Anything not everything

June 19, 2017

Mine was probably the last generation of girls who grew up thinking we’d get married and have children – and in that order.

We were encourage to have jobs or even careers, but the expectation for most of us was that, sooner rather than later, family would come first.

Younger women have grown up with different expectations, many based on the exhortation that girls can do anything.

The trouble with that line is that it’s taken to mean they can do, and have,  everything – career, relationship, family . . .

But as Deborah Coddington says in commenting on Holly Walker’s Memoir The Whole Intimate Mess:

Walker admits she saw it as a chance to show women could have it all. Isn’t it about time someone, somewhere, blazed across the sky: if you choose to do one thing you are, ipso facto, forgoing something else? . . 

Coddington has been criticised on Twitter for her view, but she’s right.

Anyone might be able to do anything, but that is very different from being able to do everything, or at the very least being able to do it all at once:

Undoubtedly changes could be made to the system in the behemoth, but raising a baby is one of the most important things a mum or dad can do. Should it be slotted between points of order, supplementary questions, constituency meetings, select committees? Certainly not when a woman ends up badly mentally and physically hurt, no matter who is inflicting the abuse.

Perhaps I’m just old-fashioned. I had my first child five days after I turned 22, 42 years ago, and I loved raising babies. But at the same time I watched with envy as my journalism colleagues soared up the career ladder while I felt abandoned in Wairarapa teaching a little one to talk, garden and cook playdough. But when my four children were at school I could claw my way back up to the top in journalism, full time, then look at those same colleagues, now in their late 30s, early 40s, struggle with IVF, difficult pregnancies and exhaustion as they juggled early childcare and jobs.

My point is you actually can have everything; but maybe not at the same time.

Definitely not at the same time, and not always when you want it.

By the time young couples have completed their education, travel, and are well on their way up the career ladder, conception might not come easily, if at all.

As a friend commented during a discussion on infertility,  Our parents worried we’d have babies too soon, our generation worries our children are leaving it too late.

A point Amanda Gillies made on the AM Show:

“I say to girls, particularly young girls, have your children early if you can. I waited, I shouldn’t have, and so I say to them: Career you can always come back to it – children you can’t,” Gillies said.

“So do it early, it’s so much easier. I’m now 40, it’s probably not a happening thing and it’s a heartbreaking thing because as a woman you do feel like a failure.” . . 

If these busy career people do manage to have children, the idea that life can go on as it did pre-parenthood seriously underestimates the demands even the healthiest and happiest of babies make, ignores the almost certainty that no baby is 100% happy and healthy, and shows little if any appreciation of the time, energy and commitment it takes to bring up children.

In most young families today, men play a much more active parenting role than their fathers did and women are much more likely to be in paid work than their mothers were.

Parents sharing the caregiving and wage-earning can be better for them and their children.

But the message that girls – and boys – can do anything needs to be tempered with the caution that if they try to do everything at once something will give and if having children comes later on the to-do list, they might find it’s too late.

 


Quote of the day

February 6, 2012

In Once Were Warriors Jake the Muss was this country’s hero, when it should have been Beth, with her line: “You’ll never hurt my babies again, Jake.” Deborah Coddington.


Who’d work with whom?

November 24, 2011

John Key has proved he can work with some unlikely coalition partners.

He’s managed to provide a strong and stable government with Act to the right or him and the Maori and United Parties to the left.

How would you rate Phil Goff’s chances of keeping together the stack of colation partners he’d have to appease?

They’re not even in negotiation yet and already the Maori Party is unenthusiastic about one of the other parties  which would be in the stack. Deborah Coddington left this comment:

What newsrooms should really be asking the Greens is whether they can work with the Maori Party. I interviewed Tariana Turia today and asked her if she can work with the Greens and her response was astounding. I asked her if she trusted the Greens to return the conservation estate to tangata whenua and her response was an unequivocal, “I don’t believe they would”.

I asked her about the Greens’ policy to put a price on water for irrigation, and the tangata whenua’s very strong relationship with waters and rivers, and what she thought about who that money should be going to, under principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. Her reply: “I’ve always been a bit suspicious of him [Russel Norman]…I don’t think they’re as honest as they make out to be.”

Someone, she said, should be putting these questions to the Greens before Saturday.

Someone should, but will they? See why do the Greens get such an easy ride? Part One for the answer.


Splitting to double benefit doesn’t add up

August 8, 2010

Another sign that something’s rotten in the welfare state: couples are splitting to get extra benefit.

A community leader in New Zealand’s “DPB capital” of Kawerau says 70 per cent of those claiming the benefit in the town have partners “round the back door”.

Kay Brereton of the Beneficiary Advocacy Federation said couples who might be getting $200 below their living costs on the $324 weekly couple unemployment benefit were being tempted to split.

One could then get $278 on the domestic purposes benefit (DPB) and the other could get $194 on the single dole – a total of $472, and almost $150 extra a week.

“In the current financial reality, more and more couples will be looking to maximise their income,” Ms Brereton said.

People living separately and claiming two benefits would get more than if they lived together. That’s because their outgoings on rent, food, power and other basic costs would be lower for one household than two.” But they’d spend more too because their outgoings on rent, food, power and other basic costs would be higher for two households than one.

Couples who deliberately arrange their affairs by living apart to maximise benefit payments are committing fraud. But as Lindsay Mitchell says: Forget  illegal. What about immoral?

Her post DPB – same story, different decade is also pertinent as is Deborah Coddington’s column time to wake up to reality of child-bashing shame.

The benefit which was designed to give temporary help to women and children leave hopeless relationships,  still does for some. But it’s a trap for others and is one of the factors in our appalling record of child abuse.


On ACC they said:

October 18, 2009

Not all editorials and columns agree with the government view on ACC’s problems and solutions.

But there is concensus that there is a big problem in need of an enduring solution.

Southland Times:

That belt-tightening exercise we’re enduring with ACC – there comes a point where what you’ve got is no longer a tightened belt. It’s a tourniquet. Confuse the two and something’s going to blacken and fall off, writes The Southland Times in an editorial.

Many eyes are bulging at the severity of the huge rises to ACC levies, and the toughening up of the qualifying criteria. These measures, including an extra $320 a year coming out of the average wage (which actually seven out of 10 workers are on or below), do need scrutiny for over-reaching.

ODT:

Of greater concern is the growth of future liabilities, from $9.4 billion to $23.8 billion in four years, and a good deal of the responsibility for widened and costly coverage can be laid at the door of the Clark government.

An example is the physiotherapy benefit . . . According to the Government, the subsidy introduced by Labour in 2004 and budgeted to cost $9 million a year had by this year risen to $139 million and was projected to rise to $225 million by 2011-12, with no equivalent rise in rehabilitation rates.

It has quoted other examples of how the scheme has developed far beyond its original concept to cover diseases like leptospirosis and brucellosis and medical conditions like asthma, when, it argues, these should instead be paid for out of Vote Health.

To these might be added trauma of various kinds suffered by victims and perpetrators resulting not from accidents but from criminal acts, mental injury arising from workplace trauma, and sports injuries.

When it began with the 1972 Accident Compensation Act, only those who were employed were entitled to claim for workplace accidents. That soon changed to cover all accidents, including motor vehicle accidents, regardless how injury occurred.

Timaru Herald:

The unworkable or unprofitable parts will have to be bundled back into a Government scheme. And somewhere in the middle the romantic notion of a Government-funded no-fault system will have to be modified in a politically-acceptable way.

It is a Herculean task and one that will provide a stern test for the National Government. Whatever happens in the long term, what is crystal clear today is that taxpayers will have to dig deep to get ACC out of the mire. Having a unique highly regarded system is great in theory. It is also extremely expensive.

The Press:

What would really undermine ACC and its no-fault comprehensive coverage principle would be a lack of firm action taken now to control its costs, with major levy rises not just a short-term source of financial pain for New Zealanders but something that continues well into future years.

