Monday, December 14, 2009

Growing up in a state house leads to success

Labour MP, Moana Mackey, at Red Alert, is calling for more state housing in Hobsonville. But, she says, John Key won't have it is his electorate;

John Key has milked his state house upbringing for all its worth, yet he is now denying 500 more Auckland families that same opportunity. Seem contradictory? Not really. I’ve long thought that whereas Labour believes John Key did well because he grew up in a state house, he believes he did well despite growing up in a state house.


That is just the most absurd statement. Labour believes John Key did well because he grew up in a state house. What are the implications of that? If John Key did well because he grew up in a state house then everybody who grows up in a state house should do well? If John Key hadn't grown up in state house he would not have done well?

John Key grew up in a generation when state houses weren't routinely occupied by people without jobs. If parent/s work, children are likely to follow in their footsteps. Having a job is a good enough definition of 'doing well' for me. Whether the house was owned or rented didn't make the difference. What John Key got from his mother was a work ethic.

Both Moana Mackey and John Key make too much out of growing up in a state house.

8 comments:

Psycho Milt said...

Her point isn't well worded, but it is a point: Key would have had a lot more trouble making a success of himself if his mother had been reliant for his accommodation on charity, or finding John a wicked stepfather, or putting him in the workhouse so she could become a hooker - all of which were familiar and common options of pre-welfare days. Key seems to regard his state-house upbringing as "adversity" he had to overcome - whereas Labour sees it, far more accurately, as something that stood between him and adversity.

Lindsay said...

By pre-welfare when do you mean PM?
NZ has has a Widow's pension since 1911. Granted it wasn't enough to survive on but it supplemented income from work and over the years steadily increased in value. Yes, women who were widowed commonly remarried to gain support for their children but is there evidence all step-fathers were wicked? Men who married widows and their children were better motivated than many 'step-fathers' today, hanging around to leech off the benefit.

NZ has never had workhouses. It had orphanages, industrial schools and charitable aid provided via hospitals boards and funded through rates. So I am not sure when pre-welfare was.

Otherwise I see your point. But I think state houses - like benefits - have ceased to be as aspect of society that is broadly respected and appreciated. They were once. Now, too often, rather than standing between children and adversity, they trap them in it.

But if we are going to have them, pepper-potting is probably preferable. Although the realities of implementing such a policy are almost insurmountable.

Psycho Milt said...

I don't think "charitable aid" equates to welfare, unless it was an entitlement.

But I think state houses - like benefits - have ceased to be as aspect of society that is broadly respected and appreciated.

Personally, I think Key perfectly illustrates this, in his implication that living in a state house constituted "adversity" that he overcame.

Lindsay said...

Charitable aid was unlike private charity because it wasn't raised through voluntary donations. So even though receipt of it wasn't an entitlement as such, it still constituted a form of public welfare. Even the old age pension wasn't strictly an entitlement. Applicants had to plead their case in front of a magistrate and many people were refused due to things like being unable to prove date of birth, not being of sober habits, being Asian, etc.

"Personally, I think Key perfectly illustrates this, in his implication that living in a state house constituted "adversity" that he overcame."

I agree. But I think he is trading on how National voters think about state houses today. As I said originally, in the 1960s and 70s today's adversity didn't apply.

Johnboy said...

I am very depressed reading this. I grew up in a state house but unlike Mr Key I am not worth $50M. What a failure I am.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure that, at the time Mrs Key was receiving a widow's benefit, there was a relatively generous income abatement level for widow's benefit recipients who did domestic work, such that they were better off than other benefit recipients. National made the change in the 1950s to help counter the shortage of domestic workers (there were better jobs on offer for women by then).

Psycho Milt, you might be able to check this out if you have access to the report of the 1972 Royal Commission on Social Security. From memory, it's in the chronology of changes to benefits at the back of the report.

Shane Pleasance said...

I can pretty much categorically say the My Keys growing up in a state house has not helped me.

brian_smaller said...

State houses, especially state house ghettos, are unsavoury and horrible areas. Anyone who thinks that they are nice should try living in Naenae or Taita. Believe me, it can be very unpleasant.