Dress code

Written By: - Date published: 3:39 pm, April 13th, 2013 - 48 comments
Categories: benefits, class war - Tags: , ,

Ummm – what?

The privacy breach staged by blogger Keith Ng last October was the most impressive and daring of them. Ng dressed as a beneficiary, wandered into a Work and Income office and demonstrated that the department’s corporate network could be accessed from public kiosks by anyone with the nous. [My emphasis]

Othering is sometimes so subtle that you hardly notice it. And sometimes it is as clumsy as this.

48 comments on “Dress code”

  1. ianmac 1

    “Othering is sometimes so subtle that you hardly notice it..” I do not understand that bit.
    And does Mr Mathews mean to imply that Keith would not have been able to access the files if he was wearing a suit and tie? A sort of reverse dress code perhaps.

  2. Murray Olsen 2

    I understand it completely. It’s saying that beneficiaries are not like the rest of us, in just one more way. They don’t even dress like us. They are not us, they are apart and other. It doesn’t matter how we dress. It matters that they dress differently.

  3. fender 3

    Oh that will explain why National don’t believe there is any poverty in NZ. They expect beneficiaries to wear old rags, newspapers, plastic bags or coats made from road-kill perhaps.

    If Bennett donated one of her outfits there would be enough material to re-fashion half a dozen outfits for a malnourished family, you know the ones she laughs at from the safety of the debating chamber. Her safety net won’t last forever, and like Thatcher many will celebrate her passing.

    • Colonial Weka 3.1

      Implied fatphobia is also a way of othering.

      The road-kill bit was funny though.

      • Colonial Viper 3.1.1

        The image of a fat wealthy aristocrat lording it over people hungry and in poverty, while providing them drippings from the banquet table, is quite apt.

        • Colonial Weka

          The irony being that we are at that point in history where the dominant narrative is changing to poor people being fat.

          • Murray Olsen

            Fat poor people is very much a first world problem. You don’t see too many fat people in Brazilian favelas, for example, but they don’t get to write the narrative.

      • fender 3.1.2

        Just as I won’t take seriously the advice from an emaciated junkie on the wonders of heroin use, I fail to take seriously a hot air balloon when it tells others to tighten their belts whilst they sit there stuffing their face with cream buns.

        • Colonial Weka

          What’s that got to do with Bennett’s body size? Or are you saying that body fat outside projected societal norms = gluttonous, greedy and evil?

    • Anne 3.2

      Does she still have that classless, tasteless car covered in a couger-like fur coating?

      • Mary 3.2.1

        The “tart cart”? Great example for young women in her electorate. I was so surprised the National party didn’t tell her to get rid of it, but they didn’t.

      • Mary 3.2.2

        Notice also how Bennett refers to beneficiaries as “them” and “they” – especially the way she does it – one of the more subtle forms of “othering”.

      • Murray Olsen 3.2.3

        She thinks Outrageous Fortune was an asprushnil dockmentry. I thought it was great drama.

    • Tim 3.3

      Actually, that blue suit she was wearing whilst giggling in Parliament during the weak was remarkably similar to one Thatcher was wearing when she said the lady’s not for turning.

  4. Philip Matthews 4

    That was my story. Maybe it was clumsy, but I wasn’t othering anybody.

    This is what Keith Ng wrote at the time:

    “My jeans were torn, my hoodie was pretty ragged, and I hadn’t shaved for a week. It turned out that bloggers are remarkably good at disguising themselves as unemployed, without even trying.”

    here: http://publicaddress.net/onpoint/msds-leaky-servers/

    • r0b 4.1

      Thanks for stopping by. Will take your word for it that it was unintended of course! Maybe I’m oversensitive – on account of being a well known non “snappy dresser” – but unfortunately it does come across as stereotyping beneficiaries (and there but for the grace of luck go almost any one of us).

      • dumrse 4.1.1

        If the ” I don’t want to work” bennies got off their butts they could get a job and a suit.

        • fender

          Trouble is the jobs just aren’t there and we have a dumb arse government that prefers to destroy jobs rather than create them. But you know this already and only wanted to stir some shit up for kicks like a dumb arse dumrse.

        • Colonial Viper

          If the ” I don’t want to work” bennies got off their butts they could get a job and a suit.

          In this economic system, capital (or debt) needs to be available for jobs to be created.

        • Murray Olsen

          I don’t own a suit. I have never owned a suit. I have a job. I don’t take fashion advice from dumbarse, and I’d trust someone in shorts and jandals, or overalls and work boots, well before anyone wearing a suit.

          • Colonial Viper

            I don’t own a suit. I have never owned a suit. I have a job.


            (From someone who has numerous suits…)

          • vto

            “I’d trust someone in shorts and jandals, or overalls and work boots, well before anyone wearing a suit.”

