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Children of Men: money or our lives

Written By: - Date published: 11:30 am, October 18th, 2012 - 28 comments
Categories: babies, benefits, child welfare, greens, labour, Public Private Partnerships, quality of life, schools, workers' rights - Tags:

Paid parental leave, Charter schools, compulsory early childhood education for beneficiaries, family poverty, hungry children (Turei’s Child Payment Bill): it’s all about the(ir?) money as far as NAct is concerned. So much so that Bill English has been trying to use dodgy figures to justify his premature veto of Labour MP Sue Moroney’s Bill to extend paid parental leave. And the government is supporting dodgy John Bank’s Charter Schools to gamble with children’s futures in order to further their economic and profit based agenda: their real agenda is about undermining teacher unions and providing opportunities for private profit. As Green MP Catherine Delahunty says, it’s a dog’s breakfast of a Bill.  Here is an edited selection of points Delahunty makes about the bad ideas in the Bill (more of her points at the link):

  • No requirements for registered teachers at charter schools,
  • Protection for these ‘sponsors’ from public accountability as they will not be included in the Official Information Act or audited by the Ombudsman,
  • Additional powers around surrendering and retention of student’s property including electronic devices and the information on them,
  • Third parties will be allowed to use Crown land to build ECE centres, presumably for profit.

With their lingering patriarchal attitudes, the government treats children merely as the responsibility of, and investment for their parents, and a cost to the taxpayer. In a government dominated by men of comfortable means, the daily and major responsibility and practice of child care rests with someone else – mainly women, along with some progressive men.

Yet, children are the future of our whole society, not just an economic investment in the future.  We can both educate and nurture them to deal with the uncertain future of our planet, and learn from the fresh and unique insight. There are substantial benefits from enabling parents of very young children to spend time caring for them and to bond with them, unpressured by the routines of paid employment.  This will ensure better adjusted adults that can contribute to an inclusive and caring society.  But our government would rather spend all their money on supporting ventures that siphon off profits to a few capitalists: tax cuts for the wealthy, bailing out finance companies, RONs over public transport, convention centres, sports stadiums…. the list goes on.

Sue Moroney’s members’ Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months’ Paid Leave) Amendment Bill will extend the leave from 14 weeks to 6 months.  It has the support of UNICEF-NZ, because:

“There is a strong body of evidence that investment made in infant care in the early months of a child’s life, can avoid huge costs in remedial services later on. Attachment, bonding and a secure environment help with good brain development, as well as a strong foundation for a healthier life.

“The jury is well in on this – families, infants and wider society all benefit from parents having the time off work to spend with a new baby.

The bill is supported by the CTU, because:

“We know from a number of evaluations that 14 weeks PPL is too short.  People are returning back to work early because of economic pressures and extending PPL would certainly remove some of these pressures and allow parents time with their newborn baby in those crucial first months. There are strong and proven health and employment reasons for having a longer paid parental leave. The goal of PPL is to support both maternal and health of the baby, but current length of paid leave in New Zealand doesn’t do this adequately.”

The bill is supported by Plunket, because:

“The bill would be a step towards aligning ourselves to other countries with more generous paid parental leave legislation. It would also affirm New Zealand’s commitment to the United Nations Convention for the Rights of the Child”, she says.

Possible benefits from the outcomes of the bill could include:

  • significant benefits to the whole country long term
  • improved infant psycho social health through attachment
  • improved general health through breast feeding
  • reduced admissions for communicable and respiratory diseases and skin infections
  • reduced stress for families
  • community development (through improved connection as mothers stay home longer and look to community support)

Yet, even though Bill English’s shonky estimates of the financial impact of the Bill, should it become law, have been shown to be a massive overstatement, he is still planning to veto the bill.  This is short-sighted, short-term and patriarchal thinking from an earlier century.

We need policies that will ensure an adequate standard of living and quality of life for all, especially the children.

28 comments on “Children of Men: money or our lives ”

  1. kiwi_prometheus 1

    “Children of Men”?

    Great example of a fembot taking a fairly straight foward piece of policy and turning it into an opportunity for a man hating fest.

    They just can’t help themselves. No wonder the Left languishes eternally in the political wilderness, only delivered a ‘victory’ when the Right eventually drops the ball.

    [lprent: I missed this yesterday. You just earned a weeks ban to read the self-matyrdom offenses in the policy. Don’t attack authors personally. And an extra week ban because I have a very strong personal dislike of people who have problems with other genders. And another week for thinking that a robot could write this post – which offends my programmers sensibilities. See you in three weeks – and there will be a test on the self-maytrdom offenses. ]

    • karol 1.1

      k_p, it seems to me your comments look like the work of an anti-fem bot.  What a surprise that the first comment is from you. I’ve given arguments with some references.  You just, yet again, go on about man-hating, and nothing more.
      The patriarchy is crumbling.  Get use to it.  And some on the left is leading the way.  Don’t see any comments by you yet on zetetic’s post – and he also points out that it’s both a gender and a class issue, But a woman highlighting the gender issues, aren’t you jump on it – discrimination

      PS: The Children of Men (with capitals) is a reference to an excellent book and a great movie, highlighting the disintegration of capitalist society as we know it, plus a reference to the generic patriarchal term ‘Men”. Sorry the references went over your head.

    • One Tāne Huna 1.2

      “…man hating…”?


      Show me the misandry! Shoooowwww me the misandry!

    • McFlock 1.3

      Deranged misandrists intentionally misinterpreting parental public policy as a result of their Priapus-persecuting proclivities, or simply a reference to a near-future dystopic film about the collapse of society due to lack of reproduction?
      K_P chose… poorly. 

      • Tom 1.3.1

        kiwi_prometheus: In Prague, ‘karol’ is a guys’ name, which is how I read it.

        Whatever the author’s socially constructed gender, the argument is well made and supported by links to relevant sources.

        This is a public list, not an academic forum, so there is broad tolerance of a range of views and writing styles

        ** … but you could at least treat karol’s argument with some respect. **

        I gather that Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus” is an intriguing film, but not up to the standards of the best of the “Alien” franchise.

        • karol

          Thanks, Tom.  I am in fact a woman, and didn’t know that elsewhere “Karol” is a guy’s name.  I chose to switch to the K version, because it is more distinctive.  I have come across others using the handle “Carol” when commenting on NZ political blogs.   However, I’ve always considered myself a bit tomboyish/androgynous, so maybe that makes “Karol” quite apt for me.
          I’m a fan of Ridley Scott’s style of direction – cinematography and sound often show scenes from an unusual and intriguing perspectives – not always a fan of some of the implied underlying political attitudes.
          But I am a fan of Ripley as the androgynous heroine. However, her sexuality is always problematic.  She isn’t allowed sexual relationships, and her central personal relationships are in the maternal role – good, and later as part alien, bad mother.  Though this touches on a reality – that women’s potential for motherhood has widespread social repercussions.
          Technological changes (birth control etc) have freed many women to participate as paid workers in capitalism.  However, most women continue to value parenthood, and also many continue to be the ones holding the baby, and taking the main responsibility of caring for others.

          • Tom

            Ah .. err.. arr .. aw shucks, [shuffle, shuffle, like a Keysian parry] .. thanks Karol.

            [ The male ‘Karol’ is usually pronounced with a hard ‘K’ and an emphasized ‘a’. ]

            • karol

              Heh. No problem, Tom.  It was an interesting observation – and on doing some research, I see that Carol was originally a male name meaning “free man”.

              Note: Lynn, why is it that when I click on reply to a specific comment under anyone’s post, I jump down to the bottom of the thread and need to scroll upwards to find the box to type my comment? – using Firefox.

              • Te Reo Putake

                Used to happen to me, but when I disabled add ons to solve another unrelated problem, it stopped happening.

              • lprent

                …I jump down to the bottom of the thread and need to scroll upwards to find the box to type my comment? – using Firefox.

                Never seen it. Just tested on firefox 16.0.1 on ubuntu 12.04.

                Te Reo Putake is probably right – it is likely to be on your side. Have a look at your addons, disable them and see if it goes away. Enable until you find the one

                • karol

                  Thanks, Lynn, but  I have disabled them all and it still happens.

                  • lprent

                    At that point I usually suggest an uninstall/reinstall. But one cannot have too many browsers. Try installing Chrome.

                    I presume you’re on windoze? I will check when I get home

                    • karol

                      Thanks, Lynn. Reinstalled Firefox, but still same problem.

                      Installed Chrome and the reply button works fine on this. But I still don’t get anything showing in the “visual” view of posts I’m trying to create or edit on both browsers – only get the html view, something that started happening today.

                    • lprent []

                      Just pull the editor up. Switch to visual, and then press refresh. Ignore any warnings and voila it will appear. It is a pretty large chunk of JavaScript and when it drops out of the browser cache it usually takes a while to cache. Something times out before it displays. Th second refresh causes a simple recheck of what it has rather than a pull. So it has time to display. 3.5 has the updated tinymce that is meant to fix the problem.

  2. Dr Terry 2

    karol, we will always have to live with the kp’s of society, that is our misfortune. The main thing is that your article above is excellent, a very fair and full coverage of the facts. We also have to live with the Bill English types in society, as awful as this is. He himself has a mountain of children, but toward children and their parents in general, he is pitiless, boasting that they are not a “priority” of his filthy government with its never ending financial pursuits, which contain no promise of reward for harassed people.

    Remember the saint of politics, Michael Joseph Savage, who said, “I should think it was the inalienable right of every person to be secured against distress in any form”. Savage had implicit faith in the power of governments to improve the quality of people’s lives: “There is nothing too good for the people of New Zealand” he declared.
    But such an optimistic ideal, as we know too well today, has been constantly challenged by the greed of human beings (to say the least!)

    • James N 2.1

      Perhaps children a just another “nice to have” in English parlance.

    • karol 2.2

      Thanks, Dr T. Yes, humans are a diverse bunch, but I would prefer a future that emphasises the human qualities of a collaborative sense of community and caring.
      Michael Savage – a fitting reference with Labour Weekend approaching.
      James N,  well said – although I think Blinglish cares about his own children and grandchildren – just not the children of the 99%.

  3. muzza 3

    Really good information again Karol, on what is a subject(s) which should serious alarm bells for people, who again seem so terribly under represented on all sides.

    What or who is going to turn the SS NZ around from the course its ploughing ahead on!

    • karol 3.1

      Thanks, muzza. Well I’m glad there are some MPs trying to contribute something useful, and drawing attention to the changes we should be making. But the immediate future is looking gloomy with the direction the government is taking us. More poverty and hardship for many, and little consideration for the majority of future generations.
      Never give up, never surrender!

  4. I wish we were living The Children of Men scenario now, it is tragic that with all the available information regarding the potential life span of most children born today, we ignore the facts, and keep having them.
    From what I am reading and listening to, most of us will be dead inside of 15 years, and those still alive will wish they weren’t. As ‘sick and deranged’ as it is to say this I think we should be morally obliged to abort every foetus.
    Sadly, one day you will all agree with me.

    • McFlock 4.1


    • karol 4.2

      I’m more of the view that we are in for a long decline/descent. I don’t think we will have a sudden crash, or quick disintegration.
      What the book and movie show is that the future of a society depends on having children.  And I would add to that, the health and well being of our society depends on quality caring and education. 
      The NActs and some in opposition parties also put all their focus on the economic, monetary and fiscal policy.  These are, of course, important.  But they don’t seem to realise HOW important policies for the care and education of children are for our futures.
      We need to do everything to ensure children and young people have the aptitude, resources, well being and skills to survive the long descent – and to live reasonable lives while doing it.

  5. >I’m more of the view that we are in for a long decline/descent. I don’t think we will have a sudden crash, or quick disintegration.<

    So how long? And in the end how bad? If we are at the top what is at the bottom?

    If we say 15 years from now to then?

    What is a 13 year old going to think of in 13 years? "I will be dead in 2 years"? or living on a rubbish dump, until we run out of rubbish. Or are the 1.5 billion extra people just going to vaporize in a happy dance or something?

    I agree 100% with your sentiment I would love all the safety and good health for every child and creature, but 1 planet divided by 7 billion, equals extinct humans, and on the way there it is going to get real nasty, I for one am happy I don't have any children facing what has started.

    At 54 I feel the closeness of it, I know I will never collect a pension that is for sure, we could be standing in the cold and dark 3 months from any given point.

    And with upwards of 30,000 children dying each day, why don't we learn to look after the ones alive now….. not that we can.

    The future of a society depends on energy, food, and water, before children.

    But what the hell the fastest way to bring this thing to an end is to use it, so I should shut up and let the maternity wards keep pumping out victims.

    Good luck with all the political stuff, voting is always guaranteed to fix things.

  6. Jeff Burnz 6

    I live in Sweden, yes I am a kiwi. We get 16 months PPL with a special bonus if parents split the leave 50/50, which equates to about 2k NZD. PPL is covered by the govt to 80% of your income or a max amount. Of course this is just PPL, Sweden goes much further, too many to list.

    I did PPL last year and took the full eight months, my partner did seven months prior to me. I would not have traded this time with my daughter for anything and I am not alone – most fathers do at least six months, I could even attend father/child only kindy for 3 to 12 month old babies, of course this is free, parents atrend these a few hours a few times a week to socialise, dance, sing play ect.

    14 weeks PPL is far too brief, and I fully support efforts to extend PPL, however the article, especially the arguements put forward by Plunket leave me with cause for pause.

    First Plunket makes reference to affirm the United Nations Convention for the Rights of the Child. NZ has ratified this convention and there is really nothing explicit in the convention regarding PPL. Without explicit detail of how longer PPL might improve or extend the rights of children in NZ this claim is totally baseless.

    Next plunket goes way out on a limb and cites attachment theory, again with zero detail. Detail is crucial here. E.g what evidence do Plunket have that longer PPL will lead to higher quality attachment? It can easily be argued that improving the quality of daycare and parental education could achieve the same thing.

    The breast feeding mantra gets rolled out next. Sorry, wrong. Any lacatation consultant can tell you that babies need only 1 tablespoon of breast milk per day to attain all the health benefits they can derive from breast milk, mainly anitbodies.

    I’ll leave it there, however I can tear apart every arguement Plunket is putting forward, and people, I am no expert, this is just stuff I have learnt in the course of being a parent.

    My point is this, and recall I am a huge supporter of much longer PPL, frankly I think six months is absolute minimum, my point is this – if this is the best that can be put forward by Plunket then the bill is doomed.

    If this is the best supporters can come up with its not going to happen. There is zero critical analasys of any of the claims, and all of them are seriously dubious and need to be questioned. Without questions you will not get the right answers, to regurgitate plunkets rhetoric is , frankly, an injustice. Ok maybe that is a bit strong, however we owe it to our kids to come up with better arguements than presented here.

    Apologies for typos ect, iPad pretty much sucks, right?

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