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
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|
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.
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.