Is truth beauty? Is beauty truth? Does knowing a person’s income tell you a damned thing about them?

There are a lot of different issues bubbling to the surface around Paula Bennett’s decision to crap all over people who point out she’s crapping all over them.

First, and briefly: I do not have time or patience for the argument that Ms Bennett is just so sorry that the two women involved are being castigated up and down the country.  You knew what you were doing, ma’am.  Just like when Farrar posts stories about sickness beneficiaries getting arrested and just happens to include the most unflattering photo.  Oh no no, you both protest, this is about the issues.  How could we possibly have known that there were vicious, small-minded people ready to jump at the first dogwhistle?

Your party ran the “Iwi/Kiwi” billboards.  Shut the fuck up.

Second, the issues I’m not going to talk about:

Implied consent. Kiwipolitico and  The Standard now have an explicit policy on consent by commenters.
Teacher teacher Labour hit me first. Zetetic provides a nice analogy.
How much did Paula Bennett get?
Julie explains why this isn’t the issue – hell, on some level, obnoxious and narrow-minded as she is, kudos to Bennett for taking what help she could get and improving her life.  Just wish she wouldn’t turn around (as many, many politicians have before her – tertiary fees, anyone?) and deny others the same help.
Gee I wish I got paid for sitting on my ass raising children on my own. Undomestic Goddess at THM has a few choice wordsdo the job.
Well I work hard and I don’t get as much as these business-breeders.  Stargazer points out why you’re probably kinda totally wrong on that one.

Now, stargazer is also totally correct in that post – the amount these women getting? Not the issue. Scrapping the Training Incentive Allowance – limiting it, in fact, only to high-school-level courses (geez, what an amazing foundation for finding a career!  No, this postgrad who did an extra year at uni and still can’t bloody find a job in her chosen field ain’t at all bitter)** is the bloody issue.

4,500 people who were getting an allowance to train in a field (very often those totally-flush-with-job-applicants ones like nursing and ECE), who were working to get off the fucking benefit they are so despised for taking, are getting screwed by this Government.

However, it isn’t what I’m posting about, because something else has really been bugging me.

Bennett and Key have both been using the line that this is about “getting the full story out there”.


How is “this is how much they get” the full story?

How the hell does knowing what someone earns tell you the full story?

What fucking planet are they, and numerous commenters at The Standard and, one imagines because one ain’t going there, Kiwiblog on that they can see “[x] dollars per week” and go A-HA! I KNOW ALL ABOUT YOU AND AM TOTALLY QUALIFIED TO JUDGE YOUR LIFESTYLE?

Say Lizzy earns $400 in the hand a week.

Her friend Ahmed earns $800.

Who’s better off?

Oh, wait, I should give you the full story.  Lizzy lives with her partner, Ashley, who earns $1600 a week.

Who’s better off?

Oh bugger, there I go again, not giving you the full story.

Ahmed is single and lives in a rural area where he grows most of his own food.

Wait, no, not the full story.

What about children?  What about childcare? What about the cost of living?  What about the availability of public transport or the need to drive everywhere and pay for a car, petrol, parking?  What about diet – food allergies?  Vegan?  With the price of cheese these days, definitely a factor.  Does someone in the household have severe health problems?  Or a dependent adult?  Or high contents insurance due to a series of break-ins?  Any debt owed, on credit cards or student loan?  Adverse reactions to the highest-subsidised medications necessitating more expensive options?  Travelling to distant hospitals for specialist treatment?  Having parents who are loaded?  Having a mortgage-free house?

Huh.  It’s funny, the phrase “[x] dollars per week” actually doesn’t tell me jack shit, and certainly doesn’t tell me the full story.

A further thing which struck me was the huge privilege of some commenters in this thread at The Standard.  The guest poster’s point is that, even beyond the inanity of media reporting on comments-received-by-their website (a wankfest hardly limited to Granny Herald), the fact is that the kind of people who post to Your Views* are simply not representative of the NZ population at large.

Well prove it the usual suspects cried.

This is the exact same attitude that’s creating a shitload of hostility for the solo mums targeted by Bennett.  The total inability to comprehend that some, nay, the majority of people’s lives are not like your lives.

How do we know that the commenters on Your Views are not representative?

Because they have computers.

Because they have Internet access.

Because they have the time to read online newspapers. Heck, because they are interested in newspapers in the first place, and are reading them online.

Because they’re probably from Auckland (sorry, Herald, I know you love to stick The New Zealand at the front, but you’re only kidding the kinds of people who post to Your Views).

Because they have the time to not only read but comment.

Now, if it shocks you that actually, the majority of people do not have these things, especially time, and that actually, those who do are likely to be a fairly homogeneous group of people, maybe that’s something you need to go away and think about.  Some people in this country are fucking happy just to have electricity and half an hour to spend with their kids in the evening.

Final thought? I can’t fucking believe we’re having this argument in the same week John Key gets quoted calling his partner a solo mother.

*For a more sanity-friendly read, I can never plug Editing The Herald enough.
**Fuck off, Paula, that shit ain’t “implied consent” so don’t go crying to Anne Tolley for my academic record.

One comment

  1. stargazer

    ok, the internet is so full of brilliant today on this particular issue, and you have totally added to the sparkle. love the post and thanx for the linky love!