Friday, July 07, 2017

If you don't fight, you don't win

There are op-eds in both the Herald and Stuff this morning calling for a leftward shift in New Zealand politics. In the Herald, Toby Manhire argues that the Greens should unleash Metiria Turei's radical side to "mak[e] the progressive case for the environment, the economy and society" properly - loud and in-your-face. And in Stuff, Andrew Dean argues that in the face of enormous public dissatisfaction with the political system, Labour and the Greens' pre-election commitment to NeoLiberalism is not just wrong, but a mistake:

Even on their own terms, though, the budget responsibility rules are misguided. They commit our two largest Left parties to continuing policies that have resulted in such dissatisfaction. The running down of public infrastructure – schools, healthcare, state housing, public transport, tertiary education, and so on – that has occurred over decades of restricted government spending, is of course very much central to this.

Those who are unhappy with the political system know what restricted budgets look like: lack of state houses; long waiting lists for services of all kinds; stratified and increasingly segregated schools; welfare and tax credit cuts. It means it is hard to make rent and get food on the table.

And the obvious question is, why vote for a left party if all they're offering is the same old shit with more sincere sounding excuses. Hell, if that's all government can offer, why vote at all?

We need change. Thirty years of NeoLiberalism have left us poorer, robbed of both our wages and our public services. Meanwhile, the rich are laughing all the way to the bank (and getting us to bail them out and fund their fucking MoneyBoat as well).

Fuck that. If left parties aren't going to end that, or at least make a credible effort, then what is the fucking point of them?

If Labour and the Greens want to win this election, they need to actually offer something. Mere managerial politics - Grant Robertson and Gareth Hughes getting Ministerial salaries rather than Nick Smith and Anne Tolley - does not cut it. It does not inspire support, because at the end of the day it makes no difference, means nothing to us.

As for what to offer: at the heart of the government's problems lies thirty years of starvation thanks to NeoLiberal tax cutting. So end that. Tax the rich, with a new top tax rate on high-income earners like MP's, and tax wealth with a land tax. And make polluters pay, with a real carbon charge and a resource rental for irrigators and industrial water users. And use that to fund the public services we need and have been denied by successive governments who care more about the rich than the people who elect them.

It might not work. But if you don't fight, you don't win. And OTOH, in the current climate, where two-thirds of us think the economic system is rigged for the rich, taking up a solid position on the side of the many against the people who are fucking us over doesn't seem like it will hurt. And at the least, its a better setup for next time than more failed managerialism.