10 May 2013

The Kindness-To-Waiters (KTW) Test

I have often heard it said that, if for instance you are on a first date, a good test of the character of the company you are with is in how kindly and respectfully they treat waiting staff. Regardless of the true and correct account of what may have happened on the day, it is clear that, in the court of public opinion, Aaron Gilmore has been found to have failed this test.
One might call the harsh treatment he has received from the media as an example of the great Kiwi clobbering machine at work. But one might also say that it shows how greatly New Zealanders detest haughtiness and arrogance, and how we do not like to see the powerful lording it over the rest of us, or threatening our security. It shows that we wish to be able to trust those who lead our communities and our government. Any signs of abusive or bullying behaviour, or that the powerful see themselves as exempt from social norms of decency, are subject to severe punishment in this democratic society of ours.
John Key has dealt with Mr Gilmore accordingly, as his actions have turned him into a political liability for brand National. Key's 'common touch,' in contrast, has helped to maintain his personal popularity, and to mitigate accusations that he may represent traditional born-to-rule, entitlement-by-wealth conservatism.
But, while one waiter's job may be very safe for the time being from John Key's attention, the fate of workers generally in New Zealand is not. This is the same National Party that has threatened the job security and pay rates of all workers in this country with policies like the 90-day rule and youth rates, and a hands-off attitude to factory closures. Not to mention redundancies in the state sector.
The haughtiness of which Aaron Gilmore stands accused is merely a symptom of a deeper, but thinly disguised haughtiness of the present government towards especially the low-paid and precariously employed workers of this country. The distrust that this causes will gradually erode support for this government as the feelings of insecurity infects wider sections of the middle class.


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