‘Hardworking kiwis’ is National’s new ‘mainstream New Zealanders’. Referenced by Key ad nauseam, it is the population at which National purports to target it’s policies.
As with ‘mainstream New Zealanders’, ‘hardworking kiwis’ has a inherently divisive implicit message: ‘not everyone is a hardworking kiwi’. The term creates an ‘other’; a type of person in this country who is not hardworking, maybe not even a kiwi (ie. not of predominantly European descent). It is these others that are benefiting from the current government while ‘hardworking kiwis’ are forgotten ; ‘those greedy, lazy ‘others’ are the reason I can’t have a bigger tax cut for all my hard work’. ‘Hardworking kiwis’ are encouraged to think of themselves as victims, beset by the demands of a lazy, envious population of ‘others’.
This message is directed mostly at Pakeha, especially the upper-middle class and wealthy: you are hardworking kiwis, just trying to make your way, you’re not even that well-off, ‘middle-class families’ like you are struggling to make ends meet. Those people on lower incomes (many of whom look different from you) are lazy. Of course they are lazy, that’s why they get paid so little, you work hard, that’s why you get paid more, and they can’t be working hard or they would get paid more too. Stands to reason. All they have to do is work harder but, instead, they demand public services, paid for by your taxes. You are a hardworking kiwi and deserve a big tax break for working so hard, but all those lazy people stop it happening. National will look after you.
Of course, this has nothing to do with reality. In reality, it is the low paid jobs that usually require the hardest work (try being a minimum wage labourer for a month). After all, wages are set by a market and the hardest, crappiest jobs, like the lowest pay, go to those who don’t have rare skill sets. The higher your skill level, the higher the pay and the better the working conditions you can demand. And everyone benefits from social spending; even those who don’t receive much directly benefit from a healthy, educated workforce, lower poverty and crime levels, and so on.
But reality doesn’t matter. National’s aim is to cleave half the population off, give it a sense that it is being leeched off by the other half, and offer a solution: bigger tax cuts for the â€˜hardworking kiwis’, paid for by a smaller social wage for the rest.
[Update: In a similar vein, PolicyParrot on newzblog looks at which hardworking people are hardworking acccording to National. Hint: it’s the rich ones]