The Budget will deliver more hardship and misery for ordinary New Zealanders. But the wealthy and the corporates will be laughing all the way to the bank.

My local Anglican church, of which my mother was an active member, used to put on free meals for the local community every second Friday night. The church had been doing this for eighteen years

They were obviously very popular but in recent times the demand became overwhelming. The church saw more and more people from other areas of the city arriving for meals. Eventually it had to reluctantly confine the meal evenings to people in the local neighbourhood because it simply couldn't cope with the number of people wanting to be fed.

The free meals have had to be put 'on hold' because the church was damaged in the February quake although I think efforts are being made to find an alternative venue. And the church is still running other programmes like supplying free weekly bread to about fifty families in my neighbourhood.

Not quite 'Godzone' is it? Not quite the 'country to bring up children' is it?

The demand for food has, like elsewhere in the country, continued to escalate in Christchurch.

While the demand on food banks has reached an untenable level, public donations of food have dropped with people simply trying to cope with the sharply rising cost of living. Folk who normally donated food are now themselves barely managing to survive on inadequate wage and benefit levels.

Timothy Weir, a food bank coordinator in Christchurch, recently commented: 'Increasing food costs before the quakes were already seeing more people depend on food banks but now.. .the sting is seeing families cut back the food budget to pay the basics and put a roof over their heads.'

In early April a study by the University of Otago found that psychological distress caused by the lack of access to nutritious and affordable food was on the rise in New Zealand.

The study broadly classified people as food insecure if in the last year they used food banks or grants, had to buy cheaper food to pay for other things, or often went without fresh fruit and vegetables

One of the authors of the report, Dr Kristie Carter, commented 'The results of this study add further impetus to reducing food insecurity in New Zealand by implementing policies that enhance food security for thousands of at-risk households, particularly in light of rising household and fuel costs.'

The chances of seeing such socially liberating policies being announced in tomorrow's Budget are zero.

In fact we can expect further attacks on social spending.

While this Government indulges the wealthy and the corporates with substantial tax cuts, more and more people are being driven into poverty while the future offers them nothing more than , if they are lucky, an insecure minimum wage job.

I won't be watching the television coverage of the Budget because it will just irritate the hell out of me. I will confine myself to the internet.

I can't stand watching well fed and complacent media commentators, economists, academics and various other 'experts' sitting around politely talking about the 'positives' and 'negatives' of the Budget and speculating about how it will be 'received' by 'the markets' and blah blah blah. Frankly, and pardon the language, its a gigantic wankfest.

No one challenges the assumptions of neoliberalism. Somewhere in the distance, the crisis-ridden capitalist system grinds on and our commentators snooze on. They are like diary cows in a field, grazing contentedly on the pasture.

I want someone, like Howard Beale in Network, to stand up that in that television studio and shout:'I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!!'

But nobody will.


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