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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.

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    National has hit the panic button for its 7th Budget in a desperate attempt to look like they’re taking action to reduce our shameful child poverty rates, but they are giving with one hand and taking with the other, Opposition… ...
    5 days ago
  • Panic and back-flips can’t hide twin deficits
    National’s token measures to fight fires they have left burning for seven long years can’t hide a Budget that is long on broken promises, short on vision and fails to reach surplus, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “After being… ...
    5 days ago
  • Auckland land measure seven years too late
    National are so desperate to look like they are doing something about the Auckland housing crisis they have dusted off Labour’s 2008 inventory of government land available for housing and re-announced it, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Despite National… ...
    5 days ago
  • Access to gender reassignment surgery essential
    I was frankly disgusted to hear the Minister for Health say that funding gender reassignment surgeries is a “nutty idea”. A recent study found that in New Zealand 1% of young people identified themselves as transgender, and 3% were unsure… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    6 days ago
  • Global milk prices now lowest in 6 years
    The latest fall in the global dairy price has brought it to the lowest level in six years and shows there must be meaningful action in tomorrow’s Budget to diversify the economy, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Dairy prices… ...
    6 days ago
  • Big risks as CYF checks stopped
    Revelations that Child, Youth and Family is no longer assisting home-based early childhood educators by vetting potential employees should set alarm bells ringing, Labour Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. “Doing away with an extra mechanism for checking potential new employees… ...
    7 days ago
  • Housing crisis about real people not numbers
    The Government’s continued failure to tackle the housing crisis is seeing thousands of vulnerable Kiwis being kept off social housing waiting lists, while others, who are on the list, are being forced to live in cars and garages, says Labour’s… ...
    7 days ago
  • Housing crisis about real people not numbers
    The Government’s continued failure to tackle the housing crisis is seeing thousands of vulnerable Kiwis being kept off social housing waiting lists, while others, who are on the list, are being forced to live in cars and garages, says Labour’s… ...
    7 days ago
  • State of origin
    Kiwis are increasingly concerned about the food they give their families. New Zealand consumers have the right to know where their food has come from, particularly when it involves animals, and should be able to expect our Government to label… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    7 days ago
  • Relationships Aotearoa
    It is disturbing that Relationships Aotearoa, a voluntary organisation set up in 1949 to help couples struggling with their relationships following the upheavals of World War II, may be forced to close, says Acting Spokesperson for the Voluntary and Community… ...
    7 days ago
  • An economy that is just working for some is an economy that is not working
    The National Party presents itself as a great manager of the economy, but if the economy is only working for some we really need to question that assertion. Alongside the perpetually elusive surplus, the levels of risk in our economy are… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    7 days ago
  • An economy that is just working for some is an economy that is not working
    The National Party presents itself as a great manager of the economy, but if the economy is only working for some we really need to question that assertion. Alongside the perpetually elusive surplus, the levels of risk in our economy are… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    7 days ago
  • House prices to a crack $1 million in 17 months
    The average Auckland home is on track to cost $1 million in 17 months’ time if nothing substantial is done to rein in soaring price rises, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Auckland’s house prices have skyrocketed 63 per cent… ...
    1 week ago
  • Vital support services can’t be left in lurch
    The National Government has big questions to answer about how a provider of services to thousands of vulnerable New Zealanders is set to fold, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. Relationships Aotearoa which provides support and counselling to families, individuals… ...
    1 week ago
  • Treasury and IRD on a capital gains tax
    Both the Treasury and IRD have been advising the National Government on the benefits of a capital gains tax. Documents released to the Green Party under an Official Information Act request show that John Key has been selective with the… ...
    GreensBy Russel Norman MP
    1 week ago
  • Charity legislation needs review
    It is unacceptable that the big corporate based charities claim  millions in annual income tax exemptions, while small community based and operated non-profit organisations  struggle to gain official charity status, Labour’s acting spokesperson for the Voluntary and Community Sector Louisa… ...
    1 week ago
  • John’s panic-Key response to housing crisis
    John Key needs to tell New Zealanders what caused his sudden change of heart that led to the Government’s scrambled and last-minute housing measures, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “The Prime Minister’s sudden rush of blood to his head followed… ...
    1 week ago
  • Keep our Assets Christchurch Campaign: An update
    I recently presented my submission to keep Christchurch Council assets at the Christchurch City Council’s public hearings on its 10 year plan on 13 May. The hearings are live-streamed and recorded so you can watch them on www.ccc.govt.nz. The Council’s… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    1 week ago
  • John Key finally admits there’s a housing crisis
    John Key’s weak measures to rein in the astronomical profits property speculators are making are an admission – finally – that there is a housing crisis, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “But yet again National is tinkering with the housing… ...
    1 week ago
  • Government stifles voices in CYFs review
    The Government’s exclusion of the Māori Women’s Welfare League in a panel on the future of CYFs is a cynical ploy to stifle views, says Labour’s Māori Development Spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta. “It's unbelievable that a significant review on the future… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Speech to the Otago Chamber of Commerce
    Thank you very much for the opportunity to be here today. It’s a pleasure as always to be back in the town that raised me. Growing up in St Kilda meant that there was one thing that was a big… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Key can’t just be Prime Minister for Parnell
    John Key must show New Zealanders in next week’s Budget that he is more than the Prime Minister for Parnell, and is also the Prime Minister for Pine Hill, Putararu and Palmerston North, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. In… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Stop the conversions
    This week, some Waikato locals took me and intrepid photographer Amanda Rogers on a tour of some  lakes and waterways in their region, and up to the massive dairy conversions in the upper catchment of the Waikato River. It… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    2 weeks ago
  • More regional jobs go in Corrections reshape
    News that 194 Corrections staff are to lose their jobs will have ramifications not only for them and their families but for the wider community, Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis says. Prison units at Waikeria, Tongariro and Rimutaka face closure… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government’s climate meetings off to a bumpy start
    On Wednesday, I attended a hui and an evening meeting that the Government had organised in Nelson as part of its climate change consultation tour, to support the Nelson community telling the Government to take meaningful action on climate change.… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Taxpayers the only ones left feeling blue
    Ministry of Social Development bosses could have saved themselves thousands of dollars in consultants’ fees by providing staff with rose-tinted spectacles, Labour’s State Services spokesperson Kris Faafoi says. A report out today reveals the Ministry is spending over half a… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Why are the regions still facing restrictions?
    Labour's Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford is questioning why the regions should continue to be saddled with LVR lending restrictions announced by the Reserve Bank today. “Labour has been calling for the regions to be exempted from LVRs for the best… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • The high costs of weak environmental regulation
    Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere is described on the Department of Conservation website as “Canterbury’s largest and New Zealand’s fifth largest [lake], and an internationally important wildlife area.” But the lake is also polluted by nutrients leaching from farms in the catchment.… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Submissions to Wellington City Council on their Gambling Venues Policy
    Every three years Councils across the country are required to check that their gambling venue policies are still fit for purpose and they can choose to consult on their policy if they are thinking of making changes. Councils don’t have… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Reserve Bank action shows Govt out of touch and out of ideas
    The Reserve Bank’s unprecedented measures today show it understands the serious risks of the overheating housing market – in complete contrast to John Key’s refusal to acknowledge the crisis, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “The Bank is right to… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Send us your snaps: 25 Years of the Green Party
    This year we've hit a milestone. We're turning 25.To help celebrate a quarter of a century, please send us your photos from the last 25 years of the Green Party Aotearoa New Zealand! Note: Photos must be jpg, gif or… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 25 Years of the Green Party
    This year the Green Party sends 25. To help us celebrate a quarter of a century please send us you photos of 25 years of the Green Party!Photos must be jpg,gif or png and smaller than 2MB. If you are… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Bay growth plan too little too late
    Today’s Bay of Plenty growth study from MBIE is another example of Government spin - lots of talk but little action, says Labour’s Regional Development spokesperson David Cunliffe.  “This is a region that desperately needs to develop the downstream processing… ...
    2 weeks ago

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