Monday, November 14, 2011

Burying the evidence

Back when it was in power, Labour came up with a seriously good idea: the Social Report. Its a compilation of statistical data on our health, education, standard of living and various other things, published every year. The aim was explicitly to allow changes in these indicators to be tracked annually, just as we do for things like GDP. Which would in turn allow us to see if government policy was having a positive or negative effect on our society.

The Social Report is (now) published in November. But it hasn't turned up yet. Asking around, apparently National have decided not to publish it this year, and to scale it back to being published every three years. Why? Its hard to see it as anything other than burying the evidence. To point out the obvious, running an austerity programme in the middle of a recession while handing out fat tax cuts to your rich mates resulted in a broad deterioration in social indicators in the 90's, and its likely to be doing the same now. And National really, really doesn't want us looking too hard at the consequences of its policies, especially in the middle of an election campaign.

Which is why we need a statutory reporting scheme, rather than a "grace and favour" one which depends on government goodwill. National thinks our environment deserves such a scheme. Surely our society does as well.