The Dim-Post

July 1, 2012

Do you have a better theory?

Filed under: psuedopolitics — danylmc @ 8:22 pm


Finance Minister Bill English has confirmed the unemployed will face drug tests to get the benefit.

I’m pretty sure National’s policy development process now consists of flashing ideas like this on a projector in front of a focus group of talk-back radio fans, and measuring how much drool and semen collects in a trough running beneath the chairs.

Last week National announced that they were going to reduce the number of unemployment beneficiaries by 30,000, because they cared about them SO much. Now we’ve seen how they’ll do it, I dread to see their solution for reducing childhood rheumatic fever rates.


  1. excellent more people who can’t get the benefit and will eventually become homeless and desperate will definitely fix the economy! can we get a new government on trade me?

    Comment by Amy — July 1, 2012 @ 8:33 pm

  2. when they tried this in Florida, it turned out that welfare recipients were less likely to use drugs than the general population (too poor?), it ended up the costs of the tests exceeded the savings from booting people off benefits, and it was declared unconstitutional

    Comment by Deano — July 1, 2012 @ 8:41 pm

  3. “oh you have a drug addiction problem? let us help you to cope with that by forcing you to go cold turkey, starving you and sending you to live under a bridge. No, no don’t mention it. We just want to show we care…”

    Comment by nommopilot — July 1, 2012 @ 8:54 pm

  4. *Bill English whilst thrashing an indigent layabout with his silver tipped malacca cane*

    “dignity? You want dignity? There will be nawt dignity for the likes of you, my boyo! Dignity is what us proper folks in the big house have, isn’t it!

    Comment by Sanctuary — July 1, 2012 @ 9:12 pm

  5. Bill English is also considering a new tax on sex. At ten cents a stroke, it is expected to have minimal impact on National’s support base.

    Comment by Will de Cleene — July 1, 2012 @ 9:14 pm

  6. @Will de Cleene. how would they monitor it? I know. An app on the smartphones that we all own. Even beneficiaries will soon be able to afford smartphones when they are no longer wasting their money on drugs.

    Comment by Amy — July 1, 2012 @ 9:20 pm

  7. “flashing ideas like this on a projector in front of a focus group of talk-back radio fans, and measuring how much drool and semen collects in a trough running beneath the chairs.”

    You mean Labour never did this?

    The Clark government did it ad nauseam. It brought them down in the end. Their support base walked away while angst ridden wealthy were assuaged.

    Quite what refusing someone an unemployment benefit will achieve in reducing crime or prisoner numbers I would need Garth McVicar to explain.

    Leaving an unemployed drug tested positive without support satisfies what Treasury Rule and achieves what national goal?

    Comment by peterlepaysan — July 1, 2012 @ 9:35 pm

  8. “There will be nawt dignity for the likes of you, my boyo!”

    Bill English is from Yorkshire now.

    Comment by Hugh — July 1, 2012 @ 9:54 pm

  9. Jesus christ, we ought to drug test the fucking retards that come up with this sort of shit instead.

    Comment by Vagabundo — July 1, 2012 @ 10:32 pm

  10. And people wonder why the emigration to Oz is the only thing to have boomed under John Key’s National regime. Words fail to express the revulsion, though Deano, nommo and Vagabundo above pretty much encapsulate it, as does Danyl’s post.

    @ peterlepaysan – nope, much as I despise Labour, they never stooped to anything like this. Labour could be smug, arrogant and ignorant all rolled into one, but they never targeted sections of the population for outright venal attack solely to achieve better dog-whistling with their target voter audience.

    Quite apart from the obvious cost and difficulty in testing for a huge range of legal and illegal drugs that could impair workplace safety (and hence employability or welfare worthiness) – the same problem National ignored when they announced drug testing of car drivers. ‘How do you do it, officer? That’s for John Key to know, and you not to question, sonny.’ Sheeesh.

    Comment by bob — July 1, 2012 @ 11:53 pm

  11. Huh, this is nuts! Can’t they think of something better than this?

    Comment by Carl — July 2, 2012 @ 12:42 am

  12. I wonder if they will expand this program to other government beneficiaries, such as ministers.

    Comment by Sam Vilain — July 2, 2012 @ 5:57 am

  13. Hugh, English is a Yorkshire Welshman evidenced by his penchant for using the term ‘boyo’ in his classware against the longterm oppressed pot smoker.

