NZ’s Joe the Plumber?

Bruce the Engineer.

Turns out he and his wife have a lifestyle block in John Key’s well-heeled electorate and two rental properties, and the whole story was a plant by Phil Goff. This was a very poor choice of poster boy: nobody with a lifestyle block and two investment properties is entitled to cry poverty. Even if their cashflow situation means they’ll be doing it hard until Bruce finds another job, arguing that they should be entitled to full benefit plays right into the hands of those who argue Labour is all about middle-class welfare or, in this case, welfare for property-speculator millionaires. There is no way Labour can claim to speak to genuine need while they nail their colours to cases like this, people far better off than most of those who are Labour’s nominal constituency. What of all those who don’t have two houses and a lifestyle block to fall back upon? Honestly, it’s insulting.

Labour, if you’re going to try to cynically manipulate public opinion, can you at least make a halfway-competent job of it? Poor Bruce and Jo have been used as propaganda pieces by Phil Goff, and badly so. They lose, Labour loses, NZ loses.

Edit: Shorter Lew: “There are plenty of people for whom Labour could be going into bat during the current recession. These ain’t them.”


9 thoughts on “NZ’s Joe the Plumber?

  1. It was the right issue, but …

    The message should have been we have a minimum wage which went from $300 to $500 a week under a Labour government – thus it has reached the $25,000 working partner income amount set as the cut off level for a non working partner to claim the dole. Thus the $25,000 figure needs to go up to say $40,000 and be abated at say 50 cents in the dollar up to $60,000.

    Thus a full dole payment if the partner income is up to $40,000 – a half dole payment c$95 a week if your partners income is $50,000 and none if it is over $60,000.

  2. SPC, wordy, but I think it could have worked – things have changed (because of all the good stuff we did, etc.) and the old thresholds no longer apply.

    Still opens them up to the ‘nine long years’ defence, though.


  3. You mean the nine years focused on delivering lower and lower unemployment and not having much experience of people being laid off and becoming reliant on their partners income .. those years …

  4. SPC, yeah, so far as to say, why weren’t the thresholds changed during those nine long years?

    I didn’t say the defence had actual merit, but it is commonly-used and widely-repeated.


  5. The unemployment benefit is income tested, not asset tested. All you are doing is justifying a case for it to be asset tested as well. That cracks ajar a very dangerous door that Bill English would be very happy indeed to lever open wider.

    Your ugly envy of Burgess has suckered you into a rather basic error.

  6. RL, if you’re correct (and he’s in negative equity-land and is inevitably going to lose all of his properties), then what am I envious about, exactly? I don’t have a house – but I do have a ~25% deposit in cash in the bank, and I don’t have any debt bar a student loan. Seems he’d be envious of me.

    Aside from which, I don’t accept that people’s investment property failures should be supported by the government. It’s another thing to be forced to sell your family home – that I wouldn’t support.

    But the larger point is that we have a leader of the opposition who:
    * Thinks that people with two investment properties and a lifestyle block better represent his constituency than people without a bunch of assets who are in otherwise similar straits due to the recession;
    * Thinks that said people ought to be entitled to support which is no different in principle than those living in state houses or rented accommodation;
    * Thinks that it’s a-OK to plant some (but not all, or most) of the relevant details with the media, using the poor dude and his unfortunate family situation as a propaganda tool;
    * Has media staff incompetent to allow that to happen; and
    * Doesn’t even think he made an error by doing so.

    It seems Labour still don’t grok the ‘out of touch’ meme.


  7. 1. Why is someone with some assets (effectively owned by the bank, so let’s not get too excited about how rich he is) be any less deserving of being represented politically than anyone else?

    2. Yes I do believe that people are entitled to support during a crisis. Especially one that was largely beyond their control or making.

    3. Burgess went to the Herald BEFORE Goff used his details in public. Moreover Goff and Burgess were at least in contact prior; I think it reasonable to assume that Burgess consented to his case being highlighted in this fashion.

    4. It is you who has made the error; suckered by media/National attack lines.

    Really simple question. Do you or do you not believe that the Unemployment Benefit should be asset as well as income tested?

  8. Well, Red, as I’m sure you know under the current system there’s already the highly vexed question of “voluntary deprivation of income” but let’s not go there…..

    Lew’s right. Again. Labour really needs to learn the marketing game, and quick. Right or wrong doesn’t come into it for the crucial Jo & Joanne Swingvote.

    e.g.”NZ for sale!” is all they should be shouting today.

    (PS Love the “Shorter Lew” feature: but need a “shorter Pablo” more!)

  9. RL,

    Really simple question. Do you or do you not believe that the Unemployment Benefit should be asset as well as income tested?

    That’s not what’s at issue. The reason the Burgesses were denied the benefit was due to Jo Burgess’ income. Their problems aren’t due to a lack of income, they’re due to a surfeit of leverage.

    I’m simply arguing they are a poor choice of exemplar for Labour’s welfare agenda. An incredibly poor example, because the arguments against them receiving welfare are very simple and many, and the arguments for are very few and technical – and that’s not even getting into the propaganda aspects of the issue.

    This example had fail written all over it, as should have been obvious to anyone whose perspective wasn’t completely screwed up by political loyalty or economic identification. Calling failure out as failure isn’t being ‘suckered by National attack lines’ – it’s just refusing to be a squealing fanboi.


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