Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Stomach churning earthquake and other stuff.

What are my motives?
Today Christchurch, which is 360 Kilometres away from Dunedin where I live, suffered a devastating earthquake. In theory it (6.3 on the Richter scale) was not as big as the one last September, (7.1) but a number of factors made it worse. This one was shallower (5k deep rather than 10k) and was much closer to the city (10k rather than 30k). It was also in the middle of the day, which meant that buildings and streets were alive with people, where as last September's one was in the early hours of the morning when the inner-city areas were basically empty. As I write the TV is depicting the rescue efforts. They are saying 65 have been confirmed dead, but the number is expected to rise as there are people still trapped in fallen buildings.

I went to the Central Fire Station here and they were preparing four trucks and crews to drive through to Christchurch to help the effort. They were ringing firefighters calling them back and saying they will probably be away for a few days, take a sleeping bag. I talked to some who were leaving. Some suggested that they should take me along. I went to the Ambulance station and learned helicopter crews had gone and preparations were underway to send others. I called at one station and a woman paramedic met me and simply said, "Fuck!" I have been trying to analyse my feelings. I would love to be with "my" firefighters, (and Ambos) they know me and I know that I could be a support to them. But I really have to wait for an invitation. I did say to a couple of officers that if they thought it worth while I would go. Then I wonder if I am just "rubbernecking", wanting to see the action? Then also I wondered if I was just trying to vent the frustration that nearly every New Zealander must be feeling. "Here are people suffering but I can't do anything to help!" I did have some meaningful conversations with a few who were going, and was told by the Health and Safety guy that my services will be needed in the next few weeks. I guess I have to sit tight and watch the devastating news like the rest of NZ.

Angry at John Key and his side kicks.
Our country is in financial trouble. We are borrowing large sums each week to keep our head above water. We have to make cuts in Government expenditure, and I have already seen social service agencies whose funds have been cut back. Church agencies doing charitable work overseas (Tear Fund, Christian World Service, World Vision) have suffered also. What I want to complain about is that Prime Minister John Key and his mates keep suggesting that the fault lies with the unemployed. They suggest that it is their fault they are unemployed! In the newspaper they were saying that they are wanting to force something like 300,000 people back into the work force. Where are the jobs? I know motivated trained people who just cannot get jobs. It does not help them being made all of the time to feel guilty. I also know that there are heaps of other areas in public service activity (fire service, health, Govt. Departments, education .. etc.) where some of the more extravagant things (travel, lavish conferences, very high salaries) could be cut, and savings made. I am not an economist, but it does annoy me that some lovely people I know are being made to feel guilty nearly every time they pick up their paper to look for jobs that are just not there. I know it is good to encourage people back to work, but look else where for savings as well. Don't treat the poor as scapegoats for the country's ills.

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