What should the Government do?

Parliament is in recess so it’s not surprising that Opposition parties and lobby groups are busy blasting the Government for not spending enough money on all sorts of things.

Hospital doctors are threatening to strike over their work conditions. They often work very long hours and a lot of days without a break. Exhausted doctors mustn’t be conducive to the best possible care.

The only way of dealing with this is employing more doctors, which will cost more money.

More drugs and better healthcare are always on the ‘must do’ list.

Doctors strike symptom of health cuts

The notice of strike action issued by the junior doctors today is the result of years of National’s cuts to the health system, says Labour’s Associate Health spokesperson Dr David Clark.

Kids in poverty is getting a lot of attention. The ‘Government hates children’ brigade has been vocal again – John Key didn’t help when he compared counting kids in poverty to counting pests.

Labour has actually announced a policy, sort of – they would give ‘most’ new born kids $60 a week. At about 60,000 births a year that’s $150-200 million a year. If they kept giving that to all kids until they left school it would add up to over $3 billion a year.

I can’t find anything on Labour’s website on this. It may be policy by press, trying to jump on the bandwagon of the day.

Immigrants bad, refugees good?

‘Rich NZ’s poor attitude’

New Zealand should be taking more than three times the number of refugees, Amnesty NZ says.

That costs money. And gets criticised.

Demands continue for more action – and spending – on emergency housing and state housing and housing for poor people. And to upgrade housing – we can’t have kids in cold damp houses. Heaters and dehumidifiers and windows all cost money.

Trains and tracks and tunnels and bridges. Scrapping fossil fuels. Cycle ways. I’ve just seen “opposition parties calling for more ambitious government targets on climate change’. These all cost money.

New Zealand lags on aid targets

The National Government needs to live up to its commitments and allocate 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income on development assistance, says Labour’s spokesperson on Pacific Climate Change Su’a William Sio. 

More aid = more Government spending.

Opposition parties are also calling for free tertiary education, cleaning up rivers, the list goes on and always will go on, like the Opposition parties.

Is the Government heartless? Do they hate the poor and children and anyone who they aren’t giving more money to? That’s what some people actually say.

The Government isn’t doing nothing. They budget huge amounts every year. They also dish out bits and pieces between budgets, for example:

Govt launches $15.3m employment scheme to reduce reoffending for released prisoners

Minister Anne Tolley said the new scheme would give offenders and their families a chance to lead successful lives and steer them away from a return to crime.

Jobs and more money for poor families, reduced crime and reduced prison costs sounds like a positive aim, bu the Opposition will either say it’s not enough or will ignore it in their quest for highlighting negative news.

Asking for the Government to spend more money is fine, that’s a part of the Opposition job.

But condemning the Government as uncaring kid haters is a bit pathetic and is hardly likely to lead to any improvements.

Opposition parties and lobby groups seem to be more intent of grabbing headlines through shock and horror – but they have to compete, ironically, with rich celebrity crap.

Governments must always strive to better for it’s people. In the main they do try hard to please most of the people most of the time.

Over the top attacks are easier to ignore than well thought through well argued campaigns.

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37 Comments

  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  5th October 2016

    Well said, PG. However desperation for media coverage and a niggle at the Government will ensure no change to opposition tactics. What is needed though, is a lot more media scepticism and realism.

    Reply
  2. The government should reform what we loosely call our ‘democratic system’ so as to facilitate much more temperate, inclusive and consensus decision making, rather than the adversarial, exclusive [majority], archaic oppositional Westminster model we operate now.

    Such reasonable behaviour and debate apparently happens a lot at Select Committee stages of legislation now – although I dare say it too can be greatly improved – so why does the debating chamber have to be an embattled ‘Bear Pit’ side show? Easy, because it reflects the fundamental polarisation and dichotomy [class system and racism] of the Whigs vs Tories Imperial England/British Empire which spawned and disseminated Westminster [and its derivatives] across the globe … It is SO outdated …

    Although it talks about the Carribbean and an essentially 2 party system, this article at least considers alternatives are possible and I think it has relevance to Aotearoa New Zealand as a ‘post-colonial nation’ –

    “the current Westminster system of government in the English speaking Caribbean has done little to bring about any hope of substantive change on the horizon. Whether the party in power hails from the left or right side of the political spectrum in rhetoric, in reality they are just two different flavours of neoliberalism. The Westminster system and neoliberalism are two systems which are extremely effective at limiting any discussion of change or innovation.

    In regards to neoliberalism, it is presented by thinkers such as Thomas Friedman as a system which makes politics largely irrelevant. To Friedman, once a country commits to cutting taxes and social spending and a broader agenda of privatization and deregulation, the range of political choice becomes decidedly narrow.