    Besides the graphic emotive narrative Danyl, why shouldn’t long term unemployed who make themselves unavailable for work by smoking too much dope be encouraged to get their shit together, man.

    Comment by dave — July 2, 2012 @ 6:08 am

  14. To answer dave 13 — first, I’d like some evidence that’s not anecdote that there’s even a problem here. Second, I’d like some evidence that the proposed solution would work. Third, IF there is a problem, AND the solution would work, I find the collateral damage in terms of personal liberty unacceptable.

    But beyond this, notice that the kinds of job given as examples are shitty, dangerous, boring, and importantly in this discussion, low-paid. Employers could solve the problem themselves by offering a level of pay that made it worthwhile to stay off drugs. Consider that given the price of any drug, legal or illegal, not much money is left out of the benefit, yet the pay rates offered offered for jobs allegedly aren’t tempting anyone to abstain for long enough to secure them. Here we see the coercive power of the state being wielded on behalf of employers to ensure a pool of labour is available at the price they want to pay, rather than the price set by the market.

    Comment by Stephen J — July 2, 2012 @ 8:15 am

  15. 75% of NZ Herald readers answering their online poll question:

    “Beneficiaries will have their welfare cut if they fail or refuse drug tests – do you agree with this policy?”

    think it is a sensible idea.

    So yes, your theory may well be right.

    Comment by MeToo — July 2, 2012 @ 8:24 am

  16. Nope, they’re not going to reduce beneficiary numbers by 30,000 any time soon, at least not by their own merits/ideas. If you hear anything on the news relating to their own efforts to curb unemployment, you’ll hear comments such as “In the past quarter, studies showed that eight thousand long-term beneficiaries got into work or training, thanks in part to the government’s measures to provide work and training opportunities to beneficiaries”

    You notice the “and training” part, and you think, “Okay, so 7,999 people have been put into training that is nothing more than a glorified preschool and 1 person has got a job. Yay!”

    Seriously though, some of you may be surprised at just what is being planned. The Green Card for 16 and 17 year old Independent Youth beneficiaries is being considered to extend next year to 18 – 20 year old beneficiaries; possibly 21 – 24 year old “Job Seeker” beneficiaries the year after that (2014) and perhaps even 25 – 29 year olds in 2015. Excuse the bluntness of speech, but if you’re 29 years old and on a benefit and you live in a country where you have to have your living expenses paid for by the government because they don’t trust you to pay for it by yourself, then you must think that your country and government are pretty screwed.

    In addition to this, we have a program whereby the Government will pay $5,000 to an employer for the first six months you are employed. This is being considered to be increased to $21,000 per annum (nearly, if not all, of the first year’s wages). Now the Natny state can froth at the mouth all they like about this next bit, but you have to wonder where all that money will come from (Future Investment Fund?)

    Comment by Daniel Lang — July 2, 2012 @ 8:26 am

  17. “…75% of NZ Herald readers answering their online poll question:

    “Beneficiaries will have their welfare cut if they fail or refuse drug tests – do you agree with this policy?”

    think it is a sensible idea….”

    I find it highly disturbing that across the English speaking world at least, from the Tea Party zealots in the USA to David Cameron and John Key’s attacks on beneficiaries (and apparently Stephen Harpur in Canada in an anti-democratic neo-liberal wingnut as well) we are seeing the mainstreaming of political tactics and rhetoric by the neo-liberal right of more and more of what most reasonable political observers would consider to be overt appeals to fascism. How much? Well Umberto Eco spoke of the features of eternal fascism, described here –

    and I invite people to re-read his description and reflect on how much of the rhetoric of this government and its supporters now resemble his 14 points. The appeal to selective populism, the sneering anti-intellectualism, the rejection of modernism in favour of a model of deeply punitive and reactionary society, the pandering to a frustrated middle class, the deliberate feeding of feelings of humiliation (clearly felt by talk back callers) at the “ostentatious” pot and booze and baccy lifestyle of the enemy within are all frighteningly familiar to anyone who has followed the false populism of the neo-liberal right over recent years.

    I am not saying I believe John Key’s government to be a fascist one. But he runs a remarkably authoritarian government heavily indoctrinated and informed by hard line neo-liberal thinking and beliefs. And in turn, it is getting harder and harder to tell the difference between hard line neo-liberalism and Umberto Eco’s Ur-Fascism.

    One day, if we are not careful, we may end up with a government where we might say that if it looks like duck, and it quacks like a duck, then surely IT IS a duck…

    Comment by Sanctuary — July 2, 2012 @ 9:29 am

  18. You’re right there, Sanctuary. The Nats have already covered the first six points. I feel that if they win in 2014, God forbid, they’ll extend their agenda to cover most of the remaining points.

    It was interesting to read about the traditionalism aspect of fascism. I clearly remember John key saying not so long ago that the values/ideas of National are well embedded in New Zealand politics and go back for seventy years, a very large portion of our political history. It’s mind blowing to go over how Key garnered so many votes by pointing to traditionalism and has now transcended his agenda to include the other five points. Whatever next?

    It’s clear that, for National, it’s not about creating jobs, or being financially astute, or anything else that is really important and should be their focus. Every single thing they’ve done can, I believe, be directly linked to what I feel is their agenda of promoting and encouraging and creating segregation in all areas of society. This (John Key) is a man that believes the Maori seats should be abolished. He has done everything to reward big business, for the sake of nothing of importance. And the worst part is that he has the tendency to “make it up as he goes along”, as evidenced by voting against Civil Unions and then, more recently, stating that he is not personally against gay marriage. This is your modus operandi, isn’t it, John? If you can’t pin your government’s actions and policies on the global debt crisis, you’ll just pin it on your electorate, won’t you?

    Comment by Daniel Lang — July 2, 2012 @ 9:45 am

  19. This does raise some interesting questions:

    1. How can a government that indulges in such serial buffoonery expect to be taken seriously be taken seriously?
    2. Are the 45%ish who still rate this government mentally defective or is polling somehow wildly skewed?

    I am genuinely puzzled.

    Comment by Gregor W — July 2, 2012 @ 9:46 am

  20. When I was the HR Manager of a factory about 20% of the attempted hires either:
    a) honest enough to say they’d fail a drug test and saved us the cost of testing
    b) said they’d pass but failed.

    So about 1 in 5 applicants offered jobs conditional on passing a drug test couldn’t do so. The industry I am in now has started implementing drug testing having finally managed to beat the unions protecting their unsafe mates (and a good number of the union organisers – surprise!) to get this in the currect collective contract. Having seen the dramatic reduction in accidents between untested and drug-free workplaces, as a safety initiative it is a very effective one.

    People on drugs hurt themselves, and hurt their work mates. As a drug test detects THC for up to 4 weeks since last use – and that is a medical determined limit based on actual impairment – their is a AS/NZS Standard that was developed to ensure this – drug testing beneficiaries so they will not fail this part of the employment process is a valid policy.

    Comment by Anon — July 2, 2012 @ 9:51 am

  21. People on drugs hurt themselves, and hurt their work mates.

    Which is why it is entirely appropriate to drug test people for employment purposes.
    But this is drug testing people for unemployment benefit entitlement purposes.

    It’s also not being couched in terms of offering support to get people off drugs and into meaningful employment.
    Therefore the policy announcement it’s both pointless and punitive.

    Comment by Gregor W — July 2, 2012 @ 10:12 am

  22. The programme of stigmatising the unemployed and whipping up resentment against them is partly about scaring the vulnerable employed into being more compliant lest they join the despised group, and partly to prevent both groups from making common cause.

    Also, it’s part of obfuscating that unemployment under our current arrangements is a function of broader economic factors and that individual choice plays little part in it. Bill isn’t really trying to get drug-addicted unemployed into forestry jobs: he’s creating propaganda that if it weren’t for their own fecklessness, every unemployed person would have a job.

    Comment by Stephen J — July 2, 2012 @ 10:24 am

  23. I’m against mandatory drug testing for Job Seeker beneficiaries simply because it’s money that shouldn’t come out of the government’s purse. If we think back to all the tax cuts and reductions in costs, such as ACC levies, that companies have been rewarded/indulged with by this government, and all the excuses and loopholes to deprive people of their basic human rights (parents not getting paid for caring for their disabled children, for example), it simply doesn’t make sense for the cost of drug-testing to come from taxpayer money; rather, it should be the prime time for employers to spend more money on drug-testing (only a fraction have drug-testing at present) because of the extra money they have to invest in creating more jobs in their companies (and therefore, to pay for the drug-testing themselves).

    Comment by Daniel Lang — July 2, 2012 @ 10:31 am

  24. Hey guys! I know a great way to make money that anyone who fails a drugs test *already has the social connections to do*! Even better, using drugs is an *asset* in that job (so long as you don’t deplete your own supply too badly). Entrepreneurship – that’s what we want, right?

    Comment by herroyaldingwall — July 2, 2012 @ 11:22 am

  25. @dave: English says “boyo”? Pen coc.

    Comment by Hugh — July 2, 2012 @ 12:09 pm

  26. As a govt employee, I am in some favour of ALL people who receive payment by the state being available for testing. That would include MPs and govt ministers obviously.

    Comment by Stephen D. — July 2, 2012 @ 12:21 pm

  27. @Gregor W

    So you are saying that unemployed – whose benefit is based on them being actively looking for work – should not be tested so if they do find work they would fail to get it? I am not paying them to stop their illegal drug use, looks like their ‘rights’ are being talked up, while their ‘responsibilities’ are ignored.

    And we are talking about illegal activity here – on the low side of the scale, but it is illegal. If you disagree, get the law changed, but while it is illegal I see no reason not to stop them doing it.

    I also find it amusing that many of the posters there and the blog owner sees conspiracies in everything – the policy is must not be to cut down drug use by the unemployed (and unemployable) so they could get a job if they are offered one – but it is for a whole range of other reasons. Maybe you should consider that most of the time the government does things because they think it is the right thing to do – there is no hidden cabal of Illuminati in the background pulling strings – this has all the hallmarks of the everything-is-class-war that Stalinists see the world. In most cases if there is a choice between conspiracy and incompetence, it is incompetence.

    Comment by Anon — July 2, 2012 @ 12:36 pm

  28. So National’s policy would take someone who is already on a downward trajectory and – in effect – hurl them off a cliff. Instead of seeing a problem and moving to address it…..they see a problem and move to suppress it. For me, this highlight the rational and procedural flaw inherent in many of their policies. Instead of helping someone obviously in trouble, they kick them while they’re down. The Tory Way…..I guess.

    Comment by Steve (@nza1) — July 2, 2012 @ 1:29 pm

  29. @anon

    My criticism is that the ‘solution’ (drug testing) doesn’t even remotely address the problem (unemployment).
    If the policy was matched with serious attempts to address issues actually related to either chronic unemployment or drug dependency then it might get traction.
    But it doesn’t . It’s a dog-whistle.

    A serious attempt to address the problems beyond rhetoric would at the following

    1. Funding for rehab (outside of prison) does not come close to meeting demand – NCAT recommended a 100% increase bringing availability to 50k (Note – BERL estimate there are up to 667k people who engage in ‘harmful’ level of drug and alcohol use. Obviously this population are not all unemployed but I suspect that group is over-represented.

    2. Ensuring that the minimum working wage award significantly exceeds social security. While there is an effective disincentive to undertake entry level, unskilled work, some people will avoid it and maintaining high level of structural unemployment and wage suppression. Maintaining this wage suppression is therefore an implicit subsidy from me, the taxpayer, to business.

    You are right on one count though – there is no conspiracy here, merely incompetence.

    Comment by Gregor W — July 2, 2012 @ 1:40 pm

  30. Sorry for the awful grammar and typos.

    Comment by Gregor W — July 2, 2012 @ 1:43 pm

  31. most of the time the government does things because they think it is the right thing to do

    It’s not “the government”. It’s the National Party. Invent slogan, then invent solution, then find problem to fit.

    Shouldn’t we have abolished those privileged Maori seats by now? They were the pressing problem that needed fixing, remember? (John Key hopes you don’t).

