Monday, January 27, 2014

Sensible, achievable, and cheap

Yesterday, the Greens launched their education policy, promising to reduce inequality in education through free school lunches, dedicated school nurses, onsite ECE, and free afterschool and holiday care, all targeted at decile 1 - 4 schools. The latter in particular is a game-changer, and will remove a significant cost from the back of the working poor, as well as a significant barrier to participating in the workforce for those outside it.

(I'm ignoring the "community hub" idea here because a change in the method of provision isn't as significant IMHO as the changes in what is being provided. That's just admin, not policy).

These are sensible policies, which will ensure that every child gets a fair go regardless of their parents' wealth. They'll make a real difference to inequality in New Zealand. But what's surprising is that all of this is so cheap. $100 million a year isn't pocket change, but in policy terms, its at the low end of significant policy. Which just makes the absence of these policies, and the resulting inequality and suffering all the worse: we could fix it, cheaply - but our government chooses not to.

Its also worth remembering here: reducing child poverty is an investment, not a cost. It pays off later in lower spending on health, welfare, remedial education, police and prisons. But that doesn't immediately cut taxes for the rich, so National ignores it.