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Posts Tagged ‘children’

Random Thoughts on Random Things #4…

21 October 2013 7 comments

The latest “stroke of genius” from a government that has no other practical solutions to unemployment…

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Welfare cuts for almost 100 fugitives

By Isaac Davison @Isaac_Davison

4:36 PM Tuesday Sep 24, 2013
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett. Photo / Janna Dixon

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Social Development Minister Paula Bennett. Photo / Janna Dixon

Nearly 100 beneficiaries on the run from police have had their welfare cut in the six weeks since the policy was introduced, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said today.

As part of the Government’s wide-ranging welfare reforms, a beneficiary on an outstanding arrest warrant for more than 28 days was given ten days to clear the warrant.

If they did not, they had their welfare cut, or up to half of it if they were a parent with dependent children.

Source: NZ Herald

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Because nothing will increasingly push people, who are already marginalised, further into committing desperate acts to survive than by removing any meagre life-support they might have access to.

And note this:  “welfare cut, or up to half of it if they were a parent with dependent children”.

So National policy will make desperate people even more desperate and force their children – who had no part to play in their circumstances – into  further marginalised, deprived, edges of society?!

Congratulations, New Zealand. We’re firmly on course for hitting rock bottom when  government policies wilfully  criminalise children before they’re even old enough to know what the f**k is going on around them.

Are we proud of ourselves yet?!?!

I simply point-blank refuse to believe that there are no viable, sensible – and compassionate! – alternatives to National’s hideousness.

This evil must be stopped by the next government.

 

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Getting to the Heart of Politics – Metiria Turei 2012 Green Party AGM Speech

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Getting to the Heart of Politics

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[Metiria Turei]

Metiria Turei, MP & Green Party Co-Leader

Sunday, 03 Jun 2012 | Speech


The future of the Green Party is to be at the heart of New Zealand politics – its pivot and its conscience.

Our challenge lies in how we transform our country where the values of compassion and justice are at the heart of all the decisions we make, as a country, as a community, as a family.

The Greens are a modern, progressive political movement. What do I mean by progressive? The past has lessons but it does not provide a road map.

Progressive means we are in the business of creating the future, of genuine transformation.

Our challenge lies in how we ready ourselves for that future.

Our challenge lies in how we transform our country where the values of compassion and justice are at the heart of all the decisions we make, as a country, as a community, as a family.

Today I want to start with the family, who are at the centre of all things. And especially children, who must be at the heart of everything we do.

But first let’s talk about their mums.

Heart of Politics: Women and Children

In 1896, the Suffragists passed this resolution at their National Conference:

“That in all cases where a woman elects to superintend her own household and to be the mother of children, there shall be a law attaching a just share of her husband’s earnings or income for her separate use, payable if she so desire it, into her separate account.”

The Suffragists were clear – women have the right to economic independence whether she chooses to stay home to care for her children or chooses to work, whether she has a partner or not.

She has autonomy. She exercises her self-determination.

New Zealand women are rightly proud to have won the right to vote, a first in the world.

That’s good, we like it when women vote. And we especially like it when women stand for parliament.

In fact the Greens like it more than any political party. While other parties lose women MPs, the Greens build women’s political power.

But discrimination doesn’t end when women win the ability to vote, to choose our own careers, the right to decide when to start a family, or the right to earn the same pay as men.

Many women in Aotearoa are still living in the shadow of discrimination, exclusion, racism. If we shine a light in their direction we find:

  • New Zealand women are still paid 13% less than men doing a similar job
  • 1 in 3 New Zealand women will have a violent partner in her lifetime
  • 1 in 5 women will experience sexual violence
  • 232,000 New Zealand women live in poverty
  • 70 percent of women’s work is unpaid

And for Māori, Pacific and disabled women the numbers are much worse.

For all the very real gains women have made in the last century, there are glaring gaps – gaps that fuel inequality, injustice and poverty.

Do we think the women who took to the streets for equal pay would have thought we’d settle for a 13% pay gap?

Would the women who campaigned to provide contraception in New Zealand, receiving death threats for doing so, be satisfied that the Government now wants to “help” but only to stop women on the benefit from having babies?

