Thursday, March 14, 2013

The amazing role of parents

One of the legacies of the last Labour government was that, in order to distract from the fact they weren't really doing anything to restore the living standards of those at the bottom, they got various government departments to print glossy propaganda telling us Good Stuff Was Happening. National has continued this practice, recognising that when you're running the country for the benefit of a few it's important to pretend otherwise.

One such rag is the Ministry of Social Development's Rise (left). The latest edition of this taxpayer-funded misinformation features an article on the back telling parents to 'treasure our children'. Presumably parents need to be told this or they'd forget. There's a little blurb about how children are a gift, then under the heading [caps locks in original] THE AMAZING ROLE OF PARENTING, parents who have made it this far are told they are doing 'the most important job in the world'.

Who knew? Recent changes to welfare have all assumed parents on benefits are totally unable and/or unwilling to care for their children and need the loving hand of the nanny state to prompt them to - how does the article put it? - make sure 'kids have the things they need'. Now I'd bet dollars to donuts that making sure 'kids have the things they need' in no way shape or form will involve the aforementioned nanny state increasing benefit payments for sole parents or improving levels of family assistance for the low-paid. On the contrary, Working for Families has been cut back and in what looked like a rich man's in-joke, the minimum wage was raised by 25c a couple of weeks ago. Then there's all the kids with parents who have lost jobs or are living in cars or other inadequate housing, or the most needy about to have their state schools gutted by Catherine Issac's Great Charter School Experiment. In fact, the White Paper on Vulnerable Children released late last year hardly mentions poverty and entirely ignores the fact that many children are already missing out on 'things they need', preferring instead to focus on snooping and reporting on families.

All this suggests that it's not parents who need to be told to treasure our children, it's a government wedded to cutting social services, telling the poor how to look after their children, and monitoring and tracking citizens. Most parents already do an amazing job. The Ministry of Social Development and its minister should butt out.