We’re talking welfare – but how are we talking?

Unfortunately, there are not that many public voices making that much sense on the welfare debate.


And when I say ‘debate’ I basically mean the question that underlines all of this discourse, which is: do beneficiaries deserve to be treated like humans, or not?

Most of us are too emotive and too partisan to make headway on this topic with the people that actually need to listen. That’s to be expected, and more than fair enough. This is the daily reality for many of us, not just a discussion about political ideologies. It’s about trying to get dinner on the table, not about who can yell louder than who.

Paula Bennett’s ‘Zip it sweetie’ response to my attempts to expose and condemn WINZ for the flawed and corrupt system it is, is reflected painfully perfectly in Simon Bridges’ ’emotional claptrap’ shutdown of Russel Norman in the house.

These people – the government and those that vote for them – don’t want to listen to emotion. Emotion makes no difference to their bottom line. They’ll undermine,belittle, and silence our voices any way they can.

Colin Espiner’s column today rides that fine line between cold fact, opinion, and vital humanity. After weeks of being beaten down by anti-beneficiary rhetoric – much of it directed at me personally – I was, to put it politely, so fucking relieved to read this when I woke up this morning.

Espiner says many things I’ve been wanting to say but am too personally involved, too angry, too tired, and – to be frank – too powerless – to articulate in a way that would reach people. I’m just so thrilled to see someone who has public clout actually write these things. I stopped myself reading the comments. I’m holding onto the good news with my fingertips.

With that in mind, I can  also refer you to two editorials on the topic – Paul McIntyre of the Nelson Mail on 23 March, and the Taranaki Daily News on April 5.

I’m very, very pleased that we’re talking about this. But we have to fight to keep the conversation clear, sincere, and succinct.

Do beneficiaries deserve to be treated like humans? Goddamn right we do.