is rarely diagnosed in older persons and the brain fog and neurological impairment is usually misdiagnosed. It is across ethnicity, but as it is post-viral ethnicities more exposed to viruses (as in the case of Covid19) are more likely to get ME / CFS. There are few with ME / CFS that have not cashed in their Kiwisaver long before retirement.

Doctors are still recommending exercise based therapy, despite all national and international regulatory agencies declaring such therapy as harmful. This harm can lead to further permanent disability. Insurance companies and some practitioners have tried to categorize as a psychological, psychiatric or somatic illness, despite the WHO categorizing as a physiological illness since 1969 and no credible medical scientists agreeing [NB: my empathy with New View as depression may be a comorbidity outside the diagnostic criteria]. The Health and Disability Commissioner has made no statement nor sought advice on ME / CFS since her appointment in 2020.

That will do as a snap profile.

Given the difficulty getting a diagnosis, I have to respectfully disagree with New View. Once the govt starts to categorize those into the deserving and undeserving poor, or means test the disabled and other benefits as that is a race to the bottom. When you do target, you have govt and other agencies shifting the criteria for exclusion.

New view said...

Brendan and David. It wasn’t my intention to off load on this forum but the example was there and was a family situation. To be fair he has been left alone by work and income for over six months. Chronic fatigue isn’t really a sickness according to many doctors so it will be a while before government know how to categorise it. Many work with depression so once again hard to deal with as regards to support. If this government tries to cut social service expenditure by cutting staff they will get what they pay for and that is more poor decision making.

New view said...

Thank you for the homework Barron. Of course I know much of what you have written but when put like you have shows how big the problem is. You are also correct in saying governments can’t and don’t want to be involved in income support for chronic fatigue. Certainly it is within their interests to take the issue seriously when looking at the loss of productivity because of it and long Covid.