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Food Bank Charity

Written By: - Date published: 4:45 pm, October 30th, 2015 - 97 comments
Categories: child welfare, class, class war, discrimination, Ethics, food, minimum wage, poverty, quality of life, unemployment, welfare - Tags: , ,

I noticed the usual pre-Christmas (Christ, is that just weeks away?) call for food and donations from our ‘charitable’ organisations. That got me to thinking about why people find themselves having to step through the doors of these charities and expose themselves and their lives in order to be considered ‘deserving’ of a few bits of poor quality bread, rice and if they are lucky some wilting veges. Let’s face it, under zero-hour contracts, casualised labour and inadequate minimum wages, even the working poor are frequenting these places.

Of course, for anyone needing food, the usual ‘rules’ and criteria apply. For example, some organisations have a policy to provide three food parcels unquestioned, though ‘clients’ still have to justify their need. After the third parcel there is an expectation that ‘clients’ will see a social worker or budget advisor. For some charities the food is considered a ‘carrot’ to get people through the doors. These expectations make assumptions about the ‘clientele’ and raise questions.

The first assumption is that people needing food also need a social worker and/or budget advisor. The implication is these poor people need ‘fixed’ through the machinations of the system. It is not enough to accept that ‘poor’ people just don’t have enough money to eat but rather that ‘poor’ people must change in some way, which is to say, budget advice assumes they don’t know how to manage money.

Subjecting ‘clients’ to social work assumes that the person has some ‘issues’ that need fixed. If I am going to be kind about it, perhaps the social worker and the budget advisor could validate the ‘poor’ person’s position with proof that the problem is lack of money. If so, one has to wonder what they then do about it. Yet I cannot help but feel cynical when I read statements in charitable poverty publications that “[to] achieve long-term improvement in their situation, to rise over the poverty line, requires self-awareness and a desire to change”. In context, this is in reference to the poor who find themselves at the mercy of one of New Zealand’s major social service agencies.

I wonder what ‘change’ poor people must make in order to eat? Would it not be better if these charities who are, in my view, more dependent on Government funding than the average person going in to get old bread, were to advocate broader social change? For example, by telling Government that they will no longer feed the ‘poor’ because that is the job of the glorious market place, and if the market can’t provide, then the Government needs to step up? These charities vie for contracts to ‘fix’ the poor, use the ‘carrot’ of food to create a steady stream of ‘clients’ to prove the organisation’s need of Government funding.

Meanwhile the glorious market place goes unscathed because the charities provide a buffer between the ‘haves and have nots’. A novel idea would be to stop giving to, and funding the charities and give directly to the ‘poor’. Or is that too simple?

Kōrero Pono

97 comments on “Food Bank Charity ”

  1. linda 1

    i agree charities tend to act like a plaster over a systemic failure hiding the fact the social contract is broken ,3 decades of neoliberialism has been a total failure and economy can only function by subsidization eg working for families and the rental supplement plus the fucken john key welfare for the wealthy and corporations
    economy has been trashed

  2. Reddelusion 2

    The market does not provide for the poor, simply an incentive not to be poor

    simply providing hand outs for no responsibility is also not the answer, you won’t have a market then as why do anything, I guesse we would have equality as every one would be dirt poor

    there is a balance between a social safety net vs personal responsibility, what NZ spend on welfare , health and education we probably have got it about right. any change of government would only tinker at the margins, unless thier goal is my second point

    • arkie 2.1

      Living up to your deluded moniker once again.

    • b waghorn 2.2

      “”The market does not provide for the poor, ” you got that right

      “simply an incentive not to be poor” what a load of shit the market traps people into poverty ,through forcing wages down and trapping people into cycles of debt .

    • Bill 2.3

      True, that the market doesn’t provide for the poor; it creates the poor. Contending that if we were to abolish the market, that would result in everyone being ‘dirt poor’ is just… fcking devoid of basic intelligence or logic.

      On the why do anything nonsense, wanna sit down and run through the list of things you did today that didn’t rely on a market incentive? Then you wanna sit down and ponder the number of things other people did that could have been market driven activities but that were done in spite of them not attracting payment?

    • Draco T Bastard 2.4

      there is a balance between a social safety net vs personal responsibility, what NZ spend on welfare , health and education we probably have got it about right.
      When a system brings about ever increasing poverty as ours does then we can safely assume that we don’t have it right. The system should ensure that nobody is living in poverty and when even one person is in poverty then we have proof that the system isn’t working.

      • The lost sheep 2.4.1

        In your worldview Draco, is there any room for the idea that even one person in a society of 4 million might be in a state of poverty because of choices they had made themselves of their own free will?
        Just one person?

        I can’t help thinking that where the obviously kind and concerned people who run charities make statements like…
        “[to] achieve long-term improvement in their situation, to rise over the poverty line, requires self-awareness and a desire to change”
        That does suggest that in their experience some people at least have got to poverty through personal choices, and have the personal ability to get out of poverty through personal choices?

        • One Anonymous Bloke 2.4.1.1

          Don’t you remember Puddleglum’s excellent reponse to your assertions the last time you tried letting this gibberish run down your chin?

          Are you going to engage with any of the points made?

          I would really like someone – of left or right persuasion – to tell me how people make ‘choices’ in any sense that is useful in the context of a political discussion.

          How about it, Sheep? Too hard for you?

          • The lost sheep 2.4.1.1.1

            My point was quite specific, and it does reference directly to the original post.

            So if you’d like to actually address that point first before running off on completely new angles I’d be happy to discuss further?

            I’m well over your tactic of introducing red herrings in order to move the discussion away from areas that make you uncomfortable.

            • The lost sheep 2.4.1.1.1.1

              So if you’d like to actually address that point

              You always seem to lose interest in this discussion when we get to this point OAB?
              What it so scary about it? It seems a straight forward enough proposition to me?

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                Leave the house for a few hours and watch Sheep jumping to self-serving conclusions in the interim.

                As for your “one” person, who cares what you or Draco or anyone else can “imagine”? So what if I can imagine it? What bearing does that have on reality?

                So you found a quote from someone who agrees with you, but since your opinion is rote-learned right wing rhetoric, perhaps you’re just agreeing with them.

                • weka

                  the quote doesn’t say what sheep thinks it does when seen in context.

                  SUPPORTIVE RELATIONSHIPS AND CHANGE

                  To achieve long-term improvement in their situation, to rise over the poverty line, requires self-awareness and a desire to change. This is sometimes slow to emerge, but supportive relationships with family, friends and a wider social circle of support, which can include agencies like Presbyterian Support, community groups, churches, neighbours and others, will enable this change.

                  “I’m finding out who I am now.
                  They want the old Tara, but she’s gone.”

                  “At that stage [when I approached Family Works] my debt [was my biggest problem], so now I think it’s more personal stuff than debt. ‘Cos we’ve worked out the debt. Like she’s [my social worker] done all that. It just comes out every week redirected, so we worked that out.”

                  “I just can’t walk out because things are bad. ‘Cos I know that things aren’t always going to be bad…”

                  I’ve read bits of the document, not all of it, but to me that reads like a statement about the importance of support in making positive changes in one’s life and that for some people that requires personal change as well. It doesn’t read that people chose poverty, or that they are to blame for the situation they are in, or that getting out of poverty is a personal choice.

                  (re how the post framed this, I’m in two minds about how cynical to be about PSO’s wording and approach).

                  • Korero Pono

                    The point is, if people have enough income, have enough to feed their children, would they need the services of charities to help ‘fix’ the person?

                    In terms of budget advice – the service is useful for people dealing with debt collectors because a budget advisor can often negotiate terms and conditions of payment that a person can at least manage. Alternatively they can apply for No Asset Procedures and bankruptcy to alleviate the debt. All in all though, many people presenting to such services are managing the best they can on what they have and the problem is in fact lack of money. This lack leads to stress, which impacts on overall health (with many unable to afford adequate medical care). Overtime stress leads to depression. Accumulation of poverty stress, depression etc then impacts on a person’s ability to parent in socially appropriate ways. In some cases people choose to self-medicate which adds a new dynamic to the mix of poverty related issues.

                    In steps the charity – food is the immediate response, along with access to resources that the ‘client’ needs but simply cannot afford – reducing the debt is the next step (via negotiation with debtors or NAP). Obtaining access to financial resources – disability allowances (to now treat the depression/physical ailments associated with poverty), Temporary Additional Support as a top up to cover costs not covered elsewhere (bearing in mind that the TAS does not and will never cover the shortfall based on the formula used to calculate it).

                    The social worker manages the ‘client’ change – through interventions designed to help the person overcome the symptoms of the poverty related issues. The social worker helps the poor person to accept the situation and to ‘change’ by putting them through parenting courses, convincing them that anti-depression medication will help them, by keeping them on track and attempting to access resources the ‘client’ may need. Giving food when things are tight.

                    All in all it appears on the surface that charities, social workers, and budget advisors are doing a wonderful job. However, if we bring it back to the causation – what is anyone doing to ‘fix’ the broken system that sees people affected by poverty (and all the consequences of poverty)? NOTHING. What charities are doing is providing a band aid, a buffer, teaching people that they must change, while ignoring the fundamental issue. I will say that charities have a vested interest in maintaining the system as it is, it ensures a steady stream of clients, it ensures on-going funding from contracts, it ensures the survival of the organisation, it ensures the social worker and the budget advisor always have a job to do.

                    • weka

                      Yes, I agree completely about underlying causes and the fact that they’re not being addressed (or often even acknowledged). Your description of the domino effect of accumulating poverty stress is very good and would make a great post of its own.

                      Where I disagree (a bit) is about the roles of NGO agencies. I agree that much of it is about getting people to adapt to really crap and unbearable situations and there is a whole issue there about middle class helpers being complicit in supporting the State to entrench poverty.

                      However, my personal experience is a bit different. The times when I’ve had adequate income have definitely made a difference. This should be accessible to everyone. I still needed help though. And my experience of NGOs vs govt agencies is that there are plenty of govt agencies doing just as much crap as the NGOs. I’ve also had some brilliant support from individuals in NGOs and State agencies. I think that NGOs will always have a place, and both the NGOs and the State agencies have significant problems in their base ethos and how they work with power.

                      I basically don’t trust the State to manage support services to many people even if the poverty issues were solved, although it’s pretty obvious that support services across the board are underfunded, sometimes severely, and it’s likely that were the load lightened by poverty reduction that the services would improve.

                    • Korero Pono

                      @ Weka. I do not suggest that the State steps in and replace the charities, but what I do suggest is that the charities examine how they are complicit in maintaining a system of growing poverty and inequality through their ‘helping’ the individual, whilst completely ignoring the bigger picture stuff.

                      Further, while these services are woefully underfunded, this is called the ‘free market’ where they have become subsumed into a system of competition which has not only allowed the services to become underfunded but to the point that those very services are dictated by the state. While you think that the State have stepped aside and the NGO are the ones ‘helping’, that help is in accordance with the ‘rules’ and conditions outlined by the State. (this whole scenario is worthy of discussion on its own).

                      An example of this is: When a ‘client’ presents at Work and Income for food or other emergency assistance, they are then expected to undertake budget advice. They are then required to present a budget to Work and Income and prove their need before assistance is given. Effectively the State are using the ‘charities’ to monitor and control individuals.

                      Parenting programmes are another example where the State funds the agencies to provide parenting and monitor parents. These parenting programmes are effectively chosen and funded by the State. For example, clients dealing with CYFS, the CYFS social worker will then refer the ‘client’ to NGO’s and use those NGOs to provide the interventions that the social worker deems fit. In my experience this is more about forcing people to tick boxes than anything else…simply pretending that the programme has been effective is enough to ensure the social worker can tick their boxes that an intervention to change the parent has occurred. Sadly many parents put through this system are given the hoops to jump through, with little to no support to ensure they have the tools needed to jump through the hoops.

