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HELPING THE UNDERCLASS AND OURSELVES AT THE SAME TIME

Two bits of socio-economic news this last week collided. The first was that as many as 20% of Maori youth are unemployed, most of them on benefits. The second was the serious shortage of workers that is putting stress on horticulture and business owners for whom temporary workers from overseas have been doing the necessary work in recent years.


Limiting the number of imported workers is hindering our economic recovery from the pandemic. The government meantime seems content to keep the immigration doors nearly closed, believing that employers will be forced to lift wages for low-skilled jobs. Ministers naively hope that that will attract the unemployed to work. However, the government is bumping up benefits big time, meaning that many in the private sector can’t out-pay the state. Firms will probably go under. It’s a case of ill-considered ideology trumping common sense, yet again.



Two socio-economic problems need dealing with in this context. Horticulture and business would happily settle for a short-term fix: opening the immigration gates and going back to a migrant workforce that sustained them over recent years. But this temporary relief overlooks the fact that seasonal workers don’t take trade apprenticeships to train in the shortage areas that have developed over the last few decades. Carpenters, plumbers and other tradies are in hot demand, especially with the pressures of new house construction.



And what of the unemployed themselves? We need to get to grips with the growth of inter-generational welfare that is expanding under this government, and will escalate as higher benefits make the unemployment choice even more attractive to them. Having large numbers of young people unemployed has never been a good idea. The old saying that the Devil finds work for idle hands has always applied. Unemployed young from dysfunctional families where domestic violence is steadily rising are easily enticed into gangs, drugs, and other criminal activity. They get stuck in a negative cycle that ruins their lives, while it keeps the Police and the Justice systems busy. In their turn, they corrupt and destroy their own children. With serious welfare problems now fifty years old, a cure won’t be easy. But in the absence of any sensible policies emerging from Jacinda’s government, there is one idea that offers some hope.



In the midst of the Great Depression of the 1930s President Franklin Roosevelt pulled together the two daily realities of unemployment and a need for urgent work on conservation into an extremely successful scheme known as the Civilian Conservation Corps. It conscripted young people into training schemes run in conjunction with the army and the Forest Service. Huge numbers of young Americans were introduced by the CCC to disciplined learning. They worked on farms, forests, soil erosion schemes, drought relief, and acquired skills that were eventually used in many other areas of their lives. Many apprenticeship schemes emerged out of the CCC experience.



Aspects of our Compulsory Military Training scheme in the 1950s were designed to imbue youth with a sense of pride, discipline and self-worth. In the early 1970s Prime Minister Norman Kirk, whom Jacinda Ardern says she admires, was captivated by the CCC idea. Involving the armed forces in training schemes as well as their mandated roles to preserve national security appealed to him, but hopes of implementation died with him. In the mid 1980s Frank Corner’s Defence Enquiry revealed that large numbers of Kiwis supported some form of Defence involvement in skills training to combat anti-social behaviour, poor self-esteem, and lack of parental guidance. The Army responded with costings about what would be needed for it to undertake an expansion of its role. But nothing came of what, in my view, is a project that could get “the nephs off the couch”, to use Shane Jones’ phrase. Charter schools, introduced under the last government, proved their worth and ought to be expanded, but they should be linked up with some form of post-school training opportunities that could pull many of the young and rudderless into a form of constructive, socially positive behaviour.



It’s a challenge, and it won’t be cheap, but it could produce a significant rise in the number of the tradies, forestry and seasonal workers we need, while reducing the compounding effects of multi-generational welfare which destroys young lives. To date, none of the policies of this government appears to have any chance of solving the needs of business, let alone getting nephs off the couch, improving their life chances, or building their self-respect.

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52 Comments


Paul Stephenson
Paul Stephenson
Jun 26, 2021

We have a large kiwi fruit orchard next to us and it still has migrant worker. When they are working we see a lot get done. There is also a gang (group) of 5 or 6 maori men who are employed there as well, I would say work, but they don’t do very much of that, they spend more time sitting around doing nothing. I can understand why businesses want non maori workers.

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tjalling.jonker
tjalling.jonker
Jun 25, 2021

".......some form of post-school training opportunities that could pull many of the young and rudderless into a form of constructive, socially positive behaviour."


the entire post by hon. michael bassett makes a lot of sense, i do agree with him on all points EXCEPT i take issue with the above phrase (in quotation marks).


our little deity is just doing that, with utterly disastrous outcomes. she and her clan are at a rapid pace "brainwashing" us all. no longer are we permitted to voice our opinion, especially when it causes "hurt". and, believe you me, it does not take a lot to "hurt" anyone of the woke-crowd. as an example, i objected to grahaman labeling those that support israel a…


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donaldk
donaldk
Jun 25, 2021
Replying to

tj.j I think with respect, that you mis-understand the bit that you have quoted.above.

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Octavian Augustus
Octavian Augustus
Jun 24, 2021

In the business world, everyone's a free market capitalist until labour shortages drive up wages. We don't need anymore immigration to increase consumption and place pressure on housing and lower wages. There is another consideration too: the irreparable and negative changes to the social fabric immigration brings as well. If these organisations go out of business due to high wage costs, then so be it.

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I'm reminded of Hanlon's Razor: "never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity".


So is this government stupid or malicious. Or both?


At one level they're clearly clueless from an economics and business perspective. Dr. Brash is merely stating the obvious in this regard.


But is there something more sinister going on? In this I will quote Lyndon B Johnson. When implementing his Great Society program that expanded welfare, he said " ‘I’ll have those niggers voting Democratic for 200 years". And that's exactly what has happened. Blacks in the US are no further ahead economically than they were 40 years ahead and in social terms have gone miles backwards thanks to the structure of a welfare…


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donaldk
donaldk
Jun 24, 2021
Replying to

Andrew your observation is perfectly true. We expanded welfare in the early 70's s soon after LBJ's program was implemented. The negative results for the Afro-American and a great number of those with some Maori blood are quite similar. How much longer will this be allowed to happen? Do we fix it by grasping the nettle or wait until it is imposed on us by an outside disruption?

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Guest
Jun 23, 2021

I grew up in a socialist country- Czechoslovakia- where the military training and service was compulsory for all men for two years. It was hated but when absolved it was always remembered as good time when men

experienced a lot of comraderies. After communism fell it was shortened to one year and boys could choose to absolve it in army or serving other way, e g. in hospitals, building projects etc. The tradition had not originated in communist era, it had its roots in Habsburg monarchy and my grandfather used to say that the boys were made men during the training. Maybe it could be introduced as compulsory for those men, who do not study or work after leaving school.


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beverleyjanshort
beverleyjanshort
Jun 24, 2021
Replying to

Thank you for your insights Alexandra. And for emphasising that military training dated back to before communism. I like the thought of youth having the option of serving in other ways as an alternative to military service, maybe even in schools as well as hospitals, building projects and perhaps conservation work. I too think that each person should be responsible for him or herself. Welfare is a civilised society caring for those who have extra challenges. If an otherwise capable person deliberately makes them self unemployable, this should not be the problem of the rest of society who live honourable lives. If my grandchildren decide against apprenticeship or further study, I would be glad for them to do service. …

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