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Poverty Watch 36

Written By: - Date published: 8:04 am, June 22nd, 2013 - 7 comments
Categories: national, poverty - Tags:

Last week’s Poverty Watch previewed the debate that was featured by “The Vote” (which screened on Wednesday): “Our kids – The problem’s not poverty, it’s parenting”.  I wrote:

I think it’s healthy to have the debate out in the open, rather than the right-wing view lurking behind sewer blogs and snide innuendo. … Let’s hope that it is an informative debate. The actual voting tally won’t reflect anything meaningful of course (being biased by demographics) …

I didn’t see the show, but the comments from those that did suggest that the format did not do the topic justice – a pity. The actual audience vote as it happened supported the proposal, i.e. took the easy copout of blaming the parents, as has been well covered by Martyn Bradbury. I wouldn’t have had anything to add, except that the producers helpfully published a bit of a debrief on the show and the voting.  It’s worth having a look.

Firstly it summarises the arguments of each of the speakers. I won’t reprint, click through to read. I’m more interested in the breakdown of the vote (which I have wrangled into a readable format):

The problem’s not poverty, it’s parenting

Facebook Twitter Website Text TOTAL
YES 61% 65% 57% 64% 63%
NO 39% 35% 43% 36% 37%

 
I don’t read anything significant into the larger “yes” vote – this is not a scientific survey by any means. But I would be interested to see the raw numbers instead of percentages, to see if the website split is significantly different from the other sources. Anyway, of more interest was the information about the theater audience – the only group for which we have a measure both before and after the debate:

Theatre audience: prior to debate end of debate
YES 68% 64%
NO 22% 32%
UNDECIDED 10% 4%

 
What this tells us, of course, is that the theatre audience demographic had a massive bias coming in to the debate (it is probable that the same bias existed in the non-theatre audience as well, and this should have been reported along with the “results”).   But the shift  in opinion after the debate is interesting.  The “yes” vote didn’t shift much, but encouragingly it shifted it in the right direction (from a lefty perspective).  The “undecided” vote shifted more substantially.

In other words, when people heard the debate, those that moved their opinion tended to move away from cheap-shot blaming the parents. That is what I, for one,  hoped that the debate would achieve.   Call me a loony optimist, but I believe that a better presentation of the facts and arguments to the NZ public would shift opinion much more effectively.

Onwards!


Here’s the standard footnote. Poverty (and inequality) were falling (albeit too slowly) under the last Labour government.   Now they are on the rise again, in fact a Waikato University professor says that poverty is our biggest growth industry.

Before the last election Labour called for a cross party working group on poverty. Key turned the offer down.  Report after report after report has condemned the rate of poverty in this country, and called on the government to act. Meanwhile 40,000 kids are fed by charities and up to 80,000 are going to school hungry. National has responded with complete denial of the issues, saying that the government is already doing enough to help families feed their kids. Organisations working with the poor say that Key is in poverty ‘la la land’.

The Nats refuse to even measure the problem (though they certainly believe in measurement and goals when it suits them to bash beneficiaries). In a 2012 summary of the government’s targets and goals John Armstrong wrote: “Glaringly absent is a target for reducing child poverty”…

The costs of child poverty are in the range of $6-8 Billion per year, but the Nats refuse to spend the $2 Billion that would be needed to really make a difference. Even in purely economic terms National’s attitude makes no sense.

7 comments on “Poverty Watch 36”

  1. Didn’t watch it either, but from what I’ve read I don’t think there’s anything encouraging about it all.

    First, the premise of the show (that the apparent increase in child neglect is due either to poverty or bad parenting) was useless. It’s possible that the cause is both, or other factors, or poverty combined with other factors, or bad parenting combined with other factors, or both combined with other factors. In short, the debate topic is a false dichotomy and therefore unlikely to produce anything very useful.

    Second, reading through the summary of “arguments” presented, it appears that almost no arguments were presented, either for or against. That suggests the movement in the audience vote actually relates to the personalities of the speakers, the success or otherwise of the various appeals to emotion, and the persuasiveness of the anecdotes presented. That doesn’t bode well for further debate on the subject.

  2. just saying 2

    It’s true there were few discernable arguments. Rankin and Tamaki claimed to have been poor as children. Therefore poverty isn’t harmful… or something. The other main anti-poor parent argument was that there’s not that much poverty, its extent and severity are overblown. Someone even tried to claim that poverty had decreased in recent years. That lie wasn’t adequately rebuffed.

    It wish I hadn’t watched it. It was offensive and demoralising.

    My ‘no’ vote wasn’t accepted. I pushed ‘send’ two minutes before the end. A friend sent her vote 20 minutes before the end got the same “try again” message as me and it also arrived after voting closed. Just a coincidence I’m sure. Middle class people really do hate the poor. Rankin was virtually frothing at the mouth her face contorted by hate.

  3. NZ Femme 3

    My “NO” vote wasn’t accepted either, and I sent my text in half way through the program. The message sent back was “Sorry, we didn’t recognise that. Either your keyword is wrong, or voting is not available.” I tried twice more with the same result, so gave up trying.

    • QoT 3.1

      Yep, I’ve been hearing this a lot … won’t stop TV3 (just like the Herald) pretending that their results are deep and meaningful and real honest journalism.

      • Rogue Trooper 3.1.1

        the discourse from the ‘parenting is the problem’ was absolutely appalling; precised earlier in Thurs Open Mike.

        oh, and good analysis of the audience bias coming into the debate Anthony; any positive effect towards greater empathy likely to be washed out again by popular medium- talkback, Trademe message boards, popular magazines, parochial editors, RWNJ sowing of memes etc, etc. All these years of attempted consciousness raising by well-intentioned people and agencies and the surveys, statistics and demographics indicating degrees of egalitarianism in NZ just continue to decline.

  4. AsleepWhileWalking 4

    The reality is the founding question of the debate was flawed to begin with. It’s not an either / or thing, as has been repeatedly stated even by the minister herself, it is a complex issue.

    • AsleepWhileWalking 4.1

      Incidentially, the presupposition in “Our kids” suggests that something is wrong with them – where did TV3 get that idea?

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