Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Why Maori and African American families fell prey to welfare

Following on from yesterday's post in which I said that Americans may think their sole parent families are unique, but ours disprove that claim...

Why are Maori families like African American families?

That's probably worthy of a dissertation.


Around the 1930-50s both groups were predominantly poor but had citizenship entitlements, unlike other minority counterparts. At that time both US and NZ governments started to earnestly move money from the wealthier to the poorer via taxation. Mostly, the transfer was justified on the basis of  'needy' children.

Both ethnicities had large families. So payments per child could mount up. The sums may have seemed relatively small to middle class families, but for people coming from a paltry income base - Maori from subsistence and African Americans from the abiding legacy of slavery - the sums were meaningful.

From there it is all too easy to understand how the male of these two cultures became increasingly dispensable. The state would provide a steady and guaranteed income if he disappeared. His absence might sometimes be  'manufactured'  but in the final analysis, his financial utility was deeply degraded. He had a heavy weight competitor in the government.

(And still some politicians want to continue and even increase these types of 'needy' children policies ignoring the damage that visits on the family structure which best supports those kids financially and emotionally.)


Anonymous said...

From there it is all too easy to understand how the male of these two cultures became increasingly dispensable. The state would provide a steady and guaranteed income if he disappeared.

But surely the same incentives apply to all males across society? This decision isn't being made by the male, but by the female who is disposing of the male. If it was just up to males, why wouldn't they always leave? Or rather, why does a government payment to mothers cause males to want to leave?

Really the problem here is not allowances per se, but allowances with relatively steep and low abatements: when it really doesn't matter to the mother or children if there is another wage earner or not.

Higher abatement levels - like Cunliffe's baby bonus up to $150,000 - or NZ's old child benefit - do not have this problem, although they have other problems.

Lucia Maria said...

You'll become a Conservative, yet, Lindsay. It's only a matter of time with posts like this one.

JC said...

I think you are missing a huge cultural shift in Maori and Afro-American families..

Back in the day both groups did comparatively well in their societies because they were big supportive families with a strong religious bent.

Feminism and social engineering had an unexpected success.. not with the educated white families but with the other groups.. they abandoned their religions and marriages in droves and married the State welfare systems.

The loss of stable families and religions in emerging societies is devastating in a modern world because there is neither the education or the culture to handle an increasingly sophisticated society where a young, educated white woman can switch between good work and Govt benefits to meet her life expectations of money, a child or two and a good partner (often well) down the track.. the poor Black/Brown girl just gets the handouts and deadbeat partners because there's no discerning market for whatever they have to offer.


Lindsay Mitchell said...

Lucia Maria, Just looking for economic (rational?) reasons for why things are as they are.

Anon, "But surely the same incentives apply to all males across society?" Did you read the sentences prior?

Lindsay Mitchell said...


When was "back in the day"?

From the time family benefits (1940s and paid to the mother) were given to Maori, the poorest communities displayed an unwelcome response. Men eased up on work effort. Gambling and alcohol problems became more pervasive. The family benefit was the form of welfare Apirana famously fought against.

Ironically though, in a parallel response, marriage rates amongst some Maori rose as people legitimised their partnerships in order to recieve these benefits. But after the DPB was introduced marriage lost its usefulness and Maori marriage rates are now very low.

Sure there were groups within both of the races that did well, and developed values that progressed committed self-sufficient families. Values that were not uncommonly christian values.
Your "cultural shift" is very apparent (yet to happen to Pacific people).

But my post is about the response of low income people to welfare (and most of the low income people were Maori).

Perhaps only the well-heeled could afford to retain their religious values?

JC said...

"Perhaps only the well-heeled could afford to retain their religious values?"

Or perhaps those with religious values are more likely to attain some degree of affluence and happiness? That certainly seems the case in the US.

Belief in God and religion of course is not the reason why families might be better off but because it provides an inner control on behaviour and way of life when upbringing and education have failed.

To put it another way I think Western Christianity evolved in a way to promote and somewhat protect wealth accumulation at all levels of society; and our modern efforts of tax and redistribution have been failures in emerging societies.


Anonymous said...

Touting his underlying intentions for the "Great Society" programs, LBJ confided with two like-minded governors on Air Force One . . .

“I'll have those niggers voting Democratic for the next 200 years"