    If you don’t know a blow-up bogeyman when you see one, I can’t help you. An optometrist might.

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — July 2, 2012 @ 3:09 pm

  32. You are right @anon, this is incompetence. Incompetence in not identifying the problem, and incompetence in throwing up hurtful solutions because they (National) realise it will read well on a headline and resonate with a specific swathe of the population. Benefit bashing pisses me off no end.

    Comment by nw — July 2, 2012 @ 3:42 pm

  33. Hurtful solutions? Don’t be such a drama queen. Suggesting that someone who won’t go for a job interview because the job will get in the way of their recreational drug use is not hurtful it’s part of the social contract the citizen has with the state i.e. the state will look after you but you have a duty to get of your arse if at all feasible.

    Comment by merv — July 2, 2012 @ 4:05 pm

  34. This image just about sums it up.

    Comment by George D — July 2, 2012 @ 4:47 pm

  35. @Sanctuary – I cannot help recommending Robert Paxton’s “Anatomy of Fascism”. Is not Umberto Eco adding to the confusion ?

    Comment by Jack W — July 2, 2012 @ 5:09 pm

  36. @31 [something that would be familiar to Pastor Niemöller]

    …and there we see just how easy it is to push some people’s buttons.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — July 2, 2012 @ 5:11 pm

  37. I realize you might be busy writing a parody of Shelley’s latest gem which is actually really titled “Do you respond to misdirected texts?”. But if not, can you write a parody of this John Armstrong piece on John Key’s targets. Favourite line: “As usual, the left has underestimated Key. As he says, his Government is going boldly where no government has gone before. Others are struggling to keep up.”

    Comment by Amy — July 2, 2012 @ 5:33 pm

  38. @Anon

    How much are the drug tests?
    How often will they have to take them?
    Who in the back office/front line will manage this process?
    Is it fool proof? Will they be on the spot tests?
    How much will extra management cost the tax payer?
    What ROI can we expect?

    I suspect it will end up being, too expensive to test, to expensive and difficult to administer, be open to fraud/abuse and end up punishing a young guy for having a joint in the weekend and missing out the hard cases which are pretty unemployable anyway…

    Comment by andy (the other one) — July 2, 2012 @ 5:39 pm

  39. As a drug test detects THC for up to 4 weeks since last use – and that is a medical determined limit based on actual impairment – their is a AS/NZS Standard that was developed to ensure this

    I feel obliged to point out that this is complete and utter nonsense.

    THC breaks down into various non-psychoactive metabolites very quickly, usually within three hours. It’s those metabolites that are tested for in nearly all workplace drug tests, precisely because they’re stored in body fat and excreted relatively slowly. The idea that someone who smokes a joint remains impaired a month later appeals to no science of which I am aware.

    Comment by dubwisenz — July 2, 2012 @ 5:45 pm

  40. Also, so far as I am aware, refusing a job “because I know I’ll fail the the drug test” is already not an excuse. You can already have your benefit suspended if you do this. So … WTF?

    Comment by dubwisenz — July 2, 2012 @ 5:49 pm

  41. “as far as I’m aware” = no evidence. So … WTF?

    Comment by Tim — July 2, 2012 @ 6:56 pm

  42. Gregor Gregor Gregor.

    “BERL estimate there are up to 667k people who engage in ‘harmful’ level of drug and alcohol use” BERL are renowned for being whores to the highest left spending client.

    “Ensuring that the minimum working wage award significantly exceeds social security Social Security was designed as safety net for those getting back on their feet it was and is not a “wage”. If you want a wage get a job.

    Comment by Tim — July 2, 2012 @ 7:04 pm

  43. Tim, refusing to take any paying job without a legitimate reason (something which is interpreted narrowly) is grounds for removal from the unemployment benefit, and has been for a very long time. They’re not at all interested in labour productivity, or social good or anything else. A case manager’s number one metric is how many people he or she knocks off the list.

    Comment by George D — July 2, 2012 @ 7:27 pm

  44. Well it’s obviously not interpreted narrowly enough, legitimately.

    Comment by Tim — July 2, 2012 @ 7:57 pm

  45. Ah, Bob, you might want to look at “the Pacific Solution” before getting too excited about things being better over in Oz. If you think the “turn the boats back” brainfart was bad, the Ozzie government are really struggling to decide whether sending the refugees to Indonesia or Maylasia or Nauru would be worse (ie, preferred), and in the meantime isn’t it great that so many of the boats are sinking? Plus the Liberal state governments are busy trying to cut their way into a real recession so they have something to blame Labour for.

    Not that there’s any chance I’ll be moving back any time soon, halving my pay is a bit too much to take.

    Comment by Moz in Oz — July 2, 2012 @ 8:14 pm

  46. “as far as I’m aware” = no evidence. So … WTF?

    No, it means I looked at Work and Income’s listed Exemptions from Work Obligations:

    But am not discounting the possibility that there are things I don’t know or have missed. FFS.

    Comment by dubwisenz — July 2, 2012 @ 8:23 pm

  47. Is being drug fucked an allowable temporary illness then. FFS.

    Comment by Tim — July 2, 2012 @ 8:25 pm

  48. People on drugs hurt themselves, and hurt their work mates.

    If you’re working in an office and have got completely wasted on Sunday night then on Monday morning chances are at the office you would be of no immediate physical threat to your collegues.

    If on the other hand you’re on a logging gang and your weilding a chain saw or driving something with huge steel claws then things might be a bit different.

    From what I hear young people not managong their dope smoking are finding it difficult to get or maintain jobs in forestry.

    That’s just forestry, where drug and acohol abuse have been a work safety issue for quite sometime – I think Jim Anderton had a hand in the testing regimeback when he was minister – not sure about other areas.

    And it’s not just an issue of whether a person is still stoned, but their overall ability to make good decisions in real time.

    Comment by NeilM — July 2, 2012 @ 8:55 pm

  49. DP, occasionally I check in to see where your superior leftie morality is leading you and I think you have reached a new plateau with “Semen and drool collecting in the trough between the chairs from talk back radio fans” Congratulations -I can’t imagine what the warm glow feels like. Hope you’re keeping that govt. paid seat warm. You’ll need it in the brave new world.

    Comment by Barry boyd — July 2, 2012 @ 8:59 pm

  50. I imagine John Banks, standing up for personal liberty and the eviction of the nanny state from citizens’ lives, will be aghast at the affront to personal liberty.

    Comment by Teej — July 2, 2012 @ 10:03 pm

  51. I know many functioning potheads with successful careers – I’ve even had a toke with a group of middle-aged surgeons.

    I have met a few alcoholics – all of them were totally non-functional.

    Anyone with half a clue knows that weed is a far safer, more responsible choice. If I was working in forestry with chainsaws and steel clawed vehicles I’d much rather be working with the guy who had smoked a joint the night before as opposed to the fellow who’d sunk a bunch of 8% bourbon RTDs.

    Comment by Rob — July 2, 2012 @ 10:07 pm

  52. I’ve even had a toke with a group of middle-aged surgeons.

    If they could let us all know who they are so we could make an informed joice about being on their list that would be handy.

    But work place testing in forestry isn’t, as far as I can tell, about making sure no-one ever smokes or drinks rather that it doesn’t interfere with workplace safety.

    And doctors who indulge to the point where it effects their job don’t get indulged for very long.

    Comment by NeilM — July 2, 2012 @ 10:27 pm

  53. @49 I have met a few alcoholics – all of them were totally non-functional.

    Well, Winston Churchill allegedly put away two bottles of Johnnie Walker every night and history tends to note that he functioned rather well during a certain altercation with a European power.

    However, that aside, this thread seems to be diverting into debating the finer points of addiction and the kind of person it makes one… which distracts from the essential point – that is, the preservation of the absolutely essential principle of human dignity, no matter what one’s current socioeconomic status. I consider that yet another aspect of the principles that find expression in the presumption of innocence and the right to privacy.

    Those who say that the unemployed deserve to be routinely drug tested have to provide a convincing argument that would support compulsory daily urine testing by their own employers in order for them to remain on their payroll. Considering the revelation of ACC’s jolly japes lately, would they really be so trusting of authority?

