Aotearoa: A Post-Truth Utopia

Much has been said about the post-truth era in New Zealand politics.  Most of what has been said is accepting of this new ‘reality’.

I would sincerely like to question why this is.  However a recent dUMR Poll has reveals that 78% of Kiwis think that asking questions is dumb.  A further analysis of the findings indicate that the remaining 22% of Kiwis are most likely Jihadi Brides, misinformed anti-trade TPPA protesters, Homeless People, Benefit Fraudsters, and former InternetMANA agitators.

It seems only reasonable to conclude that asking questions in a post-truth era is in fact a tool of terrorism and a seditious act. Thank John we have five-eyes to keep a track on these people.

So in the interests of ‘National’ security lets dispense with troubling making questions and move on to the main course of facts and realities about New Zealand.

Housing Bubbles: This is a ridiculous and dangerous idea popular among a certain 28% of kiwis.  Minister of Taxi Rides Steven Joyce has done a lengthy and expensive investigation and discovered that housing is most likely to be made out of timber, bricks, mortar, and low grade Chinese steel.  Bubbles in fact, only factor into housing on those very rare super rich Grand Designs type developments, which none of you can afford anyway, so who cares.

Homeless People: A survey of Seven Sharp  viewers suggests that homeless people may in fact just be paid extras for that wannabe contender John Campbell.  This finding is further evidenced by the awkward reality that when the Salvation Army didn’t go out looking for homeless people they didn’t find any wanting help.  My own investigation has  ound that Sven and Ingrid seem quite happy in their very modern camper van.   Clearly this whole homeless ballyhoo is a left-wing conspiracy that no doubt has the universally despised truth terrorist Nicky Hagar behind it all.

Tax Havens: God of all things Tax, John Shoe-in is pretty sure that ‘Tax Havens’ is the wrong terminology preferring instead to reference a recent release by the Minister of Tourism.  The release suggests that New Zealand could potentially benefit by promoting itself as 100% Pure Tax Heaven.  This has been market tested and had an evidence based established.  Feedback gathered via Breakfast viewers indicated that right thinking kiwis believe that ‘heaven’ is a much nicer word than ‘haven’.

Inflation: Inflation is at an all time low, it is so low that you cant even limbo under it. Never mind that your rent, groceries, power, and breathing costs significantly more, these things are not part of inflation.   Minister of Positive Thinking Bill English explains that the negative gearing of downward trends in wages offset by record growth in the inequality sector will produce a meaningful dividend in the future social upheaval market. This will in turn translate into real and projected benefits of external wealth creation in the corporate friendly tax mitigation system upon which the future focused 100% Tax Heaven system will be based.

Labour-Greens: Recent  dUMR-TORi internal polling has emphatically concluded that Parnell residents took a dim view on potato peeling former union leaders cuddling up to a bunch of tree hugging dairy farm hating socialist hippies.  The same poll also unanimously concluded that National are doing a wonderful job given all the mess that last Labour Government left, although Helen might be okay for a job far away, like in New York, so long as she keeps saying the TPPA is awesome (which it is).

Child Poverty: Some people think that just because a kid misses lunch and goes bare foot they are poor.  However recent reports by the New Zealand Uninitiative questions if anybody has the right to label children who choose comfortable natural footwear and take a stand against obesity with a sensible diet choice.  Besides anyone who has watched those UNICEF ads on telly can tell you that ‘real poverty’ is something you go and visit overseas.

The Regions: Rumor has it that south of the Bombay Wall there is a group of wildlings ready to revolt against the more civilized folk living inside the Parnell Keep.  Valiant Ranger of the Key’s Watch Paula Bennett recently braved the lack of real koru club facilities on regional airlines and went to the outlying settlement of Napier.  Here brave Paula was delighted to discover that spirits were indeed high among the National faithful.  All who attended her public meeting on private property where indeed keen  to use the 90 day fire at will bill and the less than livable minimum wage to give some economic refuges a taste of personal responsibility and choice.

Media Bias: Leaving the most ridiculous claim to last, media bias has long been a rallying cry of truth terrorists plying their dangerous trade on the dark web of Twitter.  However a recent review of ‘Media Bias’ by the highly regarded Cosby-Slater-Texnor-Gower Think Tank has concluded that stories about Free-Trade Deals, Overseas Trips by Popular Prime Ministers, and soft questioning magazine style Talk Shows is what the public really wants.  Indeed a recent independent MediaJerks survey asked if listens would prefer ‘Hard Hitting Journalism’ or a ‘Unicorn on a endless Rainbow of Tax Cuts’.  It comes as little surprise that the results  confirmed that John Campbell is the last thing real Kiwis want.

So there you have it New Zealand, the facts are in and undisputed.  Not only are we entering a brave new era of Post Truth Politics, but indeed we may well be on the brink of a new Golden Age of She’ll Be Right Utopia.   Good on you New Zealand for consistently topping the OECD in Pretending.

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Minding Gaps & Inconvenient Truths: Poverty in NZ

Building on statistics showing the wealthiest 10% of Kiwis own 60% of the wealth compared with the poorest 40% owning only 3% political commentator Duncan Garner has offered an opinion on Poverty in New Zealand  (Read it here)

Now I have spent the vast majority of my life in poverty – a card carrying member of the Underclass.  Even a hard fought uni degree, post grad qualifications, and professional kudos couldn’t erode the scars and debts of my upbringing.  I still live in the old neighborhood, and my friends and family still struggle alongside me.  So lets see what Duncan has to say about us.

Duncan’s central theme is that John Key once campaigned on addressing poverty, and has failed to do so.  Duncan throws a cheeky side shot towards Andrew Little and Labour claiming they cant do it either, before laying down the challenge for Key to get back on track.

Duncan touches on the good things this Government is doing for the poor

Yes, this Government has done some good things for the poor: they’ve raised benefit levels, got more children into early childhood education and they are redesigning the broken Child, Youth and Family model.

From Friday, paid parental leave went up by $10 a week,  and there’s more free healthcare for children.

What Duncan fails to note is that the benefit levels were in fact intentionally set below the levels needed to survive by a former National Government as an incentive to force people into work (that wasn’t there).  So in fact the benefit increase is just addressing a great wrong done 20 years prior at a rate that makes no material difference at all.

The increase in Early Childhood Education is good, but again it’s only old idea that is centered on that past philosophy to push lazy parents into work.

Increasing paid parental leave is a farce given Mr English’s recent poorly informed veto of a more substantial and meaningful increase.

Claiming free health care for children as a bonus is extremely concerning, shouldn’t healthcare access for children be a given right instead of something to politically crow about?

And lastly the reference to Child Youth and Family reforms as helping the poor runs in complete contrast to the EAP report that barely mentions poverty at all.

Missing is the refusal by that current Government to support a living wage, refusal  to accept that the 90 day bill has created work insecurity, and refusal to understand that falling benefits numbers does not connect to workforce engagement.

Duncan is right when he mentions the ‘cherry picking’ of stats, but lets not translate that into a cherry picking of reported facts.

To his credit Duncan does point out what we can all see, the growing visibility of extreme poverty in the streets,  A quick head count of the homeless people in the streets that Duncan frequents speaks volumes.  As does the reality that social housing in New Zealand is utterly unable to meet the growing need.

Less helpful is the ethnic break down on inequality.  I do get that in the big picture the numbers might fall this way, but take a wander through the poorest neighborhoods and you will find a cross section of all demographics.  Up north the loading is strongly geared towards an over-representation of Maori/Pacific, but head into the poorest parts of the South, and you will find a huge number of Pakeha living in utter hardship.  It is an inconvenient truth that points out how social commentary creates myths about poverty.

Social Myths exist to provide a rationale that is more palatable that the truth.  So what is the truth about Poverty in New Zealand?

Duncan unwittingly drops us a large clue to this

They’re basically living in poverty, hand-to-mouth, week-to-week – if they’re lucky. They don’t have assets.

So what did we hear from the Government? Concern? Worry?

Not really. They agreed with it – in a dismissive and slightly argumentative tone. So what? Nothing we can do about it.

Nothing to see here, it’s the same trend as in the last 20-30 years said Prime Minister John Key and his right hand man, Bill English. These figures don’t fit the narrative – so they’ve been dismissed as meaningless.

The political philosophy of Neoliberalism, in various guises has dominated the political values of mainstream New Zealand for the last 30 years.

Time to take a sit down New Zealand, I am about to give you some very difficult news, both National, and Labour are neoliberal political machines. Both Labour and National believe in market economics, individual responsibility, and work will set you free solutions to poverty.  And both Labour and National have utterly failed to address growing inequality in New Zealand, indeed both have actively supported the conditions for it to thrive.

Duncan posed an interesting question on the left-right politics of poverty.

So, if so many own so little why can’t the Left get these people out to vote. The opposition needs to connect with these people. But they’ve failed to. They offer not much or Little (Andrew) that inspires them to vote.

The answer is stunningly simple, because Labour and Little aren’t the left.  Labour hasn’t been politically left since the days of Kirk and Rowling.  Lange and the chardonnay socialists of  1984 saw to that, and no-one, not even Angry Andy has shown any serious interest in returning to the roots.

The only difference between Labour and National is where the wealth redistribution will come from.  National are strongly aligned to trickle down, Labour to middle out.  Both systems are inherently neoliberal, and both are more rhetoric than reality.

The improvised people of New Zealand know this.  Labour has been no friend to those in hardship, it has played the same ‘you failed’ ‘you made bad choices’ bullshit neoliberal card.  Why would we vote for them?  Indeed why would we vote for any of them? There is simple not any political voice for us in New Zealand.

There is no Sanders or Corbyn in New Zealand, nor is there likely to be one.  The core values of New Zealand prevent such a rise.  The majority of Kiwis do now believe that poverty is caused by individual failure and not by systemic conditions.   The majority of Kiwis are not focused enough to figure out that if you profit someone loses.   The majority of Kiwis are not honest enough to accept that the real lack of individual responsibility might well be them. And sadly the majority of Kiwis are doing okay thank you very much, so stuff the other guy, it must be his fault.

Look we may well see a shift from National to Labour-Greens in 2017, but it wont mean much for those in poverty.  It is just the shuffling of feet in the political middle, nothing more than a corporate re-branding.   It will not be the revolution that Duncan ponders about.

These facts this week are a wake-up call. These people can’t stay poor and silent forever. What does the revolution look like? What is the knock-on effect?

That revolution Duncan is already here, we aren’t silent, we aren’t inactive.  There is a reason why John Key hides behind police lines.  There is a reason why security guards protect government departments, There is a reason why my neighborhood looks out for it’s own and doesn’t call 111.  There is a reason why people drive instead of walking through the neighborhoods.  The revolution is characterized by separation, disengagement, and a brutal rage that is too often misplaced.

There is a saying about the underclass, ‘desperate people do desperate things, and desperate things are always ugly things’.

It is a tragedy 30 years in the making, and no one weeps more than I.  It shouldn’t be this way, but it is.  The inconvenient truth is Poverty is not about the Poor, it is about decisions made by others.   The inconvenient truth is those decision haven’t be good ones and the consequences are becoming harder and harder to deny.