Manipulating Societies

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Footsteps, yarns and little fibs
Government sometimes make changes that can be deemed 'social engineering'.

Submitted: April 29, 2017

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Submitted: April 29, 2017

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We are fed the ideology that in democratically elected governments, it is the voter has the power. But that’s just politic-speak because once elected, politicians have the tenure of government to do whatever they want, with no easy way for the voter to reign them in. Their most used rhetoric is ‘it’s good for the country’, which usually means pandering to those who funded their campaign, or if that statement is too harsh, the supporters of the party, usually to the detriment of opposing parties. Many politicians have some agenda or other that may not be in the interests of the voter.

Governments have the power to do things that can affect the very fabric of a country’s society, the present flood of refugees and those wanting to migrate to various places in the world is a case in point. The makeup of people a country allows as immigrants has a flow on effect within that society. Currently New Zealand has changed its criteria to that of potential income. What does that mean and what effect will it have in ten, twenty years’ time?

It is relatively easy for a government to make vital changes which can cause dramatic downstream effects on society and usually the passing years allows them to duck from responsibility. Here’s a case in point:- Maori were the incumbents on this land when the British arrived but the trappings of modernity, or shall we call it ‘civilization’, has not been kind to them. They make up 14.6% of the population while they are represented by 51.5% in the prison population. Only one out of every ten earns more the $50 000, which is modest in this day and age. The unemployment rate is 4.9% for European descendants, and 15.5% for Maori. It is therefore safe to say that as an ethnic group in New Zealand, Maori are disaffected.

The reasons for this depends on who you are listening to, few of the schemes to address any inequities have worked no matter how well-meaning or how much money has been poured into them. One of the causes not discussed or addressed is the social engineering by the 1984 Labour Government and a financial regime termed, ‘Rogernomics’. There was sleight of hand from the first, they had a secret agenda that was not divulged or even hinted before the election.

This was the crew that had the theory that the rich were going to help the poor by some osmosis process they termed, ‘the trickle-down theory’. They wanted to cut down on government spending so they decimated the government departments and agencies of electricity, coal, post, forestry railways, and public works among others. As well by encompassing the global economy and floating the dollar, the direct result was the loss of 76 000 manufacturing jobs. So suddenly there was massive displacement of workers effecting small communities and small community infrastructure. ‘There is social welfare available for the affected.’ Was the rhetoric. The principles that people in work return almost half their income back to government by way of taxes, that people produce stuff that also brings in revenue and that in any business, cashflow is the name of the game, was lost on them.

By introducing individual employment contracts, workers lost powerful union representation, the flow-on is still in effect today. While I was on the other side of the table to unions, I know there remains an obvious need. Professionals who have attended universities and immigrants who employ without actually working in the general workforce have no idea about the labour laws and flaunt them without even realising that they are flaunting them! Maori are among the groups who needed strong union advocacy.

This Rogernomics thing has left an indelible mark on wider society because it upset a balance that was always fragile. Granted there was a need to tinker with the economy, there always is, but they used a bulldozer when a push-hoe would probably have done the job. It was an agenda by those few, which effected a population, but turned out to be worst for Maori. They were highly represented in manufacturing, forestry, railways and public works. When they lost their jobs overnight they were introduced to welfare payments and stayed at home. Because the education system had largely failed them, and there was no longer demand for their skills. We all know the natural thing is for children to follow the example set by parents, so kids saw their parents at home on the dole, making it a natural course of events for them to follow suit. Add to the mix, the new-fangled video games, alcohol and drugs to create a social disaster that has become worse as time has gone on. Without the comradeship found in the workforce, where the new recruits are taught skills and values by the older hands, Maori youth find a similar experience in gang culture, which may or may not be associated with increasing violence, including domestic violence. Whether or not the violence has an association with gangs, there is underlying anger, which is easily fuelled by alcohol and drugs.

The intrinsic thing that is missing is pride. As a forest manager, we regularly held man management courses. Every time the question was asked, ‘Why are you in your present job?’ The overriding top-of-the-list reason was, ‘Job satisfaction.’ These days ask the same question, ‘Money.’ Is the reply. Pride has evaporated from the workforce.

The question is, ‘Is the situation fixable?’ While hope springs eternal, as we have seen, manipulating society is a risky business. Maori are a proud race but they have been displaced and they see the system as the cause. They view themselves as a special case apart from the rest of the population, which has inherent risks because the rest of the population have their own issues to resolve! I see no magic bullet and the road back will no doubt be as long as the road down has been.

It is topical to say, ‘Beware the politician.’ It is true a tiny band of men kept on their path starting 1984 despite widespread protest, I was among the protesters and I wrote to Sutton, my local member of parliament outlining what I though their course of action would cause. Platitudes returned. They were like a steam train without a brake! Once these sort of people take power, common man has no influence. So perhaps, before each election, candidates need to sign a disclosure statement and if they fail to adhere to what they promise, propose or intend when they are in office, there should be a simple procedure of sacking them – without perks!


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