The problem is clearly poverty

So, I wrote a thing after this week’s pretty terrible episode of The Vote (and sorry, TV3 producers, I realise that you probably hoped this deliberately-trolling episode would get more people watching longterm, but it’s just reinforced my desire to watch as little of your crap as possible.)

I focused on the whole cheap-circus aspect of things, which did mean, ironically, not getting into real detail about the issues at hand.  Fortunately, there are other groups who are far more qualified than I to do so.

Every Child Counts:

The Vote points to misunderstanding about children’s plight

While the prime responsibility for children firmly resides with parents, wider social and economic determinants impact on the ability of parents to meet their children’s needs. This is why public policy is so important – it has the single biggest impact on rates of poverty and shapes the kind of society we create for families with children. This can be seen clearly with the dramatic rise in poverty that occurred in the early 1990s as a result of government policy. That rise in poverty was not due to a sudden decline in parenting skills.

And Auckland Action Against Poverty:

Paula Bennett – a driver of crime

“While Bennett spoke of ways to decrease the ‘drivers of crime’ through increased police numbers, hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders (at the hands of her and Work and Income) go without the bare necessities – a form of violence and insecurity in itself.

“Tonight we sent Paula Bennett a loud message letting her know that poverty is violence, and our communities would be safer without her and her welfare reforms.”

The fundamental problem with pitting “poverty” against “parenting”, as TV3 did for ratings, is that it assumes that they aren’t interrelated things, and it perpetuates the idea that people can always deal with any shitty circumstances in their lives if they just try hard enough (or in Christine Rankin’s words, “have the right life skills”).

If you can’t afford food or electricity, no amount of wishing is going to make things OK.


  1. Arthur

    I just get stuck on the end of the show where Garner and Whatsit are presented with the meaningless poll results. I might be projecting, but you can almost see them realize how hollow the whole exercise is.

    I dunno. The format only needs a few tweaks and we’d be left with a programme that would actually be contributing to the public discourse, if only they cut the ridiculous confrontational elements and text voting, or ran it more like a high school debate without our hosts playing interlocutor. But that would be too much like – gasp- public service broadcasting and we can’t have that.

  2. Susan Leslie

    I couldn’t agree more. It both baffles and angers me that so many people ignore the facts and place all the blame on parents. Not to mention those who confuse the results of poverty with child abuse, which are two different – although sometimes interrelated – issues. Life is complicated and everyone’s situation is different. Being judgemental helps no-one.