Welfare and the cost of inaction

This morning’s print edition of the Dominion Post devoted two thirds of the above-the-fold space to the shocking headline,

New moves add $100,000 to ratepayer bill

– Dominion Post, 30.10.2017

Improving accessibility to public transport

The article was about a new initiative to discount public transport by 50% for blind and disabled passengers. This would see concessions spread equally across rail and bus services, with the cost shared between ratepayers (1/3), commuters and the NZTA (2/3).

In my view, the purpose of the transport system is not to make a profit or be self-funding. The purpose of the transport system is to get people from A to B so they can get things done. If there is a system worth funding, surely this is it.

But the headline, grrr! It reminded me a lot of web accessibility.

The cost of inaction

The status quo focusses on the cost of action, not the cost of inaction.

The cost of disability is so unrecognised and is a factor when it comes to accessing employment, education, health services, et cetera … So doing this is an enabler.”

– Rachel Noble, Ennoble

Disability has many costs. Either an individual bears it completely, or a healthy society steps in to help out.

When we choose to help out, we remove a barrier and enable an individual to contribute to our society. Everybody wins.

Welfare is not an optional add-on. If some sectors of society are currently getting away with not paying their share, then this is an artificial efficiency. Those who can help are living in a bubble of denial. By ignoring a need, we ignore the associated cost. We create barriers which prevent our society from functioning at its best.

Celebrating action

When we realise the error of our ways, we shouldn’t complain about the financial cost. We should see it as a wake-up call and an opportunity to put things right.

This is the mindset that we are heading towards with the recent election of a centre-left government. I hope that people are starting to realise that balanced books only make sense when all of the costs have been taken into consideration.

In the meantime, it’s really disappointing to see our media plugging for the status quo with sensationalist headlines like this. Our news channels should reflect our collective reality. The article itself was good, but we need to be upfront about celebrating positive initiatives for what they are, rather than always making it about money.