Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Paying Family Members to Care for Their Disabled Relatives is a Step Too Far

I have some sympathy for the plight of people like this gentleman who have to devote a considerable portion of their lives to looking after sick and disabled relatives at considerable personal time and cost to themselves.  But I think the decision of the New Zealand Court of Appeal that says the Government is discriminating when they don't pay such people for such care is a step too far in the constant expansion of the welfare state.

It is yet another example of the activist judiciary in this country going outside their constitutional role and making social policy law.  The judiciary should not make such law because they are not accountable to the public, as the legislative and executive branches are meant to be, for the funding and outcomes of such policies.  Unfortunately it is the poor taxpayer that once again will have to pick up the tab for the judiciary's largesse, as they have had to do with the flood of Treaty of Waitangi claims following Justice Cooke's infamous determination of the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi (where no such principles previously existed).

This decision sets a dangerous precedent.  It seems there is now no limit on what is a reasonable claim on the welfare system.  Should adult children now be paid for the care of their elders?  Should teenage children be paid by the state for the babysitting of their younger siblings?

New Zealand, like most other Western nations, is already living well beyond its means.  Last year the Government spent a third more than it took in taxes and all this profligacy has to be paid for by current or future taxpayers.  The taxes that are required to fund the welfare state are already crippling personal and business enterprise and eliminating our ability to save and invest for the future.  Demographic factors (i.e. the aging population and proportionately ever-smaller number of taxpayers) mean that by any measure the current situation is unsustainable.  The Court of Appeal decision just adds to the unsustainable burden.

The appropriate response of the Government to the Court of Appeal's decision is to stop all payments to carers of sick and disabled people.  This would be tough on the current recipients of paid care and their families, but the Government must demonstrate to the judiciary the implications of such activist decisions.  If it is now  discrimatory to expect families to look after their own, then we must non-discriminatorily abolish all such benefits.


Rosemary said...

Dear Whoever you are,
I am the full-time unpaid carer of my pre-ACC tetraplegic partner.
Had the Boss waited a couple of years before breaking his neck, he would now be secure in the knowledge that Uncle ACC will fund for all his care, equiptment, housing modifications, vehicles and the like, almost unconditionally for the rest of his life.
%80 of his pre accident earnings would also be paid to him...with no means or assest testing.
Non-ACC disabled are treated like garbage in comparison.
You clearly have a number of misconceptions about disability supports in New Zealand, and a lack of understanding of Human Rights Issues, and exactly what this case was about...did I perhaps see you in the Courtroom at any of the three hearings???

Please feel free to contact me if you wish to have your conciousness raised on this issue....or are you content to vent on topics you obviously have little knowledge of.

Kiwiwit said...

Dear Rosemary, as I said, I have the utmost sympathy for your plight but you appear to have missed the whole point of my post - we cannot have unaccountable judges deciding our social and fiscal policies. The judiciary doesn't have to pay for anything, taxpayers do, and every cent that is spent on health, welfare or ACC has to come from some hardworking taxpayer. The only mechanism for holding the government accountable for its spending is a general election, something judges never have to face. If we are to be forced by the judiciary to pay for things that are not the policy of the democratically-elected government, then we no longer live in a democracy.

Kiwiwit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rosemary said...

Dear Still Unnamed,
The judiciary were deciding if this was a breach of human rights. Three hearings decided it was.
Democratically elected governments have legislated to provide supports for people with disabilities...the disabled supported by ACC have been able to employ family members for two decades. $millions were paid out in back-pay by ACC to those not properly supported.
Non-ACC disabled also have rights...but not so clearly defined as those legislated for ACC disabled.
I would not expect some one with your attitudes to recognise that non-ACC disabled are taxpayers too.
You probably don't realise that many in this group work fulltime, although...being in paid employment should not give one more rights than someone not in paid employment.
I could go on..but what would be the point?
Should you(God forbid) become disabled through an accident, would you happily accept maybe $2500 per week in supports from ACC...because as a levy payer you have earned it?
How would you feel if your hypothetical impairment was caused by say a tumour in your spinal cord?
You are now an Invalids beneficiary, and your family have to provide most or all of your care..because MOH funded agencies are unreliable and untrained.
Your wife has to give up her job to care for you.
"Democratically elected" governments have ensured that family economic survival depends on two incomes.
Now what???
My partner, as a person with an acquired disability, who worked fulltime for 32 post injury has this opinion:
As a society, we elect governments we hope will reflect our morals and ethics.
If those morals and ethics are to feed not "perfect" infants, and treat the severely injured, thereby extending their lives...then as a society we are obliged to support those people on an equal footing with the non-disabled members of our society.

ACC recognises this.

The Miserly of Health does not.

So...redress this imbalance, one issue at a time, and become a properly inclusive society(bearing in mind our democratically elected governments did ratify the UN Convention for Rghts of the Disabled Person)

euthanise all non-ACC disabled, so they are no longer such a burden
on the taxpayer.

The embarrasment was, that this issue had to come before the judiciary in the first place.



Kiwiwit said...

Dear Rosemary (that really narrows it down, doesn't it?)

As you are intent on making this a moral argument, and are ignoring the consitutional/legal argument that was the gist of my post, I am happy to enter the fray. Can you please explain to me why you, who is completely anonymous to me (despite being so bold as to use your first name), have a claim on me? Why do you think it is moral to force me to work a significant portion of my life to support people I have no connection with such as you and your dependent partner?

If you and your partner were members of my extended family or community, or if you came to me respectfully requesting my charity, I would be happy to help, but as you are not I fail to see why I should support you.

I make adequate provision for the exigencies of my life. I consider myself a generous person and I help provide for my family and others close to me. Likewise, if I found myself in a situation where I could not provide for myself I would look to the generosity of those close to me. But it is not charity to be forced under the threat of violence (i.e. imprisonment or worse) to hand over a proportion of my income to support someone else. Forcing people to work for someone else's benefit is slavery, pure and simple. Your need does not give you a moral claim on me.

Rosemary said...

OK, you win.
You live in a perfect world of entirely your own making.

The laws that DEGs have created to protect ALL KIwis, of course neither protect you, nor are you bound by them.

You are a state of one(and maybe a few other acceptables)within a state.

Have you legally declared your little slice of Godzone as Kiwiwitsland?

Do you have passports, and are visas required by visitors to your wee fiefdom?

And, why rant about the driving habits of your neighbours?

Surely, by your reckoning, if you are old enough to drive, then you are responsible enough to set your own rules of interaction on public roads.

But hang on a minute..what does "public road" imply?

Owned by all of us, perhaps?
Funded through some sort of tax or levy, perhaps?

Part of the DEG's infrastructure to enable citizens to live and work and travel and get educated.

Dear oh dear!
It does get complicated living in a democracy.
It places something of a burden on all citizens to contribute for the benefit of all citizens.

That's what it means to be part of a community.

"No man is an I-land" and all that.


Guess Who?