Swarbrick emphasises Green ‘holistic pillars’, but…

Further to a recent post about how the Greens say how social just and environmental issues can’t be separated – see How ‘intrinsically linked’ is the environment and social justice? – Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick has emphasised how much loyal Greens insist that substantial economic reform is essential for environmental survival.

The Spinoff: Why we can’t divorce genuine climate action from social justice

A slew of commentary and cartoons around the Green Party co-leader contest suggests we have to ‘choose’ between policy priorities, and it couldn’t be a bigger stack of nonsense, says Green MP Chloe Swarbrick.

Right there, in our daily assumptions and prejudices, lies some of the more salient examples of why environmental and social issues are inextricably linked. We have a system that produces and even incentivises harmful defaults: plastic bags, junk food, petrol guzzling. Operating outside of those systemic defaults require time, energy, and money.

The inextricable connection between our social and environmental issues go far deeper than that, though. Evidence demonstrates that the wealthiest in our country, and our world, are responsible for the large majority of climate-changing emissions, yet maintain the resource to continue moving further and further away from the destructive impact they’re having on the environment.

Meanwhile, the poorest and most vulnerable in our societies contribute the least in emissions but hugely disproportionately suffer the consequences of rising sea levels, poisoned waterways, polluted air, and a climate changed world.

I think there are some highly debatable claims made there.

Such commentators often simplistically point out that our name, and colour, is Green. The slightest bit more research would uncover that our charter is explicitly holistic in its four pillars:

  • entrenching values of ecological wisdom
  • social responsibility
  • appropriate decision making
  • non-violence

All laudable ideals – but an interesting selection.

You don’t get paradigm shift towards genuine sustainability without all four. And, it’s worth remembering, they’ve been there from the grassroots genesis of our party.

The thing is, each of those four ideals can be promoted individually. You can clean up rivers, promote social responsibility (including opposing benefit fraud), improve our democratic system and reduce horrendous levels of violence separately.

But there is a fairly critical ‘pillar’ missing from that list.

I think Jeanette Fitzsimons said it best when she said, “We have an economic system that exploits both people and the planet.”

The economic system is critical – countries without sound economic systems tend to have less money and resolve to deal with these pillars.

To simply claim that rich people pollute the most and poor people don’t is debatable.

To individualise the systemic problems of inequality, homelessness, or mass incarceration in a wealthy and supposedly enlightened country like ours is to uphold a fundamentally flawed house of cards at the expense of our fellow human beings. It’s also proven a spectacular failure in approach if we’re genuinely seeking to solve these issues.

Actually, while each of those problems deserve fundamental changes and improvements they are all better than they were a hundred or two hundred years ago. Under a capitalist system with social measures quality and length of life has improved markedly for most people in the world.

The irony of a web of law and tax that allows subsidising business by paying workers poverty wages, or spewing commercial waste into indigenous waters, is that we ultimately end up privatising profit and socialising cost. Citizens are underwriting bad business.

This system wasn’t divined by the gods. The social and environmental crises we face are not natural. They’re man-made, as is the system that underpins them. That means we have every ability to change the system – for the better of our people, and our planet.

Certainly we have the ability to address the problems we face as a country.

But Swarbrick seems to be angling for a fundamental change in the economic system as a necessity to deal with these problems. I think this is very debatable.

As is the Green insistence that the ‘pillars’ they have chosen are the only primary issues and are inextricably dependant on financial revolution.

38 Comments

  1. artcroft

     /  April 12, 2018

    The socialists only have one plank. Anti-western capitalism. They see this as the cause of all problems and issues in the world. In reality it is the force that created the modern world, a place where the average plumber from Waitakere lives in greater comfort and with better opportunities than Louis XIV ‘the sun king’ of France.
    The Regressive stance is that we would be better living as woodland peasants grinding out a life of poverty from the soil, while burying most of our children before they reached the age of five as the perished from illness and malnutrition. Well done Watermelons.

  2. Gezza

     /  April 12, 2018

    I don’t really have a problem with the Greens having a dream about a new economic. They don’t have any idea how to achieve it but they are happy it will all just work out when everyone wears flowers like we hippy aspirants were.

    • robertguyton

       /  April 12, 2018

      Relax, Gezza, you’re now in safe, Green hands.

      • Gezza

         /  April 12, 2018

        No worries. It’s all good Robert. I’m relaxed as. They’re certainly green. But the young ones are happy enuf changing the whole world in their heads and on social media. That worked out for us hippies too.

      • David

         /  April 12, 2018

        I don’t think anyone is safe in Green hands, you like the power too much.

        • robertguyton

           /  April 12, 2018

          Power! Oodles and oodles of steaming hot POWER! Grist to our mill now, we Greens will smite our foes with our Mighty Power!

          • Gezza

             /  April 12, 2018

            JAG ‘s started off well with slapping everyone.

            • robertguyton

               /  April 12, 2018

              It’s how we roll!

            • Gezza

               /  April 12, 2018

              Nobody else seems keen to be slappers.