                      NGO’s are effectively not only replacing the State in monitoring and controlling the ‘poor’, they are doing it willingly to get the inadequate funding provided by the State.

                      Going back to my original point, that while ‘charities’ and NGO’s are, on the surface, helpful, they are also part of a system that ensures that the ‘poor’ remain ‘poor’. While they continue to ‘individualise’ social problems and ignore the causation, they are complicit in maintaining a system of inequality and poverty. I argue that said charities have a vested interest in maintaining the current system, which ensures the survival of their organisations, a steady stream of clients and a continued reason to vie for the inadequate funding via Government contracts.

                      I would have more respect for these ‘charities’ if they worked collaboratively (which they don’t while they are in competition with one another) and if they were to advocate for greater social change. At the moment these charities have become so embroiled in the competitive cycle, they cannot see what they have become, and if they do see it, they don’t care.

        • Korero Pono 2.4.1.2

          Perhaps you could enlighten us how some people “have the personal ability to get out of poverty through personal choices”?

          I wonder how much choice the approximately 300,000 children living in poverty have (many of them from working families)? Their parent’s work long hours in minimum wage jobs, but still unable to make ends meet.

          Charities are reliant on taking money from the public purse to provide services to ‘fix’ the poor. The poor then have to subject themselves to the intrusion of the state (via charities) in order to get a bag of food.

          It is ironic that the charities are themselves dependent on the state, they are also dependent on having a steady stream of ‘clients’ to fulfil their contracts to the state. It makes no sense to give to charities when we could give directly to people living in poverty.

          Evidence shows that positive and long-term changes occur as a natural consequence of increasing the income of those living in poverty. These changes occur because the ‘poor’ have enough money to live on, not because some budget advisor, social worker or charity helped ‘fix’ them.

          http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/01/18/what-happens-when-the-poor-receive-a-stipend/?_r=0

          • The lost sheep 2.4.1.2.1

            Perhaps you could enlighten us how some people “have the personal ability to get out of poverty through personal choices”?

            I did make it clear I was not making a generic statement about all people in poverty, but specifically asking Draco whether he accepted that even one person might be in that position due to personal choices, and still be capable of moving out of that situation through personal choices?

            You ask for an example.
            How about the brightest of one of my son’s school friends who we have retained glancing contact with for many years.
            Came from a straight down the middle family, went to a good school, had every advantage on his side, but started smoking at 14, drinking heavily at 15, drugs by 16. Decided at 18 University sucked and he’d be better off making big money right away at the works. Had 2 child support accounts by the time he was 21. The high paying jobs dried up and he slipped down the scale to manual labouring. But took too many drugs and ended up being unemployed for several years, then tried drug dealing as a means of improving his situation.
            When he had finished jail, he got together with a drug addicted partner and they had 3 kids in three years….
            He’s 35 now, and the last time my son caught up with him he was still drinking and doing drugs and complaining about the injustice of the world. Still had a good brain though.

            So what do you reckon. Is he in anyway responsible for his own situation? Or has ‘the system’ imposed that on him?

            And could he exercise free will and change in ways that would move him away from his current state of poverty?

            • Draco T Bastard 2.4.1.2.1.1

              The question would be: What caused him to do drugs? Address that and he will probably move away from his current state of poverty. The problem is that our system views the drugs as a crime rather than a symptom of an illness and thus doesn’t make anything available to address that illness.

              • The lost sheep

                He chose to do drugs because it looked like fun Draco. Just like I did in my time, and so many others did then and continue to do so.
                I’ve known many drug takers and drinkers and smokers, and almost all of them were healthy people who were taking a deliberate choice to do something because they believed it would be fun. Most of them chose to do so for quite a while because they found out it was fun.

                I remember very clearly The ‘System’ was trying very hard to tell us not to, but we made a deliberate choice to do so. At a certain point many of us were self aware enough to realise the fun had stopped or had been outweighed by the side-effects on our lives in general, so we decided it was a bad choice and chose to stop.
                Those who failed to do so have invariably had bad outcomes.

                I agree that there are people who take up additions as an escape, but are you honestly suggesting that allthose who take drugs and end up in bad way must have been ill?

                But – You have not answered the question of whether you think that even one person in a society of 4 million might be in a state of poverty because of choices they had made themselves of their own free will?

                • One Two

                  Making up stories to bolster your weak, miserable argument, is pathetic

                  Yes, you’re fabricating

                  • The lost sheep

                    Someone started drinking and taking drugs early, turned to crime, went to jail, ended up in poverty.

                    Utterly unrealistic story that could never happen in the real world!
                    What a fantastic imagination I must have to make up such a bizarre scenario ay One Two?

                    But i understand my reality doesn’t suit you. So you just go ahead and deny it….

                    • One Two

                      “Just like i did in my time….”

                      And then you avoided the ‘poverty trap’ all by yourself while the alleged friends fell into it

                      Tell me sheep, do you pour scorn all over your poverty stricken friends, or following your Rocky like escape from ‘the dens’ you simply left them behind ?

                • weka

                  But – You have not answered the question of whether you think that even one person in a society of 4 million might be in a state of poverty because of choices they had made themselves of their own free will?

                  it’s kind of a weird question though. If it were of their own free will you’d have to take the person out of the societal context that affects them. How is that possible?

                  The question also implies that the person chose poverty, or at least understood that the choice they are about to make would land them in poverty. Is that what you mean?

                  If you mean, do people make mistakes that land them in poverty? then obviously some do, but you’ve still got the tricky issue of how you separate out the individual from society if you want to assign degrees of responsibility (which I assume is what you want to do).

                  • The lost sheep

                    I agree with a lot of what you are saying in your posts above Weka.

                    If it were of their own free will you’d have to take the person out of the societal context that affects them. How is that possible?

                    It is not a case of one or the other? It is a combination of the 2. You have an environment largely given to you, and within that you get to exercise free will.
                    Free will explains why the same environment does not produce a uniform individual response.

                    you’ve still got the tricky issue of how you separate out the individual from society if you want to assign degrees of responsibility (which I assume is what you want to do).