Political and economic attacks against women and their children may look different these days, but they’re no less dangerous.

And for all the modern feminist advances we have made, the solo mum remains the primary target for society’s most vitriolic personal attacks – led these days by Paula Bennett who knows only too well how much it hurts, but plunges the knife in anyway.

This is a minister who:

  • exposed two solo mums and their children to public vitriol by releasing their private financial details in retaliation for their daring to criticise the slashing of the training incentive allowance
  • attacks women, battered and bruised, as failures and pariahs
  • is linking contraception to income support in an effort to control the reproductive decisions of economically vulnerable women
  • is forcing mothers into work and their babies into day-care as punishment for getting pregnant while on the benefit
  • berates a woman, however culpable she, knows the woman is herself beaten and bruised, ignoring the fact that a safe mum means a safe child.

The principle behind these attacks on women has been summed up by Colin Craig, reportedly saying:

“Why should say a 70 year old who’s had one partner all their life be paying for a young woman to sleep around? We are the country with the most promiscuous young women in the world. This does nothing to help us at all.”

Yes he is an extremist, but his comments are the logical summation of the rhetoric of the National Government.

The National Government tells New Zealanders every day that women, especially mums on their own, are weak, incompetent and incapable.

New Zealand women are not some statistic in a Durex survey.

We are not weak; we are not incapable of making our own choices.

When we are afforded the respect, resources and rights that we deserve, we are the thriving forces behind our families and communities.

Working equitably alongside men in our caucus and our party, the Greens are here for women, young and old, for mothers and for nannies.

Holly is touring Aotearoa showing the Inside Child Poverty documentary in a town near you so we confront and deal with the realities of poverty on women and their children.

Jan and Denise are working with women from unions and community networks to expose the impact of National’s low wage obsession on women and children.

Mojo is blazing a trail through the veil of discrimination for all women with disabilities and for the mothers of children with disabilities.

Eugenie is working with women who are standing up for our rivers so our kids can swim in clean water, women who want our rivers wild and free, where tuna can grow old and wise like our kuia.

Julie Anne has taken the government to task over failed transport plans and is championing smart green transport to make it safe for our kids to walk and cycle to school.

And Catherine is challenging the vicious cuts in education, exposing the ‘class warfare’ waged by Hekia Parata and presenting families with education solutions that respect their children’s learning.

Women are fierce. Our transformation is in our hands.

Child Poverty and solutions

Nelson Mandela once said: “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”

Twenty five years ago, New Zealand children lived in one of the most equal countries in the OECD.

Since then, the gap between those who have the most and those who have the least has grown faster here than anywhere else.

Our children now live in one of the most unequal countries in the developed world.

We are staring, not into a gap but a chasm – one driven deeper and wider by a Government hell bent on making those who can least afford it pay.

Ours is a country where, for many kids, a pair of new school shoes is a pipe dream.

  • Where, just last month, a Northland doctor wrote of children in his neighbourhood seen scrabbling through a pig slop bucket for something to eat
  • Where Maori kids are 23 times as likely as non Maori to suffer acute rheumatic fever – a third world disease
  • Where poor kids are one-and-a-half times as likely to die in childhood than other children
  • Where four out of five families have struggled at some time to have enough food.

For hundreds of thousands of our littlest people, Aotearoa is empty of the hope that the rest of us base our dreams on.

But this is not a place where people are poor because they make bad choices, as Key has said.

We refuse to blame our children for being vulnerable and hungry.

We will shine the light into corners where they’ve been swept and confront the choices we can make to change their lives.

Let’s close the chasm between those who have, and those who have nothing, and fight to make this country equal again.

Let’s get fierce for our children.

I believe in a New Zealand that looks after all its children, regardless of the family they’re born into.

I believe in a New Zealand that sees its vulnerable children as the potential Hone Kouka’s, Pauline Harris’ and Jeanette Fitzsimons’ that they are.

I believe in a New Zealand which refuses to tolerate the waste of that potential.

So I’m issuing us all with a challenge.

