The latest piece from Bryan Gould should be compulsory pre-budget reading for pundits. Here’s the first few paragraphs:
Bryan Gould: Austere Budget adopts blind ‘Greek-lite’ outlook
The Budget, Bill English tells us, will provide a further step towards a strong long-term economy. That step is certainly needed, since there is precious little evidence of economic strength, long-term or short-term.
In recent weeks we have seen unemployment on the rise again, manufacturing output falling, retail activity stalling, the trade deficit worsening, and GDP figures revised downwards. It is increasingly clear that we have wasted the chance we were offered by buoyant export markets and record commodity prices to pull ourselves conclusively out of recession. Instead, we have at best bounced along the bottom for nearly four years and, at worst, have left our long-term problems unresolved.
As a result, Kiwis are voting with their feet. Record numbers are responding to unemployment, low wages, reduced public services and poor prospects by crossing the Tasman in search of a better life. Far from closing the gap with Australia, this Government has seen us fall further and faster behind.
Will the Budget turn this around? Will the “strong long-term economy” at last materialise? Not if the constant drip-feeding of pre-Budget announcements is anything to go by.
Over recent weeks, prescription charges have been raised, student loan repayments made more onerous, class sizes increased, our diplomatic service decimated, our border security jeopardised, public-service broadcasting abandoned, police numbers cut, jobs lost across the public service, help for first-time home buyers slashed, and 0800 numbers substituted for real help with benefits, legal advice and housing problems.
It is hard to see how any of this is likely to build a stronger economy, let alone a healthier society. We are told that the cuts – all part of a “zero” budget – are necessary to reduce “the deficit”. But even that limited objective is made more difficult to achieve by constant cutbacks. The reason that “the deficit” is so persistent is that a sluggish economy does not generate the tax revenue that would help to bring it down.
Dealing with “the deficit” is in any case much more difficult than it should be because the Government recklessly gave billions in tax cuts to the wealthy. …
No food, no shoes and kids kept home
Rotorua children are going to school barefoot in winter and without lunch – or skipping school because they have no food as parents struggle to cover everyday costs.
Principals say they are often faced with hungry children as a new type of class is developing in Rotorua – the working class family who just can’t make ends meet. Some parents are working two jobs on minimum wages and struggling, putting stress on the parents and children, which isn’t helpful to their learning, principals say.
Time was when you could raise a family on one income. The neoliberal revolution of the 90s put an end to that, and having both parents working became more and more common. Now it seems that even that is not enough. What are families supposed to do next? Something to ponder, as we await the zero budget.