            Yes, well being subjected to that sort of bigotry and prejudiced assessment doesn’t do the world much good. And it encourages the same behaviour in return, applied elsewhere. Why is it that everyone makes instant judgments based on appearances? Is it because that is what we neanderthals needed to do to survive back 5,000 years ago (which aint that long). I think it is.

            • Rogue Trooper

              there is an hypothesis that the growth in neo-cortex size was related to the arms-race in deception-detection among the clan

            • Murray Olsen

              In the case of this particular Neanderthal, it’s because men in suits have done a lot more to try and damage my life than anyone else. I’m sure anyone in a suit will be wounded deeply by the fact that they need to work a bit harder to win my trust than some others. As far as bigotries go, it’s one I can live with.
              People can choose what to wear, after all.
              People can also choose to get on a high horse over off the cuff comments. I don’t have a lot of time for them either.

      • rosy 4.1.2

        I don’t see it as oversensitive.

        I appreciate there was no plan to stereotype what a beneficiary might look like, but Keith Ng’s writing sounds sardonic. It’s ss if he were saying that he might look ‘a beneficiary’ by chance and that he may unintentionally dress in a way that just happened to fit the stereotype.

        The “Ng dressed as a beneficiary” is a stereotype.

        • Lanthanide


          • Descendant Of Sssmith

            So on the news tonight we see the reporters convey beneficiaries ripping off the system.

            Wouldn’t it actually be more accurate to say workers and the self employed are ripping off the system.

            If you’re not entitled to a benefit because you’re working or running a business surely you can’t be a beneficiary.

            • Murray Olsen

              Great observation, which will be at least partially accurate. I understand the earning threshhold is only $80, so they don’t have to be much of a worker. I wish people would get as excited about Shipley’s grand a day to do nothing about Christchurch.

    • Thanks Philip. I thought overall it was a succinct description of various privacy problems. And highlighting Paula Benefit’s breach of Natasha Fuller’s rights to privacy as the most egregious breach was a good call.

      • karol 4.2.1

        Agree on highlighting the Paula Bennett deliberate leak, ms.

        Re- the article, I did immediately search for it online. I was curious about who the blogger was. I got as far as clicking on the actual leaked info, and then shut it down – because, by that time I had learned as much as I could about where the stuff was, and who leaked it.

  5. Pete 5

    At the end of the room a loud speaker projected from the wall. The Director walked up to it and pressed a switch.
    “… all wear green,” said a soft but very distinct voice, beginning in the middle of a sentence, “and Delta Children wear khaki. Oh no, I don’t want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse. They’re too stupid to be able to read or write. Besides they wear black, which is such a beastly colour. I’m so glad I’m a Beta.”
    There was a pause; then the voice began again.
    “Alpha children wear grey. They work much harder than we do, because they’re so frightfully clever. I’m really awfully glad I’m a Beta, because I don’t work so hard. And then we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid. They all wear green, and Delta children wear khaki. Oh no, I don’t want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse. They’re too stupid to be able …”
    The Director pushed back the switch. The voice was silent. Only its thin ghost continued to mutter from beneath the eighty pillows.
    “They’ll have that repeated forty or fifty times more before they wake; then again on Thursday, and again on Saturday. A hundred and twenty times three times a week for thirty months. After which they go on to a more advanced lesson.”

    Brave New World Aldous Huxley.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 5.1

      You’re lucky to have a job. Plenty more where you came from. Times are hard.

  6. Tigger 6

    Unemployed isn’t the same thing as beneficiary.

  7. felix 7

    Could’ve been a whole different story if he’d been dressed as an Asian.

  8. Mary 8

    Another form of beneficiary “othering” is the subject of alcohol and cigarettes. Most discussions about drugs and alcohol ordinarily take for granted the role addiction plays and how central it is to the issue – except when it’s beneficiaries. As soon as it’s beneficiaries we’re talking about drugs and alcohol and cigarettes are no longer addictions. All of a sudden the discussion miraculously becomes one about “choices” on how “our taxpayer’s money” is spent.

  9. Populuxe1 9

    I suppose “presented himself as a beneficiary” would have been more apt, but way to completely subvert a rare article critiquing Paula Benefit’s clusterfuck of a department. The reason the left seems to be losing out to the right is that the left never seems to turn down an opportunity to turn on its own, whereas the right manage to present a unified front.

    • felix 9.1

      “I suppose “presented himself as a beneficiary” would have been more apt”

      Sort of, but still not really.

      Hell of a lot of people looking for work who can’t get on a benefit.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 9.2

      Populuxe1 I think you’re missing the point. The Left embodies the idea that all are equal, that all voices shall be heard.

      Yes, the clamour can drown out the message in the short term, not least because as someone said once, a lie runs the whole world ’round while the truth is still getting its boots on, but in the long run, the truth will out., as someone else once said.

      The Right can keep their glib slogans and hidden agenda.

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