Children should be at the heart of everything we do. When we are truly child focussed, and make all decisions with the child’s well-being as the starting point, how can we ever go wrong?

First we must put aside our political differences.

We must work to devise a cross party consensus to raise our children out of poverty – in a similar way we all reached an accord over superannuation.

The super accord has worked for older people. They have had some of the best outcomes in the OECD, while our children have nearly the worst.

All the NGOs and organisations who work for and advocate for children are clear. Children are to be the priority, the heart of politics.

So we must put our money where our heart is.

The Service and Food Workers Union have launched a campaign for a Living Wage. This is a wage set at what a family needs to provide for their kids, to live with dignity and to participate in their community on an equal footing.

What does that mean in practice for our kids?

  • Going to school every day with a full lunch box, good shoes and a raincoat when it’s wet
  • Having the right sports gear to play soccer, netball, hockey or rugby. Having the money to get to music lessons, art class, for supporting their natural talents.
  • Having a warm, dry home so sickness is not a barrier to education and just having some good old fashioned fun.

A living wage is the way that we all contribute to and share in the benefits of families who are well, healthy and respected.

We have promised to give the kids of beneficiaries the same low income top up – the in-work tax credit – that children whose parents have jobs get. That will make a real difference to alleviating poverty.

If the child is at the heart of everything we do, how can we not extend paid parental leave to six months, so all babies can have the best chance of a great life by breastfeeding – if that’s possible – and bonding with their mum.

Keeping 200,000 kids in poverty costs us $2 to $4 billion a year in crime, ill health and lack of opportunity.

We must invest cleverly, and strategically, in the early years of a child’s life.

Having a high quality public education system is one of the best investments we can make in our children.

The recent budget saw an unprecedented attack on our public schools. The Government is pumping millions into private schools and their charter school trial while increasing class sizes for the rest of our kids.

The Green Party will defend public schools.

Mums and Dads need to know that when the Greens are in Government in 2014 we will unwind National’s education changes.

We will restore public schools to their rightful position as places of opportunity and human transformation, not the second tier institutions National want’s to make them.

We will strengthen our school system, not cut it.

We will unwind the cuts and protect smaller classes

We will not force teachers to compete with each other.

We will make sure our school system moved from being the least equal in the OECD to the most equal again.

We will improve access to education at all levels and reinstate the training incentive allowance at tertiary level study to provide a real ladder out of welfare like the one that helped me, and Paula Bennett, when we were young mums.

We see public education as the backbone of a fair and equal society and we will defend it to the hilt.

We will build more warm, dry homes and insulate the cold damp ones. Our home insulation scheme, negotiated with both Labour and more recently National, has been extraordinarily successful. For the cost of 370 million dollars, the benefit to New Zealand has been 1.5 billion dollars and counting. For every dollar spent, 4 dollars is returned.

Not only that but 18 deaths have been prevented. This is the Green economy in action.

We have saved money, saved power and saved lives.

And we would fund effective and affordable primary health care to rid our families of the third world diseases that plague our children.

How can we afford all of this? The truth is we can’t afford not to.

As John Key is fond of saying, it all comes down to choice.

He chose to:

  • give tax cuts to the wealthy, which costs us $729 million a year
  • lose $200 million because Treasury failed to monitor the Crown Retail Deposit Guarantee scheme
  • subsidise the agriculture sector through the emissions trading scheme at $1.1 billion
  • spend $12 billion on unnecessary roads
  • gift $34 million to massive, wealthy American film companies.

Yet the Government says that taking real steps to eradicating child poverty are not on its priority list.

Well, I say it should take heed of the wise words of Dr Seuss: “A person’s a person no matter how small.”

John Key needs to remember who he is actually working for.

A government makes choices about what it values. It demonstrates what it values, above all else, in how it spends public money.

The 2012 Budget made stark choices. Public money went to pay for the hole created by tax cuts for the wealthy, 100 million to promote the sale of your energy companies, 400 million for irrigation subsidies.

Millions have been given to private schools, so private school classes can be kept small while other kids in ordinary schools are squeezed in and ultimately squeezed out.

