Home > The Body Politic > A strong streak of masochism? Or a full moon?

A strong streak of masochism? Or a full moon?

Rising unemployment has not hurt Prime Minister John Key in the polls, and even those sent to the dole queue are unwilling to blame the National government for their woes…

…Public servants Tony and Clare Van der Lem, of Wellington, lost their jobs within months of each other as the government tightened public sector spending.

“It’s been a gift in a sense,” says Clare, 54. “For the first time in our married lives we’ve had time together.”

Says 55-year-old Tony: “It might seem a double whammy but it’s a hell of a lot more pleasant to be at home together than for one to be here on their own.”

The government says it is shedding back-office workers rather than those on the front line – a meaningless distinction, say the Van der Lems. Clare’s unit “directly supported the front line”, helping determine how Working for Families translated into benefits. Tony’s advised a tax working group. He warned if landlords were unable to claim depreciation on their properties, then in areas of housing shortage they could pass that cost on to tenants.

I’m thinking, it’s a full moon;  the New World Order/Illuminati/UN/CIA have put hallucinogenic compounds into our drinking water;  or as a society, our national psyche has a stronger element of masochism than I ever believed possible.

How else to explain a civil servant appearing to sound “grateful” (???) that this government has made them redundant? (I hope these people have a decent ‘nest-egg’ saved up.  If they’re relying on unemployment welfare to live on – they’re in for a rude shock.)
– Sunday, 31 July 2011

Categories: The Body Politic
  1. Tony van der Lem
    10 August 2011 at 11:21 pm

    Trying to find a positive in an bad situation, is a way of coping, not an indication of being “grateful” for being made redundant. If you took the trouble to read the full article, you would have seen the comment that Clare described the redundancy as a “terrible shock”!

  2. 10 August 2011 at 11:33 pm

    Tony, nowhere in that article does it state that “Clare described the redundancy as a “terrible shock”!” I’ve re-read it several times, and those words simply do not appear. What the article does state is;

    “…”It’s been a gift in a sense,” says Clare, 54. “For the first time in our married lives we’ve had time together.”

    Says 55-year-old Tony: “It might SEEM [my emphasis] a double whammy but it’s a hell of a lot more pleasant to be at home together than for one to be here on their own.” …”

    They may well be trying to be positive in a bad situation – but their redundancy was wholly unnecessary. After all, John Key did promise voters in 2008 that National would not cut the civil service.

    Another broken promise.

  3. Tony van der Lem
    11 August 2011 at 1:14 am

    The full article i referred to was in the Focus section of the Sunday Star times paper:
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/sunday-star-times/features/5361590/Double-whammy-was-a-big-shock

    This article included the comment “the couple fear that job losses will rip huge holes in the bureaucracy as happened under National in the 1990s. They believe high-paid consultants will be brought in to fill the gaps.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the National government!
    I have no quibble with your comment that the redundancies were unnecessary.

    • 11 August 2011 at 12:21 pm

      Thanks,Tony. You’re correct; the Dominion Post heavily edited their version . (Not exactly a rare occurrence in media, I’m afraid.)

      Thankyou for the correction. (And I note that you are somewhat more “in the know” on this matter than I first picked up. That’ll teach me to blog with the nasty man-cold I have.)

      As for high-paid consultants being brought in, to fill the gaps – this has happened already. (Will try to find the relevant article.)

      And precisely the same thing happened to an acquaintance of mine who used to work for he old Ministry of Works in the 1980s/90s. His role was quite specialised and after he was made redunandant, they discovered just how specialised it was. They had to re-hire him at some outrageous sum. He was quite a happy-chappy for as long as that lasted.

      New Zealanders may think that cutting back on the civil service is necessary. Their perception of govrnment workrs as probably formed by watching too many episodes of “Gliding On”. But they may feel differently when they phone a government department and no one answers the phone. Or their application for ‘xyz’ takes two or three times as long to process as normal. Or their file goes missing.

      I think this is what is know as a “false economy”.

      I hope things are going well for you and Clare?

  4. Tony van der Lem
    12 August 2011 at 12:24 am

    Yes you are bang on with the heavily edited comment – of course some of the more critical comments in the article, such as the meaningless distinction between front and back office, wouldn’t quit fit with the take that even people directly affected have warm feelings about the government.

    For those with clear memories of what happened in the 1990s, what is happening now looks like a re-run as far as the public service goes. The destruction of a viable public service, certainly fits your description of “false economy”.

  1. 7 October 2011 at 12:13 pm

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