A public servant is under investigation over allegations that he said beneficiaries were "stupid" for having children.
The man, who works for the Ministry of Social Development, has been suspended amid questions about comments he posted on the Whale Oil blog.
Those comments, posted under a pseudonym, included: "Why is it that people who are *already* poor then decide to have babies and expect that they will be able to make ends meet? "
The man shouldn't have been reading Whale Oil and posting on work time (if he was). Some of his views may be objectionable.
But asking why poor people decide to have babies and expect to cope financially is a question that exercises many people. We know, and probably the commenter also knows, that every year one in five children will be become dependent on welfare directly or shortly after their birth. He may have even read the Ministerial Committee on Poverty report:
There is a significant group of children that spend most of their childhood in a benefit-supported household family and on low incomes for most of their childhood. According to Wilson and Soughton (2011) around 6% of children spend 13 or 14 years in benefit supported households families by the time they are 14 years. Thus, if we translate thisto the current group of children aged 0-14 years, this translates to over 50,000children (see figure 6). We also see that a further 130,000 children aged 0-14 years are expect ed to have spent more than half of their first 14 years on a benefit (or a further 15% of children), but less than 13 years. These children aged 0-14 years are likely to have the highest risk of material hardship.
This outcome is a direct result of parental decisions.
I wouldn't however call these people "stupid" . Their reasons may be entirely rational. They may be deep-seated and emotional. They may be cynical or just plain irresponsible. But if the "why" behind the major driver of child poverty isn't properly understood, then responses won't work.