Wednesday, 26 July 2017

The “Majestic Equality” Of The Law – And Its Challengers.

The Challenger Challenged: What has been so astonishing about the reaction to Metiria Turei's admission that she lied to Social Welfare is just how few New Zealanders identify with Jean Valjean, the hero of Les Miserables, and how many subscribe to the punitive instincts of his relentless pursuer, Inspector Javert. Over the past 30 years, for a significant number of Kiwis, the definition of "a fair go" has changed dramatically - and not for the better!
 
IN JUST SIXTY DAYS New Zealanders will choose a government. All elections are, to a greater or lesser extent, an exercise in collective self-definition. Revealed in each ballot box is the number of electors who use their votes as a tool, a shield, and a weapon. If the outpouring of outrage against Metiria Turei this past week is any guide, then the percentage of electors willing to wield their votes as weapons will not be insignificant.
 
In survey after survey, the value identified by New Zealanders as most reflective of their core identity is the affirmation that every Kiwi is entitled to “a fair go”. But, if the public reaction to Ms Turei’s confession that she lied to the social welfare authorities, rather than see her child go hungry, is any indication, then “a fair go” means different things to different people.
 
Clearly, a large number of Kiwis believe that “fairness” means accepting that the obligation to respect and obey the laws of the land is both universal and inescapable. In the eyes of these citizens, it is grossly unfair for an individual to derive a benefit from breaking The Law when her fellow citizens, by upholding it, place themselves (and their loved ones’) at a disadvantage. To these people, the Greens’ co-leader is guilty of “stealing” from them, and deserves to be punished. Come 23 September, many of them will use their votes as a lash.
 
The problem with this idea of fairness is that it separates The Law from its economic, social and political context. Like the Ten Commandments handed down to Moses on Mt Sinai, this approach to The Law has nothing to do with the need – or the greed – of humankind. Those who subscribe to this notion of legal obligation are simply incapable of accepting that a nation’s ever-changing laws are much more likely to reflect the needs of its dominant classes than the immutable insights of a mountain-dwelling God.
 
The French writer, Anatole France (1844-1924) summed up the absurdity of this “The Law is The Law” position in his famous quip: “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.” And, he might have added: to fail to acquaint the welfare authorities of any material change in their domestic circumstances vis-à-vis the rent!
 
Absent from the vicious condemnation heaped upon Ms Turei by these partisans of the Law’s “majestic equality”, is any attempt to locate her law-breaking in its historical context. That the right-wing government of the day had made it a matter of official policy to “incentivise” the poor out of welfare and into work by reducing their income by 25 percent, or, in Ms Turei’s own words, to “use poverty as a weapon against its own people”, is simply ignored.
 
That the law could be used by the wealthy against the poor was certainly not ignored by the people who fled from Great Britain to New Zealand in the Nineteenth Century. Sir John McKenzie, who as Lands Minister in the first Liberal Government, broke up the estates of the great run-holders of the South Island, had seen the way the law had driven thousands of Scottish crofters from their homes to make way for the lairds’ sheep. His determination to turn the tables, by using the law on behalf of the many against the few, caused him not a moment’s embarrassment.
 
Neither was the first Labour Government the least bit embarrassed to require the then Governor-General, George Vere Arundel Monckton-Arundell, 8th Viscount Galway GCMG, DSO, OBE, to swear-in a Cabinet fairly bristling with law-breakers (including the future Prime Minister, Peter Fraser). Nor did the Labour Leader, Mickey Savage, think it in any “inappropriate” to put a former guest of His Majesty – the erstwhile “young offender” John A. Lee – in charge of a programme to correct the two great afflictions of which he had the most direct personal experience: rack-renting landlords and homelessness.
 
Until relatively recently, this was the historical context out of which most New Zealanders drew their notion of what it meant to give people “a fair go”. It did not signal a deification of The Law, but an understanding that the statutes written by politicians reflect the needs and interests of those who put them into office. (As well as of those who could, if necessary, remove them!)
 
