Child poverty by Susan Grimsdell

I find myself puzzled by something or other every single day.  Today I’ve been giving attention to our NZ government’s declaration that it’s going to reduce child poverty, preferably get rid of it altogether.

Children in poverty

Now, I’ve never seen a child living in poverty in a well-off household.  Has anyone?  If a child’s living in poverty, surely the parents are too?  I mean, I know people can be horrible to their kids, but this seems to be truly beyond the pale – the parents OK, the child hungry and in rags.  Really?

Perhaps the government’s unspoken assumption is that yes, the parents are living in poverty too, but if we drag the child up and out, the family will be hanging on behind so the whole family will get to be well off?

Adults in poverty

This makes me worried about the people I see on my daily walk up Queen Street in our biggest city.  They are adults and they’re sleeping in shop doorways, so I can only assume they’re poor.  But they don’t have kids, or if they do, they’re tucked away out of sight, not sitting beside them looking wretched the way these adults are.

Is our government callously and specifically excluding these people from government attention?  When people show up for government help are they kicked out if they aren’t a kid?  “You don’t look like a child.  Sorry, our policy doesn’t include you.”

What I really think is that the government is playing on our sentimentality.  Most of us like kids.  Most of us feel bad about kids going hungry.  Adults are a different matter – half the time it’s their own fault (as many people think, not me, let me spell that out).  It’s hard to pull the heartstrings over adults.  Kids are a whole heap easier.

Or is this me being over-the-top cynical?   Anyone who knows me wouldn’t doubt that for a moment.

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