Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Bob each way

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  • WH,


    The problem is not that the private sector is unable to deliver social services, or that companies are not responsible citizens. In fact, much private provision of social services is entirely worthwhile, private schools and private health insurance being two prominent examples.

    However, problems can arise when governments, on ideological rather than pragmatic grounds, poorly re-model government provision along allegedly economic lines. If not carefully thought out, the cure can be worse than the disease.


    Since Nov 2006 • 797 posts Report

  • Tze Ming Mok,

    I never visited Mad Ave, but I increasingly get the impression that comparisons between it and McGehan Close are preposterous. The major reason for its namecheck seems to be that it is in Helen Clark's electorate.

    I only mentioned Mad Ave as part of a joke - I agree, they don't compare well at all, and any actual comparison does a real disservice to the proactive and positive community forces at work in Owairaka.

    But yep, as pointed out by dc_red, Owairaka may be indisputably cradled in the armpit of Mt Albert, but McGehan Close itself is part of the all-devouring Roskill electorate (we used to be a *borough*, knowwaddi'msayin?). Owairaka was the name of Helen Clark's electorate in the random re-drawing/gerrymander(?) of 1996 which 'disappeared' both Mt Albert and Mt Roskill, possibly just to annoy her and Phil Goff. So perhaps Key got a little confused in the attempt to find the rot at the heart of Red Territory, or maybe just got lost on the way to his South Auckland of the Mind.

    Ultimately though, Roskill & Mt Albert are the Red Belt for the same reasons as South Auckland is - because of lower middle and working class non white people looking out for their interests. Forgetting the ludicrous plays of the PR war, and the race to find the next 'worst street in the country', there's nothing misleading about residents pointing at a street in the neighbourhood and saying - 'well it's a bit crap here actually. Civilisation isn't collapsing or anything, but we could do better. Isn't that why we vote Labour?' Of course, I doubt they're so stupid as to think the National Party is going to offer them anything better (selling the backs of their babies heads for corporate sponsorship space to pay for their breakfast perhaps?).

    But hell, I've just seen I/S on norightturn defending the Labour Party's poverty figures against National, despite when the Social Report came out last year, him leaping on the same rise in the 'extreme poverty' figure that Key is weilding, and bashing Labour round the head with it (as did I in the SST). I'm actually fairly pleased with this week's 'work for dole'/'underclass' punts by the Maori Party and National, because at least it's bringing these issues to the fore for (if we're lucky) parties to compete over on policy points. Maybe it'll make Labour try harder. We can only hope.

    SarfBank, Lunnin' • Since Nov 2006 • 154 posts Report

  • Marcus Neiman,

    " Isn't that why we vote Labour?' Of course, I doubt they're so stupid as to think the National Party is going to offer them anything better (selling the backs of their babies heads for corporate sponsorship space to pay for their breakfast perhaps?)"

    Of course though the National Party is after the votes of "I can't give give you justice, but I can give you a hug" inclined of the middle class, who, as Bob Tuwiliger once noted, have guilty consciences that might occaisionally lead them to vote Democratic (read Labour), but who all other things being equal want a Republican/Nat to lower taxes, brutalise criminals, and generally rule over them like a king. The concerns and hopes of the "underclass" are entirely irrelevent in the proposition.

    Sydney • Since Feb 2007 • 107 posts Report

  • Russell Brown,

    But hell, I've just seen I/S on norightturn defending the Labour Party's poverty figures against National, despite when the Social Report came out last year, him leaping on the same rise in the 'extreme poverty' figure that Key is weilding, and bashing Labour round the head with it (as did I in the SST). I'm actually fairly pleased with this week's 'work for dole'/'underclass' punts by the Maori Party and National, because at least it's bringing these issues to the fore for (if we're lucky) parties to compete over on policy points. Maybe it'll make Labour try harder. We can only hope.

    I agree. Key identified a real problem that's manifest in a range of areas, including education, where our best students are amongst the best in the world, and our worst fail to an extent that's unacceptable.

    (I'm less exercised over the apparent boom in youth crime, although somewhat despairing that no journalist seems capable of connecting demographic shifts and changes in crime patterns. The youth crime wave was both predicted and predictable. There are more youth.)

    I just don't have much faith in the solutions advanced this week by either the Maori Party or John Key. Forcing vulnerable people to work for less than the minimum wage won't do it. And the idea that private charity and well-meaning businesses can do the heavy lifting of social agencies isn't much more than a slogan.

    One obvious component of a solution to the number of families in "extreme hardship" is to give people enough to live on. But Labour will never do that if it means offering National a political advantage, and National will just never do that.

    It's worth considering how horrible things would have become if Labour hadn't abolished market rents on public housing (the stats on the proportion of income going into housing costs are a genuine success story), and halted the unfortunate experiments in education policy (we tend to forget how many schools serving poor communities were basically on the brink at the end of the 90s). The employment statistics are for real too. My gut feeling is that the focus on primary health care will pay off too (despite what right-wing bloggers think, elective surgery waiting lists are not the only issue in public health).

    But there's an unpleasant problem with a remaining underclass that Labour is finding to be either intractable or politically unapproachable. If someone can really turn that around, I'd be very happy.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • Richard Bol,

    As if McGehan Close hasn't been portrayed in a worse enough light...

    Colin Espiner (__The Press__) is under the mistaken impression that postal deliveries to The Street Of Shame™ were briefly cancelled due to fears for the posties' safety:

    Key said he intended to visit McGehan Close, the street he highlighted in his speech where New Zealand Post briefly halted mail deliveries because of concern for the safety of posties.


    Um, the NZ Post farrago actually happened in Hamilton. And Key said it happened in Hamilton.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 32 posts Report

  • Richard Bol,

    Or maybe Key contradicted what was in his speech, and claimed that McGehan Close was the subject of a short period without postal deliveries.

    Judging by his placing of McGehan Close in South Auckland, accuracy isn't really that important to him.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 32 posts Report

  • Russell Brown,

    Um, the NZ Post farrago actually happened in Hamilton. And Key said it happened in Hamilton.

    That's really poor.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • Yamis,

    I can name a street just through the bush reserve backing onto our section in Massey which would certainly rival McGhehan Close. It's a nice wee breeding ground for 14 year old burglars. Since we have been here (2 years) our lawn mower was nicked, we have had them case underneath our house for whatever they could find, our neighbours have been robbed three times (the ones on the other side were robbed three times before we moved into the street), and one neighbour has caught and beaten up two sets of youths in the last 12 months who were cutting through our place to see what they could pinch. The primary school over the road also has it's swimming pool fence cut regularly along with the cover for it and of course the standard grafitti and smashed windows after most weekends.

    And we actually live in the good part of Massey!

    But I've had my campervan broken into literally alongside the walls of the Vatican City, so if it aint safe there where the hell is it safe? I guess god was too busy admiring the sistine chapel ceiling or something to cast them down with lightning bolts.

    Since Nov 2006 • 903 posts Report

  • Matt Jeffs,

    Somebody actually needs to point out to John Key, before he sets himself up as the true little kiwi battler, that growing up in a state house in New Zealand in the 60's, 70's and 80's wasn't out of the ordinary before someone had the bright idea of selling off the housing stock. John Key caring about the underclass in New Zealand is hillarious. Its was the social welfare slashing policies and anti trade union stance of the Nats during the 90's (employment contratcs act anyone?) that has given rise to the plethora of his fellow kiwis still struggling below the poverty line. Mind you reading the feedback to John Key's speech on Stuff it looks as though alot of New Zealanders can see through his 'tantastic' smile.

    UK - ex Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 36 posts Report

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    It strikes me that Nationals new found concern for our 'growing underclass' - another classic dogwhistle - and their suggestion that it's growth be curtailed is strikingly similar to Labours 'Closing the Gaps' policies from their first term, something National damned as 'social engineering' and fought tooth and nail when the Government tried to implement them.

    I also note that 'Closing the Gaps' is a significantly more inclusive less adversarial term than demonising some 'underclass'. It sounds as if Key is still taking advice from the same gaggle of losers than wrote Dr Brash's speeches.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report

  • dad4justice,

    I see a few people think that it is hilarious that John Key should care about a developing underclass population here in kiwiland. I suggest his support for community organisations backed by big business bucks makes simple sense to me. The present bureaucratic ideology seems to be failing miserably where children are concerned. For example, if we didn’t have a growing underclass why do we have such appalling child abuse statistic’s, surely this is a sign that all it not well in society, and that state funded social agencies cannot adequately address the issues? Balanced individuals who do not work within the limits of a political agenda can rectify surely rising crime levels and many of our social ills. Surely Mr Key’s proposal’s would be beneficial to society, as a growing underclass is a tragic reality in New Zealand..

