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Posts Tagged ‘privileged’

Nothing quite reinforces ‘Privilege’ than an ‘Us and Them’ Attitude

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silver spoon

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When , drunk, dumb,  and ultimately doomed National backbencher, Aaron Gilmore, uttered his now-infamous words,  “Don’t you know who I am?“, it revealed to the public a glimpse of the attitude of those who – in their minds – are Born To Rule (over us).

For a certain type of persons who happens to be blessed with wealth, power, business acumen, and/or other talents, they consider themselves to have “earned” the right to be superior to those around them not-quite-as-fortunate. (Or even, gods-forbid, not particularly interested in wealth, power, business acumen, etc.)

It is this arrogance – born from success in their chosen field of endeavour – which results in attitudes such as the law (or social “niceties”) not applying to them.

Case in Point #1: In Aaron Gilmore’s case, he became angry that the waiter refused to serve him any more alcohol. The waiter’s decision was based on a simple law-of-the-land; that intoxicated persons shall not be sold/served any more liquor. Failure to comply can mean hefty fines; suspension (or full cancellation) of liquor license; and having employment terminated.

But Gilmore didn’t care. He just wanted more booze to flow down his gullet. When his demands were declined, he attempted to use his position of authority (an elected member of Parliament) to get his way. When that failed, he invoked the Office of the Prime Minister. That, too, failed.

But what was it about Gilmore’s position that he believed he had status sufficient to believe that the law did not apply to him?

Case in Point #2: When government minister, Gerry Brownlee walked through security doors at Christchurch airport, he obviously held a view that being late for his flight was just cause to ignore Civil Aviation rules;

Gerry Brownlee is standing by his version of how his airport security breach took place – after being contradicted by an airport staffer.

The Civil Aviation Authority’s released a heavily-redacted report into the July incident at Christchurch Airport.

Mr Brownlee said he knocked on a secure door and asked to be let through, because he was late for a flight.

But the airport employee told the inquiry that one of Mr Brownlee’s staff pulled the secure door open, and the trio walked past him without seeking permission.

Gerry Brownlee was later fined $2000.

Despite being fined for his rule-breaking, a spokesman for Brownlee said that the minister  “stands by his testimony“. So not only did Brownlee consider himself (a) above the law, (b) acted on that belief, but (c) when found guilty, and fined,  showed no acceptance of his wrong-doing.

What was it about Brownlee’s position that he believed he had status sufficient to believe that the law did not apply to him?

Case in Point #3: Multimillionaire property developer, Bob Jones, was recently thrown off an Air New Zealand flight for not following an on-board safety briefing, reported the  Civil Aviation Authority.

According to CAA spokesperson, Mike Richards;

“The passenger was basically ignoring what was going on and wearing headphones. The crew member complained to someone in command and said, ‘I don’t want passengers on the flight who aren’t following instructions of the crew’.”

So, basically, Bob Jones couldn’t be arsed following the rules and paying attention, despite being asked to? Did Jones believe that, in the event of an emergency, somehow his wealth would be sufficient to circumvent the laws of gravity, and he would descend gently to the ground?

What was it about Jones’ position that he believed he had status sufficient to believe that the law (both Parliamentary and gravitational) did not apply to him?

Is the answer to the question posed at the end of each case, simply because society allows status, based on political power and/or  wealth, to gain privileges which are not accorded to the rest of us (99% of us)?

If Air New Zealand’s “Elite Priority One” is any indication, then political power and wealth  invites special privilege that other paying customers for the airline’s service apparently do not deserve;

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Air New Zealand offers secret invite only Elite Priority One lounge

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New Zealand – the nation that once prided itself on it’s egalitarianism – now has an airline trading on our name, and offering services to the “elite” that the ordinary folk of this country were not even aware of.

That is real privilege accorded to the wealthy and powerful – when the masses aren’t even aware that Jack is no longer as good as his Master.

So when an MP expects that liquor laws can be flouted so he can get more inebriated; when a Minister expects that Civil Aviation laws apply to others, but not him; and when a millionaire thumbs his nose at critical safety information – let us be clear that they deeply believe they are entitled to hold those views.

They are, after all, better than us.

Air New Zealand says as much. They are, after all, Elite, Priority One.

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References

NZ Herald: ‘Rude’ MP tweets apology over drunken night out

Fairfax media: Sir Bob Jones escorted from Air NZ flight

NewstalkZB: Brownlee contradicted on airport security breach

Fairfax media:  Air New Zealand offers secret invite only Elite Priority One lounge

Previous related blogposts

And so it came to pass

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Glass half full.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 1 June 2015.

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= fs =

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And so it came to pass…

12 August 2011 4 comments

It is a basic tenet of belief, amongst the Left, Liberals, and Social Democrats, that everything in a society is inter-connected, whether we like it or not.  That inter-connection applies as much to macro-economics and  governmental policies as it does to how much money you and I have in our pockets to spend.

Accordingly, where there are severe social problems such as mass unemployment; poverty; lack of opportunity; an alienated, angry youth; easy availability of cheap alcohol; dislocated communities; and a general sense of despair and hopelessness – which co-exists with a consumerist society; upwardly mobile professionals; and wealth accumulated by a small minority – there is a powder keg of frustration waiting to explode.

Four days ago, the explosion happened in London.

It was predictable.

And the UK’s  “Guardian” newspaper did predict it, here,

Note the date: Friday, 29 July:  one week before the riotting exploded onto London’s streets.

The article describes severe cut-backs to various local community groups. These are the groups trying to pick up, and hold together, the fragmented pieces of a society stressed by the inhuman forces of neo-liberalism.  As unemployment escalates and even the safety net of the welfare system is cut back – wealth continues to accumulate in the hands of a privileged few.

Unfortunately, the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, just doesn’t seem to get it,

This is not about poverty, this is about culture,’ David Cameron told parliament. ‘In too many cases, the parents of these children – if they are still around – don’t care where their children are or who they are with, let alone what they are doing.

The man is either deluded, or is playing to a very angry public audience.

In case my fellow New Zealanders believe that the powder-keg of social unrest cannot happen in Godzone, it may do us well to reflect in the following;

»  We have a National-led government that is pursuing policies similar to the Conservative-led government in the UK; cutbacks; attacks on welfare beneficiaries; resisting wage-growth; opening up the economy to foreign control; and not addressing unemployment in this country in any meaningful way.

»  Tax cuts in April 2009 and October 2010 benefitted the highest income earners in the country. Those on the bottom recieved not just less in tax cuts – but found themselves paying more for food, goods, and services as GST increased from 12.5% to 15%.

»  The top 150 wealthiest individuals in New Zealand increased their wealth  from $38.2 billion to $45.2b – about a 20 percent increase.

»  Unemployment is still high, at 6.5%. Youth unemployment in NZ is at nearly 18%. The figure for Maori (25%) and Pacific Islanders (28%) remains high.

»  Government is cutting back on social services; reducing government workers via forced redundancies; and has launched an election-year campaign targetting welfare recipients.

»  Despite the devastation in Christchurch, employment in the construction sector actually  fell by 12,700 people compared to a year ago.

As Irish comedian, Andrew Maxwell put it, so very succinctly,

“Create a society that values material things above all else. Strip it of industry. Raise taxes for the poor and reduce them for the rich and for corporations. Prop up failed financial institutions with public money. Ask for more tax, while vastly reducing public services. Put adverts everywhere, regardless of people’s ability to afford the things they advertise. Allow the cost of food and housing to eclipse people’s ability to pay for them. Light blue touch paper. “

In essence, the same conditions that exist in Britain, as ouitlined in the “Guardian” article – exist here in New Zealand (though probably not yet on the same scale).

The riots on the other side of the world should serve as a salient warning to us all; society cannot endure severe social problems such as mass unemployment; poverty; lack of opportunity; an alienated, angry youth; easy availability of cheap alcohol; dislocated communities; and a general sense of despair and hopelessness  – without consequence.

With the economic mess in Europe and a near-bankrupt United States, it is obvious that the unfettered unregulated “free market” has left us all much worse off. The neo-liberal experiment is as much a failure in economic ideology as the old Soviet marxist-leninism. Both are extremes. Both are inflexible and thus vulnerable to crises. Neither offer a practical solution to the demands of society and commerce.

The question is – do our leaders have the wit to realise this?

Or more important still – do we?

And what are we going to do about it?