The poverty campaign continees today in the Herald: Lizzie Marvelly: The only debate is what to do about child poverty. Who is Lizzie Marvelly?
One of the best things to do about ‘poverty’ in New Zealand is to stop calling it poverty.
There are serious issues involving deprivation, hardship, income and social inequities.
But in trying to frame it as poverty, in particular child poverty, campaigners have alienated people that would otherwise be more than happy to see real problems dealt with better by the Government.
Anti-poverty campaigners have overstated their case by using a term that is widely seen as inappropriate in New Zealand. They keep using a Godwin equivalent term and fail to see that it is counter-productive to their cause.
Poverty isn’t generally associated with the Kiwi childhood.
She’s right, and that’s the problem with trying to address it.
I… wonder whether the people asserting that poverty isn’t an issue in New Zealand have ever left the comfortable bounds of their own privileged neighbourhoods. I wonder whether they realise just how ignorant they are.
Marvelly is the one who is ignorant, of the problem she is a part of. Most people realise there are social and income and would like to see more done about them.
But they don’t like being preached ‘poverty’ and they are hate being guilted by those who are promoting a misguided agenda.
What is poverty? It’s a question that’s been given a considerable amount of airtime. While a number of thresholds and frameworks have been suggested, for a certain group of people, none will ever be good enough, for if we accept the validity of a measure we are then duty bound to accept what it is telling us.
That sounds like nonsense.
In a country where an unacceptable number of children live below the much-debated poverty line, we are becoming accustomed to hearing the lives of Kiwi kids and their families being thrown around as political hot potatoes.
While we can argue about poverty, its definition, origins, and how it is conceptualised until we’re blue in the face, such meaningless politicking does nothing to show people the reality of poverty.
But the reality of ‘poverty’ in New Zealand is that it is a term that is counter productive to addressing real problems.
The idea that people living in poverty are somehow to blame for their fate is attractive if one wants to absolve oneself from any sense of responsibility, but it is a notion that I find deeply sad.
I find it sad that Marvelly blasts anyone who is repelled by her own blame game.
When did we become so hardened and self-centred that we began to believe that those poorer than us deserve their suffering? When did we become so divorced from our own communities that we stopped caring about the families around us?
She is making things up about anyone who won’t buy into her narrative. This is not going to win over any support. It alienates people who care but don’t like being abused.
Our political parties found that they could shelve their disparate ideologies to sort out superannuation … why can’t they show our youngest and most vulnerable citizens the same level of care?
Mravelly must have missed all the party arguments over how to deal with the escalating cost of superannuation over many years.
The wellbeing of our children should never be up for political debate.Nor should we feel disempowered.
The wellbeing of our children is our our responsibility – ‘our’ meaning parents and wider families.
Does “should never be up for political debate” mean that parents and families should be able to ask for and get whatever they want from the Government without any debate?
What the heck does ‘feel disempowered’ mean?
There are so many things we could do to make the lives of Kiwi kids better: feeding kids in school, bringing back a means-tested child benefit like the one scrapped in the “mother of all budgets”, requiring a warrant of fitness for rental properties to prevent children growing up in cold, damp, leaky houses, and simply helping out in our neighbourhoods.
The first step, however, is for us to look out into our communities and really see other people, to realise that even in the most privileged areas, poverty is just five minutes down the road. It’s not a conspiracy. It’s real.
The first step is to drop the ‘poverty’ framing. It repels rather than attracts support.
The second step is to stop guilting and blaming everyone who doesn’t accept the framing of people like Marvelly.
And then we need identify issues and problems intelligently and responsibly, and consider what might be the most effective way of dealing with them with limited and competing resources.