web analytics
The Standard

It’s not about Race or Age or Gender or Religion…it’s about Poverty

Written By: - Date published: 11:16 am, January 19th, 2012 - 16 comments
Categories: poverty - Tags:

An insightful piece by Pat Brittenden. How can we fix our problems if we won’t acknowledge (and National wants to stop the media talking about) their cause?:

For a long time I have had a bit of an untested theory. I’ve come to a place where I don’t think the negative statistics in New Zealand are about race, age, gender or religion.  I think they’re about poverty and the by products of poverty.

Let me back up a little and give you an example of a common ‘talkback’ conversation.

The headline reads something like, “Another baby dies at the hands of its caregivers.” This is what happens on talkback; ‘Owen’ from Nelson phones in as this is his pet topic. Within 60 seconds ‘Owen’ has already told New Zealand to “wait and see…they’ll be native…their whanau will support them…you just wait.” Now sadly ‘Owen’ is right far too often, but is his underlying racist bias accurate? Is being Maori a significant factor in killing your kids? That’s where I think the conversation becomes interesting……

Continued here

16 comments on “It’s not about Race or Age or Gender or Religion…it’s about Poverty”

  1. Poverty is a huge part of the problem- racism, sexism, and other types of discrimination are much easier to deal with when they don’t intersect with poverty.

    But it’s actually scientifically confirmed (using tests that measure stress) that lifting people out of poverty doesn’t always relieve the stress they feel from discrimination. For example, if you take a white woman and a black woman in the USA, and they both climb out of poverty, the white woman will feel a relief of the stress that she felt from being poor, but the black woman won’t- which is likely to be due to people engaging in what’s called “high-stakes coping”, where they try and power through the problem by just being that much better than everyone else.

    I’m not very elegant at explaining why poverty doesn’t explain away racism yet, but you can hear excellent talks on that subject at http://www.timwise.org/ – he’s a great anti-racism advocate.

    Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely support fighting poverty, (and prioritising that fight) but what we’re likely to find even if we largely eliminate poverty is that discrimination still happens, but it might be a bit easier to deal with, and many of the related statistical problems will likely shrink significantly.

  2. deemac 2

    of course you won’t end racism, sexism or any other discrimination just by ending poverty, but you certainly can’t tackle it at all without dealing with poverty and economic disadvantage.
    I don’t have the links to hand but an interesting UK study a few years ago observed that while there was concern about black boys failing in schools, what was actually happening was that working class boys were failing.
    This was masked by the fact that there are plenty of white boys who do succeed ie middle class ones, while the small size of the black middle class meant there were few black comparators.
    So it is probably only partly a race issue, much more a class issue.
    Analysis is of course difficult due to the many other factors eg cultural background. Asian boys do better than black boys, Indian boys do better than Bangladeshi ones, black girls do better than black boys – it seems it’s not enough to say the problem is simply racism.

  3. Bill 3

    Yup, it’s about poverty. But race and gender are determining factors in poverty, ie the attitudes and actions of a society that is a white patriarchy tend to favour those who are white and male and discriminate against those who are not.

  4. ropata 4

    There’s an old thread here where someone also pointed out that social indicators in Britain correlate with poverty not race.

    I think part of the reason NZ used to be a much more equal society is that after two world wars, there were loads of young guys with guns that had nothing to do. Magically, there was a lot of work for able bodied young men with minimal skills.

  5. Olwyn 5

    If you translate the problem of poverty into racism, sexism, etc, you can be seen to be doing something about it while leaving the status quo largely intact, and by pointing to a few particular success stories – Barack Obama being president of the US, for instance. But to face up to poverty is to face up to making real changes to the status quo. In fact the particular success stories help to reinforce the myth that poverty is the fault of the poor, whatever the races of which the poor is made up.

  6. Draco T Bastard 6

    Good comment from the Archdruid today. His full post isn’t about poverty per sè but it does have this paragraph in it which pertains:

    To understand the consequences of that awkward fact, it’s important to get past the rhetoric of victimization that fills so much space in discussions of social hierarchy these days. Of course the people at or near the upper end of the pyramid get a much larger share of the proceeds of the system than anybody else, and those at or near the bottom get crumbs; that’s not in question. The point that needs making is that a great many people in between those two extremes also benefit handsomely from the system. When those people criticize the system, their criticisms by and large focus on the barriers that keep them from having as large a share as the rich—not the ones that keep them from having as small a share as the poor, or to phrase things a little differently, that keep their privileged share from being distributed more fairly across the population as a whole.

