Being jobless has benefits

Controversial beneficiary artist Tao Wells has unveiled his latest installation in Dunedin.

The work titled 6% forced unemployment. Fakes job competition. Stops wages rising protests the manipulating of unemployment by the Government.

"A minimum of 6% of the workforce are being forced to be unemployed. Unemployment is being manipulated to keep inflation down," Wells (38) said.

The Wellington artist, who says he has been "off and on" the unemployment benefit since 1997, promotes the lifestyle of unemployment and challenges the perception long-term beneficiaries are opportunists who exploit the welfare system.

His previous projects include a "Beneficiaries' Office" in Wellington, which advocated the virtues of being unemployed and encouraged people to abandon their jobs, rather than "suffering eight hours a day of slavery".

The project was heavily criticised by former minister of finance Roger Douglas and led to Creative New Zealand being forced to defend a $3500 grant for the performance.

Work and Income cut off his benefit when it learned of the controversy.

However, Wells remains unrepentant and has recently trained as a benefit rights volunteer.

"We need to work less, so we consume less. The average carbon footprint of the unemployed person is about half that of those earning over $100,000," he said.

"We should never be forced to take a job. If you're forced to take a job it's a punishment."


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