Something interesting is happening out there in medialand. After scores of examples of people rushing into the comments pages to trash beneficiaries in general and sole mothers in particular, John Key's comments on Wednesday about beneficiaries finally seem to have stirred up lots of angry accusations that as a well-paid millionaire, he is completely out of touch with the realities of life even on low wages, let alone a benefit.
Asked about the large increases in demand for food parcels and the Salvation Army's report showing that "food poverty" was at nearly double the level of four years ago, Key said that "anyone on a benefit actually has a lifestyle choice. If one budgets properly, one can pay one's bills....the bulk of New Zealanders on a benefit do actually pay for food, their rent and other things. Now some make poor choices and they don't have money left."
As many comments have shown, beneficiaries certainly do make choices. Faced with the need to choose between buying healthy food and going to the doctor, or buying children's shoes versus paying the phone bill, I wonder what Mr Key would consider to be the "poor" choice.
Meanwhile over at Scoop, Gordon Campbell injects a much needed dose of accurate facts, as well as excellent amalysis, into the looming "welfare reform" debate (I hate that Americanism, "welfare" - its proper name is social security.)