TACKLING CHILD POVERTY
Marc Wilson’s December 8 Psychology, “Pity the poor children”, came out after the rescreening of TV3’s documentary Inside Child Poverty by Bryan Bruce. There have been numerous other investigations and reports dealing with the same issue in recent times. It makes me angry that this issue continues to be unaddressed by politicians in real terms. Each government of the past 30 years and more is guilty of giving insufficient attention to the problem. It is a political problem. It should not be considered a party political problem. It should be addressed without political bias. Simple suggestions were included in Bruce’s documentary. Provide free medical assistance directly to children. Provide warm, dry housing. Ignore these simple suggestions and visit the consequences not only on today’s children but on society at large in the future. I have been disgusted by much of the rental housing I have seen, whether privately owned or publicly owned. It is a danger to people’s health. If any employer doesn’t provide a safe working environment, and people are hurt or become sick, it is possible for the employer to be financially penalised. Why should those who provide poor housing escape similar provisions? There needs to be a deterrent.
Yet another report on poverty from some expert. It would be a lot cheaper for the taxpayer to send the experts on a trip to a Third World country to experience real poverty first-hand. I’m sure the experience would change their opinions. It’s time to get tough on welfare dependency so that recipients accept that with assistance comes a responsibility to provide for the necessities of life. The political party that advocates for welfare recipients to be barred from gambling establishments will get my vote.
SAVE A LIFE
Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are designed to be used by lay rescuers with little or no experience. In combination with effective cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), early defibrillation increases survival from sudden cardiac arrest. “In for a shock” (December 8) highlighted one survivor’s personal account and is a timely reminder of the value of knowing where to find the nearest AED. With the holiday season upon us, this is the time to visit aedlocations.co.nz and download the app that maps the location of 2400 AEDs around the country.
(Hill Park, Auckland)
Your advocates for “super-efficient” small diesel cars, David Cohen and Gianluca Watson (Letters, December 1 and 8), hope that if “super-efficient” small diesel cars were exempt from road user charges, owners of SUVs would get rid of them – although owners prepared to pay for driving “Ponsonby tractors” would be the last people I’d expect to change to small vehicles. Some owners of small petrol cars may change, though. And the road user charging regime, which charges vehicles by both use and road damage, would seem to be in line with 21st-century values, not the converse.
LEFT AND RIGHT
Scott Lelievre (Letters, December 8) expected the Listener to provide more nuanced opinions, more thoughtfulness and more balanced analysis. I was therefore startled to find him defending Fox News, with the implication a viewer might readily find any of those qualities on that channel. He recommends Karl Rove, who is indeed a prominent political analyst. Unfortunately, that didn’t seem to have protected him from wishful thinking descending into delusion, which was nonetheless broadcast as serious commentary on the night of the US elections. He continued arguing the numbers with his own network’s expert analysts long after they unequivocally called the race for Obama, until his co-anchor finally intervened. In a moment that brought unmitigated glee to liberal pundits, she asked him, “Is this the math you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better, or is this real?” Although Fox News’ actual news bulletins are reasonably balanced (as they are required to be), everything else is classed as “commentary”, and can be as distorted as it wants. Fox trots out Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, whose role in life is to take a factoid and stir it, shake it up and stretch it into a whole new thing that is, invariably, “destroying America”. The game is to stir up emotions, polarise people and make rational debate and compromise impossible. Sadly, rational debate and compromise are two foundations of democracy, and actively discouraging them has resulted in an increasingly dysfunctional Government.
HERE TO HELP
Marc Wilson is to be applauded for his attempt to explain the activities of psychologists (Psychology, December 15). People need to know what the profession is about because, as Wilson implies, it is very much the coming thing. Probably for space reasons, Wilson referred exclusively to clinical psychology. Qualified psychologists who work with clients with problems of living (rather than mental illnesses) come in a number of other forms, including educational psychologists, counselling psychologists, health psychologists, neuropsychologists, community psychologists and forensic psychologists.
PhD, ANZPsS John McGovern MEd, Dip Ed Psych
KNOWING OUR NEIGHBOURS
Good documentaries may be scarce on TV, but Radio NZ recently produced some crackers, including two excellent ones about Timor Leste. Indonesia’s Reluctant Citizens (Ideas, December 9) also covered Indonesia-controlled West Papua, where the oppression, militarisation and human rights abuses are parallel to the Timorese experience before liberation in 1999. Why don’t we know about our Melanesian neighbour West Papua when there are so many stories and travelogues about its neighbour Papua New Guinea? International journalists and humanitarian workers have found it almost impossible to get a work visa to visit, and even the Red Cross has only limited access. Fortunately, as Peter King pointed out on Ideas, Australia’s ABC network recently succeeded in visiting clandestinely and obtaining compelling footage. The journalists highlighted Australia’s role in funding Indonesia’s crack police unit, Detachment 88, and probed the alleged role of this unit in the killing of student leader Mako Tabuni. Supposedly an anti-terror unit, Detachment 88 seems to have been given free rein to terrorise peaceful activists, whom they dub “separatists”. New Zealand, like Australia, barely makes a squeak about the ongoing human rights abuses in West Papua. In the past few years, we have resumed defence ties with Indonesia and offered training in community policing to the police in West Papua. Who knew? However, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa has just declared that foreign journalists can visit West Papua and he doesn’t mind what they report on. He needs to be taken up on his offer.
(Mt Albert, Auckland)
BRING TO E-BOOK
Thanks to Peter Griffin for his useful survey of e-readers (Technology, December 15). If space had allowed, he might have mentioned that the price of any book, including e-books, originates with the publisher. He might also have added – especially for people with a concern for local sustainability – that anyone with any e-reader (except a Kindle, of course) can buy any of three million e-books, including New Zealand authors’ work, by checking out their local indie bookshop websites.