In his own surreal and ultra-privileged way (read the article!) Paul Holmes has discovered the recession. And it seems to have shaken him up a bit:
Our worst fears are being realised
By Paul Holmes
The economy is tanking.
Let us push away all the pink fluff and the political talk and the fine words and face it. The economy is heading south very deeply and very sharply. It is happening now. What we all dreaded is happening. We all have the numbers that show it and, if you are the kind of person who keeps any eye out, you will know it instinctively.
Paul then goes on to make the classic error of projecting his own inadequacy, and in this case the inadequacy of the Nats, on to the rest of the world. Like that old Fred Allen classic: ‘A Committee is a group of people who individually can do nothing, but as a group decide that nothing can be done”. Here’s the Paul Holmes version:
It is a worldwide thing and there is no answer except the economic cycle itself. But Bill English has not one idea what to do apart from maintaining his innate common sense and thrift and Labour and David Cunliffe have no idea either.
Mr Cunliffe may rage about the economy and the unemployment numbers in the House and that is fine because it is his job to do so. But neither David nor Bill, nor any of them, has any answer to the hopelessness of our economy whatsoever.
This is because, while governments can re-arrange spending and figures and the chairs on Titanic, they cannot invent money. Government in this situation is the Wizard of Oz and may as well not exist. In fact, it doesn’t.
Bill and David are not to be blamed. When the shit hits the fan, they can do nothing.
We allow them to play the political game and we participate in it because this is a democracy and, with it, we get relative freedom of action and speech, but we know there ain’t no answers when things are falling out the bottom of a money bucket that is already deep down an empty well.
Paul’s despairing rant is right in one respect. The Nats have no idea what to do. Their economic record is dismal, and they wasted the opportunity to plan for, respond to, and thus rebound from the recession. They had a plan to win the election, but they didn’t have a plan about what to do next.
But Paul is dead wrong to mistake the inadequacy of the Nats for the impossibility of effective government. It’s true that the Nats have no ideas, but other people do! Labour spent 9 years saving to protect us from the impact of this rainy day, and before the election they set out a comprehensive plan to get us through the recession. The Australian Labor government managed the recession much better, with a genuine stimulus package and a strong recovery. Right now here in NZ The Greens have set out an alternative economic vision that has to be the way forward in a resource limited future, and Labour are working on policy to try and pick up the pieces at the next election.
Thanks to National, however, at this crucial time in economic history, we have been condemned to three years of the kind of lack of vision and bumbling paralysis that has driven Paul Holmes to despair. The National government sit like a giant smelly blockage in the plumbing of the economy. We need to purge that blockage to get things flowing again.