    Since Jan 2007 • 50 posts Report

  • FletcherB,

    Merc said

    I think you'll find that the really big U.S. philanthropists are donating to avoid tax.

    Really? You dont think, that just maybe, they realise that after a certain level of $$$, when you own all the luxury goods/properties/art/hobby items that you can possibly use or want.... that having more $$ in the bank is pointless, so you might as well give it away?

    Once you have more money than you can possibly have a use for (I'm thinking Mr Gates, Buffet, etc.).... there is no personal "cost" in giving it away.... you've already got everything you aspire to... so presuming you are still earning/creating more wealth, you can either make your bank balance bigger to absolutely NILL effect.... or you can give it away.... which might:
    a) actually help people
    b) direct that help to where you see it being more worthwhile/deserving/effective
    c) make you feel better about yourself
    d) make others think better of yourself?

    There may be tax advantages, I'm not sure? But once you are uber-rich, theres not alot else even semi-sensible you can do but give it away, as far as I can see?

    I can see the tax advantage argument for the moderately to very rich... but for those mega-names, who want for absoluely nothing, I dont see it?

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 893 posts Report

  • merc,

    I don't know, I'm not that rich (in money terms), and posterity means nothing to me.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report

  • Joe Wylie,

    I see a few people think that it is hilarious that John Key should care about a developing underclass population here in kiwi[sic]land.

    No harm in having a giggle, but I tend to be more suspicious. The same people who are currently doing handstands around Key were behaving in exactly the same way only a few weeks back whenever McCully (or whoever) tugged Brash's chain. Brash, you'll recall, advocated institutionalising the underclass into the economy by having them turn up at post offices (post shops?) on a daily basis to take whatever work was offering, in return for subsistence wages. That or starve. A few years back Banksie proposed that the high proportion of Maori prison inmates be exploited to produce handicrafts for the souvenir market (Lada steering wheels, anyone?). Until Key actively repudiates these fruitloopier aspects of National's legacy, along with the disastrous experiments of the Shipley years (Jennygrad?), a healthy scepticism is justified.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report

  • Rob Stowell,

    I'm also inclined to give Key some benefit of the doubt- but what most are observing is that "Mr Key’s proposal’s" are so far very thin. Tipping one's "support for community organisations backed by big business bucks" implies that community organisations aren't backed (Labour HAS lost cred and allies here, but I don't think it's a crisis) and that somehow truckloads of big-business-bucks are awaiting Key's call to be off-loaded on the "underclass" (who will not spend a cent of it on P but sagely decide to send their children to university.) Hmm.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2120 posts Report

  • Riddley Walker,

    What a start it's been for National - not only has John Key discovered poor people, but his party has managed THREE FLIP-FLOPS IN ONE WEEK.

    First a turn-around on supporting a repeal of the seabed and foreshore act, then a change of heart on immediately abolishing the Maori seats, and now a call to abolish the Department of Corrections and have the Department of Justice subsume its role after being the very same party that separated Corrections from Justice in the first place.

    Actually make that FOUR if you count the marked contrast with Key's phobia last year of public housing in nice white rich people's areas like Hobsonville, and his newly discovered "best-mate of the poor" face he's put on this week.

    AKL • Since Feb 2007 • 890 posts Report

  • merc,

    Nailed. It's starting to look like the State House Done Well Poster Child (or Mayor Quimby if you prefer) has been set up. Just who is behind National that is so desperate to rule. Is this the return of those cavalier old robber barons, exiled to Blighty by evil tax laws and hankering for home...
    I shall be recalled they all mumble to each other round the chess board, (ref. The Autumn of the Patriarch, by GG Marquez).

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report

  • tussock,

    Key's not talking about using big business dollars, he's talking about giving taxpayer dollars to big business to provide social services in place of having all those "worthless bureaucrat's" doing it.

    That's right, he's going to privatise the welfare system. Along with the schools, the prisons, the hospitals, the roads, the state houses, the pension fund, and so on. And guess who'll be buying it all at bargain basement prices? John Key and his mates, who else.

    Since Nov 2006 • 611 posts Report

  • sagenz,

    addressing 2 of your points. Mad ave was a pit. I made some money from its demise so maybe I have a bias. It was very run down state housing surrounded by good middle class housing. But it makes economic sense to sell highly desirable chunks of land to developers for high end housing and to use that money to infill and provide more affordable housing. The govt made money by selling mad ave to a developer, buyers made money building nice houses on the sections and the government could spend the mad ave funds on providing infill housing in GI for a vastly larger number of people than lived in mad ave. Having a single state house on a section worth $1m+ is simply economic nonsense. why invest $1m+ on providing a state house for 1 family when that money can be better used by the same state agency to provide multiple houses for multiple families in an area with cheaper land values.

    For John Key to oppose putting state houses on prime coastal hobsonville land is simply being economically rationalist. there is no conflict there. It sounds like McGechan close might benefit from the same treatment as Mad ave. suck on that tze

    What I am finding mildly bemusing and amusing is the number of labour supporters finding all sorts of reasons to declare there is no underclass. Its there. It is the people who find it easier to nick your stuff than to buy their own. As far as New Zealand is concerned all poverty is relative. Which is why the official poverty measure is such a crock of shit.

    The idea of using business & community is to engage with people using sport and jobs with the state as an enabler. Rather than simply paying people money to sit at home and drink, smoke and watch tv and waste their lives. The difference between John Key and Closing the gaps is the fact race is left out of it. closing the gaps was a racist policy.

    uk • Since Nov 2006 • 128 posts Report

  • Riddley Walker,

    Tussock you are so harsh! I'm sure that lovely kind white gentleman in a suit (oops sorry, i noticed he had that happening untucked collared shirt look going on when he was hanging with his buddies the Poor People), knows some very good merchant bankers that will pay a good price for all those worthless institutions. After all, we should really be grateful they are willing to take such worthless institutions off our clueless non-merchant banking hands, what philanthropists they are to buy them. Thank goodness we were able to sell that worthless Telecom to John's mates for instance.

    Have you ever considered that it could never be in the economic interests of a private prison company to reform their inmates?

    Nevermind the fact that private companies typically have an event horizon of around 6 to 24 months, thus rendering them utterly disinterested in the long term outcomes of their education or health provision, the fruits of which are usually 20yrs plus down the track.

    Do we need to go over all the market failure arguments again? We will be of course if Lord Key succeeds in marching us back to the 80s. What was that catchy saying about being ignorant of history and therefore doomed to repeat it. You can of course rely on the corporate media to not remind us of yester-year's failures. Ho hum.
    Forward to the past.

    AKL • Since Feb 2007 • 890 posts Report

  • Riddley Walker,

    There is also economic rationalism in pepper-potting state housing so you don't end up with ghettos of alientated poor, who will then leave their ghettos and come through the windows of those nice white rich people living in their wealthy burbs purged of yucky poor people. More alienated poor means more property crime, people paying more insurance, more taxes going on law enforcement and corrections and justice, not to mention a reduced quality of life for all.

    AKL • Since Feb 2007 • 890 posts Report

  • Yamis,

    here, here Riddley.

    If we simply look at the value of the land and say "rich people live here near the beach on the big north facing sections.... and poor people live here miles from anywhere, facing south on top of your neighbours" then lets see what kind of social costs we pay later.

    In a couple of years I'm gonna move into the country, gonna eat a lot of beers.

    Since Nov 2006 • 903 posts Report

  • Yamis,

    Whoops, "hear, hear". Or is it "there, there"? No that's if I'm consoling them.

    Since Nov 2006 • 903 posts Report

  • Riddley Walker,

    I think it's "hair, there and everywhere"

    AKL • Since Feb 2007 • 890 posts Report

  • Matt Jeffs,

    As for John Key's up to date knowledge of lower socio economic areas of Auckland / Hamilton (delete as appropriate) . McGeghan Close had postal delieveries stopped due to various posties being chased by rotties and threatended by a couple of the locals with machette's. I know this as I was one of the posties that was delivering to this route at the time deliveries were stopped. Generally the locals of McGeghan Close are hardworking and, machettes aside, decent people. But that was 1991. Do we really want a bloke to be PM who can't locate his deprived areas on a map of the country he's suppossed to be running or draw on info that was produced in at least the same century. By the way we must thank John Key for pointing out that New Zealand has an underclass. Gosh without his clever multi millionaire insights how would we ever operate as a country. When John Key finally gets some better quality advisors around him he may want to pay a trip to parts of Sth Auckland that actually are still deprived areas. I'm sure there'll be plenty of locals who'll be more than happy to show him around.

    UK - ex Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 36 posts Report

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