web analytics
The Standard
Advertising

Because it’s all about “me”

Written By: - Date published: 6:24 pm, October 22nd, 2013 - 22 comments
Categories: benefits, capitalism, child welfare, class war, david cunliffe, housing, paula bennett, poverty, public transport, sustainability, unemployment - Tags:

I was very pleased when David Cunliffe in his speech earlier this month at the CTU conference, talked about moving from a “from a cost-based to a values-based” strategy.  This is something that needs to be developed as part of a wider narrative, that shifts public discourse from an individualistic focus, to one that focuses on valuing all members of society – to a focus on  us all being in this together in the long term.  The kind of findings that were reported in The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better, need to be repeated again and again, in as many ways as possible. What is good for the least well-off in society, is good for all of us.

The 1980s+ escalation of individualistic values resulted in short sighted, short term politicised policies that ultimately damage the wider society.  The focus on the here and now, and how it impacts on “Me” masks the way society is being damaged in the longer term. This focus can be seen in two news items reported on today:  Paula Bennett’s disregard of the risk of negative impacts on children through her welfare reforms; a survey that shows transport is a way bigger issue for Aucklanders than affordable housing.

The Child Poverty Action Group has published a report that shows pressuring parents to get into work and to fulfill various “social obligations” puts the children of beneficiaries at risk.  key’s government can demonise beneficiaries, and fail to provide adequate support for them, because, overall, they are a minority, and for most voters it’s a case of out of sight, out of mind.  Too many people fail to understand how this damages our society, and diminishes us all. As reported in the NZ Herald:

CPAG spokesman Associate Professor Mike O’Brien said the children of beneficiaries were being singled out for different treatment under the Government’s new welfare reforms.

A background study by CPAG on benefit sanctions found the children of beneficiaries were now subject to a set of rules which other children were not required to meet.

The changes risked creating a separate, disadvantaged class of children whose activities were unjustly restricted for reasons beyond their control, Mr O’Brien said.

Under questioning in the House today, Paula Bennett dodged the issue, showing she really doesn’t care enough to properly monitor the impact of her reforms, especially on children.

paula bennett inequality

The NZ Herald also reported today that an digipoll shows Aucklanders care far more about improving transport, especially public transport, than providing more affordable housing.  It’s great to see such a high amount of concern on the transport issue, but worrying that affordable housing is marginalised by such results:

Herald-DigiPoll survey of 500 Super City dwellers found 43.8 per cent ranked transport as the biggest issue facing Auckland.

It was streets ahead of affordable housing, the chief concern of 17.1 per cent of those surveyed, and balancing the city’s budget (3.4 per cent).

Of course transport issues impact on a great number of Aucklanders daily.  The people who daily struggle with issues of no or less than adequate housing, and with pressures on their budget because of the relative high cost, are a smaller number of people.

Affordable housing and better public transport are related issues that impact on us all, as does demonisation of beneficiaries, child poverty, and too high an inequality gap.

The 2009 Guardian review of The Spirit Level sums it up:

Inequality causes shorter, unhealthier and unhappier lives; it increases the rate of teenage pregnancy, violence, obesity, imprisonment and addiction; it destroys relationships between individuals born in the same society but into different classes; and its function as a driver of consumption depletes the planet’s resources.

[…]

The graphs also reveal that it is not just the poor, but whole societies, from top to bottom, that are adversely affected by inequality.

[…]

However, the book does end on an optimistic note, with a transformative, rather than revolutionary, programme for making sick societies more healthy. A society in which all citizens feel free to look each other in the eye can only come into being once those in the lower echelons feel more valued than at present. The authors argue that removal of economic impediments to feeling valued – such as low wages, low benefits and low public spending on education, for instance – will allow a flourishing of human potential.

This is the story that needs to be told again and again, and where I see a values-based approach should guide any economic and financial polices.  It needs to be in political policies and campaigns, but also in

How can we keep telling it in different ways, in different media and on different platforms?  I’m trying to thinking of a really good positive political song about valuing all in society.  I can only think of the protest ones about “neoliberal” values, like this one.

22 comments on “Because it’s all about “me””

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    What is good for the least well-off in society, is good for all of us.

    And the converse:
    What’s good for the rich is bad for all of us.