Middle Class people harbour few illusions about the class nature of legislation. It’s why so many of them regularly and happily attempt to thwart the IRD in its redistributive mission. It also explains why so many of them are expressing outrage: not only at Ms Turei’s challenging confession; but also at her declared determination to lift the legal consequences of weaponised ballots from beneficiaries’ shoulders.
 
This essay was originally published in The Press of Tuesday, 25 July 2017.

44 comments:

Sam said...

Your last paragraph sums it up nicely. How can anyone who regularly and often dishonestly minimizes their income to the IRD then blame some beneficiary for cheating a little. How can a government claim to be doing its job when there are 25000 homeless in Auckland alone.

Brick said...

More socialist mis-information regarding the Auckland homeless. It is not the cheating per se that is the problem, but the circumstances MT applied to it, the blatant entitleism and disdain for those who manage within the codes that society has approved, the hypocrisy of her criticism of other 'errant' MP's. A social fabric for those in true need is to be applauded, but in NZ it has become the crutch of the no-hoper, and paid for by those with a sense of self-responsibility. This form of socialism has but one destination - another Venezuela. Your support for MT continues to baffle me - it makes no sense.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Sam.
"How can anyone who regularly and often dishonestly minimizes their income to the IRD then blame some beneficiary for cheating a little."

I dunno. Ask Charles E.

Anonymous said...

"Weaponisation" is more on target than most realise. For the people implementing Bill English's big social data program are quite literally former RAF GCSB geospatial big data drone strike warriors, who have chops in targeting civilians.

Those include some Brits, and the Brits know it; note that Boris Johnson mentioned the social big data program in his stand-up with Gerry Brownlee. New Zealand beneficiaries are target practice for a much greater roll out.


Brownlee also made a telling Freudian slip during that stand-up.

pat said...

I liken MT's actions to those of means who use trusts to enable their offspring to qualify for the likes of student allowance or WFF....oddly enough the outraged don't appear concerned about this relatively common practice.

I expect that the wholesale media condemnation of MT will likely have the opposite of the desired effect....pompous hypocrites pontificating will likely cause the dispossessed to raise their fingers come voting time.

Charles E said...

You have swallowed this idea '.. that her child would have gone hungry...' otherwise.
Come off it, the grandchild of a Labour MP? Not bloody likely and even that well fed mother would not have starved her child even though she was having fun messing about with fringe politics at the time instead of working part time..

Anyway although her whole case does depend on whether she really was desperate, which I and most people do not believe for a minute, your argument about a 'fair go' and the law being man made by the winners, is not what most people are on about.
It is not about law or breaking the law it is about the morals of a person who wants to make a virtue and votes out of cheating on the deal Kiwis provide to those who need tax payer funded welfare. The deal is you are up front about your full financial situation and circumstances and then the working people will help you out until you can get by yourself.
Very simple. Very much a 'fair go' and very much supported by the majority.
She spits in the face of this and I predict she will be gone before too long. The Greens will decide at some point down the road to return to green issues that are central to many. Shaw will take over and move the party to the center. Otherwise they will remain irrelevant, deservedly.

Charles E said...

For those who think cheating on your taxes is the same or even worse (I know plenty of the left do) than cheating the tax payers' welfare, consider this little thought from that very erudite commentator M Hooton which sums it up perfectly.
Imagine a National MP, who stands up during his Party's conference and says, ‘…concerning tax policies, I have a confession. When I was young instead of going to varsity at the tax payers' expense I started a small business. But for the first few years we did not make a profit and at times my family had bugger all in the cupboard and we were threatened with eviction for not paying the rent, both on our rental house and business premises.
So we didn't pay all out gst and we did a bit of cash work. We cheated on out taxes. I’m sorry and I will pay it back, but now the business employs 20 people and pays loads of taxes.’
Well imagine the left and especially the Greens baying for his blood. He would be gone by lunchtime.
But imagine if he finished by saying: 'I was forced to do it by our cruel tax system, I had no choice as I had to feed my children and it's all the fault of the system, you people out there.' He would have been shown the door by the party conference chair.
There's the difference between us & them.

Matthew said...

MT keeps doubling down
I had some sympathy for her position at the beginning but during the week she's got more brazen in her sense of entitlement .
She didn't declare hers or her partners parents financial contribution which she states was generous.Then in morning report today said she was entitled to play politics with 2 "parties" rather than seeking part time work because she was entitled to have fun
I know beneficiaries who struggled in the system, stayed honest,and got jobs
They've express nothing but contempt for MT's attitude
Not going to get many votes from the working poor!
Matthew

Don said...

In the mid 1970s when I was training as a school guidance counsellor I was taken on a DSW home raid on a couple of "beneficiaries" who had joined forces to try to make something better of their lives. It was a sad and sobering experience. Bert Walker was the Minister of Social Welfare. I never voted Tory again after that.

manfred said...

Yeah I'll take Metiria Turei audacity to make life a little bit more comfortable for her and her kids over Gerry Brownlee's relationsheep any day.

Scouser said...

It's hard to know Metiria's true situation and to what extent her breaking of the rules was a circumstance driven need to cope versus a metaphorical middle finger at a system she does not believe she should adhere to (or even both). Matters such as her unwillingness to name the father of her child and her pride in breaking rules make it look more like the middle finger end of the spectrum to many. Thus the reaction. Perception is king.

She got it wrong in the way she pitched her message, which has left her appearing arrogant, wilful and hypocritical. If we combine this with the Greens attempts to inhabit the zone of moral superiority, which can stray in to the appearance of sanctimonious smugness then it's not an unexpected response.

What is difficult to understand is how she got it so wrong? if Metiria had included a tinge of remorse supplemented by a critique of the system that forces someone to 'reluctantly' break the rules then she would have probably gotten wall to wall sympathy and greater acceptance of the underlying premise she wished to communicate.

This is not weaponising. It's stupid misfire of a delivery of a message and a huge missed opportunity by the Greens. Dumb.

Tiger Mountain said...

“socialism or barbarism”? is indeed the question for this age now, paid employment as we knew it in the 20th century is gone for many already, and will become scarcer and more precarious as AI is implemented, my union friends in logistics see it happening already

WINZ/MSD needs to be retired promptly and the UBI debate extended on the basis of a class analysis, if UBI merely ensures compliant consumers have some purchasing power for their master’s products what is the point? a new paradigm is needed to achieve the “brave new world” where people work on important matters of science and culture and wifi is free!

“peoples thinking” as an old paraphrase goes, does lag behind events to some extent, so this election will no doubt reflect that, and the alienated and effectively excluded, non voters will inadvertently play a significant role

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"the blatant entitleism and disdain for those who manage within the codes that society has approved, the hypocrisy of her criticism of other 'errant' MP's"
The problem is of course that those "codes" are written by the wealthy on the whole. I guarantee that if beneficiaries were writing laws, they'd be a damn sight more leniency on benefit fraud – which is by the way negligible in the scheme of things – and a bloody site more emphasis on tax avoidance/evasion and corporate welfare. Which loses the country many millions of dollars a year.

Bushbaptist said...

There is an important point here that many are missing; MT was wrong doing what she did but how is that different than our current PM a few short years ago, claiming Parliamentary expenses that he was not entitled to and knew that he was not entitled to it? What is the difference here?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"He would have been shown the door by the party conference chair."

Of course he would. That's exactly what happened in the Marginal Lands Board affair. And when Keith Allen reported a fictitious assault. Anyway, no National party member is going to be honest enough to admit that they cheat on their taxes. Except maybe for Charles.

Piledriver said...

I once worked in the bureaucracy in a social services role; and have since left it.

I met my former manager on the street one day (his background is working class, got a free university education, heavily influenced by neo liberal values, sees himself as middle class these days).

Somehow our chat on the street turned to MSD. He said he has a 'friend' in MSD who is a lawyer that investigates 'beneficiaries for fraud by any means he can.'

To be frank, I thought I was in 1960's East Germany talking to a friend of a Stasi agent.

Bureaucrats, not politicians or media 'personalities', who see themselves as masters of the universe are the real problem.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"She spits in the face of this and I predict she will be gone before too long. "
Time will tell, but I suspect not. You see this whole story humanises the woman, and apart from right wing ideologues, most people have some sort of empathy.

greywarbler said...

