Friday, February 04, 2011

Hope is not a policy

John Key's response to yesterday's bad unemployment numbers? Excuses. "Unemployment's a lagging indicator", "Don't lose confidence", and (my favourite) "it's just a survey" (amazing how a money-spinner can dismiss the entire science of statistics - except, of course, when it tells him what he wants to hear). We're all expected to hang on and hope for better times, which are of course just around the corner. Meanwhile, no-one seems to be asking the question which should be on everyone's lips: what is the government going to do about this?

Unemployment is a social evil that needs to be reduced. It is the government's job to reduce it. So what is the government doing...? Nothing. They've given up even pretending they're interested in stimulus. They've cancelled employment schemes. Their "solution" to unemployment is to wait and hope and let the market sort itself out.

But hope is not a policy. These people are unemployed now. They are suffering now. Saying "wait and see, it'll all be better tomorrow" may sound great when you're slurping $185 a bottle taxpayer-funded pinot, but it does nothing to actually solve the problem. One of the biggest social problems facing our country right now, and the government is sitting on its hands, doing nothing.

I expect more from a New Zealand government. So should you.