[Cross-posted] We’ve ended January 2008 here in New Zealand with 10 murders. The government is saying this is an anomaly, but is it?
Crime has been rising in New Zealand steadily since I have been observing the numbers and for older New Zealanders, the latest ﬁgures are a disgust.
I am not overly surprised, given the rising gap between rich and poor, suggesting a mismanagement of the economy and an absence of jobs, while values and education have suffered at the same time.
Those older New Zealanders who can remember back to the 1950s remember a country with roughly half the population and 18 convictions for murder between 1951 and 1957.
I realize actual murders and successful convictions are different, but assuming that there were a couple of murders in this period that didn’t lead to a conviction, then we’re still looking at 20 over a seven-year period from January 1951 to December 1957.
That’s roughly three per annum. If there’s double the population now, then we should expect statistics to show that there are six per annum for 2008.
Remember that medical science wasn’t as advanced, so if we adjust for that, then maybe this estimate isn’t actually that far off.
In this election year, I wouldn’t buy any party line that says things are all right. I wouldn’t even buy policies that talk about tougher sentencing. Because neither of these address the root problem.
We need policies in New Zealand that say: we will address this rich–poor gap.
How? Well, how about recognizing what’s going on instead of kowtowing to multinational corporations operating here?
Since the end of Muldoonism, New Zealand has become the poster boy of the technocracy, doing everything that the economic experts said should work: privatization, free markets, the ending of tariffs.
Ask yourself, even in the last ﬁve years, can you afford more or less of the things you want in your life? I don’t care if you are a student or a wage-earner or even a small business boss. The answer is probably no.
When will we wake up and realize that these policies have driven a wedge between the rich and poor in a nation that once prided itself on being a fair, just, middle-class country?
Since Labour sold off so many state assets in the 1980s, something National continued doing in the 1990s, we now have a lot of things in the hands of foreign corporations.
Now, if these corporations were running these assets more efﬁciently, logically the government should be able to increase its tax take, which leads to more money for hospitals, schools and social services.
But the idea of being a private corporation that spreads its activities across different countries is the ability to minimize the tax you pay, by writing some of it off with the operations you have in other places.
So the opposite has happened. Meanwhile, these corporations have shed staff so the people who used to work there wound up on the dole, and there’s less money to pay out.
The rich in cahoots with the big companies have done well while everyone else has suffered.
To make up the shortfall in government coffers, the Labour Government introduced Lotto and basically became the biggest attraction for gamblers. Now we are reporting a rise in calls to gambling helplines.
The other idea behind liberalizing our markets was so New Zealanders could go and compete globally. But how were we expected to make that leap? Even the richest New Zealanders of the 1980s didn’t survive the decade in good ﬁnancial shape.
We need to innovate and create and start new businesses but the support, as any entrepreneur will tell you, is not there.
Yet New Zealand is a place of great, novel ideas that often stay dormant, unless that Kiwi goes offshore and has a foreign company become interested.
I have repeated this example many times: if TradeMe was really that successful, it would have bought Fairfax, not the other way around.
The solution must be to have New Zealanders own New Zealand businesses, so that New Zealanders have jobs and taxes and proﬁts stay in New Zealand.
This is not about putting the barriers back up. The multinationals have embedded themselves too much into New Zealand.
We can only hope to create global businesses that do for us what the multinationals have done here. We also need to encourage entrepreneurship at the small- to medium-sized business level so that everyone can have a chance to get his or her idea off the ground, beating the world. We are still blessed with a fairly good internet infrastructure that can become a useful tool for New Zealanders.
We need to consider tax policies that help the poor and penalize the sources for the inequity in New Zealand. The next government needs to play, essentially, Robin Hood. It needs to create policies for the middle class of New Zealand and what makes them happy wage-earners or self-employed business people, because that is where the majority of the tax will come from. ‘Teach a man to ﬁsh and he will eat for life.’ Time to stop handing the ﬁsh out and pretending it was a conjuror’s trick. (It was only cool when Jesus Christ did it with the 5,000, anyway.)
And while I am a globalist at heart, this economy is too small at this point to allow technocratic policies to have free reign, without someone seeing to the interests of the Kiwis that need the most help. I want to see food banks disappear in ﬁve years because everyone has a job.
An innovative government that might create new businesses itself can be a useful agent in the business community. In the 1970s and 1980s, New Zealand’s dual-fuel natural gas infrastructure is still a dream for most countries. Yet a huge percentage of the nation’s cars ran on natural gas back then, able to ﬁll up at the majority of stations across New Zealand.
Government participation in a modernized Keynesian model could just work in 2008 and one only needs to look at Singapore and Malaysia for nearby adaptations of the very policies New Zealand had only 30 years ago.
No one can claim they are paupers, and Malaysia itself did ﬁnd, in 1997, that the technocratic way of thinking didn’t work for them. Having a strong man as a prime minister worked in its favour as Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad was able to say what he thought of the corporations wreaking havoc on his country’s ﬁnancial markets.
And with relatively little corruption in New Zealand, government innovation is not a bad idea, provided these state enterprises do not get overmanned to the levels they were at in years past.
Remember, Absolut, the people who make the vodka, is a government-owned enterprise. No one seems to urge the Swedish Government to divest for the sake of the technocracy.
Then, those who might ﬁnd themselves in similar situations to the 10 murderers won’t suffer from envy, depression or rage.
In the 1950s, New Zealand had about nine people unemployed. In the 2010s, we should be looking at 18. Full employment is key and the policies we are following now—policies which Labour and National predict they will essentially follow—won’t lead to any change in our rising crime rate or the widening gap between rich and poor, which neither party has even mentioned in the lead-up to the 2008 elections. Posted by Jack Yan, 22:01
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