Scapegoating the young and poor (again)

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It is interesting that Christopher Luxon reverted to some very old themes in his speech to the National Party faithful at the weekend. The major theme (apart from how good, how perfect, how “humming” the National Party caucus now is) (I wonder what tune they are humming) (“another one bites the dust”, perhaps)….

Sorry start again.  The major theme of the speech in terms of policy announcements is about beneficiaries, their uselessness to society and their spawning of equally lazy, feckless children.

He threw out some figures: 34,000 of under-25 year olds are on a jobseeker benefit.  The number of those on that benefit for more than 12 months has doubled.

This means about 5% of the age group are on benefits, which is not a high figure, historically.

I have worked for many years with such young people, and studied solution for them for far longer.

Let me spell out the barriers these young people face.  These are at least:

  • Low educational outcomes,
  • Drop-out or excluded from school,
  • Unresolved mental health issues, especially anxiety and depression,
  • Disabilities,
  • Early gang membership and alienation from society,
  • Alcohol or drug addictions.

In the face of such huge and unresolved barriers, especially in such an unequal society where resources accrue to the most wealthy, to diagnose the issues this small residue of young people face as laziness is just obscene.

Listen to his preachiness:

The very clear expectation is that your responsibility is to find a job and become independent. I know that there are many parents… who don’t want welfare to be the easy option for their kids that it is today.

The carrot that is offered is $1,000 if they spend 12 months in work. What a dumb policy, dreamed up by ignoramuses in the hallowed halls of Parliament.  Then, of course, if those young people don’t get the jobs, don’t do what they are told, there will be sanctions.

We are a society that loves sanctioning the poor, the sick, the dispossessed.  We love calling them lazy and defining them as worthless.  This is our past.  But I thought, you know, that in the past few years we have moved on a bit from these shameless pronouncements to a better understanding of lives lived in this country.

That we might have stopped scapegoating the most powerless among us.

That we might look for more nuanced solutions.  Strangely enough, the concept of job coaches is not so far from the kind of navigator role which is becoming increasingly common in whānau ora. Except navigators use all the stars in the sky, not just ‘work’, in mapping the way forward.

Well, the direction for National is set.  Pick up on all the old, failed policies of decades past, dust off and repeat old prejudices and blame the victims.

Luxon said to young people: “you might have a free ride under Labour, but under National, it ends”.

And he said, to taxpayers: “National is on your side”.

Next thing we know, we will have iwi/kiwi billboards up again.

One Response

  1. Well he has to throw someone under the bus and the middle class mostly hate people on benefits and make appalling comments about them. Beneficiaries are such an easy target.

    I notice he didn’t go after those who are defrauding IRD by $10 billion a year, well they are his mates. Imagine what that $10 billion could do.

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About Insight Aotearoa

Most of the blogs published here will either respond to initiatives elsewhere or will be ‘newsmaking’. Some will also be reflective in more general terms. The blogs will be topical and interesting. I like to inject some humour into my blogs.

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