Tuesday, 28 June 2016

The Kiwi Dream: New Zealand as Caring and Creative country. to replace the inequality caused by the 'free market' nightnare



It seems the New Zealand  Labour Party is aligning its efforts around the vision:

The Kiwi Dream
‘We’re backing the Kiwi Dream’.

A dream of houses, jobs, health care, sustainable growth, regional development and opportunity for all in education; about equality, equity, inclusion and fairness.

Underpinning all the above is a renewed role for the state in the lives of citizens that have fallen behind the past three decades.

The current right-wing government demonised the previous Labour
The myths of market forces
government’s ideology as a ‘nanny state’. The current government’s ‘free market’ ideology is based around privatisation, individual choice, and business led efficiency. An ideology premised on the idea that the ‘market’ will sort things out and wealth will ‘trickle down’ to the benefit all. At the time it seemed ‘there was no alternative’- TINA.

It has to be made clear, market forces cannot solve the problems facing us - and indeed have created an inequality that is leading to a range of problems.

There will be no space for a 'Kiwi Dream'  for all until we point out the failures of the market forces nightmare which has only rewarded the 'winners'.The neo- liberal ideology needs to be identified and shown to be failing before a new ‘dream’ , vision or  ideology can has any chance of capturing the minds and hearts of the voters
The differences need to be made clear

The so called 'nanny state' has been replaced by a ‘big brother’   or  'corporate state', one  that  benefits the wealthy, the big business elite and the growing power of international corporates.  As a result the ‘rich have got richer and the poor poorer’. Now that we have had three decades of ‘free market’ ideology it is time to evaluate its
All too true
so called 'trickle down' success for all people.

We need to understand the ideology has underpinned the policies that have been 'normalized' the past three decades.

We need to challenge the status quo - the neo-liberal ideology  that has become accepted as the way things are done. 

We need to utilize the same strategy  used by  Margaret Thatcher,
Ronald Reagan and Roger Douglas to introduce their neo-liberal free market ideology. They did this by demonizing the welfare
Back to the future!
state consensus that had been the norm since WW2. 

If this neo-conservative ‘free market’ ideology is not identified then the status quo will be hard to shift particularly as it is supported and justified by the business elite and a complicit press and media.

The opposition has to educate the people to appreciate that the state has a vital role to ensure all people get a fair deal and that only the state can solve  the inequality that has resulted from  the failing‘free market’ ideology.
Things are getting worse for too many

Achieving this new 'Kiwi Dream' has to be accepted as the only way to remedy the 'winner loser' gap  if  all New Zealand citizens have the opportunity to reach their potential.  Only a benevolent state can provide an environment that provides opportunities for all.

Evidence for the failure of market forces need to be shared. Richard Wilkinson’s short video is a good start. Watching it has the power to make, all but the hardened ‘free market’ converts, feel ashamed about New Zealand’s poor showing  compared to other nations.
A must watch - look for NZ

Wilkinson's presentation shows that societies with huge income gaps are somehow going wrong. Richard Wilkinson charts the hard data on economic inequality, and shows that inequality,  resulting from neo-liberal policies,  effects negatively on health, lifespan,  imprisonment, educational achievement , economic growth , social cohesion and trust.

A lost dream?
Wilkinson's  international  data needs to be reinforced by specific evidence  of inequality in New Zealand data  across such fields as housing costs , jobs,  salary differences, educational success , incarceration numbers, and child abuse. New Zealand  sadly is a leader in income inequality creating a range of depressing social ills.

Free market winner
Inequality is harming us all by destroying the social fabric that was once a feature of New Zealand.

It has to be made clear that the current 'market forces' ideology in New Zealand does not caters for only  for the wealthy. 

Worse still the values underpinning the market economy has led to the development  of divisive attitudes of superiority and inferiority; we have become a society premised on  achieving individual status based on consumerism. We are now a judgmental society based on how well off we are - those who are left behind have only themselves to blame.

The ‘free market’ ideology has had its day. Although it may have had success in the early days it is no longer viable – the freedom from government regulation  has resulted in a growing environmental crisis along with  divisive inequality with  all its
Poverty - a major growth area
associated social problems. Such issues can no longer be ignored. 

The growing power of corporate power, as seen in the Trans Pacific Trade Agreement is in conflict with our sovereignty. As well there is the issue of corporate  avoidance of paying appropriate taxes resulting in the top 1%  owning almost 50% of global wealth.
.
To develop a new story to inspire New Zealanders  needs more than talking about a ‘Kiwi Dream’. The destructive aspects of the ‘free market’ need to be identified and its failings made common knowledge before a real alternative can be accepted.

The ‘free market’ ideology has  meant less and less state intervention  and lower taxes for the rich.

 It has meant privatizing public services, contracting them out to private providers. Short term  business efficiency is now the model to emulate. Salaries for
executives have reached astronomical figures while for the majority wages have stood still. Many people, employed as independent operators, face a precarious future. As well many people in jobs are now the employed poor, often having to have several jobs to make ends meet.

Those supportive of market forces  driven by self-interest  have little sympathy for the less fortunate; the poor are increasingly seen as responsible for their own poverty; the rich are the new righteous.

The ‘free market’ was based on a myth of a ‘level playing field’ but the reality is different. We do not start with equal opportunity. Those who fall through the cracks now face an uncaring faceless bureaucracy while the wealthy get away with tax avoidance.

The ‘Kiwi Dream’ has to be based on ensuring opportunities for all and this means positive action to assist the less fortunate get a fair chance. It is longer good enough to wait for wealthy to ‘trickle down’.

The behaviours of those with a belief in market forces  value individual need above the common good of society.  In contrast those who are aligned behind a new Kiwi Dream place opportunity for all  and the need to value the common good  as central to their behaviours.  The future cannot be seen as either/or but there needs to be a re balancing  - to place equality, equity and fairness as
central.

To achieve the ‘Kiwi Dream’ will require people who are proud to care for the less fortunate. People who see potential in every person if given the opportunity People who believe in the common good. Such a dream links back to kind of country we were known for  before the destruction created by the depression and WW2..

Facing up to the problems created by free market thinking is not about  being personally critical  of opposition politicians but attacking the the beliefs that underpinning their policies and actions.

We need to make clear that the current policies have led to a growing rich/poor gap,  a demeaning inequality that, if not faced up to, will affect us all. The 'Kiwi Dream' is about protecting and valuing the common good in the face of private need or self-interested greed; it about uniting our growing divisive society.

Once the failures of the ‘free market' become obvious only then will their be space for  a real alternative – the Kiwi Dream’. A dream where  the state plays an important role in creating the conditions and infra-structure to ensure all people can   contribute to and feel part of the dream.

A real alternative 'dream' with a range of policies in place to achieve it.

An alternative that reaffirms our identity as a caring and creative people.





Other blogs with the same theme:


Nigel Latta on inequality.


Pope Francis and Thomas Piketty on market forces and inequality



NZ Paradise Lost. Inequality by Max Rashbrooke.


The Myth of the Free Market

Ruth Roger and Me


Moving into a Post Capitalist World : Paul Mason

The End of Capitalism - Lester Thurow

Market forces and Education: Bryan Bruce



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