Tuesday, June 7, 2016

'Child poverty' is really a euphemism for parental neglect

There has been the usual bleating from the lefties over the past couple of weeks since the New Zealand Government's budget about the lack of Government action to reduce 'child poverty'. Fellow blogger Lindsay Mitchell prepared a report on the subject for Family First (which is described on Wikipedia as a "Christian lobby group") identifying single-parent families as a significant factor in child poverty (for a PDF copy of her report, click here). While her conclusion hardly seems controversial, it occasioned significant comment and criticism from the social commentariat, some of which Mitchell responds to on her blog.

It seems to me that with all the commentary on child poverty, everyone has missed a very salient point: there isn't, and cannot be, such a thing as child poverty for the very simple reason that children cannot own assets or incur liabilities in their right. In New Zealand, the age of majority for entering into legal contracts. owning property or incurring debt is 18 years and until they are of that age, it is parents or legal guardians who own assets or incur liabilities on children's behalf. Therefore, legally, a child cannot be rich or poor.

You might think I am being excessively pedantic, after all there is no doubt that children live in impoverished circumstances, but the language is important because I am sure the political left-wing deliberately uses the term child poverty to shift the blame from parents and guardians onto society as a whole. But society is not to blame for bringing these children into the world and for not providing them with adequate care. In fact, New Zealand society already does a very great deal to ensure that parents and guardians are provided with the means to adequately care for their children. Our welfare benefits and social housing provision are generous by international standards and our social support organisations are strong and effective.

The left's view is that society has an obligation to provide for every child irrespective of how negligent parents and guardians are towards their charges and that society should provide more and more money and benefits to those parents and guardians irrespective of what they choose to spend the money on. They can blow their welfare payments on gambling, alcohol, drugs, Sky Television, or anything they want, and still it is society's fault and society's responsibility to provide for their children. This is the message behind the words 'child poverty' and that is why I object to the term. It is really a euphemism for parental neglect.

1 comment:

Lindsay Mitchell said...

I don't think you are being pedantic and can sympathize with your argument. But on another level, competing with the left in the popular discourse - which influences voting outcomes - requires working with official data and definitions.