Changing times but charity begins at home
Last month I expressed an opinion that people are no longer a priority with the Government.
I recently came across a comment from Paul Krugman that seems to back up my thoughts. He feels that in his country ( the United States) certainly, and maybe in ours as well, too many politicians ‘‘take positive glee in inflicting further suffering on the already miserable’’.
I hope that is not the case here, but you have to wonder.
Given the efforts of the Government to make life ever harder for those on low incomes, a further comment from Krugman appears to hit home.
‘‘To justify eliminating safety net programmes, Government rhetoric goes something like this: ‘You’re personally free to help the poor. But the Government has no right to take people’s money and force them to give it to the poor . . . It is, however, apparently perfectly OK to take people’s money and force them to give it to agribusinesses and the wealthy.’’
The safety net to which I could refer is the shortage of housing and the Government’s intention to sell off thousands of state houses in the name of increasing the social housing available.
This is particularly ironic given the number of our MPs who have recently been revealed as owning more than one house. Some of our elected representatives have quite a large investment in housing of one sort or another.
My first instinct is to be suspicious. The maintenance of state houses has not been great over the years – and this goes for governments of all stripes.
It could be seen to be convenient to sell off those houses that would take too much money to upgrade so they were no longer a health risk to the occupants. Or is that being too cynical?
The main question is: Does a Government have any responsibility to provide social housing? Well, for the past 117 years, New Zealand has had a social con- science, which looks like becoming eroded in our current climate of emphasis on profit, shareholders, chief executives’ salaries, dividends and other signs of prosperity, not the least of which is owning several properties.
The only criterion for success these days seems to be to make lots of money and let those who are not in a position to do this drop off the perch.
I imagine Richard John Seddon and Michael Joseph Savage, past proponents of social security, would be rolling around in their graves by now.
We may not be like Europe at the moment, having to cope with thousands of desperate refugees taking the risk of crossing the Mediterranean.
But we have more than enough of our own citizens desperate for somewhere to live in dignity and safety. Fast as things may be changing around us, charity still begins at home.
Last month, our members turned out in force and were treated to an excellent talk by Chris Ellis of Community Law.
This month, we have Frankie Manson, of the Health and Disability Commission Advocacy Service, coming to address us.
Are you aware of what the advocacy service does? Do you know your rights as regards treatment by the health service? Even if you do, you can bring with you someone who doesn’t. All welcome.