This post was originally posted at The Daily Blog on 30 March 2013.
The Child Poverty Action Group has released a new background paper outlining the myths and the facts around solo parents and the Domestic Purposes Benefit.
You may recall Gordon Campbell on much the same topic back in February 2011.
Both pieces of work should be considered required reading among people interested in social justice, and/because they send a good, clear message: beneficiaries aren’t inherently bludging scum stealing your taxpayer dollars; and the welfare system is doing God’s work.
But there’s another message I think needs to be said loud and clear – and it can’t be said by groups like CPAG, who fairly enough want to build relationships with senior politicians and influence policy
The message is this: these aren’t myths. They’re lies.
Paula Bennett has an entire Ministry full of policy analysts who could tell her that no one’s “dream” is to live on the DPB forever. The Prime Minister, as Leader of the Opposition, had every option to OIA the Ministry now headed by Bennett to establish if teenagers are “breeding for a business”. And Lindsay Mitchell is paid to write columns on the welfare system despite plenty of evidence which refutes every hateful, judgey thing she says.
These people are not stupid, and they are not ignorant. They are wilfully spinning a narrative about DPB recipients which suits their purposes. They want to force people into such dire circumstances that they’ll take any job going, even if it means leaving their children alone or with strangers.
That means employers can pay less, demand more, get away with shirking their ethical and legal duties. It doesn’t really do anything to help the wider economy – most National Party policy doesn’t – but it does mean business owners making a buck.
Bennett and Key and Mitchell also want you to hate people who get the DPB. They don’t want the voters to think “wow, you must have fallen on hard times” because then they’d start thinking about all the other ways a society should support people, through accessible healthcare and education and childcare. And then they’d stop voting for a party like National which exists to cut everything down to the bone so their mates can make a buck.
Your only alternative is that we have a Prime Minister and a Minister of Social Development and any number of “experts” like Lindsay Mitchell who are literally incapable of seeing the facts before them.
I’m not saying it’s completely implausible, but …
I’m honestly touched by this tribute, people.
we pay tribute to the love and often heroic sacrifice that Mothers make in nurturing new life especially those mothers who rejected abortion and choose life for their unborn child in the face of abandonment by the father, these are truly heroic women.
Do you see that, people?
Ken Orr thinks my mum is truly heroic.
You see, my mum was abandoned by my douchefuck bio-donor (in Orr-speak, “father”) and despite that, and a bunch of fun societal pressure* to not be an evil bludging solo mum, she chose to keep her pregnancy and the resulting me.
And then she was supported by the now-scrapped Training Incentive Allowance to get a university education and build a career** and basically be able to raise the ridiculously awesome baby she chose to keep.
That was pretty heroic, in a nation where pissant little basement-dwellers constantly get media attention bleating about the downfall of Traditional Family Values, all right.
So my hat is off to Ken, for acknowledging the struggles of women like my mum, for being so freaking truly heroic in a society where shitbags like him are continually trying to blame all the evils and abuses and disadvantages on the world on them, and on the 364 days of the year when it’s not politic to praise them, basically calling them evil sluts, because they were given a choice and they chose.
Because that’s what Ken doesn’t really want us to focus on too much. It is fucking heroic to choose to continue your pregnancy in the face of all the shit you’ll get from people like him.
But being a mother becomes a lot less fucking heroic when there is no choice, when the whole fucking path to giving birth, from choosing when to have sex and with whom and choosing whether and how to use contraception and choosing whether or not to continue or terminate a resulting pregnancy is completely taken out of your fucking hands.
When people like Ken Orr win, the only heroism to be found is in just getting through your fucking life without spiralling into despair at the utter lack of autonomy or basic fucking dignity you are permitted, all on the basis of what some arrogant fucktard says God has condemned you to thanks to the configuration of your gonads.
Because here’s the thing, Ken:
What on God’s earth is more glorious than this: to be a mother.
Just one thing, mate: to CHOOSE to be a mother.***
*Which I’m sure Ken knows absolutely nothing about.
**Aided by having a stroppy feminist’s lack of compunction about telling little white lies to douchebag employers who ask kinda-illegal questions about whether she had children
***And end questions with question marks.
The “New Zealand Christian Network” thinks basically everything wrong with our society is down to filthy, filthy solo parents* and not enough respect for marriage.**
Why, when you see that solo parent families are more likely to be below the poverty line, marriage is obviously the answer and lack of respect for marriage obviously the cause. I mean, lack of childcare options or flexible working hours or even the ability to live well on a single income are just piffling side issues.
Because it’s obvious, my friends.
Marriage is just not respected, and anecdotal evidence shows that some teachers don’t talk about it in sex ed.
And the New Zealand Christian Network thinks teenagers have the right to make informed choices.
After all, if their teachers and the Ministry of Education don’t step in, how will they ever learn that heterosexual Christian weddings exist?
*And I think we all know what gender those parents are generally assumed to be, y/y?
**Love the attempt to pretend that “marriage” has been relegated to the status of a “naughty” word
Okay, righties. You’ve got me.
I don’t personally know any young women who have had difficulty accessing abortion in NZ.
I don’t actually know any young women who don’t know about contraception and how to get on the Pill or other forms of contraception.
I don’t know any women who wouldn’t put their foot down about practising safe sex with their partners.
This may, of course, all have something to do with having been raised in a white, middle-class family, in “safe” “well-off” (i.e. white, middle-class) neighbourhoods in Auckland. Or attending a semi-private school which offered comprehensive sex ed. Or avoiding the classic student-flat living experience at uni. Or selecting – and being able to select – a group of likewise knowledgeable, privileged friends. Or any other number of factors in my white, heterosexual, middle-class, liberal-democracy, privileged upbringing.
I suspect, given your oft-stated opinions, you are much the same as me.
The difference between us is that I don’t pretend that everyone else had the same advantages as me; and I don’t tell myself that the only reason those others lack my privilege is because they’re stupid.
I just have one request: the next time you want to shit all over beneficiaries and talk about “lifestyle choices”, just try to imagine not having your education, your wealth, your family, your edgy blase cynicism, and being a scared, pregnant teenager, maybe in a small town, maybe a victim of sexual abuse, maybe certain only of your faith in God and belief that life begins at conception. Try to have a little fucking empathy for someone who did not only not get dealt your royal flush of life but didn’t even get any fucking cards.
And then tell me, even if you still can’t summon up some basic fucking humanity, why that woman’s child should grow up poor and hungry in order to punish her.
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 words: do 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.
Well, WordPress just ate a post, so fuckit. I am tired.
Long story short: Paula Bennett, Minister for Social Development and Employment, gets pissy that two solo mothers are making noise about training allowance cuts.
Paula Bennett responds by releasing confidential information about these women’s incomes.
Ooh, sick burn, Paula. You sure triumphed over the forces of raising-children-on-your-own-while-studying.
Too bad the Cabinet Manual doesn’t seem to concur, and citing the Privacy Commission’s website as a backup? Not the best idea you ever had because if there’s one thing bloggers love, it’s being able to just check things online.
End result? You want to have a petty little flamewar, Paula, get a fucking blog and don’t use your position as a fucking Minister of the Crown to bully people into silence.