Is anyone surprised, other than the neoliberal zealots, that more and more New Zealanders are expressing anger and disillusionment at the growing levels of economic inequality and poverty in this country?
The latest evidence of this rising anger comes in a Sunday-Star Times - Horizon Research online poll of some 2000 New Zealanders.
The newspaper reports:
...many respondents recognised the growing income gap.
"I hope that the gap I see growing between two distinct classes of people closes somewhat. We used to be a pretty level society, but these days we have a distinct middle and very much lower class, and I regret that," wrote one person. Others said:
"...the inequality between high-income earners and low-income earners is resulting in poverty for the latter and major social problems.'
"Address the growing gap between the income of the haves and have-nots by removing the tax breaks for the rich so that the wealthy pay their fair share."
Similarly the Government's blatant attempts to blame beneficiaries for the country's economic woes are falling into disfavour. While there will always be a rump of rednecks who will always want to bash beneficiaries, more and more New Zealanders don't want a bar of it. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that the economic crisis has extended well into the normally insulated middle class.
Reports the Sunday Star Times:
Those who want the government to lay off the benefit bashing' say beneficiaries and low income earners felt "third class", were "stigmatised" and struggled to make headway. Many blamed the hike in GST – from 12.5% to 15% in October last year – as well as unequal tax cuts.
"Give beneficiaries a break, we are getting more in debt due to the tax cuts, which were total lies, unable to feed family decent food, life is just not worth bringing kids into this society, more money for food and bills."
Unfortunately what is also not surprisingly is that this growing level of anger has not been reflected or acted upon by organisations that claim to speak for ordinary people.
The Labour Party, despite all its huffin' and puffin' , is not offering anything more than a bit of tinkering with the neoliberal 'orthodoxy' that has wreaked such damage among working class communities.
When he should be offering a radically new economic vision for New Zealand Goff has nothing to offer but his 'promise' that Labour can 'manage' the 'free market' better than National. Oh, and he'll throw in a bag of GST=free carrots as well.
It's just not good enough.
Similarly Labour's mates in the union bureaucracy have not only completely failed to oppose the neoliberal policies of the past three decades they have actively cooperated with their implementation. Instead of fighting job losses the likes of CTU President Helen Kelly and the EPMU's Andrew Little have simply escorted workers to the door marked 'Exit'. Thanks for coming..
And the cabal of media commentators and bloggers who circulate around these organisations like flies might swirl around a pile of dog poo, deserve our opprobrium as well.
As I speak, they are wheeling behind the Labour Party in its bid to win the general election. What a disgrace. But, then again, none of them are short of a few bob. If they were then they might not be so eager to be apologists for the bankrupt policies of Labour.
'All that is solid melts into air.' was Karl Marx's description of the dislocation and alienation induced by the first industrial revolution. He could well of been talking about the New Zealand that has been created by thirty years of neoliberalism. It is one that bears very little resemblance to the fictitious happy country that TVNZ's well paid 'celebrities' are currently celebrating in the state broadcaster's current crop of abysmal promos.