So fixated has the media become on Melissa Lee's oopsies - waiting like vultures for her next fuck up, and ignoring the competent things she must surely have said and done on the campaign trail - that political issues have become rather secondary in the Mount Albert by-election.
In an attempt to bring some balance to its shallowness, the media recently focused on criticism copped by David Shearer, for a remark linking unemployment to crime. Sign of the times, I thought to myself in a curmudgeonly way. Shearer was simply suggesting that unemployment produces poverty, which can drive crime. He was alluding to a point that the Keynesian welfare state was founded on - the opportunity for paid work is a basic right, a social good, and important to human wellbeing. When people who want work can't find it, they are effectively being told that they are a redundant part of their society - and this isn't conducive to their psychological or material welfare. That's why, until twenty or so years ago, the state believed it had moral duties to strive towards full employment, and to support those who couldn't find work to live with some measure of dignity.
Shearer's comments have been construed as an attack on the dignity of the unemployed - as if unemployment is simply a different, if less lucrative, lifestyle choice to working, and something which must be put up with. Unemployment is an attack on the dignity of the unemployed. Encouraging the unemployed to feel more comfortable with the injustice of unemployment is a pretty poor substitute for jobs.