It’s sickening to see rich ministers and columnists saying ‘of course we need to green the economy’ and then turnaround and promote fossil fuel extraction and agricultural intensification – things that will ultimately wreck the environment and the economy that is built on it. The truth is, we’re a hugely wealthy country already – it’s just most of the wealth is with the endlessly greedy elite.
On Q+A this morning, you had Amy Adams calling for other countries to drop their fossil fuel consumption subsidies in one breath (because this increases demand, hiking the price for us) and then defending New Zealand’s production subsidies, like the $20m in free seismic data we’re giving to foreign oil companies. While nominally an environmental issue, it was clear that this government’s entire approach was about short-term economic growth.
Then, Steve Joyce was on, calling anyone who wants a sustainable environment to support our future economy and society an idiot and advocating more drilling for fossil fuels.
All Fran O’Sullivan could add was ‘we’ve got to get richer’. Of course, she’s plenty rich already. In fact, the three of them are obscenely rich. Yet their entire economic vision is ‘let’s have more’.
When do we reach ‘enough’? Or, when do we at least have enough that we don’t put having more ahead of the long-term sustainability of our economy and our civilisation? When do we say ‘we’ve got enough not that we don’t have to screw over our children and grandchildren’?
With an annual economic output of $46,000 per person, including children, and something on the order of 8 times more than that accumulated wealth in this country, surely we can now say ‘more growth isn’t worth destroying our environment’.
With fairer distribution of what we have, we can eliminate poverty and have enough jobs – or rather, enough income from those jobs, because work for most is a means to an end.
But the capitalist elite can’t abide by fairer distribution because that would mean them having less. So, they demand more growth, and that most of that growth goes to them – the future be damned, they want to be richer now.
And the kicker is that, despite being willing to sacrifice the environment and our long-term wealth for short-term gain, the Nats haven’t achieved that either. They’re dancing in the streets over 1.7% annual growth. That’s what we used to call a slow-down.