Out of touch with poverty

Kapi-Mana News - - CONVERSATIONS - GRACE TAY­LOR Lin­den SALA NIMAROTA Can­nons Creek GORDON CAMP­BELL Talk­ing Pol­i­tics

The houses on the hill should have been left as bush to catch the sed­i­ment.

A fu­ture Maori leg­end in schools will prob­a­bly say: ‘‘Porirua Har­bour dis­ap­peared be­cause the for­est was destroyed.’’

The sed­i­ment smells be­cause the sea is an­gry about this and wants the hu­man race to lis­ten.

Nick Leggett, can you do this be­fore you exit?

I hear Maori would like this dredged. Well I would say Maori know and un­der­stand the sea.


This year’s Porirua lo­cal body elec­tions are not too far away, but there has to be some clarity here.

I want to be cer­tain when I am vot­ing for eastern ward can­di­dates that they are ac­tu­ally liv­ing in the Porirua East area and not out­side the bound­ary.

For ex­am­ple, there is an eastern ward candidate liv­ing in Whitby. Is that the Porirua East area?

I will be vot­ing, but this time I will only vote for Eastern Ward Can­di­dates if they ac­tu­ally live in the area and are out there in the face of the com­mu­nity get­ting things done.

That is what they are paid to do – not to sit on their bot­toms do­ing noth­ing at all.

To vote or not to vote that is the ques­tion.

Some peo­ple have ben­e­fited from the eco­nomic poli­cies in vogue for the past 30 years, yet many have not. World­wide, the anger felt by those left be­hind is now find­ing po­lit­i­cal ex­pres­sion in open hos­til­ity to mi­grants, widely seen as the cause of job in­se­cu­rity and hous­ing short­ages, and against the in­sti­tu­tions of gov­ern­ment.

That anger drove the Brexit vote in Bri­tain, and it mo­ti­vates Don­ald Trump’s sup­port­ers in the United States. As au­to­ma­tion scythes its way through white col­lar jobs, this pool of the ag­grieved is likely to ex­pand.

More peo­ple face the prospect of flat or de­clin­ing wages in the short-term, and part-time or no­fu­ture jobs on in­di­vid­u­alised con­tracts. That prospect remains only a mar­ginal part, at best, of this coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal dis­course.

In Par­lia­ment and on RNZ last week, Fi­nance Min­is­ter Bill English gave the im­pres­sion of some­one still liv­ing in the 1950s, within a Nor­man Rock­well paint­ing.

In his world­view, hard work is still re­warded with up­ward mo­bil­ity, and those who want to get ahead, can and will do so. For him, the anx­i­ety about down­ward mo­bil­ity and the so­cially dys­func­tional lev­els of in­come in­equal­ity sim­ply does not ex­ist.

Fur­ther­more, English in­ti­mated, if any­one did hap­pen to get in trou­ble, why, So­cial Wel­fare could al­ways be counted on to lend a cheery hand up, as an­nual in­creases in the min­i­mum wage rolled in and put ex­tra money in the kitty.

Oh yes, there was the lit­tle mat­ter of peo­ple sleep­ing in cars. That, English added, was not a fault of cen­tral gov­ern­ment, but of poor lo­cal plan­ning. Noth­ing that bet­ter zon­ing rules couldn’t fix. One had to ask: is this what English re­ally be­lieves?

Or are his re­as­sur­ing mes­sages be­ing de­lib­er­ately tar­geted at seg­ments of the vot­ing pub­lic that have had no di­rect ex­pe­ri­ence what­so­ever of the life-blight­ing na­ture of poverty?

To be fair, there has been a smat­ter­ing of po­lit­i­cal de­bate this year about the fu­ture shape of work. Ideas like the Univer­sal Ba­sic In­come have flaws, yet they are a recog­ni­tion that the work­place will not be a sus­tain­able source of in­come for a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of peo­ple for much longer.

Plainly, English and his Cabi­net col­leagues have yet to get up to speed on that is­sue – and just as ob­vi­ously, they aren’t plan­ning for it.

Mean­while, rather than of­fer­ing a hand-up to the needy, the Gov­ern­ment has been en­gaged

‘‘For him, the anx­i­ety about down­ward mo­bil­ity and the so­cially dys­func­tional lev­els of in­come in­equal­ity sim­ply does not ex­ist.’’

in a re­form process over the past five years that has proved to be very suc­cess­ful at mak­ing wel­fare sup­port harder to ac­cess.

Look, English told RNZ, think how much more hope­ful things are here than in Aus­tralia or the United States. Even as po­lit­i­cal rhetoric, this was thread­bare stuff. To all in­tents, it was a vari­a­tion of the old parental say­ing: eat your veg­eta­bles kids, be­cause peo­ple are starv­ing in In­dia.

Sim­i­larly, we should ap­par­ently all be grate­ful that for now, most of us don’t yet need to be work­ing two or three jobs in or­der to pay the rent, and put food on the ta­ble.

English can still see hope glim­mer­ing on the hori­zon. And for those that don’t – that’s es­sen­tially their prob­lem, not his.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.