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Lethal welfare?

Filed under: General — domviol @ 4:46 pm Sat 1st July 2006

Jim Peron writes on Lethal Welfare

Lethal welfare?
Posted by Jim at 7:25 pm on 26/06/2006

Institute for Liberal Values of New Zealand

Before delving into the horror of the Kahui story, I should recapitulate for the visitors to this site from outside New Zealand who wouldn’t know what I’m talking about.

A woman brings her infant twins to hospital claiming, “they won’t eat.” The reason they won’t eat is they were almost beaten to death. She then clams up and demands an attorney. She has been on welfare apparently her entire life. She had four children by a previous partner. She gave birth to the twins (who were triplets but one died) and had another child one year earlier with her current 21-year-old boyfriend.

They live in a house provided by the government. Also living there is the boyfriend’s (Chris Kahui) father who goes by the name Banjo. In addition, two apparently younger sisters of Chris live in the house. Both are apparently shacked up with men who also live in the house. One of the men is the brother of the twins’ mother (Macsyne King). As well, two brothers of Chris live there along with the boyfriend of one of the brothers. Chris’ sister Mo has a daughter with Macsyne’s brother (Stuart) who also lives in the house. So, while it is hard to determine the exact number of people in this household it appears to be around 14 or 15 and higher on occasions.

That they may or may not “officially” live there is probably related to welfare benefits that increase when the mother is not “living” with the father.

The “family” lives off the benefits. The New Zealand Herald reported: “Only one person has a job, as a cleaner. Party nights are Tuesdays and Thursdays, when the rest of the adults get their benefits. The parties rage through the night until the fighting gets dirty and the sickening crunch of bodies being hurled against walls begins. Alcohol is a priority. Sometimes the group sit in the dark and drink rather than pay the power bill.”

Macsyne King is listed as being 27 years old. Yet she has given birth to eight children, one which died after birth. One birth was to triplets but still she got pregnant apparently six times. News reports don’t say at what age this first happened. But she spent 54 months of her still young life pregnant. If she only got pregnant every year and a half that would make her first pregnancy at 18 and she barely stopped since then. She appears to have never married, has no means of supporting children, and didn’t appear greatly concerned about it.

The twins were premature and kept at the neo-natal unit for their first six weeks. The hospital reported that she and Chris rarely visited the children and seemed uninterested in them. The hospital reported this informally, finding such behaviour abnormal. Indeed it is.

So we have a multigenerational “family” that survives on welfare and brings children into that environment. Someone in that family apparently beat these two infants, beat them to death since both died shortly after. But even before the first infant died the adults in this “family” met and decided to not co-operate with police. Chris and Macsyne both have attorneys who, no doubt, are paid for by the taxpayers. The taxpayers paid up to $60,000 in medical bills for the Macsyne’s last pregnancy. She would have received state benefits to pay for the previous five pregnancies as well. She no doubt receives the DPB since Chris is not officially married to her and claims to actually live elsewhere. Chris’ one sister probably receives DPB as well. And there are numerous other benefits from unemployment to housing subsidies that the various unemployed members of the family receive.

If this one “family” has not eaten up hundreds of thousands worth of benefits I would be very surprised. Considering that Chris’ parents also live off benefits and considering the size of the family it could well be in the millions by now.

And the money goes for booze and partying.

While all this was going on the great reform being pushed by the Labour Party government was to force all dogs to get electronic chips. The reason for this long debate was a small number of dog attacks on children. These attacks are few and far between. Yet in a recent 10 year period over 100 children have been beaten to death in New Zealand.

Now imagine the controversy if the dog owners had been paid to breed the dogs. What if state funding had it made it possible, or at least more likely, for people to breed violent, aggressive dogs. People would be furious. Yet what percentage of these 100+ children were born onto benefits?

We can’t ignore the fact that paying people to have children will mean more such children are born. Who needs the benefits? Sometimes it is people temporarily in need. But when it is a dysfunctional family that’s been on welfare for generations, one which is clearly incapable of caring for themselves, then helping these people produce children is only going to increase child abuse. More children will die because the state rewards bad families for having children.

If the press accounts are accurate the situation would appear to be this: numerous adults, most unemployed, are living together in government housing. Benefits they receive are used to party. The benefits are their only means of partying as they are mostly unemployed. Each child born in this household is another or extra benefit coming in. Of course, the money could all be spent on the children but that doesn’t appear to be the case. The Herald reported: “Two other children who lived in the same house have been taken into CYF care and treated in hospital for what police described as neglect. Detective Senior Sergeant Tims said the children had not been fed properly and were not entirely clean.” One child belongs to Chris and Macsyne and the other apparently belongs to Macsyne’s brother who fathered the child with Chris’ sister.