                    And there’s the rub Weka. A society must tackle that question?

                    Because if we absolve individuals of all responsibility, and guarantee they are insulated from any negative consequences of the choices they make….then you also remove much of the incentive for individuals to make choices responsibly.
                    And that would have negative consequences for all of society.

                    Just on a personal note for instance. The stage I gave up my substance habits was when I realized I could not support my family at a reasonable level of well being unless I stopped wasting my time and money on intoxication.
                    If I had been guaranteed to be able to support my family at a very comfortable level regardless of my substance use – would I have changed? Why would I, when I could have my cake and eat it too.

                    That is why, as far as I am aware, no society ever has completely removed ‘degrees of responsibility’ for personal choices.
                    It simply would not be healthy for a society to do so.
                    And that is why I think Draco / OAB and others who promote a complete lack of personal responsibility need to be countered.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      You have failed to provide any evidence that free will exists, and if you think my counter argument promotes “a complete lack of personal responsibility” you’ve failed to understand that too.

                      Asserting it ad nauseam doesn’t cut it: in the face of the arguments laid out by Bill, Puddleglum, Korero Pono et al, where’s your evidence?

                      Not anecdata, nor something your mate’s dog’s previous owner told you. Evidence.

                      PS: guarantee they are insulated from any negative consequences. Show me where anyone other than you has said this. Stop making shit up.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  He chose to do drugs because it looked like fun Draco.

                  At 14 chances are that you’re not doing drugs for fun. May be doing it to fit in, perhaps to get attention but it’s not for fun. I’d say it’s a cry for help but nobody’s listening or, even worse, they’re being told to take a concrete pill and harden the fuck up.

                  The people who do listen and sympathise are the people they’re getting on the drugs with but that doesn’t help as it just puts the person into a rut and the drugs stop them from seeing the way out.

            • Korero Pono 2.4.1.2.1.2

              Draco has probably covered this scenario well enough.

              However the scenario you present raises some questions about personal choice. I would hate to see this one example being used to assume that all people living in poverty have made personal choices and are to blame for the poverty in which they live. There are undoubtedly people who choose particular lifestyles and make choices that result in them being poor but those people should not be used to stereotype and judge all ‘poor’ people.

              Unfortunately these very assumptions allow food banks to subject their clientele to other unnecessary services because if you need food, it must be your fault and we therefore must ‘fix’ you to change you.

              • The lost sheep

                Korero,
                I think i was very clear I was not stereotyping all people.

                What I was doing was addressing Draco’s reverse stereo type that all people in poverty were victims.

                Personally I think the reality lies somewhere in between those 2 extremes?

                • Bill

                  Personally I think the reality lies somewhere in between those 2 extremes?

                  Nope. You’re introducing a false dichotomy. Every facet of behaviour is and can only ever be a natural reaction to an environment.

                  btw – how can you say with any confidence that your sons school friend took drugs just because ‘it seemed like fun’? Where’s the questioning of whether that perception was honest or just a cover for another need that ‘demanded’ self medicating?

                  Seeing as how you indicate he was variously addicted, I’m not buying the all encapsulating ‘for fun’ angle.

                  • The lost sheep

                    Nope. You’re introducing a false dichotomy. Every facet of behaviour is and can only ever be a natural reaction to an environment.

                    You deny that there is such a thing as free will Bill?
                    If so, how do you explain that in reality individual humans do not actually ‘react’ in a consistent way to specific environments. In fact, they display an enormous variation of ‘reaction’ to similar stimuli?

                    btw – how can you say with any confidence that your sons school friend took drugs just because ‘it seemed like fun’? Where’s the questioning of whether that perception was honest or just a cover for another need that ‘demanded’ self medicating?

                    Because my son was his friend and part of his peer group and was very directly involved himself at the time the choices were made.
                    As I was with my friends and peers before.
                    Do you or have you ever known anyone who actually took drugs Bill?
                    Are you seriously suggesting, as Draco does, that everybody who ever took a drug was compelled to do so by ‘illness’?

                    • Bill

                      I’m saying that we aren’t always aware of our motivations and that often our reasoning and honestly held convictions about what motivates us are ‘out’ .

                      eg – is the person giving money to the beggar being, as they might like to believe, altruistic and ‘giving’- or are they actually seeking gratitude?

                    • weka

                      @ lost sheep, you seem to be confusing recreational drug taking with addiction. Sure, people take drugs all the time for fun. But the pattern of behaviour you describe isn’t a fun thing, so how can you think that that is the underlying reason?

                      I also don’t believe that 14 year olds becoming addicted to nicotine is a personal choice issue. Most 14 year olds in our society don’t have the capacity to make those kinds of choices when confronted with the context that the addiction happens within, nor do they have the maturity to understand addiction and how not to develop one. I don’t think anyone smoking nicotine enjoys it at first, the reasons for perservering with some pretty unpleasant physical reactions until one is addicted is not for fun, it’s for other reasons.

                      I’d also like to know if you know the boy’s state of mind, how he was emotionally (internally), what pressures he experienced in himself, what skills he had to deal with all those, whether he had ever been abused (and how would you know?) etc. You’d also have to look at his genetics.

                      Some successful people kill themselves. You can’t tell what someone’s internal makeup is like by looking at the exterior of their lives.

                    • The lost sheep

                      you seem to be confusing recreational drug taking with addiction.

                      Weka, it was Draco, and then Bill that made the implication that all drug taking was an illness / addiction. I agree with you completely and that was my point. Most of the drug taking I have known was by healthy people making a free will choice in full awareness.

                      I’d also like to know if you know the boy’s state of mind, how he was emotionally (internally), what pressures he experienced in himself, what skills he had to deal with all those, whether he had ever been abused (and how would you know?) etc. You’d also have to look at his genetics.

                      I knew the son and family very well, as I have know many similar people where you could say with some confidence that there was no underlying ‘reason’ for starting the behaviors.

                      The way he let it get out of control was a ‘mistake’ if you like, or a twist of personality maybe – but as with other cases i have known, he hit a point at which his peers, like my son, realised the behavior was having a negative effect on their lives and backed off, but he didn’t ever make that realization or choice.

                      Should he be totally insulated by society for his failure to do so?
                      Should he be insulated to the point where he is guaranteed society will provide him with the same level of wealth as his peers who took more constructive choices?
                      I don’t think that would be healthy for society as a whole personally.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      A free will choice in full awareness.

                      Back with the Bellman logic, eh. Assert it over and over again as a matter of faith in the hope that it will make it true. It doesn’t. You need some evidence.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Where is it? You won’t find it here. Nor here.

                      Where oh where can it be?

        • Draco T Bastard 2.4.1.3

          It’s not my world view – it is simple fact.

          No because poverty isn’t the choice of individuals. Individuals don’t choose to live in poverty.

          Poverty is a choice of society to have it when there is no need for there to be any.

          That does suggest that in their experience some people at least have got to poverty through personal choices, and have the personal ability to get out of poverty through personal choices?

          No, that sounds like some blame the victim BS brought about by our culture of poverty.

          • The lost sheep 2.4.1.3.1

            So with the individual I referenced Draco, you would say that society should give him all the money he needs to continue with the lifestyle he has chosen, and to be able to do so while enjoying a level of wealth equivalent to that gained by citizens who have made more constructive choices with better outcomes?

            • Bill 2.4.1.3.1.1

              The ‘chosen’ lifestyle being one of addiction because it seemed like fun and has obviously resulted in his extreme levels of happiness? As per previous comment, you’re contention that this guy just made a simple pleasure driven choice is facile.

              • The lost sheep

                You must live in a Monastery Bill.
                For goodness sake, be careful not to get out and about in the real world. Discovering that there are millions of people out there at any one time partying on various forms of intoxicating substances in the belief it is helping them have a great time would be too big a shock for you to bear!

                • Bill

                  Most acts undertaken are in pursuit of pleasure or in order to avoid some aspect or level of fear. Sometimes we might imagine it to be both. Got out my face (pleasure) and ‘just happened’ to avoid boredom (fear).

                  Wanna tell me how anyone might choose poverty? Where’s the pleasure principle? Like ye olde Christian, would there be hope of a reward in the afterlife perhaps? Or would that be fear of punishment in some afterlife – and so embracing poverty in an act of avoidance?

                  Maybe you imagine people prefer the simple pleasures of stress and hunger over the unmitigating horror of leisure and ease?

                  • The lost sheep

                    Wanna tell me how anyone might choose poverty?

                    Sure Bill. It is exactly the same process as ‘choosing’ to have a car crash.

                    No one driving ever intends that to be the outcome, but sometimes circumstances are simply against you. Sometimes you fail to observe the road ahead with sufficient care, and sometimes you simply make bad decisions.
                    Most often it is some combination of the 3.

                    As Weka put it, the question is what degree of responsibility we attribute to the person who crashed, and what consequences society either imposes, allows, or compensates for.

                    • Bill

                      Circumstances“. Now, you take that environmental factor out of the equation, how? And why? Hmm…apart from having a desire to slate systemic shortcomings back to the individual, no reason.

                      I’m going to restate the obvious really fucking plainly for your benefit. Market economies create poverty. Always. Inevitably.

                      There is absolutely no way, not even on some perfectly imagined theoretical level, where everyone can make perfect choices and so avoid poverty – can’t happen in a market economy.

                    • Rosie

                      “Sure Bill. It is exactly the same process as ‘choosing’ to have a car crash.No one driving ever intends that to be the outcome, but sometimes circumstances are simply against you.”

                      What about the passengers? Wheres the choices and control for them? We don’t function in isolation.

                      Crashing you car is an odd analogy for being impoverished

            • Korero Pono 2.4.1.3.1.2

              There is a vast difference between personal choice, consequence and addiction. Addiction is the hideous consequence of the choice to take drugs. Once an addiction has taken hold, personal choice becomes more difficult. I am yet to meet an alcoholic/drug addict that wants to be what they are and live the way the live. Regardless, what I wrote was designed to get people to think beyond the individual and look at what is happening on a societal level – to understand how the charities are maintaining an individualistic stance to the problem – in effect the buffers of a less than perfect market economy.

              Lost sheep (and you are lost, aren’t you?), the one example you have used is designed to make a point – the point being that people have choices – your example paints a picture of someone (whom you claim to know inside out) made the choices to take drugs (but came from what you paint as a ‘perfect’ family), therefore has no excuses, no reasons for his folly. In your view, he should therefore pay the price for his ‘choices’. I would be interested to know what you believe the consequences of those choices should be? What price should he pay, what price should his family pay?

              Regardless, this one example is being used to paint a similar picture of those frequenting food banks etc, it may not be one of drugs but I believe you are trying to use this one example to point the finger at the poor and blame them all for their circumstances.

              I will go back to the topic. Charities, through their dependence on Government funding and charity are in the business of ‘fixing’ people, specifically ‘poor’ people. People who need food. What they are really doing is creating a buffer between the rich and the poor. The charities ignore any effort of creating broader social change, instead focusing on the individual to change them. It is in the interest of said charities to maintain the status quo because it ensures their survival in the market place. It ensures the social ‘problems’ that they claim they can ‘fix’ will never go away.

        • One Two 2.4.1.4

          The number is irrelevant

          We provide assistance anyways, despite the miserable who would see people dying in the street to satiate their beliefs

        • weka 2.4.1.5

          I can’t help thinking that where the obviously kind and concerned people who run charities make statements like…
          “[to] achieve long-term improvement in their situation, to rise over the poverty line, requires self-awareness and a desire to change”
          That does suggest that in their experience some people at least have got to poverty through personal choices, and have the personal ability to get out of poverty through personal choices?

          I suggest that you go and read the quote in context of the PSO document, because it’s not saying what you are.

