In the last Lefter, I wrote about how confused I was as to who to give my party vote to.
Actually, in some ways, the choice is easy. I have to vote left.
So do you.
Anyone who saw TV3’s Inside New Zealand documentary, ‘Inside Child Poverty’, should think the same. One in five New Zealand children live in poverty. POVERTY. Schools are trying to feed kids – which is outside their mandates – because many are not fed at home. Schools are even having to clothe some kids. Meanwhile, diseases that have virtually disappeared in civilised countries are running rampant through cramped, damp, cold, poverty-stricken houses – and we’re supposed to be living in a successful western democracy with the benefits of a subtropical climate.
Now if you don’t think these figures are thoroughly, profoundly reprehensible and terrible, you need your morals examining. If you have any.
But hey, you’re going to be voting National, or worse, ACT, anyway, right?
There are fundamental differences between the left and right philosophical positions. Basically, the left believes in ‘we’, the right believes in ‘me’. The right is about individuals prospering, and this is invariably created by making sure other people don’t. Its driving force is greed, and it sells the possibility of satisfying that personal greed as its pathway to a better future.
The right is also about punishment of transgressors, since transgressors are invariably a threat to people to whom the personal financial bottom line is the primary concern, no matter that the crime. You’ll notice it’s the rich – almost by default, right wingers – with the big fences and security gates around their houses.
I talked about these philosophical differences at greater length way back, if you’re interested in a longer discourse.
One thing I find strange about National’s criticism of Labour’s plan to borrow to finance getting New Zealand back on my feet is that it’s an acceptable facet of business – to borrow to foster enterprise. As long as it’s done within limits – the massive worldwide debt crisis is a result of not staying within limits. But in itself, it’s hardly strange or dangerous. It’s how we all buy houses, for example.
As the aforementioned documentary pointed out, Sweden looks after its kids. It feeds them and provides medical care. Swedish authorities say this produces a medical and health cost saving at a factor of four – it’s four times cheaper to look after kids than to put them into the health system after they get sick. Here, authorities – particularly the National party – continually complains about the cost of health. Meanwhile, it plans to cut those on benefits by … cutting people off from benefits.
But letting poverty-driven disease, obesity and malnourishment run rampant through our primary resource – our kids – is not just a crime, it’s financially stupid. And with wages driven down and no plan to raise the minimum wage, it’s also workers’ children who are suffering these days with lack of decent food and respiratory and skin conditions.
Any person with any morals at all could not countenance such a position, and the most incredible thing to me is that we are letting this happen – and we have let this happen – in a major food-producing nation.
But the people who run our agri-business prefer to sell their produce overseas at a premium, while our children go hungry. That’s why milk is unaffordable.
Would you call these people patriots, I wonder?
Labour, to be honest, had a hand in producing this situation in the first place, with various privatisation measures starting 1984 – but National has made things a lot worse whenever it has been in office. Plus National has rescinded Labour’s attempts to put things right every time it has had the opportunity.
And it was Labour in the first place, remember, back in the 1930s, that set up the welfare state that made us so prosperous in the 1950s and ’60s.
Basically, National’s intent is to drive down conditions for the poor and to keep their wages low. This produces a captive market prostrating itself for low-wage jobs, coupled to the chance of summary dismissal at the whim of those intent solely on their own personal fortunes.
A proper left wing government sees infrastructure – transport, education, health, municipal services – as investments in the population. In turn, this is an investment in the society, culture and economy of the nation. A healthy, well-educated population stays in the country, makes work, is well paid …
Why would you live in a country that doesn’t care about its kids?
Indeed, record numbers are leaving.
Key reckons he’s produced 63,000 jobs.
Does it count that they are in Australia?