    “The innocent have nothing to fear” is not an argument that washes with me* – indeed I find it quite repellant, because it carries with it the implication that one might be guilty and that that therefore is significant. In our society, under our justice system, the burden of proof lies on the accuser – or the insinuator – not on the accused. Therefore one should not under any circumstances be coerced to do anything on the presumption that one might be guilty.

    Further to “The innocent have nothing to fear”, I wonder if people who like the idea of a society that continually builds fences between the proper and improper folk are really so confident that no fence is ever going to be built that puts them on the wrong side? (Which is what I meant to indicate with my reference to Pastor Niemöller.)

    *Yes, I know that it’s not been explicit, but it’s certainly implicit @33

    Comment by Rhinocrates — July 2, 2012 @ 10:31 pm

  54. Erratum: my own reference @36 was to @33, not @31.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — July 2, 2012 @ 10:35 pm

  55. I wonder if people who like the idea of a society that continually builds fences between the proper and improper folk are really so confident that no fence is ever going to be built that puts them on the wrong side?

    I think a society must – to exist as a community – build fences between proper and improper actions but at the ever present risk that is generalised to folk.

    I’m scepical of the whole thing but that’s probably the best we can do and in many places at the moment it’s not looking good.

    Comment by NeilM — July 2, 2012 @ 10:51 pm

  56. The political rhetoric these days is very definitely about folk, not actions.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — July 2, 2012 @ 11:03 pm

  57. I wonder if a convicted criminal such as “Sir” Douglas Montrose Graham would like to be required to submit to a regular urine test in order to retain his taxpayer-funded perks as an ex-MP and his knighthood despite his proven criminality versus that of an unemployed person who might or might not be a drug addict? John Key, I note has said that there is no possibility of him being stripped of his title until he has exhausted all possibilities of appeal. The presumption of innocence obviously matters a great deal to our dear, principled and wise Prime Minister. Have Bill English and Paula Bennett received the memo yet?

    Comment by Rhinocrates — July 2, 2012 @ 11:11 pm

  58. The people who’ve commented about Florida and ministers being paid by the taxpayer have probably seen this already, but it’s worth watching

    Comment by Flynn — July 2, 2012 @ 11:11 pm

  59. these days looking at some of the classic Greek plays we may have been stuck there for a while.

    Surgeons have spent a significant period of time proving their application, perservance, dedication and safety. A teenager going into forestry isn’t in quite the same position.

    That’s not to say they shouldn’t get tested but they’ve already been through an extended period where they have had to function at a very high level and if they falter then that gets picked up quickly. Most often at least.

    Comment by NeilM — July 2, 2012 @ 11:18 pm

  60. I’m afraid that you appear to be dodging the question. You’re talking about “a surgeon” and “a teenager”, ie., classes and types of people – one wealthy professional and the other young, unqualified and likely to be Maori. Paula Bennett and Bill English are talking specifically about poor and unemployed beneficiaries, and do not include rich former National Party ministers. That’s bad enough, but the fact is that supposedly tried and tested professionals do show not only moral weakness, but calculated criminality or grossly improper behaviour, as has been shown by a number of widely-publicised trials and leaks from ACC.

    I believe that people have universal rights and a universal dignity irrespective of social class or profession. Imposing the state’s powers of coercion and intrusive surveillance according to class means that we have two levels of citizenship and two levels of freedom.

    It’s interesting that you mention surgeons. The first line of the Hippocratic oath is “First do no harm” The intention of that is to warn a doctor that a medical intervention aimed at curing a disease may in fact be worse. It may be desirable to reduce drug use, but in doing so, is it worth dividing society into classes with different legal and constitutional rights and liberties? I prefer a few drug users on the street to the creeping expansion of state power to monitor and coerce people.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — July 3, 2012 @ 6:52 am

  61. “…I prefer a few drug users on the street to the creeping expansion of state power to monitor and coerce people…”

    Of course, a true Tory or a true libertarian would agree with you. Alas, our so-called right wing are constantly revealed by issues like this (and others) to actually be pettifogging authoritarians, who if it were not for beneficiary bashing with Leighton would otherwise spend their lives agreeably peering through their venetian blinds muttering about the neighbour and penning poison letters to lotto winners.

