Yesterday in his weekly post-cabinet press conference, Prime Minister John Key was asked about his cutting of ECE standards, and whether he would send his own kids to a centre with only 80% qualified staff, or one with 100% qualified staff. He avoided the question, first by mistaking the general for the specific, and then blurting out that he had had a vasectomy:
"I think if I sent my 15-year-old or 17-year-old to early childhood at the moment they'd have a meltdown," he quipped.Our shallow, easily-distracted media fell upon this point to liven up what looked to be a slow news day. And by doing so, they missed the real story: that the PM didn't want to answer (because the natural answer is "the one with 100% qualified staff"), and then, when pressed, retreated into the fact that he is not planning to have more children. In other words, having benefited from government-funded services both himself and for his kids, he now doesn't give a shit about them. "I've got mine, and screw the rest of you".
But what if his wife Bronagh had another?
"I'd be extremely worried because I've had a vasectomy."
This shows an appalling lack of empathy with ordinary New Zealanders, and a total denial of the intergenerational social contract on which our society is built. We use different government services at different stages of our lives - ECE and schools when we are young or become parents, universities, polytechs and apprenticeship schemes when we are older, superannuation when we are elderly, hospitals when we are sick, state housing when we are homeless, the welfare system when market forces or long-term ill-health throw us out of work - and the price of using those services and having them available should we need them is that we have to make sure they are there and at least as good for those who come after us. That's the deal. Anything less makes us hypocrites, leeches who steal from society and give nothing back. This is why, despite the fact that I will not be contributing to the problem of human overpopulation, I will always support decent schools and ECE for those who do have kids: I benefited from those services, and I cannot therefore deny others the same opportunities the New Zealand state gave me.
John Key does want to deny those opportunities. Having grown up in a state house and benefited from the very best of the New Zealand state education system, he now wants to pull the ladder up after him. And that makes him nothing but a hypocrite and a leech.