Thursday, May 19, 2011

Budget nonsense

The budget just released by the National Party-led government is about as bad as expected: Put simply, it targets the vulnerable and penalises working people so the wealthy and corporate elites can have more money. Meanwhile, they begin the process of selling-off the peoples’ property in a boneheaded attempt to close the deficit, all while being utterly clueless about how to grow the economy, create jobs or increase standards of living for ordinary Kiwis.

There’s a lot of dishonesty in the budget. National talks about “partial privatisation” of state-owned assets—the people’s property—knowing full well that those shares will go to foreign investors immediately or soon after the share offering. So they’re not just selling off the people’s property, they’re selling it off to foreigners. They know that, but are lying about it (which is itself a more honest way of describing their partisan spin).

Once those assets are gone, they’re gone—at least until a Labour Government comes back into power and fixes everything that National screwed up. Again.

The main thing about the budget is that it shows how utterly clueless National and Act are about economics and how to run the country’s economy. Apart from doing everything they can to benefit their rich mates, they take little notice of how their policies affect ordinary New Zealanders, and then they spin things to try and hoodwink mainstream Kiwis into thinking there’s something in the budget—or National/Act government—for them.

If National/Act form the next government, they will do far more than what was in this budget because Don Brash and Act will demand it. As Deputy Prime Minister and/or Finance Minister, Brash will have a lot of say, dictating policy.

The only way to stop that is to change the government. Fortunately, both Labour and the Greens have been stellar in the lead-up to the budget announcement. The reaction of Labour (who created the graphic at the top of this post) is here.

The Greens have been calm and thoughtful in the run-up to the budget announcement. The Greens’ reaction is here. Among the leaders of the three major parties, Labour’s Phil Goff was as you’d expect him to be as Leader of the Opposition. National’s John Key was a buffoon, playing the arrogant—and bitchy—clown. The Greens’ Russel Norman, however, came across as the grown-up in the room: Calm, measured, no histrionics, and focused on the party’s alternative budget as much as what’s wrong with National’s. They have been very impressive in this whole process.

The election is now just a little over six months away. National/Act are confident that they’ll be able to form a very rightwing government after the election. But this could change if ordinary Kiwis vote to change the government. It is ordinary Kiwis, not National/Act, who will suffer under this budget and even more under a National government tied helplessly to a hard-right Act Party.

There will plenty more reasons to vote to change the government. This budget is just the biggest reason so far.

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