And it is all paid for by money from ill people needing medicines, families needing early childhood education or seeking higher education. It’s paid for by families, by women and ultimately by our children.

But New Zealanders make choices too. We all choose the values on which political decisions are made.

We can choose to shift the values of politics from the corporate and the individual to the community and to the family. To the heart.

We know the costs of failure, the costs of the wrong choice.

To make this shift we need a political and community transformation.

To be a society that looks after all our people and values the diversity and beauty in all our communities. It’s a choice we make together.

The Green Party will be the pivot, the heart of New Zealand politics, a modern, progressive political movement that voices our national conscience.

And by progressive I mean we are in the business of creating the future.

Our challenge lies in how we ready ourselves, ready ourselves for the challenge of government, for the challenge of implementation.

This is new territory for the country and for us. We will have to carve out new political relationships with our communities and other political players.

What will guide us, as it always has, is our commitment to our planet, to our charter, to our people and to our country’s children.

Because that’s our reality check.

We’ll know we’ve succeeded when Aotearoa can look into its heart and see a warm, happy child smiling back.

One with a full belly and a nice, shiny, new pair of shoes.

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking

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Acknowledgement

Reprinted by kind permission from the Green Party website

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Why did the Kiwi cross The Ditch?

6 March 2012 3 comments

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During the Cold War, Eastern Europeans used to “vote with their feet” and escape to the West. Often that migration was done at great personal risk to themselves and their families.

The Poles, Hungarians, Czecks, East Germans, et al, who crossed from the Eastern European Zone did so in search of freedom – political, economic, and social. For them, the repression in their home nations was sufficient motivation to up-root and leave behind family and friends, in search of something better.

Whilst the risk isn’t quite the same for us (no armed border guards; semi-rabid guard dogs; sentry towers with searchlights and machine-gun posts), New Zealanders are still voting with their feet,
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Full Story

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Unlike their Eastern European cuzzies, New Zealanders are not leaving simply to improve their financial lot (though that certainly plays a major part).

I believe there is much more involved in the psychology behind this migration.

Since the Rogernomics New Right “reforms” of the late 1980s, New Zealand  has been socially re-engineered. New, neo-liberalistic values of obeisance for wealth; state sector “efficiency”; low taxes; minimal government;  user pays in many, previously free social services; and a quasi-religious intolerance of those at the bottom of the socio-economic scale who are left behind in the mad scramble for money and status.

A new creed of Personal Good trumps Social Needs, and Individual Rights/Needs trumps Community Well-being.

It is a New Right puritanism that demands solo-mothers (but not solo-fathers) “go out to work” –  blind to the concept of raising a family as being a vital form of work.

It is the demand for Individual Rights to have 24/7 access to alcohol – irrespective of harm caused to society (see BERL report) and the eventual cost to tax-payers.

It is the craven reverance shown to 150 Rich Listers who increased their wealth by a massive 20% in 2010 – whilst condemning working men and women who are struggling to keep their wages and conditions in the face of an onslaught by employers, emboldened by a right wing government. (Eg; AFFCO, Maritime Workers, ANZCO-CMP Rangitikei)

It is a nasty streak of crass, moralistic judgementalism that blames the poor for being poor; invalids for being born with a disability or suffering a crippling accident; solo-mums (but not solo-fathers) for daring to be responsible enough to raise a family; and the unemployed for being in the wrong Place/Time when the global banking crisis metastasized into a full-blown worldwide Recession, turning them from wage earning tax-payers – to one of crony capitalism’s “collateral damage”.

In all this, having a sense of community; of belonging to a wider society; and of being a New Zealander  – has been sublimated. Except for ANZAC Day; a national disaster; and when the All Blacks are thrashing the Wallabies, we show very little sense of nationalistic pride or social cohesion.

Indeed, I recall some years ago being in a 24/7 convenience store in downtown Wellington, on ANZAC Day. It was not yet 1pm, so by law alcohol could not be sold.

I noticed a customer in the store selecting a bottle of wine from the chiller and taking it to the checkout, to purchase. As per liquor laws, the checkout operator could not legally sell that bottle of wine, until after 1pm.

