PAUL LOVES PAULA
'The week, I have to say, belongs to Paula Bennett. She connects. She speaks normally. She talks the average person's language. We know where she comes from and she remembers where she comes from. She has the X factor.
Charisma, in its extreme form, can be elevating and inspiring. It can also simply be an aura, a quality, that makes us expect something interesting, something we will connect to or relate to, from the person who has it. So it is with Paula Bennett. She has a little of the darkness that stars have, too, and she is becoming, in her own way, a political star. Paul Holmes in the NZ Herald
In a time of mass unemployment along with high levels of social deprivation and outright poverty, the Government's new welfare reforms are an aggressive attack on beneficiaries. They aren't about helping beneficiaries but they are an attempt to reduce the size of the welfare budget at the expense of the poor and more vulnerable members of our society.
John Key as much as admitted it when he commented: 'The Government remains concerned about the prospects of a growing welfare roll in the decades ahead, accompanied of course by an increasing welfare bill.'
Paula Bennett, who Q+A presenter Paul Holmes lauded as 'a political star' last year in one of his NZ Herald columns , is the one doing the bashing.
The Social Development Minister has mounted a campaign against state intervention in the growing social crisis in favour of blaming beneficiaries for being too lazy and feckless to get jobs.
Bennett, who is an intellectual lightweight, told the media that for many beneficiaries , 'the dream was over'.
What was the silver-tongued Bennett referring to? The dream of never having to live in poverty again? The dream of never struggling to meet the rent? The dream of being able to buy new clothes for the kids?
None of the above. Bennett was referring to the fabulous jetsetting lifestyles beneficiaries are enjoying. According to Bennett the party never ends for beneficiaries and she's the party pooper.
Bennett, who thinks glib phrases and rhetoric passes for informed comment, wants us to believe that too many beneficiaries are spending all day in bed. They should all be in jobs.
Er, what jobs Paula?
The fact that we are in a deep economic hole appears to have not landed in Bennett's consciousness. Instead she's still going to force women on the DPB into low paid jobs (if she can find any) once the children reach school age. She's going to threaten the unemployed with the cancellation of their benefit if they haven't found a job after a year.
Bennett doesn't care about such silly things as economic circumstances, local labour markets with no jobs, the difficulties of trying to juggle some crummy low paid job with raising children singlehandedly.
Bennett, because she's a stupid and reactionary bourgeois politician, would rather moralise. Some people like Paul Holmes have tried to depict this as straightalking from a good old, down to earth, working class gal. Its nothing of the sort. It is a deeply conservative and unpleasant moral outlook on how the poor should be treated in this country.
While the Bennett Morality Show will appeal to the rednecks who ring talkback radio, at the core of her ugly philosophy is a belief that people living in poverty are less deserving of human decency than others.
So sickness beneficiaries are going to be harassed more frequently and the unemployed are going to being living under the constant threat of having their benefit cut or cancelled. I'm sure some of the more unpleasant case managers at Work and Income will be loving that they are going to be given an even bigger stick to bash over the heads of their clients.
Those of us who are not moral authoritarians like Paula Bennett know that being on a benefit is not a reflection of character. We also know that the social crisis is the product of a failing economic system that needs to be replaced.