Monday, November 07, 2011

Investing in the future

Reading the rest of Labour's children's policy [PDF], its not just about the universalisation of the in-work payment, or the extension of paid parental leave to 26 weeks (something else which is long overdue). This is a serious, investment focused policy which aims at putting children at the centre of social policy. So we have more money, and more services (ECE, healthcare), but also a "Children's Charter" to set goals and measure achievement against them, a Children's Act to force government departments to obey it, Children's Impact reporting (similar to current BORA reporting) on all policy, and a dedicated Ministry to oversee it all.

Again, National will pooh-pooh this, and call it a waste of money - which is what they call anything which benefits anyone who isn't rich, old, white and male. But they're wrong. This is about investing in our society for better outcomes for the future. Its about making sure our policies don't have perverse impacts further down the track. Its about making sure that the weakest members of our society, who can't vote, are taken care of, and helped to attain their full potential. Its about putting children first.

Its costed. Its affordable (with Labour's other tax tradeoffs). It has significant future benefits which outweigh those costs. The question isn't whether we can afford these policies now - its whether we can afford not to implement them. Because in the long-term, child poverty is a very expensive thing indeed.

So, we have a clear choice: we can invest in the future by putting children first, or we can continue to stripmine our society and pile up future costs. I know which alternative I prefer.