    • Pat 2.5

      …”The market does not provide for the poor, simply an incentive not to be poor”

      you forgot to add “the market” creates and requires the poor.

  3. The Fairy Godmother 3

    The church I attend gives to a food bank. People bring donations every Sunday. I prefer to be politically involved and last election spent a lot of voluntary time working for labour. I think charity serves the givers more than the poor. It assuages guilt and allows the givers to think they have done all they can. It also allows the givers to feel superior. It allows the status quo of a horribly unequal society to continue.

  4. dv 4

    Poor in society means the market has failed.

    • Bill 4.1

      Poor in society means that the market is functioning as per expectations. Market economies always and inevitably create poverty.

      That was where 20th C reformist governments came in with their interventionist social welfare programmes – programmes that have been being fed into the ideological shredder these past decades.

      Result? A greater concentration of wealth, more poverty and an increasing reliance on market orientated charity organisations.

      The NZ government, not the market, has failed.

      • Pat 4.1.1

        +1
        the laissez faire economics (market) pinacle is a single entity (monopoly) in control (ownership) of the total….governments (regulator) role is to prevent this…I suspect that even the most ardent right winger would bulk at total laissez faire economics, certainly the longer it progressed, indeed it has been my experience that many who advocate “the market” are the first to call for government action when events turn against them.

    • Reddelusion 4.2

      High levels of poverty in society ( the nmajority)normally means socialism

      • Draco T Bastard 4.2.1

        Strange then that we had high levels of equality, innovation and wealth without little to no poverty when under a more socialist governing structure than we do now under the more capitalist structure.

        It is capitalism that causes poverty which is why we had some even under the more socialist structure.

    • Reddelusion 4.3

      By letting socialist woolly thinking take over

  5. Reddelusion 5

    Relative poverty I agree, rather be poor in a functioning market economy than any other system, it’s not perfect I agree but beats anything else. sure has taken a lot of people out of poverty and increased living standards dramatically in the last 100 years

    • b waghorn 5.1

      Yes but why not shoot for the moon? and want to see every soul on our little rock living a happy little life. Which under our current settings is impossible.

      • Reddelusion 5.1.1

        A worthy but unrealistic and to that point unmeasurable objective , similarly the downside of unintended consequences of trying to pursue such an objective

        • Draco T Bastard 5.1.1.1

          Easy to measure:

          One person in poverty shows that the system isn’t working.

          This is a measure.

    • Wainwright 5.2

      Clearly a comment by someone who isn’t “relatively” poor.

    • Korero Pono 5.3

      We could equally say sure has been a lot of people placed into poverty and decrease in living standards in the last 30 years. The increase in poverty, inequality and poor living standards are a direct consequence of what you call a “functioning market economy”. You are right when you say “it’s not perfect” but I fail to see how this “beats anything else”?

    • millsy 5.4

      Its technology that has increased living standards — not capitalism.

  6. Treetop 6

    Were I to put a few dollars away each week in a bank account for Christmas food I could not get a food grant from Work and Income. I also think that a person has to tell Work and Income if they have a Christmas club account, which Work and Income would expect a person to cancel and use before getting a food grant.

    • Reddelusion 6.1

      If you have put money aside for Xmas food, why would you expect a food grant from the state Of course you could try to game the system, thus the very nature of why welfare without responsibility does not work, people can’t help themselves and to degree gaming the system if you can is a rationale response

      • One Two 6.1.1

        When you point a finger at someone else, there are three fingers pointing straight back

        • Treetop 6.1.1.1

          The point was missed that there would be NO Christmas club for Christmas because it could be cancelled anytime before Christmas and used instead of a food grant.

      • Treetop 6.1.2

        The idea of having a Christmas club account is so that you can have enough food at Christmas. I do not expect to get a food grant at Christmas when I have a Christmas club account.

        Technically when a person has a Christmas club account they have the means of obtaining food, Work and Income can refuse a food grant and the person applying would be expected to cancel their Christmas club account ANYTIME throughout the year.

        Welfare is not about gaming the system. Corporate welfare exists.

      • Korero Pono 6.1.3

        Interestingly enough, when the ‘poor’ find themselves having to go cap in hand to Work and Income for a food grant or other emergency, they are usually asked why they didn’t plan for the event that sees them needing assistance. So if the ‘poor’ person is even able to put away $5 per week for Christmas, and then some emergency crops up where they then have to cancel their Christmas Club account (usually with penalty) to access the funds they find themselves and their children without come Christmas. If they approach Work and Income for assistance to get them through the expensive time (think start of year school costs pending), they are then asked why they didn’t put money aside for the known event.

        I am sorry but the system cannot have it both ways. Either people should put what money they can aside or they shouldn’t. Either way they are subject to the ‘blame’ game. It really is a no win situation for those who do not have the means to deal with unexpected costs. What is known though is that ‘poor’ people, regardless of how careful they are, will always find themselves having to ask someone for something, get knocked back, get blamed for asking for help etc etc. This overtime leads to ‘poor’ people giving up, they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t, what is the point of trying in a system that will continue to blame the very people that are reliant on keeping a great deal of the population on the margins?

  7. Jeffgold 7

    The author is showing their own naieviety and simplistic blinkered view. The dynamics of poverty are far more complex than an arbitrary monetary figure that relies on the false premise that money fixes everything. Go and spend some time with the Burmese refugee community in Glen Innes, same income coming in as their neighbors but drastically different outcomes coming out for their children who are well fed, clothed and educated.

    • Korero Pono 7.1

      Jeffgold, perhaps you would like to inform the readers about the ‘complex’ nature of poverty? Perhaps you could explain why ” the Burmese refugee community in Glen Innes, same income coming in as their neighbors [sic] but drastically different outcomes coming out for their children who are well fed, clothed and educated”?

      I would be extremely interested in how you unpack the many assumptions in your statements, which in my opinion demonstrate your own “naieviety [sic] and simplistic blinkered view”.

  8. mpledger 8

    Someone I know worked as a budget adviser and was sent clients by social welfare (IIRC) and mostly she said there wasn’t much she could do because the people were pretty much doing everything they were able – they just didn’t have enough money.

  9. Jenny Kirk 9

    ” A novel idea would be to stop giving to, and funding the charities and give directly to the ‘poor’. Or is that too simple? ”

    To Korero Pono – it sounds a good idea, but HOW would you find the poor ?
    And how would you know they were really poor, and not just pretending to be ?

    The charities do serve some purpose in discerning who is really poor, and who is pretending just to get a free meal …… and yes, some of them get govt funding to do their work, but surely the real question is:
    why are the people poor, and why is society not sufficiently set-up to help those who are poor to help themselves? And the answer …….. ? you can sort that out for yourself, but to me that answer is that society has failed these people in some way or another … and so, society – in whatever form it is, charitable organisation or some other way – has a responsibility, needs to pick up some of that responsibility to help the poor. And right now, its those charitable organisations which you seem to question, who take on that responsibilty for those of us who cannot do so.

    • Bill 9.1

      Privately run social programmes have, or should have, absolutely no place in a society like NZ. If there is a perceived need for such programmes, then there is an actual need for government to refocus on the welfare of citizens and use the welfare state for the purpose it was set up for.

      • Reddelusion 9.1.1

        A limitless welfare state, great idea, not

        [ Looking through your comments on this thread, you haven’t actually engaged on any level whatsoever. Your entire commentary is essentially splatterings of thoughtless slogans and brainless assertions that ignore any points made in adjoining comments. Up your game. ] – Bill

        • Reddelusion 9.1.1.1

          I agree bill but come on simply reacting to thoughtless ramblings and left PR slogans 😀 ie ” poor in society means market has failed” etc etc

          [You agree. That’s enough for me. I’ve no interest in following down the rabbit hole of distractions filled with the sounds of bullshit justifications for derailing, that you want to jump on down. Banned until I remember to take you out of moderation.] – Bill

    • Korero Pono 9.2

      I think Bill covered this one nicely.

      The point I am making is, if people had adequate financial provision in the first place there would be no need for the charities to decide who is deserving and underserving. Nor would they need to hand out food under the proviso that people in need subject themselves to being fixed (all money making exercises for those having Government contracts – i.e. the “charities”, who themselves are reliant on state assistance to survive).

    • Korero Pono 9.3

      Yes I absolutely question the ‘charities’ whom themselves are reliant on charity and the public purse. I question why these charities continue to work at ‘fixing’ people, while ignoring the underlying reason why people have to walk through their doors.

      In my experience (and my opinion) charities are more interested in organisational survival than working effectively to create any change at a societal level. These charities will take Government contracts to ‘fix’ people, and in so doing, buy into the idea that it is the people coming in that need fixed, not the system that has created the current situation. Pre 1990’s food banks were relatively unheard of, now they are not only common but considered ‘normal’. Instead of working to eliminate the need for food banks, they have become a money making venture, with charities using these to get ‘poor’ people in so they can ‘fix’ them.

      If these ‘charities’ were serious about helping the people they claim to serve, then they would be advocating broader social change. They would be outspoken about it and persistent. Instead they have become submerged into the system through their own reliance on Government funding.

      In my view these charities who say one thing but do another are self-serving, they are not really helping those who need it the most but buy into and are part of a system that benefits from other people’s misery.

      http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/01/18/what-happens-when-the-poor-receive-a-stipend/?_r=0

    • Ergo Robertina 9.4

      ”And how would you know they were really poor, and not just pretending to be ?”

      Jenny, Do not assume broad swathes of people who need food banks will try to rort the system in the same manner and to the same extent as politicians.
      Because you’ve fallen into the old trap of blaming the victims you haven’t appreciated the point the post makes about the role charitable organisations play as enablers in the NZ market economy; how by focusing on the individual circumstances of each ‘client’, they let the big picture go.

      As you rightly state, they help people. But questions arise around the use of resources in micro-managing clients, and the lack of their voice in urging vital political changes.
      It is well known that some NGOs get this, but will not speak out because they could lose Govt contracts. And a few buy into the blame-the-poor ideology.

      There are fine people who work and volunteer for charitable organisations, but does that mean we shouldn’t critique and question the system?
      It’s like media – I have an issue with the abuse of individual reporters I sometimes see on this blog, but I welcome intelligently argued critiques of media issues.

  10. Tory 10

    “The glorious market place”. Fuckin slogan. Ever since man roved the earth there has been those with more than others. The dream of a Socialist Utophia where there is no inequality is also shit, show me a country where inequality does not exist or ever existed.

    • weka 10.1

      It’s not about some people having more than others. It’s about some people having more than they need at the expense of others not getting even their basic needs met when neither of those situations is necessary.

    • Bill 10.2

      What has inequality, or any of these non-existent claims for eradicating inequality, got to do with the post that is about people who need food being stigmatised and assumed as somehow personally defective or lacking by the very organisations that claim to be offering them help?

      Answer that before making any other potentially arse like statement on this post that will, if previous recent actions by an impatient moderator are anything to go by, see you joining Reddelussion on the ‘might be remembered about sometime’ banned list.

    • Korero Pono 10.3

      This is like saying – because “ever since man roved the earth there has been” abuse. Just because it has always existed, does not make it okay?

      Who benefits from inequality and what does it mean for those who are less equal?

    • Draco T Bastard 10.4

      We’re supposed to be better than our forbears – not worse. This means that we get rid of inequality through better systems.

    • Draco T Bastard 10.5

      Actually, look to some of the older, long lasting societies out there and you’ll find that inequality was not part of them which disproves your assertion that inequality has always been with us.

  11. Venezia 11

    Refreshing to read the OP is shining a light on the politics of food banks. This needs a lot more examination in the media. I have known people who were part of a church group which set one up in smaller centre, I became aware of the assumptions and attitudes of many people around providing such help for people on the lowest incomes. Conservative, paternalistic, judgemental attitudes which supported keeping the present unjust structures of privilege and entitlement for the well off, while justifying the failure to keep wage growth in line with the cost of living led me to question in whose interests was the venture working, who was actually benefitting?

