Real Issues Blog

Not helping harms us

Julian Wood
25 October 16

In “[m]edieval and earlier times beggars were considered a normal part of the community.” Beggars “reminded people of the possibility of random misfortune” and giving alms to assist them was seen as a duty. It wasn’t until after the black plague, the rise of capitalism and the industrial revolution that “beggars were no longer viewed as normal, but [as] threats to the social order and national prosperity.” Alongside wages and prosperity for many, blame, shame, and division crept into our thinking about societal and economic norms. + more

Posturing doesn't help those facing poverty

Alex Penk
18 October 16

“I know that’s not PC, but you know, that’s me,” said Judith Collins last week as she commented on child poverty at a police conference. Cue Metiria Turei, co-leader of the Greens, who alleged that Collins was displaying “deepest ignorance” and making “a foolish statement” because Collins reportedly had said that child poverty is “primarily” due to “a lack of [parental] responsibility.” + more

Of revolution and reaction

Kieran Madden
10 October 16

Right and left don’t seem to make much sense of the world anymore. Perhaps, as New York Times columnist David Brooks writes, the ideas of revolution and reaction better describe today’s political climate. Are we currently in the “Age of Reaction,” as Brooks contends?+ more

Stretching the potential of flexible work

Danielle van Dalen
03 October 16

“All we really want is a little control – and to make that 6 o’clock yoga class once in a while.” This was the conclusion in a recent New Zealand Herald article about the benefits of flexible work. But the increased interest we are seeing in a more flexible modern day workplace misses the bigger picture.+ more

What is the number?

Alex Penk
30 September 16

Anyone advocating for euthanasia or assisted suicide should have to answer this question: How many wrongful deaths is Parliament prepared to risk if these practices are legalised? What is the number? What is the acceptable error rate, where error means wrongful death?+ more

Between risk and reality

Kieran Madden
19 September 16

The annual release of MSD’s suite of income and material well-being reports usually spark a statistical squabble about the number of children or families in poverty (and who is to blame, of course). Much of the debate this year, however, was rightly focused on the rising impact of a lack of housing affordability, as most poverty and hardship trends were considered to be “flat or falling.” This doesn’t make for attention-grabbing headlines.+ more

"Beautiful as heaven, lonely as hell"

Julian Wood
12 September 16

I have heard New Zealand being described as “as beautiful as heaven and as lonely as hell.” If that's so, it doesn’t bode well for us all - as a 2010 study by Holt-Lunstad, Smith, & Layton highlights that the long-term effects of loneliness brought on by social exclusion is “equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes per day and to drinking six units of alcohol a day.” + more

Working hard, still struggling

Danielle van Dalen
05 September 16

Traditionally, it is those relying on the social welfare system that come to mind when we think of New Zealanders struggling to get by. However, an OECD report claimed that “on average 7 percent of individuals living in households with at least one worker are poor in the OECD area.” For poor children in New Zealand, that number is around 40 percent. Recent findings from Otago University also support this, suggesting that half of New Zealand’s homeless adults are either working or studying. Astonishing.+ more

Life consistent with our identity

Jeremy Vargo
29 August 16

In this debate we’re discussing whether or not we want our government to allow certain people who meet certain criteria to kill themselves with the assistance of another person. To reduce the threshold for such an act down to 'a debilitating illness that is inconsistent with my identity'—or, the way I saw life turning out for me—is irresponsible, and would prove impossible to define in any legally meaningful way. + more

Ka pai, Oranga Tamariki

Kieran Madden
22 August 16

Contrary to the sticks and stones rhyme from our childhood, we all know that names can hurt. Names are not just names; they have a profound and long lasting impact. On this count, the name for the Ministry that will replace Child, Youth and Families is a missed opportunity. Last week, the Government decided to stay the course despite the dissenting of many and proceeded with the “Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki”—the Te Rēo words meaning the “health or wellbeing of children.”+ more

Clear expectations

Julian Wood
15 August 16

The Reserve Bank has done a fantastic job over the last 27 years, doing what it is supposed to do with clarity and vigour. Long gone are the heady days of 18-19 percent inflation and 20 percent interest rates that we experienced while singing along with Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream its Over,” replaced with years of stable general levels of prices (low inflation). It seems, however, that this long-term success has led to “expectation creep” from politicians and the public. + more

Seeing the person, not the problem

Danielle van Dalen
08 August 16

Politics and policies can change lives. However, policy is just an idea until people do something to enact it. For real life change to occur for people in poverty, we need to focus on the relationships they have with the people delivering government support. You’d be excused for thinking it’s impossible for government to incorporate relationship into their work. However, the British government seem to have found a solution in the Troubled Families Programme.+ more