Last month the OECD released a report, Divided We Stand, that showed that New Zealand's income gap has grown faster than any other developed country over the past 20 years. The report says its refutes the neoliberal argument that economic growth trickles down to those in need. The report has received sparse coverage in the mainstream media. The Press in Christchurch, for instance, has other priorities - like blaming the victims of the economic policies that have wrought so much damage on New Zealand society. Once again, the newspaper is going into bat for the Key government.
In the hazy and slow news days of summer what is a poor corporate media to do to fill the newspapers and eat up the hours of talkback radio? What are lazy right wing bloggers going to have to do to stoke up the prejudices and the bigotry and try to shore up support for a Government that is presiding over the wreck that is the New Zealand economy?
When in trouble - bash a beneficiary. That's always good for a few brownie points with the redneck brigade. And its so easy to do! No thinking required!
As the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, so beneficiaries will be bashed by a media looking for easy targets as opposed to doing any real work - like investigating the increasing level of poverty in New Zealand for instance. And how come the rich just keep getting richer anyway?
In Christchurch, like elsewhere in the country, the food banks could be barely cope with the demand for food parcels in the days preceding Xmas.
But my local newspaper, The Press, has conveniently forgotten about this and is claiming there a demand for workers to fill unskilled and low paid jobs. How many jobs exactly? The newspaper doesn't say. So couldit be ...10 jobs ? 20 jobs ? 100 jobs ? 1000 jobs ? Or is the entire story just another beat-up?
The Press then followed with a story about a Christchurch baker Diane McPherson who claims she has had an absolute nightmare' trying to find staff for the past four months.
She told The Press: "I've had a couple of guys tell me, ‘Oh, it's easier on the dole...'
Which guys? No names are mentioned. Of course The Press, as a responsible newspaper , would have sought out the other side of story and not just relied on Ms McPherson's version of events. That's what a responsible newspaper would have done but The Press didn't.
It just uncritically accepted Ms McPherson's version of events. Does it matter that she is apparently a supporter of the National Party? The Press didn't get round to mentioning that either.
There seems to be whole lot missing from these two stories - like facts, for instance.
But The Press has been down this road before.
In August last year it trumpeted the Government's big claim that Fletcher Building was 'planning' to hire 1000 workers by the end of the year.
The story appeared in the newspaper the very same day that the Minister of Social Development, Paula Bennett, was in Christchurch.
The Government's press release said that Bennett was in Christchurch to see 'employers working alongside Work and Income to give New Zealanders jobs.'
The press sheet went on to say that '...Fletcher Building will give Work and Income access to a vast array of work opportunities within this internationally recognised company.'
Someone on The Press regurgitated the Government's propaganda: 'Fletcher Building is seconding a Work and Income staff manager to help it recruit more beneficiaries for jobs in the Canterbury rebuild.'
The whole story was a load of Government hot air, as I wrote at the time.
And, surprise, these '1000 new jobs for Christchurch' never materialised.
But we're not even a fortnight into 2013 and The Press is at it again, acting as a cheerleader for the Government's draconian welfare policies.
The underlying agenda is, of course, uncritical support for Bennett's continued war on beneficiaries and the welfare state. It's so much easier to cut benefits and harass beneficiaries when newspapers like The Press, without any evidence, can claim that there are jobs waiting to be filled but beneficiaries won't take them.
All this does is whip up an atmosphere of intimidation of against beneficiaries and supports the government's continued neoliberal agenda.
Note: The disaster capitalists are getting all excited about extracting big profits from Christchurch. But workers apparently won't be sharing in the good times - the working class will have to make do with the derisory minimum wage.