Beneficiary-bashing

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Last updated 08:00 18/04/2014

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I'm starting to wonder how much damage John Sargent's column is doing what with his perpetuating myths around people on benefits and low incomes.

A couple of weeks ago Mr Sargent made reference to people ''enjoying life on the dole''; this week he tells us that ''it is a sad fact'' that people on the minimum wage will have to stay on a low income but then goes on to say they could always ''do something about it''.

Are people truly that ignorant of the fact that the vast majority of people on benefits genuinely need this support and that focusing on the evitable few who rip the system off results in further prejudice and hardship for people legitimately receiving a benefit?

Are people really not aware that beneficiary fraud costs the country $39 million a year while corporate fraud (such as tax evasion) adds up to between $1 and $6 billion a year?

As for raising yourself ''out of the mire'', do people really think, for example, that a community support worker who works 50 solid hours a week caring for the elderly in their own homes earning $500 in the hand (i.e after paying their taxes) can do anything more to improve their situation? These women couldn't work any harder and more to the point, they are providing an invaluable service and should be recognised for this.

Surely the Mr Sargents of the world know that huge inequity between rich and poor makes for unsafe and violent neighbourhoods, high infant mortality rates, increased rates of teen pregnancy meaning we can no longer make excuses or blame the underdogs - we have to act to reduce the gap now.

(Abridged)

S.DYMOCK

New Plymouth

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