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CALEB ANDERSON: Root cause of poverty

Yesterday I shopped in a large central Auckland supermarket. I was served by a very efficient and friendly checkout operator who moved to NZ six months ago from India to join some members of her family. When I asked her how she had found NZ, she responded that she could not believe how bad crime was here. Just the week before two female shoppers had loaded their trolley and commenced to leave the supermarket without paying. After an altercation with security they left, without their goods, but free to have another go somewhere else. My conversation with this supermarket employee got me thinking. I don't want to be disrespectful to India. I don't know much about India, and I have never visited there. I also know some amazing Indian New Zealanders just for the record. They seem to me to make hard-working, respectful, and law-abiding citizens by and large. But I kind of imagined that crime would be far worse there than it is here. Maybe it is, but seemingly not in the mind of this lady. Perhaps this lady simply expected crime to be very much lower in NZ given our comparative privilege. I guess I had imagined crime would be worse there than here because India is per capita a much poorer country than NZ. I have seen photographs of people in India rummaging on scrapheaps for food or anything salvageable. They seem not to have any significant state-funded welfare system, hospitals seem largely inaccessible to the poor, and people seem (and I say seem) to be left to their own devices, or the support of their families. What we have been told increasingly, and very loudly, by left-wing activists is that crime is a direct function of poverty. That if the system was kinder and more generous to the "poor", people would not be committing crimes, at least not in the way, or to the degree, we are currently seeing. The answer we are told is, by and large, as simple as wealth distribution. The implication is that if we give people more money, they will be much less likely to commit crimes. This is precisely the Maori and Green Party policy. Redistribute wealth, close prisons, give people a voice, provide them with comfortable homes and all will be well. But if all of this was true, NZ would have less crime than India, and less crime than almost anywhere else, and this should have been the case for a very long time. If this was true people would not be stealing cars, laptops, sports gear, or vaping pens. They would be stealing basic necessities. Further, if the left explanation for poverty was true we would notice an inverse relationship between benefit levels and crime. When benefits go up, crime goes down. Are we seeing this, any of this? We all know that we are not. Recently I blogged my view that the real crisis in NZ, and in the West more generally is a crisis of virtue, and especially of duty, of duty to family, to others, and to country. Duty to make your own way, and expect nothing material as of right. I am NOT saying that people do not need a hand up, that society shouldn't watch out for the less fortunate. I guess I am saying that to expect someone to turn up to work, and to remember that wealth is generated by someone's effort somewhere, are reasonable expectations ... and to claim some of that wealth as though you are entitled to it is theft. One of the biggest problems in left-wing thinking is the idea that people are fundamentally good, and that bad systems make them do bad things. This idea is far too simplistic. While it does bear an element of truth, it is no more true than the assertion that people can also do bad things when they are allowed to get away with it, when it makes life easier for them, or when they are simply angry that someone has something that they do not have. The solution to poverty, at least in part, is an expectation of turning up to work, of paying your own way, of taking responsibility for those nearest to you, of grasping opportunities that do come your way, of turning up to school, and of seeing welfare as a bridge towards independence. I get a sense that our new government gets this.



Caleb Anderson, a graduate history, economics, psychotherapy and theology, has been an educator for over thirty years, twenty as a school principal.


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71 Comments


Funny, in third world countries stealing is considered uncool, in first world countries it is considered cool, just talking to a friend of mine down country, they are doing up their new home, a complete make over, the delivery man brings the new stove in, and puts it in place, he then takes a photo of it inside the house, reason been, so he has proof that he delivered it. Apparently not all delivery people are honest, it seems some have been caught stealing delivered goods, what they have been doing, is delivering the goods to the front door, taking a photo to prove they delivered the goods, then up lifting them, you don't hear about this type of shit…

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Melissa D
Melissa D
Oct 25, 2023

Oh the good ole redistribution of wealth, well we all know embedded in the Greens Party are Communists (and other parties actually), so it is no surprise what they are aiming for. However, blaming poverty or parents etc. is way too simplistic. The bottom line the mindset has the biggest part to play; when, where , what , how - it boils down to a choice to become either a criminal or law abiding citizen; on one hand a criminal, easy quick money and "things" lots of material things, including opioids, misplaced fame, oh and the thrill, on the other hand law abiding - long hours working for income, to pay bills, to live, to treat oneself or others, strug…

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basilwnz
basilwnz
Oct 23, 2023

The linking of poverty with crime is understandable, but overly simplistic. Recently read, although a US perspective:

The movement of groups up the social ladder to the middle class over time is associated with sharp declines in violent crime. The reason for this is easily appreciated. The middle class person has everything to lose, and little to gain, from interpersonal violence: personal injury, loss of status, and criminal justice sanctions.

Plus, the civic legal system provides effective alternatives for dispute resolution that middle class individuals can afford.

Now we can better understand why so many offenders are in the low income bracket. It isn't poverty that causes crime, but rather that more affluent people avoid violent conflict.

Both Left and…

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Replying to

Likewise, but unfortunately there have been many drastic changes. I have family scattered around the world. Division and extremist behaviour appears to be flourishing.

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Aaron Shanahan
Aaron Shanahan
Oct 23, 2023

Look.

I'm going to say this, without fear nor favor.

And a warning.

Do you really want to know what real new Zealand people are sick of? Do you really want to hear it?

Well it's about time you bloody well did.

This is personal to me.

I grew up in a country, a community and a province that valued hard work, family unit values and thrived on that success to make their own lives easier, and better to enable their own to do better.

We eschewed any goverment intervention, at local level or otherwise and just , to be extremely blunt, got on with the job of doing and not listening to endless obfuscation and waffle that served no…


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If redistributive policies were confined mostly to education (more school supplies and teacher resources) and work opportunities (apprenticeship, training, relocation allowance, etc.) then I imagine few taxpayers would complain.

That’s precisely because everyone could see there’s a social contract that benefits all, as those who gain work will then be able to support those who still need help.

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