Cooks and Stewards Union did for me

by George

How do we become the political animals we are?

I would imagine that across the political spectrum there are those of us who are intelligent, inventive, radical and just plain dumb. Do we become so entrenched in our views of the world that nothing will divert our thoughts from the path we choose to travel? It is fascinating that many of us live in the same environment, work in similar occupations, enjoy similar social and sporting occasions and yet are so opposed politically. Why is this? I don’t pretend to have the answer but I believe that one’s life experiences can impact on one’s political outlook.

But even that raises contradictions. Take John Key as an example. Brought up in a state house, by a solo parent (without government financial support), and yet he embraced capitalism which enabled him to become extremely wealthy and eventually become a very popular National Prime Minister. He viewed his upbringing as glass half full. He witnessed sacrifice, extreme toil and commitment from his dedicated mother. This example suggests that hard work, regardless of its social status, will reap its rewards.  

However today, employment is being substituted for state benefit support and consequently there is no motivation to break out a sweat. The offspring of those who are long-term beneficiaries want for plenty but strive for nothing. The example set by their parents will have them view life as glass half empty. Too hard to try but not to worry, the consequence of apathy will be salvaged by the state. I’m sure there are many examples like JK’s and also of the reverse where children from well motivated parents have become committed socialists. As I stated, I don’t know why most people choose their political bias but I do know why I did.

Many years ago my beloved and I, with our five young children, were stranded on the wharf of the inter-island ferry terminal in Wellington for two days. The Cooks’ and Stewards’ Union were striking over an issue with regards to free flights home at the end of their shift. This was the start of the school holidays so we were one of many families in transit. When we finally sailed, the meals provided by the ship’s “cooks” were lukewarm commercial pies and at the bar the only way I was going to be served a second beer was if I tipped the “steward”. That night my glass remained half empty. I just couldn’t believe that these state employees could be so self-centred, arrogant and lazy. Their incomes were in the top ten percentile in the country and they contributed almost zero to the economical welfare of the country. In fact I felt their contribution was in the negative.

That situation exposed to me the underbelly of socialism. Unionist demanding more reward for less effort from the taxpayers whilst holding those same taxpayers and their families to ransom. From that day forth I have despised unions and socialism. And now that the Labour Party is the Unions’ party, my disenchantment continues.

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