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The “Others”.

Written By: - Date published: 12:07 pm, April 25th, 2020 - 20 comments
Categories: class war, debt / deficit, Economy, economy, equality, history, human rights, infrastructure, poverty, quality of life, Social issues, socialism, unemployment - Tags:

Auckland housing: 'We've lost the plot' | RNZ News
https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/303946/auckland-housing-%27we%27ve-lost-the-plot%27

“Othering” has long been a prop, of Governments that want to remain in power for the benefit of an Oligarchy, an “Elite”, a small ruling class, or the ones with, “the money”.

Deflecting blame for economic and social issues on,  an ethnicity, a class, the elderly, the poor, the young, the unemployed, young solo mothers, the disabled, immigrants,  or any other convenient group that can be demonised.

“Othering” works, often horrifically well, as history shows.

It has proven to be an excellent way of deflecting attention, while a few run away, with the resources, the wealth, and the power.

National, “dogwhistling” about “solo mums, breeding”, “lazy unemployed youth” or “generational welfare dependency” , is a recurrent staple whenever they flag in the polls, or need a distraction from dishonesty, arrogance or incompetence.

Labour, to their discredit, largely went along with it. Welfare has been deliberately set below the cost of a minimal living, since Richardsons, “mother of all budgets”, to force people into underpaid jobs.

The underlying memes, behind much of the “othering” in New Zealand are “useless mouths”, “deserving and undeserving poor”, “the meritocracy” (that money you are paid, reflects your value to society), “productive and unproductive people” , “welfare bludgers”.

Few who use these self serving justifications, for their own greed and privilege, are stupid enough to use those exact words. The supporting train of thought, however, is obvious.

Already we see businesses, the formerly comfortable, and the tax dodging speculators, now losing money, as well as the newspapers that endlessly exposed “welfare cheats”, with their hands out, for, welfare!

The irony, and hypocrisy of so many who complained about “people on the “State teat” now surviving on Government handouts. The tax dodgers, exploitative employers, and others, who joined in excoriating “Bludging bene’s, who are now asking for more, is blindingly apparent.

“Bene’s” are “the others”.

They are “not us” so keeping them homeless, poor, hungry and without much hope of change, so we can pay a few dollars a week, less tax,  is fine.

Very soon  more of us may become the “others” we didn’t care about.

Already many  more of us are now the beneficiaries, we despised.

In the 1930’s depression, a large number of people who were formerly middle class, and even wealthy, suddenly found out, that prosperity very often depends on luck.

The first Labour Governments social welfare, housing, industrial and education policies were welcomed by a people that had painfully recent experience of deprivation and war. But also recent experience, of the power of working together for common goals.

Post WW2, continued high Government debt, increasing unemployment, with all the returning troops needing work, economic decline… looked inevitable.

The Government embarked on a program of reconstruction and development and increasing everyone’s wellbeing, paid for, with QE and high marginal tax rates, not increased debt. Within a few short years, Government debt was reduced, we had full employment, an excellent education system and adequate housing and healthcare for all.

Many are now finding out about the “poverty traps” introduced by later Governments in their “bene bashing” punitive, social welfare.

You are now one of the “others” so “we will punish you”.

The humiliation, routinely inflicted by WINZ case managers on unemployed youngsters, the prying into your sex life to see if you are eligible, losing unemployment benefit if your partner has a job, having to use your savings, your final pays, or sell assets built up over your lifetime, before you can access welfare, the courses on how to fill out a CV, taught by instructors who cannot even spell, the having to apply weekly for dozens of dead end, underpaid jobs, without any opportunity for meaningful training for a better one, all to end up with payments that barely cover your rent.

This is a day to remember the returning troops, sailors and airman, and the better world they wanted for their children, and grandchildren.

It won’t be long, after experiencing the miserliness of our welfare system, that we inflicted on “the others” that we will soon be demanding, better. Just as we did after WW2.

20 comments on “The “Others”. ”

  1. mac1 1

    Along with the 'othering' which I agree with you has been a ploy of demagogues is the notion of 'us-ness". Who are we if they are 'they'?.

    It's nationalism. jingoism.

    In NZ we hear 'hard-working New Zealanders' as us. John Key used the 'hard-working' meme recently. Bridges often uses it. It goes with 'mum and dad' investors as an identifier but by association derogates beneficiaries.

    Watch out superannuitants. The attack has started with recent comments from Goldsmith. We will be the next to be othered as leeches on the state.

    National last election had a policy to extend the age of super entitlement out to 67, remember. We continue to get 'a wage' according to Goldsmith.

    He could have added "while hardworking mum and dad Kiwi businesses founder." But that is what othering does. Even the use of the word Kiwi can be 'othering' in context.

    How much different is Ardern's statement, "They are us." That's why I respect her so much.

  2. Carolyn_Nth 2

    Very good post. It has been jaw dropping to see the likes of the Tax Payers Union, Richard Branson, holding out their hands for state handouts.

    And the overdue recognition of essential workers as in supermarkets, to be only withdrawn as soon as the supermarket duopoly foresaw they no longer were to benefit from the stand down of other food providers

    I do hope we see a return to the recognition of the fact that we are all interdependent, and all a misfortune away from being in the unemployment queue. And with it, a return to a more equitable distribution of income and wealth.

  3. Kay 3

    KJT, I was about to write up a guest post on this topic but you pretty much covered most of my talking points, so snap!

