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Auction the unemployed on Trade Me


We have 50,000 people on the unemployment benefit and plenty of work that needs doing. The 50,000 represent 1000 years of work that doesn’t get done each and every week. The waste is horrific.

The waste follows from the failure to match the unemployed to the jobs that need doing at a price potential employers are willing to pay.

The matching part of the problem is a perfect job for the internet. And, sure enough, US techno whizz Morgan Warstler has the fix: match the jobs and the unemployed on eBay and pay them through Paypal.

In New Zealand our equivalent, Trade Me, is the perfect set-up linking Kiwis wanting to sell with those wanting to buy. It’s similarly perfect for matching those looking for work with those with jobs that need doing. Trade Me should be used to match jobseekers to jobs.

Under the Warstler scheme the unemployed would register on Trade Me to receive their benefit payment each Friday night.  At present, an unemployed 20-year-old receives a benefit payment of $190.84 gross a week.  Let’s make that $200.

Once an unemployed person is registered on Trade Me anyone wanting work done can bid for them to do it.  It’s the perfect way to match the jobs that need doing to those who can do them. 


The bidders must establish their real identity and deposit their money though a platform like Paypal before any work is undertaken. The work to be done must be fully described through a checklist.

As it stands, the unemployed aren’t supposed to be sitting at home doing nothing: they must be actively seeking work and laggards have their benefit reduced or cut completely.

Once the unemployed are registered through Trade Me the work comes looking for them. 

The unit of work on offer is a 40-hour week. And the bids start at $40 a week. That appears impossibly low but the government still pays the $200, so the least anyone gets paid for a week’s work is $240. 

The low starting bid ensures the market clears every week. Local retirement villages and community groups would be actively bidding to help the unemployed into work and to get work done.  Specialist contractors would move in to bid for the unemployed and to offer their work to the marketplace.

It’s hard to see the price staying at $40 a week. Especially for good workers.

The bids increase in $20 increments, with the government getting back $10 of each $20 hike. The worker gets to keep the other $10. For example, if the bid goes to $200 the worker keeps $320 and the government contributes $120 of his or her pay.

Trade Me enables feedback possible both ways. Anyone familiar with the site knows how that works.

The good workers and the good employers would soon be identified. There would be no better CV than a string of positive comments on Trade Me. Those workers would get their wages bid up and would soon have a permanent job.

The impossibly lazy would also be identified. They could be followed up by government agents.

Likewise, the bad employers would be weeded out. They would be dealt to just as bad dealers are dealt to on Trade Me. The Warstler scheme provides total transparency.

The jobseekers logging on would see a multitude of work on offer all at different rates, requiring different skills and abilities. They would be genuinely empowered to choose among the offers for the job that best suits them.

Imagine it, an extra 1000 years of work done every week. And 50,000 people engaged in society and no longer excluded. The government should give the Warstler scheme a whirl.  

More by Rodney Hide

Comments and questions

Get the bastards working

Nice One Rodney, and whilst we are at it why not allow them to sell their services for longer periods of time.... its called indentured service you right wing maniac.

How about we "encourage" Executives and Public servants who have been grabbing more and more of the economic pie to surrender their obscene sinecures to pour back into the company's to make them more competitive? That would create more jobs and give more to the Shareholders they are meant to work for.

Treat me like a slave and I will scrap you in the streets.

[Or on the Trade Me Message Boards? - Editor]


Rodders... Another home run hit!

Totally agree, however for jobs in Christchurch on the rebuild, it's not a matter of "unemployed" it's a matter of "unemployable" with even the WiNZ office encouraging those who could not pass a drugs test to even apply for roles in construction - even as unskilled labourers. Nor would the industry want them either.

The issue is that those who been encouraged to sloth into a taxpayer funded cruisy lifestyle without any responsibilities for the money received know that if they can just hold out until the 4-headed Taniwha government gets back in... then their "pay" will increase and then it's back to business as usual.

There definitely needs to be a form of " social contract" for anyone receiving free tax payer funded money where they have a legal liability to work for it or pay it off somehow in an initiative like what you've proposed.

Although, attempting to implement something like this is a fantastic idea, the 4 headed Taniwha would spin things that the 'benefit bashing, nasty National Party" are picking on the downtrodden, so vote for us and not only will we not make you accountable for that free money... We'll give you more... Lots more free money... But we can only do it if we're voted in... We've paid for that spin before ...WFF, student loans etc...

But the Warstler scheme would identify them very quickly. And then follow up action would be possible.

