The most interesting and in my mind most appealing feature you disclosed about yourself during the election campaign was the fact that some time back you left the Mormon Church.
You indicated that this had not been easy. I can hardly imagine how hard it must have been most likely having affected your family and circle of friends. You described yourself in an interview as agnostic, which is according to Dr Google synonymous with sceptical, doubting, disbelieving, faithless. In other words thinking rationally. I admire you for having said goodbye to your imaginary friend called (the Mormon) God. Many of us as children had imaginary friends we left behind. However these did not hold such power over us as your imaginary friend – God – must have had. It must have made it hard growing up and starting to think freely and independently.
Good on you for leaving in your case the Mormon Temple behind.
Your political aims and values
As a political junky having observed you over the grand total of a few months I never the least have the feeling that I know your core values and concerns as displayed during the campaign.
Poverty / rich-poor gap
You have made the eradication of child poverty one of the main points of your election platform. Poverty especially child poverty and New Zealand’s gap between rich and poor growing faster than in all other developed countries since 1984 is a scandal. We have to remember that this is not a natural phenomenon we can do little about. No, it is the result of a deliberate economic policy known in New Zealand as Rogernomics. Remember tax cuts for the rich financed by benefit cuts for the poor.
Growing hospital waiting list for even life saving (heart) surgery and cancer treatment caused by chronic underfunding. This reminds me of one of the best recent letters to the editor which read : When National describes Labour’s policies as ‘tax and spend’ I am quite comforted as National is the tax and don’t spend party.
Mental health and (youth) suicide
You were rightly moved to tears at the display of the over 600 pairs of shoes of all the suicide victims of last year. New Zealand has the highest youth suicide rate in the developed world. It has skyrocketed since the advent of neo-liberalism in 1984. Almost half of the victims had tried to get help. It was not available again because of funding restraints.
You declared climate change as the defining – nuclear free – issue of your generation. The old government is only paying lip service to the problem. Even after signing up to the Paris Accord they couldn’t even bring themselves to setting an example by buying electric cars for their fleet. Instead they subsidise the biggest emitters the livestock industry with hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. Don’t even mention public transport. Our present dogma still seems to be: public – bad, private – good.
You singled out polluted rivers as a disgrace. And again this does not happen by accident. It is the result of deliberate policies subsidised by millions of dollars of taxpayer money.
Housing and Homelessness
This is the big one, which you wanted to introduce a capital gains tax for. Housing or rather the lack of affordable housing is just another example of the failure of the neo-liberal dogma. The “market” does not solve (all) our problems.
You said at at your campaign launch something like that you wanted schools to be institutions of learning and creativity not testing and assessment. I understand that to mean that our children reach their full potential not just become useful cogs in an economic machine.
To many of our Children are taught in unhealthy mouldy classrooms because of deferred maintenance. Instead funding is syphoned off into the neo-liberal pet project of charter schools. The taxpayer puts up all the investment to hand it over to private operators to turn a profit. Education and our most valuable assets – our children – suffer while private ideological or just profit driven individuals benefit.
Then we have the situation where especially in Auckland not enough qualified teachers can be found as they cannot afford to live anywhere near their place of work.
Connecting the dots
Jacinda, please connect the above dots. Everything you have campaigned against is the result of a common ideology : Neo-liberalism.
“Neo-liberalism refers primarily to economic liberalisation policies such as privatisation, austerity, deregulation, free trade, and reductions in government spending in order to increase the role of the private sector in the economy and society.”
I have never heard you even mention the word unlike your hopefully coalition partner Winston Peters. He declared the neo-liberal experiment of the last 33 years in New Zealand a failure. As did the former National Party Prime Minister Jim Bolger.
Even worse you are still endorsing the so called “fiscal responsibility agreement” with the Greens. This is nothing but the failed neo-liberal austerity policy , which has done so much damage overseas and is widely condemned by Nobel Prize winning economists and even the IMF.
Please listen to enlightened academics like Professor Bill Mitchell. He described your ‘budget responsibility’ rules as “the height of economic irresponsibility”. He called “The Greens neo-liberals on bikes and the Labour Party neoliberal lite. They say ‘I’ll do austerity but I’ll do it fairer’. There’s no such thing as fair austerity when you’ve got a third of your children living in poverty.”
Or listen to Auckland University Professor and public policy pioneer Ian Shirley who witnessed first hand – as I did – what the neo-liberal experiment has done to New Zealand.
Lesson from the campaign
Gordon Campbell calls it “a doctrine that says National is better at managing the economy, and this religious conviction goes hand in hand with an ingrained belief that Labour is a tax-and-spend lightweight on the economy, and should therefore be shunned by the cautious and the prudent.” I understand the budget responsibility thing was directed at these voters. What good has it done you?
You best assurances were blown out of the water by the textbook CrosbyTextor tactic of just telling a couple of big fat lies as in the 11.7 billion dollar hole or Labour raising income taxes by April next year. You should not have bothered to fight the religious conviction.
You left a church once
Jacinda, you must realise that neo-liberal economists have been “torturing the minds of our youth with lies and ideology made to look like eternal truths” (Mitchell). You are one of that youth and might not even remember their infuriating mantra “There Is No Alternative“. This economic orthodoxy is not based on empirical evidence. It is an ideological dogma. It is faith based and therefore a quasi religion.
There are good reasons for religions :
Jacinda, if you do want to change not just the Government but the direction of the country you have to leave the church of Neo-liberalism. It is a big burden on your young shoulders. It will be difficult as you will have to leave many friends and old mentors behind.
You have done it before.
You can do this – again.