The feeling of apparent entitlement Metiria Turei seemingly had when cheating the system to obtain extra advantages as a solo parent is not new. But it seems to have reached epidemic proportions. What individuals claim they are “entitled to” rarely if ever now comes with the recognition that their claim must cost others. Society willingly consents to this when the common good is involved, as, for example, with access for all to quality heath care – an access now demonstrably lessened with this National Party government’s unrealistic and damaging squeeze on hospital funding and services. But when that feeling of entitlement involves cheating, for self-advantage, most people take a dim view.
And so with all those illegal activities – or, worse, crimes individuals commit across all levels of society. Take theft or robbery – among the most contemptible of all crimes – whether the all too prevalent “nicking”…or the more ambitious forms of theft committed by trusted civil servants and financial high fliers …and now by drug dependants and too many of our young. Is this a surprise, when too many children no longer have much needed standards of right and wrong taught them as essential for society’s stability, even survival?
Isn’t it time to question why subjects that required supplying rigorous thinking aids to all children were gradually removed from schools – putting so many disadvantaged children in particular at even greater risk? And how very convenient that the constant sniggering, or sniping, at those Christian values which so long underpinned the West, occurred at the same time. Coincidence or agenda? The Ministry of Education’s neo-Marxist infiltrators, long calling the shots, hold the answers here.
No matter how contemptible the crime, the moral responsibility for owning up to a mean or violent deed too often now elicits the self-excusing “I made a mistake” – a clichéd understatement, and a lack of acknowledgment of a moral culpability.
In an extraordinary and ill-judged example of group-think, the Green Party has shot itself in the foot by treating one of its probably most financially privileged MPs, Metiria Turei, as some sort of heroine. Contrariwise, it has treated two of its most respected MPs, who are apparently not willing to abandon conscience and put a good face on her cheating the system, as “rogue” MPs.
This is Alice in Wonderland territory, where words mean only what they are chosen to mean – neither more nor less. This may be highly convenient for the self-deceiving Greens and any media cohorts – but parts company with reality – and public perception. A dictionary definition of “rogue” is “dishonest or unprincipled…”or “…a large animal living apart from the herd, having …destructive tendencies.” For media to condemn as “rogue” the two honest individuals who acted according to conscience “seems extraordinarily ironic. Shouldn’t they be retargeting their thinking?
The country knows the story. The co-leader of the Green Party, until her now change of mind, was reported as saying she had no intention of stepping down, even if it costs her party (much-needed) votes. Presumably her sense of self-entitlement, twinned with her sense of self-esteem, was more important to her than how her colleagues will now now fare in the coming election. Because, twist the facts as one may, many New Zealanders undoubtedly feel a lack of respect for someone who cheated the system to gain more financial advantage – particularly so if she also had family help. Worse, she has apparently been encouraging others to do the same. At the Green Party’s annual conference, Ms Turei unveiled a totally unrealistic, socially damaging major new policy to overhaul the welfare system. Its aim? Reportedly, to remove all sanctions to beneficiaries if they don’t meet obligations when receiving a benefit.
Well, well, well…This extraordinary encouragement to seemingly cheat the system (regardless of the fact that our welfare benefits have undergone a number of studies showing their damaging consequences) seems to be saying – Do as I did.
What many regard as encouraging dishonest behaviour has become enormously divisive – with good reason – regardless of the fact that the Green Party appeared to be living in La la Land- with a kind of happy-ever-after perception that everything was just fine. However, it isn’t. Those who remained poor but honest, with little or no family help, have a right to feel that Turei threw honesty to the wind – and to challenge her lack of any past attempt to pay back what she contrived for herself through fiddling the system. After all, her subsequent work as a lawyer commanding a very healthy salary of an estimated $150,000, presumably left her plenty of leeway to start paying back what she could, as soon as possible – had she sincerely regretted her actions. It seems that in fact she has misjudged the situation – apparently attempting to elicit sympathy at the conference for her own previous situation – to justify removing all sanctions against others who may be encouraged to follow her example.
Metiria Turei now runs the risk of being viewed by many New Zealanders as incomprehensibly egoistic. And it is too late for the Greens to fall into damage control mode, because they made quite the wrong decision to apparently regard the two individuals who made a principled stand as beyond the pale.
A topsy-turvy land indeed, and Labour is not likely to benefit for long as its new inexperienced leader refrains from making any comment on its virtual partner-party. Jacinta Ardern may now be the media’s new young darling, but her unprofessional look, with that now all-too fashionable unkempt hair style, is off-putting to those who would prefer any future leader to look capable and mature – not simply good at soundbites or speeches.
This country doesn’t need any more media personalities. It needs those who have had the knowledge and sense of history which enables an individual to read the writing on the wall – to articulate what is happening to us as a people, and to target how we can reclaim our country.
Politicians are no more saints than the rest of us. But we expect them to have principles. And their proven intent to fight for this country has become more necessary than ever. But it’s not happening.
Nor is Metiria Turei the only politician to feel especially entitled. To their shame, our politicians collectively have long contrived special, unacceptable perks and privileges from us…superannuation access greater than what is available to the public, required to keep paying for this – the inexcusable largesse of taxpayer-provided, ongoing airfares for these often very wealthy individuals and their partners, post-parliament. But why? The rationale provided for such self-serving “entitlements” is more than weak.
The world-wide mood is one of being fed up with the political classes. And the nearest we have in this country to a perk-buster is gaining growing support. In spite of NZFirst’s apparently inability to mount effective spokespersons from its List, and its poor internal party organisation, the country is more and more turning to Winston Peters. This highly experiences politician has long warned about the very real threats, both internal and external, facing New Zealand.
Peter is now seen as the nearest we have to a genuine and knowledgeable statesman among a line-up of yes-sir, rigidly party-politicians , apparently pledged to not stiffen their spines when dealing with past reruns of damaging, autocratic leadership, such as the wide-eyed and wily Helen Clark, and the glib John Key.
NZFirst has promised for the future a genuine binding referendum on issues where it does not have a mandate from the public for not previously stated policy directions.
Not enough yet but we are on the way to where we New Zealanders – not mere politicians – will be making, as we ourselves should – the important decisions that affect us all. We are on the way to the 100 Days – Claiming Back New Zealand.
© Amy Brooke
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© Amy Brooke, Convener. See my book “100 Days – Claiming Back New Zealand …what has gone wrong, and how we can control our politicians.” Available through www.amybrooke.co.nz, Kindle, or HATM Publishers.
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