Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Friday, June 21, 2019

My wife featured for Volunteer week.

A special on the Southern District Health Board facebook page.

It is National Volunteer week in New Zealand and the local health board featured the St John Friends of the Emergency Department on their facebook page, and they chose my wife, Jean to be featured. Here is what they wrote about what the FEDs do.

"Jean Brown has been a volunteer for the last 13 years!

No two days are the same in the Emergency Department and it’s always busy - meaning our staff are constantly on the move. 

This is where our St John Friends of the Emergency Department (FED) comes in - you can always spot Jean and the other volunteers helping out wherever they can!

Be it bringing food and drinks, to comforting the patients and making the bed, they have it all covered!

A big thank you for helping our staff provide the extra support and reassurance to our patients, their whanau and friends during their time here."

#SouthernDHB #NWV2019 #wonderfulvolunteers#thankyouvolunteers

Monday, June 17, 2019

"He earns what? And he is still caught out spending money he ought not to?"

So much money I cannot imagine!
Today in NZ there has been a bit of a scandal hit the headlines. The CEO of the Australia and NZ Bank in NZ has been sent packing. In some enquiry into personal expenses he was found to have spent the firms money on chauffeur-driven cars and wine storage. It involved tens of thousands of dollars. He was not supposed to do this. He pleaded ignorance. He was given a golden hand shake of a couple of million dollars, and sent down the road.  In the process of reading about this I discovered that he was paid in the last year $3,125,000. Why would you need to spend extra money on that salary? The year before that he got even more. That deeply disturbs me. He gets $60,000 a week! That is a few thousand more than ever I earned in my best year, and once when I measured my weekly hours I was averaging at least 66 hours of work a week. So he is earning over 60 times what I earned, and I am not poor. I find myself yelling "unfair!".... Not for me, but for the many others who are struggling in our community.
And yet at the other end...?
I have had lots to do with people who for various reasons have been unable to work. Sometimes it is sickness. Sometimes they have been made redundant so many times that they have got to an unemployable age and have given up looking for work. Often there are simply no jobs that they can do in our technological age.  I recall helping one man to budget while he was living on a welfare benefit. He came to me distraught one week. The ANZ bank, the bank this CEO worked for, had taken $20 out of his bank account. Why? Well he had an AP for his weekly rent and perhaps because he bought his tobacco early that week, or some other expense, he was a few dollars short in his bank account when they went to withdraw his rent. They didn't pay his rent but he got charged a $20 fee because he was overdrawn. So the next week he had even less to survive on and was unlikely to be able to cover his rent again, another extra cost, an unhappy landlord and a search for a cheaper room to rent, with a bad credit reputation. Because he did not ever have much money in his account he was charged bank fees somebody with a reasonable amount would not be charged. The rules and costs surrounding his use of the bank contributed to his struggles. When the bank was asked about such costs, they pleaded poverty, and "We are not social workers, we need to make money." Yet they pay this CEO (and no doubt others) what seems to me a phenomenal amount of money. I look at it and wonder how one man is worth that much and how on earth can he spend that much?  I suspect that the people making decisions about bank charges and rules have no comprehension of what it is like for a beneficiary, or for that matter, a person on the minimum wage, to survive from week to week. $20 sounds like nothing when you are on a reasonable salary, but to the poor it may as well be a million dollars. The gap between the rich and poor in Western societies, is unjustified, despicable, and causes untold suffering, anger and hurt for the people on the bottom.