Thursday, January 28, 2010

Goff targets inequality

Phil Goff is giving a major speech in Hamilton today, aimed at launching Labour for the year. And unlike his last dismal, racist, toxic outing, this one hits the nail on the head. Entitled "The Many. Not The Few", it demands that the growth following the recession benefit ordinary New Zealanders, rather than National's privileged elite.

Labour has a good record on this. During their term in office, they halted the rise in inequality and channeled growth to benefit those on lower incomes. Most New Zealanders ended up better off - unlike the 90's, when most of us were made actively worse off while the benefits of economic growth were captured and monopolised by a tiny clique at the top. And they have the policies to deliver: further increases in the minimum wage, employment-relations law which allows workers to fight for and win pay rises rather than being summarily dismissed if they join a union in the first 90 days, gradual restoration of the welfare state and a cap on top public-sector salaries.

This is a good theme for Labour to press on. Fairness is a basic kiwi value. We expect growth to be fairly distributed (or we have no reason to support it), and we expect the rich to pay their way rather than shirking their share with lawyers and accountants. Plus, there are strong empirical arguments for a more equal society. Heirarchy kills. Inequality is bad for everyone. Reducing it makes us all better off.

Labour needs to fight and win this argument over the next two years. Fortunately, national, with its policy of robbing the poor to pay the rich, looks to be doing everything it can to help them.