“…all we have created is a culture of dependence, entitlement, helplessness and irresponsibility”

Martin van Beynen hits the nail on the head:

The current weeping, wailing and gross over-simplification of the problems at the root of violence and dysfunction will not achieve anything.

Partly this is due to a couple of vital components missing from the discussion which mean most people switched off long ago.

The media cannot be knocked for highlighting societal problems and marchers might also help focus the minds of people in power.

But for things to change you need middle-class outrage and ordinary punters are no longer engaged.

They have heard it all before. “What do you want us to do?” is a common reaction.

We have tried everything and all we have created is a culture of dependence, entitlement, helplessness and irresponsibility.

Of course most of us know condemnation does not work but that initial reaction needs to be acknowledged.

All those people marching for Moko did nothing for Moko during the short time he was on earth. And he wouldn’t care about their marching and their tears for him, he’s dead.

Unlike most media commentators at least Martin van Beynen is prepared to offer up some solutions.

Very few people are averse to doing something about violence and homelessness. Most of us understand it’s no good being punitive and too judgmental about this inter-generational dysfunction which blights about a tenth of our society. There’s no point in taking people’s benefits away because the children suffer. There’s no point in sending people to jail because they come out worse.

These problems require a sort of clear-eyed and consistent kindness which engenders trust and rapport.

Such support takes special people and special agencies and they need to be around a long time. Their funding needs to be guaranteed and open-ended and may sometimes seem to be unaffordable.

It will require ordinary folks to fork out and they might be willing if just for once an important element, banned by the politically correct, is introduced into the discussion.

The element is called accountability. Not much of it exists at the level of the dysfunction we are talking about.

Accountability is suggesting that the people so in need of our help and support could have done a little bit more to help themselves.

It might mean, for example, just one interviewer asking a mother of eight children who has been kicked out of her Housing NZ house whether it was a good idea to let somebody manufacture methamphetamine in her kitchen or to have so many children.

It might mean throwing in the odd hint that society cannot protect everyone from the consequences of their behaviour.

It might mean some recognition that people are not entirely unjustified in being appalled, judgmental, skeptical and miffed at the continual tragedies and hardship that afflict the worst of NZ families and the usual no-hopers and wastoids.

We all understand our bluff will be called and we will stump up once again for the house or the bond or the addiction treatment or the needs of the new baby.

Should we do all this with a happy heart? Not necessarily. People who do a full day’s work and look after their kids in often less than ideal circumstances are entitled to feel a bit grumpy.

And just once they deserve to hear the publicly-funded John Campbell hint at a bit of individual responsibility or to ask a skeptical question of someone bleating away.

Because that is all we have in the end. We don’t have any choice but to try to relieve suffering and help out.

What ordinary punters need is just a little recognition that their sympathy and their contributions do not come entirely without a bit of criticism, exasperation and a kick in the pants.

Amen…finally someone says what needs to be said.

Duncan Garner should dry his eyes and read this…and then start doing precisely what is suggested.


– Fairfax


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.