The operator explained that it was the law; it was ANZAC Day; and it was a mark of respect (most shops weren’t even open before 1pm).

The customer, a  fashionably-dressed young(-ish) man remonstrated with the checkout operator and said in a voice loud enough for everyone in the shop to hear; “I don’t give a shit about ANZAC Day. I just want to buy this wine.”

And that, I believe sums up our present society. That young man simply didn’t care. He  wanted something and he couldn’t believe it was being denied to him.

To him (and others like him, who usually vote ACT and/or National), all he knew was that he WANTED a THING and his right to have it, if he could pay for it, was paramount.

What does that say about a society?

Firstly, what it says is, to some folk,  a society is little more than a flimsy, abstract concept – and not much more – with ‘Society’ being subservient to the demands of the Individual.

Secondly, if Society is nothing more than an abstract concept – as one person recently wrote to me on Facebook – then there is no way whatsoever that an individual can feel a sense of “belonging”.

“Belong” to what? A geographic place on a map that happens to have a different name and colouring to another geographic place adjacent to it?

If people who happened to be born in a Geographic Area; designated “New Zealand”; coloured pale-green on the map; decide that they can earn more money in another Geographic Area; designated “Australia”; coloured ochre on the map – then moving from “A” to “B” is nothing more than a logistical exercise. Kinda like shifting house from one street to another.

When we have no concept of “society” – then people will “vote with their feet”. They simply have nothing else to consider when making a decision except solely on material factors.

An expat New Zealander, living in a Geographic Area across the Tasman Sea, told the “Dominion Post“,

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“A Victorian-based Kiwi with a student loan debt, who did not want to be named because he did not want to be found by the Government, said he did not intend to pay back any of his student loan.

The 37-year-old’s loan was about $18,000 when he left New Zealand in 1997. He expected it was now in the order of $50,000. The man was not worried about being caught as the Government did not have his details and he did not want to return to New Zealand.

“I would never live there anyway, I feel just like my whole generation were basically sold down the river by the government. I don’t feel connected at all, I don’t even care if the All Blacks win.

“I just realised it was futile living [in New Zealand] trying to pay student loans and not having any life, so I left. My missus had a student loan and she had quite a good degree and she had paid 99c off the principal of her loan after working three years.”Source

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If we extrapolate this situation to it’s logical outcome, it becomes obvious that New Zealand’s future is to become a vast training ground for the global economy, with thousand of polytechs, Universities, and other training institutions churning out hundreds of thousands of trained workers for the global economy.

Our children will be born; raised; schooled; educated; and then despatched to  another Geographic Area. It gives a whole new meaning to Kiwis “leaving the nest”.

When Finance Minister Bill English  told Radio New Zealand,
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We know roughly what the recipe is, policies that support business that want to employ and create opportunities, that provide people with skills and reward those skills.

“We are getting those in place, despite the fact that we’ve had a substantial recession. We believe we can make considerable progress over the next four to five years.” – Source

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… he was quite correct – though not quite in the way he was intending. New Zealand will “provide people with skills and reward those skills” – just not for this country.

National leader John Key, once again, was of in la-la land as usual when he said,
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Over the last three years I believe we’ve made some progress, so much that we have been closing that after-tax wage gap, we are building an economy that is now growing at a faster rate than Australia, but it will take us some time to turn that around.” – Source

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Dear Leader really should stop smoking that wacky baccy. It’s all utter rubbish of course. The economy is not “growing at a faster rate than Australia” (except in Key’s fantasies) and rather than “closing that after-tax wage gap” – it’s actually been widening.

Worse than that, employers – with support from National  – are actively engaged in a “class war” against their own employees to lower wages and to destroy workers’ rights to bargain collectively through a  Union.

The lockout of AFFCO workers  and threat by Ports of Auckland Ltd to casualise and contract out their workforce is nothing more or less than a campaign to reduce wages and increase profits for shareholders.

So much for Key’s bizarre claim “we have been closing that after-tax wage gap“. (No wonder we trust politicians at the same level as used-car salesmen.)

Not a very pretty picture… and yet that is the future we seem to be creating for ourselves.

