Two faces of tenth happiest place in world

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Amazing what scrolls along the bottom of early morning TV in 100% natural New Zealand.

Or what doesn't.

This week, publicly owned TVNZ scrolled a survey ranking New Zealand number 10 in the world of the happiest places to live.

Couple of days later, privately owned TV3 scrolled another survey – one in seven people can't "make ends meet."

Neither reported the other survey, or examined either in any depth.

Or at all, really.

No stories, just a brief scroll along the bottom of the screen. Maybe 60 letters in all.

That represents one letter for 10,000 people living below poverty level.

Translated to real numbers, one in seven represents some 600,000 people not getting enough money to live in a first world standard. Possibly, this second group of people weren't asked for their opinion for the 'happy' survey.

Usually, surveys are held over the phone, ruling out a huge underclass – below working class – living day by day without a phone. They can't afford to pay the bills.

On the other hand, out of choice, many working and middle class people no longer bother with a landline. They get by with cell phones and use the internet at work.

So that might balance out the findings of the two surveys.

Emphasis on the 'might.'

Also this week, TVNZ recently screened a promo that looked astonishingly like government propaganda. Billed as "explaining the recession" the promo featured the finance minister mouthing off platitudes, edgily edited with shaky camera shots and close ups.

As the state broadcaster, TVNZ is obliged to follow a charter that guarantees the independence of its broadcast from political or commercial influence.

Withering criticism from the opposition saw TVNZ blithely defend its promo as not breaking any rules, despite representing an estimated half million dollars in free publicity for the ruling National Party.

Parliamentary members of the opposition were not invited to take part in the promo. Just Finance minister Bill English. Capping off the promo, TVNZ promised to translate the mysteries of the recession into "plain English."

Strange that TVNZ should promise to do so, considering that events surrounding the recession are now two years old. Another of those little scrolly-bar-things this week also revealed that the recession is over in the United States following a whole quarter year of economic growth.

Badly timed government propaganda, in other words.

Not a good look for the state broadcaster of a country that regards itself as the world's least corrupt. Or for a party that gained a majority by lashing what it described as the "nanny state."

Better a nanny state than propaganda as blind and boastful as any third world rogue state, North Korea for example. The Bill English promo is a new low for a state broadcaster continually cut back by both major parties over the last quarter century.

"We can beat the Aussies," says Bill English in one of his more inane promo comments.

Yes, "we" can.

Self-delusional propaganda promoting a two-faced society is probably not the way to do it.

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