Friday, October 14, 2016

What surplus?

Stephanie Rodgers at Boots Theory responds to yesterday's government "surplus":

The truth is, there is no surplus.

When Housing New Zealand says it simply cannot build the houses we need for families who are living on the street and in their cars, how can we have a surplus?

When District Health Boards insist that they cannot afford to deliver safer rosters for junior doctors, or new equipment, or decent pay rises for support staff, how can we have a surplus?

When public schools, built on the promise of free education for every Kiwi kid, have to demand “voluntary donations” from parents in order to keep operating, how can we have a surplus?

When sick people have to run public campaigns ask for donations to fund the medicine they need, because Pharmac has to prioritise which life-saving treatments it subsidises, how can we have a surplus?

When the people who clean the ministerial toilets in the Beehive aren’t paid a living wage, how can we have a surplus?

If you aren’t providing the services you are contracted to do – in this case, maintaining the public services and promoting the welfare of New Zealanders – and declaring a profit, you’re not running a successful business. You’re running a Ponzi scheme.

The only reason we have a "surplus" is because the government's failure - or rather, refusal - to provide those services does not appear on their balance sheet. If they did, then the trick would be laid bare: all National has done is pump up the government's books by giving us public squalor. And now they plan to leave us that mess, and the long-term costs it entails, while letting the rich run away with the profits as tax-cuts.

This isn't government. Its pillage.