The big story of the day has been the Unicef report on children's quality of life, which shows that New Zealand is failing its children. While we fail to collect enough data to allow a full judgement to be drawn, what statistics we do collect are pretty damning. High rates of child mortality, low vaccination rates and low rates of material wellbeing would place us at near the bottom of the league-table, only just above the US and UK. The only bright spot is in educational achievement - and even that is tainted by low rates of participation in education after age 15. Overall this is an appalling situation, and one which should shame the nation.
- Republic of Ireland
- Czech Republic
- United States
- United Kingdom
New Zealand would come in just above the US, with Australia slightly higher than us.
Russell has already commented on the close correlation between countries which ban smacking and countries at the other end of the scale from us, but there's another obvious difference here as well - and that is between those countries which pursue American-style unfettered capitalism on the one hand, and those which maintain decent labour standards, a strong welfare state, and strong public health and education systems on the other. It is no accident that these countries tend to be at opposite ends of the scale: the welfare state and strong public services insulate people from the excesses of the market, and provide better living standards, opportunities, and health and educational outcomes for those on the bottom of the heap.
Unfettered capitalism has a cost, and it is borne by the weakest in society - children. Our terrible ranking today can be directly attributed to our move away from the welfare state and public services in the 80's and 90's, in favour of a market red in tooth and claw. Perhaps something to think about next time National promises to cut public services to provide tax cuts for the rich...?