Studies from all over the world drive home the exact same point: free money helps. Proven correlations exist between free money and a decrease in crime, lower inequality, less malnutrition, lower infant mortality and teenage pregnancy rates, less truancy, better school completion rates, higher economic growth and emancipation rates.
‘The big reason poor people are poor is because they don’t have enough money’, economist Charles Kenny, a fellow at the Center for Global Development, dryly remarked last June. ‘It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that giving them money is a great way to reduce that problem.’
It’s the right thing to do on every level: ethical, practical, cost-efficient, proven. And after six years of National Party ministers pulling the ladder up behind them I think it’s a story which could go very far here.
Hat-tip to NRT.
Doing it right: the Dominion Post (i.e. Stuff) with a surprisingly useful, interesting interactive map which allows you to switch between 2007 and 2013 boundaries.
Doin it rong: 3 News, with a “full list of changes” which is really only helpful if you know every suburb involved, and if every suburb has clear universal delineations. As someone who lived at a flat which was situated in three different suburbs depending on whether you were asking NZ Post, the council, or the Electoral Commission … nope.
This shouldn’t really need to be said. But just to be clear, because I’m sensing some confusion: I’m pretty sure I do not have the power to substantially affect the outcome of the next election.
This blog is not going to deliver a victory to David Cunliffe, and my tweets are not going to herald a John Key victory. If I switched this whole thing off tomorrow, the media would still be able to find a quote from someone which proves The New Zealand Left Is Hopelessly Divided, if that was their angle. But 2014 will almost certainly be the third election in a row where someone somewhere/everyone everywhere will decide that it is my “lack of unity” or “looking to be offended” or “call out culture” which is the problem – not their own lack of principle, clarity of message, or integrity.
You see, I’m a woman with opinions. Usually pretty loud, brash opinions. And sometimes I have them about people who are, in a very general sense, “on my side”, who I think (hat-tip to Craig) could do better.
And I am absolutely going to have a go (sorry, “conduct a witch hunt”) at leftwing, liberal men who expect to be thought leaders in our movement but consistently use women (and Maaori, and whoever else adds a flourish of diversity) to build their own cred while shouting over them whenever they disagree.
I am not going to change. I will continue to be bitchy, catty, picky, over-sensitive, easily-offended, hold a grudge and act like a total cow. Because that’s what you call women with unabashed opinions, isn’t it?
Look, we all know that the concept of the free market as some kind of glorious objective rational manager of all facets of human life is bullshit, right?
What utterly bugs me is how the Powers That Be – and I’m looking at you too, Labour – treat the vagaries and whims of the market like opinion polls: ignore them (often on very well-argued grounds) when they’re not good for your argument, embrace them when they are.
Latest case in point: the reaction of The Market to the NZ Power announcement. Contact’s shares promptly dropped (a little), leading the right to scream that the end times were nigh and this was proof that the Labour/Greens joint policy announcement was going to cost it the election.
But overall the NZX was up, so Grant Robertson goes declaring that this means there’s no risk of the policy causing capital flight.
It’s the same ludicrous situation we see every time The Market is made the centre of a news story. For the drop in Contact shares to be meaningful we have to simultaneously accept that The Market has made an instantaneous judgement on the future implications of the NZ Power policy … but also isn’t aware that we’re a year out from an election, that policy takes a while to implement, that there’s always the option of NZ First storming in, seizing the balance of power and refusing to do anything until we have a referendum on it.
For the rise in the NZX to be meaningful we have to believe that trading on the share market is dominated by any impulses other than whim, Chicken Little syndrome, rumours, lies, espionage, counter-espionage, and hopefully-educated guesses about the real value and future profitability of things which do not exist in concrete form.
For the drop in Contact shares combined with the rise in the NZX to be meaningful, we have to believe that The Market – at least, the bits of it that aren’t selling off Contact shares – understands the longterm implications of the policy and has judged it good. Or they’ve remembered there’s no election until 2014. Or they don’t believe Labour and the Greens will win and have the numbers and have the consistency and have the will to implement the policy in anything short of four years.
It’s like reading fucking chicken entrails, and yet it’s treated with reverence, like those guys must know something we peons don’t because they’ve got the money to play with so that makes them better than us – even when they buy so much into their own bullshit that they routinely throughout history fuck over entire societies.
I realise that rejecting The Market as the font of all wisdom would basically involve rewiring our entire political system, but … can we at least stop reacting to its every sniffle like it’s a signed affidavit?
Despite Labour’s support continuing to flatline, I see a lot of commenters being optimistic – a lot of ancedotes about this relative or that coworker who’s traditionally been a National Party voter but is now reconsidering or even disavowing voting for them in 2014.
That’s … not necessarily a good thing, though.
Because there’s no assurance that those previous-National voters are switching to Labour or the Greens or even the Conservatives. They’re fed up with Key, yes, but they’re not saying en masse, “we think [insert party] has the answers” – they’re just fed up.
This could simply mean that a chunk of people who voted for National in 2011/2008 just stay at home.
Technically, that’s a good thing for the left, if the left can get mobilised (remember, it was our peeps who stayed home the last two times, for (in my opinion) similar “don’t like any of you bastards” reasons). We’ve got a proportional system which rewards the side who gets people to the polling booths.
The problem I have is that, good as the outcome might be for the country, it’s a bad thing for NZ democracy if a Labour/Green/whoever coalition is victorious largely because National voters stayed home this time.
If only because it says that a lot of voters don’t see enough substantive difference between National and Labour, as the coalition-bloc-leading parties, to be bothered picking one over the other. But also because I believe that high turnout is a good thing. It gives a real mandate to all parties involved. It shows that people believe their vote can make a difference.
And it would mean that a left/centre-left coalition had really been chosen by the people. It would show they had earned it. Not been allowed to slip into power because of the apathy of others.
From Dimpost on Trotter on Shearer (I feel like we’re in the beginning stages of some terrible blogging chain letter here):
My concern about a Shearer-led government is less dramatic than Trotters’. It’s that many of the senior Labour Ministers will be the usual gang of loyalist idiots, that Shearer would be unable to manage Winston Peters (assuming New Zealand First is a part of the coalition), that Labour will wage an unrelenting covert campaign against any Green Ministers, and that the whole thing will see National sail back into office three years later.
Yep. I said it about the last election, and I’ll say it about 2014 as well: it is not a universal truth that any-and-all configurations of Labour-led government are better for NZ than any-and-all configurations of National-led government. Labour is not automatically the lesser of two evils in this situation, especially with ACT goneburger, the Conservatives not showing a lot of fight (just a lot of cash), and the Greens positioning themselves as a party with an actual clue, a purpose, a strong viewpoint and a soul.
The Labour government which follows this National government (whether in 2014 or 2017 or gods forbid 2020) faces one big challenge from the electorate: show us you have an alternative, successful solution to our woes.
A Labour government which muddles around with no clear idea of what it’s doing or where it’s going, which buys into National’s rhetoric, which does pretty much a watered-down version of what National would have done themselves only while telling us that “we’re the ones who really care” … that government is just going to send one big message: we don’t have a plan, and we can’t make things better.
And then a lot of voters will stay at home [again] or jump back to National because hey, at least they act like they know what they’re doing, and I guess they were right about leftwing ideas not being practical in the real world after all, and if I’m going to be stuck in an economic downturn at least I can have more of my money in my pocket, right?
And then we’re basically fucked until things get so bad for “middle New Zealand” that a revolutionary leader can take charge of Labour/the Greens/Mana and sweep into power on a massive wave of popular support.
But that would probably take a while.
I don’t want National to win the next election. But I’m not convinced that the current Labour Party would do a good enough job at the head of a coalition to remind voters – that big group of people who don’t really engage in politics and certainly don’t read blogs like The Standard – that there are alternatives to coldhearted neoliberal bullshit. That collectivist approaches work better than individualist approaches. That all-pulling-together does actually get better results. That a strong social safety net is something to be seriously proud of.
If voters aren’t convinced of this, they’re going to stay home. They’re going to vote for the $10 tax cut bribe. And the Labour Party will have no grounds to whine about it.