I think it could work. My comments were more about how the left would spin it in their lapdog MSM... Slave labour... Against human rights... Beneficiary bashing again etc...

... And the lefts promise to restore their voter base to the glorious days of past where mums could stay at home and have as many kids as they wanted... They didn't even need to worry how to feed or clothe them... Students were encouraged to stay at university doing another BA that still won't get them employment at McD's etc...

I can see Gower spewing forth the union-fed vitriol now...

To address the unemployable, would be to introduce the welfare card Australia has just started. No cash so they can only pay for basic food(not junk), clothing,rent & no booze or drugs. Change from a cash handout system to living on welfare.
Until that happens, nothing will change.

Which government or political party in power would have the balls to introduce the scheme? Staying in power is obviously more important than doing something constructive for our country !

National has introduced a similar card for young beneficiaries, which I hope is just a pilot program which can be expanded once the issues are ironed out.

The issue is work ethic and how you fix it. My brother continually tries to hire more staff as he has too much work yet he can't find staff and when he does he ends up wasting time tracking everything they don't do. Some examples have been apprentices who have quit after 6 weeks because working is too hard and guys being found stoned at 8am on a clients site.

Just reduce the benefit to $50 and a $100 Foodtown voucher per week

A Pack'n'Save voucher, please - they'd get more liquor and cigarettes that way

Great idea Rodney. Why didn't you put it forward when you were leader of ACT in Parliament? Did I miss something?

Yep, He didn't have a Parliamentary majority - a trivial detail to be sure.

So when I want to fill a position at my company via Trade Me Jobs, I don't seek the keenest, best qualified candidate but one of these 50,000 slackers who've been made to list. Yeah right.

You would choose who you want. The unemployed on Trade Me would just give you another option that you now don't have.

Just a simple question from a simple man:

When fair paid work is available, why does the number of unemployed drop?

My answer is because they are not slackers. T

hey want a fair days pay for a fair days work. Not work like a slave to make some rich prick richer.

Trouble is your theory falls at the first hurdle. The claim that uneployment drops when there is fair paid work available is wrong. Like right now... employers cant find enough people willing to work for a fair wage - and that's probably because it is easier and at least as lucrative to not be employed.

Neither your "fair" wage or the unemployment benefit are fair then. (Or livable)

Suck it up Slacker !

This is a variation of the dole being paid to employers who hire people who are on the unemployment benefit.

In reality those on the unemployment benefit wont be valued much above minimum wage, so it wont be much of an online market, but rather using the internet as an online notice board for the lowest paid jobs which already exists on the interest with job search engines.

This scheme re-wraps what is already available. Try again.

The minimum wage is $550 a week. The scheme here cuts out below that.

The fatal flaw with your scheme, Mr Hide, is it assumes the winning bidder is someone who the employer will actually want to hire.

The implications for employment law haven't really been thought through, have they, in this half-baked scheme, when an employer is supposedly entering into an employment contract with someone they have never interviewed.

The scheme is for weekly contracts. The "employees" are contractors for labour law purposes, and the outlay by the employer or effort expended by the employee is minimal if things do not work out. Special contracts would be used and employment law updated as part of the implementation of the scheme.

The beauty of the scheme is actually in the information generation and dispersion aspect, since employees and employers will be rated and commented on weekly in the online forum, which will prove to be much more useful than a CV and a couple employee selected referees.

The scheme therefore has uses beyond its primary function of clearing the labour market weekly.

Stop thinking about flaws and instead focus on the solution. Any rational educated person could figure this out.

If there are hundreds or even thousands of jobs going begging at software companies like Orion and Xero, then don't we need to look at our education system (as Orion boss Ian McCrae says) rather than than serve up low-skill/no-skill drongos through a gimmicky auction scheme?

Of course we do. But we also have 50,000 plus unemployed now and oodles of work they could be doing.

How many countries still pay the "dole" rather than controlled welfare support ?

Good question. But I don't know the answer.

I don't know either... But I bet it's an Asian country and hence why the vast vast majority of Asian kids are so super keen on the opportunity for an education.

I wonder how some of the failing whanau would fare in an Asian country where zero welfare exists. I'm sure we would discover who has entitlement issues or not...

Which govt department could administer it?

This country will never be rid of lazy bludgers so long as the benefit is available to be abused. We're a soft society that breeds and fosters useless beings who believe they are entitled to everything for doing absolutely nothing. How about having a public register that names and shames those who have been on the benefit for longer than 6 months? If they are benefiting from my hard-earned taxes, why not know who I'm supporting?? If I give a dollar a day to a kid in Africa, I get a name, story AND a photo.

