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Bevan Morgan, Education, Feed The Kids, Food in Schools, New Zealand, Poverty & Socio-Economic Status and Education, Poverty in NZ, Teachers' Own Words

Punishing poor children to prove a point is bad economics as well as cruel – Bevan Morgan

defend the children of the poor

Bevan Morgan writes:

“I’ve written a lot recently about our government’s pathetic effort last week in shutting down the food in schools legislation. And I’ve learned a few things since then.

“The biggest takeaway has been that we have a major problem with how people conceptualise issues. Listening to people’s attitudes about poverty in New Zealand it is clear that it’s not simply a case of people not knowing about poverty – it is that that they don’t actually understand the very concept at its core foundation. Describing the reality and impact of poverty to people from middle NZ is like trying to explain string theory to someone who has never even heard of the term ‘physics’. You may as well be speaking Cantonese.

“There have been a lot of people tell me various myths, misconceptions, and out right lies about the poor in New Zealand. But even if all of those things were true (which they are not) not one single person has been able to explain to me how anything that poor parents may do wrong is the fault of the children.

“Not one single person.

“Because people are so angry at the poor for being poor, they have no problem with the wealthy ripping us off by $9.5 billion a year. And they have no problem feeding the future generation to the wolves despite the fact that they profess to love kids. That’s insane.

“Even if we look at it selfishly, people are so angry at people for being poor and daring to want assistance that they are literally willing to punish potential future doctors and engineers just to make a point.

In pure dollars and cents terms, our attitude to poor children is an absolute waste of future money: We are throwing away future billions for the cost of some Weetbix.”

“This is so counter-intuitive to human nature it is absolutely staggering. But sadly our leaders have done such a good job of hiding poverty that nothing is going to change any time soon. Unfortunately things will only change when inequality becomes so ridiculous that we have lost our middle class.

“But then again if the USA is anything to go by, this won’t even make a difference.”

– Written by Bevan Morgan and shared with permission.  Read more by Bevan, at

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6 thoughts on “Punishing poor children to prove a point is bad economics as well as cruel – Bevan Morgan

  1. Yes but.. What if when seeking to help the poor children, we inadvertently aided the low-life wastrel parents? Wouldn’t that detract from the rich people’ human rights?


    Posted by Geoffrey Monks | March 26, 2015, 9:21 am
    • I doubt the rich people have any problem accessing their human rights, like food, housing and the right to be heard. Have you ever asked why the parents are poor?? I have worked with the poor and only a small percentage are low-lifes, about the same percentage of low-lifes as in the rich communities I imagine. Often they are poor because of bad decisions, poor money management (not educated in this), low self esteem, have a disability or are victims and suffer from depression, or simply have poor education. A huge percentage of the people in prisons are illiterate to some degree and if you were ever illiterate, you would know how it feels to have very little power in your life, to not be able to read the ATM machines’ instructions, the road signs or the rental contract you have to sign. Now imagine what might happen to these people if you taught them to read, helped them realise they are important people with wonderfully diverse personalities, help them to become strong enough to believe that they can work and hold down a job and support their families? Then they would be the same as you and me


      Posted by Maxine Lawrence | March 26, 2015, 11:33 pm
      • Maxine why don’t you try and manage on the benefit when things keep going up but the benefit doesn’t or wages to match those increases. The benefit increase this year are varying depending on the benefit type. A single person on the old invalids benefit is $1.33pw this year compare that to $20pw for minimum wage and $104.17pw for an MP.
        Is it any wonder that they can’t cope financially? The politicians got a $4000 increase last year to help with their accommodation costs but beneficiaries or low income earners have not had an increase in the accommodation supplement since 2005. Poor decisions aren’t making people poor it’s lack of money. I feel sorry for those who have had the displeasure to have you in their lives. Don’t Judge until you have walked in their shoes….The Penalization of Poverty …


        Posted by Karen | April 12, 2015, 1:24 am
  2. My problem with the food in schools debate is: where is the money coming from, and what is the money currently supposed to be feeding kids in schools going to go to. Every argument I have seen, including yours, to support food in schools ignores the second half of my problem with food in schools.

    What government service is going to be cut to provide this funding of food, how much will it cost, or will there be an increase in tax?
    Low & Middle income parents are already getting money from the government to feed their children through WFF or direct benefits. Are these going to be reduced as parents no longer need as much money to feed their children. Or are parents going to continue to sequester this money onto their vices?


    Posted by Ian | March 26, 2015, 2:01 pm

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