The Nelson Mail:

Though there has been no shortage of spin around ACC’s balance sheet and performance during National’s 11 months in office, it is clear some significant changes were needed in order to bring the scheme back under control.

Some of the proposals will sail in – no more entitlements for injured methamphetamine “cooks” for example – but increased levies have already provoked wide-ranging protest.

Dominion Post:

There is no such thing as a free ACC system.

That must be central to the honest conversation the Government is asking New Zealanders to have about the scheme. Stripped to its essentials, the scheme is an insurance one, and that means any entitlement in the scheme costs money, and must be paid for by levies.

The debate must also recognise that the ACC was established to compensate people who are injured. It was not meant to be an extension of the social welfare system, cushioning people against all misfortune. The distinctions it makes are arbitrary, and can be seen as unfair . . .

. . .  The job facing Dr Smith and his colleagues is to convince the public that what is being done is fair, and within the spirit of the deal that saw New Zealanders trade away their right to sue for a no-fault right to compensation.

That deal remains a good one. It should be made to work and made affordable, not torn up.

Taranaki Daily News:

The massive increases aimed at the two-wheelers just highlights what a sorry mess ACC has become. The corporation was introduced in 1974 on April Fool’s Day which probably says much about what it has become – a $24 billion liability to the taxpayer.National promised to put the boot into bureaucrats and under-performing government departments when it came to power last year.

ACC was clearly in its sights and so it should have been.

Quite apart from the horrific imbalance between money taken in and that dished out, New Zealanders have become sick of the tales that have leaked from the corporation throughout its 35-year existence.

Remember the outrage of the prisoner being paid ACC for injuries suffered during the act of crime?

While those criminal instances might be a fraction of the ACC’s overall costs it nevertheless highlights the stupidity of parts of its system.

Past abusers of ACC are partly responsible for the current tightening in all areas.

Deborah Hill Cone:

A benefit now has a cosier name – an entitlement – which is “a right granted by law or contract”. Big. Difference. . .

There has been a lot of talk of entitlements over the ACC-in-a-pickle problem. . .  And the punters who have “entitlements” are no longer called claimants; they are clients, lest it might sound as though they are putting their paw out. The ACC public relations dude told me the Labour Government had asked for the jargon change – Labour understood the power of Neuro-linguistic Programming. The theory was that people had actually paid their premiums and so shouldn’t feel they were getting summat for nothing. Dinky idea, but as we now know, the premiums do not cover the cost of the ACC scheme – so claimants are getting something for nothing. Actually. . .

. . . I am still waiting for someone to explain to me why it is that large corporates, such as Fonterra and Air New Zealand, can opt out of ACC and self-insure – but I can’t. Oh, I get the practical reason – that I don’t have a lazy mill to cover a claim – but where is the policy rationale? The opt-out clause (cosy name: the “partnership programme”) takes 15 per cent of the country’s workers out of ACC. So if these corporates can manage their health and safety liabilities more efficiently than ACC, what does that say about ACC?

Herald on Sunday:

. . .  in the 35 years since ACC was established, so many bits have been carved off and clipped on that it bears little resemblance to the original design.

Anomalies abound: people who work in dangerous jobs pay more in earner levies than people who work in offices, but rugby league forwards incur no more expense by way of premium payment than those whose leisure preference is macrame. . .

More profoundly, many of its conceptual assumptions have been corrupted by this piecemeal regulatory intervention. ACC has not been reviewed since the 1980s and, once it has dealt with the immediate crisis, the Government would do well to consider another reassessment of the entire system.

In 1974, we entered a social contract by which we surrendered the right to sue. As a society, we were keen to avoid the litigious and ludicrously expensive American model.

But it is not an absolute truth than our system is better. Anyone who spends time in the US will quickly notice the lengths to which people go to avoid posing a risk to others.

That carefulness flows from fear of being sued, of course, but it’s worth wondering whether we here have grown too accustomed to being reckless of others’ – and our own – welfare, in the knowledge that someone else will pay.