Scouser
if Metiria had included a tinge of remorse supplemented by a critique of the system that forces someone to 'reluctantly' break the rules then she would have probably gotten wall to wall sympathy and greater acceptance of the underlying premise she wished to communicate.

I doubt that Metiria is at all remorseful and wasn't going to put on a hangdog look that was dishonest. She knew what the system should be to assist parents in her situation. She had to work her way through the government barriers, the parental requirements, and the study and hard work to get a degree and she went for it. She apparently wanted to do it as her responsibility, not to make it a burden to her erstwhile partner. It was her Mt Everest and those who know about climbing the rocks of government hypocrisy and lack of duty to assist modern citizens with social mobility, will wave a flag for her.

As for asking what other beneficiaries think, no doubt many of them will condemn her because she tried harder than they, or because she didn't have the same fallback systems that they had, and it is always refreshing for some to condemn others and feel superior. She certainly hasn't come out of it a prissy missy like Paula Bennett. Metiria and she have both done their time at the coalface but Paula has slipped through and pronounces herself a self-made woman with no kindness in her for others similar, and Metiria admits it was hard and she had need of extra to finish the task and now takes on the system as a pay-back. So sincerely thanks Metiria for sticking your head above the parapet, the system does need humanising to effect valuable, practical outcomes.

And as for Brick. What a mass of distaste and condemnation. When something really bad happens he will have no words left. And as for ending up like Venezuela I have this horrible feeling it could be more like Chile. So much of our resources will have gone, that if we try to take them back we will be over-run by foreign countries who will govern us by missile and drone and quisling. The USA are bringing a select group of international forces here in October, and will be running a scenario close enough to possible reality that it's scary.

David Stone said...

Charles E
Your narrative on the surface is very reasonable. The sentiment ascribed to the average Kiwi contributor is I am sure just as you describe. However the delivery is not made in the spirit that you would like to imagine , or that the majority of Kiwi contributors who never have contact with WINZ or CYFS imagine. The people on the interface for the Government agencies have another priority to serve, namely to limit the money going out by all possible means in order to help balance the budget and so keep the incumbent governing party in power . The result is that relevant information about what assistance is available is routinely withheld, and at every interaction the applicant is humiliated and confronted to discourage applicants by any means possible.
In the context of a philosophy operating that quietly , deliberately , targets an unemployment level of 5% to 6% in the belief that this promotes a motivated and efficient workforce, the position of those in the 5% or 6% take on a different perspective.
In the first instance the shame and humiliation of being out of work in a population accustomed to full employment was sufficient to provide the envisioned incentive, but after a generation or so (less before action had to be taken) a part of the population had of necessity adapted to the reality that there was not a job for everybody, and so the shame factor was lost.
The reduction of support to the level of real discomfort, and the unpleasant interactions with the agencies have had to replace the initial shame of being unemployed.
It is interesting as an aside to look up the total no of beneficiaries x the average payout giving a total an order of magnitude less than the claimed overall cost of welfare. The difference must mostly be what is paid to WINZ staff. When you reflect on this it is apparent that the prime objective of WINZ is to withhold welfare payments rather than to distribute them.
Cheers David J S

Gerrit said...

To me it is very simple. I get up at 6.30 to do a days work. I get paid, pay my dues and go home to my family with wha tis left. We struggl, we scrape, we scrimp and we just about manage.

No great wealth but we play the game of life with a straight bat, sincere in the knowledge that out contribution via taxation is to partly help fund and help up those worse off then ourselves.

What a kick in the guts it is than to find out a senior MP has rorted the system, used my hard worked for taxes to play the game with a less then straight bat, gloated about it and justified it because she was a smidgen hungry?

That is what hurts, our hard earned taxes being taken for granted.

We struggled so she does not have to?

That is not the way of socialism.

To a large extend she has damaged the social equality platform espoused by the Labour/Green movement. It will be referenced by the right for a long time in how the left leaders preach equality but practice deceitfulness with the worker shard earned taxes.

It simply galls.

Kat said...

Charles E, perhaps you should just bugger off to some other corner of the planet were there are no lepers or single mothers or single fathers. I hear ISIS and the Teleban are scout hunting for well informed western bigots, I'm sure you would enjoy the meteoric rise in rank.

Victor said...

Scouser

I find myself in agreement with you over Metiria.

This saddens me, as I've long respected her as, that rare thing, a politician with both a gigantic heart and a very good brain.

Unfortunately, the second of these seems currently to be absenting itself. I agree she's looked arrogant and a bit brazen of late. But, at times, she's also looked a mite incoherent.

Why is she behaving so out of character?

One obvious conclusion is that she's felt the need to make a preemptive move before her past (quite minor) transgressions were outed by an opponent or opponents. If so, obvious questions are who was out to get her and why?

Another explanation is that, following the US and UK elections, Metiria and her colleagues have decided that the old rules of political prudence no longer apply and that the race goes to those who most wholly defy convention in both policies and presentation.

Allied to this will be an awareness of the role of niche-marketing in an MMP election. The Greens aren't out to convince everyone and they might well be calculating that the numbers they could attract from the "missing million" of non-voters could vastly outweigh those frightened-off by Metiria's tactics.

If so,Idoubt the wisdom of this approach, both because I'm not sure whether many of the missing million (beneficiaries included) will take the bate and because raising the Green's own voter numbers, important though this is for the party, won't do it much good if Labour then sheds votes to NZ First or even National, as a result of "guilt by association" vis a vis the Greens. But I might be wrong. The next set of polls will certainly be interesting

A further explanation could be that Metiria is being quietly hung out to dry by her colleagues, some of whom might want to get rid of her as a precondition for realigning the party further to the right, after it and the rest of the left have been trounced at the polls, as a result, it will be said, of Metiria's injudiciousness.

Perhaps (only perhaps) she's had her current approach suggested to her by those who hope she will fail. It's been my experience that those hung out to dry suddenly lose their sure-footedness, much as Metiria seems to be doing at the moment.

And a further theory is that the sensible and measured idealist that I've long respected has had her body snatched by her erstwhile rival, Sue Bradford. If so, Sue, can we please have the real Metiria back!



.

JanM said...

Charles E - "us and them", eh - well that reveals more about your world view than perhaps you had intended, eh?

Nick J said...

Charles, this gone by lunchtime idea. It would seem to me that the principle is good but never practiced. That in itself might explain the contempt held for politicians honesty levels.

Nick J said...

Well said Don. I remember the dawn raids on Polynesian workers who had become surplus to requirement, previously the same Tory employers party were happy with their presence so long as it turned a Bob or two. I remember the same Tory government throwing the "illegal occupiers" off of Bastion Point. That of course represented some off the best real estate development sites and developers were of course Tory. I too have never voted National because of their natural inclination to place self interest in front of compassion.

Anonymous said...

Hooten as always the master of manipulative argument. Why did he not choose for his comparison with MT the current PM who defrauded the tax payers of NZ by claiming a housing benefit to which he had no right.

Gerrit said...

Anon @ 8.03

Let those without sin cast the first stone.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/2930184/Greens-pay-back-double-dip-rent-error

Double dipping by all the parliamentarians was an admin error by parliament services. Those who were wrongly informed in the housing claim, all payed the money owing back. The Greens double dipped through an understandable internal error where both flatmates claimed the entitlement when only one was entitled to.

No great conspiracy.

Charles E said...

The 'us & them I refer' to is National & Greens. We are worlds apart. Which is a pity as I would support a green party in the centre. Indeed like most conservatives, I'm a greenie.
From turning off light bulbs to recycling to planting trees (seedless GM ones are the latest) to backing hydro instead of fossil fuel power stations to buying a LEAF, I'm greener than most who vote Green.

Such a pity the so called Green party is not green at all. What a waste.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

One of these days I must register it Hooton's blog so that I can comment about this sort of thing. Although if it's anything like whale oil is it just results in a huge pile on, and subsequent banning. :)

Victor said...

Sorry, my above post should have said "bait" not "bate" in para eight.

Robert M said...

