The Dim-Post

July 29, 2009

Obvious but worth pointing out

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 7:36 am

From Claire’s story in the Herald this morning:

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Ms Bennett said her decision to reveal the extent of the help the state already provided the women was justified because they had repeatedly used their personal circumstances to speak out.

This is what the Labour Party needs to focus on. Many people are unsympathetic to beneficiaries, so I don’t think accusations of ‘beneficiary bashing’ have much traction: but if they make the point that this exposes all New Zealanders who speak out to attack then that has real resonance. Don’t like Bill English cancelling tax cuts and complain about it? The government feels it can publish details of your tax records. Aren’t happy with the service you recieve at the hospital and go the the media? Don’t like the government’s decision on Herceptin funding? In either case John Key will be ‘comfortable’ with the Minister of Health publishing your private medical records, because merely by speaking out you have given ‘implied consent’ for him to do so.

I’m disappointed but not surprised to see bloggers on the right line up behind Bennett: I feel that this isn’t about Labour vs National but about the power of the state vs the rights of the individual. Labour will be back in power sooner or later and if Bennett is allowed to set this precedent then Labour will gleefully use confidential information to fuck over anyone who speaks out against them, cheerfully arguing that their victim ‘implied consent’ by engaging in public debate.

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24 Comments »

  1. Having had a chance to think about this over night I agree.

    If Bennett had had the brains to just say: “Tough luck ladies – stop trying to have your cake and eat it too, get an interest free student loan like everyone else, that is a luxury that people like me didn’t have in the 90’s”.

    If she had done that then the issue would now be forgotten and we’d all be talking about the smacking referendum or something.

    Labour will be back in power sooner or later and if Bennett is allowed to set this precedent then Labour will gleefully use confidential information to fuck over anyone who speaks out against them

    Yes and this scares me.

    I don’t think accusations of ‘beneficiary bashing’ have much traction: but if they make the point that this exposes all New Zealanders who speak out to attack then that has real resonance.

    Quite right. But what no body seems to be taking into account here is that an AWFUL lot of people read about this yesterday and said to themselves “Holy shit! I work 45 hours per week and I take home less pay than this woman on a benefit.”
    Which is to say I think many people just had their worst fears confirmed about the government dishing out loads of cash willy-nilly to the unemployed.

    Comment by Exclamation Mark — July 29, 2009 @ 7:58 am

  2. Power of the state. That’s good. One of the women concerned, who is raising 3 children, is forced to go to university to get a degree to be “qualified” to work at a day care facility to look after young children. What a racket.

    Power of the state indeed.

    Comment by Simon — July 29, 2009 @ 7:59 am

  3. Although Dim is quite correct about the power of the state. Bennett should be kicked out and National can start to bring about wholesale shrinking of the power of the state.

    A cause Labor will no doubt support.

    Comment by Simon — July 29, 2009 @ 8:08 am

  4. Bennett should have just gone and talked to these women. Treated them with some repsect and gone with the line – these are tough times etc etc.

    Or just broadly indicated that they were already receivng substantial govt assistance – there was no need to release the details. If the women then wanted to counter then Bennett could have.

    Most people apart from Labour are willing to accept that there will be spending cuts but the govt has to face up to some of the consequences being or appearing unjust and need to deal with that with a lot more finesse than Bennett has done.

    Bennett has not responded to the women’s central complaint of having the opportunity to advance denied – which I think remains the central issue.

    Comment by Neil — July 29, 2009 @ 8:31 am

  5. The power of the state, and the mob.

    It’s an age-old issue, and it exposes the fake “libertarian” values of so many on the right. When the might of state power meets the private citizen, if the politics suits … they are happy to side with the power.

    Respect for the law comes second to their taxes.

    Comment by sammy — July 29, 2009 @ 8:43 am

  6. Somehow privacy is only important when it comes to political campaigning, not when it comes to personal income details…?

    Comment by Sam — July 29, 2009 @ 9:04 am

  7. Agree with the “strategy” Danyl.
    What also strikes me though, is that Bennett is saying “I pay you a benefit that has enough slack in it that you can save money to go to university”. Really? I would have hoped benefits were only targeted at what they were meant for?

