Do yourself a favour; set your bullshit detector to maximum for whenever anyone starts talking about how money doesn’t grow on trees, we have to tighten our belts in this tough economic climate, and that’s why the government are doing what they’re doing.
The simplest response is: if we’re so short of money that you have to sell your ability for future revenue, increase sales taxes, tax kids, put poor people’s prescriptions up a couple of dollars and push public servants, single mums,
teachers and students into a crowded job market, then why do you retain your tax cuts for the rich?
Why do you refuse to consider a capital gains tax, which even the OECD, IMF, Treasury and the Reserve Bank – hardly commies – are backing? (Let alone a financial transactions tax).
Yes, we’re in a recession, yes, there are earthquakes. Yes, there’s debt (which they’ve been rapidly creating ever since they’ve been in power). But as Campbell Jones has pointed out, pretending their current policies are an inevitable result of the financial situation is “a cover-up that denies the actual agency involved in the politics of austerity”. A cursory look at the world shows that there is more than one way of responding to a recession or a natural disaster. This government’s specific response is classic Shock Doctrine; the language is ‘tough times’, ‘debt’ and ‘zero budgets’ but the effect is a systematic drive on all fronts to transfer wealth, power and opportunity away from the poor and the public, towards the rich … ultimately the same global elites who caused the recession and are getting rich holding up the earthquake rebuild.
I’m actually against using the term ‘austerity’ for this onslaught, because ‘austerity’ implies we all need to tighten our belts in a recession. National says the poor and the public have to tighten their belts, but the rich can loosen theirs even further.
Why? Because National is run by neo-liberal ideologues, and whatever the financial situation, that’s what these ideologues consistently and dogmatically believe is best for the world. The rich are the ‘job creators’, the ‘innovators’, the ‘drivers of growth’. The rich HAVE to be given their holiday homes in Hawaii, because the only way of making people work and create is by dangling a holiday home in Hawaii in front of their faces. Even in a recession – especially in a recession – no price is too high to give the rich more money. If it puts us in deficit, so be it; ‘balancing the books’ is another great excuse to implement more of neo-liberalism’s dogmas: the reduction of public ownership, public services, welfare and anything else that might soften individual competition.
The National party are doing their utmost to make this country a theocracy, run not on empirical research or rational enquiry but on blind faith in the doctrines of a shoddy new-age religion called neo-liberalism. The dogma is that the market will be our saviour, and should be our lord. The utopia is economic growth as the sole human end. And the men with nice suits and bulging investments are the Brian Tamakis, saying give us all your money, and you’ll be blessed hundredfold when it all trickles back down, someday, somehow, eventually.