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Pragmatism and the limits of patience

Written By: - Date published: 9:08 am, April 13th, 2011 - 20 comments
Categories: bill english, class war, economy, national - Tags: , , ,

Bill English managed to cause quite a fuss this week with his claim that New Zealand had a “competitive advantage” due to factors like our low wage economy. Another of the factors that English cited was how agreeably tractable our political system is in NZ (audio link at about 40 sec):

“New Zealanders have got very pragmatic about the rules and regulations that apply to the economy, that they should be focused on growth, and we’re able to change quite a lot of things to get there…”

In other words (translating tory for a moment), English can’t believe how easy it has been for that Nats to ram through their agenda this term. They broke their promise on raising GST — hardly a ripple. They handed out big tax cuts to the already wealthy and gave next to nothing to the poor — barely a murmur. They cry poverty to cut back on public services and public servants while finding billions to bail out big businesses — few people seem to care. And all too frequently they trample over Parliamentary and democratic processes — and get away with it.

Of course none of this has caused any growth at all (quite the opposite in fact). But you can see why Bill English thinks it’s so easy to get things done. In public he said that New Zealanders are “pragmatic”. I wonder what he says about us in private. How do you describe a public that seems content to sit back and let the government have another go at “trickle down” economics? Make the rich richer and leave everything to the invisible hand of the market. Are we the public pragmatic? Patient? Disengaged? Supine?

Whatever you call it, Bill English should be warned. Yes we have been patient with a lot of National’s agenda so far. But there are bottom lines that cannot be crossed. As the Nats discovered when they tried on the idea of mining in National Parks, or of selling Kiwibank, and as they may soon discover again over the sale of public assets.

And patience has its limits. There is only so long that the Nats can go on selling the line that their policies are good for New Zealand when all the evidence (the flatlined economy, the skyrocketing unemployment) clearly shows the opposite.

In short, I don’t think the Nats should rely on New Zealand’s “pragmatism” for too long. The government isn’t delivering results, and people are going to want to know why. I only hope that we wake up and start asking the hard questions in time for the next election.

20 comments on “Pragmatism and the limits of patience ”

  1. anarcho 1

    well said, and yes, we have been patient for long enough.

    • Tigger 1.1

      To be fair, some of us haven’t been patient at all – we’ve been mad as hell and doing our best to let everyone know how immoral this government is.

      • Jim Nald 1.1.1

        From the trustworthy mouth of Double Dipton, ‘pragmatism’ is a word to be used cynically to conceal his superb ability at mismanaging the country’s economy and finances 🙂

  2. prism 2

    Great art!  And so graphically expressive of our situation.
    Where do you get your pics I wonder.  Is there a special pics person who sources the perfect one?

    • Jim Nald 2.1

      Ahem. There’s a female version as well (and I’m not talking about Collins, Tolley or Benefitformeandnotforyou). You can google for it: Jeanneke Pis

    • r0b 2.2

      There isn’t that level of organisation “behind the curtain” believe me!  We all source our own pics, I just use google images.  

      Of course, it helps to know what you’re looking for.  That statue (Mannequin Pis) is one I’ve seen “in the flesh” (so to speak), and it often comes to mind when I contemplate the way the Nats treat NZ.

      • Jim Nald 2.2.1

        Good Pis take.

        I saw both Mannequin and Jeanneke. I have a fridge magnet of the former.
        Any chance of photoshopping a contemporary Kiwi shonkey version?
        I might even ask my neighbour’s grandchildren to make a papier-mâché version with a newspaper picture of the Prime Micturate stuck to it.

  3. ianmac 3

    When your job is at risk you are less likely to make a fuss, especially in a climate where unions and union membership is painted as slime.

    • Tigger 3.1

      Good point, many have been bullied or cajoled into silence – having your say has been painted as troublemaking or, that old chestnut, activism.

    • marsman 3.2

      And many have been kept in the dark and or hoodwinked by our Crony Media.
      These NAct toads have been lying, bullshitting and bullying since before the last election and they are still at it. I have nothing but contempt for the self-serving, corrupt liars.

      • Carol 3.2.1

        Yes they have failed to hold the government to account on this issue, peddled the Jackson-Warners-Government line on The Hobbitt issue, and endlessly spun lines that assist the governments diversions, distortions and anti-democratic, and anti-worker policies.
        And last night on TV3 6pm news, Gower yet again was foregrounding Labour leadership issues, saying a Little faction is unhappy with Goff. Is this how TV3 pays off the government for their unnecessary loan to MediaWorks?

  4. Colonial Viper 4

    Now I’m starting to get pissed off with the performance of the last Labour Government.
    Who clearly failed to set expectations amongst the public as to what we deserve as a country and what it means to create and hold on to a robust social democracy. The opportunity was missed to bed in and reinforce these values and the confidence to demand them, in NZ society.
    How else can English and his crowd of upward wealth redistributing social engineers get away with this Tory agenda.

  5. T 5

    I think the apathetic sections of the public will usually take the middle position as a safe bet.  For that, you need two ‘mainstream’ extremes.  NACT give us one extreme.  Labour should be providing the other extreme.  I don’t really see them doing that.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.1

      Labour is centre-right and NACT are extreme authoritarian-right. Reality is hard-left.
      So, which extremes are you looking for?

      • T 5.1.1

        Labour is … NACT are

        What Labour and NACT actually are is irrelevant to my point (because it’s irrelevant to the apathetic sections of the public).  It’s the image the two sides project that matters.  Labour (under Goff) hasn’t planted its flag anywhere, or if it has, it’s too close to National’s flag (trying to out-JohnKey John Key).

        • rosy

          “…it’s too close to National’s flag”


          • Colonial Viper

            Some of us are trying to sort it

            • rosy

              I look forward to that. The fear is, of course, that it is too late for this election and the next 3 years will set up another neo-liberal disaster for another generation.

  6. deservingpoor 6

    I’m beginning to wonder if there really is anything they can do that will make the public turn on them. After all they’re actually campaigning on asset sales. The main reason I hate living in NZ under a NACT government and the reason so many of my friends got the hell out in the 90s is because NACT bring out the worst in people. Kiwis ultimately don’t mind getting screwed over as long as they think someone the don’t like (poor, brown, young, female) is getting screwed over more. It worked like that in the 90s, its the same way now and yes I think Labour blew a 9 year golden opportunity to change it.

    • RedLogix 6.1

      Exactly. I’ve believed this for some years.
      The problem was not Labour’s alone. The problem in my view is the media in the broadest sense of the word. Everything in the MSM is dumbed down dreck; the dominant themes are oafish red-neckery and selfish gloating. All the dominant voices are either shrill conservatives or sly manipulative smear-jobs on the left.
      The whole idea IS to bring out the worst in people, so they will turn against themselves rather than their masters.

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