Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Back to the 90's

Is anyone else getting a horrible sense of deja vu? National is in power, the economy has tanked, they're talking tax cuts for the rich and privatization. Which means some election-year beneficiary-bashing is right around the corner.

And as if on clockwork, we have National's latest plans to demonise and victimise the poor and unfortunate, and drive their faces even further into the mud. All predicated on magical thinking that jobs somehow become available if only you beat the poor enough. Its cruel, its sadistic, its irrational. But its so very, very National, isn't it? A bunch of rich pricks sitting their on their fat piles of cash, shitting on the people beneath them.

While every government wants to get people off benefits, the idea that you can do so when there is 6.6% unemployment is simply madness. Of course, Treasury thinks that will drop, and 170,000 jobs will be delivered by faeries with magic wands over the next four years. And if you believe that, I have an ugly round building in Wellington to sell you. Even when unemployment was at record lows under Labour (remember that?), the numbers on benefits other than the unemployment benefit continued to rise, because these people have problems that are not economic in nature. The problem is not that they won't work, but that they can't. Solving those problems requires investment: investment in healthcare, mental health services, and addiction services, to solve those underlying problems which are ruining people's lives; investment in training, to upskill people who have been abandoned by the government; investment in childcare and disability services, to enable people to work. And this investment is expensive. While the government is making a few noises in this area, they're not going to follow through on it. Being cruel is cheaper (and gets more votes, which is what this is primarily about: a blatant play for the arsehole vote).

Still, as Gordon Campbell points out, it does put an end to the idea that John key is moderate. having sold us a continuation of Labour's polices in 2008, National is now aiming to drag us back to the insanity of the 90's. Fortunately, we have a chance to stop them in November.