Written By: - Date published: 9:00 am, May 4th, 2013 - 192 comments
Categories: accountability, activism, assets, class war, cost of living, democracy under attack, Ethics, greens, labour, poverty, Privatisation, spin, unemployment - Tags: fran o'sullivan, fuel poverty
Politicians, journalists and other commentators who support the sale of the powercos, continue to portray the Labour-Green NZ Power policy in terms of political strategy and game-play. In doing this, they avoid having to deal with the guts of the issue: the fact that the commercialised model of power supply, intensified by the privatisation agenda of our current government, enables some people to get more money, by damaging the lives of many already struggling Kiwis.
This slick avoidance of the crux of the matter, can be seen in Fran O’Sullivan’s op ed piece in this morning’s New Zealand Herald. her argument is centred around how the market will react, and whether the Labour-Green policy will damage profits. So, instead of focusing on legitimate reasons for wanting to ease the pressure on the budgets of low income households, O’Sullivan demonises the policy as being part of cynical strategy, pandering to an apparently irrational “hatred” of “fat cats”:
This tactic works well for Labour and the Greens with their own political power base. Their supporters hate fat cats. Demonising the power company bosses could rile them enough to ensure more of Labour’s and the Greens’ voting base actually turn up to cast a vote in 2014. Or so the hope goes.
She omits to mention anything about the underlying issues: the increases in wealth and income inequalities, and in fuel poverty since the 1980s neoliberal intensification of privatisation of the commons.
The left needs to call such arguments, and expose their shonkey reasoning: their willful avoidance of facing the unfair and unjust privatisation agenda, that favours the better off at the expense of those on low incomes.
The left needs to say loudly, again and again: privatisation damages lives, as shown by Anthony Robins Poverty Watch series of posts. Particularly, his special post on fuel poverty includes significant information, like this:
He quoted a long piece from this link, of which this is part:
Fuel poverty in the land of plenty
Soaring electricity prices are causing more New Zealanders to struggle to heat cold, damp, unhealthy houses.
In July 2010, five-and-a-half-month-old Roretana Holland was found dead in the bed he was sharing with his four-year-old sister, at his parents’ home in Warspite Ave, Porirua. The coroner for the case, Ian Smith, warned once more about the dangers of cot death when sleeping arrangements are shared. Social deprivation, smoking in the household and excessive alcohol consumption were all there. But one part of the deprivation picture the coroner didn’t mention was why the children were sleeping together in the first place.
The four children shared a bedroom because the family had only a single oil heater to keep warm. The Holland household was one of the estimated 400,000 in New Zealand whose members are living in fuel poverty, where heating the home to a comfortable temperature eats up more than 10% of income. Pressure mounts to either skimp on heating or miss out on other essentials, instead. …
“Sadly, those on the lowest incomes pay the greatest proportion of their income – almost 13% – on household energy, yet we know that houses in New Zealand are still cold and damp with all the problems that ensue from that.”
It’s worth re-reading Anthony’s post, then tell it to the likes of Fran O’Sullivan, who can’t see beyond profits, markets and calculated financial and political risks, while hiding behind false notions of “the politics of envy” – a mask for their own politics of greed, and their moral void.