One of my favourite television shows is Seinfeld. On an episode I saw the other day, Jerry was seeking advice from George on how to beat a police lie detector test.
George's advice was simple: 'It's not a lie if you believe it.'
I've been wondering if that's what some of our journalists tell themselves when they write another ridiculous story about the 'economic recovery'. Are they truly lost in a fog of self-deception or am I giving them too much credit? Maybe they're just dumb / neoliberal cheerleaders/ friends of Paul Henry /all of the former.
Such is the ideological bias of the New Zealand media that it can report the largest rise in the official unemployment figures for fifteen years - largely without comment - and then quickly move on to another neoliberal good news story about a rise in 'business confidence'. This is, apparently, more 'evidence' that the economy is on the road to the recovery.
In light of the persistent exclamations of ‘an end’ to the recession, a ‘solution’ to the crisis, and a ‘recovery’ of the economy; we must remember that we are being told this by the very same people and institutions which told us, in years past, that there was ‘nothing to worry about,’ that ‘the fundamentals are fine,’ and that there was ‘no danger’ of an economic crisis.
Perhaps the mainstream hacks and the economic wizards of neoliberalism would like to explain why unemployment has now reached a fifteen year old high if the New Zealand economy has indeed 'turned the corner'.
The figures make for grim reading and suggest that the New Zealand neoliberal economy is in far serious shape than its defenders will admit to.
The number of people unemployed rose by 12,000 to 150,000, the highest level since 1994. The number employed fell by 17,000 to the lowest level since the end of 2006.
Similarly under-employment has risen again.The number of people in part time or casual work who actually want fulltime jobs rose to 24.4 per cent (122,000 people), from 22.2 per cent three months ago and 16.5 per cent a year ago.
The National Government's 'stimulus package' - cycleways and the like- have done little to stem the tide of rising unemployment.
It's clear that John Key is a man without a plan other than to attack the living standards of ordinary New Zealanders. The National-led Government has no real plan to deal with the economic crisis other than through job losses, reduced hours and cuts. It's ordinary people who are paying the price for this crisis and they have been left defenceless by an increasingly right wing Labour Party and a gutless trade union bureaucracy.
The Key Government has managed to get away with it because its only 'opposition' (I use the term loosely) is a Labour Party that won't break with neoliberalism and a Combined Trades Union hierarchy that won't fight.
A vivid example of the political bankruptcy of the Labour Party was its abysmal response to the Minister of Employment signalling that she was about to launch an attack on DPB recipients and sickness beneficiaries.
Labour didn't oppose Paula Bennett's proposed plan to harass beneficiaries - just its timing (ie during a recession). So, according to Labour, its okay to boot beneficiaries - you just have to pick you're moment.
Because there is a political vacuum on the left, the National-led Government is not being confronted by the kind of aggressive political opposition that is sorely needed. More so its not being confronted by a organised opposition that is advocating a clear alternative to neoliberalism. And I don't mean an economic alternative that is a mix of neoliberalism and 'Keynesian lite' policies which seems to be the CTU's docile position these days.
It's clear that neoliberalism cannot provide New Zealanders with a secure economic future but its also abundantly clear that neither the Labour Party or the Combined Trades Union have anything to offer other than more platitudes and rhetoric.