    • Korero Pono 11.1

      Thank you, this is precisely one of my points. I have seen these food banks, I have met these people who sit in judgement in their ivory towers dictating their demands over those in need, simply because they have the power to withhold food according to their judgement.

    • Rosie 11.2

      Agreed Venezia. It’s been a welcome read. Interesting that your observations about the church group’s motivations around assisting those in need are similar to Jenny Kirks above. A very patronising and dishonest approach.

      I’ve seen two sides of the food bank service. One of the healthier attitudes came from an organisation that a family friend worked for. She was a cook in the organisations’ kitchen. Meals were provided two times a day to the homeless and impoverished. They paid $1 for each meal. No questions were asked about their circumstances, no judgements made, no directions given. They listened to their stories, fed the people and that was it.

      The other side was a bit of a eye opener. A friend was working as a volunteer for a large local organisation that collected food and clothing and redistributed it to people who had to meet a strict poverty criteria in order to receive the goods. These people were sent on to budgeting services. As mpledger stated above, they knew someone who worked for one of these budgeting centres and there was little they could do to advise people. When theres no money there no money. Again this comes from a patronising we know whats best for you viewpoint.

      What shocked me was the attitude the founder of this organisation had. I had access to some of this persons emails around a discussion she had with my friend about the government’s role in creating a society where poverty is reduced with the goal of total elimination.
      Her response was along the lines of “I’m sick of people blaming the government. These people (meaning her “clients”) have no sense of personal responsibility, otherwise they wouldn’t be in the position they’re in. This government must be getting something right because they keep getting voted in”.

      You can’t get much more face palm than that, from someone in charge of a food bank. It was heartbreaking really. No idea. I can only guess that this person’s motivation was selfish – they do get a lot of accolades for their work, and again that word, paternalistic.

  12. Hami Shearlie 12

    Only a few decades ago a family could live on what the husband/father earned. They could buy a house and have a good life, and if the wife had a job as well, they could probably buy a bach for holidays too. The problem now seems to be that the lower-income third of society are just not paid what they are worth – people have three jobs sometimes with a huge number of hours worked and still can’t earn enough to pay their bills. When there is just not enough money coming in to pay for food, doctors, clothing and exorbitant rents (especially in Auckland) , no amount of brow-beating and badgering by Work and Income or budget services will make one iota of difference.

  13. vaughan little 13

    go spend time volunteering with a foodbank then do a followup post. i recommend a church-based one, it’d probably help you dial some of that anti-christian hostility back.

    • Bill 13.1

      The post was about the judgmental attitude of charities. There was nothing specific slated at religious charities. Mind you, the fact that religious or faith based business models dominate the sector as well as drug and alcohol addiction services – hoovering up all that public purse money along the way, well….that’s an entire post in its own right. But separate to the topic of this one, no?

      • Ad 13.1.1

        Any other religion can step in of course.
        Maybe a political movement could do it instead every day?
        Don’t go getting us started Bill.

    • Korero Pono 13.2

      Vaughan, I am trying to find where within my writings I displayed what you call “anti-christian hostility”, perhaps you imagined this?

      Maybe you could tell me what spending time at a food bank would teach me that is not covered in my first and subsequent posts?

      I obviously hit a nerve somewhere, that had your fingers flying around your key board so fast that it appears you may have left your brain behind. Regardless I find your assumptions and your own particular hostility laughable. What I do not find laughable, however is when people find themselves at food banks (whether Christian or not is irrelevant) having to justify their need and subject themselves to the gaze of others to judge whether or not they are deserving. I do not find it laughable that these ‘charities’ hide behind their supposed ‘good’ and charitable works, while vying for contracts to ‘fix’ the poor whilst doing nothing to change the systemic causes of poverty.

  14. millsy 14

    IMO people and communities need to form their own food co-ops and run their own food banks, not leave it up to crusty Rotarians and bitter Anglican vicar’s wives to dish out their left over Home Brand baked beans.

    The ‘Pay it Forward’ groups on FB are a good example of people helping people — no judgement, no hoops, no nothing. And it is usually the people who have bugger all themselves that help the most, expecting nothing in return.

  15. Ergo Robertina 15

    This is an interesting read, Korero Pono, thanks. I hope to see more of your writing.
    I’ve wondered why this issue isn’t discussed more often. There’s also the problem of NGOs not paying their own staff a living wage.
    I happened to read this post shortly before seeing ’99 Homes’, and was mulling it over in the context of that film’s theme of the system as bad guy, and individual agency not all that important (this was offset by the ending though). Great film.

    • Korero Pono 15.1

      Thank you Ergo, you are right re NGOs not paying the staff a ‘living’ wage or a wage that adequately reflects the skill base of the workers (that applies to some NGOs at least). This would also be worthy of a discussion in a new thread, which I may write about when I have more time.

  16. Ad 16

    “The point is, if people have enough income, have enough to feed their children, would they need the services of charities to help ‘fix’ the person?”

    That is a really interesting question.

    Starting with what is “enough income” …

    Continuing with what is “enough to feed their children” …

    Then to the definition of “services” …

    and on to what a “charity” is.
    That is, I think your post is more a plea than an argument. It needs a lot more.

    What I really liked about this post is that it seemed like the author knows the humiliation of being on the other side. It felt deeply empathic, anti-instrumental, and rebuking the perpetual need to find solutions.

    Great impulse, great corrective

    I have really no idea about this field, and hope that none of my family ever have to understand it like that either.

    Hope you keep posting, Korero Pono.

    • korero pono 16.1

      You raise a good question about what is enough income. Somewhere I have read reference to what a living wage is. Perhaps that would be a good starting point? Having enough to feed their children would probably tie into the first response.

      Definition of services, I mentioned budget advice, social work, food banks but of course the list could and probably would expand to whatever ‘fixing’ professions exist to fix the ‘poor’ person.

      Whether a plea or an argument does not matter to me, the topic deserves debate.

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