    The imposition of the Westminster System of Government upon the English speaking Caribbean did not come about because it was the right or most rational thing to do—it was done because it was the easiest thing to do.

    … what will it take for the Caribbean to try and transcend the legacy of the Westminster System, which stifles innovations to confront neoliberalism? The best way to deal with a problem is to try and prevent it in the first place—political innovation will not solve everything, but given the alternative of continuing to do nothing, is a step in the right direction.” – Kevin Edmunds

    http://nacla.org/blog/2013/3/21/confronting-crisis-need-political-innovation-caribbean

    Reply
    • Also – https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/guy-aitchison/slow-death-of-westminster-model

      MMP hasn’t changed things hugely – its more representative at the ballot box and thereafter Westminster majority rule following back-room dealings – although comments include “‘Little’ New Zealand has shown some courage indeed!”

      Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  5th October 2016

      Consensus decision-making means the default is to do nothing until everyone agrees. The more people involved, the less likelihood of achieving consensus. I don’t see any resolution to that reality.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  5th October 2016

        $60 a week ? Brilliant.. Make a childless person on minimum wage pay for a millionaire’s child to have $60 a week-what a great idea. Childless people are already bearing a huge burden for other people’s children, let them pay a bit more and go without luxuries like heat in winter so that someone with millions can have $60 a week for each child.

        Reply
        • “Other people’s children” are all ‘OUR’ children Miss Kitty …

          Your ACTayrian outrage actually argues in favour of something like a Basic Income, with a universal tax-free income limit, whereby such ‘social subsidy’ is reclaimed from the wealthier via their taxation … [not wealthier not “rich”] …

          Reply
          • … NOTE wealthier not “rich” …

            Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  5th October 2016

            No, it doesn’t. That’s a gross distortion. Childless people are already penalised for being childless by having to pay for other people to take time off to mind their own children, to pay women like that one who had no idea who the fathers of two of her children were to use their children as a career-paid for by the taxpayer, by paying more tax….why should their burden be even greater ? Try living on what is considered enough for a single person to live on, and then tell me that someone who’s on 10-15 times that should be given $60 a week pocket money for each of their children courtesy of the taxpayer while the other person comes out in the morning to a house that’s one degree above that of a fridge and has to put up with it because heating is an unaffordable luxury..

            Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  5th October 2016

            Other people’s children are not all of our children, that is sentimentalism.Do you regard the thugs who rob dairies as your children ?

            It would be nice if the person on $200 a week, out of which has to come everything, was given the $60 rather than freezing in a house as cold as a fridge while someone on $100,000 a year is given $60 for each child as extra pocket money.

            Reply
      • I did say “much more” consensus Alan, with resort to voting being possible, and perhaps a 60% or 75% ‘majority’ becomes the norm rather than the exception, as in proposals for changing the Constitution …

        Reply
        • “Francis Fukuyama’s 1989 ‘End of History’ article – announcing the end of ideological contestation – is therefore correct at the level of explicit articulation. But it suggests a conundrum that remains unsolved: given that the death of ideology has coincided with the triumph of neoliberalism, are these developments connected?”

          Finding this fascinating reading …

          http://www.compassonline.org.uk/post-politics-and-the-future-of-the-left/

          Reply
          • “The appeal to ‘moral’ values (which I frequently use) neglects the political dimension: it fails to appreciate the clash of competing views, and that the right has principles too.

            The left must design the architectural blueprint of a better society. But before it can do so, it must recognise our postmodern, prelinguistic predicament. Claims on the left of the obsolescence of right and left, of banners and manifestos, are counterproductive.

            Those who oppose neoliberalism do need a vision – but since the word ‘left’ is tainted, new words are needed to describe it.”

            I argue the largest possible proportion of people [via people’s representatives] – rather than “the left” – must design the blueprint of a better society …

            Reply
            • Nope … I’m LOVING IT …

              “Four decades of right-wing domination of the parliamentary system has resulted in its takeover by corporate and financial interests. But does that mean we need to throw out the baby of representative democracy with the bathwater of neoliberalism?”

            • “Representative democracy is often characterised as a system in which people vote every five [three] years and then go back to sleep. But, as Ferdinand Mount has noted, the state was once much more decentralised and participatory than it is now, with strong local government and a network of community organisations that has been all but stripped away …

              … the neoliberal distortion of democracy is recent. We should ask what is inherently wrong with the principle of representation before dismissing an institution that is bad at representing people in practice, for reasons that are partly structural, partly historical, and partly political.”

            • “It’s true that neoliberalism has totalitarian and antidemocratic tendencies. But democracy is not inherently left-wing. If we argue simply for a new decision-making system – Democracy 2.0, Democracy OS – [Supersize my democracy] we are not making the essential case for a progressive set of ideals, a particular vision of what we think a better society would look like. We need purpose as well as process.

