Van Beynen on the money

Martin Van Beynen occasionally has a ripper of an article.

This is one of those occasions.

Guess what? Fixing child poverty in New Zealand is not that hard.

Let’s call it the John Minto solution. First, every family with less than a certain income will be brought up to a minimum stipend based on what is required for the family to live comfortably in their location.

If they can’t find good quality accommodation at a reasonable price, maybe because they have a bad credit record or a record of smashing up their previous flats, then the state will provide them with a nice place to live in a nice street at a modest rent.

If they have harmful addictions, those?will receive concentrated and long term attention. However long it takes. Tendencies towards crime and violence will be met with counselling and psychiatric help. Any health, including mental health,?issues will receive the best specialist care and they will receive 24hr life coaching and advice from trained support staff. Children will receive extra tuition and any proclivities towards?anti-social?behaviour will be handled at a best practice standard.

If members of the family want to work, they will be guaranteed a meaningful job at a good wage and all the training and support they need. All this help will be provided in a non-judgmental and unconditional way. If they want to have more children, that’s fine too.

Cost? Not relevant.

Nor do they have any actual?solutions other than piling money into the feral classes,?like that will solve anything.

Meanwhile back in the real world, inhabited by people like Minister of Police?Judith Collins, things are a bit different. This week she blamed bad parenting as a major factor in crime.

Of course the media chased down all the hand wringers and bleeding hearts, who have never had to make a hard decision about tax payer dollars, to get the predictable reproof.

It’s hard to know where the condemnation was going but it seemed to suggest that parenting wasn’t much of factor in child poverty which wasn’t what Collins was saying at all.

Professional whingers all of them. Not a single solution, just opprobrium towards a plain speaking cabinet minister.


I don’t need to do any of National’s ceaseless polling to know what middle New Zealand thinks of that because it’s obvious. Middle New Zealand is going to agree with Collins.

I loathe smug, silver-spoon, born-to-rule National Party people as much as I despise the bleeding heart, champagne socialist brigade but Collins was on the button when she said lack of money wasn’t the real cause of crime.

Talk to any cop or social worker and you will hear that bad parenting is the main reason for delinquency and youth crime.

It might also pay to listen to the criminals themselves. Spend some time in the courts on sentencing days and listen to how often the defendants’ lawyers refer to tragic upbringings, neglectful parents and abuse.

Lots of people in New Zealand are hard-up. They might be going from benefit day to benefit day or pay packet to pay packet, but that doesn’t mean their children go to school without a lunch and don’t get care and affection.

All the longitudinal studies show some people are predisposed to not getting along in their communities. In other words some are born awful but most achieve awfulness through their upbringing. Add a couple of ingredients like poor parenting, a chaotic household, moving around a lot and Mum having lots of boyfriends and you have the recipe for disaster.

That’s not to say lack of money has no influence on the already dysfunctional family. It will cause stress and stress causes some people to go off the rails.

But to attack Collins for stating the bleeding obvious is to absolve people of responsibility and divert attention from the real problem.

Nothing Judith Collins said was wrong. What van Beynen says is also right, that ferals will be ferals.

He leaves the best until last though.

Of course there will be hard-up families with both parents working hard and not smoking or drinking and going to church on Sundays. There’s probably about two of them in the whole country. And don’t forget they get Working for Families benefits and accommodation supplements. Their children get free education, no-one is going to charge them for hospital visits and medical treatment if required and they might be eligible for other benefits as well.

They might be poor compared to a wealthy doctor living in Remuera in Auckland but on a world poverty scale they are in clover.

The trouble with the do-gooders is this. Because they exaggerate the problem, blame the system and label everyone who disagrees with them as ignorant and middle class, they have lost middle New Zealand.

Because the advocates have made such a mess of it, there are now no votes in the child poverty issue. Middle NZ has switched off and the politicians know it.

There is no poverty in New Zealand. Van Beynen is right, Labour and others have over-egged this pudding and middle NZ has indeed switched off.


– Fairfax