    • Zorr 1.1

      I dunno Draco – I think the rich could do with a haircut and that’d be good for them… and us… :)

  2. Ad 2

    That slippery-sweet red toffee of “what we all want” coating the bitter apple of neoliberal self interest will take more than one term to resolve into a proper dessert. The Auckland Unitary Plan tells me self interest beats strategic planning hands down so var. Common interest is going to take many years and smart policy to turn. We are seriously self-involved now.

  3. The changes risked creating a separate, disadvantaged class of children…

    Too late – wasters have already created a separate, disadvantaged class of children. The question is what to do about it now it’s happened, not how to avoid it happening – it’s way too late for that. O’Brien seems to be still living in the 1980s.

    • QoT 3.1

      Because beneficiaries deliberately choose to have children, specifically to raise them in poverty, because that’s how evil they are. :roll:

      • Mike S 3.1.1

        :xD:

        Yeah and it’s a lifestyle choice, all those bludgers choosing to live the highlife on my hard earned tax dollars instead of getting off their lazy arses and working for a change.

    • miravox 3.2

      “The question is what to do about it now it’s happened,”

      You can tramp them down or work with them to improve their circumstances. The US/UK/NZ version of the tramp down doesn’t work. Time to try another modell… Such as one of education, support and finance. You know, what Paula Benefit and John Key’s mother got. And what I got back in the ’70s when I was a 16 year-old single mum with no adult support.

      I’m pretty sure I’ve seen you restate your opinion of the ‘wasters’ over and over again, with bugger-all suggestions to improve the chances of these kids. Me? – I’m living proof of what works along with Paula, John and many others – and it’s not greater inequality that punishes people for circumstances they were born into.

  4. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen you restate your opinion of the ‘wasters’ over and over again…

    Yep. As long as Standard authors write posts in which the production of children by people without the means, ability or even inclination to raise them is treated as something to be supported and encouraged, I’ll write comments suggesting otherwise.

    …with bugger-all suggestions to improve the chances of these kids.

    I don’t see much that can be done for these kids, short of intensive management by servants of government (which carries its own risks, not to mention horrendous expense). Producing fewer of them in the first place would be a good thing, but CPAG also seems vehemently opposed to any measures along those lines.

    …education, support and finance… what I got back in the ’70s when I was a 16 year-old single mum with no adult support.

    No doubt you are living proof of the benefit of that, just as I’m living proof of the benefit of providing free university education. Thing is, both those things are only sustainable when the numbers involved are small. When you were a single mother and I was a student 30-40 years ago, the numbers of others like us were in the thousands – now in each case the numbers are in six figures and taxpayers are less able to provide the lifestyle to which we were able to become accustomed. When people like us become the norm, instead of a tiny minority, the number of people working for a living to pay for it all just doesn’t cover it any more.

    • Tat Loo 4.1

      Child poverty rates and youth unemployment could be halved by spending approx 0.5% of GDP.

      It’s an easy fix, PM. People who want a full time job should be provided with one, and they should be expected to perform it to a high standard.

      Problem solved.

    • karol 4.2

      This sounds like a kind of eugenics argument.

      Having children is not always planned.

      People often have children prior to going on benefits – life circumstances are not always that predictable.

      Why not stop the wealthy having children. They just pass their wealth onto their children who have actually done nothing to deserve it. Many develop an entitlement attitude, contributing to the demonisation and disadvantaging of those on low incomes.

      Show me the jobs.

    • miravox 4.3

      So still nothing, just wailing about stopping ‘them’ breeding.

      “No doubt you are living proof of the benefit of that, just as I’m living proof of the benefit of providing free university education. Thing is, both those things are only sustainable when the numbers involved are small”

      Sorry. I just find it really weird that you recognise the problems of people languishing on benefits began in the ’80s yet you don’t seem to recognise that more of the same medicine will only increase the number of dysfunctional families. Economic and social conditions are the greater drivers of dysfunction, that individuals (i.e. individuals will behave differently in different conditions), imo.