              What is required is a concerted reckoning of old and new, useful and redundant, workable and regressive; to take a holistic look at a system that is breaking down and splitting in two.”

            • “Neoliberalism has pulled off a clever coup: in order to deflect attention from the real corporate and financial elites dominating society, it has engineered a public attack on politicians as authority figures. Cameron and Osborne pretend to be on the side of ‘working people’, framing left-of-centre politicians such as Ed Miliband as Hampstead socialists with two kitchens [or predelictions to Chardonnay] …

              This is AstroTurf culture, and it has been imported from the US, where fake grassroots politics operates in the form of the Tea Party and blue-collar republicanism and multi-millionaire businessmen standing on an ‘ordinary Joe’ anti-Washington platform.”

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  5th October 2016

              You overlook the deeply decentralised and democratic fundamentals of neo-liberalism: the individual votes with their own time, skill, effort and money.

              Everything you want to replace it with, reduces both.

            • ” … it’s the fragmented private sector, with its decentralised repetitions and duplications, that makes 21st-century corporations ‘behave like the bureaucracies of the old Soviet Union’. Many services are more efficiently provided at scale. Surely the best way to reduce bureaucracy is not to replicate a thousand local iterations of energy, health or education provision, but to organise centrally?

              Many activists like to go to meetings, but most people it seems just want reliable services, such as a good local school. They don’t want to take over the administration of their local hospital; they just want it to function properly, as it did before the pressures of privatisation.”

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  5th October 2016

              Actually, they want to go to a private doctor or hospital and get good quick service rather than endless waiting in bleak surroundings for a public service.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  5th October 2016

              … just ask Lurch.

            • @ Alan – “You overlook the deeply decentralised and democratic fundamentals of neo-liberalism …”

              “The right can be anti-political yet highly political – and powerfully dominant – at the same time. They are winning because they are co-opting the left’s rhetoric, but also because they are rich and powerful.

              It is not enough to just talk small, talk local, talk ‘people first’ – because that is simply to mirror what the right is arguing for too. The left needs to think collective, think structural, think society – think big.”

            • @ Alan – I love finding a commentator who clarifies what was on the tip of my tongue, the edge of my consciousness …

              I guess that’s how you must feel about Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard eh?

              In a privatised medical system it is far worse and far less accessible for those who can’t afford insurance of don’t have employment … and far more expensive for those who do …

              I’d much sooner try to make a public system work better …

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  5th October 2016

              The public system will never work better because anything that is free gets overloaded and has to be rationed. And because there are no price signals to the patient or to the hospital there is no adjustment of supply to demand.

            • Well, yes, in theoretical universes according to the likes of Von Mises and Rothbard, who claim to reference only “supply and demand”, but there are feedback mechanisms other than just “price signals” …

              Back in reality … “So paying more than twice as much as anyone else, we [Americans] have the lowest satisfaction with our health care system. Lower than the countries with waiting lines. Lower than Germany, and Australia, and New Zealand.”

              http://prospect.org/article/ten-reasons-why-american-health-care-so-bad

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  5th October 2016

              45% of US healthcare spending was on their public system (2013). Probably more now. Ours was 75%. Their costs are higher and population unhealthier. Pharmac does a good job of keeping our prescription costs down and the subsidies on them ensure people can take the medicines they need. Also our computer systems and data sharing seem much better. But yes, it is an interesting subject.

  3. Kitty Catkin

     /  5th October 2016

    Rob the poor to help the rich. Labour’s new slogan ?

    Reply
  4. KC, while I understand your frustration with the lack of an effective plan for future governance by Labour, I can’t envisage ant Labour party subscribing to that slogan. My cure for MMP is to eliminate the Party vote and return to the election of people’s representatives for each electoral district. Those elected to stand on their personal attributes. No racial preferences or gender qualification, Just the best women for the job of governing the country and representing the people of the electorate. The whip must go forever, and grouping by ideological persuasion prohibited and monitored by the Speaker elected by Parliament, and the Ethics Committee of the House. Mandatory recall should be by petition by 50% plus 1 of voters in an electorate, and replacements chosen in a electoral vote on line. Prime Minister to be elected by 50% plus 1 of MPs within 3 weeks of a General Election. The President of the New Zealand Republic is to be appointed within 30 days of the general election by online votes for President from the Parliamentary Ethics Committee’s nominees for the post. A minimum of 3 candidates for President should be nominated by the Ethics Committee. No electoral campaigning is to be permitted for President, and the Presidential powers should be modelled on the UK Model of Monarchy, and the precedences established by Common Law.
    Finally, the Minister of Treasury should be required to ensure that all budgets are balanced and failure to do so should result in immediate recall.