How do we go about undoing the last 27 years of free-market, monetarist obsession?

Do New Zealanders even want to?

We should care – quite a bit, in fact.

The more skilled (and semi-skilled) people we lose to another Geographic Area, the fewer taxpayers we have remaining here.  Those taxpayers would be the ones who would be paying for our retirement; our  pension; and caring for us in Retirement Homes up and down the country.

Which means, amongst other things, that we’d better start paying Rest Home workers a more generous wage rather than a paltry $13.61 an hour  –  or else we’ll be wiping our own drool from our mouths and sitting for hours on end in damp, cold, incontinence pads. Even semi-skilled workers contribute more to our society than we realise.

If we want to instill a sense of society in our children – instead of simply living in an “economy” or Geographic Area – then we had better start re-assessing our priorities and values.

We can start with simple things.

Like; children. What is more important; a tax-cut, or providing free health-care and nutritious meals at schools for all children?

(If your answer is “Tax cut” because feeding children is an Individual and not a  Social need, then you haven’t been paying attention.)

Children who are all well-fed and healthy tend to do better at school. They learn better. They succeed. And they go on to succeed in life.

But more importantly, if society as a whole looks after all children – irrespective of whether they were lucky enough to be born into a good family,  or unlucky to be born into a stressed family of poverty and despair – then those children may, in turn look after us in decades to come.

If we want our children to feel a part of a society – our society – then we have to instill that sense of society in them at an early age.

Who knows – instilling a sense of society in all our children may achieve other desirable goals; lower crime; lower imprisonment rates; an urge to contribute more to the community;  less family stress and divorce; stronger families; less community fragmentation and alienation…

We’ve tried everything else these past three decades – and things aren’t getting better.

The focus on materialism and Individualism has not delivered a better society, higher wages, or other beneficial social and economic outcomes. Instead, many of our fellow New Zealanders are turning away and going elsewhere for a better life.

Quite simply, if people are Voting with their feet, then this is a Vote of No Confidence in our country.

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Party like it’s Nineteen Fifty Two!!

1 January 2012 7 comments

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Superintendent Paula Rose, the public face of road safety policing in this country, reported that the road toll for last year (2011) was the lowest on record since 1952. Certainly, 284 fatalities is a remarkable feat when compared to the 800+ that was killed in just one year alone in the decade of the 1970s.

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Source

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Even more remarkable when the population was almost half what it is now, and with a lower vehicle-fleet on the roads,

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About now, you might be wondering what this piece has to do with politics.

It’s quite simple.

The drop in road crashes, fatalities, and demands on our hospital services was not a natural occurrence that happened spontaneously.

The lowest road toll since 1952 – despite a steady increase in population, vehicle fleet, roads, and social mobility– happened because society and successive governments took decisive measures to achieve certain objectives.

Through a mix of advertising campaigns; tough legislation; proactive policing; and measures that extended into every aspect of our lives, work, recreational pursuits, etc – society acted collectively to meet desired outcomes.

The free market; individualism; neo-liberal ideology had zero part to play in reducing the road toll from 800+ in the 1970s to 284, last year. If anything, laws that were enforced regarding,

  • reducing drink-driving
  • wearing seat belts
  • reducing speed
  • outlawing cellphone usage whilst driving
  • toughening up on vehicle WoF safety
  • etc

… all played a part in ensuring that 500 people are alive today that – had the road toll not changed – would be dead and in the ground, or scattered ashes, last year. This is where the Cult of the Individual and the Free Market falls down badly. Not with just road safety – but the needs of society as a whole. Those who decry the collective action taken to reduce the road toll as “Nanny Statism” might care to reflect that they themselves could have ended up as a statistic in a walnut coffin.

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Instead, the collective action of governments and community action has kept them alive.

The amazing reduction of the road toll is a vivid example of what  society can achieve when it works together, for the common good.

The enacting of laws; diligent policing; ubiquitous advertising campaigns; and communities that had had enough of losing loved ones to an endless series of horrific crashes – achieved a goal of saving lives. It was (and still is!) an incredibly complex programme – but determination from government; enforcement agencies; and communities working  in unison made it happen.

