Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Can we feed the kids now?

"Energize the demolition beams" Education Minister
Hekia Parata considers how best to deal with hungry
kids in decile 1 & 2 Schools.

After three false starts, one time at 10:30 pm, it looks like Hone Harawira's Feed the Kids bill will at last get its first reading on Wednesday, 12 March. The bill was postponed so that the public and the press would have the opportunity to observe the debate.

On the issue of hungry kids in schools, Nationals peacemeal Food in Schools programme brings together NGOs and corporate suppliers including Sanitarium and Anchor, but reaches only 8,000 kids of 87,000 kids living poverty.  The programme is more of a political solution creating the appearance of addressing the issue without actually attempting to fix the problem.

Now why is that? Here we have 208,000 kids living below the poverty line unable to afford extravagances like breakfast and shoes because mum and dad keep blowing the dough of frivolous things like rent, power, phone and doctors bills.  It should be a no-brainer to fix this. The Government's solution is more of a gift to faith based NGO's and corporations than it is a salve for the economic depredations families in the  25th percentile of household income.

To understand how the government could say they understand the problem and miss the mark so badly that they hit someone else's barn door, we must understand their priorities. This government's agenda is more about helping out its wealthy and connected friends. While not actually evil, they're bureaucratic, officious and callous. (thanks Douglas Adams). Despite spin and protestations to the contrary, the governments priorities are not for a bright future for New Zealand across the board, indeed the governments focus is for those that are found at Chambers of Commerce, Business Round Tables and Manuwera mansions. They are also willing to pander to faith based NGOs to win votes from church laity by creating the illusion  that their vote supports the kind of social programmes they support. Meanwhile the corporations get few extra dollars for the bottom line and public recognition for seemingly charitable behaviour as the government polishes their brass knobs with a fine chamois while counting electorate and list seats with the other hand.

Meanwhile, power companies, landlords, and telcos are effectively the big boys in the playground stealing the other kids lunch money.

Ultimately, we should ask what does it cost us? In short NZ$6b, in increased medical interventions, remedial education, and lost productivity. To help put that into scale, that is 3/4 of New Zealand's imported fuel bill. Can we afford it? We can't afford not to fix this, but why wouldn't we.

It could be argued, the 1% are too busy sucking the economic vitality out of the middle class, the last thing they would want to see is people leaving the carefully engineered poverty and entering the middle and undoing all their hard work. After 30 years, they haven't quite halved the wage/productivity ratio, but the are close, and there is no reason in their minds why the should stop now, they can't even chain the staff to work stations yet and damn it the staff still insist on having tea breaks, going home at the end of their shift and being paid at least the minimum wage, sometimes more if they call themselves "skilled" or the work "high value".
But it is much simpler than that, a portion of 1% are greedy and callous, and rort(game) the system to their advantage, without prejudice. And that is why we need to change the government, and seriously consider the problem of unbridled power weilded by a demented grasping uber class of ethical voids.

See also
   Bill Maher on Billionaire whiners (Raw Story)

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