If you feel poor, you are poor. That's the message of Sue (Governments can do Everything) Bradford, who is re-defining what poverty means in an effort to get more government into more lives.
The poverty she is now highlighting is a poverty of experience. You might even call it a poverty brought about by a culture of dependency. Poverty, she argues, includes "children who have never travelled on the motorway they live next to, or who had never been over the Harbour Bridge, or who didn't know when their birthdays were..."
What Bradford describes is not the poverty you have when you can't pay your bills, it's a poverty of imagination, and poverty of imagination is one thing the parts of South Auckland she talks about is not short of -- that is, the parts in which state housing, state welfare, and the state's factory schools dominate. Otara and Mangere were planned, designed, built, and are still dominated by the state: As I argued in The Warrior Culture of South Auckland (Part 1 & Part2) it has produced a culture of dependence that can only be fixed by less meddling by the state, not more.
Bradford thinks governments can fix poverty in South Auckland. They can't. You can't fix a poverty of imagination with money; you can only solve it by encouraging independence.
She thinks governments can fix everything. She thinks, for example, that governments can fix housing. "South Auckland continues to suffer a critical shortage of adequate housing for low-income families. The Government should accelerate its state housing program," says Bradford.
Has she never considered that it is excessive government regulation of buildings and land that has caused the housing problem for low-income families by putting the price of decent housing beyond their reach? No, I don't suspect she has. But it has. As I've argued here recently, "The reason buying a first home is getting beyond many first-home buyers is not the fault of banks, real estate agents or 'greedy developers' ... it is the fault of a political market that has locked up land and over-regulated its use." As I've also mentioned a few times (here for instance), the Building Act and other associated meddling has helped building costs themselves double in only a few short years. And does she really want the government to be building slums while banning growth?
Perhaps, if she reflects, Bradford might join me in seeking to remove the government's meddling, so that low-income earners can once again afford to buy their own home. Or does she too suffer from a poverty of imagination, just like the people of South Auckland she criticises?
Says Bradford: "I call on this Labour-led Government to find the political will to transform and lift up the communities that these children live in." Bradford's been a busybody from birth, but surely even she can see that the government has done enough in South Auckland. It's time to pull back and let people get on with their own lives, and to learn from their own mistakes. I wonder when she will?
Linked Articles: The 'warrior culture' of South Auckland, Part 1
The 'warrior culture' of South Auckland, Part 2
Sprawl is good; regulation is not
A fairy tale of a leaky house or two
The 'deregulated' building industry...
Building slums while banning growth
Related: Auckland, Urban_Design, Environment, Politics-NZ, Building, Politics, Architecture , Politics-Greens