I think we should draw a clear distinction between people who defraud the taxpayer of money that they are legally not entitled to, and people who just take advantage of the system. While we would love all our welfare-heads to be deserving, the massive cost of ensuring this when our welfare expenditure runs to $50m a day and around a million people, is just not possible. A better solution might be term limits, lifetime limits and making benefit information public to make more use of peer pressure.
But there should also be a distinction, in terms of public approval, between those who spend every cent and end up 20 years later with nothing, and those who save and build assets even while on welfare.
Take this bloke for example:
Inquiries have confirmed the 64-year-old who lives with his girlfriend Sandra Hilleard in the Christchurch suburb of Linwood is entitled to a benefit of around $200 a week because he suffers from deep-vein thrombosis, caused by the formation of blood clots in major veins.
The 64-year-old has been able to build up his own property portfolio while on an invalid's benefit "for more years" than he can remember.
Sunday News spoke to Cox after being told he had built up the property portfolio, worth nearly $500,000, while being on various benefits for 30 years.
To me there is nothing wrong with that. Welfare should not apply only to those with no assets, since it will then encourage people to have no assets. Don't fund what you don't want more of. In fact, someone who uses what little money welfare provides to actually increase his assets is a friend of capitalism (and extraordinarily thrifty!).
Mr Cox may or may not have been able to work while on welfare. Surely there is some job that he could have done. For someone to be on welfare for more than 6 months in a row, they should have to pass a fairly high test to continue.
But assuming that he has been declared eligible, his property should not be an issue. The more people we have with assets, the better for society.