Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The other side of the flaw.

Actually implementing any sort of scheme to manage the shopping habits of the young un's is going to be fraught. There's the obvious flaw with food stamps, i.e. swapping them for cash with someone else. Then if you go the smartcard route, as DPF is touting, there's two problems. First, there's the obvious expense of setting up a nationwide system for a very small amount of people. Unless of course you're blatantly rolling this out as a pilot system for everyone - even then it would be significantly more sensible to roll it out in a limited area to get it working first than roll it out nationwide. As Danyl says, very expensive with the total result being that people who can't legally buy alcohol and smokes, being unable to buy them from supermarkets. I can't see working it into the eftpos system being particularly effective, to prevent alcohol sales, you'd then have to interface the eftpos system with the docket rather than just sending the eftpos people a total to be deducted.

The other problem is, I think more important, it is one of what you're trying to do. If you have a look around your local supermarket in NZ, and then have a quick squiz around a fruit and vege shop or a butchers or a bulk food store, you'll very quickly see that supermarkets are not the cheapest place to shop. If you are careful with your money and plan a little bit of extra time for organisation (which unemployed people really should be able to spare), then it is possible to significantly increase your purchasing power. I've done my time on a benefit, if I'd just wandered in and bought everything from the supermarket, I would have starved. And if you're trying to teach people to budget, surely you're also trying to teach them the value of their money. NZ supermarkets are not the place to do that. And I can't see smaller retailers signing up to a scheme requiring expensive equipment to read a new smartcard in the hope of getting business out of one of the few thousand people who don't have much money scattered across the country.

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