The cruelest cuts

Written By: - Date published: 8:29 am, March 12th, 2010 - 8 comments
Categories: budget 2010, same old national - Tags: , , , ,

This year the government will spend $65,520 million. I say ‘about’ because the government itself only has a vague idea. That estimate came out in December and already it’s $678 million out (less spent). It expected gross debt to be $51,716 million. In fact, it’s $48,791 million. The government’s net worth is $1,316 million higher than expected at $98,700 million.

All of this rather tends to undermine the case for the spending cuts that National is intending to force on us in the Budget but my point today is slightly different. The government deals in vast amounts of money and it (understandably given the sums involved) doesn’t have a precise grasp of how much how much money it will have or need to borrow down to the last million or even the last hundred million.

So, why the petty little cuts? Why was $2.4 million for the Prisoner’s Aid and Rehabilitation Society cancelled? Why was $13.1 million cut from night classes? And why is Steven Joyce (who can’t give you a figure accurate to within a hundred million for the cost of one of his white elephant motorways*) taking the razor blade to the $18 million senior citizen Gold Card?

It’s not about the money. It’s about ideology.

Blank cheques are written to fund vaguely thought out pet policies with taxpayer money (Whanau Ora is a prime example) while policies that work but conflict with National’s ideology get the death by degrees treatment as their funding is slowly choked off.

National doesn’t care about what works. They care about dishing out the dosh for their mates, a bit of mindless populism, and killing off successful initiatives that aren’t politically correct through their ideological blinkers.

*(the estimate for the Wellington Northern Corridor, that includes Transmission Gully is $2.1 to $2.4 billion, for example)

8 comments on “The cruelest cuts”

  1. tc 1

    Spot on Post marty and the 20 somethings I speak to are all lining up to depart offshore probably never to return. All skilled up and qualified thanks to the efforts of the last labour regime but who can’t see any point hanging around as they are much better informed than their parents are who keep relying on old outdated media outlets like TVNZ/Herald.

    I can’t blame them or persuade them otherwise as it’s exactly what I did mid 80’s as muldoon was holding my salary back whilst prices rose with his ‘Price/wage freeze’ on top of the ‘think big’ shambles……vote a brighter future for Oz eh….they’re loving the skills influx.

    21st century muldoonism….hard to stay relaxed and comfortable without $20m + behind you eh.

  2. Tammy Gordon 2

    I’m not even sure it’s ideology. This government often just seems dowright mean. Last year they cut funding for 23 schools who give therapy to kids with cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy. It was only worth $2.5million but it worked and made a huge difference to the lives of those kids and their families. Anne Tolley told John Campbell that it wasn’t fair that those kids got funding but others missed out.

    Mmmm…. I’d rather have a government that tried to give the same therapy to the other kids who needed it. That’s fair.

  3. Sanctuary 3

    I have a term for it – neo-miserablism, and it perfectly fits the dismal Mr. English as the inheritor of the Shipley/Birch era.

  4. prism 4

    Cuts, from where. Oh pick on people who are getting small amounts of much needed assistance and cut that out completely.
    Like the Southland hospital board has done with elderly living in their own homes. The 1 hour home help received is done away with. Most of the hospital board decision makers are probably men who always had some woman, their wife or some lesser person, to do their cleaning for them. At home and at work, cleanliness is highly prized but the work to achieve it and the cleaners themselves, despised and overlooked. I have done office cleaning so I have experience with this. The other ways that home help assist the elderly is also ignored, they are to be reliant on any family I suppose.

    Now for the elderly its – I’ll climb up here to reach that, stretch a bit more -nearly there, wobble, fall, lie in pain, be taken for assessment, oh dear there are some real injuries here, treatment required. Cutting small costs can be self-defeating if trying to save money overall.

  5. Bill 5

    The other day, Gareth put a link to a presentation by Naomi Oreskes.

    In the presentation (about 20 min in) she outlines the denialist industry on such matters as smoking, DDT, acid rain,ozone depletion etc..through to global warming. She points out that it was essentially manufactured and nurtured from the 1950s onwards by three highly prominent scientists with a high degree of access to governments and corporations… Robert Jastrow, Frederick Seitz and William Nierenberg… who went on to form the Gearge C Marshall Institute to defend the Star Wars programme.

    So pro smoking, anti any government legislation and insanely anti the USSR.

    A Randist blueprint or floor plan if ever there was one.

    Meanwhile, our government….pro-corporate provisioning, anti-state provisioning. Pro-self regulating corporate dominated market mechanisms (whaling, mining, foreshore and seabed, CO2 emissions), anti-government legislation on all the previous plus a whole lot more…such as tobacco displays (heh- deliberate wee line for conspiracy theorists there), employment legislation, planning legislations, environmental protections and on and on.

    So 25 million here and a couple of million there. I think that’s way beyond any normal expression of an ideology in a social democratic context.

    It’s rabid.

    Which might lead to a spot of wondering about the influence of dictators and their madnesses. The insanity of 5 year plans and ‘beyond penultimate’ solutions, year zero’s plus a whole lot more instituted by or through definable figureheads and how it seems that it was the identifiability of the ideology with a public figurehead or institution that brought them to an end.

    Because it might seem to some that in the ‘free west’ a corporate ideology that embraces a madness at least equal to that of any dictator and much more dangerous given the lack of identifiable figurehead, has quietly moved itself through the agency of unimaginative yet ambitious and deluded individuals ( journalists, commentators and prominent movers and shakers as well as politicians) from private think tanks and the confines of the corporate sphere, right into the heart and head of government. Our government.

    Interesting times anyone?

  6. B 6

    And the (about) $1 million it cost for the Training Incentive Allowance. I personally know many people who were able to get off the benefit and get decent full-time jobs through this scheme. It is only just possible to live and support children on the DPB. It is only possible to study as well by cutting into the food budget. Now the TIA has been scrapped how many single parents are stuck in the trap of wanting to get off the benefit but unable to study so as to achieve this? At the same time the govt is ‘toughening up’ on single parents – forcing them to get work even though they may not have the skills to get a job?! How is forcing these parents into low paid unskilled part-time jobs going to change our miserable child poverty stats? (Single parents cannot just get a student loan like other students as a) it is not available for part time students which many single parents are and b) childcare is very very expensive – even after subsidies- it costs far more than the $1000 per year available for course costs through a student loan)

  7. Jenny 7

    Hi Marty Yeah right on.

    As you say:

    “National doesn’t care about what works. They care about dishing out the dosh for their mates, a bit of mindless populism, and killing off successful initiatives that aren’t politically correct through their ideological blinkers.”

    One of the reliable mates of the Nats, are the Feds. With their blind idealogical faith in the unfettered power of the market, Federated Farmers have joined with the Reserve Bank calling for cuts in public spending.

    The Farmers Federation support the Reserve Bank call for the government to cut public spending, to as they say, allow market forces to continue the wonderful job this hands off approach has delivered after many years.

    In their own words:

    “We congratulate Dr Bollard for again telling Government to constrain spending and allow monetary policy to do its job,” Don Nicolson, Federated Farmers President.

    No surprises here, I suppose.

  8. Jenny 8

    Talking about those driven by ideology how about those boys and girls, (Ya gotta love ’em), at Don Brash’s old job the Reserve Bank.

    After all, wasn’t it this organisation that oversaw the whole Rogernomics/Ruthanomics revolution of market deregulation, and privatisation that has helped ruin the economy, and impoverish the public sector?

    The joke during the late eighties and nineties was “Why not just let Don Brash and the Reserve Bank run the country? It would make things a lot simpler.”

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