Most of us have been diminished by COVID in 2020-21 so it’s time for everyone to prepare 2022 as an honest accounting of damage to our whole society.
It’s not a global war, it’s not a Global Financial Crisis, it’s this unnameable thing. We will be in 2022 a different kind of New Zealand. All calibrations of class laid bare as we haven’t seen before.
So far the anecdotes give torchlit runways for facts to land, but not the name of the destination itself. 2022 is clearly a more class-ridden New Zealand than we have yet seen.
There will be, as ever, just a few thousand still who argue about where to park their helicopter.
There’s 10% of Herne Bay and Westmere, East Auckland, North Shore, Fendalton, Karori, Wadestown and Queenstown who own about 60% of everything we have.
There are, intersecting with the class above, a solid 16.2% with multiple houses and holiday homes. Cannot wait to get back overseas to opportunity and leisure, just as has been the case for decades and illustrated so well in lifestyle and travel magazines.
There are those with children propped up by wage subsidies (over half of the workforce in 2020 and now decreasing rapidly) and about 350,000 families getting Working For Families subsidies. A struggling 20% or a million.
Those 800,000 of us eking out their remaining years on NZSuper and other pensions in small rooms on $20k a year, shrink back further from human contact into loneliness and isolation.
Then the 40% of New Zealand who don’t have $1,000 in the bank. So many ways to cut this: the “precariat”, working but living in cars, a tax number but no address, stumbling one food parcel to the next, barely making one pay day to the next.
There are the small number of unemployed, and those who don’t want to be and no longer have the will or strength to do more, or discharged from jail and now away from productive society.
There are a band of a few thousand who refused the vaccine, were fired or shunned, and are consigned to the status of outsider. They will until they choose otherwise remain in the thrall of fanatics and cults, turning their back on common facts and retreating deep into the grey economy of cashies and swaps. We don’t yet know their number but they come from all walks of life and wilfully consigned themselves to this poor and stricken marginalia.
They are now added to the great and deep 20% of our poor. We see it easily now.
Inside our lower half, those who got the disease and were damaged.
We could illustrate it further; by deprivation itself, by COVID Delta, by anything you like but it’s a pattern made worse for years and years and it’s the same geography: Far North, East Cape, northern West Coast, King Country.
By Deprivation Index by unemployment in regions.
By suburb and indeed by census meshblock.
By the 20% of our children who are poor and got worse through COVID’s reign.
There was immediate recognition from government that COVID was widening poverty rates here and the government has spent over $50b and rising on keeping us employed and safe.
But our landscape of inequality is more arid, more mountainous, more treacherous than ever before.
There is no fairness to it, no singular national purpose out of it, just management and holding on to what we still have in any diminished form we have.
We can’t seem to get ahead and are losing faith that we ever can.
That fading thing called hope. COVID just made that far, far worse.
This is the 2022 we are heading towards.