Tuesday, April 9, 2013

New Zealand is at a crossroad re how we deal with drugs in the workplace and elswhere in our society.

I want to state that I would hate to be labelled as some right-wing blogger who pontificates around issues and appear to be insensitive towards those whop partake in drugs. Firstly let me state that drugs always have and always will be part of society and that we will never eradicate them. At best we may be able to come to a place where the usage is such that society as a whole is not unduly affected. We are far from that place; indeed the flow-on affect of drug use (I include alcohol) is having a devastating affect on our young people in particular and on various statistics re health, work and general wellbeing. Those affects destroy families, business, employment and the life of our kids, who may have no say in what goes on around them.
 I am not disputing the claims that people turn to drugs for a number of reasons and that the use can become endemic within a family or other groups in our society. There may be a strong reason to 'escape' and no amount of 'Hey if I can do it, then they can,' will justify an approach that further pushes people away from 'normal' society and all that comes with being successful in NZ.
Now the hard part. I have not often agreed with Paula, the Minister in charge of benefits etc., but her move to make it harder for people to stay on drugs and still collect benefits is not entirely without merit. If there is not some 'incentive' to get off drugs and re-join society, then we can only look forward to a permanent disenfranchisement of large groups within our society. That people turn up to job interviews 'smashed' or drunk is not acceptable. We should not be expected to support these people through our welfare system to stay permanent on 'support. Unless there is a medical reason (Physical or mental health wise) then no young person should be able to sit at home, doing nothing and still expect the 'State' (us) to support them. We do not want to establish a group that will never have aspirations to support themselves. The Maori Party and Mana  (amongst other groups) have long advocated discontinuing the dependence on State hand-outs. They also want to be able to have the power and resources to break the cycle of dependence. If that means more resources going into the control of Maori, either through Treaty settlements or other methods, then so be it. After all,  Pakeha NZ has not managed to make huge improvements. That statement will rankle with a proportion of the NZ population, but I say---just look at history and make a call as to whether the schemes we have tired have worked to an extent that  social issues have lessoned.
Back to Paula Bennet 'toughening up.' As long as programmes are in place to give a 'hand up,' to address some of these that hold back groups in our society, then go for it. If an individual chooses to stay on a benefit while also refusing to make life changes (with help) then they are also choosing to marginalize themselves from society.
Of course my words will fall on deaf ears when it comes to the massive amount of resources that will be needed to break the cycles that hold back large portions of society form achieving a level of lifestyle that most of us have come to expect as our right. The areas needing this 'social investment' include, education, health, housing just for a start. Add in some of the issues around institutional racism and we will have a good start to making a better New Zealand. Unfortunately we do not have the 'pool of forward thinking' politicians who will put the future of New Zealand ahead of the 'three year cycle of getting their noses back into the political trough!