Imagine if we, as a nation, and starting with good leadership from the community, determined that our goals for the next few years would be;

  • eliminating poverty
  • creating jobs
  • reducing the wealth-gap
  • ensuring a healthy environment for our children

In a previous Blog piece entitled New Year’s Wish List for 2012, I outlined just such goals. A correspondent, Debbie -bless her heart – asked,

However, what are the chances?”

I think the chances are about the same as the magnificent achievement that Superindentant Paula Rose was congratulating us for.

There is no reason on Earth why the four goals above cannot be made into reality.

The benefits would be as positive as reducing the road toll and our country would truly be the envy of the world.

What are the chances, Mr Key? Mr Shearer?

And will you rely on the free market to do it? Because as sure as evolution made little green apples – it wasn’t the free market that saved 500+ people from the grave last year.

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Additional

Inside Child Poverty

Rolls Royce sales rocket as super-rich drive in style

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How superficial can the media get?

2 September 2011 3 comments

Oh, about this much…

 

 

At a time when our country faces enormous problems and challenges; with an election less than three months away; with youth unemployment and other economic problems confronting our society – this is what the media feeds us?!

However, hardly surprising really, and Chris Trotter makes this observation as to why our modern media treats us like juveniles…

 

 

I would also venture a suggestion that the same also applies to our apathy at the upcoming Rugby World Cup. Rugby seems no longer about playing the game nor about the spectators. It’s now about multi-million dollar sponsorships and the heavy-handed controls that accompany it.  (See my piece, “What Killed Rugby?“)

The Big Boys have taken over, and they’ve got the ball now. We can either like it or lump it.

Politics and rugby – both victims of elitism.

 

 

Sign of a sick society?

9 August 2011 1 comment

As I wrote in my previous piece, “The socially “acceptable” face of paedophilia“, society appears to becoming more and more tolerant of legitimised forms of exploitation – often sexualised – of our young children.At the very least, business interests – with complicit parents – are pushing boundaries of social norms.

This latest example should make our stomachs churn…

Australia’s News Ltd reported yesterday that the images of Thylane Lena-Rose Blondeau have child advocacy campaigners furious that a girl so young should be displaying the sexual allure of an individual twice her age.

The French girl – who has graced the cover of Vogue Enfants and is tipped as the next big thing on the fashion scene – has already been compared with 60s siren Brigitte Bardot, who appeared in Elle at the age of 15.

But News Ltd reported that these latest images, complete with heavy make-up and stiletto heels, which appear in French magazine Cadeaux, “brought the issue to a head”.

News Ltd said they followed a British Government move to enforce restrictions on the sexualisation of children in the media and sexual content in advertising.

A spokeswoman for the UK Mothers’ Union was reported as saying the organisation had “grave concerns about the modelling agency who represent Blondeau, which clearly does not know if it represents a child or an adult. Photo shoots requiring her, a 10-year-old-girl, to dress in full make-up, teetering heels and a dress with a cleavage cut to the waist across her pre-pubescent body deny Blondeau the right to be the child she is”, the spokeswoman said.

A British survey recently revealed 88 per cent of parents agreed that children were under pressure to grow up too quickly, with 58 per cent blaming celebrity culture. Dr Emma Gray, a consultant clinical psychologist, said the pictures were the antithesis of what childhood in our society should be.

“If children are to develop into happy, grounded and psychologically balanced people, their childhood needs to be spent appropriately preparing for the demands of the adult world,” she said.

The questions begs to be asked; Why on Earth would anyone think that displaying a ten year old girl in a sexualised setting is appropriate?

What is the thinking of parents who would condone their children to be used in such a manner?

And the question that should disturb us the most; what is next? Partial nudity? Full nudity?

This is not about being a prude – I’m fairly broad-minded when it comes to consenting adults expressing their own sexuality and meeting their needs.

But children are neither adults, nor capable of giving informed consent. This is child exploitation that is not much different to child sweat shops in Third World/Developing countries; child pornography; or trafficking in under-age sex slaves.

Enough is enough. This has no place in a civilised society.