    And that is, of course, why all the political parties including the Greens who should know better keep saying that they want to make us richer. As I’ve said before, we can’t afford the rich and it’s entirely possible that that “rich” includes the middle class.

    • lefty 6.1

      And that is, of course, why all the political parties including the Greens who should know better keep saying that they want to make us richer. As I’ve said before, we can’t afford the rich and it’s entirely possible that that “rich” includes the middle class.

      Its also why concentrating on the 1% without paying attention to the middle class who prop them up and enable them is a mistake.

      Of course many liberals have a lot of difficulty coming to terms with this because they like to believe that their own success is due solely to their own efforts and that the lives they lead do no harm.

      Thats why you hear the ‘richer NZ’ from the Greens or the ‘growing the pie’ from Labour. They are exercises in self deception.

      Even those of us who have modest success need to understand that to be able to do this in a capitalist system somebody else must pay the price by going without.

      • Colonial Viper 6.1.1

        Political and financial power lies with the top 0.1%. The rest of the top 10% are enablers obviously. The lieutenants and advisors.

        The next top 10% are useful overseers and experts. But basically also expendable.

        Every one else is chaff in this system. Completely replaceable and discardable.

    • handle 6.2

      The Greens are using “richer” more broadly than you are.

      http://www.greens.org.nz/press-releases/green-party-launches-richer-new-zealand

      “We want a New Zealand that is richer in the things that really matter – strong communities, a beautiful, well cared for environment and a clean, green economy that works for everybody,” said Dr Russel Norman, Green Party Co-leader.

      “A truly richer New Zealand will be powered by a clean, green economy that is based on green jobs and innovation,” said Dr Norman.

      Green Party Co-leader, Metiria Turei added, “In our vision for a richer New Zealand, every child has enough to eat, our rivers are clean enough to swim in and our jobs are good for the environment and the economy.”

      “Living in a richer New Zealand is about much more than economic growth – it is about living in a beautiful country where we look after the environment, it’s about living in strong communities where people feel connected to each other.

      “A truly rich country is one where everyone gets a fair go,” said Mrs Turei.

  7. Bryan 7

    Making a well constructed and reasoned argument highlighting the relationship between poverty & crime or unemployment poverty is beside the point for the right. Will Hutton was onto it in his reason piece on why enlightenment values (esp. reason) are being rolled back/ignored/discredited by the right They don’t fit with narrative because:

    “Reason, runs this argument, too often identifies problems that require collective rather than individual responses, amplifying the dread power of the state, and democracy means respecting opponents who have views you consider noxious.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jan/08/will-hutton-lost-enlightenment-values

  8. Fisiani 8

    I hope you will all therefore applaud the new benefit smart card changes being brought about by National so that beneficiaries will no longer be able to freely spend on alcohol and tobacco. Thank goodness we have a government that is doing something about addressing the causes of poverty rather than perpetuating the policy of abandonment put forth by Labour.

    [You consistently fail the ‘skin crawling sycophant’ test. This is your last free one; future attempts in this vein will be moderated…RL]

    • felix 8.1

      That’s not what “causes” means.

      • Fisiani 8.1.1

        Spending money on cigs and booze and not on food for kids does CAUSE so called poverty.

        • felix 8.1.1.1

          Symptom.

          Otherwise you’d see well-off people doing it and becoming poor because of it.

    • Hateatea 8.2

      I wish I had seen this remark when it was first posted. For at least the last 15 years, to my personal knowledge, a beneficiary has been unable to purchase cigarettes, alcohol or lotto products using a WINZ food grant. The ‘smart card’ has changed nothing except enable the user to purchase food at the outlet of their choice rather than one or two ‘approved’ places

