A fundamental of social democratic politics is full employment. It is sometimes said that work is the best form of welfare. When people are in work they have a sense of belonging and self-worth, they commit fewer crimes, they contribute to funding public services, they can afford a better standard of living for their families. In government, Labour and its allies followed through on that principle – the number of beneficiaries was reduced by 100,000 and 350,000 more jobs were added to the economy.
Now that we are entering what looks like a prolonged period of a weak economy, it is more important than ever that the Government focus on jobs, jobs, jobs. If they stand idle while unemployment rises (or take only token efforts like ReStart) then our communities will suffer from the flow-on effects – higher crime, higher welfare costs, lower tax revenue, poorer health (leading to poorer education outcomes).
If My Key really is a pragmatist he must see that he needs to create an economic stimulus program focused on job creation. Part of that, surely, should be a mass house insulation program, which not only creates jobs but has a 4 to 1 payback on investment from lower electricity use and improved health. Yes, these are leftwing ideas but they make sense. If he really is a moderate pragmatist, Key can surely see that and do what is best for the country.