      As long as there is poverty and alienated people these dysfunctional families will exist in numbers that reflect those social norms. All that the benefits have done in this sense is made it easier to count them. I’ve yet to see a count of the kids of the working poor living in dire, dysfunctional conditions and likely to produce a new generation of the same – those figures would be a bit to hard for some people to take, I reckon. Of course, I agree that there are the utter bastards and the totally careless, but they are few in relation to those who would be able to make better decisions for their kids (even not having them) if the world was a lot more inclusive and equitable.

  5. Having children is not always planned.

    It’s never planned if you regard it as just shit that happens.

    Why not stop the wealthy having children.

    Because their kids aren’t 13 times more likely to suffer abuse? Anyway, nobody mentioned stopping anyone having children.

    • greywarbler 5.1

      PM
      It’s never planned if you regard it as just shit that happens.
      People who can use that sort of language about women having babies about whom they express concern are not the sort that should have anything to do with solving any problems. It’s a callous mindset and inhuman, more economic man or woman than hu-man. And the branch is neo-liberal, moralistic, utilitarian economics at that.

      • Psycho Milt 5.1.1

        People who can use that sort of language about women having babies about whom they express concern are not the sort that should have anything to do with solving any problems.

        We have a significant number of people for whom children are exactly that, and who produce a significant number of children each as a consequence. Describing the circumstances of these children using only self-delusional euphemisms might make you feel better, but others aren’t compelled to join in.

        • greywarbler 5.1.1.1

          PM
          I say again.
          It’s a callous mindset and inhuman, more economic man or woman than hu-man.
          And the attitude does not enable any pro-active reasonable action, just simple-minded reaction often behaviour that diminishes our perceived status as highly intelligent beings.

        • ak 5.1.1.2

          We have a significant number of people for whom children are exactly that,

          You poor beggar. When the need to hate is this strong, it’s usually terminal. Get help, lad.

          • Psycho Milt 5.1.1.2.1

            It’s a callous mindset and inhuman, more economic man or woman than hu-man.

            It is indeed. How people can be like that I don’t know, but that’s no reason to pretend it doesn’t exist.

  6. greywarbler 6

    Thinking about the way that this government is behaving to one group of children which they would not consider with another group. This reminds me of the stories that have come out about Britain I think mostly after WW2. Children were sent out in thousands to Australia some of whom were told their mothers were dead, untruthfully.

    There is an attitude amongst adult society in many countries that denigrates children of ‘broken’ or non-conforming homes., including here. A little blonde girl was taken on by a Gipsy couple, now in Greece. They say they were given her by a woman in Bulgaria who couldn’t look after her. Now she has been taken from them and they are automatically viewed with grave suspicion of mistreatment. No doubt she considers them her father and mother and if they have been caring, will be in distress and bewilderment feeling abandoned.

    The authorities can be worse than parents with all their faults, either biological or in loco parentis.
    Government needs to clean up their act more than parents. Support parents to do a good job, steer them the right way, and half of the nation’s ills will vanish.

  7. Sable 7

    I’m sorry but I have little more faith in Labour than National. The current mess we are in is down to both of these parties and I really think its time for then to go. This is starting to happen with the Greens but I hope we will see others come about that replace these old, corrupt, complacent parties.

    • greywarbler 7.1

      Sable
      Throwing all the toys out can’t be done. It implies that more and better will come along as replacements. This is what the Right Wing Labourites thought and did with their policies. They personally may have been satisfied they did good but the replacements were not a universal fit.

      Good things take time, they do not appear out of the hat when the magician waves his or her stick. There have been years of hard work building policy and controls to overcome the greed and self interest that abounds in those who have acquired power and resources for themselves.

      Trying to create something entirely new now is out. There isn’t time!!! Work with what we have. Rummage through the political op shop and look for treasures that will stand alteration and suit the new conditions. Seek out past examples of quality and find people who know how to use the old tried and true techniques to create, patch or mend an entity for today’s needs. One that will endure against ‘the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’.

      • finbar 7.1.1

        But Warbler,the Nats are taking us back to the bad old days, where working rights were non existent,taxation of the wealthy was frowned upon,health, education, housing, and a healthy diet was only afforded to those better off,and that regress of social progress seems to be working for them,as they cry, we are a progressive 21st century realist capitalist government.

  8. Mike S 8

    “A Herald-DigiPoll survey of 500 Super City dwellers found 43.8 per cent ranked transport as the biggest issue facing Auckland.”

