If I have one fault it’s that I’m too nice. That and my obvious lack of humility.
My mum always used to say 'you’re so even, Andrew'. That was because I never really get angry and I don’t want to cause unnecessary bother for anyone.
But Dad used to say that was a weakness. 'The squeaky wheel gets the oil, Andrew'. But I just can’t do that. I’m not good at stamping my feet or saying no.
But I’m learning that the squeaky wheels do get attention. And that most people are like me. Good people who don’t want to cause a fuss or be a burden.
And it’s led me to wonder whether everything is what it seems. I was thinking that yesterday when we saw a Wellness survey which showed only 1.1 per cent of New Zealanders identified themselves as gay or lesbian and 2 per cent as bisexual. Presumable people who identify as other colours of the rainbow are even fewer. I was genuinely surprised by that finding.
But considering how much of the national conversation centres around LGBTIQ issues, despite the low numbers, you have to say that they are definitely a squeaky wheel and they definitely get oil. Not that I hold that against them since the overwhelming majority have been pretty horrible to them through the centuries.
But it also made me wonder how many other issues are fired on by a vocal minority (otherwise known as the squeaky wheels) and how many national perceptions have been skewed by them. And then in turn how that makes government actions impotent.
For instance, there is no doubt that Maori are disproportionately represented in the bad statistics such as prisoners, child abuse and substance abuse. But that is not a true picture of the entire population who on the whole are hard working, productive, decent members of society and their families, hapu and iwi. The hardcore are hardcore and not many in number
There is also no doubt that there are pockets of poverty in this country and there are people and children in material deprivation. But when the government came in and lifted the welfare spend by $5.5 billion a few months after they assumed office it seemed to make no difference to the poverty statistics.
Food banks and social housing providers are still run off their feet. But overwhelmingly most people have a roof over their head and a meal in their belly. The hardcore are the hardcore but not many in number
And then we have the revelation from a select committee yesterday that most schools will be worse off under the new measures announced by the government to get rid of school donations. We also know that the measure is threatening things like school camps. The gestation of the policy came because of the perception that school donations were a step too far for too many families in the lower decile areas. But this does not seem to be the case. Because most people even if poor are willing to help fund their child’s education. The donation defaulters are the hardcore but not many in numbers.
It all goes towards the government’s moves to help the hardcore. The perception of the breadth of problems means they apply universal aid. Universal aid to help pensioners heat their homes. Universal aid to help poor people go to uni. But the problems are not universal.
I have always said that Bill English was on to something with his social investment model. It means targeting and some sensitive souls take offence at that. But it would have meant the money and the aid would go to the hardcore and not those who don’t need it.
And I’ve also always said that the vast majority of New Zealanders live responsibly and well in a fantastic country. So don’t let the hardcore convince you we don’t.