Thursday, August 27, 2009

A holiday would be lovely, thanks John

I can picture it now..... a $59.1 million week, paid for by someone else, filled with drama events, sports and outdoor recreation activities. Along with a 10-day adventure camp! How exciting! Perhaps I could go to Queenstown and go white water rafting? Ahhh, sounds just blissful! And it's free!!! And I'm told it will help me build connections with my community, an important factor in steering me away from a lifetime of crime.

No, wait. I can't go because I'm too old, I'm not from a "poor" neighbourhood, I don't feel "challenged" when I'm bored, I don't "drift around", I don't commit crimes, I don't deprive innocent people of their liberty. And I'm taking a guess that it is unlikely that my children will ever get to experience this camp either. Wild guess on my part, admittedly.

But, if it's going to happen, for $59.1 million I would also like to see the programme extended to the parents who have raised these children into a "lifetime of crime". Why the hell aren't they going to these boot camps? And being sterilised while there.

I look forward to some hard data on how valuable this programme will be, the drop out rates, and what's happened to those who dropped out. And what's happened to those who completed the programme. There should be no privacy gifted to the participants - they are using taxpayers' money, so they should be open to scrutiny. Unfortunately, any useful data probably won't be available for about 10-15 years, by which point we will all be bored with it and will have moved onto to something else (that perhaps won't upset the teenagers so much).

I don't have a hard opinion on the idea of boot camps. I don't know enough about their success (and quick web research wasn't enlightening). The cost bugs me enormously, of course, and a breakdown of how this figure was reached would be appreciated, but I probably won't see it.

There are two further things about this that bug me. Other than the cost, I have already questioned why this isn't extended to useless parents. The third bug of mine is that this has come about because John Key, of the Glorious Labour-Lite, was "personally offended" that some children weren't going to holiday programmes because their parents couldn't afford to send them. Yeah, right. I would really love to know how many parents didn't send their kids to holiday camp because to do so would have involved putting some money aside each week, and foregoing something for themselves. The discipline required would have been crippling. And I'm sure my sarcasm would be lost on many.

Without really knowing how useful this programme will be at knocking sense into half-brained idiots (who presumably come from the shallow end of the gene pool in the first place), I still see holiday programmes as a luxury. What is not a luxury, John, is the need, for example, for some children to need extra help at school in order to survive academically, or in order to ensure their talents are not lost in the dumbed down NCEA. Or the need for some taxpayers to have much-needed life-saving health treatment. Why are you so offended by an inability to attend holiday programmes and not offended by, for example, special needs children losing their teacher aides, even if parents are willing to contribute financially to them? And why do people who have paid their taxes but are now dying while on hospital waiting lists not offend you?

And why are you "offended"? I don't understand your use of the word.

And as for Adair Davis, who sends her grandson Himiona, 9, to a camp at Riversdale beach, because it gives her a much-needed break and allows him some time out. "I need time to normalise and get my breath and sleep and Himiona needs that time with peers and mentoring. I will keep sending him for both our sakes." Needing time to "normalise" (how quaint), catching your breath and sleeping are, surprisingly perhaps, part of the deal when you're a parent. The trick is to get these little perks that keep us sane without having to resort to programmes that cost the taxpayer $59.1 million. If you've been sending little Hinemoa to a camp and paying for it yourself, then good on you. Keep it up, I say. You paying for it yourself teaches little Hinemoa that grandma works hard for her money, and saves sensibly so that he can go to camp. In time, Hinemoa can get himself a job, or reach an arrangement with Grandma and neighbours where he gets paid to do little chores, and with this money he can pay for camp himself. It also teaches him that life isn't (or shouldn't) be a free ride on taxpayers money. Hey, if the idea is to send him off to camp to hang out with peers and mentors, have you thought about joining the Scouts???

But, no. Jump on the welfare wagon, little Hinemoa! Enjoy your holiday programme that other people have paid for. And I look forward to reading in years to come the heartening story of how your grandmother used that money, that she was spending on your camps, on something worthwhile, like your future tertiary study.

If taxpayers really have an extra $59.1 million lying around for holiday programmes, perhaps they could have some of it back? Not all taxpayers are offended that some parents can't or won't send their children to holiday programmes for financial reasons. I would wager a bet that most people have more pressing things to be offended about. If it offends YOU so much, John, gather the funds through non-taxpayer means. If it's really so important, I'm sure there will be many businesses willing to sponsor something so worthwhile. Only put the burden on taxpayers if or when you can prove they will be getting value for money. I would have thought you would approve of a degree of accountability for how money is spent?

Oh, I forgot, you're Labour-Lite, and you're personally offended. No chance of that happening, then.

UPDATE: Great minds think alike. Wish I had read Lindsay Mitchell's blog before posting my own. Could have saved myself a rant:


Lindsay said...

Two rants is better than one. I don't get his use of the term "personally offended" either. You could better grasp it if he was a wealth-hating, envy-driven, anti-capitalist, commie. But this is John, the self-made mega-millionaire. That is why I wonder if we are all going to be funding his guilt trip.

Opinionated Mummy said...

Thanks, Lindsay!

I've typed and deleted several responses on guilt here, but the upshot of it is I don't have one. Policy programmes based on guilt - now how would you do a cost-benefit analysis on that?

As a mum of 3 boys under 5, I have been on many guilt trips already, and I'm sure there are many more to come. I wonder if he would be willing to sponsor one of mine? I'm sure the impact on the taxpayer will be minimal (usually a lemonade iceblock).

I am astounded there has been so little public reaction to it. I guess he timed it well with the Auckland Maori seats decision. Or people haven't worked out that it's not going to solve problems that start well before a child hits their teens, and the causes of these problems are not going to be solved in one holiday programme/boot camp.

But,as I said in my blog, I'm no expert on boot camps. It's the rationale for sucking yet more of my (husband's) tax dollars that has me outraged.

Oswald Bastable said...

There is not enough ranting in NZ, so keep it up!