Editorial: What next for those bludgers, Ms Bennett?

Bennett has a cunning plan

Last updated 05:00 14/09/2012
hunger stand
Time to give hungry kids something to aim for?

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Social Development Minister Paula Bennett is working furiously on her next project.

OPINION: The Taranaki Daily News understands that after the many controversies surrounding her most recent policy initiatives she has decided on a path that offers life's downtrodden more affirmation and inspiration.

The carrot rather than the stick.

As part of that objective young people from the country's poorest centres and most vulnerable communities will be given the opportunity to better themselves in a stunning new contest.

An annual national lottery is to be held to find suitable young people whose prospects would normally be described as bleak.

They will be trained, mentored, lavished with attention and nourishment, before embarking on a grand contest of survival and sabotage. To the sole winner the spoils and fame that attend gladiatorial success; to the losers, death.

The cruel, blunt downside to Social Darwinism. This grand initiative shall be called The Hunger Games . . .

In all seriousness, one wonders if Ms Bennett is indeed a firm fan of the novel written by American Suzanne Collins, and later made into a movie, in which poor young people are forced to hunt each other to the death in the name of blood-thirsty reality TV entertainment.

Ludicrous and a tad silly it may be but the National government's social welfare policies that at first struck a chord of common sense with many New Zealanders are beginning to form a more disturbing, discordant ideological tune seemingly played for the ear of a smaller, elite audience.

And from the same party that harangued the previous government so mercilessly for its designs on a "nanny state".

The Labour government and its Green colleagues merely wished to influence the choice of light bulbs we used and the amount of water for our showers in the hope that it would limit our impact on climate change.

National and its Right-wing Tea Party prodders seemingly want to control a great deal more than that: based on an assumption that the poor and downtrodden know not what they do - and are using our money while doing it - they want to have a controlling stake in what these people eat and drink, where they live, what they do in their spare time and how they educate and nurture their children.

It is, of course, all done with an empathetic, benevolent hand proffered by a woman who has been there, done that and feels she deserves our trust and compliance.

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Much of it has so far met the nodding approval of an audience ready to believe sordid tales of waste, bludgery and corruption. Some of those tales are true; there are people who deserve the full, harsh scrutiny of a government charged with carefully managing our money.

But in times of financial hardship, with lay-offs and mortgagee sales the new normal, the losers are far outnumbered by the let-down and the left-behind.

And they don't need a lecture and another kicking. Even if it might be great entertainment for some.

- Taranaki Daily News


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