Roughan's willful ignorance | The Jackal

13 Oct 2012

Roughan's willful ignorance

Toady, the NZ Herald reported:

Every time I read a report on poverty in New Zealand I wonder whether I'm living in the same country. Do those who are hammering our social conscience with "child poverty" at the moment know anybody in the statistics they study?

There are none so blind as those who choose not to see.

The problem with rich right-wingers is they often live in a different world to the rest of us. However it's not just their blinkered existence that causes them to not see the effects of poverty on a large proportion of the population.

New Zealand has unfortunately structured its society so that areas are designated to the wealthy or the poor, and financial segregation is a fundamental tool the right-wing use in their class warfare system. In fact the government, councils and landlords actively work to remove poor people from rich areas... That's one of the main reasons the rich do not see the poor.

Places that can be considered ghettos like Otara, parts of Porirua and Kawerau are where you will see real impoverishment. These areas are more often than not over-represented in negative statistics such as ill health, crime and suicide. The places where people like John Roughan might frequent such as Remuera, Takapuna and Queenstown will have very little signs of poverty.

Not all of them will have supportive grandparents and wider families. How many? Where are they? Can Whanau Ora help them? I've looked in vain for answers in the experts' report and some of its working papers.

There are approximately 40,000 children who are considered to be at high risk, meaning they likely don't have adequate support from their extended families. They mostly live in poorer areas of the country, which is data available from the Ministry of Health. Despite the predominantly negative media coverage the scheme receives, Whānau Ora can help in some circumstances. This is all readily available information that the dinosaur Roughan should be able to access.

They are more interested in statistical abstractions and blanket solutions such as paying a benefit for young children to all parents, rich or poor, increases in family tax allowances and free meals in low decile schools.

John Key, who was raised by a sole parent, dismissed the free lunch this week. He doesn't believe all those children need one. He would sooner leave it to the schools to decide whether food is really the best use of their decile funds.

So schools should spend their education budgets on feeding kids? That will mean they have less money to spend educating their students... It's therefore not a solution.

We all know families that get by on existing benefits. If some can do it, why not all? If the experts would face that question they could do the children some good.

You don't need to be an expert to know that people's expenses are different because of varying circumstances. If people are unable to meet their costs to ensure they're living adequately, the government should meet the shortfall. The current government is not and this leads to increased stress in peoples lives due to financial hardship. This stress can be exhibited in many negative ways, and again this is where statistics can be helpful.

Roughan's feigned ignorance in order to allow inequality to flourish in a country that produces much more than it needs is completely unacceptable!  Pretending to be ignorant of the poverty problem isn't going to make it go away. Only through effective and targeted policy that ensures all New Zealanders have quality of life will the government ensure a decline in the amount of impoverishment that is plaguing many Kiwi families.

National and their media lapdogs are unfortunately using their denial that poverty exists as an excuse to not adress the problem, when by all other accounts child poverty is a widespread and growing issue for New Zealand. In this way, ignorance is most definitely not bliss for those caught up in the poverty trap.

In my opinion, Roughan's craven propaganda is entirely unjustifiable! Ignorance is simply no excuse for failing to act in the best interest of all Kiwis, especially our children. Only through a more equal society will New Zealand reach its full potential... Any political party that's not trying to achieve that shouldn't be in government, and their propagandists shouldn't be in print.