Hide on poverty

We have had an avalanche of reports on child poverty and this week academics delivered a report on teen poverty. It made for a change. The concern again is material poverty: the lack of a phone, a car or a holiday.

But the poverty that should concern us most is of spirit and ambition.

We have an established drumbeat that poverty is something done to people about which they can do nothing. The only cure is a government that cares enough to provide that car, that phone, that holiday.

The only hope given such an outlook is to bellyache and complain, to engage in political action, and, as a last resort, to effect do-it-yourself transfers of wealth no matter the law.

Nowhere in the analysis of poverty is what is self-evident looking about our streets, shopping malls and schools.

There is a listlessness, a hopelessness, a nasty enviousness among those making up the statistics. There is no self-respect, no drive, no push to make a better life for themselves and those around them.

We know that providing the phone, the car, the holiday, won’t make a jot of difference. The problem is one of outlook and values.

It’s easy to change a person’s material circumstance. It’s much harder changing values. I am afraid that’s where the problem lies and it’s been generations in the making. It is not easily solved and I doubt government policy can fix it. It’s going to take each of us and the community to reassert the values of successful living and prosperous society.

We have a great many role models living among us. They have overcome great odds to achieves for themselves. Sadly, such are our prevailing attitudes they wisely keep their heads down lest they come under personal attack.

I am not for a moment suggesting poverty is the fault of the poor. Or that hard work, thrift and personal responsibility guarantee riches.

But we have the power to change our own lives and far better to live a life of hope and ambition than one of hopelessness and despair, no matter the material result.

Rodney falls into the trap of agreeing we have child poverty in New Zealand.  We really do not.  We have a poverty in parenting.  We have a poverty in ambition.  We have a poverty in basic human values.

Because any parent, any child, that can not eat, or sleeps outside, is entitled to receive assistance from at least a dozen state and private agencies.

We have no slums and we have no shanty towns.   We have free health care for children up to 13.  We have benefits for people without a job.

A friend of mine is a teacher that asked for permission to take a kid to a medical centre to have her eyes tested.  They were tested, and glasses were provided.  All at the cost of the taxpayer.  The kid is doing a lot better now.  The question remains:  where is the poverty?

It is with the class of people that care so little for their children as to not even take advantage of the government funded assistance out there.


– Rodney Hide, NZ Herald

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