Home > Dollars & Sense, Social Issues > Greed is Good? Part Deux

Greed is Good? Part Deux

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Bryan Bruce’s eye-opening documentary, Inside NZ: Child Poverty,  was broadcast last year on TV3,  and finally brought out into the open what had only be barely acknowledged: New Zealand as a society was failing it’s children, especially in low-income families.

Radio New Zealand TV Reviewer, Simon Wilson, described the documentary as;  “Outstanding. The most significant piece of New Zealand Television in years” – for good reason.

Bruce’s  doco raised public awareness, for sure. But I think it’s done more than that. Along with the “Occupy Movement”, I think we are finally seeing a new realisation that the last 27 years in New Zealand has not produced the “trickle down” benefits.

When 150 Rich Listers increase their wealth by 20%; when tax cuts have to be funded by borrowing other peoples’ savings from overseas, and have benefitted mostly the top 10%; when the income/wealth gap continues to widen; when we have to sell the family “silverware” just to paint schools – something is seriously wrong with this picture.

New Zealanders may choose to overlook your documentary (I hope TV3 re-broadcasts it) , but they won’t be able to ignore the next message, and the next, and the next.

Eventually it will percolate into our collective psyches that the promises made of  by the New Right economists; politicians; and their fellow-travellers; of “trickle down” benefitting us all – has been a hoax. Or a scam. (Pick whichever word you prefer.)

The next message that our socio-economic values are terribly awry, will be the increasing flood of New Zealanders leaving for Australia.

The more I look at this phenomenon, the more I’m thinking that our brothers and sisters are not leaving (just) because of “higher wages”.

There’s more to it than that. There is a massive dislocation in effect. People have lost that sense of belonging to a community – and once that no longer exists, why not shoot through to richer pastures?

What’s to keep our children here?

The answer is; not much. Our children can’t even buy their own home in NZ anymore. Why? Because my generation (baby boomers) have bought up most of the available stock, using borrowed funds from offshore, which has pushed up prices and “locked in” ownership to my generation.

New Zealanders can turn all this around. But it means making decisions at the ballot box based on what is good for our country, rather than our own wallets. (John F Kennedy said it much more eloquently.) Until then, we will be the victims of our own selfishness and short-sightedness.

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Sourced from “Inside Child Poverty NZ”

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On his Facebook page, Inside Child Poverty, Bryan Bruce has started a Poll; Should we raise the retirement age by 1 year to pay for free school lunches to all school children?

The responses opposing raising the retirement age are not just unhelpful – they are indicative of the very nature of our society; our self-centredness; and how badly we have gone so far off the tracks.

Raising the retirement age by one year, to pay for free lunches? Absolutely!!And there are some very good reasons to do so.

  1. If we don’t have healthy children, we have no future (or not much of one). Because it is our children who pay for the retirement of the elderly. The connection is fairly simple.
  2. My generation, the “baby boomers”, have had it “sweet”. We had free education; free healthcare; and many other state-provided services.
  3. Then, after 1984, all that changed; “baby boomers” voted seven tax cuts for themselves; implemented User Pays in tertiary education, and elsewhere; sold off state assets that had provided many of these services; and succeeding generations made do with much less of what my generation enjoyed.
  4. The feeling I’m getting from the responses on Bruce’s FB page is that it is  becoming a generational  “resource war”  –  the aging baby boomers vs succeeding generations.
  5. Well, I can tell you now who will lose that “war”; the elderly. If we continue to deny the services that we ourselves enjoyed – expect to see the flood of migration to Australia turn into a torrent. We’ll be “killing the Golden Goose” for sure because it is the younger generations who will be the ones who support the elderly and greying Baby Boomers into their retirement.

Am I painting the picture clearly enough here?

The question, to me, is not whether we should be raising the retirement age by one year – we should be asking our children; is one year enough? Can we do more for you, our children?

Because as sure as sunrise follows night, if we don’t look after our children; if baby boomers continue to vote more and more resources for themselves – the result will be predictable. And I for one will not blame our young people for leaving this country for richer pastures.

If we don’t look after our children, why should they look after us?

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Additional Blog Entries

Greed is Good?

“Building better public services” – Really?

Further Reading

Greed of boomers led us to a total bust

Rich list shows rich getting richer

New Zealand’s wealth gap widens

Rolls Royce sales rocket as super-rich drive in style

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  1. ak
    8 January 2012 at 1:48 pm

    Superb post Frank, nail hit squarely on head. The pride in being lucky enough to have been born a New Zealander is all but gone among our young – why should they remain struggling in a third-rate dictatorship of the rich and their media propagandists who have relentlessly destroyed our proud heritage, when a remnant culture of commuity and pride lies a couple of hours away? The once-revered values of “give a mate a hand”, “a fair go for all”, first votes for women, proudly nuke-free etc etc have been sacrificed on the altar of mammon: the cruelest irony being that the former vanguard of Progression now leads the race backwards to penury and serfdom. Have we reached our nadir? One hopes so, and that the seeds planted many moons ago can once again sprout when this temporary neo-lib pestilence is finally eradicated. The outlook is healthy; but rue the carnage upon our children, and the cancerous guilt upon the National voters who inflicted it, in the meantime.

