Friday, August 10, 2007

Chocolate and Toast

When I babysit the frog I get paid in toast and chocolate. I have sometimes babysat for money and I looked after those kids in the same way I look after the frog. I don't smoke, but if I did, and I was paid in cigarettes I'd do the same job I do for money, or for toast and chocolate.

There's been a lot to be angry about the way Nia Glassie's death has been reported. So many people refused to acknowledge that Nia Glassie's mother had a job, a job that paid really shit wages for really long hours, and so she was really short on childcare options.

But I can't get past how obsessed everyone seems to be that Lisa Kuka paid her boyfriend in cigarettes, even Jo* mentioned it.

I think there are some pretty nasty assumptions hiding in that statement.

It's not a crime to smoke; it's not a crime not to be able to pay the going rate for child-care, but they're both more common among people living on benefits or low wages than anyone else. To imply that the problem was with the cigerettes is trying to blame poor people, who are unwise enough to smoke and not have any money, as a group for the abuse.

It's part of a bigger project to blame people in poverty for making bad choices on an individual level, rather than seeing the structural issues which leave people so broken that they torture a three year-old. If we can tut-tut about the smoking, then we don't have to look at what capitalism does to people.

* I'm not saying that Jo intended any of these implications, I'm sure she didn't.


  1. Anonymous3:13 pm

    I don't know if you can compare the full time care and nurturing of a child to occasional babysitting,(don't think they are one and the same), chocolate and toast for a few hours here and there is quite diff from ciggys for long tiring days. Parenting full time can be very stressful and not something I would think a 17year old (esp male) would be up to,(unless a very special person) Who is responsible for the care and nurturing of our children?, we all are. I have to add its great that you are a supportive friend and do help in the care/nurturing of Frog.

  2. Anonymous1:06 pm

    So what you are saying is that people have no free will or volition due to structural determinist approach and so they cannot be held accountable for their actions. Therefore relatives of Nia and the Kuhia twins are to a certain degree blameless and can also be seen as victims of the systems. For the sake of intellectual consistency would you also extend the same benevolent view to the actions of Clink Rickard, Brad Shipton and Bob Schollum?

  3. Anonymous1:38 pm

    perhaps if they would at least OWN what they DID do. Why does the system protect some and not others A?

  4. Anonymous5:24 pm

    I don't think that criminals are capable of that kind of introspection; at least not before spending considerable time behind bars.

  5. You suggest that poor people smoke because they are not smart enough to know better. Two points:
    1)Schooling is practically free in NZ. So being poor is no excuse for making bad choices or being dumb.
    2) All cigarette packets have warning labels. Are you suggesting that poor people cant read?

  6. Nick C - I did not say that. I absolutely would not say that. That is the opposite of what I say.