web analytics
The Standard
Advertising

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.

Important links

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

1 2 3 7

  • 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… ...
    1 hour 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
    24 hours 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
    1 day 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
    4 days 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. ...
    4 days 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… ...
    4 days 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. ...
    5 days 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… ...
    5 days 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.… ...
    5 days 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
    5 days 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… ...
    6 days 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… ...
    6 days 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… ...
    6 days 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… ...
    6 days 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
    6 days 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… ...
    6 days ago
  • John Key wrong about Labour’s war vote
    John Key’s desperate claims that the former Labour Government didn’t put combat troop deployment to a Parliamentary vote are simply wrong, Labour’s Defence spokesperson Phil Goff says. “It was disgraceful that the Prime Minister ran rough shod over democracy and… ...
    6 days ago
  • Māori language bill needs work
     It is clear that the first draft of the Māori Language Bill was about structures and funding rather than the survival of te reo Māori, Labour’s Māori Development Spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta says.  “Labour is pleased that the Minister of Māori… ...
    6 days ago
  • Report proves troubled school shouldn’t have opened
    The long-awaited release of an Education Review Office report into Northland’s troubled Whangaruru charter school proves it should never have been approved in the first place, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “This report identifies problems with absenteeism and disengaged… ...
    7 days ago
  • Reply to PM’s statement on deploying troops to Iraq
    “The decision of any Government to send troops to a conflict zone is a very serious one, and it is right that this House takes time to consider it, to debate it, and, ideally, to vote on it, but we… ...
    7 days 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
    2 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
    2 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
    2 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
  • Young Kiwis’ housing crisis
    Shelter is a fundamental human need along with food, water and clean air. All humans need adequate shelter; it’s a human right. Warm, safe, stable accommodation is critical for young people to be able learn and grow and just be.… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    3 weeks ago

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

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere