Monday, July 17, 2017

Standing on their principles

The Greens held their party conference over the weekend, and announced a $1.5 billion families package aimed at massively relieving poverty in New Zealand. Benefits would be raised, the minimum wage increased, child support universalised, and the boot of WINZ removed from beneficiaries' faces. This would be paid for by cancelling National's tax cuts - and by adding a new top-tax rate applying to rich people like MP's.

MMP being what it is, this is a negotiating platform rather than a concrete promise. But its a bold statement of principle, and of priorities. NeoLiberalism, with its benefit cuts, has left us a legacy of entrenched poverty. The policy of ever-harsher sanctions - continued unchanged under Clark and made even worse under National - has made things worse, not better. We have tolerated this inequality for far too long, and it is time we did something about it, by reversing the policies that cause it. And for those who think money is more important than basic decency, its not a question of whether we can afford it: given the huge social costs these policies have imposed on us, it is a question of whether we can afford not to.

As for Meyt's admission that she lied to WINZ in the 90's, well, wouldn't you to help your kids survive? And if not, you're a sorry excuse for a human being. People deliberately and consciously setting out to rip off the system out of greed is one thing; desperate people who are just trying to get by in the face of a system designed to grind you down rather than support you is quite another. Anyone who has ever had the misfortune of dealing with WINZ knows what wankers they are, and I'm not going to condemn anyone for doing what they need to do to survive.

The message is clear: if you want principle, you vote Green. If you want bland, technocratic tinkering, business-as-usual with a few more smiley face stickers over the nasty parts of NeoLiberalism (plus crawling into bed with Winston), you can vote Labour. I know which one I'll be doing.