  2. Deborah Kean
    8 January 2012 at 3:02 pm

    The problem Frank, is the definition of ‘baby boomer’… technically I am included, but not all of us in that demographic benefitted! (I never had the ‘free education’, as working class students at our school were steered away from that, and I never even learned that such a thing existed until it didn’t any more!) So, some baby boomers, the ones older than I am by quite a lot, and among those, the ones from upper class backgrounds, benefitted. The working class ones were not much better off than their children and grandchildren are now…

  3. Julz
    9 January 2012 at 9:18 pm

    Excellent post bringing together many of the issues we face as a country. However, the answer does not lie with support in of a group such as Kidscan – while they may be part of the answer they are a charity which relies on the existence of child poverty for their own profit. Please look more to Child Poverty Action Group for long term solutions to this issue 0 as you yourself point out the issue of child poverty is structural and needs a structural answer

  4. Tom Sawyer
    10 January 2012 at 12:42 am

    Deborah Kean :

    The problem Frank, is the definition of ‘baby boomer’… technically I am included, but not all of us in that demographic benefitted! (I never had the ‘free education’, as working class students at our school were steered away from that, and I never even learned that such a thing existed until it didn’t any more!) So, some baby boomers, the ones older than I am by quite a lot, and among those, the ones from upper class backgrounds, benefitted. The working class ones were not much better off than their children and grandchildren are now…

    Deborah – I think Frank means Baby Boomers in a general context. Like how leftists refer to the “bourgoise middle class”. I’m a Baby Boomer myself and middle class and have never voted Tory in my entire life. I certainly don’t take his reference in any way but a generation and there are always the exceptions. In quite a few images I can see ACT supporters as being young, university types. Definitely not Baby Boomers. I think those kids have just been led up the garden parth by older folk – Baby Boomers in general.

  5. Tom Sawyer
    10 January 2012 at 12:43 am

    ak :

    Superb post Frank, nail hit squarely on head. The pride in being lucky enough to have been born a New Zealander is all but gone among our young – why should they remain struggling in a third-rate dictatorship of the rich and their media propagandists who have relentlessly destroyed our proud heritage, when a remnant culture of commuity and pride lies a couple of hours away? The once-revered values of “give a mate a hand”, “a fair go for all”, first votes for women, proudly nuke-free etc etc have been sacrificed on the altar of mammon: the cruelest irony being that the former vanguard of Progression now leads the race backwards to penury and serfdom. Have we reached our nadir? One hopes so, and that the seeds planted many moons ago can once again sprout when this temporary neo-lib pestilence is finally eradicated. The outlook is healthy; but rue the carnage upon our children, and the cancerous guilt upon the National voters who inflicted it, in the meantime.

    You never hear the phrase “she’ll be right mate” any more either.

  6. 10 January 2012 at 11:37 am

    Tom Sawyer :

    Deborah Kean :

    The problem Frank, is the definition of ‘baby boomer’… technically I am included, but not all of us in that demographic benefitted! (I never had the ‘free education’, as working class students at our school were steered away from that, and I never even learned that such a thing existed until it didn’t any more!) So, some baby boomers, the ones older than I am by quite a lot, and among those, the ones from upper class backgrounds, benefitted. The working class ones were not much better off than their children and grandchildren are now…

    Deborah – I think Frank means Baby Boomers in a general context. Like how leftists refer to the “bourgoise middle class”. I’m a Baby Boomer myself and middle class and have never voted Tory in my entire life. I certainly don’t take his reference in any way but a generation and there are always the exceptions. In quite a few images I can see ACT supporters as being young, university types. Definitely not Baby Boomers. I think those kids have just been led up the garden parth by older folk – Baby Boomers in general.

    Indeed.

    There will always be exceptions to any demographic group. The reason Baby Boomers stand out is that they make a sizeable voting bloc. Neo-liberalism seems to owe much to this Bloc – especially when it comes down to who has benefitted mostly from changes in the last three decades.

    Having said that, individuals like Debbie and I (and you, Tom) – whilst Baby Boomers – have stood apart from the self-serving voting patterns over the last 27 years…

    • Deborah Kean
      10 January 2012 at 2:35 pm

      Your points are taken, Tom and Frank… I just wanted to dissociate myself from the self-serving boomers… 🙂

      • 10 January 2012 at 6:46 pm

        … and I’ll stand right behind you, Debbie! 😉

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