Deborah Coddington

Deborah Coddington is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Deborah Coddington: DPB locks young mums in vicious cycle of poverty

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Welfare provides a dehumanising 'career' choice for teenagers. Photo / NZ Herald
Welfare provides a dehumanising 'career' choice for teenagers. Photo / NZ Herald

Paula Rebstock's Welfare Working Group's research and options will be a big, fat waste of money because no politician will dare take an axe to welfarism.

It's a menace nobody's bold enough to confront. Currently, 58,000 16 to 19 year olds are not in jobs, training or education.

Shocked?

Try this: one-third of parents bringing up children on the domestic purposes benefit had their babies when they were teenagers. Their kids are more likely to become beneficiaries than children raised by parents who work.

A decade after I started ranting (yes, ranting) about welfare, we still have the second-highest teenage pregnancy rate in the developed world after the United States.

But we can't even whisper "welfare" without critics like me being accused of beneficiary bashing. Isn't it time we started accusing those cheerleaders for welfare of taxpayer bashing?

Actually, I don't blame the beneficiaries. They've been patronised and lied to by generations of gutless politicians and lily-livered liberals who don't have the balls to admit if you pay people each time they have a baby, and ask nothing in return, they'll keep on having babies, even if they can't afford them.

Rebstock recommends preventing teen pregnancies with sex education and free access to contraception, but her report ignores the bleeding obvious - the DPB.

It's not about moralising. I'm nearly 60 and my generation were at it like rabbits when we were teenagers but there weren't masses of teenage pregnancies because there was no DPB. You couldn't raise a child on your own, therefore few women got pregnant.

State welfare is cruel, dehumanising and provides an alternative "career" choice for young women. In a Faustian trade-off, they become slaves to the state. Unlike voluntary welfare, which provides assistance and counselling along with material help, state welfare just chucks money at people. Supporters of the burgeoning welfare state are often the same people who oppose what they call the "dog-eat-dog" free economy, because in the market, they claim, everything is reduced to its monetary value. Well, what is the value of children? Because in stark reality, state welfare regards children as nothing more than a commodity - we pay people to have babies and if they want more, then we'll pay them more. .

Well excuse me but it takes two to make a baby, and that couple have family who could be made financially responsible before the taxpayer coughs up.

If the DPB was the last port of call, instead of the first, fewer unplanned pregnancies might ensue. With apologies to P. J. O'Rourke, we're paying to raise babies and we weren't involved in the fun of their conception.

And we pay mothers miserably. Surviving on the DPB is humiliating - nobody should have to do that. For young mothers there's the added frustration of curtailed freedom - they watch their friends go out each night while for them, a carefree youth has gone forever.

How can a welfare cheque take the place of a father surprising the kids at Christmas with a puppy?

Where's the minister of social services at 4am when the washing machine's overflowing from a sink blocked with dirty nappies, the last clean sheets have been vomited all over and mum needs someone to take her in their arms while she has a good howl?

I can anticipate the abusive comments coming my way but just ask yourselves these questions. Are you happy throwing mothers more taxpayer bucks a week and leaving them to get on with it?

Do you support inter-generational welfare? Is it a good thing that teenage mums on welfare are more likely to have no educational qualifications, mental health problems and be drug and alcohol dependent?

Is it okay that children raised below the poverty line are raised by parents on welfare? And do you honestly believe this is not connected to our appalling child abuse problem?

If all you readers answered yes to any one of these questions, it's time for me to retire to the library with a gun.

- Herald on Sunday

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