Written By: - Date published: 11:25 am, September 16th, 2016 - 120 comments
Categories: capitalism, class war, Economy, Environment, exports, International, manufacturing, monetary policy, overseas investment, Politics, poverty, quality of life, Social issues, welfare - Tags: climate change, climate collapse, future, neoliberalism
Neoliberalism, it could be argued, has been a disaster for most New Zealanders.
The ‘rock-star’ economy has grown by 3.5% in the last year (which is, in itself, a problem because you cannot have infinite growth in a finite world) but is largely sustained only by, a) record immigration b) a natural disaster and c) a privately financed housing boom of expensive dwellings.
In the normal course of events, an incoming left-leaning government could enact legislation to undo the damage done and fix it over time. But impending climate change has removed that element of gradual change.
What then should New Zealand be doing to attempt to counteract thirty five disastrous years of neoliberalism coupled with the potential effects of climate change?
First of all, we need to act decisively to weaken the effects of of that pernicious political philosophy. This will involve a whole raft of rather radical ideas, which will also go some way to ameliorating the effects of climate change, including:
- Reducing the number of ruminants by at least three quarters, and confining their farming to areas which are naturally favourable for such animals and which don’t need extensive irrigation. Long term, there is little future in dairy farming (or any animal farming for that matter). It has always seemed absurd to try to sell massive amounts of dairy products to the lactose intolerate population of China!
- Reducing the number of immigrants to a trickle from the present flood and confine them to trades/professionals we really need. At the present time immigration is being used to lower wages and create a precariat class which can be exploited by the elite.
- Concomitant with a reduction in immigration begin and increase trade training courses for young New Zealanders, providing a pathway for them into satisfying and rewarding work.
- Immediately increase the minimum wage to a living wage. That people are expected to work for less than is enough to sustain life is monstrous. Ultimately, move towards a UBI.
- Deliberately crash the housing market, especially in Auckland, while at the same time providing protection for first home and residential home buyers. There must be zero tolerance for parasites who feast on the vulnerability of the poor or who put owning a house beyond the reach of the ordinary New Zealander. The banks must serve the interests of New Zealand, not their shareholders in Australia.
- Immediately decree that rents can not be more than twenty-five per cent of a household’s income. At the same time abolish the welfare subsidy for landlords.
- Refocus the manufacturing aspect of farming towards value-added products. Nothing that can be processed within New Zealand should leave these shores in a raw state. And don’t use the argument that we’ll price ourselves out of markets – we’re a food producer in a world of seven going on for nine billion people!
- Require a permit to purchase family vehicles of over 2 litre engine size, ban all family vehicles over 3 litres and encourage/subsidize the introduction and purchase of electric vehicles.
- Buy New Zealand. Government contracts should only ever go overseas if it can be proved that similar products/services cannot be sourced/provided here.
- Transfer Government accounts from any of the four Aussie banks to Kiwibank and legislate to force regional and local councils to do the same.
- Deliberately downsize the transport indistry by a) upgrading and enlarging the rail network and b) putting punitive charges on all long-distant transport.
- Aim to become 100% renewable in energy resources as soon as possible and heavily subsidize the installation of household solar panels.
- Abolish the dividend requirements of SOE’s while encouraging fiscal responsibility.
- Limit CEO salaries in all government enterprises and ministries to 6X that of the lowest paid worker. Foster the almost forgotten concept of ‘public service.’
- Institute a progressive tax regime, with a top tax of 70%, close tax loopholes and vigorously prosecute offenders.
- Create a level playing field in education by a) removing ALL payments to private school. If the rich want their own exclusive school system, let them be prepared to pay for it! And b) make all tertiary education free. Also, put extra resources into early childhood education. Early intervention pays dividends.
- Immediately begin building enough houses, with insulation and double glazing etc to ensure that nobody is homeless in this country.
- Progressively restrict the numbers of tourists coming to New Zealand to limit the impact of excessive numbers on our landscape. Tourisn should not be just another ‘wild west’ industry.
- At the same time adequately fund DOC. Their task, that of protecting the conservation estate of this country, is going to become a great deal more difficult as climate change begins to bite.
- Preserve our fishing resources. Seize offending boats when there is evidence of overfishing and or waste (and don’t allow the industry to monitor itself!)
- Like private schools, don’t fund private hospitals. It is a far better investment to adequately fund the public hospital system.
- Remove alcohol from supermarkets and corner dairies. Make it harder to buy alcohol by a) increasing its price and b) restricting the number of outlets.
- Impose a fat tax in an effort to reduce the level of obesity. Actively encourage young people to participate in sports or physical activities. Forbid the expansion of fast food outlets, especially close to schools.
- Impose a total ban on foreign ownership of New Zealand land or houses. Unless foreigners are prepared to become New Zealand citizens (and that precludes them buying their way in!) and live in this country for a minimum of nine months in each year. There is evidence that this country is becoming a bolt-hole for the global elite; this we should ensure doesn’t continue to happen.
- About the only thing this present appalling government has done is to spend twenty billion dollars on equipment for our defence forces. I’d even go further: like Switzerland, I’d require all our youth to spend some time doing military training, with the intention of creating a home guard. At the same time our troops should be limited to UN sanctioned peace-keeping.
The aim must be to make this country as least dependent on the global economy as possible. Yes, that does represent protectionism, but it’s going to happen one way or another as social conditions deteriorate in the rest of the world.