And you get a thank you. The Trade me auction would achieve.a.similar.result. minus the thank you.

How about a public register of tax avoiders?

I know of an individual who has evaded significant amounts of tax and has been potted at least twice over the years that I know of, but never been audited. Thats what you get when you're good mates with local IRD managers

Agreed. The sooner corporate welfarism, subsidies to the rich, golden handshakes and nespotistic jobs for loons are weeded out the fairer our community will be. Name and shame the greedy bludgers!

I say we bring back debt slavery so all those lazy defaulters have to work for nothing until the debts paid plus interest of course.

I could use a few more hands to harvest this years sugar cane.

I'm sure the directors of failed finance companies (defaulters) would be lining up.....

Another perceptive article, Rodney
Please set the wheels in motion to get you back into Government so that we would then have at least one person with some good ideas.

Thanks Willie. I don't think the problem is a lack of ideas. I think the problem is getting then across to people through the great media knocking machine that operates in New Zealand.

Really what you are proposing is a two tier solution.

The first tier is a removal of price floors in the labour market and instead replacing the floor with a subsidy to people which falls as income increases, on a week by week basis. I think the weekly part is important here, even if someone has earned a This allows the labour market to clear while ensuring that employees receive enough to live on, since for some, shall we say skill sets, the market clearing wage is below subsistence and society has a responsibility to ensure people at the very least can stay alive. Brilliant!

The second part is a market creation mechanism utilizing the internet to speed the process of relevant information dispersion to interested parties. The addition of compulsory participation to receive government benefits is the revolutionary part of this. Better yet multiple private companies should be able to meet requirements for being a part of this scheme allowing competition between online marketplaces and specialist operators (e.g. a construction industry marketplace).

You are correct. Match the jobs through the internet and use the benefit system to provide a subsidised wage floor. I figure economically and socially it is better to have people being productive than being paid to do nothing much.

WINZ just needs to stop the assumption that everyone is capable of working.

They need to create two distinct categories of beneficiiares. Those who may have no skills but have the right attitude and want to work. The other for those who are victims and/or too lazy to ever work for money.

Put the effort into the first category as these are the people he counties needs. Publically label the others for what they are and put them on a completely different payment scheme

Let's develop this further.

Maybe sickness beneficiaries could register on Wheedle, and superannuatants on Sellla.

Sella is no more.

And perhaps politicians could be made to tender for their jobs?

They do tender for their jobs.... Is called an election. Except the MMP system delivers scum list MP's for NZ completely eroding the value of being an MP.

The NZ govt is over $100 billion in debt.

If we can't get into surplus soon.... we won't be far off most other countries on the planet that have no welfare at all.

This idea of Rodney's is great. Even the slightest subsidy of someone's welfare from the private sector will assist us in keeping welfare payments down as much as possible (Paypal payments).

Even countries like America only provide support for a small period of time (approx 6 months I think).

"Even countries like America.."
America being a standout performer in terms of what exactly??

This is a brilliant idea. Those genuinely looking for work would be matched instantly and work week by week until they get a full time permanent gig, which would happen very quickly for genuine applicants. The demanad for workers in many industries is high enough that I believe most jobs would be filled well above minimum wage.

It would then become obvious who the slackers are, and as stated above they can be dealt with seperately.

All this will do is to lower the incomes of those that are working.

There are a lot of looser employers out there. The young people today aren't completely stupid so why would they work in a crappy job for low pay and no hope of buying an overpriced NZ house. Run for Australia while you , or some of the leading European countries.

Hey Rodney
Good idea but (at least) a couple of wrinkles:
1. Would job hunters have to provide details of their age - or would employers have to find some other way to discriminate (without actually saying they were)?
2. How will you deal with the howls of outrage from the HR industry (internal and recruiters) who would be denied their salaries or commissions as a result of being unable to insert their laberynthine processes into your simple but elegant solution? Or would you have them also sell their services through the same system? Now that I would pay to watch!

Don't always view discrimination as a bad thing. As long as the trait has an affect on work performance or suitability it is fine to discriminate, e.g. no point hiring a 55yr old woman to do heavy lifting on a construction site or someone with a heavy accent as a receptionist.

HR still has a purpose, this is filling a niche purpose in the labour market, not replacing the entire system. The scheme is for short term (weekly) work where the cost of a poor match is very low. HR guys are there for long term employment contracts where the cost of a bad match is very high (as we all know from the ERA judgements).

I say we just give them a month's benefit, take off the cost of a plane ticket to Aussie and send them on their way. They pay oodles for unskilled, drunk, drugged dole bludgers over there. They still do more work than Aussies.

Just cut the dole they'll soon find work

Just cut the dole they'll soon find work

Yeah. Robbing your house.

Very good idea Rodney. There is a concern about the perpetually lazy however, who will stay lazy to avoid being employed, regardless of negative feedback. I suggest setting a period of time and/or a level of feedback as a "plimsoll line" to indicate someone who is basically unwilling. At that point the army automatically wins a $0 bid and they get shipped off to camp for a minimum of 12 weeks for moral backbone re-construction. This would be marked on their profile feedback by a red cross. Once they successfully return a green tick will be added, to indicate a possible second time lucky status. The period of time will be shorter this and subsequent times.

• To offset the cost, I would suggest using the army to deal with the work needed in public areas. e.g upgrading the kiwirail track so the trains can move faster, or fixing earthquake damaged roads in christchurch.

• If someone has a drug problem, their stay might be lengthened.

Aside from all this:

All people on the benefit should be made to report to "work", a location they go to apply for jobs, and / or get training. Even those with children could do so. At this location they will be assisted in applying for jobs. This could start at 5 hours per week, (one hour per day) incrementing by 5 hours every second week. Failure to turn up means benefit gets stopped.

There is a cost in doing all this but then there is a cost in paying them week after week.

But whatever is done, the key thing is that there has to be a sacrifice of time, start at 5 hours per week, ramping up to 40 hours per week both as a disincentive to remain on the benefit and in some way obey the principle that we the public are already paying for their time through the benefit, so we should be choosing what we do with that time.

The army option has merit for those long term unemployed who need discipline put back into their lives.

Best suggestion yet. Might I add youth offenders and petty criminals would also be better off learning discipline and respect in the Army?

Love the potential for the job-less to describe themselves on Trade Me.

eg: "20 year-old, near new packaging" or "40 year-old, some scuff marks"

Rodney, are you concerned that existing min wage employers would switch to this system if it existed to save money, which would mean less jobs at the current min wage. I agree that unemployment as a whole would decrease, but poverty might increase due to many more working poor.

Hey, I like this idea. Would be happy to pay a hard-working person $240 for 40 hrs work.

And if this actually takes off, a lot of business owners would be happy to make some of our current employees redundant and start hiring the unemployed at below minimum wages.

And the ones who are made redundant can be hired by others at lower wages. So it is a win-win situation and unemployment drops. And everyone makes money. Yay!

Love it... Bring it on.

I wonder what proportion of the unemployed don't have internet access?

What a total load of rubbish. The real issue here is that NZ has a massive skills shortage (look at the recent comments of Xero, etc). And we have unemployment.

Less focus on dole bashing and more on upskilling, you right-wing tool.

Don't be so silly! If I'm unemployed, and getting $190 a week (Not $200, when you are thinking about this being all of the money you have to live on for an entire week, $10 is a lot more than you might think, Mr Hide!) there is no way in hell, ever, that I am going to work 40 hours for 40 extra bucks. Come on!

Get off your a*se and stop bludging.

Quit thieving off the real generators of this countries wealth: The workers. Share. Don't be so greedy>

Bouncy castle, floating away

Too many deadbeats born from generations of welfare dependancy. Introduce compulsory birth control for those on welfare first, then many policies would start to work after a generation. Without which, nothing will work.

Yes. Agreed. Sterilise the greedy corporate welfare receiving rich. It will soon be a fairer society.

I was an employer in Queensland for 10 years.

Each fortnight everyone on the dole had to appear at their local CES office and present a document showing a minimum of five jobs interviews, including phone numbers and contacts. These were followed up by that CES office.

No record of interviews presented and the cheque, yes, a cheque, was not handed over. The person was told to come back in a fortnight with a list of job interviews. None of this pouring money into a bank account. That person may have stood in line for two hours. Problem fixed. They got the 'message' loud and clear.

Why can't WINZ follow Queensland? Are the people at WINZ too lazy to do the job that I as a taxpayer actually fund?

The Queensland govt paid my company 50% of the wage for any person I employed from the CES office for a period of 26 weeks. The taxpayer was getting some value for their tax dollar in that the recipient of the dole had to actually be productive and contribute to 'society' in order to receive the help.

The person on the dole had to actually get out of bed and get himself/herself to the dole office. That in itself would be a feat for some recipients in this country.

If a job offer was turned down, the dole payments were cut immediately. I know this from first-hand experience as I had to report all jobs declined to the CES office.

Why are NZers so pathetically impotent when it comes to putting expectations on to those sucking on the state 'tit'?

Peacemakers and politcally correct individuals (and govt departments) only serve to allow such 'looser mentality' to flourish and in doing so create a sub-culture affecting every hardworking NZer.

When you say those sucking off the "states tit" I guess you are referring to the america's cup sailors, warner brothers, the rugby world cup organisers, useless finance company directors and assorted other white collar parasites and investors, all of whom get fat on state support for the rich. Whats the difference? Nothing.

I think these jobs should be advertised under a new category "Sweatshops".

What an interesting premise. trouble is Hide conveniently ignores the wider problem that people are unemployed because they don't have the right skills, and New Zealand has never developed a cohesive economic growth strategy. So here we have a huge skills shortage, poorly paying employers, an exodus to Australia, the UK/US and growing unemployment. Which of those will Trade Me fix? Writing populist rubbish like this that glosses over the very real complexities solves nothing and just creates even more noise, making the real issues harder to solve.

Should Hide's vision go ahead I, for one, will be exiting New Zealand, along with a good many others.

Excellent result. Go now! Don't want ya, don't need ya! Go you good thing, GO!

I would wait a little while to just see how pissed Kiwis became with the system and then hire people to overthrow the Rich pricks who supported this idea.

Win/Win right? No unemployment and no whining rich pricks.

Cheap as Chips, Thanks Hide for the idea.

For your information, Rodney, Kiwis are hard-working people. Given decent wages and conditions, Kiwis work harder than anybody on the planet. I have that from personal experience.

I find your attitude towards your fellow Kiwis insulting.

Try replacing "Kiwis" with "some Kiwis".

Clearly you have never worked in any other country, nor with any other culture.

I find your ignorance and arrogance insulting.

Congrats Rodney, you've discovered a way to lower the minimum wages to $5.50 an hour. ($220 / 40 = $5.50).
So instead of paying $190 to people on wellfare and $540 to full time employees on minimum wage you'll basically be paying the same whether someone has a job or not. Brilliant. Nice incentive.
And you can start by offering jobs to all the temp agencies and labour hire companies you've put out of business by government interfering in the supply of labour.

Or we could just sell their organs on Trade Me... that would really stimulate the economy and lower unemployment.

The plan would work even better with the following perks:

- A white business suit for every supervisor
- Cotton plantations
- A good supply of bullwhips and chains

...and when employers realise they can exploit the minimum wage they'll ditch their paid workers and use this scheme, creating a new pool of unemployed that is forced to seek menial work on Trade Me.

I propose an alternative. How about a website where policical candidates have to lodge their (every) personal pledges. Every new job that creates meaningful work for a Kiwi scores 1 point. Every time you do something that you did't post pre-election (like charter schools or Dotcom donations or spying cover-ups or deals to gift pokie rights to a wealthy political backer) you lose points. If your score drops below zero, you can't stand for re-election.

Seriously, Rodney, in case you hadn't realised it, the problem is insufficient work to go around, while politicians fiddle, not the lack of 21st century slave-market schemes. Attitudes like yours sparked class wars in France and Russia and the maybe the American civil rights movement.

Now I see why Rodney got rolled to make way for Don "trust me, I'm an economist" Brash, then John "follow-the-money" Banks. For a while there, I felt a bit sorry for him.

I suppose next week's opinion piece will be "three weeks of turning down work and you're shot at dawn".

Seriously, Rodders, wouldn't a formal system to offer work to just NZers contravene the GATS agreement you politicians pushed on us, and which some might very well think is a partial cause of the current lack of available work for low-skilled Kiwis, much having now been quasi-exported to countries like China or India, as the cornerstone of 'free trade'?

And while on the subject: almost 30 years ago, the ACT Party (your party) co-founder told New Zealanders we had to go through a period of pain to reach the gains, but that the gains would be worth all the pain. Given that your current proposal reeks of there being a significant problem class at the bottom of the heap, and proposes dramatic ways to deal with those people, is it fair to ask, after nearly 30 years, when the gains are now expected? Are We There Yet?

I'm guessing they will come just after the power price cuts that Max Bradford promised would be the result of marketising the energy industry.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Rodney Hide's proposal is the clear divisions in our society which are laid bare for all to see.
Some comment from our politicians on this would be welcome, or do they all just accept that this is an unreconcilable problem?