  9. randal 9

    and there is a poverty of spirit too.
    the media and especially the teevee is going twenty four hours a day promoting false dreams and false consciousness and fake infantilised desires as being the sine qua non of twent first century man.
    go to a small town and the doctors and lawyers all come from somewhere else during the week or if resident cant wait to get out of the joint in the weekends.
    nobody is satisfied with what they have and nobody wants to mix with their peers or social inferiors in case they get stood up and have to do something.
    the whole place is about evading reality with toys and stuff.
    the government aids and abets this psychological dysjunction by refusing to collect meaningfull statistics and refusing to use the professionals turned out by the universitys to do meaningful research into social problems in case it costs money.
    when I was aboy we used to play softball in the domain over the schoolholidays but today there is not a bat or ball to be seen.
    only metallica tee shirts and baseball caps with some American team or anothers logo on it.
    wonk.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • At last – a common sense plan for Christchurch
    The Common Sense Plan for Christchurch released by The People’s Choice today is a welcome relief from the shallow debate about rates rises versus asset sales, Labour’s Christchurch MPs say. "Local residents – who have spent weeks trawling through the… ...
    15 hours ago
  • National must lead by example on climate change
    The National Government must meet its own climate change obligations before it preaches to the rest of the world, Labour's Climate Change spokesperson Megan Woods says. "Calls today by Climate Change Minister Tim Groser for an end to fossil fuel… ...
    2 days ago
  • Biosecurity rethink a long time
    The Government has opened New Zealand’s borders to biosecurity risks and its rethinking of bag screening at airports is an admission of failure, Labour’s Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. Nathan Guy today announced a review of biosecurity systems in… ...
    2 days ago
  • Chinese rail workers must be paid minimum wage
    KiwiRail must immediately stop further Chinese engineers from working here until they can guarantee they are being paid the New Zealand minimum wage, Labour’s MP for Hutt South Trevor Mallard says. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment today released… ...
    2 days ago
  • Better consultation needed on Christchurch asset sales
    The Christchurch City Council (CCC) should be promoting wide and genuine public consultation on its draft ten year budget and plan given the serious implications for the city’s future of its proposed asset sales, outlined in the plan. Instead, it… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    2 days ago
  • ‘Healthy Families’ a good start but not enough to tackle obesity relate...
    Today the Government is making a the meal out of the launch of its ‘Healthy Families’ package to promote ‘healthier decisions’ and ‘changing mindsets’ over nutrition, physical activity and obesity. Great! The programme is based on a successful model from… ...
    GreensBy Kevin Hague MP
    3 days ago
  • ‘Healthy Families’ a good start but not enough to tackle obesity relate...
    Today the Government is making a the meal out of the launch of its ‘Healthy Families’ package to promote ‘healthier decisions’ and ‘changing mindsets’ over nutrition, physical activity and obesity. Great! The programme is based on a successful model from… ...
    GreensBy Kevin Hague MP
    3 days ago
  • No more sweet talk on obesity
    The Government should be looking at broader measures to combat obesity rather than re-hashing pre-announced initiatives, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.  “While it is encouraging to see the Government finally waking from its slumber and restoring a focus on… ...
    3 days ago
  • Government two-faced on zero-hour contracts
    The Government should look to ban zero-hour contracts in its own back yard before getting too high and mighty about other employers using them, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. “Information collated by Labour shows at least three district health… ...
    3 days ago
  • Scrutiny of battlefield deaths should continue
    As New Zealand troops head to Iraq under a shroud of secrecy, the Government is pushing ahead with legislation to remove independent scrutiny of incidents where Kiwi soldiers are killed in hostile action overseas, Labour’s Defence spokesperson Phil Goff says.… ...
    3 days ago
  • Damp-free homes a right for tenants
    Labour is urging tenants to use a little known rule which gives them the right to live in damp-free rental homes. Otago University researchers have today highlighted the Housing Improvement Regulations 1947 as a way tenants can force landlords to… ...
    3 days ago
  • National must take action on speculators
    The Government must take action on property speculators who are damaging the housing market and shutting families and young people out of the home ownership dream, Labour Leader Andrew Little says.  “There are a number of options the Government could… ...
    4 days ago
  • Milk price halves: A $7b economic black hole
    Global milk prices have halved since the peak last year, creating an economic black hole of almost $7 billion that will suck in regions reliant on dairy, crucial industries and the Government’s books, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The… ...
    4 days ago
  • Kitchen plan set to swallow up health boards’ funds
    The financial impacts of implementing a proposal to outsource hospital food, forced on them by a crown-owned company which is now facing an auditor-general’s inquiry, are being felt by district health boards across the country, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King… ...
    4 days ago
  • Reserve Bank scathing of Government
