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Why Welfare Reforms Won’t Make A Difference

By |August 14th, 2013|

On July 15th, 2013, changes came into force as part of the National-led government’s welfare reforms. Among other alterations, three benefits – Job Support, Sole Parent and Supported Living – have replaced the other main benefits. Parents are now required to enrol their children in early childhood education or else they will lose their benefits. The government is also requiring widows, working age grandparents looking after younger children and most of the disabled to look for employment. These ideas are not new, having already failed when they were introduced in the United Kingdom, where the job market had no use for these potential employees.

The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) is always willing to tell us their job training programmes have a success rate of over 90%. It’s easy to produce that result, when the only people who qualify for them are those who are easy to employ when they complete the course. In practice, this means taking on people who have some knowledge or skill in the field they are training in. In short, those who most need the training will never get on the courses. […]

“No Blood for Water”?

By |July 29th, 2013|

The Syrian Civil War and Its Possible Consequences
 Since 1975 most of the major military conflicts – Lebanon, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Afghanistan and Libya – have been civil wars. Regional or super powers have intervened supposedly to save lives and resolve each conflict. They supposedly try to do this by removing the “bad guys” but have ended up leaving the country they came in to ‘save’, an even bigger mess than it was before they intervened. Often, this is because the intervention is driven by profit or a power obsessed ideology, rather than any understanding of the real situation.
 In Vietnam the conflict was not just about the imperialists/capitalists on one side and the communists on the other. It was also a war between the people who lived in the highlands and those who lived in the lowlands, a war between the Catholic minority that dominated political life in South Vietnam and the Buddhist majority and a war between a Soviet-backed elite in Hanoi and a U.S-backed elite in Saigon (today Ho Chi Minh City). Only the ideologues on both sides believed it was a war of freedom or liberation. For most people it was a pointless and incredibly expensive bloodbath that left millions of Vietnamese civilians dead and deadly ordinance lying around everywhere, which still kills hundreds of people every year. […]