The automatic response by most to what has been emotionally labelled as ‘child poverty’ has been to criticise successive Governments for not doing enough and to urge them to do more. True solutions, however, are more likely to lie with Government doing less.
People on low incomes would immediately benefit if the Government were to stop doing things which takes money out of their pockets. Welfare payments that are universal, such as superannuation and paid parental leave, are prime examples of these. ‘Welfare for the wealthy’ schemes take money off people who can’t afford it, and give it to people who don’t need it. KiwiSaver is another example, with the very generous taxpayer contributions funded by those who can’t afford to be in the scheme given to those who don’t need to be in it.
Dumping the pointless and ineffective Emission Trading Scheme will make petrol, electricity and just about everything else cheaper, while reducing the role of central and local government will reduce taxation and regulation, and free the entrepreneurs to innovate and create wealth for themselves and others with much needed jobs.
The poor having more money is not in itself a solution to the problem. For socialists, the solution is always more money, but in reality it never is. In any case most children in low income homes are brought up by loving and capable parents and do not need a solution. It is the children living in ‘poverty of care’ for whom a solution is needed.
The real benefit of reducing the role of government is that government welfare policies reward poor choices, and by doing so they encourage them. Government schemes that assume a parent’s responsibility to feed their children and house their family encourage abdication of personal responsibility. The more the Government does for us, the more it needs to do. It is an increasing dependency and a growing sense of entitlement that is thrusting more and more children into poverty of care every year. Such dependency also makes us poorer as a country which then causes even more hardship. Of course the Government has a role in helping people who cannot provide for themselves, but destroying their hopes and aspirations with addictive handouts is not the compassionate help they deserve.
Living in poverty is usually the result of choices people have made. While the responsibility for these choices is theirs, it is successive governments that have allowed them these choices that are the real culprit. No Government should encourage people to have children when they do not have the ability to provide for them.
All children in New Zealand deserve to live in a loving and secure home. They deserve parents who have been empowered to accept their responsibilities and who have the ability to make good choices. But the more the Government does for us, the less likely it is that they will.
- Written by ACT Auckland North Deputy Board Member Robin Grieve and published in the Northern Advocate December 17 2012.