Green response on poverty politics

Stuff have reported on yesterdays post on Green Party politics of poverty.

Greens say funding ploy is ‘Obama-style’

The Greens have been accused of using child poverty to mislead people into donating to them.

But a spokesman for New Zealand’s third-largest party said they were simply adopting fundraising techniques used by the likes of United States President Barack Obama.

A spokesman for the Greens said there was nothing suspect in the request for donations.

All donations received would go towards the party’s campaign to end child poverty.

“Ending child poverty requires political action. Our campaign is about getting rid of the political causes of poverty,” he said.

“Our fundraising appeals are consistent with recent developments in email fundraising. Many people now prefer to fund specific campaigns rather than parties.”

Mr Obama’s campaign team has employed similar tactics in the US presidential campaign, including asking for donations to fund a website dedicated to rebutting political attacks on the him.

The donations do not necessarily go directly to that cause but rather into the wider campaign fund.

Obviously the Green Party can adopt United States political techniques if they wish. It could be seen as smart and slick politics.

But I’m still uneasy about creating a major political campaign around depicting New Zealand as having a major poverty problem, as the Green email repeated:

Child poverty in New Zealand has 270,000 young faces.

That’s the official figure of those growing up in poverty. It’s a quarter of our nation’s children.

Where does that ‘official figure’ come from? Is it anything more than a statistical measure?

Everyone knows that what has been labeled as ‘poverty’ in New Zealand is far different to poverty in places like India and Africa. And it’s far different to historical poverty in New Zealand, for example during the 1930s great depression, and prior to that before social welfare existed.

“There’s no doubt that many people and families in New Zealand really struggle on meagre incomes or benefits. But depicting it as widespread poverty – “a quarter of our nation’s children” – makes it easy to dismiss as political posturing and overselling of a problem.

The email

The email sent out by Metiria Turei makes it clear and donations will go towards their political campaign, so theirs nothing deceitful about it if you read what the Greens are saying.

But most fundraising for poverty (or at least a proportion of it) goes directly to helping people in poverty – usually overseas in countries where there is a much morer serious degree of poverty.

The Green response

All donations received would go towards the party’s campaign to end child poverty.

Using the Green measure of poverty – a statistical measure – it will be impossible to ‘to end child poverty’. And statistics aside it is impossible to end all hardship and financial hardship.

Ending poverty or promoting socialism?

I wonder how much the real Green aim is equalising incomes. Socialism in practice elsewhere in the world has proven to be a failure at eliminating poverty – it has been more successful at equalising hardship. Except for the ruling elite.

Acknowledged problem

We do have a significant problem with too many people living in real hardship. This has many negative effects in health, education and crime.

The causes of the problems are many and varied. Giving everyone more government handouts won’t solve these problems.

Targeted solutions

The best way to deal with issues like income disparity and financial hardship is to indentify and target the real issues.

And these issues (and the best solutions) vary greatly in different parts of the country. We need to look more for local solutions to local problems – rural Northland is very different to urban South Auckland, and both are different to South Dunedin.

Party politic campaigns to increase handouts won’t address these effectively and affordably.


  1. Well done Pete; to get an explanation out of the Greens is excellent, and we all know that explaining is losing.

  2. Sam

     /  October 26, 2012

    I think its a bit weak to slam the Greens for the money their raising not actually going to impoverished kids. I mean, they aren’t KidsCan or World Vision, they don’t pretend that their goals and primary focus is hands-on direct action (even though they do a little bit of that anyway). They are a political party, and their supporters know that the money they get is spent on policy, campaigns, politics. They will be spending lots of money on their child poverty campaign, and have asked followers to help fund it, to make it more successful and ultimately give impoverished kids a louder voice in parliament.
    And come on, Luxembourg income study guys. Extended welfare basically always reduces poverty.

  1. Greens advocate US style funding | Kiwiblog