The National Party’s latest bullying of the poor and the punitive threats to those without hope needs more than just our outrage for their ignorance and immorality. It also deserves a critique of what the hell is going on in their heads and our society where such idiocy can be seriously put forward as a supposedly ‘rational’ policy. Any sane person – one with empathy that doesn’t see humanity as a mechanical automaton in a Neoliberal Treasury model – can imagine the consequences very readily; more problems; more costs; less hope; more despair; more suicides; more mental health; more people losing the plot in a WINZ office near you.
Glynis Sherwood’s thoughts on scapegoating shines a light on National’s continued attempt to blame the poor for their lot.
The most vulnerable are scapegoated, not the most powerful. It is ever so.
We ought to reflect on that.
Scapegoating the most sensitive, the most unhappy, the most vulnerable, or those that speak out when something is morally bankrupt, or a distorted untruth, is straight out of the Neoliberal worldview of course; the lie we have been told to believe in, and worship, for 33 years.
Do not care for others. Be selfish. Be judgmental of the embarrassing poor, the homeless and Third World child health diseases – the things who stand in stark relief against empty and dishonest claims of a “strong economy” – those who do not deserve because merit rises in their models, and so the only explanation is that those who are sick, or poor, or die, lack merit.
Under Neoliberalism we are told by people who call themselves economists in Treasury and the corporate media, not to adversely judge the other end of the asset and income spectrum. Those destroyers of worlds, the Koch brothers and the rest, are simply “maximising their utility,” and we all will prosper from their meritorious works. So it is written in the good book of Milton Friedman. When that patently doesn’t happen, no matter. We’ll rationalise it by blaming the ones we exploit,
or hold conferences looking at The New Zealand Paradox (shouldn’t we be rich by now?) like a bewildered flock of hen pecking chickens. Everyone is to blame except their completely bonkers theory.
Neoliberalism frames of the poor as undeserving, as choosing to be poor within their models of asocial rationality, equal opportunity, perfect information and no power differentials, where all the dice of life fall where they ought.
Nonsense all. Complete and utter delusional nonsense. Extraterrestrial, off the planet, outside this galaxy, in a universe far far away, beyond bonkers.
Yet they teach this crap, and their students worship The Lord Market (Hallowed be Thy name) as the arbiter of all, where we and the planet are just sets of things, resources, for the efficient allocation of. Then they get a job in Treasury, join the National party, or go trading derivatives in London.
The poor are undeserving, lacking merit. But the uber-rich non-tax paying buyers of politicians and world trade policies are the best of the best. This is a pernicious evil, and the National Party apparently cannot think in any other space.
We have set up a society that gives knighthoods to – let’s face it – some pretty ghastly scum, and a society that vilifies those who are poor, and brown, who’ve lost hope, and who do things they might, once they dig themselves out of their hole, regret.
But many will only be driven deeper into that hole by National’s quite incredible stupidity. And we wonder why we have a P problem. And bursting prisons. And health issues. And mental health. And suicides. And child poverty.
If you have no other reason to change the government, then choose this. Their complete inability to see society, community, sociology or psychology. Their apparent complete inability to feel empathy.
What are the respective definitions of a sociopath, a psychopath, a narcissist? I’m trying to work out which one best fits this government’s policy making and distortions of the truth.
They, and their fellow travellers in Treasury, need to go. We need a morality back that puts people and the future of our communities back at the centre of things.
We need a government that has some measure of common decency and thoughtfulness.
Chris Perley has a background in embedding himself in our landscapes and fields, in management, policy, consulting and research relating to land use, the environment, provincial economies and communities. He is an affiliated researcher at Otago University’s Centre for Sustainability.