MPs shocked, utterly shocked

A cautionary tale from across the ditch: Maia, of Capitalism Bad, Tree Pretty, has a post up in the sad told-you-so category, Politicians Shocked About Predictable Consequences of their Policies. The policy in this case was New Zealand’s public health system privatising the provision of disability support, with contracts for assistance services put out to tender to for-profit companies.

Surprise, surprise. Disabled people are not getting the services they are entitled to, and the contractors who won the tenders are complaining that they can’t find enough employees willing to do the necessary work, especially on late shifts and weekends. As Maia points out, the news article she links has missed some important words in their reportage here on the absence of willing workers here, and those words are “when they pay near minimum wage”.

The MPs who were shocked, shocked I tell you, are either fools or liars (usually both). When you subcontract services out to companies with the lowest tender you drive down wag[e]s. In fact that’s usually one of the main points of this subcontracting.

Quite.



Categories: culture wars, health, Politics

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6 replies

  1. Tangentially related to matters of disability and costing thereof, Chris Clarke posts at Pandagon regarding the “overmedicalisation” of “a good death” for the elderly, and points out how what is really being referred to is the corporatisation and monetisation of a way of death that was traditionally dependent on personal relationships involving unpaid female labour in the home. He then goes on to discuss how many other movements advocating communal social responsibility rely disproportionately on “women’s work” to “make the difference”, whatever that crucial difference may in fact be. Very interesting reading.
    Quality of whose life, again?

  2. That is terrible. Disability support workers should be highly trained and well renumerated. I have given up completely on accessing support services for my youngest because the fallout from having poorly trained people saying and doing completely the wrong things for a young autistic person was just too much to bear. “Respite” became completely counterproductive.

  3. Clarke’s article is worth a read, especially the part about death and dying, though I have reservations about dismissing the environmental movement on the basis of embedded sexism.[1] There’s certainly a pile of class privilege mixed in there too, and I don’t want to try to allocate proportions.
    Working purely within my set of privileges (white, Australian, het, partnered, middle-class); my partner spends more time and effort each day being green than I do: cycling the 50 km round trip to work, washing nappies/tea towels/napkins, washing dishes by hand, going to the markets and so on. I’m mostly responsible for cooking. “Slow food” for me is throwing food in the crockpot at lunchtime (less labour intensive than evening cooking), and spending five minutes ordering organic groceries and meat for delivery. I realise I’m lucky (Luck? Good management?) to have a partner that actually participates in the household; and we’re definitely lucky to be able to afford the organic food, and that my partner is able-bodied enough to cycle. A fair whack of that organic food cost difference, possibly all of it, is paid for by choosing reusable rather than disposable products. And oh boy, are our petrol bills lower than our next door neighbours.
    Making our household soap is my art and hobby-lurrve – you can pry it from my cold dead hands. I also thoroughly enjoy my environmental volunteerism in a couple of organisations.
    There are plenty of people who aren’t in a position to set things up the way we have, and I recognise that. I realise I’m arguing from a position of exceptionalism here.
    I guess what I’m saying is I’d prefer to see effort spent on revolutionising domestic roles and ensuring that environmental movements are cognizant of sex roles and watch their language, than on dismissing all domestic environmental movements for being “intrinsically” sexist. (Which I don’t think he did, exactly, though he may have hovered on the edge of it from time to time.)
    And we need to be putting the environmental hammer on industry and government, big time. Domestic changes will only go so far, and that’s not very far at all – *but they are part of the puzzle. Something I have noticed is that people who start to become involved in ultimately low-impact areas of domestic environmentalism seem to broaden their scope over time: they start making larger changes, agitating and activising, and they influence those around them to make changes in their lives, private and public. Business, offices, and educational institutions here are starting to sit up, take notice, and make changes, and those environments are usually male-dominated. It’s the environmental equivalent of the personal being political*.
    [1] Edited to add: and I don’t for a second think that Chris Clarke, of all people, does that at all. Sorry if I gave that impression. (*I’ve also edited my final paragraph, above.*)

  4. I agree with all of those points, Lauredhel, although I’ll emphasise that I don’t think he was trying to dismiss environmentalism as a cause (Clarke? no way) because of embedded sexism so much as attempting to yet again highlight the lack of egalitarianism amongst otherwise progressive men.
    His prescience is amazing: today’s Daily Terror has this headline

    Mums leave huge carbon print
    AS if busy mothers juggling child-rearing, washing, ironing, cooking and jobs don’t have enough to worry about.
    A study shows that in the course of their daily lives, Australian mothers produce more than four tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year.

    As the article goes on the author does slip in “families” sometimes instead of just “mums”, but the general reader is left in no doubt that yet another horrid thing is All Mum’s Fault.

  5. Thinking about these issues last night, I got to umming and ahhing about why it is that we have such shite wages in the caring field – childcare, disability carers, personal care assistants in aged care facilities. And I started thinking that as our society shows value though wages, it demonstrates something really messed up about us that we see fit to pay people working at Coles more to scan our vegetables than we pay to have people perform intimate, important, and crucial caring tasks.
    What does it say about us when this is normal? acceptable?
    I know its because traditionally, we as a society simply did not pay for these tasks – the woman at home just did them – but surely when we move these tasks into the market place they should be being paid at their true value? Shouldn’t our governments be stepping in and mandating the wage scales for people in jobs that are so crucial to the lives of so many?
    I know its idealistic, but I think we need some massive wage adjustments so that the TRUE value of these jobs is recognised and rewarded by our society.
    Yes, I’ll just go and sit over in dreamland…

  6. tigtog:

    today’s Daily Terror has this headline
    Mums leave huge carbon print

    And it goes on to blame laundry, bathing children, cooking. I guess these traditional-values husbands wear magical self-cleaning clothing, eat nothing but fresh air and sunshine, and didn’t, what, father their own children?
    Smoke and mirrors, smoke and mirrors.

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