Party like it’s Nineteen Fifty Two!!
Superintendent Paula Rose, the public face of road safety policing in this country, reported that the road toll for last year (2011) was the lowest on record since 1952. Certainly, 284 fatalities is a remarkable feat when compared to the 800+ that was killed in just one year alone in the decade of the 1970s.
Even more remarkable when the population was almost half what it is now, and with a lower vehicle-fleet on the roads,
About now, you might be wondering what this piece has to do with politics.
It’s quite simple.
The drop in road crashes, fatalities, and demands on our hospital services was not a natural occurrence that happened spontaneously.
The lowest road toll since 1952 – despite a steady increase in population, vehicle fleet, roads, and social mobility- happened because society and successive governments took decisive measures to achieve certain objectives.
Through a mix of advertising campaigns; tough legislation; proactive policing; and measures that extended into every aspect of our lives, work, recreational pursuits, etc – society acted collectively to meet desired outcomes.
The free market; individualism; neo-liberal ideology had zero part to play in reducing the road toll from 800+ in the 1970s to 284, last year. If anything, laws that were enforced regarding,
- reducing drink-driving
- wearing seat belts
- reducing speed
- outlawing cellphone usage whilst driving
- toughening up on vehicle WoF safety
… all played a part in ensuring that 500 people are alive today that – had the road toll not changed – would be dead and in the ground, or scattered ashes, last year. This is where the Cult of the Individual and the Free Market falls down badly. Not with just road safety – but the needs of society as a whole. Those who decry the collective action taken to reduce the road toll as “Nanny Statism” might care to reflect that they themselves could have ended up as a statistic in a walnut coffin.
Instead, the collective action of governments and community action has kept them alive.
The amazing reduction of the road toll is a vivid example of what society can achieve when it works together, for the common good.
The enacting of laws; diligent policing; ubiquitous advertising campaigns; and communities that had had enough of losing loved ones to an endless series of horrific crashes – achieved a goal of saving lives. It was (and still is!) an incredibly complex programme – but determination from government; enforcement agencies; and communities working in unison made it happen.
Imagine if we, as a nation, and starting with good leadership from the community, determined that our goals for the next few years would be;
- eliminating poverty
- creating jobs
- reducing the wealth-gap
- ensuring a healthy environment for our children
In a previous Blog piece entitled New Year’s Wish List for 2012, I outlined just such goals. A correspondent, Debbie -bless her heart – asked,
“However, what are the chances?”
I think the chances are about the same as the magnificent achievement that Superindentant Paula Rose was congratulating us for.
There is no reason on Earth why the four goals above cannot be made into reality.
The benefits would be as positive as reducing the road toll and our country would truly be the envy of the world.
What are the chances, Mr Key? Mr Shearer?
And will you rely on the free market to do it? Because as sure as evolution made little green apples – it wasn’t the free market that saved 500+ people from the grave last year.
For a better New Zealand…
~ Cleaner rivers
~ No deep-sea oil drilling
~ Less on Roads - more on Rail
~ A Living wage at $18.40/hr
~ Marriage equality - Yay! Got that one!
~ Strong, effective Unions
~ No secret free-trade deals
~ Breakfast/lunches in our schools
~ Introducing Civics into our school curriculum
~ Cut back on the liquor industry
~ A fairer, progressive tax system
~ Fully funded, free healthcare
~ Ditto for education, including Tertiary
~ Fund Pharmac for Pompe's Disease medication & other 'orphan' drugs
~ No state asset sales!
~ Rebuild public TV broadcasting!
~ Keeping farms in local ownership
~ Reduce poverty, like we reduced the toll for road-fatalities
~ Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!
~ Being nice to each other
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