Written By: - Date published: 10:02 am, November 8th, 2015 - 68 comments
Categories: capitalism, child abuse, child welfare, class war, cost of living, Economy, poverty, quality of life, Social issues - Tags: Korero Pono
This post was prompted after reading an article titled “Being Poor is too Expensive”. The article highlights the compounding cost of living in poverty, a poverty that the blissfully ignorant assume can be walked away from unscathed without a backward glance, if only one would work and try harder. Unfortunately, and as the author demonstrates, living in poverty really is more expensive. It not only costs more in financial terms, it costs more in time and has long term physical and mental health consequences.
The impacts of poverty are obvious in some of our most deprived regions, for example the influx of third world diseases (rheumatic fever, and meningitis for example) impacting on our poorest children. Some children have ended up with long-term health problems as a consequence of living in over-crowded, damp mouldy homes. Sadly many of these are state owned houses. Throw into this mix the food poverty, the time poverty (many of the parents are working two jobs just to pay the rent) and what we have is a whole generation of children whose life chances have been stunted from the outset. Comprehensive reports on the subject of child poverty indicate that there are now 260,000 children living in poverty with more recent reports indicating that the figure is much higher.
What I would like to know, if it costs more to be poor, then who are the ones reaping the benefits of depriving hundreds of thousands of children from a decent standard of living? Undoubtedly every time the banks hit families with fees for unauthorised overdrafts, for missed direct debits and automatic payments, it is literally taking food out of the mouths of babes. When loan sharks hook ‘poor’ families into easy credit, high interest loans, they too are taking food away from vulnerable families. When a Government increases the GST take, which falls disproportionately on those on the lowest incomes (Rashbrooke, 2013), they too are taking food away from children. In general tax terms it is those on the lowest incomes who are paying more tax per $1 earned than their wealthier counter-parts.
All in all it appears that a few at the top are reaping the rewards of the misery of those at the bottom, whilst those in the middle buy into the ideology that poor people are poor because they are lazy and [insert all manner of labels here]. Yet, it appears that overall those at the bottom of the heap, and in particular the most vulnerable (260,000 children) have become the victims of a system that benefits from keeping them in poverty. We are literally sacrificing our most vulnerable citizens so that a few at the top can sustain lifestyles that many of us can only imagine!
Rashbrooke, M. (Ed.) (2013) Inequality: A New Zealand Crisis, Wellington: Bridget Williams Books