As part of my holiday reading I happened to come across a copy of the Bay of Plenty Times. Former Herald columnist Garth George has retired to Tauranga and writes the occasional column for the local paper.
He is no stranger to TS readers. Over the years he has been given a hard time by Standard commentators although looking at some of the posts where his views have been discussed it appears that occasionally he has struck a chord with some authors. It will surprise many but I think that on the basis of Garth’s latest column we should cut him some slack and consider him seriously in the future.
The column is about how to banish poverty. And his prescription is something that I agree with entirely. And I never ever thought that I would say this.
Garth’s column needs to be read in its entirety. He begins by talking about his hope for 2014 and expresses concern for the plight of kiwis who live in poverty, “and particularly the dreadful effect that has on so many children.” He then expresses the hope that over the next 12 months there will be real and determined efforts to alleviate the problem.
Thus my first and dearest hope for this year, which happens to be the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Year of the Family, is that the next 12 months will see real and determined efforts to alleviate this suppurating national sore.
For poverty is the trigger for so much else that ails our people – child abuse and neglect, poor child health and inability to learn, to name but three.
I could not agree more.
The next statement starts off on an interesting tract, that money will not solve poverty when by definition it will but Garth then gets all radical on it.
Constantly throwing people and money at these problems has not worked and won’t ever work. What is needed is an almost complete revision of our thinking on the economy as a whole, because that is where the problem really originates.
We have been told for decades that if we improve our economic performance, our wealth-production, the results will be felt by all. That is absolute rubbish, and we know that because the wealthier we have become, the greater the number reduced to poverty.
Wealthy people – and businesses – get that way because by every means possible they hang on to what they have got. Just look at our four major overseas-owned banks, which last year hoisted obscene profits in the billions of dollars.
That sort of profit reveals just one thing: that hundreds of thousands of bank customers are being royally ripped-off.
Again I could not agree more. The dominance of our banking system by the Australian banks is a major drain on our wealth and has a particularly bad effect on terms of trade as these profits are moved offshore.
Ours is a low-wage economy and, as far as I’m concerned, that is the basic cause of poverty and all the social problems that flow from it. … It is long past time that we revised our attitude to wage and salary earners and paid them their due.
It is also long past time we got rid of terms such as “human resources” and realised anew that wage and salary earners are people and not just bums on seats with a brain and a pair of hands – what Karl Marx labelled “economic units” – but are a valuable investment, not a liability.
I never thought I would see Garth quote Karl Marx!
I am persuaded that the economic model which has driven our fiscal affairs for nearly three decades is seriously, if not irreparably, flawed, and that that is the place to start if we are ever to achieve economic justice for all and reduce poverty to its absolute minimum.
Laissez-faire capitalism has to go – or at least be subjected to some form of strict regulation.
One word Garth, respect. When an old time conservative like Garth George enunciates clearly the problems with our economic system you know that things are changing.