Deep thought vs Deep prejudice





This letter to the editor appeared in The Listener, on 27 September, and caught my attention;


letter to editor - the listener - Peter Dawson - child poverty - 27 september 2014


Mr Dawson wrote in response to one of those typically unthinking comments which  condemned the poor for their “unbridled, reckless breeding“. The previous letter writer, a Mr Smith,  parrotted the usual prejudice,

TDB Recommends

For too long, family numbers have blown out of control, because the state, funded by people who took a responsible attitude towards family numbers, has been there to pick up the tab, and this has bred a culture of entitlement

The problem with people like Mr Smith is that no thinking is required when making such puerile statements. He just repeats what he’s heard from elsewhere.

It’s worthwhile recalling that before the Global Financial Crisis – caused by well-educated, white old men (and predominantly, they are usually always White Old Men) – unemployment in New Zealand in  the September 2007 Quarter stood at 3.5% – or around  79,000 people.

By 2012, that had rocketed to 7.3% – or 173,000 of our fellow New Zealanders.


That’s 95,000 men and women who went from wage and salary earners – to the “lifestyle choice of luxury living on unemployment” .

Even with unemployment currently at 5.6%, there are still 137,000 people unemployed – 58,000 more than seven years ago. Factor in a growing problem of under-employment, and it becomes apparent very quickly why we have growing child poverty in this country. Especially when the definition of being ’employed’ is working only one hour  a week (or more), whether paid or un-paid.

When public or media attention is focused on high unemployment and poverty and government policies – the causation of   these problems is slated home to the GFC.

But taken in isolation, when the focus is on families suffering the effects of unemployment and poverty – the problem is slated home to “individual responsibility”.

The ignorance of people like Mr Smith is a kind of self-inflicted, Orwellian, double-think. No brain-power required.

By blaming individuals, and pointing to a so-called lack of ‘personal responsibility for indulging in irresponsible sexual activity’, Mr Smith is saved from the task of having to think through the issues. (Or else he’s just jealous he’s not ‘gettin’ some action‘, as our American cuzzies phrase it so eloquently in ghetto/under-class idiom?)

The next time Mr Smith or one of his clones parrots the same preconceived prejudice, they should be posed the question; what do we do with the children of workers who were in work, but now aren’t?

Do we;

Option A: Adopt the Eastern European gangster method and sell them into sexual slavery?

Option B: Adopt the Asian method, and chain them to sewing machines in sweat-shops, churning out Nikes and trendy t-shirts bearing witty  social-justice slogans? for Western consumers?

Option C: Or just go with the ISIS technique of mass extermination?

Once we sort out that little “issue” (because actually calling these things problems then demands solutions – an ‘issue’ only requires a cuppa tea and a chat), we can turn our attention to more pressing matters, according to our esteemed Dear Leader;




Damn. Which one?

Maybe we should ask Mr Smith. Perhaps it’s something he has thought deeply about?





The Listener: Letters to Editor 20 September 2014

Statistics NZ: Household Labour Force Survey: September 2007 quarter

MoBIE/Dept of Labour: Labour Market Reports – Employment and Unemployment – March 2008 Quarter

NZ Herald: Unemployment up to 7.3pc – a 13 year high

Reserve Bank NZ: Employment

Statistics NZ: Labour market statistics for the June 2014 quarter  –  Media Release

Statistics NZ: Household Labour Force Survey – Definitions

Statistics NZ: Introducing new measures of underemployment

Irregular Times:  Celebrate Labor Day Without Outsourced Sweatshop T-Shirts – wear a sweatshop-free shirt instead

Fairfax media: Key moves for poll on change to flag





if you work one hour a week

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes



= fs =


  1. Thank you for such a thoughtful and informative article. I didn’t know the employment definition was so narrow! I wonder what the real statistics are? The unemployed partner of an employed person is another group that slips through the net. What is really going on ‘out there?’

  2. Further to the above comments, if I, as a retired person worked once, 3 hours in a one off job for 1 afternoon, then I am counted as working, in those statistics. This was a situation I was in while being part of the Household Labour Force survey. The one off ‘job’ was acting as an exam supervisor, and was not a job I was looking for. I did it as a service to the person sitting the exam, and was paid something like $50 for the job.

  3. When I see a pacific family with a number of children living in a van I despair.
    I got to thinking why DO they have so many children they cant afford,it makes no sense, the children are here now ,we cant send them back, and its really not the childrens fault.
    Surely the families cant expect to come to NZ and be taken care of by taxpayers who don’t have a lot themselves and have just one or2 children.
    I believe in helping those in need but they have to take some responsibility themselves, especially with being employed means casual labour and no guarantee of income.We are under the yoke with nat government,things arnt going to improve,in fact it seems it will get a lot worse.
    So men with large families need to get the idea of not having anymore,the welfare pot is drying up , So take responsibility and not rely on everyone else to support them.
    Every child born has the right to a decent life ,being one of six or seven degrades their chances, and sometimes puts them into poverty.

    Maybe they would be better off going back to their islands where the village helps take care of the children, they have sunshine and a more laid back lifestyle, Nz is no longer paradise for them .

Comments are closed.