In this next General Election, I don’t hear a clear support for one major party or another. Maybe people know that I am running under the ticket of a small party, one that was last in coalition government some years ago, that they refrain from telling me their support for Labour–National. Or maybe there is no clear winner this time around: people might disagree with Labour, but they see how National has voted for exactly the same unpopular bills in many cases. They might want change, but then they see a lack of vision and leadership from Key–English.
Among the small parties, there was discord among the Greens when Mr Tanczos stepped down; and Winston Peters has had one of the biggest assaults on his reputation in living memory. United Future and ACT have remained fairly steady among their diehard supporters. Ditto with the Māori Party, which has been portrayed as the “kingmaker” in the next election.
So why have I, as a friend of mine who has known me for nearly 30 years asked me on Tuesday, would I run for the Alliance? I was, after all, approached by folks on the right, and yet I have chosen a party on the left.
Let’s say that I see people desiring change out there and they are not sure where to go. However, we know New Zealanders like, for instance, Kiwibank. The brand is strong, and people are cozying up to it, trying to co-brand with it. Labour stresses how it’s part of the New Zealand it wants—when in fact Helen Clark was dead set against the idea of a New Zealand-owned bank when Kiwibank was proposed by the Alliance when in government. Jim Anderton’s Progressive Party, which has nothing to do with the Alliance, recently engaged in historical revisionism about Kiwibank, taking credit for it at a time when the Progressives did not even exist.
The electorate seems to sense that Kiwibank and domestic ownership of a bank is superior to Australian ownership of a bank. Maybe it’s nationalism, maybe it’s pride, but New Zealanders are sick of seeing $3·23 billion in proﬁts head across the Tasman Sea via foreign bank ownership every year.
And only the Alliance has been ﬁrm on the creation and continued support of Kiwibank, as well as various other institutions.
I like that consistency.
But, one might argue, how does this all gel with Confucianism, which looks to western eyes more like libertarianism?
I believe in strengthening our economy and our education system and in narrowing the gap between rich and poor. The bigger the gap, the bigger our social problems. I have been very consistent in saying that.
Since 1984, the technocracy and its free-market ideas have shown that they have failed us. New Zealand is not in the top half of the OECD, which is what Labour promised in 1999; our education system discourages students through its high fees; and the gap has been widening so much in New Zealand that the number of food banks has increased ﬁfty-fold.
We are eight times more likely to be murdered today than in the 1950s.
We’re not going to get anywhere near Confucianism by pursuing policies that rob New Zealanders of their dignity, by turning them into cheap labour for foreign companies who take their proﬁts offshore, or by collapsing the education system through lack of funding or the encouragement of regurgitation.
And the only way I can see repairing that is to look at the opposite of technocracy: humanism.
I think some of these comparisons about “left” and “right” are no longer valid anyway. What are left- and right-wing in 2008 when Labour and National are the same party, plus or minus 10 per cent, both pursuing the same technocratic policies that got us into this mess?
The choice New Zealand has to make is whether the party that will lead this nation will look disheartedly at individuals, or compassionately at them.
The technocratic method is to keep liberalizing our economy, which as an idea does not offend me—but the danger is that we, as a nation, have not been able to take advantage of this, save in a few select industries. The last 24 years have shown this. It comes at the cost of New Zealand jobs and our chances of keeping proﬁts here to be used to develop more new enterprises. Pursuing a free-trade agreement with Red China, a country known for human rights’ abuses, is merely another part of the technocratic principles of Labour–National (both supported the deal).
The humanist method is not necessarily to become socialist, but to put people and their well-being ﬁrst. A humanist might not have pursued a free-trade deal for both moral (Red China’s record) and economic (domestic jobs) reasons. A humanist looks at actions and consequences, not a blind following of the mantra pursued by everyone from Robert McNamara through to Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson.
It is the technocracy that has exposed us to the fall of the American stock market—now on two occasions (1987 and 2008)—and yet we refuse to lay blame where it is deserved. We blame it on the Americans when we could well have weathered it, had we been more sensible. We should have looked at economies which were not so subject to corrupt and questionable practices that the most recent crash has revealed.
Of course we need to develop our industries and our international trade. But if our trading partners impose double standards to help protect their industries, while strengthening others that are due to be liberalized, then why don’t we?
When things strengthen for us, when we know that we can then begin opening up parts of our economy. We need to develop new skills and new competences. We need to encourage them, because neither Labour nor National has put its weight behind small- to medium-sized enterprises—they have only encouraged the acquisition of the large ones by more foreign players, such as when Fairfax bought TradeMe.
The consequences of this have been so remarkably clear, but the establishment has too much to lose if it admitted to them.
I’m not going to tell you who to vote for, nor am I going to ask for your vote. I am, however, asking you to consider this General Election on the basis of humanism versus technocracy, and just look at where the gap between rich and poor is, or where failed policies of the last two decades have led us. This is all a matter of history and of record. And on November 8, you have a chance to make a real change for the betterment of our country. Posted by Jack Yan, 05:42
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