While John Key worried today about fine-tuning guarantees for bank deposits, Helen Clark was outlining how a Labour government if re-elected is already planning for the fast and decisive action that will be needed to protect jobs, build skills, and promote the research that will protect New Zealand’s economic future.
It is now clear that we are not just facing some offshore financial market problems caused by the sorts of speculative bubbles that John Key’s so-called business credentials are based on. The real economy is also in for a severe shock in all our markets, and the effects will be felt here.
Helen Clark quoted from a recent article by this year’s Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman. He says that “while the manic-depressive stock market is dominating the headlines, the more important story is the grim news coming in about America’s real economy. It is now clear that rescuing the banks is just the beginning: the non-financial economy is in desperate need of help…retail sales have fallen off a cliff, and so has industrial production.”
Krugman says it is politically fashionable to rant against government spending – the sort of rant we have heard from Key and English, and Don Brash before them. National’s approach to the problems we are facing is a familiar failure – tax cuts for the rich, an axe to Kiwisaver, more jobless in prison, fire at will labour laws to depress wages, and cuts to government spending including research and development incentives.
Labour’s focus has always been on jobs and investment, and urgent action will be needed. At least Helen Clark’s plan shows she has got her eye on what really matters to New Zealanders.