A house that I pass on the way to the shopping mall was auctioned about a fortnight ago. It was home to a young couple and their two young children until the bank decided it wanted its money back and called in the auctioneers. Yet another mortgagee sale, more victims of a economic crisis that they were not responsible for.
The so-called 'economic recovery' certainly missed this unfortunate family.
I'm sure it will be of no comfort at all to this young family that they have not been alone in their plight.
According to the latest statistics mortgagee sales have now reached the same level they were at when the recession was supposedly doing its worst. There were 246 sales in April compared to 250 at the same time last year.
In fact the situation is worse now for ordinary folk - because it is ordinary folk who are being turfed out of their homes.
Previously it was property developers and investors with multiple properties who were forced to sell. But most mortgagee sales now involve home owners with only one property. The recession isn't so much receding as sweeping over the lives of ordinary people.
This is another symptom of an economy and an economic system in crisis.
The New Zealand Institute of Economic Research this week expressed its concern about the state of the economy. While, of course, its not going to admit that neoliberalism doesn't work and that capitalism is inherently flawed, it did go as far as to say that 'signs of a stalling recovery are worrying. At this stage of the cycle we would normally see the economy recovering strongly'.
The economy certainly hasn't done what John Key confidently predicted it would do. In March last year he told TVNZ's Q+A that there would be an 'aggressive recovery' this year.
In May this year John Key was still in cloudcuckooland when he told a National Party regional conference that 'the worst of the global crisis has now passed and the economy has begun to grow again.'
Indeed Key has not been alone in his claims of an 'economic recovery'. From politicians to free market economists to media commentators the message has been the same; the worst of the recession is over.
At the same time though we are seeing austerity measures being implemented across the board.
There are cuts in welfare,education and health. It is the people who are least able to endure such cuts who are the ones who are being forced to endure them.
Of course similar austerity measures are being applied by government's throughout the world.
In Europe workers are demonstrating against the cuts in countries like Greece and Spain. We can expect such demonstrations in the United Kingdom when the austerity measures of the new government start to take their toll.
A Europe-wide strike is scheduled for September 29.
Here in New Zealand ordinary people have been left defenceless by opposition parliamentary parties that share the Government's enthusiasm for neoliberalism and the 'free market.'
The Labour- aligned trade union bureaucracy has simply refused to fight. All that is offer from scoundrels like CTU President Helen Kelly is the hope that Goff's Labour will get elected next year and that it might implement some 'keynesian lite' policies.
Remember, this is the same Phil Goff who told us last year that there was no alternative to the free market and scorned his party's own social democratic history.
What a disgrace.
We are heading for a double dip recession and we are expected to believe the election of a right wing Labour Government will solve our problems?
Meanwhile a large section of our population continues to suffer immensely.
I find this totally unacceptable and I condemn absolutely all those who hold up the Labour Party as the only way forward.
Rick Wolff is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts. In a recent article he wrote:
A capitalist system that generates so massive a crisis, spreads it globally, and then proposes mass austerity to "overcome" it has lost the right to continue unchallenged...Can we not learn from capitalism's repeated cycles (failures) and change to a new, non-capitalist system? Having learned hard lessons from the first socialist attempts during the last century in Russia, China, and beyond, can we not rise to the challenge to make a new attempt that avoids their failures and builds on their strengths? When better than now?
I find Professor Wolff's words both inspiring and refreshing. They stand in stark contrast to the dismal defences of the status quo I continue to hear from the likes of Phil Goff and Helen Kelly