    Comment by Sanctuary — July 3, 2012 @ 7:18 am

  62. Talk about taking the most extreme possible reasson for a fairly simple policy. The unemployed have to be available for work if offered – it’s part of the ‘social contract’ as it were – being in a position where they would fail a pre-empolyment drug test is a failure on their part to meet this requirement.

    As for drug testing – in all the places I’ve worked were drug testing was in place, everyone, from CEO down was eligible for testing – just recently the CEO was visiting a site where the client can in for a random drug tests and he was one of the ones selected – which he was happy to do so – I’ve now got a copy of his passed test in his personnel file. No big deal. I’ve had several already. No problem. I am for drug testing to come in much more workplaces.

    Comment by Anon — July 3, 2012 @ 10:04 am

  63. @ anon

    Just to be clear on what ‘social contract’ generally describes (note: quotes reference the idea of social contract in a US context but can be taken as indicative of social democracy);

    “By working hard and contributing to productivity, profits, and economic growth, workers and their families could expect improved living standards, greater job security, and a secure and dignified retirement.”

    “The postwar social contract was grounded in New Deal legislation that established a minimum wage, other wage and hour regulations, and labor laws that allowed workers to build the bargaining power needed to enforce wage-determination norms and principles in negotiating with large corporations. The undermining of this system of regulations, and of union bargaining power, accounts for significant portions of the wage lag.

    So it’s more about to workers their working conditions and awards, rather than the unemployed.

    Comment by Gregor W — July 3, 2012 @ 1:51 pm

  64. available for work if offered

    They meet the requirement by turning up. We don’t need the added panty-sniffing.

    You might be comfortable with random surveillance of your blood chemistry, but that does not mean that everyone else must be, or have no choice in the matter.

    a fairly simple policy

    By the way, simplicity is not a virtue in itself – take for example the expression “simple minded”. Here’s a nice quote from H. L. Mencken:

    For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — July 3, 2012 @ 1:58 pm

  65. Anon, just wondering, but what happens if an employee fails the test? Eg, someone uses a year’s leave in one block, and two weeks after they return to work they fail a random test.

    I’m just wondering why failing a test pre-employment necessarily means anything.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — July 3, 2012 @ 3:18 pm

  66. No problem. I am for drug testing to come in much more workplaces.
    Anon, what purpose would a drug test serve if all it it does was proved that someone smoked a joint two weeks ago ? Being intoxicated at work is one thing, but being intoxicated (or simply merry) on your time is really none of an employer’s business, unless the worker turns up with a hangover.

    What’s really going on is that there is no test for good work ethic or good attitude, but there is a test for drug use. Talk about having a hammer and everything starting to look like a nail…

    Comment by mikaerecurtis — July 3, 2012 @ 4:11 pm

  67. As long as we test everyone getting government funding no problem.

    As long as we test kids at school balls and take away all funding to their school if any of them fail.

    Comment by sheesh — July 3, 2012 @ 9:08 pm

  68. As long as we test everyone getting government funding no problem.

    Like Cabinet Ministers, or ambassadors …

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — July 3, 2012 @ 11:45 pm

  69. Tim

    It is interpreted narrowly enough already. If you don’t have a car or a driver’s license, you are still expected to take temporary contract work in a vineyard if it is offered to you. Lack of transport isn’t an excuse not to take a job and the case managers will stop your benefit and worktest you if you are on an unemployment benefit and won’t take a crap job because of transport reasons, or because of lack of financial sensibility of taking the job (it may pay less than the benefit, once petrol is taken into account), or because of any number of reasons.

    Comment by Daniel Lang — July 4, 2012 @ 1:16 pm

  70. The pot’s calling the kettle black. Remember when Nandor Tanczos spoke of politicians “drunk in charge of a country?” Well, it goes back further than that…

    Comment by deepred — July 6, 2012 @ 12:45 am

  71. @deepred: I have it on good authority that Don McKinnon let down the tires in Muldoon’s car, forcing him to take a taxi and probably saving that night ending with a story about the Prime Minister pranging off The Terrace and killing himself.

    Now there’s an idea for an alternative history essay…

    Comment by Hugh — July 6, 2012 @ 3:25 am

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