            • robertguyton

               /  April 12, 2018

              Jacinda’s been slapping Bridges around the House.

            • Gezza

               /  April 12, 2018

              Oh. Fair enuf. What days? I haven’t watched QT this week. I’ll check out the Parliamentary vids.
              Got a door to sand, I’ll check back later. See ya for now.

  3. sorethumb

     /  April 12, 2018

    Social justice suggests we reward Indian migrants and restrict pacific Islanders (based on crime rates).

  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  April 12, 2018

    Jeanette Fitzsimons said it best when she said, “We have an economic system that exploits both people and the planet.”

    As it should. It harnesses the skill, intelligence and energy of people with the resources of the planet to create a better world and life for everyone.

    The alternative is poverty, joblessness and hopelessness. You can see it everywhere in the third world. The Greens look at everything upside down.

  5. sorethumb

     /  April 12, 2018

    Sociologist President Sees Evergreen State College Blow Up

    • sorethumb

       /  April 12, 2018

      Good Show!

    • sorethumb

       /  April 12, 2018

      “These ideas are a direct threat to the academy to be able to teach because what we saw is the descendants of critical theory [Green Party types] challenged the rights of students and faculty to engage in science. They confronted us as though science is just a means to maintain power and if they do that throughout the nation colleges and universities will not be the place where science happens”

  6. Zedd

     /  April 12, 2018

    The only way ‘WE’ as a species will survive; sustainable GREEN economics.. not the dirty polluting status quo that the right seem to champion. WE all need clean water, clean air & organic soil, just for our basic needs.. ignore it at your peril 😦

  7. sorethumb

     /  April 12, 2018

    Xenophobia has no place in Ikaroa-Rāwhiti
    Responding to comments Meka Whaitiri made in an iwi radio interview on Friday, Green Party candidate Marama Davidson said such attitudes were out of date and out of place in Ikaroa-Rāwhiti.
    “I could not believe the Labour candidate seriously suggested that we should adopt the xenophobic policies of the far right” said Ms Davidson who worked for ten years at the Human Rights Commission.
    “At the Commission we spent a lot of time challenging racism, embracing diversity and helping refugees and new immigrants appreciate the importance of the Treaty of Waitangi.”

    https://www.greens.org.nz/press-releases/xenophobia-has-no-place-ikaroa-r-whiti

    • sorethumb

       /  April 12, 2018

      Xenophobia = skepticism of population increase and the benefits of diversity due to a lack of social cohesion.

      • sorethumb

         /  April 12, 2018

        She has 6 kids so she’s obviously no fan of Erlich?

  8. sorethumb

     /  April 12, 2018

    RG asks “Aren’t we an Agrarian Economy?”

    Ian Harrison’s model
    The distinctive feature of the New Zealand economy is that land is an important input into the productive process. This is obvious with the agricultural,fishing and forestry sectors but it also applies to international tourism. In a simple model of the New Zealand economy where the supply of land is fixed, and New Zealand’s isolation means it is not a ‘natural’ location for the production of a broad range of internationally traded goods and services, then an increase in the labour supply through large scale immigration will reduce the
    marginal product of labour. As a result:

    Real wages will fall

    Owners of land will benefit

    There will be an outflow of ‘native’ labour in search of higher wages in Australia

    The economy will be bigger, but average incomes will fall

    Resources will flow into low value service production.

    This conventional model of the impact of an increase in labour supply is obviously a simplification of a complex reality, but we think that the fixed factor effect is important enough to be considered in any discussion or analysis of the impact of immigration in New Zealand. The official analysis, however, almost entirely omits it. There is a tendency to follow the international literature, where omitting the impact of fixed factors of production is a simplification that doesn’t matter very much, without thinking at all about how New Zealand could be different.

    The model seems to be consistent with some of the observed facts:

    Real per capita export growth has slowed significantly as labour supply has increased

    Labour productivity growth has been very slow

    Census data shows Auckland median income growth was the second lowest of any
    region over 2001-2006, and the lowest over 2006 to 2013. Auckland is the ‘poster child’ of superdiversity. If there was anything in the ‘diversity dividend’ argument Auckland should have been leaping ahead in the income stakes.
    http://www.tailrisk.co.nz/documents/TheSuperdiversityMyth.pdf

  9. Kitty Catkin

     /  April 12, 2018

    Does anyone else groan inwardly when they hear the h-word ?

    • 2Tru

       /  April 12, 2018

      I might do, if I knew what the h-word represents!

      • 2Tru

         /  April 12, 2018

        Aah, I think you are referring to “holistic”. As far as modern usage is concerned it probably really means nothing to most people. Often used by progressives to appear educated.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  April 12, 2018

        Holistic. It’s become a cliche, like ‘confronting’ which the newsreaders kept using of the new Gallipoli exhibition.

  10. PartisanZ

     /  April 12, 2018

    Many if not most of the problems we face today are because of the ‘individualization’ of these so-called ‘pillars’, far and away the most disastrous being ‘economics’ …

    As though the very numbers on every single ‘bottom line’ aren’t, in reality, human …