If nothing else, the crisis we face now reminds us that we are all that someone else.

Deborah Coddington

The Government can remain insurer of last resort for dangerous employers with bad track records, but why should safe, careful employers who look after their workers continue to pay high levies and cross-subsidise the former?


Their thoughts not their words nor their work

April 5, 2009

Deborah Coddington has lost the plot in her column cheeky MPs putting the I in spin which she concludes by saying:

Someone else does the brush strokes, chooses the colours, the MP signs the painting, all hell breaks loose. Someone else writes the sentences, chooses the adjectives and verbs, the MP signs the article.

What’s the difference?

The difference is that the signature on a painting is part of its provenance, which in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, says it’s the signatory’s work and that affects its value.

But MPs aren’t paid for opinion pieces and while their by-line shows it’s their thoughts we know it’s not necessarily all their words nor all their work because we all know they employ people to write for them.

There are two very good reasons for that – they have many more important things to do and they don’t necessarily write well.

The exception to this would be if a piece was supposed to be personal which is why I’ve always wondered about this tribute to Sir Edmund Hillary by Helen Clark  in Mindfood.

It says it’s her recollection but rather than words from the heart of someone who knew the man, it’s an impersonal account of his life which could have been written by any journalist or historian.

If she wrote it, she did herself and Sir Ed a disservice, if she didn’t it shouldn’t have been portrayed as a personal tribute.

An opinon piece expressing a ministers’ views written by someone else is common and accepted practice. A personal tribute that isn’t personal, regardless of who wrote it, short changes the subject and the reader.


Parliamentary stable

October 26, 2008

Deborah Coddington runs her eye over the parliamentary stable:

Helen Clark is obviously the old bay mare. For years, she’s delivered a stellar performance, occasionally stumbling but quickly finding her feet. She’s bossy.

Like the grey mare, Trixie, I rode along the south Wairarapa coast last week, Clark must be at the front of the pack or she gets snappy, laying her ears back and kicking or biting the other horses.

When things go her way she walks out briskly, interested in her surroundings, a great ride.

But start going downhill, or let other horses get in front, and she pig-roots – a minor form of bucking – tosses her head and turns caustic.

John Key’s unproven as station hack, eventer or showjumper, but is worth persevering with.

A vet check would return positive recommendations – he’s sound and has never foundered . . .  

Key’s always well turned-out, has pleasing paces, and given time and challenges, could become a winner.

Winston Peters is the show pony who delivers on promises.

Beautifully groomed; mane and tail shampooed, brushed, then plaited for extra points, he’s charisma on fetlocks. With his coat gleaming, hooves blackened, saddle and bridle clean and supple, he dances into the ring rolling his eyes, playing to the crowd, certain he’s going to scoop the prizes despite most judges writing him off at each new gymkhana.

But just when this crowd pleaser’s on track for the rosette, as Bob Harvey said of his performance as Labour president, the show pony shat in the parade ring.

The powerful, thrillingly scary, rearing, snorting and occasionally uncontrollable stallion has to be Hone Harawira.

Nobody expected this steed to grow from the shaggy, station-bred, desperado he once was, into the impressive black National Bank lookalike he’s become. . .

. . . With Peter Dunne, the name says it all – a reliable, bombproof dun gelding trusted with your granny or the fearful kiddie who’s never visited a farm. Good in traffic, easy to float and shoe, often underrated, you’d be surprised how valuable these old faithfuls really are.

Rodney Hide’s like the little teaser stallion – a pint-sized troublemaker useful for egging on the mares (literally); a loner who entertains everyone, but must remain over the fence, plotting and alone in his paddock, maybe a donkey for company, lest he sully the popularity of the winning herd.

Peters might be a crowd pleaser but if he doesn’t do better than the polls he’s bound for the electoral knackers yard; and win or lose Clark will be searching for fresh pastures before the end of the next parliamentary term.


%d bloggers like this: