Monthly Archives: May 2015

A Song for Grace

A song for Grace

It has been said that I am a little romantic, a soft side to me.  As a young man I had notions of greatness, a passable singing voice and a self- taught ability to string a few notes together on a guitar despite my dyspraxia.  Whilst I had up to date tastes, Billy Joel, Donna Summer, Blondie (oh be still my beating heart) my taste was eclectic, Barbara Streisand, and John Denver to mention a few . I enjoyed the melody of John Denver and his songs were easy for me to cover.  John Denver was a man with flaws, often the way with creative people but this is not a blog about being flawed…

Wearing your heart on your sleeve (hots) has many manifestations, and many labels.  Labels of course because people have to hang something off people and more so for people who challenge us. Words such as bleeding heart liberal, do gooder, are a couple of the most in offensive that I can think of, essentially people who have a predisposition for caring enough to engage, this blog is for one of these people, Grace we will call her, an apt name, charm, beauty, gratefulness, intuitive, heart centred a few synonyms for Grace. Passionate and expectant as well.

There is a cost to wearing your heart on your sleeve, it took me four and a half decades to work that out.  I remember as a social worker the chief executive came to visit our site, we had been a bit grumbly about pay rates and she unwisely commented that it really didn’t matter because us social workers didn’t do it for money.  I called her on that and we walked out to her surprise but she is right, the caring professions tend to be female dominated and consequently under-paid and over worked. Even within this there is another hierarchy, the hardnosed don’t give a shit nasty crew, bullies and generally unregenerate emotionally illiterate.

My friend”s daughter Grace is a social worker and I know a bit about that career and I know a bit about Grace.  Grace genuinely cares for people, on her days off she is texting clients, if she is not texting she is thinking about them,  Grace has lots of leave outstanding, no-where near as much as she is owed if she were really to count the total hours’ she works, the early starts, the late finishes she won’t claim for because she won’t be paid and she can’t take the leave anyway because no one-else will do her work and if they do they won’t either be able to do the work with the level of care needed, either they have too much of their own work to do or they Just don’t care.

Grace like many hots is intelligent, inquiring reflective, she will always do more than her share and will care deeply, celebrate success, and mourn failures.  I suspect that Grace like many hots will be hard to give to, she will see herself as only doing what is right, nothing special and you will need to have earned her trust before she will let you into her life to minister some care to her.  Grace epitomises the things that are good about social workers, the things that impact on people’s life, make no mistake though, she is not a pushover, she is principled and has huge integrity.

So my song for Grace is more a prayer or a poem.

May the sun always be on your shoulders

The wind on your back

May love surround you

May you be cared and cherished

May you be complete and fulfilled

May your dreams come true

And may your life always be

Inspirational and healing.

Grace is not hard to love and his post is just a gentle expression of the love and admiration that I have for her.

Walk tall Grace…

Paul

Walk tall Grace…

Paul

John Campbell gone, a tragedy, travesty or a wake up call?

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Well the axe has fallen, like a slow rolling locomotive, John Campbell and his supporters have been put out of their misery.  Now I have to say I like John Campbell and supported his programme.  I have enjoyed seeing various politicians, shysters, crooks, and generally mean people squirm under the intense scrutiny of the Campbell Live team.  I will be eternally grateful that I don’t have to pass by the honey traps that the dead sea secret mud sellers set in the shopping malls.  There is no doubt that John Campbell has done a power of good.

It is a moot point whether Campbell has paid the price for pricking the consciences of the powerful, it is what it is. TV3 is a private enterprise and entitled to make decisions, as of course we as consumers are. I will make a point of not buying anything advertised in the replacement show of Campbell Live.  Here is the nub for me, the thing I find obscene, distressing and sickening. On Facebook someone lamented who would highlight child poverty, who will keep politicians and bad people accountable, I read this and was enraged, we have abrogated our responsibilities to the suited crusader, Mr John Campbell esquire.

Let me explain, I am an agent of social change, I attempt to hold people accountable, call out loudly when I see things that alarm me, challenge injustice when I see it.  I have written before how it is tiring defending yourself and dealing with your own injustices let alone others https://kiwipaulspoetry.wordpress.com/2013/09/24/this-frog-is-tired-of-being-boiled/.  However when we rely on a highly paid high profile, journalist to be our social conscience then we are in trouble.  I have lamented how people just don’t care about issues, I guess I am not completely correct but what we have seen with the slow death of John Campbell is a clear definition of where the problem lies.

It is no secret that the National Party celebrate the loss of the Campbell Live show, the question has to be asked why.  Is it possible that they realised that our society’s defence against the epidemic arising from the economic policies of neo-liberal politics had come to John Campbell? That the electorate did not care about the excesses of neo-liberalism, the causalities of our “free market” economy was abundantly clear in the results of the election.  Campbell was a thorn in their sides.  Well I see that as a moral failure.

Any reasonable person who has a simple grasp of the reality we live in should be able to see that people are living at the margins of society, that vulnerable people are being hurt, hopes dreams and normality is destroyed as a growing number of people are being excluded from participating in society.  The answer from political parties as a whole is inadequate.  Labour wants to in fight about the politics of funding transgender surgeries and National throws 25.00 at families and crows about how generous it is.  Enough to make me vomit. The Greens are written off as looney lefties, New Zealand first is more concerned about a bit more tar seal in Northland, Peter Dunne well if he was ever the answer the question was exceedingly stupid and The Maori Party have become as irrelevant as the ACT (the association of charlatans and tax avoiders).

The only politicians who care are soon shut up by their political masters because the voters only want to hear good news, they don’t want to have to be the ones who tell us that we need to either pay more tax or grow the cake.  Perhaps we need to make sure that the multinationals who profit so much from the free market and flexible labour laws pay their share, perhaps we need to make sure that those who profit tax free from property do so no longer and perhaps we also need to say enough… demand that our Government does what is should and eliminate poverty and its close cousin of abuse in New Zealand.

Rest in Peace Campbell Live, but it is time we stood up as we should.

Paul

One great love, really?

This is a notion that I have wrestled with for a couple of years.  For a number of reasons I wondered if in this life we are destined to have just one great love.  I know this is a result of suffering loss, Continue reading

What price integrity? Four dollars today at Pak n Save

Today in New Zealand we had a budget delivered, with great fanfare John Key announced his massive attack on poverty.  A huge 25.00 per week for single parents and low income families.  In this case a low income family is counted as someone who is earning less than 17.50 or so per hour for a 40 hour week.  In my town that won’t even pay for one of my children to visit the doctor, it would take 10 extra weeks to gather enough to pay for a couple of fillings, it might pay for one child’s school uniform and fees for the year, how is that going to impact on child poverty? In the mean time the rent will have risen and taken care of the 25.00, school fees will have risen because the rise in the general grant will only be 1% this year, not even the rate of inflation.

I had a stark reminder of the face of child poverty tonight.  I was shopping at a supermarket and the guy in front of me was making a single purchase, a can of infant formula.  He had a worried expression on his face and ran his fingers through his change seeming to count it, he placed the tin on the counter and said how much is that?  17:99 said the checkout operator, I’ll have to come back he said, the operator shot a glance at me and I at him, we both knew he wasn’t coming back, the look of desperation and sadness on his face told me everything I needed to know, it was like I could see the wheels moving in his head, where can I find $4:00,

It was cold and wet outside, his clothes looked inadequate for the weather, they had clearly seen better days and his feet were blue from the cold, rubber Jandals were what he was wearing.  Ill pay the balance I found myself saying, “what was that he said, I’ll make up the difference, he said” no mate I can’t accept that”, I said it’s not for you.  Been there done that I said to make him feel better, not quite true I have been broke before but always enough food in our house.  He handed over the $14:00 he had and I paid the rest, he turned to me tears in his eyes and said you don’t know what this means, I think I did, he turned and left and I was filled with regret.  Four miserable dollars, I should have paid for the lot, invariably I will have the same amount of money at the end of the week.

The checkout operator said it was the hardest part of her job watching as people put things back as they didn’t have enough to pay, and she said it’s not tobacco and alcohol going back it is food, bread butter.  She said it is hard, she feels the tears welling up and there is nothing she can do, she is not allowed to.  She said it was the first time she had seen somebody do something about it like I had, she said I was a good man.  Well you know what I think about that moniker, from some of my posts (https://kiwipaulspoetry.wordpress.com/2013/07/04/if-someone-tells-me-i-am-a-good-man-one-more-time/) a good man, like heck I am.  I couldn’t stop and tell her why I wasn’t a good man, I just thanked her and left.

I am not telling this story because I want people to know that I am a kind man, I am relaying the story to show the face of poverty.  For me the decision to pay for the balance was easy. It is about retaining my integrity, looking myself in the mirror, if I thought that by my lack of compassion a baby was going to miss out on food then that is just too bloody awful to contemplate.  I don’t care if he smoked or drank, although there was no evidence of the above and if he had put formula back on the shelf and bought tobacco or alcohol I would have given him the edge of my tongue. Judgemental? Absolutely.  So an easy decision to make.

The question is how do I make it right for the children living in cold, damp overcrowded houses, the children who don’t get to the doctor, the children who just don’t eat right. How do I make it right for the pensioner shivering in the cold because they are scared of the next big power bill?  How do I make that right, it is just as unacceptable…

I intend to write on this over the next few weeks (as usual with a few distractions) tonight I am grateful for friends, family, warmth and love.

Paul

A repost of a riposte

Tonight for you,

without further adieu

I bring to you

a poem

Verse is hard

So it’s said

the like

has not been read

ever before

in Hansard.

Tonight’s poem is from a man who is a poet but till now he didn’t know it.  I was going to write of budgets and housing but tonight this will do.

This is the poem Andrew Little read in Parliament, quite funny I thought!

Twas the night before the Budget
When all through the House.
The National Back Benches were keen for a stoush
The promises were hung during the election with care
Of course they would fill them
How could they not
They wouldn’t dare.
September 14 was a different time
The Back Benchers quite happy, some in their prime.
Nested all snug in their leather armchairs
John, Bill and Steven washed away all their fears
There had been promises of surpluses, of poverty relieved
Of great fiscal wonders, or so they believed.
“They’ve got us this fat, the Back Benchers said”
“What could possibly go wrong?”
“We’re so far ahead!”
But Bill English knew, he just hid his fear
That all their good words were just plain hot air
It was great that Mike Hosking and Paul Henry were glowing
But nothing could mask an economy slowing.
“We have to do something, we have to be quick”
Said John Key to his Cabinet that had run out of tricks.
“Now Bennett, now Adams, Now Bridges and Tolley
Forget Steven Joyce and his conventional folly.
Where’s Woodhouse, McCully, Crosbey and Textor
If there’s one thing clear – you all have to do better.
I need plans to help Auckland, to slow housing prices
To help feed the kids, and fix other vices.
Where is the plan for trains, trucks and bikes.
My Facebook page tanking, I can’t get no likes.”
“And I’m sick of seeing Andy, the new man about town
He never gets angry, we can’t bring him down”.
Bill English stepped forwarded in canonical mood;
“Just stop there John, I don’t mean to be rude
You may not have noticed, but we have a crisis
And it’s nothing to do with our troops fighting ISIS
Exports are diving, dairy is down
There isn’t much happening in any small town
I know I have said the problem’s inflation.
But there’s something much bigger – John Bank’s compensation.
You said don’t touch taxes, levies and fees
But how will we pay for this – it don’t grow on trees.”
And then the talk came to a stop with a shudder
The Prime Minister knew -his heart now aflutter
Up from the back came a great throaty roar
Judith Collins appeared on Parliament’s floor.
“I’ve heard all of your talk, me and Todd Muller
All you’re known as now is ponytail puller”
“Out of the way – shove this in your gob
I’m here to take over, it’s my turn in your job.”

The Buck Stops here…

I watched a lengthy interview of Paul Keating the other day.  It traversed his time in politics with Bob HawkeInline images 1  Keating and Hawke are  both ex Prime Ministers of Australia, with Keating serving as Treasurer to Hawke.  The interview was candid and interesting, there was one thing that I found refreshing.

Australia had a recession, not as bad as New Zealand’s and the economic medicine that was prescribed was not as nasty as ours.  The neo-liberals did not reign supreme over there.  Some of this is due to the fact that there was a minerals boom in Australia that set a whole lot of other economic indicators in place, however they did have a recession.

In life and in politics it is very rare to hear people take responsibility for their actions, however it is both liberating and honourable to do so, all care and no responsibility seems to be the catch cry of many politicians and CEO’s. John Banks was on TV acclaiming his acquittal of electoral fraud charges as innocence, what a crock of the proverbial.  A man who cannot remember a helicopter ride to the mansion of Kim Dotcom is hardly reliable. The defence of accepting someone else doing the paper work is disingenuous and morally bankrupt.  More so because Banksie campaigns on morals and presents himself as above reproach.  Banks made a fatal mistake, he forgot the cardinal rule and that is the piper has to be paid.  When Mr Dotcom was languishing at the courtesy of her majesty on remand, he needed a kindness.  Banks ran like a scalded cat, the rest they say is history.  But enough of how he got into the situation it is how he got out of it.

I don’t like Banks or his politics, just to put it out there and I was not unpleased to see his grubby little arrangement become undone.  However if he had smply come out and said I stuffed up, I got it wrong, I should have checked it is not good enough, I would have supported him.  I would have had no choice because he would have been practicing what I preach. I would have supported him staying in Parliament and supported a discharge without conviction, because in doing so he would have been setting the right example.  In doing so he would have provided the best defence and shut up the critics baying for blood, and set the example.

Back to Keating, you see Paul Keating said that in the end, no matter the outside influences, the policies etc he was  Treasurer Minister of Finance when the recession struck and he was responsible. I don’t remember what he said at the time  and revisionist judgements are not the best but he said it was my responsibility it happened on my watch, end of the story.

Contrast this to our present day pollies, they will do anything to avoid taking responsibility.  The trouble with politics is that it is turned into a giant game of gotcha, which is driven by vested interests.  Health housing, welfare education, all the same.  We in New Zealand have tried to run with a budget approach to these things which are driven by the ideology of low tax and the neo-liberal mantra of privatisation and the nonsense of competition and market forces, which are euphemisms for corporatisation and the shifting of wealth from the bottom to the top.  We cannot have world class education and low taxes, the same with health and even housing but nobody wants to tell the truth because that is the equivalent of a bucket of cold sick for breakfast so what do we get.

What we get is secondary taxation in the form of health insurance, ever rising school fees, and the commodification of basic housing just a tip of the iceberg.  Those who cannot are cast onto the heap essentially, this is a short sighted approach that is costing us all dearly financially and in real terms.  It is reflected in crime, abuse and many other negative social indicators, it is reflected in children living in poverty, short of food, clothes and above all else love and affection.  It starts in my opinion in a very basic place and the answers begin in solving that.  It is not solved by increasing benefits, more money spent on health and education the solution lies in housing, in my next blog I will explain why, as to Banks, Key, Little, Dot Com et al, learn to take responsibility and be accountable.

Paul

How is your day?

A simple question often asked, a nicety, exchanged as a way to kill the silence, friends who know me will know my motto of don’t ask a question you don’t want to hear the answer to…… Continue reading