Last week's alarming unemployment figures, you might of reasonably thought, should of triggered the alarm bells in the Beehive offices of the Prime Minister. It might of at least made John Key stop thinking about Liz Hurley for a couple of minutes.
The December figures were bleak: 11,000 people lost their jobs, 8,000 became 'unemployed' and 3,000 others left the workforce altogether. The unemployment figure rose from 6.4 percent in the September quarter to 6.8 percent.
Unemployment rose by 8,000 to reach 158,000 during the quarter.
And these figures are based on the notoriously inaccurate Household Labour Force Survey.The results are extrapolated on a representative sample of just 15,000 households throughout New Zealand.
In reality there are over 275,000 people out of work.
But if John Key is concerned he's doing a good show not showing it.
Shortly before Xmas and before he headed off to his holiday home in Hawaii, he said: ‘My message to New Zealanders is I think they can feel a bit more confident as they go into Christmas that their jobs will be retained.’
Since then over 10,000 jobs have gone.
Key's response? A smile and an empty assurance that he and his Government know what they're doing.
His only message was that the economic recovery is coming. It really is. So we should just BELIEVE and everything will be peachy. in the meantime, its full steam ahead with the Government's austerity policies and more job losses.
I'm sure Key's 'confidence' in an economic recovery will be backed by the neoliberal economists and various business leaders but for those of us not living in cloudcuckooland, its just more of the same old nonsense.
More and more New Zealanders are grappling with a mountain of debt, declining home prices, and job losses. On top of that soaring food prices are placing additional strain on people's limited budgets.
For beneficiaries Key's words are particularly sickening given that he has given his Minister of Unemployment a licence to bash beneficiaries and harass them into jobs that don't exist.
They have been made even more vulnerable by the failure of the CTU bureaucracy to put up any resistance to the mounting job losses.
Over the weekend I was reading a small book that Sue Bradford gave me many years ago.
It's called Born of Hunger, Pain and Strife: 150 years of Struggle Against Unemployment in New Zealand .
It was written by Karen Davis of the Auckland People's Centre and was published in 1991.
In the conclusion we read:
There is growing anger that while other sector groups such as farmers and businessmen are treated with respect, the 200-300,000 unemployed plus other beneficiaries continue to be blamed for an economic crisis not of their making.
Sound familiar? Two decades later we're going through the same madness again.
It's the madness of an economic system that can never deliver the prosperity that its supporters claim it can.