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Poverty on the agenda

Written By: - Date published: 10:26 am, February 19th, 2014 - 80 comments
Categories: benefits, child welfare, class war, education, equality, greens, housing, labour, mana, poverty, radio, same old national, tv - Tags:

Just when it looks like the right wing smoke and mirror spin in the media is getting even stronger, there are a couple of bright spots in this week’s mainstream. A documentary and a Radio Live interview focus on poverty and inequality. Evidence shows that child poverty and income inequality have increased in NZ since the “neoliberal” revolution that began in the mid 1980s. Good government policies addressing poverty and inequality are necessary. Such policies need to be based on an understanding of the importance of collective responsibility, that we all benefit when we are all safe, secure, well-fed, well-housed, well-educated, and can access good jobs, health care and social security.

Tonight on TV3 at 8.30 pm is a repeat of Bryan Bruce’s documentary, “Mind the Gap: Inequality in New Zealand” – this is a relatively late change to TV3’s schedule.

It’s actually still available on TV3 Ondemand.  TV3’s web page of the programme.

the veteran investigative journalist is back with MIND THE GAP in which he reveals why inequality is bad (even for the rich) and what we can do about it.

“I’m not an economist” Bruce explains, “but by the time I’d finished my documentary on Child Poverty I wanted to know what the hell had gone so wrong with our economy that a lot of our children are turning up to school hungry, and charities are having to supply raincoats and shoes for them, because it never used to be that way.”

Mind the gap zombie economics

Last Sunday, UNICEF’S national advocacy manager, Deborah Morris-Travers was interviewed on Radio Live.  The interview focused on child poverty and began with reference to the Salvation Army’s recent State of the Nation on social trends.   Morris-Travers outlined the problem and the way forward, stressing the importance of government policies.

She said that one in four New Zealand children (25%) live in relative poverty: this means probably living in cold and damp homes, missing out on good nutrition, and going without food, maybe missing visits to the doctor, and fewer educational opportunities.  Such children are more likely to catch infectious diseases, and

they’ll have chronic ill health, which means they don’t participate in early childhood education and will arrive at school not ready to learn.

This all costs the country about $6-8 billion a year. She said that the situation is damning of successive governments.  In the 1980s, 12-14% of children in poverty – a much lower proportion of children than today.

This changed noticeably in the 1990s, as a result of the opening of our economy to the (allegedly) free market. There was also the Employment Contracts Act of 1990, and at the same time benefits were cut significantly, while there were also big changes to state housing. When such policies were brought in, there was no consideration of what the policies would mean to children.

According to Morris-Travers, child-focused policies in New Zealand are “very haphazard”.  Many policies are developed and implemented with little consideration of children’s needs and rights.  She stressed that good government policies can lessen poverty and address underlying causes.

Morris-Travers then said that the National led government’s policies to combat poverty were “really just tinkering around the edges”.  She welcomes “Weetbix and milk in schools as a start”, but much more is needed.  She was critical of the way NZ still supported the idea of individual responsibility. We need to get back to collective responsibility, with a range of policies for children.  We will all benefit from less poverty and a lower level of inequality.

Morris-Travers was critical of the government’s welfare reforms, which are likely to have negative impacts on children.  It’s good that parents are required to see doctors and Plunket nurses. However, welfare sanctions being applied to parents with young children have a negative impact on the children.

Furthermore, there is a problem of inter-generational poverty. Morris-Travers emphasised that the

vast majority of parents want to do the best for their children, and they will do that within the resources they’ve got available to them.

Children of well educated parents do well, so parent education is important. Large numbers of Auckland parents have low levels of literacy and numeracy.  A good approach to countering this is to bring them into the schools.  There’s excellent work being done in Auckland by the Auckland Council owned company, Comet. They are working with schools and universities.

Other related policies are those addressing housing quality and affordability.  This needs to be part of national infrastructure plan, so that children grow up in healthy homes.

All opposition parties have policies addressing the inequality gap and poverty, especially child poverty.

Labour: Best StartAffordable and Healthy HomesNZ PowerStanding Up for Workers;    Jobs that Work for You.

Green Party: Mind the Gap – includes: Fair Tax; Addressing Energy Poverty; Income Support; Housing.

Mana Party: Raft of policies and priorities, including on Health, Livelihood, Economic Justice, Education, Early Childhood, Schooling, Tertiary Education, Housing, Social Wellbeing, Welfare, Children, CYFS, Disability Issues.

80 comments on “Poverty on the agenda”

  1. Bill 1

    I’ve already said as much on ‘Open mike’ in response to ‘Swim Between the Flags’, but I think it bears repeating.

    If the cut and paste on the (mis) fortunes of the SDP in Germany are broad enough in nature to transfer to other countries (I think they are, insofar as I’m not aware of any ‘special’ circumstances surrounding the German elections), then we have to look at the context or framework these policies are rolled out in.

