Most folk will not have heard of a publication called Sport, now 25 years old. Despite its name it has nothing to do with sport, rather the title is consistent with pop groups and the like, of giving themselves silly appellations, usually in lieu of merit.
In fact Sport is a 280-page literary annual, thus it's better described as a book. It publishes New Zealand writers' and poets' efforts, and the reason most readers will not have heard of it is its minuscule 300 sales. But its publisher, Fergus Barrowman, has declared it will have to close because Creative New Zealand, as the former Arts Council now unnecessarily calls itself, has cut its annual subsidy of $5000. That's not a misprint. This publication's life apparently hangs on a mere $5000.
Eleanor Catton, who recently snared $105,000 for winning the Man Booker Prize for her doorstopper novel, plus a great deal more from the sales generated by this success, has condemned this funds withdrawal, as has successful novelist Emily Perkins. "So sad," Emily said, concluding, "It's hard to believe. It's such a part of our landscape."
Like Emily, I'm incredulous about this, only my disbelief is why if it's so sad and so important doesn't she and Eleanor chip in the lousy five grand to keep it going? But, of course, that would be totally un-New Zealand in which a corrupting pervasive culture of dependency and entitlement reigns large. Eleanor and Emily plainly feel no moral qualms in expecting all New Zealanders, who, 300 excepted, have absolutely no interest in this publication, to nevertheless subsidise the 300 who do, to the tune of $10 each, so as to read it.
In financial terms this is trivial. But the same bludging rot permeates all levels of our society. Scarcely a day passes when I don't receive a letter seeking money for someone's private pursuit. Recently, I received one from a small South Island township's bowling club, which town I've passed through briefly once in my life, seeking $50,000 to re-do their greens.
That's not untypical. I must have received hundreds from students planning study abroad, seeking funding for their travel, school fees, rent and living expenses and inevitably, always writing from our wealthier suburbs' addresses. Seemingly their parents feel no shame in seeking others to pay for their offspring's personal enhancement.
Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised. Every wealthy bugger I know over 65 shamelessly takes the Government Super, and seem puzzled when I lambast them. "But I'm entitled to it," is their constant response as if that is justification for taking something they don't need.
When we talk of dependency mentality it's usually about rife welfare abuse which this Government and especially ACC have commendably attacked on all our behalves, but as I said, it's not just the underclass. Right now there's a Lower Hutt bloke in his mid-70s lying outside the Wellington ACC offices, supposedly starving to death in protest. Why? He wants your money and the ACC, rightly, won't give it to him.
This character set himself up as an advocate for ACC claimants, leading on one occasion to a court case which he won and received full costs. But now he wants several million from you all via the ACC for the stress he says the court action caused.
Last week, a few hundred Auckland Indian taxi-drivers were purportedly starving to death in protest at the airport's taxi-rank arrangements. Funeral directors should not get too excited about a Christmas bonanza.
Once in Nepal I watched a mass starving-to-death political protest. About 100 starvees sat cross-legged in rows in the centre of Kathmandu, stoically gazing ahead while their wives, soon supposedly to become widows, wailed away from the sidelines. Then abruptly they all rose and departed and a new batch of starvees took their place, accompanied by their weeping wives. "What's happening?" I asked a local. "New six-hour shift," he said, "the others have gone home for dinner."
Editor's note: This column has been amended following further consideration of Bob Jones' comments. We apologise that the original column caused offence to some readers.
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