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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 24. 28th September 1972

Intellectualising Old Age Pensions

Intellectualising Old Age Pensions


Professor Philpott's answer to Mr A. McDonald's question why he failed to make submissions to the Royal Commission on Social Security - was that it was outside his area of expertise, if the Professor merely considers himself a technician, oiling the wheels of capitalism, his answer is fair enough.

But Professor Philpott should not hide his no-doubt considerable talents in this way. As a learned Professor, he may feel he would be making a fool of himself if he got up at a Royal Commission and expressed his value judgements — it seems that the conscience and the gutlessness of an academic is hidden behind the cover of his specialised area of expertise!

I can understand Professor Philpott's unwillingness to feel emotions and express his values publicly, but does he realise that while he is being reluctant to express himself the old and the sick still suffer the human indignity of the supplementary means tests, Mr McDonald referred to?

Perhaps Professor Philpott doesn't know that the principles the present social security system was based on were set out in the form of value judgements. What a great loss to thousands of New Zealanders it would have been if Dr McMillan and Arnold Nordmeyer had thought back in the early 1930's, that they should stick to their areas of expertise (medicine and religion) and not expressed their value judgements and then fought to have them implemen ted. The crapped out social security system we have at present is not the fault of those two men but their contemporaries and successors in public office.

Professor Philpott failed to reply to Mr McDonald's question as to whether The Responsible Society (Dr. W.B. Sutch's submissions) and the Royal Commission's Report are recommended reading for his students. Probably the answer would be no, because statements of clear principle and vision would be anathema to the technicians of the Economics Department.

The learned Professor says he has no expertise (and obviously bugger-all concern) in the field of Social Security. I think that if he was put on an old-age benefit and had to go through the human degredation of a supplementary means test he would develop some 'expertise' about Social Security pretty quickly. I don't say that to personally insult the Professor but to show him what Peter Wilson meant by his accusation of 'class bias'. Insulting, may be, to the Professor, but none the less true.

Neil McConachy.