And now for the real news…

Written By: - Date published: 10:00 am, March 21st, 2014 - 14 comments
Categories: class war, economy, housing, Maori Issues, pasifika, poverty, prisons, same old national, welfare - Tags:

So we allegedly have a “rockstar economy” with NZ’s economy coming out of the recession and everything looking pretty rosy?  Well, that’s the NAct news that too often gets repeated by journalists in the mainstream media (MSM).  So let’s hear it for another chorus of “there is no depression in New Zealand”.”

Indeed! If you look a bit closer, at the actual lives of people on the lowest incomes, as told by those who know them. Budgeting and other organisations providing support where they can, provide a picture that is far from rosy.  Some of this does get reported in the MSM – but it’s too often buried amidst all the bread and circuses, smoke and mirrors of the MSM.

stop robbing poor to feast rich

Here’s a couple of the stories from the last week.  A Demographia survey finds that too many Kiwis are unable to afford adequate amounts of food, putting them in “absolute” poverty.  Simon Collins (who very often does excellent articles on social security and other social issues) reports today in the NZ Herald:

A global survey has found that one in every six Kiwis ran out of money for food in 2011-12 – more than in all except eight other developed nations.

The shock finding contrasts with other data in an annual survey by the Paris-based OECD that put New Zealand near the top of the 34 developed countries on social indicators such as people’s perceived health status and employment rates, and above average on relative poverty.

But experts said the key finding on food money reflected genuine “absolute” poverty caused by NZ’s low real incomes and high housing costs.

Collins reports on NZ agencies that confirm there is no let up in those seeking help for problems caused by poverty: Child Poverty Action, Auckland City Mission, the Salvation Army, South Auckland Christian foodbank.

And the Demographia findings are supported by data from NZ’s Household Survey, although the later shows some easing over the last year – the measure indicates poverty rose under the current government, but is now returning to pre 2007 levels – levels that still indicate high levels of poverty:

The NZ figure matches Statistics NZ’s annual household economic survey which asks people if they have not enough, just enough, enough or more than enough money to meet “everyday needs for such things as accommodation, food, clothing and other necessities”. Those who said “not enough” rose from 16.2 per cent in 2007 to 18.5 per cent in 2010, but fell to 17.6 per cent in 2011, 16.6 per cent in 2012 and 14 per cent last year.

Nevertheless, the government is continuing its war on the poor, with a report today of the removal of funding for the Problem Gambling Foundation. Adam Bennett quotes Trevor Mallard on the reasons for the removal of the funding, as posted by Polity, and re-posted on The Standard.

Maori and Pacific communities are over represented in low income statistics and related issues. Simon Collins’ article yesterday is the final part of the NZ Herald’s 4 part series on closing the (ethnic) gaps.  However, the article does present some smoke and mirrors with its framing. It begins saying intermarriage is causing ethnic gaps to close.

The second half of the article then reports that, in fact, ethnic gaps are not closing as indicated by socioeconomic measures.

This series has […]

also found that on the economic measures of income, employment and welfare dependency, people whose ethnicities include Maori and Pacific have done consistently worse than Europeans and Asians.

[..]

In fact the employment and welfare gaps between Maori and Europeans in particular have widened, as the equalising forces in health and education have been trumped by more powerful forces worsening economic inequality: globalisation, deunionisation, tax and welfare changes, and technological shifts that have lifted demand for skilled workers and reduced demand for the unskilled.

Today’s final batch of figures shows that this widening inequality translates into a measurably worsening quality of life for Maori in particular, and for Pacific people too on some measures.

My bold.

Collins then focuses on the prison stats, showing that Maori men are over-represented in the prison population.  He states that this reflects discrimination by police and the judiciary systems, as well as inequalities in income, employment and education.  This becomes a vicious cycle with many Maori (and to a lesser extent) Pacific women left to look after households and children alone while the men are in  prison.

So there you have it – to repeat Collins’ statement about the powerful underlying pressures that are maintaining ethnic inequalities:

powerful forces worsening economic inequality: globalisation, deunionisation, tax and welfare changes, and technological shifts that have lifted demand for skilled workers and reduced demand for the unskilled.

This is the sort of reporting that should be foregrounded more in the MSM, rather than buried in places within articles that too few people attend to. These are powerful forces that have real impacts on real people: things that can be (at least partly) be countered by a truly left wing government.

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14 comments on “And now for the real news…”

  1. Tracey 1

    You mean the Nats are lying?

    At best this economy and its leader are trying to impersonate a rockstar economy, or in Key’s case get a photo-op with one.

    Maybe the simplest election billboard campaign would be to photoshop pictures of all the Cabinet Ministers who have been caught in lies and put “Pants on Fire on… (insert date/dates)

    All together in one billboard…

    • aerobubble 1.1

      Isn’t there a danger. That returning interest rates to a more normal rate is by no means a reflection of a rock star economy, especially when paid for by tax cuts and government running up debt. It will just leave citizens with the false sense they can go out and spend. Already the US-EU is threatening Russia economy with sanctions… …a rock star economy is a promise Key can’t and isnt delivering on.

  2. Augustus 2

    They might actually have a point with the “rockstar” meme. Some of the greatest stars, measured in sales and idolatry, got their status long after their death. Jim Morrison, Jimmy Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Keith Moon, John Bonham spring to mind. After years of self-abuse and a complete lack of discipline, they wound up dead. Good analogy right there.

  3. vto 3

    You need the track Karol….

    heads in the sand

    such a kiwi tradition

  4. Good post karol. As I noted yesterday from that Collins article

    The Ministry of Justice says 20 per cent of Maori men who turn 39 this year were imprisoned before they turned 35, 4.2 times the non-Maori rate. Corrections Department research says this may partly reflect discrimination by police and the justice system, but primarily reflects socio-economic conditions such as family breakdown, leaving school early and unemployment.

    The process is self-perpetuating because imprisonment itself helps to break up families, disrupts education and makes it extremely difficult to get a job after leaving jail.

    I struggle to get my head around these shocking statistics – 1 in 5 – in any decent society that would be a source of shame and utmost endeavor to change. Yes it a consequence of poverty and associated ills but it is also an area that generates further deprivation as the quote points to.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      Let’s call it for what it is, shall we MM. An oppressive, partly racist, heartless method of social and political control. It is a full on front in the class warfare that many in NZ society denies even exists.

      • marty mars 4.1.1

        Yep and not partly racist either – it is oppression of those most disadvantaged and it is relentless with the grinder destroying lives and the futures of people daily. I agree it is also class warfare because those oppressors want an underclass and they want despondency and they want their full weight on the heel of the throat. Why? Capitalism insists upon it.

        • RedLogix 4.1.1.1

          I know that we don’t always interpret racism through the same lens marty, but on this we are on the same page. These stats are absolutely shameful. They make me angry and despairing by turns.

          I’ve seen this madness close up and personal. It’s the interwoven cycles of disadvantage, marginalisation, poverty, violence, abuse and trauma that buggers me. I’m just astounded just how resilient most people are in the face of it; I’d never survive their lives 10 minutes.

          The other element which feeds into these numbers is the indication of a shockingly high rate of brain trauma that some recent NZ research uncovered in our prisons.

          http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/9335492/Most-prison-inmates-have-brain-injuries

          Googling on ‘brain injury prison population’ comes up with a whole bunch of similar results.

          Yes it a consequence of poverty and associated ills but it is also an area that generates further deprivation as the quote points to.

          QFT

          • marty mars 4.1.1.1.1

            Yes red I agree with you. Sometimes an issue, or the effects on people from oppression, cut through our individual filters and binds us, in opposition to it, as left – and when that happens we realise the real reason we believe in left principles – it is because we believe in people and because the injustice some people have to live with is intolerable to us. We fight it as we can, when we find it, and we won’t stop doing that, in small or large ways, until the injustice is gone.

  5. geoff 5

    I hope the rockstar economy bites National on the arse.

    The media will be going on and on about how great the economy is but all us ‘punters’ are going to be just as poor, if not poorer.

    Add in higher power bills and mortgage repayments and the contrast between ‘brighter future’ bullshit and John Key’s neolib reality will get blindingly stark.

  6. jepenseque 6

    So we are below 2007 levels achieved under the previous govt, with a clear downtrend in place and this stat is used to attack National?

  7. The Real Matthew 7

    This writer could do with expanding his reading to David Farrar’s Kiwiblog.

    Instead of replying on anecdotal evidence David deals with the hard facts. Unfortunately for the writer the hard facts don’t back up the ideology being spouted here.

    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2014/03/behind_the_headline.html

    • Murray Olsen 7.1

      Matthew gets the prize for funniest post of the century. The only thing Farrar has in common with facts is that they both start with the same two letters, fa – also used in sweet fa.

    • karol 7.2

      Maybe you should read my post, TRM. And then explain why you perfer DPF’s post to mine, rather than taking other people’s words as the final say on the issue.

      My post also mentions other surveys/data such as the OEDC one and the Household survey and contrasts the results.

      What DPF doesn’t take into account, but is mentioned in my post, is that these surveys measure slightly different things. Food poverty and the Household Survey cover things that are absolute necessities. The OEDC rankings that NZ did well on were more to do with things like employment rate, relative poverty, and selected health measures – not the focus of absolute poverty, like struggling to eat – sometimes going without.

      Then DPF mentions at the end of the post, that yes, some people in N are doing it tough – kind of an afterthought – or maybe some weak ass covering by DPF.

      Edit: What does this mean?

      Instead of replying on anecdotal evidence David deals with the hard facts.

      ermmmm… what anecdotal evidence have I used? Are you talking about reports from agencies that work with those in poverty? DO you think they don’t keep records of the work they do? And, what – you don’t want to hear about the hardships of people in poverty? Just reduce them to statistics?

      I also supported that with evidence from the surveys as mentioned above.

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