I predict that’s how this government will be seen from a few years hence. There has been a steady stream of measures that advantage those above certain pay scales while demonising, stigmatising and punishing those below.
A lot of the conscious or subconscious motivation for the demonising process is pseudospeciation. You and I are the same species. Our human species spent a few hundred-thousand years (at least) escaping from, preying upon and defending ourselves against other species: big cats, crocodiles, angry antelopes – you name it.
As we brought these mostly under control, or at least learnt to control our environments to the extent where the ever present danger wasn’t so ever present, the restless human mind fostered conflict between people instead, to make up for the shortfall in … I don’t know, adrenaline rushes or something? Or purely from self interest and covetousness for what others had.
Which is not to say I’m a complete cynic. Humans also collaborated to farm, build villages, transport networks, to trade, so swap knowledge and to otherwise mutually benefit each other.
Anyway, back to pseudospeciation. If I call you a kike, a pom, a jungle-bunny or any of the other thousands of pejorative terms we have invented for each other over the millennia, I am making you ‘other’. Not human like me. Something I can more easily be prejudiced against and ignorant about.
The more National punishes those on low incomes, no incomes and benefits, the more people on good incomes can feel they are not as human as them. The more easy it is to scorn them, fail to identify with them and, most importantly, to empathise with their state and conditions. The more Māori slammed into prison, the more others can tell themselves ‘they’re not like us’. The more money the wealthy make, the wider the gap between us and ‘them’.
As the gulf widens, the more they can kid themselves they are better, more deserving and above all, right.
Right being the operative word.
There are three major tiers to New Zealand society these days — those with hardly anything, the middle band and the wealthy. The middle band – the middle class, if you like – used to be much bigger. Now they’re either being pushed into the underclass by multifarious moves by this Government (and Labour pushed some of those out there was well, but it’s getting much worse under Key and Joyce) or sold the line that they, too, can reach the top band.
This makes them into de facto National supporters (or worse). They’ve bought the Key Kool Aid of upwards mobility, status elevation and cash, thanks to tax breaks, prosecutions redirected towards benefit fraudsters and away from the much more prevalent and costly white collar crime, and measures like the ability to fire people within 90 days without any reason or right of comeback, meaning companies can use cheap, low-wage hires to get them through busy periods. This is just another Faustian bargain.
And they fool themselves they work hard for this.