Again, if press reports are accurate, the money was apparently not spent on maintenance of the home either. It was described as run down, dirty, mould growing on the wall, unkempt, etc. So the benefits were not spent on upkeep as apparently none was done. Some money would have gone on rent but with so many “tenants” in a state house it would have been a miniscule amount apiece. Minimal amounts were spent on the children who were described an malnourished and neglected. It wasn’t spent on the hospital costs for Macsyne’s multiple pregnancies as those were also paid for by the government. But it was spent on partying.

The Herald reports the they would rather drink than pay the electricity bill. Neighbours report multiple drinking parties per week at the home. Maori former MP, John Tamihere described the problem: “”The type of profile: beneficiary family, probably second or third generation, no doubt Maori. While they are kin relations, there is no discipline, no culture, no values in those relationships.”

“What invariably happens is you are degraded to an extent you’re addicted to certain bad behaviours. You become hugely self-centred over getting whatever fixes you.

“The net result of that is you don’t care about your conduct, you don’t care about its ramifications, about its impact.

“You just care about the next 14 days till you get your ‘bene’. In between, you might have been able to score booze, dope and you might have had a good flutter on the pokies. Your life is a narrow funnel.”

Michael Laws describes these sorts as the permanent underclass. Yet this permanent under-class exists in every welfare state. It ranges across ethnic groups. It isn’t about race. It is about the values these people hold. They are dysfunctional. Without state aid they would have a hard time of it. With aid they have a hard time of it. Money is not the problem. It is a symptom of the problem. These kinds of people are not dysfunctional because they are poor. They are poor because they are dysfunctional.

Laws describes the underclass “As likely as not, they will have alcohol and drug issues. They will be beneficiaries. They will hover on the fringes of gangs or organised crime, if not be directly involved. They have low IQs, low literacy and no real skills other than to drink, smoke, bludge and breed.

And it’s not as if rogue families like the Kahui have not had generous state assistance over the years – free education, free health, free welfare and free legal.”

That is part of the problem. No one can question that sometimes a helping hand can ease people through a bad spot. But bad spots don’t last a lifetime, let alone several generations. What is beneficial to a person in a temporary situation is not beneficial to those who are inherently dysfunctional.

Consider what state benefits did for the Kahui/King clan. It paid for the drinking and partying. It gave them a free party house and paid for the booze and whatever else may have been involved. And then came the violence which followed the drinking, the drinking paid for by the generous welfare state. Can we actually consider the murders of these two babies was paid for by the welfare state? Or is that completely off the table for discussion?

Welfare is the great enabler for the truly dysfunctional. It removes them from many of the consequences of the decisions they make. It’s hard to drink and party and hold down a job and if you need the job to pay for the booze you have a problem. But welfare solves that problem. You don’t need a job to buy the booze since Nanny Welfare will buy it for you. Of course, Nanny will give you pamphlets, which you don’t or can’t read, telling you that you shouldn’t drink, especially when pregnant. But then those benefits arrive and the bingeing begins

We have all met people in genuine need and I suspect many, if not most of us, have helped such people. Over the years, I have allowed 4 different people to live in a spare room while they got on their feet. In two cases I gave the people jobs. In another case I gave an older woman, caring for her grandchild, a part time job and free housing. But none of these people went out drinking and partying.

If they had, I wouldn’t have helped them. If they have money for booze they don’t need my help. They may not have a home but they don’t need my help. They may not have food to eat but they don’t need my help. They have their priorities. They would rather be drunk and party than make an effort. We know that in cases like this throwing money at such people only enables them to make their own lives more and more difficult.

But the welfare state is more perverse than that. It does give them money. It does subsidise their problems. In fact the more dysfunctional they are the more benefits to which they are entitled. That’s bad enough. But the state also financially rewards these people for breeding. The more children they have the more benefits they can collect. So four, five, six, seven or eight children in such families are not unusual. Macsyne King gave birth to eight and is only 27 years old.

The state is paying people to breed. Ostensibly the money is to help them care for the children. The state hopes, wishes, or tries to police the care of these children but it often fails miserably to do so. It is good at handing out the cash but pathetically incapable of ensuring the money is not wasted on booze, drugs, cigarettes and the like, while children are neglected, or worse yet, beaten. We have an entire department that is supposed to do nothing but monitor for children in distress. Yet they say most the children that were killed by their caregivers were not even on the department’s radar at the time.

The system penalises good parents who work for a living. They pay more and more in taxes to finance the welfare net while the system subsidises bad parenting by increasing the benefits each time a new child is born into an already dysfunctional family. Why?

No one in their right mind would hand money to alcoholics without realising they will spend it on booze. Giving money to such people is only making things worse for them and for those around them. If there is going to be a welfare state it really ought to realise that families like this one are perpetually dysfunctional and that showering money on them won’t solve the problem. Watch what happens to underclass families that win the lottery. No matter how many millions they may win it is only a matter of years before they are bankrupt or dead because of their own values.

Poverty is the symptom of the problem for these people – not the cause. That’s why alleviating poverty with welfare payments doesn’t solve the problem. But it does finance the very values which caused the poverty. In such cases benefits do not give a person a hand up but help keep them down.

As long as there are welfare benefits, at the very least, there ought to be some common sense rules. If the beneficiary has money for alcohol then they don’t need benefits. If they have money for drugs, they don’t need benefits. If they have money for cigarettes and partying, they don’t need benefits. Welfare should not subsidise the destructive results of drinking, drugging and constant partying. If someone in need has these problems and is willing to address them, then evidence that they have done so ought to precede any financial handouts. The handouts should stop the moment drug or alcohol use is indicated. I see nothing wrong with testing beneficiaries for drugs or alcohol. If they don’t want to be tested that is fine but then they shouldn’t have access to public funds. The taxpayers have to stop footing the bills for drunks and druggies who choose this lifestyle.

Benefits should not increase every time a beneficiary has another child. Paying people to breed only means that the most dysfunctional, inept parents will breed. This puts children into the very homes that should not have children in them. That’s why we see case after case of horrible deaths like this. This sort of “compassion” is killing children. It has to stop.

If the parents are incapable of caring for their children they must not have more. If they have more than they can care for then adoption ought to be practised. I’m not talking about a woman with four children and a husband who is doing well until her husband is killed in an accident. But I am talking about the teenager who gets pregnant and suddenly is showered (at least in her mind) with benefits. She can have her own home, not have to marry, not have to find a job, and still have her friends and the parties. A year later she does it again and then again and then again.

Eight such children for King. Eight. And she is apparently incapable of caring for any of them. Four are in the care of a previous partner. One died in child birth (which is not necessarily her fault — though drinking could impact this), two were killed under her care and one was taken from her because the police say he was neglected. Of the seven children she gave birth to there is no evidence she was capable of caring for a single one of them.

If there is a benefit to a woman who has a child outside marriage then it ought to be limited at the time of application to only that child. More births ought not lead to increased benefits. Otherwise we are just rewarding women to continue having children for whom they cannot, or will not, care. Paying people to have children, when those people are incapable of even caring for themselves, only puts children at risk. This tragedy should never have happened.

Yes, anyone who knew these children were at risk should have helped. But would King have had eight children by the time she was 27-years-old without all the welfare benefits? Could she have managed that without the help of Nanny State? Had she continued to get pregnant would she have kept custody of children without the benefits she was receiving?

Just imagine what life might have been like in the “heartless” world where Nanny doesn’t subsidise everything. Let us even assume that Chris and Cru Kahui had still been born but Nanny didn’t provide the party house for their mother and father and a dozen other people. It didn’t pay for the booze. Someone in that household would have to work for a living and there would be less partying and less drinking. Maybe Macsyne and Chris would marry, settle down and grow up some. And if they didn’t, how would they pay the bills? And if they couldn’t pay for her seventh and eighth child maybe they would have agreed to an adoption or taken precautions.

Awful? Perhaps. But had it happened those two babies would most likely not have been beaten to death.

Posted by Jim at 7:25 pm on 26/06/2006


  1. Hi Domviol and Jim,

    I read the article yet noticed afterwards you had copied the whole thing. You may not be allowed to do that but we will see.

    Anyhow, Fantastic post. I would never have found that without you. Who are these people? Liberals, eh? Sounds like an Australian Political Party yet it is New Zealand. But they get funding.
    What a shame they don’t allow comments, that would be awesome.

    Comment by julie — Sat 1st July 2006 @ 5:58 pm

  2. Brilliant Jim.
    A heartrending eulogy for those poor wee souls.
    Perhaps if your words carry the day with the powers that be the twins grim death will have meant something positive. For that we can but hope and pray.
    May they rest in peace.

    Comment by Stephen — Sat 1st July 2006 @ 9:33 pm

  3. The management of failure,
    By the failure of management.

    Comment by Bevan Berg — Mon 3rd July 2006 @ 1:30 am

  4. It is very easy to blame the system.

    The whole Kahui episode has given many people an outlet for expressing their prejudices about Maori and about benefits. Such words are going to be a lot of help to the Kahuis and will certainly help prevent future incidents, eh?

    Comment by Kent — Mon 3rd July 2006 @ 1:13 pm

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