Base wage for youth is a joke

RICHARD BOOCK
Last updated 05:00 11/10/2012

The great thing about young people is their gullibility. At least, that must be what the Government is banking on when they propose dropping the minimum wage rate for youth. These kids are so wide-eyed and trusting. They won't even know they're being screwed. So naive and accepting. Who better, then, to be sacrificed in the name of "trying to look like we're doing something". It's not as if this lot can have another crack at the teachers.

No, this will play nicely into the hands of those the Government sees as it its core supporters. What better way to curry favour with its constituents in white, middle-income New Zealand; business New Zealand (and red-necked New Zealand) than handing out a good kicking to the youth. Lazy, indulged little shits. How dare they grow up thinking they're equal. What a cheek. At least this way the smug little buggers might learn some respect.

The Government hasn't a clue about what to do about the job market, we can at least agree on that. The best they can do is play up to the most blinkered members of their congregation. They pulled the same stunt a while back with their 89-day sacking law, at the time spouting how much it would help youth into jobs. Result? Well, the youth unemployment rate is still a horror show and unprecedented numbers of youngsters are migrating to Aussie.

Not that the latest news is a massive shock; the Nats have never been fussy about maligning the youth. Probably don't consider them likely supporters on polling day. And if blaming the young for everything allows their supporters to feel a little better about life, then they probably consider it a small price to pay. So what if re-introducing an underclass wage scale casts young workers in the role of remedial citizens. It's about the politics, stupid.

If John Key and his minders were really serious about creating resources to assist our young workers, they wouldn't really have to look far. Like the UK they could create a top tax rate of 50% for the rich. They could raise the retirement age to better reflect mortality rates. They could close the loophole that allows the wealthy to dodge tax through family trusts. Enforce the law that requires property developers and investors to pay tax on capital gains. Means-test the pension.

Trouble is that all cuts a shade too close to the grain for these folk. When in doubt, it's much easier to get back to the old values of bashing beneficiaries, meddling with a perfectly good education system and making life tougher for young workers. First they stripped them of their conditions with the three month sacking rule; then they became punitive with their youth unemployment provisions, and now they're cutting their pay. And this from a government that decries bullying.

The applause in the background from employers should tell us all we need to know about who will be the winners from this particular piece of legislation. No doubt the PM will come out soon and declare the vast majority of employers good and not the type to exploit any opportunities in the pay rate. That may be how it works on Planet Key but back here on Earth, most of us understand the vast majority of employers will try to maximise their profits any way they can.

Slashing the minimum wage for teenage workers will create jobs? What nonsense, it's simply a case of the most vulnerable being sold off so the Government can keep its fat cats purring. It isn't a helping hand for the youth market, it's just a cheap and nasty sop to employers.

» Read more of Richard Boock in the Sunday Star Times.
» Follow Richard on Twitter: @richardboock.

- Auckland Now

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