    Sorry, but that’s either wrongly reported or the poll results were somehow wrongly counted or even deliberately altered.

    Everyone I’ve talked to and no doubt a large majority of us rank berm mowing as the biggest issue facing Auckland. I mean, after weeks and weeks, there’s still letters to the herald appearing almost daily regarding berms, berms have been on the main current affairs news hour as a headlining story, on the front page of the National newspaper.

    I have a friend who 20 years ago arrived here as a refugee from Iraq. Watching him trying to explain to his relatives on skype how berms are such a major issue for us Aucklanders puts both of us into such hysterics that it physically really really hurts!

Important links

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

1 2 3 7

  • Customs seeks big brother powers
    A proposal giving New Zealand Customs powers to compel anyone to provide passwords and encryption keys to their electronic devices is another step towards a surveillance society and should be strongly resisted, Labour’s ICT spokesperson Clare Curran said today.  “There… ...
    1 day ago
  • Playcentre Awareness Week – celebrating an icon!
    It’s not always easy being an icon and Playcentres tell me they are facing big challenges under the current economic and social circumstances. However this week Playcentres are celebrating their proud history and current contribution. Since 1941 the Playcentres have… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    1 day ago
  • Housing Accord not working – prices continue skyward
      The Government's Auckland Housing Accord isn't working as house prices continue to go through the roof, Labour's Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “The average Auckland house has gone up by $110,000 since the Accord came into effect 15 months… ...
    2 days ago
  • Justice for Teina Pora long overdue
    The Privy Council’s decision to quash Teina Pora’s convictions for the rape and murder of Susan Burdett could be the final chapter in a case that should have been closed years ago, Labour’s Justice Spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. “Teina Pora… ...
    2 days ago
  • Ministers must answer questions on IRD blowout
    The current and previous Revenue Ministers must front up and explain how the child support system had a budget blowout from $30 million to $210 million in just four years, says Labour’s Revenue spokesperson Clayton Cosgrove. “Peter Dunne was Revenue… ...
    3 days ago
  • Curb stratospheric public CEO salaries
    A review of the way MPs’ pay is set should also look at ways to curb excessive rises in the salaries of public service chief executives, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “Some of these CEOs have had stratospheric pay increases… ...
    3 days ago
  • 50 cents? Makes no sense.
    The minimum wage rose by 50 cents this month from 14.25 to 14.75. While it’s a small step towards ensuring minimum workers get a fair share, it’s important to remember that real wages only rose 1.5% while productivity rose by… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    4 days ago
  • The Serco corrections circus
    It should seem obvious to employers, private or public, that it’s important to do what you can to retain your best, most experienced staff. They make life easier for you because they’re effective, attentive and often respected by those around… ...
    GreensBy David Clendon MP
    4 days ago
  • Time for NZ to prohibit the killing of great apes
    That ban was widely hailed, and spurred efforts in other countries to get similar bans. However, apes are still being exploited, abused and killed, both in captivity and in the wild. Examples of cruelty, neglect and abuse abound. Apes are… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers MP
    1 week ago
  • Auckland building consents: Tragic
    The only word to describe the latest building consent figures for Auckland is ‘tragic’, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Whatever the Government is doing to address the Auckland housing crisis, it is clearly not working. ...
    1 week ago
  • A whiff of a new biosecurity scandal?
    A pest which could create havoc for New Zealand’s horticulture and agriculture sector must be as much a focus for the Government as hunting out fruit flies, Labour’s Biosecurity spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “While the Ministry for Primary Industries is… ...
    1 week ago
  • Government shrugs off health sector crisis
    Despite new evidence showing that cuts to health spending are costing lives the Government continues to deny the sector is struggling, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. “Health services in New Zealand are in crisis. ...
    1 week ago
  • Parata lowered the bar for failing charter school
    When Hekia Parata became aware that the Whangaruru charter school was experiencing major problems her first action was to drop standards by reducing the number of qualified teachers they had to employ, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins has revealed. “Hekia… ...
    1 week ago
  • National not being straight about the economy
    John Key and Bill English need to be straight with New Zealanders about the damage their failure to diversify the economy is doing, after new figures show export growth plunged due to a collapse in dairy exports, says Grant Robertson.… ...
    1 week ago
  • Mind the Gap
    This week the International Monetary Fund released a report on the wider economic value in closing the gender pay gap. When even the bastions of free-market economics start to raise concerns about gender pay gaps, we have to realise how… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 week ago
  • Labour will hold National to parental leave promise
    Labour will hold National to its promise to increase the support given to new parents of premature, multiple birth and babies born with disabilities, Labour’s paid parental leave campaigner Sue Moroney says. "I am naturally disappointed that after battling for… ...
    1 week ago
  • It was all just pillar talk
    Steven Joyce’s confession that he can no longer guarantee a pillar-free design for the New Zealand International Convention Centre shows the Government has abandoned its dream of creating an ‘iconic’ ‘world-class’ structure, says Labour Economic Development spokesperson David Clark. “Steven… ...
    1 week ago
  • Australians move on offshore speculators
    John Key might want to have a quiet word with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott about Canberra's just-announced crack down on offshore speculators when he visits New Zealand this week, Labour's Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says."Tony Abbott's centre right government… ...
    1 week ago
  • Government at odds on overseas driver crashes
    National backbencher Jacqui Dean has spoken out about overseas driver crashes, putting herself at odds with Prime Minister John Key who is on record as saying it’s not a big issue, Labour’s Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “I’m not surprised… ...
    1 week ago
  • Human Rights and the Palestine Crisis
    Last week I heard two Palestinians speak at Wellington events about the ongoing crisis in their country. Samar Sabawi spoke to a full house about the history of Palestine and gave us a lucid and disturbing account of the situation… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    1 week ago
  • Time to take real care of our kids
    An Amnesty International report has once again criticised New Zealand’s track record on looking after our kids, Labour’s Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. The annual report, which looks at global human rights abuses highlights not only the fact that high… ...
    1 week ago
  • Manus Island and the New Zealand Government
    This week the Greens have participated in awareness activity about Manus Island, the refugee camp on an island in Papua New Guinea where Australia dumps asylum seekers. John Key says that he has every confidence in the Australian Government’s claim… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Election Inquiry – Getting accessible voting on the agenda
    James Shaw has been doing a series of blogs on the Election Inquiry into last year’s general election.  I thought this was a great opportunity to raise an issue very dear to me – accessible voting. Last year’s general election… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers MP
    2 weeks ago
  • RMA changes no solution to Christchurch housing
    Housing will continue to be a big issue in 2015. The latest Consumer Price Index, released last month, shows both good news and bad news on the housing front. After years of being the most expensive place to build a… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Saving kokako in South Auckland’s Hunua Ranges
    It is amazing that you can hear the song of the endangered North Island kokako in South Auckland’s Hunua Ranges, less than 50 kms from the central city. A heavy schedule of policy workshops at the Green Party’s Policy… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    3 weeks ago
  • Let’s not turn a blind eye to human rights
    The Cricket World Cup has just opened in New Zealand, and it’s an opportunity for us to shine on the world stage. International sport can be a chance for us to build relationships with other countries, and examine what it… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    3 weeks ago
  • Its Just Not Cricket
    This week it was my privilege to work with Sri Lankan Tamil communities in this country and host Australian journalist and human rights advocate Trevor Grant. I knew a bit about Trevor from his biography but I didn’t know just… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    3 weeks ago
  • Time for NZ to #BeCrueltyFree
    The Government is about to progress the final stages of the Animal Welfare Amendment bill. This will be our last opportunity to get changes made to improve the bill to ensure a better outcome for animals. I have put forwards… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers MP
    3 weeks ago
  • We want access!
    Access to buildings is a big issue for many New Zealanders. It looks like that, due to the hard work and persistence of people in the disability community, the Government may finally be starting to take access to buildings seriously.… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers MP
    3 weeks ago
  • Greens call on Super Fund to divest from fossil fuels
    The Green Party today called on the New Zealand Superannuation Fund (the Fund) to divest from fossil fuels, starting immediately with coal. The call was accompanied with a new report, Making money from a climate catastrophe: The case for divesting… ...
    GreensBy Russel Norman MP
    3 weeks ago

Removed at the request of The Daily Blog.
Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere