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The Standard

Not the brighter future….

Written By: - Date published: 8:46 am, December 22nd, 2013 - 32 comments
Categories: class war, equality, families, greens, housing, john key, labour, mana-party, poverty, same old national, sustainability, welfare, workers' rights - Tags:

The inequality divide in New Zealand is not the brighter future for all Kiwis that John Key promised back in 2008.  It’s a bright future for some, and struggle street for others.

I was planning to post about this article, showing how the summer season is experienced by some of the less well off families.

On Stuff: “Santa’s heartbreaking Christmas wishes

Robert Fisher, 74, who has been a Santa at Auckland’s Westfield WestCity in Henderson for nine years, said at least half a dozen kids a day asked him for a house because their families were sleeping in cars.

“It’s worse this year than what I can remember,” he said.

Fisher said some children would ask for a happier family.

“There’s nothing I can do. You just try and say ‘what would you like for Christmas and I’ll see what I can do’. I give them a couple of chocolates.”

[…]

The Christmas heartache comes as social services report more families than ever are desperate for basic food and housing. The Child Poverty Report, released this month, found one in six children going without basic necessities such as a bed, meal or doctor’s visit.

Children’s Commissioner Dr Russell Wills has called for a child poverty plan to be written into law.

He said child poverty had at least doubled by any measure since he was a child, and that as many as 265,000 children lived in poverty, defined as households with less than 60 per cent of the median income after housing costs.

[…]

About 2500 people will attend the Auckland City Mission’s Christmas dinner. Chief executive Diane Robertson said she felt saddened by the increasing number of families asking for help.

The mission had given out 3000 food parcels this December, up from 2400 last year.

Families were not coming for ham, turkey and cakes, she said, but basics such as bread, milk and baked beans.

“There’s been changes in the last few years. We knew families were struggling and coming to us in emergencies, but this is chronic. I can see people are so worn down.”

Christchurch City Missioner Michael Gorman said up to 100 families each day asked for help with a food parcel in December. “We get people coming into us every weekday saying they are desperate for accommodation.”

Families sleeping in cars were stressed because they didn’t know where to enrol their children for school next year, he said.

In Wellington, the Salvation Army was also experiencing high demand.

“The pressure on our families is huge, and housing is a big issue,” Salvation Army territorial social services secretary Pam Waugh said.

I see Paul has linked to this article on open mike, along with a couple of other contrasting articles.  He says:

A tale of 2 New Zealanders.
30 years of neo-liberalism and the country is reduced to this.
The revolting rich

And the poor

[…]

Shame on New Zealand for letting this happen.

The first of Paul’s links is about flash cars for the super rich.  The second is about a guy who is giving back for the help he got when he was struggling:

A former chef has cooked up a big-hearted scheme to provide free Christmas lunches for the needy.

Solo dad Aaron D’Souza has been overwhelmed by generous offers of donations to his Facebook campaign called Koha Kirihimete Kai – Gift Christmas Food.

D’Souza, from Mangere Bridge, Auckland, said his experiences on the breadline while bringing up his two sons inspired an idea to cook and deliver lunches to less fortunate families.

“My six year old boy Dylan was asking me about the City Mission’s charity Christmas dinner and suggested that we cook a lunch for another family who can’t afford one of their own,” D’Souza, who soon starts work as a food technology teacher, said.

“I intended to do this for one family but we have been offered so much free food, we plan to do a lot more.

“The boys understand we are fortunate compared to some others, and will help me peel the potatoes and prepare the food.”

Thanks to all the people supporting those in need.

However, charity is only ever a band aid, and the medium to long term solution requires both a cultural change from the ground up, and political changes from the government:  for instance from the government, worker friendly employment laws; social security provisions that really DO provide social security for all; progressive taxation; affordable housing including more state housing; democratic public service media; economic policies that ensure these things can happen.

Cultural change that ends beneficiary bashing and dividing the “deserving” from the “undeserving” poor; an end to the selfish neoliberal ideology of greed and promotion of the wealthy as producing the wealth for us all; a recognition of how all of the community contributes to the well being of all, whether through paid or unpaid work.

Opposition parties:

YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU!

32 comments on “Not the brighter future….”

  1. Saarbo 1

    “However, charity is only ever a band aid, and the medium to long term solution requires both a cultural change from the ground up, and political changes from the government: for instance from the government, worker friendly employment laws; social security provisions that really DO provide social security for all; progressive taxation; affordable housing including more state housing; democratic public service media; economic policies that ensure these things can happen”

    Hear hear!

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 1.1

      +1

    • Macro 1.2

      In my opinion the very first thing that a government needs to do to ensure near full employment is to make it happen by restricting the amount of cheap goods entering the country. This act alone would make it viable for NZ industries to begin again. You can have all the incentives you like, all the tax breaks and funding packages, but when you have to compete with “slave” labour, there is really no way a business can survive.

      This was one of the first things the 1st Labour Govt did – import quotas and restricting foreign exchange, and the result was the ability of NZ to develop its industrial base. That has now been lost and we fool ourselves if we think we now have the capacity to develop full and equitable employment again until we recreate a strong manufacturing capacity.

      • Colonial Viper 1.2.1

        Our hands are tied by all kinds of BS neoliberal trade agreements. Need smart ways around them.

        Three steps I see:

        1) Full employment policy for 25’s and under (focussed on building state houses and public transport infrastructure, also artistic/cultural, caring, conservation and environment work.)
        2) Increase all main benefits by $30 p.w. immediately.
        3) Halfway transition to a living wage of $18.00/hr.

        And get it done in the first 12 months of Government.

        • just saying 1.2.1.1

          CV, $30 per week extra on base benefits is just not enough. I believe the National Super base per single is about $100 per week more than the base single UE/sickness benefits. Home ownership and other kinds of income such as investments, is way higher amongst superannuitants than amongst other beneficiary groups, and yet most superannuitants will tell you they struggle to make ends meet.

          I realise that it is unlikely that you are poor, but honestly, how much difference would $30 per week make to your life, CV? We’re talking about not having the means for adequate nutrition, health care, transport, utilities etc.

          edit: Oh, and why would we have a transition towards a living wage? What exactly would we be waiting for? People to get even poorer?

          • Colonial Viper 1.2.1.1.1

            CV, $30 per week extra on base benefits is just not enough. I believe the National Super base per single is about $100 per week more

            I think $30 is a good starting figure, but I agree that it needs to go higher.

            I realise that it is unlikely that you are poor, but honestly, how much difference would $30 per week make to your life, CV?

            For me it’s a pub lunch and a Monteiths – or it’s groceries for a day for a couple. Not too bad, I would have thought.

            This stuff is just a start but it is stuff which can be enacted very quickly in govt to ease the worst pressures off people immediately and boost the economy.

            edit: Oh, and why would we have a transition towards a living wage? What exactly would we be waiting for? People to get even poorer?

            Well, the half way point is $16/hr so I think that’s a good stepping stone. You have a transition so that SMEs can budget for it and not get too fucked up, especially understanding that payroll is often 30% to 40% of an SME’s total costs.

            Of course, government depts, McDonalds, BNZ and Telecom would be able to afford it immediately, but they have resources that small employers simply do not.

            • Wayne 1.2.1.1.1.1

              Interesting point in your post, CV. Are you suggesting $16 ph minimum wage? Given that the $15 campaign is now 3 years old, I can see the logic.

              In contrast the “living wage” is all about people with children. That is why it does not make sense for Councils to implement the living wage for everyone employed by Council as a minimum wage, since at least in theory, the 16 year unskilled grounds assistant would be starting on $18.40 ph, which is $38,272 per year. Now I realize some people would think that would be sensible, but if this became the universal minimum wage, NZ would probably have the highest minimum wage in the OECD, but we are nowhere near the highest income nation in the OECD.

              • felix

                God forbid that a working young person should earn a decent wage. Oh the horror.

                What’s your hourly rate, Wayne?

                • Draco T Bastard

                  Wayne’s concern is that he and others paid over $100k per year will have to take a pay cut. Especially those on over $500k per year.

                  Increasing the minimum wage is the most direct form of redistribution known.

              • Colonial Viper

                NZ would probably have the highest minimum wage in the OECD, but we are nowhere near the highest income nation in the OECD.

                But NZ generates plenty of income. Of course, too much of our nation’s income is going offshore to foreign shareholders who do nothing to work to earn it. Our 5% current account deficit represents a net loss offshore of around $10B pa. This will worsen further as our terms of trade pulls back from multi-decade highs. (And our most profitable public assets are sold).

            • dave 1.2.1.1.1.2

              liveing wage is only part of the reforms that need to take place workers need there bargining positions strengthened to adress the stagnant wage growth how we got to this point took many years neoliberal reforms have not been kind to the weekly wage . the national dept is the elephant in the room that can derail any reform and we all should be worried http://www.johnpemberton.co.nz/html/total_debt_.html dept has replaced income and in end we will all suffer

      • Chooky 1.2.2

        +1

        ….and stop foreign ownership of our big income earners and exports

        eg wineries and vineyard land
        dairy industries and dairying land
        tourism ventures

        …it is crazy to sell them off to the very countries that would buy these products and services from NZ and NZers

  2. Will@Welly 2

    There has always been an “underclass” in society, and I use that word advisedly. In the 50’s, 60’s & 70’s, you could virtually count all the people who belonged to that group, and you knew where they lived. Not so now, and no matter what help was offered then, they struggled. Often it was a lack of educational opportunities that had held them back. Remember the old School Cert, 50% failure rate, no matter what. We had the working class, of which I am proudly one, then the middle class, to which many aspired, and finally the elite.
    Too many “middle class” people today see themselves as the elite, they have been fooled into believing they are as good as their masters. Most are living on a prayer. Given the state of the economy and many peoples personal debt, they are only one step away from purgatory.
    The elite make deals behind closed doors, and are quite happy to squander your money. Those who think they are rich, but actually aren’t, are fooling themselves. Key & co love them, they’re laughing all the way to the bank.
    For many middle class people, they’ve actually become lower middle-class/upper working class, but with the slide in living standards, they’re destined to become working class in the coming years.
    For most working class people we’re on struggle street, not quite as desperate as some, but the bank accounts getting empty, the minimum wage is catching up to ours, and that’s not the fault of those on the minimum pay rate, it’s the fact since the introduction of the Employment Contracts Act in 1990, and today, employers have not invested in productivity, rather they’ve been happy to close up shop and ship our jobs off-shore to some cheaper form of labour.
    The “underclass” is growing, poverty is entrapment. The dreaded handout is now a hand-up, but that comes with so many fish-hooks, taking it causes more headaches, many wonder is it really worth it. The right uses it as a foil.
    John A. Lee, Michael Joseph Savage, Arnold Nordmeyer, even Norman Kirk, they’d be all turning in their graves to see the society we’ve become today. As for the “left”, the Labour Party abandoned it’s principles a long time ago. It’s time for a sea-change.

  3. Philj 3

    Xox
    Greater tax of double dipping superannuitants. Those that work and get super. Ooh ,nooo!

  4. rich the other 4

    Every thing must be looking up and contrary to what will @welly recons the rich don’t squander , that’s why they are rich, we should all should follow their example.

    This topic started at 8.46am , this is only the 8th reply.
    I suspect people can see a future and things are improving .
    The response says it all.

    Paula Bennett has a good grasp on her portfolio and is steering the ship in the wright direction , a surprise National STAR.

    • karol 4.1

      This topic started at 8.46am , this is only the 8th reply.
      I suspect people can see a future and things are improving .
      The response says it all.

      You wish. It’s a slow time of year. People are doing other things.

      • rich the other 4.1.1

        Yep , Christmas shopping ,it can take all day and plenty of bargains to be found.

      • Tim 4.1.2

        Indeed!
        The “wally of the Year” post went up an hour before this one and so far has less comments.
        “first the Hone bash, then the royals..” 2 days ago and now just over 100.
        They try their bullshit and jellybeans spin any which way they can (brains mismanaged with great skill – they think they have a licence to kill). You’ll note one of them has even taken to doing cut and pastes from an oil slick in desperation.

    • Colonial Viper 4.2

      Irrelevant. It’s capitalism. Most people who are rich suck in wealth created by the labour hours of others in the form of unearned income.

      A high wealth tax and an estate (death) tax would even the playing field for ordinary people to get ahead.

    • Foreign Waka 4.3

      To Rich the other: People prepare for Christmas and this is a good thing. At least the families come together at one time in the year.
      Paula Bennett does what she has been told and some more. I have no respect for this women whose only ambition is to give less to get more of the taxpayer money handed over in form of personal income. It is in effect showing what the party is all about. Meanwhile, there are reports of a quarter of a million children living in poverty. Given that the population is 4.43 million and every child has at least 1 parent that would mean that 11% live in poverty. I don’t belief that this is something to be proud of. Furthermore, this fact has actually caught the attention now of the international community such as Amnesty International and International Human Rights watchdog. To appear on a record with these agencies means that there is something seriously wrong and not recognizing that as a fact is akin to sanction that some may starve in order for some to get rich.Is this the new improved NZ that Mr Key promised? I belief we can do without that.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.4

      Every thing must be looking up and contrary to what will @welly recons the rich don’t squander , that’s why they are rich, we should all should follow their example.

      Why the rich are rich is because they persuade people to pay them for nothing. They do this through ownership of the expenses that everyone else needs which allows them to make a profit on everything that everyone else spends. Their own expenses are also covered to a great degree by everyone else through tax breaks and other loopholes that have been put their for that very purpose.

      The rich aren’t rich because they’re geniuses or because they don’t squander, but because everyone else pays them to be rich.

    • dave 4.5

      “rich don’t squander” Oh what a statement!Who caused the ongoing GFC 2008 we know the answer!
      i will remind you of another statement “let them eat cake” CHOP CHOP!

  5. Tracey 5

    But wayne surely the economic good news you crow will see incomes leap frogging the oecd scale? Otherwise maybe its not the good news you and national are flogging.

  6. Mike Steinberg 7

    ***The Child Poverty Report, released this month, found one in six children going without basic necessities such as a bed, meal or doctor’s visit.***

    I think that with the technology now available with birth control shots that these need to be made a part of an increased and more generous welfare package. This would provide a better standard of living for those born in poverty, but also ensure that it is sustainable and give the mum’s a better chance of moving out of poverty.

    • Te Reo Putake 7.1

      Personally, I think the poor should be encouraged to eat their unwanted offspring. Nutritious and budget conscious. Win/Win.

    • Foreign Waka 7.2

      Some 60 years ago a program with a bit less technology was introduced in a country in Europe, I leave it up to you to guess what I am getting at.

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