Sunday, December 28, 2008

The girl of the golden west

... I have boiled down my top 10 story wish-list for 2009 to just one issue: How to ensure that New Zealand - a young country that many of us love - draws once again on that frontier mentality which spurred our forbears to make the radical reforms that will be necessary to secure both us and our children a strong future in a changing world. Given the extent to which so many Kiwis have been glued to the State's welfare teat, this won't be easy.
I am grateful to Mr Brown for drawing my attention to the latest completely hatstand outburst from Fran O´Sullivan. I believe it explains the curiously disconnected tone of Ms O´Sullivan´s many essays on political matters: obviously she is living in some parallel New Zealand, a place which once was much like Oklahoma, the musical by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, but has since fallen into decadence. In this other New Zealand, the inhabitants once had a frontier mentality, while we lack even a frontier. In this Bizarro New Zealand, her people were self-reliant and adamantly against government dependence, even while `swaggies´ turned up at her mother´s door. In Bizarro New Zealand, people need to be weened off welfare, during the recession.

Meanwhile, in Real New Zealand, we recall that we have the World´s oldest democracy and the world´s second-oldest welfare state (the oldest is Germany, a country which has been driven to Third World status by the rampant welfarism of its feckless citizens). In Real New Zealand, the citizens realised that they would have to work together and help one-another; and they realised that theirs was an economy that was unstable and vulnerable to periods of depression. So they created a system for pensions and the like (offer did not apply to Asians and immoral women). Then Michael Joseph Savage came along and created a comprehensive system, which included really good state housing and dental nurses. This endured for years, until a bunch of nasty men (which included Roger Douglas and Phil Goff) took over the Labour Party and remodelled the system to inlude such moral values as spite and suspicion.

Over in Bizarro New Zealand, removing the welfare system is just the thing to do in a recession, a necessary Reform. In Real New Zealand, people shudder when the word `Reform´is used; they recall the Reforms of the 1980s, which opened up previously unplumbed depths of despair, while making nasty men very rich.

But, in Bizarro New Zealand, such things do not happen. People come to the door, men go to war, women become strong, members of Generations X and Y want it all and they want it now. Tra la lee. What were we saying? Oh, never mind. Oh look, over there: the roll call of scientist dissidents has not snowballed. Oh well, at least we have capacity to take delight in life's simple pleasures instead of being captive to a consumerist affluenza with all its attendant dissatisfactions. And when we were children, staying at the archduke's, my cousin's, he took me out on a sled, and I was frightened. He said, Marie, Marie, hold on tight. And down we went. In the mountains, there you feel free.

I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter. Ours is a young country, which many of us love.

Because, in Bizarro New Zealand, there is no such thing as a non sequitur.


Robyn said...

In my experience, people who are anti-welfare benefits, tend to be people who hate their jobs.

They don't like the idea that they're suffering in their shit job while someone else is living it up on the dole.

Heh. If only being on the dole were actually like that.

Anonymous said...

I remember back in the early '90s when the govt cut the unemployment benefit by 7 percent. My PhD stipend had run out and we had to go on the dole or starve while i finished the damn thing. Even with a top up on my stipend for being married with dependants we were better off even on the reduced dole.

I know what it is to have absolutely and utterly no discretional spending every month, i have kept our community cards to remind me of it. The difference is we knew it was temporary. To be on that permanently by choice would be very, very hard with a family. People like O'Sullivan have no idea how hard life is like that. The pain of your child being sick and not being able to afford both the doctor's fee and the prescription.

It is however still seemingly impossible to devise a system whereby you are not subject to swingeing marginal tax rates when you try to move from the dole to a minimum wage job. That is why people choose the dole, when presented with such a Hobson's choice what would you do?

Hans Versluys said...

I had trouble keeping down my Christmas cake when reading Ms O's tale.

Deborah said...

I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.

And eat peaches?

Unknown said...

I spent a couple of months on the dole earlier this year.
It was perhaps the most humiliating and depressing time of my life.
Got less than money than I need to cover my rent, which I was only allowed to get if I had no money.
Being forced to go to work and income twice a week like a child on detention.
I was lucky, a contract came up and well off relatives bailed me out financially.
If this is the welfare state that Ms O´Sullivan and others complain about, I would hate to see what we get if they had their way.

Paul said...


Deborah said...


A random segue from The Wasteland to The Love Song of Alfred J Prufrock.

Paul said...