NZs new hobby – hating the poor

By   /   December 17, 2014  /   118 Comments

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How can you dismiss the hundreds of people clamouring at the doors of the City Mission? How ignorant, uneducated and stupid do you have to be to see the queue outside the City Mission and still insist that those families, desperate enough to stand there for hours on end to get a food parcel and hopefully an emergency food grant, are on some kind of benefit gravy train.


Last week people queued at the doors of the Auckland City Mission. They are people that are living without enough income to afford the basics let alone the extras we as a society have come to expect at Christmas. Extras like presents for the children and a feed on Christmas Day. Some media came and asked them questions. The people standing, waiting, were forthcoming. They told their stories simply. They didn’t have enough. They were hoping for more. Some had been queueing since 4am. They were there because they were in need.

Many appeared cheerful, some were resolute and then there would have been the ones who did not wish to be filmed at all. I couldn’t help but scan the faces for people I know. People I have met during the year while working at AAAP that I hope are doing okay. I don’t want to see familiar faces. I’m hoping that for some, their situations have improved, but for the others whose situations remain the same, I hope that they are in the queue.

That was last week, but I hear the City Mission is still busy. So are we. It is the week before Christmas and the Beneficiary Advocates at Auckland Action Against Poverty are being run off their collective feet. Yesterday there were four advocates working and none of them had time to chat to me about this blog.They were all busy dealing with real people grappling with how they are going to put more food on the table. More than just a bowl of potato salad. Potato salad is cheap. So is homemade pav. The proof of poverty is not in the pudding.

The proof of poverty is in the protein.

Let me be clear. I have not spoken to a single beneficiary who is waiting for the butcher to call, alerting them to the delivery of their free range, hand reared, organic turkey. When times get tough the more standard response is ‘ we’re just having a barbie this year.’

Everyone expects sausages at a barbie.

Last week as the people formed orderly lines and waited for hours at the City Mission for a food parcel, the OECD released a report. Their report indicated that high and growing inequality reduces economic growth. New Zealand got a special mention in the report because of our rising inequality. The OECD report echoes the findings of other reports. There was a study from Victoria University, there was the documentary by Nigel Latta which resulted in my first blog for this site. The blog was called Inequality Glosses Over Poverty. There was all the work by Max Rashbrooke in 2013.

Meanwhile at the City Mission, Diane Robertson, the CEO for as many years as I can remember, stated that the numbers this year were three times what they were last year. Diane said the numbers, the stories and the desperation was overwhelming. This is also what we at AAAP have encountered this year.

Both John Key and Bill English dismissed the OECD report. Key has quite a history of denying inequality. Following his election win he did however state he wanted to reduce child poverty. Hmm. Colour me fucking puzzled? Denying inequality, dismissing the findings of report after report and yet admitting there might be some child poverty. Obviously someone is wrong.

I do not believe it is the plethora of reports that are wrong anymore than I believe that either Diane Robertson or I are exaggerating or lying about the number of people in need.

It’s climate change all over again. No matter how much evidence, how many reports are issued from institutes and organisations our government pays to be a member of, when the facts don’t fit, suddenly they are dismissed. I guess it is easy to dismiss a report. It is only numbers and graphs and on paper.

How can you dismiss the hundreds of people clamouring at the doors of the City Mission? How ignorant, uneducated and stupid do you have to be to see the queue outside the City Mission and still insist that those families, desperate enough to stand there for hours on end to get a food parcel and hopefully an emergency food grant, are on some kind of benefit gravy train. Anyone with an iota of common sense knows you don’t put gravy on barbecued sausages.

Cameron Slater suggested that. He wrote a blog called Pimping the Poor. In it he derides the people queuing for food. It is offensive, it is ill informed and it is disgusting. Meanwhile John Key and Bill English insist the OECD are wrong. Inequality is not a problem and neither is poverty. Maybe Key and Slater send texts to each other about it.

Today at AAAP we talked about how long we would be closed. Several of the volunteers have decided to work through the holiday, keeping the doors closed and trying to clear files from October. Like the City Mission this year we were overwhelmed.

When I was watching Campbell Live I scanned the queue and I couldn’t help but wonder if I would see a familiar face. Like the guy who had been laid off from a Labour Hire company due to his hearing, who was stood down by WINZ without an income because he couldn’t get a wage slip. The companies payroll was managed from Australia. We eventually managed to assist him and he eventually got a Job Seeker benefit approved. He was lucky he was living with an Aunt and only paying $180 board. His benefit was for $207 per week.