    Comment by Gareth W — July 29, 2009 @ 9:38 am

  8. danyl is right about the privacy angle. then “solo mums” one is a non-starter and just brings out the worst in people.

    but the privacy angle? how much info is there in relation to working for families? in ministry justice? in DIA?

    if this stuff starts to get abused just to supress democratic dissent, then you have a very, very big can of worms.

    Comment by Che Tibby — July 29, 2009 @ 9:57 am

  9. Many people are unsympathetic to beneficiaries…

    Fuck, are they what! Over at my place I’ve even got the obligatory wingnut comment that if the govt doesn’t ignore its citizens’ rights in this respect we might as well be living in North Korea.

    Apologies for the link-whoring, but I figure no-one would believe me otherwise.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — July 29, 2009 @ 10:09 am

  10. Of course this isn’t just about the privacy of the woman involved and Paula Bennett releasing their details it is also about the fact Paula Bennett used to be a solo mother on a benefit and she used a training allowance to get a degree and get ahead with her life. This same allowance is now being cut by her department and that is why these woman are now (quite rightly) complaining.

    Comment by ieuan — July 29, 2009 @ 10:44 am

  11. Apologies for the link-whoring, but I figure no-one would believe me otherwise.
    Are you being cute? That’s par for the course for that particular funny farm. Why you choose to hang out there is your problem.

    Comment by joew — July 29, 2009 @ 10:45 am

  12. And why do you allow the disgusting misogyny coming from Redbaiter in the comments Psycho Milt?

    Comment by Mark — July 29, 2009 @ 11:16 am

  13. redbaiter, now *there’s* a fcker i’d out in a second. stinking anonymous coward.

    Comment by Che Tibby — July 29, 2009 @ 11:36 am

  14. redbaiter, now *there’s* a fcker i’d out in a second. stinking anonymous coward.

    I think he’s a real estate agent in Tauranga. Seriously.

    Comment by danylmc — July 29, 2009 @ 11:37 am

  15. ah!! that’s right. he’s a former party hack of some kind.

    apparently he’s too crazy even for the libertarians…

    Comment by Che Tibby — July 29, 2009 @ 11:43 am

  16. If you google hard enough, you can attach an actual real-live meatspace name to Redbaiter.

    L

    Comment by Lew — July 29, 2009 @ 12:43 pm

  17. And a couple of photos, he looks just like you’d expect.

    Comment by llew — July 29, 2009 @ 12:52 pm

  18. apparently he’s too crazy even for the libertarians…

    Not possible. They are still having wet dreams over Ayn Rand…

    Comment by Don — July 29, 2009 @ 12:54 pm

  19. It crossed my mind, when DPF created login accounts for Kiwiblog, to get in quick & register “Redbaiter”. Wonder what he’d have done with that one taken already.

    Comment by llew — July 29, 2009 @ 12:56 pm

  20. That’s par for the course for that particular funny farm. Why you choose to hang out there is your problem.

    And why do you allow the disgusting misogyny coming from Redbaiter in the comments Psycho Milt?

    Stuff about my blog should really get taken over there. I’ll add nothing further here, other than to say that I see the purpose of providing a comments facility as being to enable people to leave comments.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — July 29, 2009 @ 1:56 pm

  21. “apparently he’s too crazy even for the libertarians…”
    This is true: he gets a kicking every time he visits NotPC… but it’s more to do with an angry disposition and his instance that Conservatism is the way forward, rather than his being batshit crazy.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — July 29, 2009 @ 2:11 pm

  22. Stuff about my blog should really get taken over there.
    As if I could be bothered.
    It’s a response to a comment you made HERE, while pimping your pointless tinkerblog.

    Comment by joew — July 29, 2009 @ 2:17 pm

  23. And the horse you rode in on, matey.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — July 29, 2009 @ 5:21 pm

  24. I’m no ‘matey’ of yours Psycho.
    The English language is inadequate to express the contempt I hold for the mealy-mouthed drivel you post in your role as a ‘token lefty’, while feebly excusing your misogynist & racist stablemates.

    Comment by joew — July 29, 2009 @ 5:31 pm


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