There were some good opinion pieces published over the weekend. Here’s three of them, starting with Rod Oram in the SST:
Key thinks he can sell cowshit to cockies
Over the past few weeks Prime Minster John Key and his government have reached new heights with what they do best – fiddling around and talking up.
On health, immigration, trade, foreign investment and the economy, among other crucial issues, they have done only two things: take minor action; and talk big. What they have failed to do is offer any kind of serious analysis or sustained strategy. Thus, the Key government is drifting, and the country with it.
Take health. Key conceded at last this week that the cost of prescription drugs would rise if the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks were successful. But worry not, he says. Your prescription costs won’t rise. We will increase health spending to cover them. After all, this is a government that’s increased health spending in every budget.
No it hasn’t. Health spending has failed to keep pace with inflation and population growth since National came to power in 2008. This is the conclusion of analysis by Infometrics, available at bit.ly/HealthInfometrics, which was commissioned by Labour. This shows a 3 per cent gap between what the government will spend this financial year on health and what it should spend. If health spending had kept pace since 2009 the government would have spent an additional $1.7 billion on health. No wonder half the health boards in the country are running deficits. So, the government announced its solution this week: reduce elected members on health boards, and increase government-appointed members. …
Read on for similar analysis of immigration, foreign investment, child poverty and the global economy. Then turn to Paul Little in The Herald:
Can’t afford meds? Don’t get sick
So now you’re interested in the Trans Pacific Partnership. After years of warnings about the free trade agreement’s potentially disastrous effects on lapdog countries such as ours, which have been straining at the leash in our enthusiasm
to see the deal signed off, the public has been given a hip-pocket reason to give a toss.
Then John Key, in an uncharacteristically gauche move, admitted the cost of some medicines would go up under the TPP. This is hardly surprising. When the aim of a deal is to end protection, things tend to be left unprotected. … But meddling doctors’ groups, not yet discredited in the way teachers, beneficiaries and unionists have been after decades of neoliberal governments, led the charge in deploring this possibility.
Our tough love Government must find this galling. Medicine, in its mind, is probably an extravagance indulged in by people who don’t have the mental fortitude to deal with illness and chronic conditions with positive thinking and a can-do attitude. Can’t afford medicine? Don’t get sick, losers.
Sounds about right. Read on for further TPP skewering and a serve at Hosking / Seven Sharp. Then check out the third piece, if you missed it yesterday, excellent work by Graham Adams in Metro:
Is New Zealand becoming the Absurdistan of the South Pacific? Graham Adams reflects on the slow unravelling of a small democracy.
Absurdistan was first used in English in the Spectator in 1989, to describe the bizarre life of Czechs in Czechoslovakia. … Lately, I have begun to feel much the same about New Zealand – that it is becoming an Absurdistan: an odd little South Pacific nation where many things have stopped making sense to many of its citizens, even those normally enthusiastic about its idiosyncratic traits and national character, which has long been marked by tolerance, egalitarianism, a sense of fair play and a willingness to protest against injustice and inequality.
Perhaps what brought it to a head was the strange election in 2014 … Or perhaps it was the Dance of the Seven Hats later performed by John Key in Parliament, where he claimed to be several people at once and accountable to no one when Opposition politicians wanted to know what contact he’d had with blogger Cameron Slater. It’s possible this approach would go down well in Colombia or Argentina, where there is a tradition of magic realism, but New Zealanders are known to be a nation of pragmatists. However, in Absurdistan you can assert anything you like, apparently, and make it true.
Increasingly, we are asked to believe a multitude of things we suspect (and sometimes know) to be untrue. These include: there is no bubble in the Auckland housing market; overseas Chinese buyers are not pushing up house prices; anyone can benefit from a university education; education standards are not falling; the Trans-Pacific Partnership will be good for us (but we can’t be told what’s in it, even though 600 mostly business representatives in the US get to examine its proposals); nothing can be done about overseas tourists driving on the wrong side of the road and killing themselves and us; voluntary euthanasia can’t be adopted as a government measure because it is too “divisive” (even though more than 70 per cent of us support it in opinion polls). …
See the full piece for much, much more.
All in all, not great weekend reading for the Nats. The third-term decline is picking up speed.