John Key knows his economic failures are coming out in to the open, so he came to The Nation this morning expecting a fight. And he knew his lines well and it all sounded good. If you didn’t think about it. Basically, he said the solution to the fact unemployment has risen by 80% under his failed economic policies was… wait for it … his failed economic policies.
He opened by claiming that it’s all the rest of the world’s fault that the economy is in the shitter. He never did explain why – if it’s the rest of the world dragging us down – we have the 2nd largest current account deficit in the OECD; why our unemployment rate that has grown by 50% more than the OECD average; that only countries like Greece, Spain, and Portugal have had a similar increase in unemployment to ours in it pat year; why our unemployment rate has gone from 6th lowest in the OECD to 15th; or why our growth rate in the last year has been in the bottom third of the OECD.
And then he claimed there is no crisis. Because you’re counted as unemployed if you’re looking for at least one hour’s work a week, Key argues that all the unemployed are just schoolkids looking for paper runs. Quite why the number of kids looking for paper-runs has boomed by 78,000 under his watch isn’t explained. And why 136,000 of these wannabe paper-boys are actually adults aged 20+, he didn’t explain either.
Finally, he made another contradictory claim – that the stats are wrong. At least, that’s what he seems to be implying when he says that last time the unemployment rate was 7.3% there were 150,000 people on the dole and today there are 50,000. I guess he’s saying since the dole numbers aren’t as high, unemployment can’t really be that high. Which is rubbish.
Successive governments have tightened the rules on getting the dole so much that its bloody hard to get for the genuinely unemployed. Not to mention that you’ll typically wait 8 weeks from becoming unemployed to getting a meeting with WINZ to getting a dole payment because they’re so slow and under-staffed – given that the median duration of unemployment is 3 months, many people simply don’t get what they’re entitled to over their period of unemployment.
When Key skites that there are as much unemployed but only a third as many on the dole, I wonder how the over two-thirds are scrapping by.
Rachel Smalley asked if he would change track given this track was clearly failing. His reaction was to deny the failure. It’s clear we’re never going to get a new idea out of this guy.
But credit where it’s due, he knew his bullshit lines and he didn’t waver from them. He sounded like he believed in what he said, not because he does but because he believes in the goals his government is working towards – a bigger slice of the shrinking pie for the elite.
National’s failing economically but what we’re lacking is a Labour leader who can make the case for change as convincingly as Key can deny his failure.