web analytics
The Standard

Poverty Watch 6

Written By: - Date published: 8:13 am, October 6th, 2012 - 7 comments
Categories: class war, national, poverty - Tags:

Welcome to Poverty watch, a weekly update on the National government’s lack of response to the urgent and growing issue of poverty in NZ. A lot of background issues and links are set out in Poverty Watch one two and three.

In related news this week, yesterday was a national “day of action” against the Nats’ punitive welfare “reforms”. There was a modest turnout in several centers, our very own Karol summarised the media coverage. Lunchbox Day donations are not over yet (video link), you can donate via KidsCan Charitable Trust: ASB BANK 12 3026 0348180 03.

Poverty and race are inextricably intertwined in this country. This shaming piece highlights one dimension of the problem:

Pacific Island workers languish in poverty

Pacific Island families imported to a small Waikato town with the promise of work and hopes for a better life are reportedly winding up living in poverty. The Government and local authorities are investigating reports of Samoan families living in mould and flea-ridden houses and struggling to pay for food, rent and healthcare. …

Samoan woman Lola Taulofa, 30, who works as a cleaner at Crusader Meats, has been living in a house with her sister, brother-in-law and their three young children since June, the Waitomo News reported. The ceilings and walls are covered in mould and the family have been sleeping on a pull-out couch in the lounge because of a water leak in the main bedroom. “It is very bad for our health,” Mrs Taulofa said. “The children are always sick.”

Following on from Lunchbox Day, Anne Russel published this excellent and challenging piece:

Child poverty and Lunchbox Day: philanthropy in New Zealand

… Perhaps, in an ideal world, citizens would be able to self-regulate enough to run their society entirely by charity in a gift economy, and no one would be deprived. But it has been clear for a long time that the wealthiest in our society tend to hang on to their money; poor people are in general more likely to give to charity than their rich counterparts. The areas of the brain which respond to winning and losing money are the same as those that respond to cocaine, explaining why gambling—or the stock market—is addictive. There are two sides to ending poverty; poor people need to be drawn out of it, and the rich need immediate intervention and rehabilitation.

While Lunchbox Day is careful to skirt around outright accusations (“whoever is to blame, it certainly isn’t the children”), child poverty is not something that was always as inevitable as the slow crawling passage of time. However, the pertinent question is not so much who, but what is to blame for the emergence of child poverty. John Key The Individual is neutral in the effect he can have on the world; he’s just an affable guy, as he might like to put it. However, John Key The Prime Minister is a different case. Likewise it’s National Party The Government that allows big business to wreak havoc on the economy, worsening unemployment and welfare dependency, not National Party The Morris Dancers. Institutions are to blame for child poverty; the people who fill the respective roles—be it John Key or Helen Clark—can be blamed for their complicity in perpetuating them, but many if not most of the institutions in question will outlive their careers. …

Two important ways of thinking are missing from the Lunchbox Day and Live Below The Line dialogue: contemplation and systematic analysis of inequality, and absolute fury. As far as my personal emotions are relevant to this article, ‘sad’ doesn’t feel like the right word. Child poverty makes me extremely angry, and then upset. I am furious that this society hems and haws over spending $4 million to ensure children aren’t half-starved, while defence spending clocks in at a whopping $3.4 billion a year and one-off sports events receive $300 million. I am angry that cuts to both rich taxes and the public sector go on unchecked, and that banks who fail get $1.7 billion bailouts, while mass unemployment drives parents into deeper poverty yet shames them for taking the benefit rather than starving their children. I am angry that New Zealand builds non-insulated houses to match a Western form of family, causing overcrowding and poor health among minorities, and then uses racism to explain the poor outcomes. And I am angry that privileged people are using the media to air their own stories of Poverty Lite, rather than working out ways to bring the poor forward to speak for themselves.

Click through and read the whole article – there is plenty more to think about.

Poverty Watch always ends with the following list, the National government’s response to rising poverty in NZ:

• National has not yet set any target for reducing poverty
• ?

7 comments on “Poverty Watch 6”

  1. Dr Terry 1

    There are unhealthy forms of anger, and there are healthy and necessary forms of anger. This article demonstrates anger at its best on behalf of the poor.

  2. just saying 2

    Thank you for this.

  3. Uturn 3

    Interesting, and I agree up to point: It sure is infuriating to volunteer for a charity looking out for the poor that’s run by a corporate model that creates poverty; under a mangement steeped in a culture that openly manipulates the goodwill of volunteers. A person wonders whether they’re just filling in the holes they’ve dug for their victims. But it’s that or happily watch them starve. Which is easy to do, if you have the luxury of distance. It’s still easy, but uncomfortable, to do when you’re close enough to be face to face. Crossing the divide intellectually, is impossible.

    But, to blame “government” leaves out an important point and trips off the edge of realisation into the generalities of who has and who has not, who’s doing what and who isn’t and who is to blame. And the indication of the blindspot is that it’s always someone else, and that fighting it makes you feel “exhilarated” as the article admits. Fury is an illusion, all emotions are, we need to keep digging for clarity and perspective. Feeding the hungry while we dig, to appease our good side, but dig none-the-less, to find our unconscious darkness – shifting it back into it’s rightful place, if possible.

    When the question of what government is remains unexamined we can’t see what it is that we’re fighting. Where does it fit into society and what role and reflection of society does it truely possesses, not just now, but throughout the history of NZ and human history in general, and not just as a piece of society, but as a snapshot of the individual. It is not hunger we are fighting, it’s millions of years of human nature. Within the context of present day NZ, there are parameters that exceed the ideas of white colonial culture and its eco-political systems and include all the apparent victims of the manisfestation of that same culture, in an equallly powerful role.

    Step back from the manifestations of action and reaction and you’ll find that you me and everyone else wants someone or something to end or die; the way we wish them to end denotes our position within a particular framework; whether you are European, from the Pacific, Asia or Africa. The reason for that is that our society reflects where we are as a collective entity, which myths we are living out and which archetypes we are simultaneously controlled by and passing through. Hard as it is to accept, the manifestation of poverty is a sympton of something we can’t fix. It’s like saying we can have a never ending day, without night. Life has two sides (two that we can see and experience).

    But it isn’t just poverty – poverty is just one of the many forms it can take. If by chance we fixed poverty, the things we call inequalites would pop up somewhere else, probably violently. We can’t remove the tension of opposites in human existence. It is being able to bear those tensions that creates life and motivates us forward.

    Now so far this sound like an apology for kids slowly starving and things continuing on the way they are. Go back to your latté, Uturn says. Forget it, nothing can be be done he says. No, Uturn does not say that. Because Uturn is not exempt from the game of life and he knows that there is an inescapable responsiblity to experience our current predicament. As far as better minds than me understand it, we have a strange irreconcilable impossible challenge as a collective. We can stand back and do nothing or we can act. But within those two choices there are two more: we can positively or negetively do nothing; or we positively or negetively act. The problem is we don’t have a choice which route we take. If I act a way you think is wrong, I am actually fulfilling my role. If you act in a way I thing is wrong, you are fulfulling yours and this also goes for the opposite good. The trick is that we must realise this is what is happening, not try to deny it. In many people, this realisation shakes the foundation of who they think they are quite drastically and dangerously. But there is dangerous danger and then there is dangerous danger that isn’t dangerous at all. Don’t let it freak you out too much. The moment of realisation itself is what decides what happens next. It cannot be forced or adjusted.

    If we were all to decide to enforce laws that made life clean and tidy, nice and equal, there would be a massive imbalance. Since most of us here are fairly caught up in European culture, since we’re online, speaking English and discussing western politics, lets call that imbalance The Negetive Mother Archetype. Other cultures have something similar. In society it would manifest in things like extremes in social welfare, authoritarian governments, violent reactions to “contradictions of the norm” and where the victim becomes the aggressor. You may remember a stark example, when George Bush told the World, You’re either for us or against us. The NMA does not reside specifically in the Left or the Right, in women or men, it appears in imbalaces of a type anywhere, any place. It demands “human sacrifice”, mutilation, oppressive acts and the blame we normally experience. It is both a distortion and elevation of a certain kind of positive power, both outside it’s place and the correct filling of a gap that must be filled. Imbalances are as necessary as balances – can’t have vacuums.

    The simple point is that fury at poverty highlights a particular place in the game. Feed the kids if you like, or don’t. Once you move toward forcing other people into doing what is not their nature, outside of their correct timeline, you’ve moved from acting positively in a postive way to acting positively in a negetive way under the force of the NMA. The elevated NMA demands absolute loyalty to the cause, ends in destruction, but once it has taken down itself, spectacularly and painfully (think the horrors of World War Two), new life begins. It’s a primitive way of thinking that we seem to have forgotten still holds us, behind our Ipads and electronic notebooks. We are sophisticated morons, in a sense. There is more to life’s intractable problems than Left wing political solutions, glib theory and slogans. So tread carefully, whatever you do.

    [There it is in laymans terms, I bow to anyone more educated than me that can adjust, refute or extend the gaps and simplifications.]

    • Chin up Uturn, all those balanced answers are there, don’t forget that.

