Written By: - Date published: 8:10 am, February 9th, 2019 - 131 comments
Categories: International, jacinda ardern, labour, national, Politics, Propaganda, Simon Bridges, spin, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:
I have never understood the hatred that the right has for Venezuela. The classic was yesterday when Simon Bridges said that Labour was planning to Venezuelaise the tertiary training system.
Yep that takes a lot of getting your head around. What is Labour proposing?
The background is that various Polytechnics have struggled, and over the past few years built up larger and larger deficits. The current Government has spent $100 million bailing out four polytechnics. And this is not a recent problem. It has been brewing for years.
And the causes of the problem are clear. From Jacinda’s state of the nation speech:
Over the last two years this Government has been forced to spend $100 million to bail out four polytechnics, and that is a pattern that started before we took office.
That is not the sign of a healthy and sustainable sector.
We need to move away from the cycle that sees course delivery at institutes boom when the economic cycle turns down and then dive when the economy improves, while on-the-job training providers face the opposite cycle.
Instead of our regional polytechnics and institutes of technology retrenching, cutting programmes, and closing campuses, we need them to expand their course delivery throughout the country.
We want a sector that meets the needs of our economy. But the current system faces three major structural issues we need to fix.
It is not well coordinated or integrated. It is not easy for business to engage with and it delivers variable results across the country.
We have a duplication of courses and lack of consistency across the sector.
Many of the institutes face an issue of scale and insufficient capital to grow and respond. All of this is unsustainable.
Here is our vision – I want the vocational training system to be the backbone of our productive economy, and of our regions. I want students and parents to proudly choose a career in the trades and I want businesses to have confidence that the system is flexible and preparing a workforce for the future of work.
Her analysis is complex and rational. And the need for change is clear.
But Jacinda’s announcement resulted in the most inane comment yet from Simon Bridges. And believe me there is a lot of competition.
From Radio New Zealand:
However, at National’s caucus retreat in Hamilton, Mr Bridges was telling reporters that plan would mean 1000 jobs will be lost.
“Abolishing them all, moving to four hubs, effectively a nationalisation, a Venezuela model.”
What does that mean? Is Bridges saying that Labour is going to nationalise the already nationalised Polytechnic institutes?
Are they going to be brought under state control from their former position of being, get this, under state control?
The Government is dealing with a long term problem with vocational problem. And the last National Government is to blame. Not only did they preside over the system when it stalled and started to fail but some of their MPs were directly involved.
So what is the big deal about Venezuela? I know that it is a democracy and although it has its issues at the last election it still elected its current leader as head of state. I know the result is upsetting but I have major problems with the current POTUS but I am not advocating that he is removed by armed force or by someone who was not a presidential candidate saying that they are going to assume control.
The other guy, Juan Guaidó, did not contest the last election against sitting president Nicolás Maduro. Perhaps he should have. Then he would be in a better position to claim that he should be leader.
Venezuela has been a source of obsession to the right for many years. I presume it is because their oil industry was nationalised many years ago. Or because former leader Hugo Chavez used the income to lift many, many poor people out of poverty.
The claims that the country is undemocratic has been made for many years. The Independent had this to say about recent elections shortly after the death of former leader Hugh Chavez:
Over the coming days, you will be repeatedly told that Hugo Chavez was a dictator. A funny sort of dictator: there have been 17 elections and referenda since 1998. Perhaps you think they were rigged. When he won by a huge margin in 2006, former US President Jimmy Carter was among those declaring he had won “fairly and squarely”.
At the last election in October 2012, Carter declared that, “of the 92 elections that we’ve monitored, I would say the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world.” I was there: perhaps you think I was like those hopelessly naïve Western leftists who visited Potemkin villages in Stalinist Russia.
I was with a genuinely independent election commission, staffed with both pro-Chavez and anti-Chavez sympathisers, who had previously been invited by the opposition to run their own internal elections. We met with senior opposition figures who railed against Chavez, but acknowledged that they lived in a democracy. When they lost the election, they accepted it.
Indeed, Chavez himself has had to accept defeat before: back in 2007, he lost a referendum campaign, and did not quibble with the results. Until he came to power, millions of poor Venezuelans were not even registered to vote: but dramatic registration drives have nearly doubled the electorate. There are 6,000 more polling stations than there were in the pre-Chavez era.
.And this fascinating collection of views shows why the right hated Chavez so much, and why the left liked him. Alex Hearn at the New Statesman quoted Pamela Sampson, a business reporter for the Associated Press, as saying this:
Chavez invested Venezuela’s oil wealth into social programs including state-run food markets, cash benefits for poor families, free health clinics and education programs. But those gains were meager compared with the spectacular construction projects that oil riches spurred in glittering Middle Eastern cities, including the world’s tallest building in Dubai and plans for branches of the Louvre and Guggenheim museums in Abu Dhabi.
And Fair’s Jim Naureck, who pointed out the bizarre angle, said this in response:
That’s right: Chavez squandered his nation’s oil money on healthcare, education and nutrition when he could have been building the world’s tallest building or his own branch of the Louvre. What kind of monster has priorities like that?
So Bridges’ take on Tertiary Institute reform is lame, weird and totally misguided. If he meant by the “Venezuelan” of the Polytechnic system the addition of further resources then he is right. If he meant the system is being nationalised then it already is. But this attempt to construct a cold war narrative against clearly needed reforms is pretty strange.