    In short, they are very much couched in terms of ‘business as usual’ …of an ongoing market economy in some form or other. Many people are comfortable enough under the current managerial arrangement and so, even if they think poverty reduction etc are laudable, they’ll just vote in line with a (for them) comfortable status quo.

    Which brings me to this…seems some of the horses in this here barn have a shot sense of smell. I can smell the smoke. Seems they can’t. So, time to scare them shitless and get them moving out of here.

    Put Global Warming front and center stage and run the policies on poverty etc off the back of a forceful acknowledgement that ‘what we are doing’ has no future; none at all.

    • karol 1.1

      Except global warming has to be done in such a way for people to be able to connect it with their daily lives and communities. For many it just seems like an abstraction – a thing of the unspecified future.

      I think issues that impact on people’s daily lives need to be front and centre (inequalities, unaffordable housing, transport, education, health, jobs, etc) – but linked with the wider issues of the future- resource depletion, extreme weather, changing climate and its impact, etc.

      • Bill 1.1.1

        Yeah, badly worded perhaps. I wasn’t meaning to suggest that poverty etc be relegated.

        But working towards a future that contains a market economy and where some semblance of previously intergenerational and ‘normal’ expectations are projected into the future is extremely fucking dangerous and delusional.

        It needs to ‘be called’…and all the policies the left cleave to need to be repositioned…explained… within a framework that acknowledges reality.

        • weka 1.1.1.1

          Are you suggesting that Labour/GP/Mana start scaring the horses now? Or did you mean people/organisations outside of those parties?

    • xtasy 1.2

      “If the cut and paste on the (mis) fortunes of the SDP in Germany are broad enough in nature to transfer to other countries (I think they are, insofar as I’m not aware of any ‘special’ circumstances surrounding the German elections), then we have to look at the context or framework these policies are rolled out in.”

      It is SPD, Bill, and they are one of the, if not the oldest parties, in that country, with a long history, also very controversial.

      There are some crucial things that led to the downfall of the SPD in public opinion and elections in Germany, that is similar to the loss of faith of their traditional voters and supporters, same as with what happened with Labour here in NZ.

      After an economic downturn after the “dotcom bubble” and more, and after 9/11 and economic slowing on a global scale, the former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder set out to implement “social” and “employment law” reforms in 2003 or 2004, which led to a radical change in their benefit system in 2005, which is similar to what was done in the UK and is now being done here in NZ.

      They did deny continued benefits to long term beneficiaries, introduced a new two tier system, which meant most long therm unemployed ended up with a lower rate of benefits, that was at the very basic minimum level of survival. Workers who worked for many years, paid their levies into the official unemployment insurance system, were only allowed a year or so of maximum unemployment benefits based on former earnings, after that they were shifted on minimal support, and had fewer rights, having to accept almost any job going.

      The “social democrat” government (being a Blair type government) then “hailed” this as an “economic” success when beneficiary numbers dropped after a brief large increase. But the economy picked up also, and now, they have similar issues as we have here, and as the UK have, where many are just transfered between types of benefits, more stringently scrutinised and en masse denied benefits, and are forced to look for whatever minimal paying jobs, to survive.

      That is the fucking SPD in Germany, not even a vague shadow of what the traditional SPD stood for, it is a betrayal and disgrace.

      We have in NZ sadly a Labour Party that tries to justify following the same “successful” policies, here, but that are not going to solve much, apart from lifting the minimum wage to $ 15, which after inflation will hardly be much of a “better” wage after all.

      • xtasy 1.2.1

        More on this angle:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hartz_concept

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agenda_2010

        The so-called “left” has in most “western” or “developed” countries been nothing but a large agenda on massive betrayal, selling out, and back stabbing of the clientele they would traditionally represent.

        We have the same issues with Labour here, as they have had with the representative parties on other places.

        It is all taken over by professional elites, by word rich promisers of a “better future” and so forth, but they have mostly done nothing or little to honour their words.

  2. Tracey 2

    Here’s the thing.

    Kiwis believe Labour is better for families by a margin of 54-ish percent to National’s $37ish %

    Kiwis believe Labour is better for closing the gap, by some margin

    BUT they believe National is handling the economy well.

    I believe we have to make the message simple and repetitive…

    An economy that sees families struggling, which sees the gap between the bottom half of kiwis and the top half increasing by the decade is not a Rockstar. We should be saying it is an economy that has failed. No matter how well you handle THAT economy… families struggle, gap widens and child poverty grows.

    The rockstar is a single person, at the top;, with the money and the fame. Of course he/she is happy and smiling and likeable.
    The roadie is in the wing doing the grunt work for no credit and basic pay
    The majority have to pay for the pleasure to line the Rockstar’s pocket

    The majority of kiwis are in the last category.

    We know this from the previous rocksdtar economy cycles which crashed in 1987… 2007… and in between the crashes?

    Families struggled
    The gap between rich and poor grew
    And child poverty increased

    There must be another answer. Kiwis don’t give up on each other. They don’t kick them cos they are in the half of kiwis who get under $22 an hour for less than 40 hours work each week. They roll up their sleeves and say “you know what mate? This is fucking broken. Let’s start fixing it.”

    Message to Labour and Green and any other party wanting this government out..

    No matter what question you are asked answer

    Half of hard working kiwis get less than $22 per hour. They have families, they work hard and they want the best for their kids. That’s who WE speak for.

    • McFlock 2.1

      It always strikes me as funny that people think national tend the economy better than labour. Pretty much any indicator (gdp, unemployment, gini) says otherwise.

      • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1

        +1

      • Tracey 2.1.2

        But they do believe it cos business and nats and act repeat it over and over. Short soundbites are required to counter it

        • Mary 2.1.2.1

          And the Left doesn’t have anyone with even the ability to that. When will the Left get its shit together? The answer is never. Key and his mates will not win the election. The Left will hand it to them. That’s how fucking dumb we are and that will never change no matter how overwhelmingly sharp and correct our analysis might be and how disturbingly twisted and wrong Key and his band of greedy men can get. We are useless.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.2

      The rockstar is a single person, at the top;, with the money and the fame. Of course he/she is happy and smiling and likeable.
      The roadie is in the wing doing the grunt work for no credit and basic pay
      The majority have to pay for the pleasure to line the Rockstar’s pocket

      Now that is an excellent description of capitalism.

  3. Good article thanks…….Poverty, especially for kids increase from 14 to 25% is a major indicator that economic policies that are put ahead of people and environment is both unproductive, in the long run and (quite frankly) unethical when we see MP’s taking Xmas bonuses (2011) and high company profits while a (still) large percentage of our population are left vulnerable

    The Sale of Assets legislation…Sky Casino etc have been bad for Maori, Workers, Women and Disabled…best to vote this lot out

    Thanks
    Doug Hay
    Cordinator

  4. srylands 4

    Wage growth has been fairy steady the last 20 years.

    Under the last Labour Government GDP per capita grew much faster than wages. That has now been reversed. The wage and GDP data since 2009 point to current policies promoting prosperity, and higher wages growth. This trend is clearly indicated in the linked chart.

    http://www.pictureshack.us/view_57443_new-zealand-wages-GDP.png

    • One Anonymous Bloke 4.1

      Now show us the same chart with a start date of 1970, cherry picker. Per capita gdp started outstripping wages long before 1999. I note that wages growth started to match pcgdp by about 2004.

      Lying with statistics is still lying, S Rylands.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 4.1.1

        PS: I do hope you aren’t pretending that “grew much faster” = “one line is above the other on this graph”.

        If you were, I’d have to ask whether you were stupid or mendacious.

    • Wage growth has been fairy steady the last 20 years.

      Those who’d prefer to see graphs dealing with real wages may find illuminating this Daily Blog Post by Mike Treen on real wage levels.

      • Tracey 4.2.1

        Gosh, Srylands must have slunk back to kiwiblog to try and find david’s answers to our questions?

    • Tracey 4.3

      And the pm claiming projections of 10% unemployment?

      And the increase in gap betw rich and poor? The crashes that occur every 20 years which cost the poor bastards on under 22 in the bail outs and lost investments plus heaps of others.

      What reasons can you give for this good economic outlook being different this time… and when will this lead to increased wages for 50% of the workforce at the lower earning end. Please give us the sources for your predictions.

  5. Thanks Tracey
    You said it in different, more accessible terms than me. Though I still think we should avoid the term “the economy” and jump on the sloppy thinkers who use the phrase.

    • Tracey 5.1

      I tried to avoid using it kevin… but we have to associate a new meaning with the word to displace the old notion.

      • karol 5.1.1

        Well the oldest meaning of the word is “household management” (Ancient Greece). Then became used to mean the “wealth and resources” or “political economy” of a country (1650s)

        According to wikipedia, it largely meant “trade” in the middle ages, but was picked up with a vengeance by Adam Smith in the 18th century in theorising about capitalism and free trade.

        Mainly economy seems to be about the management of cultivating/extracting/producing resources and distributing them within a society.

        Resource management may be a better term? This would inlcude resource depletion, unequal distribution of resources, etc.

        • Kevin McCready 5.1.1.1

          The word has been hijacked by vested interests. It is now a Lakoff frame which implicitly accepts trickle down theory, neoclassical theory or any other theory which accepts there is such a measurable entity as “the economy”. The “frame” suggests that growing a bigger pie will benefit all. Karol, I still haven’t had your response to my earlier post.

          [karol: Your earlier comment above, refers to this commewnt with links that Lynn moved to open mike, along with the responses to it. Lynn, sysop and moderator, added some comments to your comment, and to one of my responses to your comment.]

    • Mary 5.2

      How about the phrase “taxpayers’s money”? The right-wing introduced it as an ideological tool and now everyone including the so-called left-wing use it freely.

  6. natwest 6

    [deleted]

    [lprent: Have you read my warning? Deal with that before you leave more comments. ]

  7. I have to say I am stunned by the way I have been treated by this website and on this thread. I provided links which were relevant to the discussion. My posts were removed to another page and finally (hours later) I am told to read Open Mike. Now I understand. The acusation that I am link-whoring is unfounded and offensive.

    I apologise for not spelling it out.

    The use of the word “economy” in the article is EXACTLY the problem we are facing. The article is about poverty and the economy. The links I provided were precisely about the language we use in discussing these things. Once again I apologise if my point was unclear.

    Central to the article is the quote from Bryan Bruce:
    “I’m not an economist” Bruce explains, “but by the time I’d finished my documentary on Child Poverty I wanted to know what the hell had gone so wrong with our economy.”

    My point is that Bruce fails to understand that “the economy” is a Lakoff frame, as I’ve been saying. I then provided a link to Lakoff. I’ve said above what a Lakoff frame is. If anyone seriously thinks I’m wrong, than please point out the error of my thinking, but please don’t make accusations of link-whoring and threaten instant banning.

    My point also is that if we fail to understand how language is used by the right to frame the debate and to frame the very way we think, we are up shit creek. In the Lakoff framing sense “the economy” is a frame for a belief in trickle down theory, neoclassical theory or any other theory which accepts there is such a measurable entity as “the economy”. The “frame” contains the idea that growing a bigger pie will benefit all. The trick with “frames” is that because they are so easy to fall into, we unconsciously accept them as reality. Though with this frame there are large vested interests in academia, politics and business in pushing the frame into economics textbooks. In reality “the economy” is just one more contested site in the human sphere. It’s the site where various groups of people try to maximise their positions. Various interest groups, sectors, industries will always seek to argue that their position is good for “the economy”. It is this which Bruce seems to accept even while he says he doesn’t understand it.

    How many of you who accused me of link-whoring actually read my blogpost or actually read the Lakoff stuff? If you had, I apologise that it didn’t appear relevant.

    Yes I’ve read the link-whoring policy. I read it weeks ago very carefully when I was first made aware of this website. I maintain that the links I posted were relevant. And next time, if I dare link, I’ll be sure to spell it out.

    I’d be grateful now if people could interact with my comments rather than make accusations.

    [lprent: To reiterate. I don’t care about your hurt feelings. I care about people generally conforming to the policies of our site.

    The point about link-whoring was that you didn’t provide context for people to make an informed decision about clicking on a link. So yes – spell it out. It usually requires a short paragraph or two. You’ll find that people who are interested will click through. Those who are not won’t. But it gets rid off our site all of the spurious crap that you caused yesterday with your ignorant actions.

    Basically this is the net. Not some pissant school for kiddies. It has a culture that is different and also that varies from site to site. You need to learn to listen to moderators.

    We’re usually damn busy and have to moderate on top of our actual work and family life. We really don’t have time to toilet train newbies. When they start whining and disrupting debate, it always winds up with a decision. That is if we should kick them out of the room so that other people can engage without the wee egos screaming “look at me, look at me”. ]

    • Lynn, I don’t mind all that. And believe me, it’s harder to hurt my feelings than you might believe. What I will say is that moving the thread to another page and then notifying me as a newbie HOURS later was unhelpful.

      And didn’t I read somewhere something about “pointless personal attacks, or tone or language that has the effect of excluding others”?

      But hey, mea culpa, let’s move on.

      • lprent 7.1.1

        And didn’t I read somewhere something…

        Cherry picking out of context quotes is a particularly stupid habit. That was quoted from a section focused on people commenting, not people moderating. Perhaps you should read the whole policy including the sections on moderators rather just than sections regarding your expected behaviour.

        Live with moderation. The alternative is to have this site commented 10 to 1 by spambots and trolls…

    • Tracey 7.2

      ““I’m not an economist” Bruce explains, “but by the time I’d finished my documentary on Child Poverty I wanted to know what the hell had gone so wrong with our economy.””

      By the time I finished watching that documentary I wanted to know what the hell has gone wrong in our society.

      THATs where the Greens have worked things out ahead of labour…

      People first

      “economy” second

      • Disagree. I’m not sure you’ve understood my proposition. We should stop using the phrase “the economy”. If you really must use it, perhaphs think of the economy AS people. We can’t say people first and economy second.

        I hope I can repeat myself:

        If we fail to understand how language is used by the right to frame the debate and to frame the very way we think, we are up shit creek. In the Lakoff framing sense “the economy” is a frame for a belief in trickle down theory, neoclassical theory or any other theory which accepts there is such a measurable entity as “the economy”. The “frame” contains the idea that growing a bigger pie will benefit all.

        The trick with “frames” is that because they are so easy to fall into, we unconsciously accept them as reality. Though with this frame there are large vested interests in academia, politics and business in pushing the frame into economics textbooks. In reality “the economy” is just one more contested site in the human sphere. It’s the site where various groups of people try to maximise their positions. Various interest groups, sectors, industries will always seek to argue that their position is good for “the economy”.

        So again, if you really must use it. Talk about the sector you mean, the industry you mean. The relations between people and power and money you mean.

        • Tracey 7.2.1.1

          I UNDERSTOOD your proposition. I was echoing what the Greens say. By putting people at the top of the list they are streets ahead of national and Labour et al in their use of the term “the economy”

          THAT was my point.

  8. captain hook 8

    the thing is that the neo-liberals call their activities capitlaism which is a theory but their stuff is dogma and it means they just take what they like and leave nothing for anybody else.

  9. Whatever next 9

    Hard to believe Bruce’s wonderful doco got passed the right wing censors, should be shown every week so that all the sheeple get around to watching it

    • risildowgtn 9.1

      Brilliant informative and shows what a failure for the people at the bottom ,neoliberalism has been

  10. xtasy 10

    This is all good and nice, I saw it a 3rd time now, that will NOT win the election, as some will not believe the truth, and so forth. Mor e is needed, and that is Labour, Greens and others to actually present facts and more, take a firm stand for social and environmental justice and so, but so far NZ is BACKWARD, and few take any stand. It is all about the middle class lookng at advantages, none else, it is shocking. But we must hope.

  11. Mary 11

    Seeing the documentary tonight for the fourth time was better than the previous three times. So clear and succinct and true and accurate and importantly it provides solutions.

    Now, why can’t any so-called left-wing politician or so-called left wing party convey even a fraction of these ideas to citizens in a way that makes citizens see what’s really going on and that things needs to change?

    The answer, Grasshoppers, is that we do not have any left-wing politicians or left-wing parties in New Zealand.

    • xtasy 11.1

      I honestly believe taking heroin and jabbing it up is a “better” solution, because society does NOT offer anything at all, but buying and selling shit! There is NOTHING here that keeps me “clean”!

      • xtasy 11.1.1

        Sorry, I am a bit LoST again, I do NOT recommenD MY solution to others, it is MY solutions, the “final solution” in some ways, I have NO more hope. Best wishes to all others.

      • bad12 11.1.2

        Seek suitable help i would suggest is a far better solution…

  12. bad12 12

    Knowing the difference between Productive Capitalism and Non-Productive/Speculative Capitalism and having the ability to judge which is which in the economy is probably the key to fixing what ails us as a Nation,

    Once defined, Non-Productive and Speculative capitalism should be taxed at a rate, preferably at least 10% above which productive capitalism is,

    Looking at Closing the Gaps this evening it appears that one of the bigger expenses facing the individuals classed as the working poor is in fact the % of their weekly wages spent upon rental accommodation, supplementing this is 1 Billion dollars plus from the Government in accommodation supplements,

    Where i disagree with Closing the Gaps is the contention in the program that it is ‘the rich’ who are the main beneficiaries of this, not so i contend, rental housing has become the investment of choice for the burgeoning middle class in this country,

    So large is the swathe across that middle class that are now ‘rentiers’ that i believe this has tied the hands of the Labour Party providing the working poor with State Housing over which there seems to be ‘a vow of silence’ in force,

    Neo-liberalism will only be defeated when those raking in the riches of Non-Productive and Speculative Capitalism are differentiated in the economy by harsh taxation used as an educative tool to force these people into Productive Capitalism,

    The profits from such taxation accrued by the Government then should be used to provide proper State Housing for the working poor which for them was the traditional path to eventual home ownership…

    • karol 12.1

      I agree on the importance of fixing this accommodation inflation – a route to gaining money/wealth by many in the middle class. And that increased state housing is a necessary counter to this bubble.

      Many in the middle class benefit from this – but they are not the “main” beneficiaries. They are allowed their little bit of profit to keep them happy and stop them from radically challenging the status quo. Without this benefit, they would be feeling pretty insecure.

      The “main” beneficiaries from this are the rich, the corporates and the powerful.

      • Tracey 12.1.1

        “They are allowed their little bit of profit to keep them happy” and believe that even more will come their way with just a bit of harder work.

        It’s an awful lie, but an effective one.

      • just saying 12.1.2

        I think you are overlooking a signficant middle-class demographic, Karol. The profit is almost beside the point. After a period of taking rent, the property is paid for.

        There is a significant (in size and in power) middle-class demographic living in much greater material luxury than they would in a more equal society. The half who are dangerously overextended and living beyond their means are the most desperate, but that whole demographic has a strong vested interest in the poor and powerless remaining so.

        • Tracey 12.1.2.1

          hat do we all consider is middle class?

          50% of the working population earn under $22 an hour for a little under a 36 hour week. That’s 800 bucks a week IF you earn the $22. That figure is PRE tax…

          Let’s assume thats about 650 in the hand.

          If you are married with kids, I don’t know how it changes with WFF. In Auckland you will lose at least half if not more to accommodation.

          So, that’s that 50%…presumably not middle class.

          • just saying 12.1.2.1.1

            The working class is, and has always been the majority.
            The comfortable middle class is the next biggest demographic. These people, like the rich have done very well out of neoliberalism. Most, in my opinion, will fight any serious attempt at making our communities more equal.

            • Tracey 12.1.2.1.1.1

              I’m not trying to be argumentative. I am trying to drill down to the reality or otherwise of this “comfortable middle class is the next biggest demographic. ” idea. Truth or imagined?

      • bad12 12.1.3

        i tend Karol, to be more inclined to Just saying’s view, with the obvious codicil that it is obviously the Bank’s sitting at the top of the pyramid raking in large profits from this Non-Productive Capitalism,

        However, especially in the larger cities, it is that wide swathe of the middle class who simply ‘Enable’ such profiteering from the Bank’s,

        In 20 years of Neo-Liberalism 200,000 former ‘homes’, 10,000 a year have transferred into the ownership of that middle class as rental properties,

        Besides the tax rort and government subsidies that make rental housing the ‘choice’ of investment for those with monies to spare there are a number of logical reasons why such a swathe of people have chosen to invest in rental housing, but, other than the Banks i do not see much involvement from the corporates or the ‘rich’ in an actual ownership role,

        My belief is that the Labour Party has a reasonable sized demographic within it’s Party membership that are in fact also rental housing owners, and, it is this sizable demographic within the Party that has it sticking to ‘the vows of silence’ when it comes to rebalancing the economic equation for those in the ‘working poor’ demographic by providing them with affordable rental accommodation in the form of State Housing,

        It is unacceptable for a working Kiwi to effectively pay all the families income in rent leaving that family the sum total of the amount of the accommodation supplement paid from the States Purse to provide all it’s other necessities,

        Such is really the equation of modern day slavery, the only difference being is the slaves are no longer confined to a particular ‘plantation’, and, the slave is now responsible for generating profits for a diverse number of owners…

        • Tracey 12.1.3.1

          How big do you think this middle class is, and why?

          • bad12 12.1.3.1.1

            Tracey, big enough to transfer 200,000 former ‘homes’ into ‘rental properties’ in 20 years,(10,000 a year),

            Your little queries about the size of this middle class have any particular reason???…

            • Tracey 12.1.3.1.1.1

              Yes, I just don’t know how big this oft mentioned part of our society is. If 50% earn under $22 an hour… what is the middle? $22 to what? And do we consider people earning $25 to 30 an hour middle class?

              • bad12

                Without engaging in a dig of the relevant statistics Tracey i would suggest for wages and salaries,(as opposed to self employed where a lot of the current middle class is to be found), i would consider $40 an hour as the bottom of that middle class, the numbers of which i havn’t got at hand…

        • Psycho Milt 12.1.3.2

          …other than the Banks i do not see much involvement from the corporates or the ‘rich’ in an actual ownership role…

          Yep, definitely. Buying houses is for people at my level, not the rich. It’s for those of us on good salaries who don’t know or care about the sharemarket, and rightly regard the finance sector as a means for the rich and unscrupulous to line their pockets with our cash and leave us empty-handed. At least we understand a house.

          My belief is that the Labour Party has a reasonable sized demographic within it’s Party membership that are in fact also rental housing owners, and, it is this sizable demographic within the Party that has it sticking to ‘the vows of silence’ when it comes to rebalancing the economic equation for those in the ‘working poor’ demographic by providing them with affordable rental accommodation in the form of State Housing,

          I believe so too. It’s an inevitable consequence of the parliamentary wing becoming the preserve of public servants, teachers and professional politicians. If you’re a rental property owner, a capital gains tax and increased state housing are directly and strongly against your interests. Some of us agree with those policies anyway because they’re the right thing to do, but altruism is a tricky thing to rely on in politics.

          • bad12 12.1.3.2.1

            Psycho Milt, yes exactly, the house is ‘known’ and understood as an asset in the direct control of the registered owner,(although the upcoming mortgage rate rises may remove some of that control and flush out more than a few of those who leapt aboard the property ladder burdening themselves with multiple mortgages without the income to sustain such investment in the face of rising mortgage costs),

            Helen Clark, while Prime Minister took an extremely logical decision to invest in i believe 5 rental properties, that’s extremely logical in terms of Her being a logical thinking person,

            Unfortunately i fail to be able to be able to reconcile in my own mind the politics of the former Prime Minister with the logical investment decision,

            my belief is that this conflict of interest/logic is deeply rooted in the Labour Party, to be blunt, why would the Party move to seriously address the ‘accommodation issues’ raised in ‘Mind the Gap’ when to do so would go against every logical personal investment decision made by those within the Party,and, many that might vote for that Party,

            In the sense we are discussing i see ‘Mind the Gap’ as simply having been wrong when it points out that it is solely the province of the rich demographic that plunders the ‘poor’ and ‘working poor’ demographics,

            As a point of correction i would suggest it is the rich who plunder the middle class who having enough income mostly float on in a cloud of oblivion while a large ‘rentier’ component of that middle class, enabled by tax breaks and Government accommodation subsidies, in turn plunder the poor/working poor, acting in their turn as enablers, particularly in the case of rental housing for those at the top of the pyramid, the Banks…

            • just saying 12.1.3.2.1.1

              Do the rich “plunder” the middle-class, or do they reward them quite handsomely for looking after their interests.

              This shows up in housing particularly starkly, but the fact is the gap between the rich and the poor has not just widened between the one percent and the 99 percent.

              Sometimes I think that the political left tries to pretend that all but the one-percent are doing it tough and that’s far from the truth. There is a myth about the middle-class being “squeezed”. Like the one percent they pay a great proportion of the tax because relative to most, they earn a lot of money, more money in relative terms than their equivalents 30 years ago. Any squeeze they experience comes from over-extending themselves because they want even more.

              I realise it became fashionable in relatively more egalitarian times to say almost everyone was middle class. Back when a railways worker could own a home and raise a family in reasonable comfort, I guess the lie might pass, but now the gap has widened again, so has the division between the working class and the actual middle class

              • Sometimes I think that the political left tries to pretend that all but the one-percent are doing it tough and that’s far from the truth. There is a myth about the middle-class being “squeezed”.

                Outside of Auckland, it is a myth (and inside Auckland, why there’s that property-prices thing again). My family isn’t being squeezed, doing it tough, or any similar metaphor, despite earning considerably less than a few years ago. The middle class have it easy under both Labour and National, and any whingers among them should be ridiculed.

              • Tracey

                “do they reward them quite handsomely for looking after their interests.”

                hardly handsomely. I think what they do is continue to dangle the carrot of becoming multi-millionaires. It wont happen and most believe if it doesnt its cos all their hard earned is spent on bludgers.

                • bad12

                  Tracey, although i would question what in fact any retired person is thinking of ‘doing’ with a million bucks when they retire i wouldn’t in any way describe such a wad of money as ‘insignificant’,

                  As far as the ‘rental property’ is concerned it will happen, most of such investment property in the larger cities by the time the investors retire will have a million dollar+ price tag attached and depending at which value the investor bought into the properties their chances of being well rewarded for having been ‘enablers’ of the gross profits of the Banks at the top of the pyramid are pretty much a given…

                  • Tracey

                    your first paragraph has me confused. Sorry.

                    I think I get it but again, who is investing in these properties, what income are they on to do this, even with negative gearing blah blah they have to have big equity… in their own home. Just trying, seemingly with no success to work out if the middle class is as crucial as to dominate so much discourse.

                    So far no one has been able to give mne figures, both of earning, or household income or whatever to expand on WHO they are actually speaking of when they talk of the “middle cLASS”?

                    This focus on middle class may be a huge red herring that plays too far intot he right’s hands and memes.

                    Our household income is about $100,000 pa. We have a home in Auckland of valued between 1m and 1.2m with a mortgage and 2/3 equity.

                    Am i the middle class you and others are thinking of.

                    • bad12

                      The delete isn’t working, so i edited this double up of the comment…

                    • bad12

                      Tracey definitely, middle class that is, now if you were to make an entirely rational, logical investment decision you would approach your bank about using your existing 2/3rds equity in your home as the deposit on either a larger, newer, flasher home, renting out your current home,

                      Or,

                      Use that same equity to shoehorn yourself into a rental property,along with this you would make the rational decision to lower your tax liability via having the ability to become a company and have interest on the loan from the bank deducted from your income,

                      While assessing what you charged for your new rental property you would assess the amount of accommodation supplement might be attracted by any rental you proposed to charge and whatever other Government subsidy prospective tenants might be able to access including special benefits…

                    • Tracey

                      Ok bad. Thanks.

                      So household income of 100k and a 2/3 equity in a 1m property is middle class… when does it become “upper class” at one end

                      and lower class at the other”?

                      Truly, I think it does matter. otherwise we are wasting so much time about a group that is nowhere as big as we think…
                      Maybe the pitch to people like us (middle class) is you are a single redundancy or illness away from being dependant on the society you live in to help you out. YES you paid taxes, but so did most on welfare. Start finding these people. Interview them…

                      the picture perfect middle class family hit by redundancy…
                      \
                      especially once in their 40’s

                      show the nation of middle class how freakishly close they are to losing what they have and how the net of welfare may be all that keeps them sane. Most dont believe they can be in that much trouble in a blink of an eye…they can and they have been. labour has to start speaking to those in poverty and those on the brink but for the grace of an employer

                    • bad12

                      Tracey, now you are wanting a economic break down of earnings across the economy, something that i do not have at hand and is extremely difficult to gauge using the current means of collating incomes using averages which are simply distortions of data hiding more of the facts than what they illuminate,

                      A far more efficient means of judging who sits where on the economic scale would be to produce the figures detailing in 5 thousand dollar brackets the number of people who sit within each income bracket…

  13. democracy 13

    For the sake of the future generations in this country elect a govt that will serve this nation and not the finance blood sucking class that leaches like Key belong to who have no national IDENTITY who roam the world on the sea of slaves they have created thru their ruthless greed and need for ego gratification, never really doing anything worth the slightest bit of use for the people they say they are in power for
    We have a leaderless govt run by corporate fascists

    • dave 13.1

      here here!!!!! for god sake give cunliffe and russell norman a chance i cant see any future with key. and as the documentry explained 5 billion in tax evasion and there greedy corperate mates are rippinging us off screwing down wages for decades f them there times up!!!!

  14. Tombstone 14

    I think Labour really need to look at how they’re framing their message because right now it doesn’t really seem to be resonating on the level that it needs to and as I’ve mentioned before I believe that it has a great deal to do with branding – they need something clever to counter-act Brand Key because as it currently stands they simply look like National in red and people simply aren’t hearing the message. Of course the MSM have a great deal to answer for but attacking them would serve no purpose and would only give them more reason to turn the screws even further so I think much of this boils down to branding (outside of policy of course). Watching Mind the Gap last night what struck me was how he managed to frame the story in it’s entirety so that it was easy for everyone to understand exactly how all this came about and the reality of where it’s all leading. But unless that message is wrapped up in something that people can really dig / relate to the reality is people will simply grow bored very quickly and with that the message is instantly lost. Banksy is a prime example of using visual imagery to get his messages across – the artwork draws people in and makes them want to know more and once hooked the message starts to sink in. He has managed to take a simple form of stencil art / graffiti and turn it into something that EVERYONE wants a bit of. I recently went to the Banksy show here in CHCH and what was odd about it was that the exhibition was full of baby boomers and soccer mums who I believe are bored in reality and desperate to hear and see something new, something fresh and exciting. They were loving his work because I believe it gave them just that – a moment to secretly enjoy telling the establishment, the corporations, CEO’s and their arsehole bosses to go fuck themselves. So, my view is out with the old – get with it Labour. Get cool. Do something bold. Get young again. Get angry and take the fight to National in a whole different way. Brand Key is National’s strength only because Labour’s brand is so weak in comparison. Wrap a great brand up in well developed policies and National will crumble. Don’t believe me? Has anything else worked to date? No … time for a change of tact.

    • karol 14.1

      I agree that a great thing about the Mind the Gap doco, is the way it explained things clearly and with great use of graphics.

      I also agree that how communication is done is really important.

      However, I dislike the use of the idea of “branding” . To me that is part of everything that’s wrong with politics in the neoliberal era. “Branding” is something that comes from capitalist marketing, and very much part of the corporate world. It can deceive as much as it clarifies. It can all be very superficial. And its very slickness can be off-putting – probably more so for the non-voters.

      The Mind the Gap doc, isn’t about “branding”. It is about the communicating the realities of life for many people. It is explaining clearly and with a minimum of words, supported by some telling graphics. It’s not superficial or deliberately deceptive.

      • Mary 14.1.1

        The problem, though, is that Labour hasn’t got the will or the ability to adopt the ideas expressed in Mind the Gap as the basis for its policies.

  15. tricledrown 15

    City living destroys community ideal and we are becoming more urbanized so urban living people don ‘t think communuty any where near like small communities so poverty can be brushed under the carpet.
    That god we don’t live in that suburb is the thinking.
    City dwellers don’t socialize with neighbours to the extent traditionaly associated with smaller communities .
    People in Cities want to be as anonamous as possilbe.
    So City people are insulated from visible poverty as well as isolated from or in poverty.
    So Modern living is bringing up a. Society of emotional aloofness.
    Until the Left can get this middle class of people to recognize their is relative to severe poverty in this country.
    The Middle classes will carry on their merry way saying I’m allright so I don’t see any problem who cares anyway I have an overseas trip every year or 2 that’s all I care about.
    Bryan Bruce is a very brave man to make this sort of documentry.

  16. Clemgeopin 16

    Here are two a proposals:

    [1]

    Why not connect the highest wage or income to the minimum wage:

    No person in NZ, however high up he / she may be, should be able to or
    allowed to earn more than 50 times what the minimum wage is.

    For example,
    if min wage is $13/hr or $27,000/yr, the highest wage should be $650/hr or $1.35 million/yr
    if min wage is $15/hr or $31,200,/yr, the max wage should be $750 /hr or $1.56 million/yr
    if min wage is $18/hr or $37,440,/yr, the max wage should be $900 /hr or $1.87million/yr
    If min wage is $20/hr or $41,600,/yr, the max wage should be $1,000 /hr or $2.08 million/yr

    [2]

    Why not give lots and lots of low interest micro finance loans and support for individuals to start their own business ventures. Sure, some will fail, but this can be controlled by pro active support.

    What are the good and bad points for our economy and society from these two proposals?

  17. dave 17

    after watching that documentary iam just plain angry john key and his government must go!
    no more neo liberalism and iam not going to even listen watch or read tvone, tv3 ,or the herald there full of spin and lies. to think what these pricks have and are getting away with its time to take the country back and send john key packing we should take inspiration from what the people achieved in Ukraine .

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