    • just saying 3.2

      Cosmic.
      I could say more but I’m choosing to say nothing more…..in a positive way.

    • Jokerman 3.3

      “But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.
      Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

      yet,

      “If I give all I have to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

      -Nor were we of those
      Who fed the indigent;

      But we used to talk Vanities with vain talkers;

      -Surah 74: 44, 45

      “The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.”

      (last day tomorrow-Spidey)

  4. Bloody well said Anthony.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Housing crisis hurting export growth
    If Steven Joyce wants to revive his failing export growth target he needs to make sure the Government gets to grips with the housing crisis, says David Parker, Labour’s Export Growth and Trade spokesperson. “Our exporters are struggling to compete… ...
    1 day ago
  • Gallipoli’s lesson: never forget, never repeat
     A special monument to one of our greatest war heroes should be a priority for the new Pukeahu National War Memorial Park, Labour Leader Andrew Little says.  “This will honour the spirit of Lieutenant Colonel William Malone, who led 760… ...
    1 day ago
  • Minister for who? Women, or Team Key?
    Louise Upston yesterday broke her silence on John Key’s repeated unwanted touching of a woman who works at his local café, to jump to the defence of her Boss. Upston repeated Key’s apology but, according to media reports “she refused… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 day ago
  • Taxpayer bucks backing US billionaire
    Kiwis will be horrified to know they are backing a Team Oracle subsidiary owned by a US billionaire, Labour’s Sports and Recreation spokesperson Trevor Mallard says. It has been revealed today that a Warkworth boat building company, which is wholly… ...
    2 days ago
  • English’s sins of omission: ‘Nothing left to be done’ on housing
    When Bill English said ‘there is nothing left to be done’ on the Auckland housing crisis he had overlooked a few things – a few things, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says.  “He’s right if you ignore: ...
    2 days ago
  • Climate change now hurts Kiwis
    Kiwis have twice been given timely and grave warnings on how climate change will hit them in their hip pockets this week, says Climate Change spokesperson Megan Woods.  “The first is the closure of the Sanford mussel plant and the… ...
    2 days ago
  • Clean, green and chocolate!
    Like many people I absolutely love chocolate! But until recently I hadn’t given much thought to how it was grown and produced. Fair trade and ethical food production are core Green Party principles, so yesterday Steffan Browning and I were… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers MP
    2 days ago
  • National admits loan shark law not up to it
    National has admitted new laws to crack down on loan sharks, truck shops and dodgy credit merchants aren’t up to the task of protecting vulnerable consumers, Labour’s Commerce spokesperson Kris Faafoi says. “Paul Goldsmith has acknowledged the laws might just… ...
    2 days ago
  • Power and the Prime Minister
    I’d like to acknowledge the young woman* who has publically told her story. It was a very brave thing to do. She kept her story very simple and focussed on her experience of what happened. It told of unwanted attention… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    2 days ago
  • Extra holiday offers time to reflect
    The Mondayisation of Anzac Day provides New Zealanders with an opportunity to spend more time with their families and their communities, Dunedin North Labour MP David Clark says. “This is the first time legislation I introduced, to have Anzac and… ...
    2 days ago
  • More angst and anguish for red zone locals
    Local residents will be bitterly disappointed by the Government’s cherry picking of the Supreme Court’s decision regarding compensation for red zoned property owners, Labour Canterbury Earthquake Recovery spokesperson and Port Hills MP Ruth Dyson says. “Home owners have taken all… ...
    3 days ago
  • Australia shows why we need a sovereign wealth fund now
    Australia has not managed its great mining boom well, says HSBC’s chief economist for Australia and New Zealand, Paul Bloxham. When times are good, governments need to save for the bad times that will inevitably follow, and this can be… ...
    GreensBy Russel Norman MP
    3 days ago
  • Pure Water- pure rip off
    New Zealanders’ rights to fresh water must be protected before commercial allocations are given, but the Government is allowing resources to be taken, says Kelvin Davis MP for Te Tai Tokerau.  “The Government needs to resolve the issue of water… ...
    3 days ago
  • Cabinet paper reveals weak case for Iraq deployment
    A heavily redacted copy of a Cabinet paper on New Zealand’s military deployment to Iraq reveals how weak the case is for military involvement in that conflict, says Labour’s Defence spokesperson Phil Goff.  The paper warns that given the failure… ...
    3 days ago
  • Malaysia’s booty is Kiwis’ lost homeownership dream
    It’s unsurprising the Auckland property market is so overheated when Malaysians are being told they can live large on Kiwi’s hard-earned rent money, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “A Malaysian property website lists nearly 4000 New Zealand houses and… ...
    3 days ago
  • Ministry’s food safety resources slashed to the bone
    The Ministry for Primary Industries’ failure to monitor toxic and illegal chemicals in red meat is a dereliction of duty, Labour’s Primary Industries and Food Safety spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “MPI compliance officer Gary Orr today admitted National’s much-vaunted super… ...
    3 days ago
  • Ministry must protect organic food industry
    The Ministry for Primary Industries must take urgent action to protect New Zealand’s $150 million organic food and beverage industry by establishing a certification regime, Labour’s Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “Despite working with Organics Aotearoa on the issue… ...
    4 days ago
  • Tony Abbott, indigenous rights, and refugees
    This week, Tony Abbott has visited Aotearoa New Zealand, bringing with him his racist policies against indigenous Australians and his appalling record on refugee detention camps. Abbott has launched a policy “to close” remote aboriginal communities, which is about as… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    4 days ago
  • PM’s housing outburst bizarre
    Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford has described the Prime Minister’s latest comments on the Auckland housing crisis as bizarre. “John Key is deep in denial. He must be one of the only people left who are not concerned about the risk… ...
    5 days ago
  • Deflation: Another economic headache linked to housing crisis
    National’s housing crisis is causing even further damage with the second consecutive quarter of deflation a genuine concern the Reserve Bank can do little about, as it focusses on Auckland house prices, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “This is… ...
    5 days ago
  • Pot calling the kettle black over fossil fuel subsidies.
    Over the weekend alongside nine other countries the New Zealand Government has endorsed a statement that supports eliminating inefficient subsidies on fossil fuels. Fossil fuel subsidies are a big driver of increasing emissions. Good on the Government for working internationally… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    5 days ago
  • At last – a common sense plan for Christchurch
    The Common Sense Plan for Christchurch released by The People’s Choice today is a welcome relief from the shallow debate about rates rises versus asset sales, Labour’s Christchurch MPs say. "Local residents – who have spent weeks trawling through the… ...
    6 days ago
  • National must lead by example on climate change
    The National Government must meet its own climate change obligations before it preaches to the rest of the world, Labour's Climate Change spokesperson Megan Woods says. "Calls today by Climate Change Minister Tim Groser for an end to fossil fuel… ...
    1 week ago
  • Biosecurity rethink a long time
    The Government has opened New Zealand’s borders to biosecurity risks and its rethinking of bag screening at airports is an admission of failure, Labour’s Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. Nathan Guy today announced a review of biosecurity systems in… ...
    1 week ago
  • Chinese rail workers must be paid minimum wage
    KiwiRail must immediately stop further Chinese engineers from working here until they can guarantee they are being paid the New Zealand minimum wage, Labour’s MP for Hutt South Trevor Mallard says. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment today released… ...
    1 week ago
  • Better consultation needed on Christchurch asset sales
    The Christchurch City Council (CCC) should be promoting wide and genuine public consultation on its draft ten year budget and plan given the serious implications for the city’s future of its proposed asset sales, outlined in the plan. Instead, it… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    1 week ago
  • ‘Healthy Families’ a good start but not enough to tackle obesity relate...
    Today the Government is making a the meal out of the launch of its ‘Healthy Families’ package to promote ‘healthier decisions’ and ‘changing mindsets’ over nutrition, physical activity and obesity. Great! The programme is based on a successful model from… ...
    GreensBy Kevin Hague MP
    1 week ago
  • ‘Healthy Families’ a good start but not enough to tackle obesity relate...
    Today the Government is making a the meal out of the launch of its ‘Healthy Families’ package to promote ‘healthier decisions’ and ‘changing mindsets’ over nutrition, physical activity and obesity. Great! The programme is based on a successful model from… ...
    GreensBy Kevin Hague MP
    1 week ago
  • No more sweet talk on obesity
    The Government should be looking at broader measures to combat obesity rather than re-hashing pre-announced initiatives, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.  “While it is encouraging to see the Government finally waking from its slumber and restoring a focus on… ...
    1 week ago
  • Government two-faced on zero-hour contracts
    The Government should look to ban zero-hour contracts in its own back yard before getting too high and mighty about other employers using them, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. “Information collated by Labour shows at least three district health… ...
    1 week ago
  • Scrutiny of battlefield deaths should continue
    As New Zealand troops head to Iraq under a shroud of secrecy, the Government is pushing ahead with legislation to remove independent scrutiny of incidents where Kiwi soldiers are killed in hostile action overseas, Labour’s Defence spokesperson Phil Goff says.… ...
    1 week ago
  • Damp-free homes a right for tenants
    Labour is urging tenants to use a little known rule which gives them the right to live in damp-free rental homes. Otago University researchers have today highlighted the Housing Improvement Regulations 1947 as a way tenants can force landlords to… ...
    1 week ago
  • National must take action on speculators
    The Government must take action on property speculators who are damaging the housing market and shutting families and young people out of the home ownership dream, Labour Leader Andrew Little says.  “There are a number of options the Government could… ...
    1 week ago
  • Milk price halves: A $7b economic black hole
    Global milk prices have halved since the peak last year, creating an economic black hole of almost $7 billion that will suck in regions reliant on dairy, crucial industries and the Government’s books, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The… ...
    1 week ago
  • Kitchen plan set to swallow up health boards’ funds
    The financial impacts of implementing a proposal to outsource hospital food, forced on them by a crown-owned company which is now facing an auditor-general’s inquiry, are being felt by district health boards across the country, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King… ...
    1 week ago
  • Reserve Bank scathing of Government
    The Reserve Bank’s most scathing critique to date of National’s inability to handle the housing crisis shows the Bank is sick of having to pick up the pieces, Labour Leader Andrew Little says.  “John Key continues to deny there is… ...
    1 week ago
  • Time for McDonald’s to upsize work hours
    Labour is calling on McDonald’s to have more respect for their workers and offer them more guaranteed work hours. McDonald’s is proposing to guarantee its workers 80 per cent of their rostered hours, Labour’s spokesperson for Labour Issues Iain Lees-Galloway… ...
    1 week ago
  • Brownlee misses the boat on asbestos
    Gerry Brownlee has once again missed an opportunity to improve the lives of Cantabrians post-earthquakes, Labour’s Canterbury Earthquake Recovery spokesperson Ruth Dyson says. A new report from the Royal Society of New Zealand and the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Adviser,… ...
    1 week ago
  • Government must come clean on troop deployment and protections
    New Zealanders deserve more than to hear about their troops’ deployment overseas from Australian media, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “News from Australia that Kiwi troops are on their way to Iraq this week is another example of the culture… ...
    1 week ago
  • Cancer prevention calls gain momentum
    Research showing bowel cancer treatment sucks up more public health dollars than other cancers once again highlights the need for a national screening programme, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. A study by Otago University, which found colon cancer is… ...
    1 week ago
  • Burger King shows zero-hour contracts not needed
    The abandonment of zero-hour contracts by Burger King is further evidence good employers do not need to use them, Labour’s spokesperson on Labour Issues Iain Lees-Galloway says. "Congratulations to the Unite Union and Burger King for settling an employment agreement… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Kiwis deserve more than reheats
    The Government looks set to rely on regurgitated announcements for this year’s Budget if today’s speech is anything to go by, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “National has been building up to this Budget for seven long years, promising a… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Landlords not cashing in on insulation schemes
    The fact so few landlords have taken up the generous taxpayer subsidy for retrofitting shows it is time to legislate minimum standards, says Labour’s Associate Housing spokesperson Poto Williams. “Many landlords aren’t using Government insulation schemes because they don’t want… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Zero excuses, end zero hour contracts now
    It’s time Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse cut the weasel words and banned zero hour contracts, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “Michael Woodhouse today acknowledged zero hour contracts are unfair. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • We’ve reached Peak Key with ‘artificial target’
    John Key’s attempt to redefine his cornerstone promise of two election campaigns as an artificial target suggests his other promises are works of fiction, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “For seven years and two election campaigns, John Key has… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Top 10 need to know facts on climate change
    All the numbers and stats around climate change can be confusing, so we’ve put together a handy list of the top 10 numbers about climate change that we should all know- and then do something about. You can sign up here to… ...
    GreensBy Frog
    2 weeks ago
  • Campbell Live a bastion of investigative journalism
    The announcement that current affairs programme Campbell Live is under review and may be axed has sparked outrage from the New Zealand public, for good reason, says Labour’s Broadcasting Spokesperson Clare Curran. “Investigative journalism is a precious resource in today’s… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Ground Zero for ‘disastrous’ contracts
    Yesterday the Green Party called on the Government to follow the leadership of Restaurant Brands and ditch zero-hour contracts. Currently it looks like the Government is a large part of the zero-hours problem. It allows these types of “non-jobs” to… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Trust in National will disappear with deficit
    Bill English is set to break his promise to get the books back in the black this year and lose the trust of Kiwis who have had to do it too hard for too long, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Dorothy Jelicich passes away
    It is with sincere sadness that the Labour Party conveys its sympathies and condolences to the bereaved family of Dorothy Jelicich who passed away last night at the age of 87 years, says the MP for Mangere, Su’a William Sio.… ...
    2 weeks ago

Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere