Written By: - Date published: 9:44 am, August 17th, 2012 - 139 comments
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Pagani wrote it.
Robertson cleared it.
And Shearer uttered it.
To summarise; those living by sickness entitlements are probably dodgy b’stards. Nice.
Before I go on, I should be clear that this post isn’t some insightful fiction along the lines of this post by Imperator Fish – which is certainly worth a read by the way.
So…for the consideration of Messers Pagani, Robertson and Shearer.
My sickness entitlement is $240 per week. When medical costs, housing supplement and whatever are added and fixed costs removed, I have somewhere between $100 and $150 per week to live on. And that has to cover food, clothing, electricity, telephone and whatever else I might need money for.
And that’s not some short term thing until I’m ‘back on my feet’. There will be no ‘getting back on my feet’. One hundred odd dollars is it, both for now and for the foreseeable future. And no, I don’t qualify for invalids benefit, even although it’s not feasible for me to operate in a normal working environment.
So what do I do? I survive.
And at the moment I’m painting the entire inside of the house. Now, I know… I know… you disapprove. But bear with me. Paint’s expensive. Can either of you guess how the paint was obtained, hmm? Well, I’ll tell you. The paint came from people who gave it to me. That’s right. There are people who freely give to people in need. I guess that surprises or even shocks you all. What could this world be where people help one another out?
But anyway, it’s terrible, is it not? I mean, if you had happened to visit me of late, you’d have seen me climbing up and down ladders and variously sanding or painting. And you’d have fuelled an outcry that suggested to all and sundry that I was cheating the system and ‘living the life of Riley’. On between $100 – $150 per week. Oh. That’s not quite right though, is it? You wouldn’t have mentioned the economic realities. You’d all have been quite happy for people to assume I was somehow ‘raking it in’.
But Mr Pagani, Mr Robertson and Mr Shearer, it gets better. This physical activity isn’t an isolated occurrence. If you had passed by at various points through the year you could have seen me on the roof repairing leaks or fixing guttering. Just think what a field day you could have had on those occasions!
Although, on the other hand, it’s also possible you could have popped by during one of the weeks on end where I have to awkwardly and in acute pain ‘slide’ off chairs and crawl across the carpet seeking something solid to grab hold of and climb to my feet by… weeks when I ‘simply’ drop to the floor as the only way to get out of bed in the morning. You get the picture? But even if you’d passed by on a good day (and let’s face it, most days are good), there’s a chance you’d have witnessed how I simply don’t garden on my feet. Now, would it have crossed your minds to wonder why? I mean, I’m not exactly old. But would you even have been curious? I doubt it.
Oh. Here’s a wee confession. Are you ready? I lied about the paint. Not all of it was given. I did buy one new tin of mis-tint and one new pail of ceiling paint. It cost me $140 all up. Can you figure out how I was able to afford $140 when my income, after fixed costs, doesn’t amount to that much? I’m guessing your first instinct is to conclude that I was ‘at it’ in some way or other…working ‘under the table’ or enjoying the fruits of some scam I’d perpetrated through the welfare system.
Well, sorry to disappoint the three of you, but it’s not like that. The $140 had to be saved. And that meant cutting back on the one piece of discretionary spending I have. I bought a lot less food. And so I ate a hell of a lot of stir fried cauliflower leafs that had remained behind from the harvested cauliflower heads…ones I’d had to take to crawling in order to plant, weed and generally tend. So there you go. That was the main ingredient for many of my main meals while I tried to put a sum of money aside – a sum I imagine all three of you have, without so much as a second thought spent on a single meal. Stir fried cauliflower leaves.
Oh. And rice. It’s called budgeting.
And if you’d popped in, I’d have found a way to feed you. I’m not a bad cook. And I’ve learned how to make a little go far. Now I don’t mind having to live frugally or by thrift. There’s nothing too much wrong with it, although I do worry about unforeseen expenses tumbling over the horizon.
Take a simple example like this computer I’m working from. It could pack up tomorrow. Then what? It’s not like it’s a work computer that my employer will replace. And WINZ won’t help, because unlike TV’s (that are good for social connectedness apparently!) computers are not considered necessary items. And since I’ve been living by my sickness entitlement for some time now, there are no savings….obviously. I mean, that is obvious to you, isn’t it? Of course it is! And you all understand that unlike many job situations, there are no ‘perks’ that might possibly be ‘worked’ to spin some coin. Of course you do! You understand all of that.
And yet…and yet you scraped your fingernails deep into the putrid dregs that settle beneath mis-informed human sentiment and, gathering up a handful, gleefully threw it in the face of thousands of people who are too incapacitated to earn money within the structures of today’s job market.
Mr Pagani, Mr Robertson and Mr Shearer… I doubt you could plumb the depths of the disgust I and many others have for you these days. And although I don’t expect you to have the courage or decency to front up and explain yourselves or apologise, I still want you to. And beyond that I want all three of you completely gone from politics. See, I know there are people who enjoy indulging in a bit of discrimination. Some people are just like that.
But representatives or employees within the NZ Labour Party who use their position to promote discrimination are simply representing discrimination – not people. And as such, neither of the three of you – nor any cronies you may have who share your sentiments – should be speech writers, mentors to leaders, leaders or even just bog standard parliamentarians within the NZ Labour Party. Do you not agree Messers Pagani, Robertson and Shearer? And if not, do you have anything to say for yourselves?
Anything at all?