    While I like to think I'm a pretty empathetic person this sudden spike of people discovering the joys of our cushy lifestyle has me conflicted. While I have all the sympathy on Earth for any children/dependents caught up in someone's job loss, having spent a good 30 years now on the receiving end of the bashing I just can't have any sympathy for those who joined in the bashing, happily voted for their precious tax cuts, fell for the propaganda that somehow because they had a job they were ' superior' to us and chose to ignore our plight and the growing inequality even as they walked around the homeless on the streets. Or just being so sure nothing bad would ever happen to them. I've already seen a couple of mentions of "how can I be expected to survive on this much?" I don't think subsistence benefit rates even crossed their minds till now. Isn't karma a bitch sometimes.

    • KJT 3.1

      Sorry for the steal.

      I still think you should put up a guest post.

      You obviously have another angle of your own experience. Me, not so much.

      If we cannot get traction for people who are not so lucky, now!

  4. Craig H 4

    I think there's a real opportunity to explain that the old social contract is not workable in NZ, and forge a new one. To explain, our current social contract is one of low taxes, low regulation, low benefits/welfare for unemployed on the (often unstated) basis that people should self-insure using the extra money from the low taxes and low regulation. This self-insurance may be actual insurance (medical, income protection, loan/mortgage etc) or savings equivalent to 6 months of expenses (or a combination).

    However, in the shaky isles and the ever-present risk of pandemic, that seems like a poor model because everyone ends up relying on the State anyway in large events, so our next model should be higher taxes and more social insurance e.g. higher benefits, lower abatement rates, and agreed model for State payments if there is an event which triggers them.

    For now, I'd do some helicopter money in the form of increased Family Tax Credit and Independent Earner Tax Credit (increase threshold to $70,000) for the 2019-20 tax year just ended. Using these as a mechanism to deliver money will get it out in tax refunds due soon, and with abatement rates built in so that the well-off don't get as much or any.

    $1,500 to IETC, $4,000 for the first child and $1000 for each additional child for FTC (on the idea that couples are getting $1,500 each – solo parents can have $3,000 because why not).

    For people not entitled to the above due to receiving state assistance (benefits other than DPB/SPP, super, student allowance, and no WFF/FTC), MSD can pay the same amounts as a lump sum, perhaps with an application process for superannuitants so they don't get it if they have a high-paying job as well (it could be done through IRD with some tweaking as their system knows if someone is receiving NZ Super, but probably easier to set up the MSD system).

    LPrent will no doubt be along to tell me that's hard and should just be an MSD application process :).

    • Nic 181 4.1

      Very well said!!!!!!!!

    • KJT 4.2

      Yes. Privatisation of social welfare.

      Unfortunately for most low income people, the cost of private insurance is prohibitive, and they do not earn enough to have, savings.

      If they have anything left, after paying for privatised services, such as power and housing.

    • lprent 4.3

      Good to see that I do make an impact (eventually).

      You haven't specified a timescale so it is hard to assess how hard it would be apart from "For now..". But because what you have suggested all appears to use current rather than new systems this may be able to be achieved over a period of a few months and maybe even weeks – rather than years.

      There would be gaps in coverage of course. But that looks more targeted towards the purpose of need and economic stimulus, and it uses existing systems.

      If you remove the application process for superannuants would be better. Kind of pointless anyway because higher income superannuants aren’t that common and a large chunk would be would wind as being taxed out anyway. Putting the extra process in would probably be more expensive and time wasting than not doing it at all and suffering a minor wastage. There is a reason why the simple superanniant process has by far the lowest implementation cost of any government benefit programme.

      It also means that any change to systems can be planned and implemented on a more reasonable development cycle including looking for unpleasant side-effects before finding them out the hard way.

      I'm always surprised at just how hard it is for people to understanding how hard it is ti implement large new systems or to change older systems reliably.

      • Craig H 4.3.1

        Picking existing schemes seemed a lot more achievable than anything else. In terms of implementation time frames, IRD would have a month or two. Agree about Super, or it could just be rolled into the IETC/FTC plan.

        • lprent 4.3.1.1

          Picking existing schemes seemed a lot more achievable than anything else.

          It almost always is. Up until the point where the spaghetti code/systems get so convoluted that you have to take the plunge and rewrite and rebuild. That is horrendously expensive.

          From a systems point of view, the best way for that not to happen is to not make systems too complex on any one string of logic. That just makes them rigid and hard to change and adapt.

          So when adding things, if you add in the ‘cost’ of cleaning up the mess later on, it provides you a pretty good guide about what not to do. Adding a process to try to qualify the super is a good example.

          I had to untangle some horrendous complicated code systems that were built with the best of intentions and were just complex pits of stupidity by the time the project was ‘finished’. You can usually tell the style by the maintenance – the code updates made to them after the initial build are hesitant, small, and often unfinished.

  5. georgecom 5

    there are idle shiftless buggers in this country for whom work is a swear word. there are useless parents for whom kids are a source on income rather than a cherished child. there are old moaners who think the world owes them a living. there are rip off bstds who rort ACC. there are people who bludge and sponge off hard working tax payers.

    there are also greedy bstds who go to the ends of the earth to minimise and dodge paying their fair share of taxes. there are people who howl and moan about the idea of a capital gains tax being applied to their un-taxed wealth. there are miserable prcks who consistently state that the key to wage increases is higher productivity, whilst neglecting to state that wage increases have lagged behind productivity gains the past 30 years.

    the shiftless idle bludgers need a kick in the arse to be reminded society doesn't owe them a living and might be better off without them. the greedy money grubbing bludgers likewise need a kick in the arse and that society might be better off with their wealth being distributed.

  6. KJT 6

    Interesting, and rather frightening take on the USA's attitude to, Others.

    https://eand.co/everyones-dying-and-no-one-cares-d05d97f2b43f

    About the US attitude to society.

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