There was a disturbing story in the media over the weekend of a six year old Bay of Plenty boy who was so hungry that he ate a cockroach.

He and his three siblings have since been taken into care by a community agency.

The story illustrates, once again, the growing level of poverty in this country. As the economic crisis deepens and the government's austerity policies begin to bite, its not an exaggeration to say that we are in the midst of a social crisis.

The cockroach eating incident is the tip of an ever expanding iceberg.

Mangere Budgeting Services Trust chief executive Daryl Evans told the media that the service was under greater pressure than ever. There had been recent cases of impoverished pensioners eating cat food.

'People are getting desperate for food.'

But out in talkback radioland there's one wealthy media commentator who rubbished the cockroach story.

It was John 'I won't accept a golden handshake' Tamihere.

No one would eat cockroaches,' he declared on Radio Live today. 'It's a media beat up'.

According to Tamihere's 'logic' the community group looking after the children, the Homes of Hope, have also presumably been making things up.

Of course Tamihere's allegations of a 'media beat up' are no surprise since he has been a consistent and strident supporter of the neoliberal economic policies that have wreaked havoc in working class communities, Maori and Pakeha alike.

While Tamihere and the iwi corporate elite have done very well financially out of neoliberalism the economic position of ordinary working class Maori has barely improved.

But this is what Tamihere had to say about Maori beneficiaries in 2003:

'All I need to do... is to beat my case-load worker at Winz, pull my $160 unemployment benefit, get on the piss over there and grow a bit of dope over here. That’s a wonderful lifestyle but what values does that teach the children in the house?'

Tamihere's view is Maori are without jobs and in poverty not because they have been at the sharp end of both Labour and National's neoliberal economic policies- the policies that Tamihere supports - but because they have been allowed to bludge off a tolerant welfare system. He's actually blaming the victims of capitalism for being poor and without jobs.

I 'm actually repeating something I wrote over three years ago but some things are worth repeating - especially when clowns like Tamihere continue to cheerlead for the Government in the media.


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