Wednesday, June 10, 2015

National doesn't care if poor people die

With two deaths explicitly linked to poor quality state housing in the last week, you'd expect the government to be falling over itself to be seen to fix the problem. But not Housing Minister Nick Smith. Instead, he's washing his hands of the issue:

The poor condition of state houses has been blamed for the second death of a tenant in a week, but the Housing Minister says people dying from respiratory illnesses is not new and the Government can't prevent them all.


"People dying in winter from pneumonia and from other illnesses is not new - we have many homes, and that is why our Government has put so much emphasis on insulating every one of our 48,000 state homes that were not, and can be, as well as the 300,000 homes that massive programme of insulation."

There were lessons to be learnt from the cases that had emerged in the last week, as well as others, but the Government could not stop people dying from illnesses in winter.

"If we sit here and pretend that we are going to be able to eliminate every case of where a person dies from respiratory illnesses or the like, they are kidding themselves," he said.

Translation: "we can't do everything so we're not going to do anything". But this is bullshit: while he can't eliminate such deaths, he can at least prevent state houses from contributing to them (as they clearly are now). And this isn't just a moral requirement, but simply sensible. The cost of insulating a house and making it fit for human habitation is apparently less than the cost of one night in hospital when someone gets sick. Decent state houses aren't just a moral imperative - they can cut health spending, or allow it to be reprioritised to other areas. In other words, like relieving child poverty, its an investment, not a cost - and one which pays off fairly quickly.

But this isn't a government which invests in New Zealand, or looks to the long term. Instead, they're basicly strip-mining our public services, letting them rot while they hand out largesse to their corporate cronies. And they don't care if care if poor people die as the cost of doing this. Because its not as if they vote National, is it?