    Reply
    • What’s this Beejay, Republican ‘Super-Size Me’ First-Past-The-Post minum-majority Party Prohibition Rule?

      Plus ‘Churning MPs’ at the slightest voter dissatisfaction?

      Party Politics will be driven underground … like Catholicism during Henry VIII’s reign … To wear National, Labour, NZF, Green or Maori Party colours in this scenario will be akin to being Mongrel Mob, Tribesmen or Black Power now …?

      “God defend New Zealand” from this …

      Reply
  5. There you go PZ, a perfect response to illustrate why we have to lose ideology and replace it with common sense problem solving approach to politics, and lose the reason why gangs thrive. Only the weak gang up to protect themselves because they don’t have the balls to front up to reality. Try and justify why Party Politics should be the norm. You can’t because it is not rational, the family is the nuclear unit for Kiwi Society, not membership of a gang, club or party. Blood is thicker than water.

    Reply
    • Beejay – “Try and justify why Party Politics should be the norm”?

      Touche sir, you have got me there! That is a tough question … I might have to contradict myself, like all those “free market” ACT voters over at NZCPR who think a central drug buying agency like Pharmac is a great idea, and yet the suggestion of an Electricity buying agency sends them into paoxyisms! Its almost the sort of government interference worthy of a coup d’tat …

      It’s the herd instinct beejay and, while it must be countered at every turn, it does exist and must be accepted and guided wisely. Affiliations are perfectly natural in a society that values openness and communication. Shared interests, common beliefs, mutual politics … plus groupings that have a ‘coincident’ political influence; for example a Lodge or Bowling Club … affiliations with a ‘traditional’ or conservative ‘group identity’ … compared to an organic gardening group or community arts centre, which may have a more liberal clique consciousness?

      So no, Party Politics shouldn’t be “the norm” but they will be an inherent part of whatever norm we have in future … Their importance can be placed in perspective.

      Which “family is the nuclear unit of NZ society” do you refer to Beejay? The immediate nuclear family? The extended family? Whanau? Hapu? Iwi? Or what about “The Lodge”? Bowling Club or Consciousness Raising Group? The neighbourhood? People with ethnic and cultural backgrounds like my own?

      How is any individual ‘household’ family or any of the above ‘families’ going to be represented by a singe elected representative standing for their electoral district? The diversity of all the different people in any such geographical area speaks clearly for the inadequacy of an FPP, electorate-only system. Those days are gone …

      What’s thicker than blood is more blood … For you, more blood like yours … and for me more like mine …

      This is a really interesting discussion to have Beejay … let’s keep it going …?

      Reply
  6. PZ, I’ll give you a second chance. Enlighten me and the others with your vision of New Zealand as you want it to be? Or don’t you have an answer?

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  5th October 2016

      Jesus. That’s risky. Can you make it a post, PZ, or at least start a new comment from the left margin? 😉

      Reply
    • I don’t get my second chances from you Beejay, but its an interesting idea … I’ll have a think about it and maybe post something Gezza …

      Just briefly though Beejay – if I’m capable of brevity – I don’t get my vision from a political party or particular ideology, and since I live in a nation of 4.5 million people on a planet of 7.4 billion fellow human beings, I wouldn’t want ‘my’ individual vision to prevail. I’d like “the others” and me – for my infinitisimally small part – to create a shared vision to the greatest extent possible.

      So you are correct, I don’t have an answer. What’s more, I am quite suspicious of anyone who says they do … and I’d be quite suspicious of myself if I thought I did …

      I have some ideas, thoughts and feelings to contribute to the melting pot, which I’ll do when I have the time and energy. Thanks for the invitation …

      Reply
  7. This is a priceless thread……makes me think of a Nirvana song and whether its topic is required by some…

    Reply
    • Glad you’re enjoying the thread dave1924 and that you have some positive things to contribute …

      Reply
      • bjmarsh1 – “Enlighten me and the others with your vision of New Zealand as you want it to be?”

        I invite everyone else to join me … or is NZ a better society already …?

        Here’s a teaser …

        “If capitalism were true capitalism then women would be paid rather than unpaid. I have always regarded mothers in their unpaid work as the biggest social welfare provider in the world.

        While men condemn women welfare recipients as bludgers they demand a massive amount of social support from women in the form of unpaid labour.” – [origin unknown]

        Firstly, the nation will be re-named Aotearoa New Zealand and our new codified Constitution will embed some form of hapu iwi representation into “governance” in perpetuity or until a large majority [75%+] of the Legislative Assembly votes to amend the Constitution.

        What form this hapu iwi representation should take is one of the greatest challenges facing any of us today, Maori and pakeha, IMHO … A forum who could decide this issue might arguably be a model for how to run the government or governance of the nation … ?

        Reply

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