Those poor, undervalued Herald Columnists. Where’s their public holiday, huh?

Normally when I read or hear something that isn’t about me at all, but for some reason I take really personally (usually because it is an achilles heel-style weakness: for example, hearingĀ  any kind of throwaway remark about ‘soft sciences’ will send me into a tirade about my Psychology degree and how people don’t know what science even is anymore), I tend to just vent my spleen on my poor friends and family. But I have now learned that what I should be doing is writing a column about it. Thanks Deborah Hill Cone, for giving me the go-ahead! Her latest column is a sad little tantrum about how we rate those in “helping professions” (doctors, nurses, firefighters, etc) as being more respected than real estates agents and journalists like little ol’ Deborah.

Well, speaking as someone with a parent who isĀ  GP, yes, I do respect doctors more than journalists. Being a GP isn’t a glamourous job with sweet, sweet perks and screeds of adoration that Deboarh seems to think; it is a gruelling job with long days, mountains of paperwork to be done on ‘days off’, constant upskilling. Oh, and that huge salary? Yeah, still paying of some huge Medical School student loans. So I respect people like my Mum, who put her life into a job that helps other people feel better and gets very little recognition in return. Oh, except for being accused of possibly being “addicted” to work, as Deborah accuses. Apparently those in altruistic professions are really just addicted workaholics, who get high off the adoration and respect of the public. I know my Mum waits with baited breath every year for the Reader’s Digest poll of most repected New Zealanders, desperately hoping for some validation.

Deboarh is sceptical of people who are “here to help”, positing that they are secret control freaks. I guess we should, um, get rid of those jobs? Yes, I like the sound of that a lot indeed. Cut those workaholics off from their supply of workahol.

Her actual conclusion is that we stop “idolising” people who work in helping professions, and acknowledge that everyone – doctors, lawyers, plumbers, roofers, everyone – contributes in their own way. Well, at least I agree with what she thinks she is saying, which is that it would be nice if we all respected everyone for doing jobs that are all (in general) necessary ones. I don’t, as you may have picked up, agree with her view that we idolise vets and nurses and police officers…

I am a bit confused by this point though

Although obviously we do need firefighters to go and douse fires and nurses to care for sick people, as a general principle, it is better not to help able-bodied people but to leave them to find their own solutions and sort out their own “stuff”.

I thought that they way it worked was that ‘helping professions’ helped those who weren’t able to help themselves (for various reasons), and people who didn’t need those services don’t tend to seek them. So the comment about letting able-bodied people sort themselves out seems slightly redundant. It’s not as if the situation we are in now is people who don’t need firefighters calling them up and asking to be rescued from a burning building. But anyway….Deborah has this effect on me; utter confusion over what exactly she is trying to say.


  1. Katherine says:

    Sounds like a thickly-veiled complaint against the “nanny state” to me.

  2. Amanda says:

    Bootstraps, bootstraps everyone!

    Gadamit…I only have shoelaces…