WEEKLY RANT – #1

My weekly rant is a new approach to effectively saying what I think. It differs to my other posts since I will not resign myself to a single topic (although I might at times) and its related components, but will consistently flitter from one topic to another unapologetically. I make no claims to assertions of truth and my arguments will likely be largely un-thought out and therefore flawed in many respects. This is opinion folks.


Let’s go back to the 1980’s. The absolute failing of New Zealand politics since the massive reforms that were started by Labour, care of Roger Douglas in the 80’s and refined by National in the 90’s still wreak havoc for the poor and middle income earners of New Zealand.


What did Douglas do? Rogernomics. He took away what he called ‘privileges’ from everyone and decided that ‘user pays’. Why? Because he was a monetarist neoliberal.


Neoliberalism promotes profit over people. It takes power away from the state and puts it in the hands of corporations. It focuses on an unregulated freedom. Two words that imply the same thing right? No, not necessarily. As rational beings we can all understand that there is no ‘absolute freedom’, if there were, we would not have physical, mental or environmental constraints. Unregulated freedom is simply giving an unjustified freedom to corporations at the expense of the worker. It requires unemployment or joblessness in order for any corporation to be profitable, because the labour force itself must remain competitive.  The ethos of corporations is to drive down the wages of the worker down and ensure that top salaries are increased. The effect of a competitive labour force when there is high unemployment is that low skilled or unskilled workers have no chance. What is their option? The benefit (I will return to this point).  This is the kind of policy that Roger Douglas imported into New Zealand political framework at the behest of Treasury. I don’t care what politicians say about their disdain for Roger Douglas, they are liars and they still follow the same ideology he introduced.


The Labour Party continues to fail the left because they are still tied up in this right wing ideology. To be honest, I don’t know what any of the Labour Party stand for anymore, and I am increasingly suspicious of any policy promoted by any party whose main focus is on capital gain.


If that makes me a loony leftist then so be it. But please, don’t put the Labour Party in the loony leftist bin with those of us who actually care about the people, the environment, and the real economy, because they are clearly guided by right winged conservative policy.


However, don’t attack me with your ill-gotten quips about how the left don’t care or know nothing about the economy. A healthy productive economy has healthy productive people and a healthy productive environment within which to operate. Putting money at the centre of economic policy will lead to an unproductive economy, where’s my proof? Look around you. The world is at war over oil reserves: the environment and the people are taking a massive hit from the greed of corporations for mo’ money. So what’s New Zealand’s answer? Well hey, let’s explore our seabed’s for oil reserves and sell them off to foreign interests – we’ll ensure that the risk to the environment is minimised! Well, you f*krs, you should be guaranteeing that there is no risk to the environment, what’s a little bit of spilt oil? It’s too much oil spilt.


So if you right wingers want to blindly follow the lion to the den and go on pretending that the loony left has no substance then get a better argument. Or work story. Or a perm.


I’m going to go back to the point about unemployment.  Once our unemployment rate is untenable, this gives the government the excuse to lower the minimum wage. Why? Because they can justify paying less by arguing that New Zealand will see higher investment rates from international or foreign interests. Cheaper labour rates amount to increased investments. Who makes money? The companies. Who loses money? The worker. So when either the National Party or the Labour Party tells you they want to ensure that everyone can get a job – they are lying. They can never guarantee it because of the neoliberal paradigm within which NZ operates. The government will never openly admit that unemployment is good for the (monetarist) ‘economy’, well because that would be political suicide. But it’s true.


The problem is that the governments know with higher unemployment, they will spend more in benefits, so what do they do? They make living conditions in New Zealand unbearable. The effect of this is that the low or unskilled workers migrate to Australia for better opportunities, reducing the welfare bill. They migrate because they are competing for jobs with skilled workers and constantly met with rejection from employers and unsustainable living conditions. The traditional low and middle income earners take massive pay cuts so that those on the top salaries get an increase and the companies’ profit. Alternatively, if they are unemployed and on a benefit they are forced off the benefit into roles that they are overqualified for or where their skills can be transferred and that will provide a barely livable wage. This situation is win-win for a govenrment under neoliberalism.  It does not have to be this way. And, yes, it will take a huge paradigm shift to fix, but would some political party just grow some balls and get on with it!
Advertisements

5 comments

  1. Interesting post.While I do not agree 100% with some of what you claim, I do think you have some quite valid points in there.Looking forward to the next rant 😉

    Like

  2. I don't disagree with Neoliberals in suggesting markets are a good way of organising SOME things, and competition is important in terms of propelling development in technology and industry.But economies need to be structured in a way that a) seeks sustainability in the long-term and b) serves the interests of all people.The authoritarian in me says that people do not always know whats best for them, and because the output of collective activity is greater than the sum of its parts – sometimes coercion needs to occur to help realise the best possible outcomes for all.Notwithstanding this scarily Soviet sentiment, it's not about determining the micro issues for people, rather we just need to ensure that the terms upon which we set our market structures are reflective of the empirical knowledge we have about how market dynamics work – and the mitigation of market failure mustn't be viewed as something that is ideologically inconceivable (such is the view of the New Right). Currently the there is a wideheld misconception of market dynamics that fails to take into account the nature of humans as seldom-rational, and the mathematics simply doesn't hold true to neoliberal descriptions of the market. Their out-of-context (read: blind) faith in Adam Smith's 'Invisible Hand' fails to address a number of issues – and until such time that we are willing to break the concrete views of those who wield power and communicate to them a more effective way exists (which will have substantial benefits to all, at the cost of relinquishing some personal choice + product variation) we will continue to continue down this strange path of self-destruction. I am not an advocate of traditional socialist or communist theory – but as economist, I reckon it's quite a simple case of disinterring the untruths of eternal growth & realise that the most efficient way to structure the global economy includes some policies which seek to increase the minimum standards of living and reduce inequality.

    Like

  3. This is awesome and while my understanding of economics is very limited, its interesting to see the perspective of an economist that considers the importance of social issues and the human element that is often neglected, especially under the right wing models employed in NZ. Thanks!

    Like

Comments are closed.