Welcome to life on the gravy train.

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  • Published: 4 years ago on December 17, 2014
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  • Last Modified: December 17, 2014 @ 8:13 am
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  1. Odakyu-sen says:

    Wilde’s comment (19th Century England) is a little out of date

    If poverty is the result of inappropriate expenditure, and if the advice of “thrift” means “spend less inappropriately,” then the advice is valid.

    • countryboy says:

      Oscar Wilde is never out of date . And you @ Odakyu-sen can fuck off . Hopefully , and sooner rather than later , you and your deviant kind will be the ones out of date .

    • Odakyu-sen – No, poverty is usually the result of inappropriate income.

      That reality is probably harder for some to comprehend – especially those fortunate to be living comfortable lifestyles and earning good coin.

      • Kate Davis says:

        Yes careless spending of his $27 disposable income is the problem.

        • minnie says:

          Does his $180 board cover food & power and does he get an accommodation allowance on top!!!

          • downwithnats says:

            It can get boring eating carrots and baked beans eternally.

          • Anneleise Hall says:

            The reality is for that guy is that even if he is lucky enough that the board includes power phone and food (there is no accommodation supplement $207 is the basic allowance) he will have $27 pw for toothpaste, deodorant, razors, clothes, shoes, doctors, dentists, bus fares, constant fines fees and penalties you get when you can’t get places or pay on time, if he has children forget birthday/Xmas gifts – even cards postage, or a writing pad all cost money.
            You become socially isolated because you can’t afford travel of even a basic coffee in a cafe. Most people don’t like to turn up visiting empty handed too many times.
            For jobseeking forget newspapers, his board may not include internet so he needs to get to a library, so may need bus fare or a decent coat or shoes that don’t leak… Until you have had to face more than a few weeks of living like this you have no idea how depressing, stressful and demoralising it really is.

            And that just scratches the surface.

            Most beneficiaries have been consistent taxpayers who have fallen on hard times. And I mean real taxpayers – not the rich who rort the system loopholes.

            The vast majority of beneficiaries desperately want to work – and another hugely denied fact is many of our poor ARE WORKING but getting low wages or hours insufficient to meet basic needs and bills.
            Once you are in this cycle of scarcity and poverty it starts to create or exacerbate depression. If you don’t have developed and creative cooking skills it’s very hard to have a good diet, accommodation is luck of the draw. This creates more costs downstream through mental illness and health issues.
            The campaign to denigrate, invalidate, dehumanise and blame beneficiaries is one of our greatest shames as a nation, one of the others is to refuse to accept research, facts and evidence that creating situations where a huge percentage of our population is suffering needlessly due to a progression of expedient and egregious policies is harmful to all of us as a nation – as reported by the OECD.
            We need to stop these vitriolic and unfair attacks on some of our most marginalised and vulnerable citizens. Every human is precious – and in this climate don’t think it can’t happen to you. NZers need use their hearts, preferably followed by their brains.
            My thoughts on Cameron Slater are unprintable.

            • Mike says:

              Excellent post.

              It is bewildering to me that so many New Zealanders seeem to have been brainwashed by an habitual liar and his mates, into accepting that when some economic woe or bad financial situation occurs, it is quite acceptable and rational to lay the blame upon those who have the least influence on the economy and the least ability to defend themselves.

              I remember hearing someone say that John Key will be remembered as one of New Zealand’s greatest ever Prime Ministers and his legacy will be great. WTF!! His legacy?? I can’t think of one single outstanding (or even quite good) thing that Key has achieved for New Zealanders so far in 6 years as PM. Can anyone else?

              For me, John Key will hardly be remembered at all and certainly not for anything outstanding or new and game changing. For anyone to suggest he is one of our greatest PM’s is ridiculous.

              Even the last Labour government (who were hardly very hardcore left wing) under Helen Clarke introduced things like Kiwibank, Kiwisaver, The Cullen Fund, 4 weeks paid annual leave, the abolition of youth rates, WFF, etc,etc. What has this National government achieved or introduced for New Zealander’s? Oh yes, Tax cuts for the well off, not a single budget surplus in 6 years, an extra 70 or 80 billion in debt…why the fuck these idiots vote for him i just find bewildering.

      • Mike says:

        Am thinking you mean inadequate rather than inappropriate Frank. Regardless, I think it is more likely that inadequate income contributes to poverty and is the result of a broken system or a system that is designed to benefit a small percentage of the population rather than all of the population.

        Once poverty is created by the system it is allowed to continue to exist where it shouldn’t due to a small number of people with all of the money and all of the power refusing to allow the system to be changed and maintaining the status quo because it is better for them.

        Let’s say my entire wealth was $5,000 (I’m not even that wealthy…sigh) and someone said to me I’m going to take $4,500 off you and leave you with just $500 to your name, but by doing this world poverty will no longer exist, I can safely say i would joyfully write him a cheque for 4.5k on the spot, as would anybody, surely?

        Change the figures to someone worth 50 billion having 45 billion taken off them, leaving them with 5 billion to their name to end world poverty. They’d still be worth 5 billion and way richer than 99.99999% of the world’s population. surely 5 billion is enough to live quite comfortably on? In reality, 5 billion is no different to 50 billion in terms of your standard of living or ability to buy stuff, etc. Well, there are people in the world worth more than 50 billion.

        Yet poverty still exists.

        Or if any of us had a total wealth of just $5,000 and someone asked us to donate $25 which would virtually eradicate world poverty would we give up the $25?? (A rhetorical question, of course any of us would, it’s only a measly one half of just one percent of our wealth we wouldn’t even notice it gone.) I mean, any one of us would gladly give up say 0.5% (just one half of a tiny one percent) of our wealth if that would mean an end to world poverty.

        Ok. In reality, billionaires make up approx 0.000008% of the world’s population. That’s a pretty tiny fraction of a pretty tiny one percent. It would only take 0.5% or just one half of just one percent of their combined wealth to pretty much put an end to poverty on the entire planet. It would be the same for them (in reality this time) as it would be for any of us in the example where we would give up the $25 out of our $5,000. Because $25 to end world poverty….hell yeah!! And we’d still have $4,975 out of our $5,000!!

        Yet poverty still exists. So half of just 1% of their wealth is more important to them than ending world poverty.

        A further example shows us that a financial transaction tax on large volume transactions could end poverty tomorrow. We’re talking about not a 1% tax, which is pretty small, not even a 1 tenth of 1 percent tax. We’re talking a tax of just one one hundredth of 0.01 of the total.

        Yet those with all the money and all of the power are outraged at such a suggestion and refuse to implement changes such as this as it would affect profits. In fact they refuse to make any changes which might affect the status quo because the status quo is good for them as it let’s them keep all the money and all the power.

        Once you think more and more about these sorts of scenarios, you eventually always end up realising that it is impossible for the necessary changes to occur whilst the current system remains in place.

        You then travel further and further down the ever darkening path of no solutions until eventually, inevitably, you reach the final and only conclusion which is something like this:

        The wealthy few with all the power can exist and poverty can exist. Or, the wealthy few with all the power cannot exist and poverty cannot exist. Sounds confusing, let’s put it another way. Poverty will continue to exist unless the wealthy few with all of the power cease to exist. For there to be no more poverty, the wealthy few with all of the power must cease to exist.

        If you were to come to any other conclusion, (such as…. But that’s a bit extreme, what if the wealthy few with all of the power changed their way of thinking and deep down they really care about others and they really really do want to eliminate poverty…) you would be deluded.

    • Daniel Venema says:

      The time in which the quote was written is irrelevant if it is still relevant, which it is. You mindless fucking idiot.

    • Michael says:

      In nearly all cases, poverty is not the result of “inappropriate expenditure”. Instead, it is the result of systemic failings, in which too many people do not have an income necessary for them to purchase the necessities of life. As one of your premises is invalid, your conclusion is therefore false.

    • minnie says:

      Considering there were no benefits in 1891 definitely out of date as welfare is designed to provide food and shelter in tough times and not be an affluent career choice!!!

      • Norm says:

        Welfare as an ‘affluent career choice’ ? the mind boggles, did you read this blog post or not?

        • minnie says:

          Yep, not talking about what it is but what some are saying it should be!!! And wasnt too impressed by the lack of self responsibility by some of those interviewed in the city mission article, sorry but that is my opinion which I assume I’m allowed to have.

          • Kate Davis says:

            I can give example after example of budget, and I’m sure I can find cases of poor you consider more deserving. That won’t change the fact we have a growing number of poor.

          • Murray Smith says:

            Of course you’re allowed your opinion, but that fact alone doesn’t absolve it from being willfully ignorant, invalid and amoral. Opinions reveal who we are, so why not a valid identifier (your full name) that reveals who you really are? otherwise your apology can’t be either acceptable or accepted can it?

            • minnie says: