I threatened last post to tell you how New Zealand can prosper through this recession, so here goes. We just need a war.
Now, this is what I think will happen: instead of NZ trying to trade its way out of this recession, Prime Minister John Key will just follow his experience. Which means he’ll borrow to raise money while pursuing a right-wing agenda of making the lower classes poorer while rewarding his wealthy Pakeha cronies with more access to that wealth. They’ll use that borrowed money to cheaply buy the property and businesses of those driven to the wall. But inevitably, NZ will not be able to pay the borrowings back, leaving Labour to get the country back into the black when they eventually get back in and to resurrect our social services, ACC etc. As usual.
National’s efforts will expand an increasingly desperate unemployed sector which will work for less and less money and under more onerous conditions. In turn, National will attempt to disenfranchise the unions (or what’s left of them) to maintain the ‘competitive’ employment situation in National’s favour.
But National is already using this recession as an excuse to push its agenda much faster than planned (National meant originally to get through the first term before doing most of this – but the world recession means this suspension is no longer necessary).
But National’s efforts are all wrong, They will only benefit a very few New Zealanders – rich people like John Key. (And have you noticed how rich Kiwis tend to move offshore? That’s because once you’ve shit in your own nest, you want a new nest far away from the smell.)
What we actually need is a war.
Now, don’t dismiss my war plan as crazy. It really isn’t. Apart from all the killing, maiming, violence and destruction, anyway.
Wars have got countries out of bad economic conditions before. New Zealand was already leaving the Great Depression behind in the 1930s but it still entered World War Two as a semi-industrialised nation with about half horse-driven agriculture. It emerged as an industrialised nation with a virtually 100% mechanised agri-sector.
Dare I mention Germany? Hitler used mechanisation and mass arming to pull Germany out of its terrible Depression-era situation in the 1930s. There are many other examples.
We could declare war on someone, of course – say on the island nation of Fe’ausi. They wouldn’t put up much of a fight, and I’m sure NZ’s military leaders could spin things out so nothing actually happens … particularly since that nation is imaginary. But that’s hardly necessary.
The salient fact of a war is what it does to the economy, and what it does to the population.
What it does to the economy is, it requires the government to spend all its resources on its country – producing food, clothing and industrial output solely for the country’s citizens to get them through this crisis.
What it does to the population is, while it internalises the economy, it externalises people’s concerns. In other words, the population looks outside New Zealand for threats instead of inside. The people unify against this threat, so they work together, sacrifice and make common cause for the common good. They help each other and do the hard yards.
People will head out into the fields to grow food at fair prices for New Zealanders, undertake training to help us create goods for New Zealanders and for overseas revenue, and employers (some, anyway) will stop ripping off their workers for their own pockets. But if they don’t, they can be publicly pilloried.
But don’t worry – we don’t need an actual war to achieve New Zealand’s salvation. President Kennedy, for instance, used warlike rhetoric to instigate the Peace Corp, established by Executive Order in 1961. The purpose of the Peace Corps was “to promote world peace and friendship through a Peace Corps, which shall make available to interested countries and areas men and women of the United States qualified for service abroad and willing to serve, under conditions of hardship if necessary, to help the peoples of such countries and areas in meeting their needs for trained manpower.” It sounds like a war, doesn’t it? The raising of a regiment or militia for overseas service. I met some of these guys in Bangladesh in the 1960s and they were fantastic.
New Zealand needs to declare war on this recession. It needs to raise a corps of New Zealanders working for New Zealanders to get us out of this financial strife.
But until then, I predict Key and his bigots are going to try and run New Zealand into the ground. They might succeed. Then they’ll move out and live in their offshore palaces.