Given that teenagers tend not to be all that risk avoidant while also being pretty determined to assert their identity, this seems a sensible approach to delivering a message. The article links to the study. I haven't read the primary material but am intrigued because this approach seems to be a step away from the feeding kids lies to scare them off drugs that was prevalent when I was a teenager.
Yesterday, The Artist Formerly Known As rikan_feral and I were trapped in a car together for a while. It's ok, no scratches or bruises or anything. I'm fine too. Anyway, we started talking about the Christchurch earthquake in the context of the Welfare Working Group Report (warning - pdf over 1MB) that came out on the same day. The report proposes policy to 'encourage' people on benefits into work, things like:
1. Requiring weekly 'job-seeker' meetings so beneficiaries can prove they are trying hard enough to find a job.
2. Slow reduction of benefits for those not seen to be trying hard enough.
3. Requirement for single parents to become job-seekers when their youngest child is 14 weeks old*.
4. Cessation of benefits for long-term beneficiaries who aren't seen to be trying hard enough.
5. Increasing job-seeker obligations for those on disability or sickness benefits.
6. 'Work for the dole.'
7. Lifetime limits for benefit receipt. When you're done you're done, no more money for you.
All of this is in line with the government's rhetoric that beneficiaries are in that situation due to some personal failing of their own, a result of poor lifestyle choices, and if only they tried harder they could dig themselves out. There has been an increasing tendency to blame unemployment on the unemployed, despite policies that have reduced the number of available jobs and an economy in which the kind of jobs that are normally the starting point for long term beneficiaries have become fewer and fewer. The rhetoric of 'lazy dole bludgers' and 'career DPB Mums' is not a new one in New Zealand, but it's one that has experienced a revival under the current government.
So what does this have to do with me and TAFKARF in a car? Well, he pointed out that the Christchurch earthquake has created (or will create) a group of unemployed people in Christchurch who can be viewed, if you're so inclined, as 'the deserving poor'. There is no way you will see John Key telling the victims of the quake that they are on benefits through poor choices and that they should be trying harder to find a job. That would be political suicide. And nobody will argue about whether the people left jobless (and in many cases homeless) by the quake should have financial support. But there is no doubt that unemployment in Christchurch will grow due to this, and be disproportionate to the rest of the country.
TAFKARF's question was about how the government will handle this group of 'deserving poor' while also implementing the recommendations of the Welfare Working Group, which are going to make life harder for people living in poverty and marginalise them further, all thinly-veiled in a rhetoric of empowerment. Will they make the quake victims submit to weekly job seeker meetings? Will they make the parents left alone by the death of a spouse in the earthquake start seeking work when their baby is 14 weeks old? Will they make those made homeless and jobless by the earthquake 'earn their dole' by working for less than the minimum wage on civil construction projects?
I doubt it.
My thought was that they will probably create a special 'Earthquake Emergency Benefit' so that earthquake victims can be supported (DESERVING POOR!) while other unemployed folk can be whipped into shape (LAZY BUMS!) by punitive measures.
Which leaves one final question - how will they deal with the people in Christchurch who were on a benefit before they became earthquake victims. Are they deserving lazy poor bums?
* John Key said this idea made him nauseous. Those of us who are a bit cynical think that the 14 weeks thing is a political move so we can see him be all offended that it would be suggested and think "Oh, he's a decent guy" and therefore not be upset when they make it 9 months instead.
The other day I got a postcard. It's an Afrikaburns one, and on the back is an inkstamp of the Illuminati Eye, and the message "WE ARE EVERYWHERE".
I suspect a conspiracy. I suspect this because the card and the postage stamp came from South Africa, but the inkstamp is the Eye of our own local Illuminati. And there was no postmark, which implies it was hand-delivered. I know there were Africans at Kiwiburn and .. I suspect a conspiracy. Also - intrigued.