Possibly all the major New Zealand parties, even Act and NZ First are now fairly left in their key staff and policy .The actual centre of the voters positioning may be somehat to the right of the positioning of all the parties in terms of being more favourable to enterprise, entertainment and drinking and in a freerer employment market. Ms Turei fairly spectacular venting has 'probably' prevented the rapid restructuring of the NZ political scene with the Labour and National parties in permanet decline and the emergence of a centre party formed out of the liberal greens, part of NZ first and much of National and Labour who do not share the fairly socialist views of Mr English and Ms Arden. While illconsidered and met with a surprising and revealing level of racism and sexism, Mr Turei's actions are planned 'sabotage' and as in the less than grand McCully mcGuildy serious party a massive attempt o take us a thousand years back to something fairly primitive. NZ tends to put its own unique shape to overseas social moverment and the nature of say the Dunedin steam punks is not quite the joke and type of reaction intended in London let alone the musical or social tastes. The flying steam kettle battles favoured as a means of combat in the Otagon by the girls, show a level of ignorance which is as gob stopping as kiw reactions to Dame Edna or Jullia Gillard. Here its just feminist subversion to subvert he option. Doubless that is the nature of much of Turei and her mates moves, but it is similarly ignorant of the imppossibility of defending such a position here.

Susan St John said...

" What has been so astonishing about the reaction to Metiria Turei's admission that she lied to Social Welfare is just how few New Zealanders identify with Jean Valjean, the hero of Les Miserables, and how many subscribe to the punitive instincts of his relentless pursuer, Inspector Javert. Over the past 30 years, for a significant number of Kiwis, the definition of "a fair go" has changed dramatically - and not for the better!"

What I find so worrying is that so few appear to identify with the priest
Jean Valjean stole silver candles from the monastery and the priest could have had him sent back to jail but when confronted with the evidence instead the 'man of God' lied and said ' my friend you left too quickly and left the best (I had for you) behind' The priest shows empathy and vision and belief in his fellow man. Ironically to do this he had to lie.
Metiria Turei was just a mother doing the best for her child in a cruel moralistic unthinking world. Thank goodness she is exposing the unpleasant foul underbelly of a failed welfare system- already far too many have been harmed

greywarbler said...

The self-centred holier than thou men on this and other blogs when they talk disdainfully about Metiria make me sick. When you are an only parent there are a lot of responsibilities. It is not the same as leaving in the morning and having someone else look after the house, the children, or also go to work and bring in more money enabling a childless couple to live reasonably well.

The child will be the sole parent's responsibility for at least 20 years, who owes it to that child to try their best, not be put down by the sneering and passive members of the hardship society. Such people don't want you to improve your life because it shows them up as pawns who can't do better, can't imagine better, and they can't imagine how hard it is to have demanding roles as one person. And if a sole parent could do better with the other partner then they would but with the weight of the child
s birth and demands and needs, they will often decide against having the burden of this feckless past friend.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Jesus wept Robert, you lost me after sabotage.

Victor said...

Susan St John

Yes, ethically, you're correct.

But you're asking for what is, in effect, an ethical revolution. If you doubt this, just look at the ocean of moralistic censoriousness that Metiria has provoked.

Is less than two months out from a general election a sensible time to start such a revolution?

You may argue that Bernie Sanders did just that during the US election campaign. But American elections take place over a much longer time period, allowing far more space for ideas to fructify.

Alternatively, you might argue that Jeremy Corbyn effected an almost successful ethical revolution in the much shorter time frame allotted to a UK general election.

But Labour's much-praised manifesto was offering things that benefited the average voter, e.g. more cash for the NHS, renationalising the railways, utilities etc.

What Labour didn't do was offer to take the auteriac cap off working age benefits, in order, specifically, to help the very poorest, at the taxpayers' perceived expense. It left that policy to the Lib Dems, who, for a variety of reasons, came a distinct cropper.

In the light of nearly four decades of wall-to-wall, neo-liberal propoganda, it takes admirable 'chutzpah' on the Greens part to suggest a more generous and open-hearted welfare system. It just could be that there are substantial numbers around who would buy that notion. I certainly hope there are.

But why make it more difficult for them to do so by also asking them to applaud the the thing they've been taught to hate most, viz. an un-repentent practitioner of what, rightly or wrongly, is seen as "benefit fraud"?

And why set yourselves and your policies up so that moralistic fury drains the oxygen out of discussions of substance concerning them?

Until these questions are answered, I'll remain of the view that the Greens have chosen some very good policies and some lousy tactics. And I sincerely hope I'm wrong about that last point.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Victor. We certainly need an ethical revolution. Someone in the US is promoting a "pro truth pledge". Might be worth investigating.

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/how-to-address-the-epidemic-of-lies-in-politics/

Victor said...

If Colmar Brunton latest effort has got it right, then I've been completely wrong on this topic.

It looks as if the Greens have both a decent set of policies and (which I doubted) an effective (if risky) strategy for selling it.

I must apologise to their co-leader. She's obviously much smarter than me.

The only problem is that their gain seems to be Labour's loss.

Does this mean that Labour now has to tack right in order to win back votes from NZ First and turn the two left-wing parties into a collective "broad church"?

Victor said...

Thanks GS

Very intertesting

Mildred Green said...

Did anyone in the media, at any time, ask why Saint Metiria wasn't taking contraception?

Mildred Green said...

Blogger Guerilla Surgeon said...
"She spits in the face of this and I predict she will be gone before too long. "
Time will tell, but I suspect not. You see this whole story humanises the woman, and apart from right wing ideologues, most people have some sort of empathy.
.........
The thing is Metiria can evoke compassion and humanity but also fast breeding pond-scum. Society needs balance between points of view.

jh said...

Susan St John
Metiria Turei was just a mother doing the best for her child in a cruel moralistic unthinking world. Thank goodness she is exposing the unpleasant foul underbelly of a failed welfare system- already far too many have been harmed
.........
That's an extremely one-eyed position.
Apart from the fact that Metiria could have used contraception, "a mother doing the best for her child" could apply to rats, mice and cockroaches. Society needs some level of responsibility and a hierarchy of rights to resources plus a sense of limits of production.
So there needs to be a red line and the question is where should it be? Prior to National tightening benefits we had the case of a couple of complaintants (Paula Bennett revealed), who as it happened received more than many hard-working people (eg driving a bus from Queenstown to Milford and back). So Les Miserables is not relevant.

Ajake said...

This current situation is not black or white. Some "bad" laws clearly should not be obeyed; think holocaust, slavery, anti-gay. Some "good" laws clearly should be obeyed; think murder, assault, drunk driving.

As always, beyond the clear examples, the boundaries are blurred.

Is it okay for a mother to "take" extra from the government rather than from father or family or getting a job? What about a dairy owner "keeping" GST to pay for security upgrades to protect their family from violent robbers? What about an immigrant failing to declare repatriation of their pension to New Zealand because they have to pay 33% while other taxpayers can benefit from an appropriate marginal rate. Clearly these are decisions of nuance rather than absolutes.

In these grey cases, individual circumstances are surely all important. Maybe Ms Turei can publically explain why family and father refused adequate support so that the taxpayer was the only resort. Or was it just convenient to take from the taxpayer?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Apart from the fact that Metiria could have used contraception, "

"Did anyone in the media, at any time, ask why Saint Metiria wasn't taking contraception?"

I sort of get tired of saying this, but don't you think it's quite possible for someone to have a child, and then have something happen to their marriage, like husband dying or deserting them or something thereby making them poor? This whole conservative mantra of don't have kids unless you can afford them is lazy thinking, and typical blame the victim. Even if Metiria did have a child without a stable partner and I really can't be bothered finding out, there are plenty as don't. And to lump them all together as the undeserving poor is shite. Shite that happens far too often.

Ajake said...

So Ms Turei was living with father pre-pregnancy; result no DPB.

Then baby born and surprise/surprise she says not living with father except for electoral fraud purposes. Assuming true; result DPB.

Even if true, it seems very convenient. Imagine if a person changed their residence to avoid a tax bill. The airwaves would be blocked by the Greens screaming tax evasion

A sin to keep your own hard earned money? but a person's virtuous right to, supposedly, change their residence/living arrangements to squeeze funds out of the taxpayer? And then, of course, lie to bulk the funds up to the max.

That's the Party people want in government? I think not!