The Government has been very quick to adopt a snitch culture in the past few weeks. They have a snitch line to Police to dob in lockdown breachers and another for people to snitch on price gougers.

Then yesterday, they released the details of every company that has taken the wage subsidy, ostensibly so employees can work out whether their boss is doing right by them or is being a ratbag employer:

Restaurants, cafes, and supermarkets are among the businesses to receive a slice of the $5.3 billion in Government wage subsidies.

A register of subsidy recipients was launched late on Monday night and showed the damage wrecked [sic] on the economy, with almost no sector immune.

Even supermarkets and pharmacies, which have been allowed to stay open during the lockdown, have claimed from the scheme, meaning they’ve suffered a decline in revenue of 30 per cent.

Five Unichem pharmacies have claimed a collective $366,000 from the scheme, subsidising 59 jobs, and two New World supermarkets claimed $622,000 to subsidise the jobs of 91 employees.

But predictably it was the retail and hospitality sectors who have been hardest hit.

Big names in hospitality like The French Cafe and Coco’s Cantina in Auckland received $137,700 and $95,400 to subsidise 20 and 16 jobs respectively.

In Wellington, restaurants such as Logan Brown and Havana bar received $158,700 and $125,000 while in Christchurch’s coffee institution C1 Espresso received $137,700 for 20 employees.

Two McDonald’s restaurants between them received $552,000. Even the liquor business is not unaffected, with Wellington brewery Garage Project getting $439,900 to subsidise 65 jobs.

Tourism has also been badly hit. Milford Sound Flights received $150,300.

The register is incomplete, and it’s understood it only includes early applicants who have already been paid out. Larger firms are conspicuously absent, but it’s possible these will have their details published later as their larger and potentially more complex applications are paid out.

Part of me thinks this is OK, to reveal who is availing themselves of government subsidies. Part of me is appalled at such an invasion of privacy for those business owners.

Then it got me thinking, something the Government seems to have in short supply. If snitch culture and public shaming is now part of every day life then it stands to reason that we could easily extend this permanently into other areas.

Take for instance Dead Beat Dads. We all know someone who is skiving off on their parental responsibility, adjusting their income to make payments as low as possible or skipping out altogether, leaving the state and taxpayers to pick up the tab for their child support. Let’s extend the snitch culture to publish the name and photo ID of Dead Beat Dads as they do in the US.

Dead Beat Dads in Arizona

Then we could look at those on ACC, claiming injuries like dodgy backs and the like. Let’s snitch on them too. Add in welfare beneficiaries on the lam or taking the proverbial. Let’s snitch on them publicly too.

The snitch culture certainly seems to appeal to the younger generations who never learned at school that snitches get stitches. They’ve instead been brought up in a system that calls even mild name calling and a bit of argy-bargy bullying. They’ve learned that howling in faux outrage on social media and outing poor behaviour is rewarded with news cycles. They don’t physically bully, but they sure as hell use technology to do it. They do this because no one ever got punched in the face for being an arsehole on line. They’ve embraced the snitch cultutre.

So, let’s extend it. Bring it into everything. After all, the government started it when they went after landlords, then businesses, then lock down breachers, then price gougers, and now those taking subsidies. There are now many new avenues that we can extend the snitch culture into.

I bet that Jacinda Ardern didn’t think about that when she started asking for names at her press conferences. I bet the Government never thought about it either. Well. It’s here now. Let’s have at it.

The BFD. Snitch Culture. Photoshopped image credit Boondecker


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Cam Slater
As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats. Cam has previously voted National, Act and NZ First, he never was ever tempted to vote Labour or Green, but once contemplated voting for the Maori party. They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners. He is fearless in his pursuit of a story. Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.