Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cost. Benefit.

After yet another conversation about the lousy, do-nothing scum that is the unemployed, in which I always do my best to defend those that were once my brethren, I thought I’d look into something that I’ve been wanting to know for some time. To find the information I was after I had to burrow into that most unholy of creations, the government website.

What I wanted to know is exactly how much the New Zealand government spent annually on the unemployment benefit. People often quote it as one of the country’s largest expenses, something that I can never believe.
The first bit of data I could find was exactly what the government wanted me to find, i.e. a nice big pie chart with over-simplified values designed to both wow and enrage. According to these wedges of need-to-know information the government will spend $70.7 billion in the 2010/2011 financial year. Of this rather significant pie, $21.2 billion will be spent on ‘social security & welfare’. Well, well, well, that is a decidedly fattening slice of pie. I guess I was wrong…or was I…and if I was then by how much…

Burrowing a little deeper, and overcoming such obstacles as the use of the word ‘vote’ to mean an area of spending (seriously government, you can’t go round using a randomised vocabulary to confuse your loyal subjects; it’s undemocratic etc.), I managed to find a breakdown of exactly what ‘social security & welfare’ meant. Here are some of the ‘scopes of appropriation’ that fall under that particular ‘vote’: care and protection services for children ($0.3 billion), orphan’s benefit ($0.1 billion), Ministry of Social Development - capital expenditure ($0.1 billion), student loans ($1.6 billion) and Superannuation ($8.3 billion). That’s nearly half of expenditure that comes under social security & welfare, and although you could argue that orphans, students and retirees are all unemployed, they’re not the ones targeted in the typical anti-DOL-bludging tirade. For those we turn to the next group of scopes, if that makes sense.

Firstly, the domestic purposes benefit. These are the lowly house-bound mothers that would rather pop out a few more children than join the workforce. Their filthy maternal ways are costing the government $1.7 billion a year. Why that’s nearly double the $1 billion we spend on ‘climate change’. Think of all the false economies we could put in place if poor people stopped having children!

Next we’ll look at those most undeserving of our help; those people so arrogant that some of them have turned a blind-eye to society, literally. That’s right, I’m talking about the invalid’s benefit. All those people that are “totally blind, or permanently and severely restricted in their capacity for work”. This isn’t for the sick, they have their own benefit. Our government is giving away $1.3 billion to a group of people that are no longer valid. The merely sick get a mere $0.7 billion. For an extra $0.3 billion we could put together a whole other defence force to prevent people from getting sick and injured in the first place.

Finally, we come to the one. The big daddy. The one benefit to rule all benefits. I am of course talking about the mighty unemployment benefit. The place where all your hard-earned taxes go, just so that some pot-smoking pox on society can sit around the house all day watching the Rugby Channel. In the 2010/2011 financial year, our government is expecting to spend nearly $1 billion on these low-lives; $0.948 billion to be exact (to within 3 decimal places). That’s quite a bit. I’ve run out of other ‘votes’ to compare it to it’s so big. I could add some up, like $0.2 billion for Maori affairs, or $0.1 billion for ‘statistics’, but that wouldn’t change anything.

So it’s quite a lot of money we spend then. Nearly $4.7 billion on the big four is quite a bit of cash. However, all sarcasm aside, I urge to think of it this way. That’s only 6.6% (update 01/09/2010: I hadn't realised Crown entities and state-owned enterprises weren't part of the revenue figures I was looking at; it's really only 4.9% of Government revenue). of the annual budget we spend on people that wouldn’t be able to live otherwise. Sure they could get jobs, possibly. But what if they can’t? I don’t have the numbers for how many people are in complete need of a benefit versus those that are simply ripping off the system. Some of them, possibly the majority, don’t have a choice. Isn’t it a government’s job to look after the people? 39% of the government’s revenue comes from individual income tax. Roughly, that means that only $2.60 (update 01/09/2010: $1.90 with the new calculations) out of every $100 you earn goes towards allowing people far less fortunate live something that to you would barely resemble a life. Sure, you’re funding the odd joint, Sky bill or pint of Lion Red, but mostly you’re spending a couple dollars out of every hundred to try and lift people off rock bottom. If after all that you’re still furious at the amount of money that gets siphoned off the government bank accounts like so much petrol through a stolen hose, then I suggest you take a trip to rock bottom, and see how much you think a roof over your head is worth. More than a couple of dollars I’d wager.

PS: stop whining about all the money our Ministers are spending. Everything they do, including support personnel, official trips and the odd not-so official lunch, costs $60 million a year. That’s $0.06 billion for consistency. We spend more than that on treaty negotiations. These people are running our country. If you’re jealous of all the perks they get then run for office. Literally no one is stopping you.

PPS: if you really want to get riled up about something, how about the fact that our government only spends $0.77 billion on research, science and technology. That's less than they spend on carbon credits. Now that's something to whine about.

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