    The Reserve Bank’s most scathing critique to date of National’s inability to handle the housing crisis shows the Bank is sick of having to pick up the pieces, Labour Leader Andrew Little says.  “John Key continues to deny there is… ...
    4 days ago
  • Time for McDonald’s to upsize work hours
    Labour is calling on McDonald’s to have more respect for their workers and offer them more guaranteed work hours. McDonald’s is proposing to guarantee its workers 80 per cent of their rostered hours, Labour’s spokesperson for Labour Issues Iain Lees-Galloway… ...
    5 days ago
  • Brownlee misses the boat on asbestos
    Gerry Brownlee has once again missed an opportunity to improve the lives of Cantabrians post-earthquakes, Labour’s Canterbury Earthquake Recovery spokesperson Ruth Dyson says. A new report from the Royal Society of New Zealand and the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Adviser,… ...
    5 days ago
  • Government must come clean on troop deployment and protections
    New Zealanders deserve more than to hear about their troops’ deployment overseas from Australian media, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “News from Australia that Kiwi troops are on their way to Iraq this week is another example of the culture… ...
    5 days ago
  • Cancer prevention calls gain momentum
    Research showing bowel cancer treatment sucks up more public health dollars than other cancers once again highlights the need for a national screening programme, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. A study by Otago University, which found colon cancer is… ...
    5 days ago
  • Burger King shows zero-hour contracts not needed
    The abandonment of zero-hour contracts by Burger King is further evidence good employers do not need to use them, Labour’s spokesperson on Labour Issues Iain Lees-Galloway says. "Congratulations to the Unite Union and Burger King for settling an employment agreement… ...
    5 days ago
  • Kiwis deserve more than reheats
    The Government looks set to rely on regurgitated announcements for this year’s Budget if today’s speech is anything to go by, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “National has been building up to this Budget for seven long years, promising a… ...
    6 days ago
  • Landlords not cashing in on insulation schemes
    The fact so few landlords have taken up the generous taxpayer subsidy for retrofitting shows it is time to legislate minimum standards, says Labour’s Associate Housing spokesperson Poto Williams. “Many landlords aren’t using Government insulation schemes because they don’t want… ...
    6 days ago
  • Zero excuses, end zero hour contracts now
    It’s time Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse cut the weasel words and banned zero hour contracts, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “Michael Woodhouse today acknowledged zero hour contracts are unfair. ...
    6 days ago
  • We’ve reached Peak Key with ‘artificial target’
    John Key’s attempt to redefine his cornerstone promise of two election campaigns as an artificial target suggests his other promises are works of fiction, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “For seven years and two election campaigns, John Key has… ...
    6 days ago
  • Top 10 need to know facts on climate change
    All the numbers and stats around climate change can be confusing, so we’ve put together a handy list of the top 10 numbers about climate change that we should all know- and then do something about. You can sign up here to… ...
    GreensBy Frog
    1 week ago
  • Campbell Live a bastion of investigative journalism
    The announcement that current affairs programme Campbell Live is under review and may be axed has sparked outrage from the New Zealand public, for good reason, says Labour’s Broadcasting Spokesperson Clare Curran. “Investigative journalism is a precious resource in today’s… ...
    1 week ago
  • Ground Zero for ‘disastrous’ contracts
    Yesterday the Green Party called on the Government to follow the leadership of Restaurant Brands and ditch zero-hour contracts. Currently it looks like the Government is a large part of the zero-hours problem. It allows these types of “non-jobs” to… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 week ago
  • Trust in National will disappear with deficit
    Bill English is set to break his promise to get the books back in the black this year and lose the trust of Kiwis who have had to do it too hard for too long, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant… ...
    1 week ago
  • Dorothy Jelicich passes away
    It is with sincere sadness that the Labour Party conveys its sympathies and condolences to the bereaved family of Dorothy Jelicich who passed away last night at the age of 87 years, says the MP for Mangere, Su’a William Sio.… ...
    1 week ago
  • Government leaves aquaculture industry at sea
    If the Government had acted in its first term, the Sanford mussel processing plant would not have to close, says Labour’s Fisheries spokesperson Rino Tirikatene. “Sanford is considering closure after a decline in the natural supply of spat. This is… ...
    1 week ago
  • Maggie –it’s time to roll your sleeves up
      It’s time for the Minister of Conservation Maggie Barry to listen to the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment  and start untangling the mess around  New Zealand’s stewardship land, says Labour’s Conservation spokesperson Ruth Dyson.  “The Commissioner has called for… ...
    1 week ago
  • Gutting of prison jobs a gift to private prison provider
    Today’s announcement that sections of three prisons are to be closed is the thin end of the wedge for the privatisation of the country’s prison service, says Labour’s  Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis.  It's estimated that 260 prison officers will lose… ...
    1 week ago
  • Joyce must rule out revising export target
    Steven Joyce must rule out a second revision of the Government’s export target in six months and stop trying to massage statistics when he fails to meet his goals, says Labour’s Economic Development spokesperson David Clark. “National set a target… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Caregiver law passed in haste now a fail
    The Government’s response to supporting family caregivers is mean spirited and designed to fail, says Labour’s Disability Issues Spokesperson Ruth Dyson.  “Figures released by the Ministry of Health show that only a tiny percentage of the eligible families have applied… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Clear message handed to nuclear states
    MPs Phil Goff, Shane Reti and Marama Fox are due to meet with diplomats from the United Kingdom, Russia, the United States, China and France tomorrow to hand deliver a letter calling for their countries to disarm their nuclear weapons.… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Parity is no party for export businesses
    The extent of the damage done by the high dollar to New Zealand businesses is larger than many think as shown by a dramatic decrease in exports to Australia as our dollar rises, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “When the… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Nats’ limited thinking stifling innovation
    Businesses trying to innovate and create better products are being let down by this Government with an industry expert saying Steven Joyce’s mini-tax credits will have almost no impact, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Andrew Dickeson, director of taxation… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Vanishing Nature: A must-read for all New Zealanders
    The Environmental Defence Society’s new book Vanishing Nature – facing New Zealand’s biodiversity crisis, should be read by every New Zealander concerned about our native plants and wildlife and striking natural landscapes; and particularly by Government Ministers before Budget Day… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    2 weeks ago
  • The CYF review – an exercise in predetermination?
    Child Youth and Family (CYF) has a troublesome history of underperformance and botched care and protection cases, the most recent being its abject failure, along with the Police, to address the Roastbusters sexual abuse allegations with any semblance of professionalism.… ...
    GreensBy Metiria Turei MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Time to act to protect Hector’s Dolphins
    The death of a Hector’s Dolphin in a set net must lead to action from the Minister of Conservation, Ruth Dyson, Labour’s Conservation Spokesperson said today. “Despite the fact that the Akaroa Harbour has been a Marine Mammal Sanctuary since… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Double-laning Darby and Joan disputed
    The Prime Minister’s by-election promise to double lane the road between Northland’s iconic Darby and Joan kauri trees has been contradicted by officials, Labour’s spokesperson Phil Twyford says. The NZ Transport Agency has told a media outlet that not all… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Parity: Cheaper trips but lower incomes
    The Kiwi dollar’s near-parity with the Australian means some tourists will have cheaper Gold Coast holidays but New Zealand incomes will stay lower for longer, making it harder for many to afford the trip, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson.… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • English’s state house flog off plans exposed
    Labour is calling on Bill English to confirm or deny a claim the Government is exploring a mass sell-off of state housing to tenants. Property magnate Bob Jones writes in a newspaper column published today that the Minister responsible for… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Extension of work scheme urged for disaster relief
    The Government is being urged to extend the Regional Seasonal Employment (RSE) scheme to help families in the most severely-damaged islands of Vanuatu, following Cyclone Pam. “Allowing a further 300 people to take up seasonal employment in New Zealand under… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Nuclear deal with Iran should be just the start
    A deal struck by Iran and major powers to ensure the Iranian facilities producing nuclear material are not used for the purpose of constructing nuclear weapons has been a long time coming, Labour’s Disarmament spokesperson Phil Goff says. “Undoubtedly Iran’s… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Green Aoraki Newsletter March 2015
    Attachmentsmarch2015_web.pdf - 1.4 MB ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Minister needs to do his homework
    Nathan Guy needs to do his homework, Labour’s Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “Answering questions in Parliament today on the dairy sector, the Primary Industries Minister denied John Key wants to float Fonterra. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Minister needs to put the kibosh on dirty diesel
    State-Owned Enterprises Minister Todd McClay has to get a grip on the KiwiRail board and put the kibosh on its crazy plan for dirty diesel on the main trunk line, Labour’s Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford says. It has been revealed… ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Louise Nicholas Day: Work still to do
    This is a summary of a speech I gave in honour of Louise Nicholas Day on March 31 The IPCA report showed us basic mistakes are still able to be made within a specialist unit. The Police Commissioner said there… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    3 weeks ago
  • The meanness and pettiness of Nats in power
    Last night, Parliament debated NZ First MP Tracey Martin’s Bill to ensure children in the long term care of family members were able to access a clothing allowance currently only available to children in foster care. Many of these children… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    3 weeks ago

Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere