Wednesday, July 15, 2009

No solutions from Key

This morning, Prime Minister John Key was supposed to give a speech "detail[ing] the problems and solutions for New Zealand's economy". You'd expect such a speech to have some information on how the government was planning to deal with the recession. If so, you'd be disappointed. Key's sole tip to the recession is this:

We cannot magic away a deep recession; nor can we turn back the tide of rising unemployment.

What the Government can do, however, is take the sharpest edges off the recession.

And that's it. Key's response to the thousand people a week signing up for the dole and the 60,000 more likely to follow them is, as the Standard says, to grin blankly and shrug his shoulders. Because as he admits, he's not really interested in them, the human victims of what Key disarmingly calls one of the economy's "worse-than-average periods", the actual people who the economy is meant to exist to serve. He's interested in the longer-term picture and climbing some pointless OECD economic penis-size comparison "ladder". And to do that, he proposes the same tired old recipe we have come to expect from National: deregulation (you know, the stuff that led to this economic disaster in the first place), public service cuts, and tax cuts for the rich. Oh, and "productivity growth", which is business code for "wage cuts".

Naturally, the business community lapped it up. As for the rest of us, I'd prefer to have a government which was actually focused on the problems at hand, rather than trying to use them as an excuse to ram through neo-liberal "reforms" which actively make things worse for ordinary people.