On the 1st of April this year I got a nice cheery tax cut because, according to our National ACT government, people like me on the top tax bracket are the hardest working and most deserving. As a private sector worker earning a good wage, paying my mortgage with some to spare, and barely noticing the recession I suspect they’d say I was exactly what success looks like to them.
Oddly, though, under the current policies of this government I’d probably still be on the sickness benefit able to work only 5-10 hours in a good week.
Not so long ago, due to health and crime circumstances beyond my control, that’s exactly where I was. Getting me back on my, “successful”, feet was a combined effort of systems, organisations and people; a genuine welfare system. I was fortunate to receive good welfare support from the benefit system, counselling through ACC’s sensitive claims, awesome care from the public health system, support from a state sector with a commitment to equity and workplace reintegration for people with chronic illness and disability, an open accessible education system, and a first class public transport system. Not to mention the variety of public servants in a wide range of organisations with the time and mandate to help me through.
How many of those systems will survive the current policies? How many face cuts that make the services useless or impractical? How many of those good people have been made redundant by the state sector cuts? Or overloaded by work from their departed colleagues? Or operating under new “guidelines”?
National and ACT may laud people like me who succeed in their eyes, but they’re taking away the small pieces ofÂ support that make our success possible.
So the next time you see the politics of envy rhetoric, think of me: given a tax cut I didn’t need and wishing that every cent had been put into the services that we all rely on when things go wrong.