Too many footballs on the political field.
Well the fiction factory is working overtime at the moment and those with their snouts in the public trough are laying it on as thick as possible. The mantra being silently repeated is “So many more lies to tell and so little time left to tell them."
Creative press releases stacked with headline grabbing phrases and no substance are the order of the day. “Too hard for clever people to understand,” as Joe Jackson might say. And you know, it’s times like these that we all need to listen to Joe.
I am referring to his classic album “Big World”. If you don’t own it; do yourself a favour and get a copy. It is an outstanding musical effort and it contains within its lyrics, some excellent observations of the human condition, the best of which is the song “Right And Wrong” from which the above lyric was borrowed.
His point is made when he eschews ideology for some basic down to earth philosophy as shown in the lines, “....They’re not talkin’ ‘bout right and left; they’re talkin’ ‘bout right and wrong (do you know the difference)?”
I think it’s time we looked at our political situation from that sort of perspective. While there is a place for party political viewpoints in some areas of policy, I think it is long overdue for a number of issues to be de-politicised. Some things simply are not appropriate political playthings.
Education should not be a political plaything because it is surely in everyone’s interest to have a well educated society. I am quite sure of this. However the cynic in me is shouting in my lughole that a despotic twat would not want an educated electorate because they would soon figure out what the real agenda was. Anyone who believes in looking beyond the next five minutes should be able to see that this is something that would give New Zealand a chance to climb out of the economic abyss we have been chucked into by successive governments over the last 30 years in particular.
Health should not be a political plaything either, because it must also be in everyone’s best interest to have a healthy population. A healthy population is a productive population because healthy people have fewer days off work. A healthy population would also do a lot to reduce the cost burden the health system is currently dogged by, and ensure that those who did get sick or injured could be treated in a timely fashion so that their minor complaints did not morph into major ones requiring more expensive surgery.
Welfare is another that should be de-politicised but I bet I’ll get more howls from the right over this particular one than either of the other two put together. The trouble is that for those who have never had to get welfare assistance it is damned near impossible to understand what it is like. I have been there and I’m not ashamed to say it; although it is hardly a badge of pride that I wear proudly affixed to my jacket.
I was ashamed when I first had to go cap in hand in search of some state assistance and applying for a food parcel was the most humiliating and gut-wrenching thing I have ever had to do. I felt less of a man for it at the time and the silly thing is that if I had sought help earlier I might not have needed that food parcel. What those who have never been there don’t realise is that shit can happen to any one of us at any time and unless you are fortunate enough to have a large stash of cash to fall back on, it won’t take long before the rubber meets the road with a sickening screech.
In my case I lost my job a few months after buying a house. It was a modest house but like many first time buyers we had to borrow heavily to get it and at the time the interest rates were around 22%. When I first became unemployed I tried self employment. However I was woefully under capitalised and I struggled with that for a couple of years before I fell through my back porch steps. These had collapsed because I couldn’t afford to get them fixed at the time. I spent several months on crutches which severely restricted my mobility and hence my ability to earn a living. I had barely recovered from that a few months later when I had a kitchen fire and was seriously burned with my hands getting the worst of it. When I got out of hospital I spent the next three months with my hands bandaged up like a prize fighter meaning I couldn’t use a telephone or drive or basically do anything at all that was going to earn me a living.
ACC were useless because 80% of self employed earnings which had already taken a hit when I was on crutches meant I was unable to make ends meet. As my wife had just had to give up work due to two crushed discs in her back that meant neither of us was able to earn a crust. And just to make things really interesting, the home loan interest rates weren’t the only high rates at the time; unemployment was up around 11% nationally.
Of course we eventually hauled ourselves out of the hole, with assistance from the state, but I make the point for those who have not been there that this can happen to YOU, unless of course you are part of the 1%.
For this reason it is important that those who suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous ill fortune should be given assistance to help them get back on track; especially if half the reason they fell off the track was due to gross mismanagement by the party in power.
While we were unemployed we started up an advocacy group for other people who were also unemployed and I know from my own interactions with the unemployed during that time that 90-95% of those on benefits would rather be working and supporting themselves. But those 5-10% who are layabouts are easy targets for headline grabbing sensationalism and redneck rhetoric and there is a fair bit of that in New Zealand, unfortunately.
However if we had a depoliticised education system and a depoliticised health system I strongly suspect that would make quite a difference to how many people needed welfare.
If we had some fairy godmother wave her wand and we suddenly found a government that promoted employment instead of new banknotes or a failed payroll system then we could probably wean most people off welfare and into self support.
But back on planet Godzone, I fear we might still be a long way off from that particular paradigm shift.
However in a few weeks’ time we have an opportunity to try and change some of this when we cast our votes (pearls before swine). We might bring a change of the guard at “Fuck ‘em All Palace” but it will take a lot more pressure following that event to change the basic thinking of our politicians and get them to remove the political elements from what should (in my humble opinion) be no-go zones. We can but hope.
In the meantime enjoy the ride and have a listen to Joe Jackson and the best political song I have heard in a long time from a Kiwi which is the fabulous “Planet Key” by Darren Watson. The video is particularly clever as well. You might be able to still find it on YouTube, or fialing that at Darren's own website.
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