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Archive for 11 November 2011

Lessons from the past – a critique of Labour.

– ‘Kimbo

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The following is a critique of the Labour Party from “Kimbo”, originally published on Brian Edward’s Blog, Brian Edward’s Media. Whilst highly critical of Labour,  and whilst I do not necessarily accept all of his/his premises, I believe the arguments are well constructed, and ‘Kimbo’ has presented some coherent ideas for Labour (and other leftwing) supporters, to consider.

The following is a slighly edited version of Kimbo’s original post.

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For years Labour struggled in vain to defeat Muldoon. They had tried confronting him directly, and got mauled. They tried ignoring him, but that didn’t work either, because he dominated the landscape in the same way Helen Clark did from 1999 to 2008, and Key does now. Instead, they killed the old tusker with kindness. Defining moment and point of the 1984 campaign: Muldoon’s sarcastic response to Lange, after being told there was still a place for him in the new post-election NZ – “I love you too, Mr Lange”.

Lessons from the past: Don’t attack a political opponent at the point that is their direct source of public popularity, because when you do, you are directly implying to the majority who decide elections that they are wrong. And people, especially when they are being wooed for their vote, don’t like to be told they are wrong!

How Labour and the Greens may be able to dent John Key’s popularity (because criticising him for “shallow smile and wave” is not working!):

Embrace the man’s “successful” image, career, and self-made millions. It sends two messages: We are not nasty or playing the “politics of envy” – we are bigger and better than that. Instead, John Key is an advertisement of what the welfare state, which Labour will protect, can do for anyone. John Key’s success is a product of Labour policy.

“We acknowledge John Key’s expertise in the field of currency trading. It is the high stakes end of the unrestrained deregulation roller-coaster of changing fortunes that we’ve tried to ride as a country from 1984 onwards. Ultimately, John Key is banking on an economic recovery taking place elsewhere in the world, and then, in line with the skills he used to make his millions, he is expecting to position us to exploit that. That’s what he knows, and that’s what he’s good at. Which is why he’s been trying to keep up public morale and confidence with his “good news” approach. Just like Muldoon tried to keeps all those balls in the air with what he knew until it all came unstuck…

The problem with Key’s plan is that since 2008 the world financial situation has changed. The nature of capitalism that drives economic growth has been forever altered. We now actually need to be proactive with job creation, with up-skilling, by directing the resources available to government alone. This is another depression in the making, and Labour knows how to solve those! We need the knowledge of how to generate economic recovery, rather than waiting and hoping for it to happen elsewhere and then maybe wash up on our shores. Things are getting worse overseas, not better. It is time for people with Labour’s expertise in the management of political and economic detail.

John Key has tried his best with the “hands-off” approach. We are grateful that an incoming Labour-Green government inherits a country that is relatively united and in good morale despite the GFC and the Christchurch earthquakes, courtesy of Key’s ability to be a good figurehead in a time of crisis. But we now need more than a figurehead with obsolete speculation trading skills. We need practical action.

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Acknowledgement

Thankyou to Brian Edwards, Judy Callingham, and Kimbo, for permission to re-publish.

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Now you see it, now you don’t!

11 November 2011 7 comments

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I found John Key’s Facebook page and thought I’d take a few minutes to ask him a couple of pertinent questions,

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The post last about 15 seconds before it disappeared into the void of cyberspace,

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When I made another post, lamenting the quick disappearance of my questions, that too vanished. This time even faster. National must have quite a crew monitoring that Page.

Oh well, C’est la vie.

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One law for National, One law for the rest of us?

11 November 2011 13 comments

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When it comes to double standards, the Right have no comparison. They are adept at holding double standards. Triple standards even, if it suits them.

Case in point;  blogger Cameron Slater, who runs the sleazy “Whaleoil” blogsite, has laid a complaint with the Police about a letter from Wigram MP, Jim Anderton,  sent to voters endorsing the Labour candidate Megan Woods. Anderton will be standing down this term and retiring,

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Full Story

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By what stretch of the imagination can Anderton’s endorsement of Megan Woods be seen as a matter for Police attention – when John Key and Don Brash have been doing a very-public dance of endorsing ACT candidate, John Banks, for the Epsom electorate?

It appears that Jim Anderton’s “crime” is that he made his endorsement openly, honestly, and put it in writing for the voting public to consider.

By comparison, John Key will be having a “symbolic cup of tea/coffee” with John Banks at a cafe – thereby sending a “nudge, nudge, wink, wink” message to Epsom voters to give the ACT candidate their electorate vote,

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Source

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Jim Anderton is retiring and makes his preference for a successor known publicly – and an extremist right-wing blogger lays a Police complaint.

John Key and Don Brash are doing semi-secret deals – and neither the Electoral Commission nor the Police, nor any right-wing bloggers, bat an eyelid.

I think we get the picture.

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+++ Update +++

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Full Story

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Full Story

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““I’m not telling anyone to vote in a particular way because I don’t think it’s right, but we have had a constructive relationship with ACT and wouldn’t be at all unhappy if they were back,” Key said…

…But Key is being accused of hypocrisy over one very confusing detail.

Key lives in Epsom, but won’t do what he is asking voters to do.

“As leader of the National Party, I’ll be voting for the National candidate,” he said.” Ibid

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Meanwhile, the Pythonesque Dance-of-the-Deranged continues, with this ACT (or National?) campaign launch,

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Full Story

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So there we have it.

The deed  is done, a deal is struck.  People “swallowed dead rats” by the bucketload.  And some of  Dear Leader’s teflon peeled away…

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Treasury’s verdict on raising the Minimum Wage?

11 November 2011 9 comments

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It appears that even Treasury does not buy into the neo-liberal argument that raising the minimum wage will “destroy jobs”,

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Full Story

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National politicians,  employers, right-wing reactionaries, and some low-information voters have the strange notion that raising the minimum wage will “destroy jobs”. In the second Key-Goff debate, held in Christchurch and hosted by “The Press”, Key outlined how raising wages would affect a cafe selling coffee and muffins, and would result in either prices going up – or the employer sacking staff.

What people forget is this,

  1. ALL workers on minimum wage would have their rate increased to $15 an hour. That means ALL cafes would be on an equal, level, playing field when it comes to employing staff. So one cafe owner couldn’t pay, say, $12 an houtr and try to cut costs that way.
  2. Workers on low wages tend to spend ALL their disposable income. Remember how the Nats gave empoyees the option to reduce their contributions for Kiwisaver from 4% to 2%? That was done because the government considered those earning low incomes were contributing too much to Kiwisaver, thereby reducing the amount of their disposable incomes.
  3. So,  Let’s say that “Mary” currently works 40 hours a week and currently earns the minimum wage, $13 an hour, making a gross weekly income of $520.  After tax, she is left with $447.85. She spends over half of that on rent, power, insurance, transport, and phone, – perhaps leaving her with $50 to spend on herself. That’s $50 a week  on entertainment, clothing, saving for a weekend away, sporting/club/leisure activity or some other way to enjoy herself. That’s $50 that various retailers and service providers will get out of her.
  4. Now let’s calculate Mary earning $15 an hour. Her outgoings remain relatively the same. But she is now earning $600 a week, or $513.85 net.  She now has $66 a week left over for discretionary spending. That’s an extra $16 a week she can spend on entertainment, clothing, saving for a weekend away, sporting/club/leisure activity or some other way to enjoy herself.
  5. Mary now has a few dollars extra. And she shouts herself a coffee and a muffin at her local cafe, once  a week.
  6. The cafe owner’s turnover increases by the extra $5 week. Actually more than that – because Mark, Mathew, Melissa, Madison, and a whole heap of other workers on minimum wage are also frequenting that coffee shop, each spending around $5 a week.
  7. The coffee shop owner finds that his income has actually exceeded the slight rise in wages he has had to pay his staff.  By increasing the minimum wage, people have more cash in their pockets, and some of that is flowing into his cash register.

That is how raising wages works.

Increasing turnover at the coffee shop does not necessarily work by cutting taxes. Those on higher salaries will not buy any more coffee or muffins than they are already consuming. They are already consuming as much as they want.

To increase his  market share, the coffee shop owner has to “grow” his customer-base. And the best way to do that is to increase wages so people can buy his products.

That is how a consumer society works.

If anyone doubts the scenario I’ve just outlined – consider working it in reverse.  Cut wages in half.  Then figure out how much spare cash Mary will have to spend on consumer goods and services.

The clever chaps and chapesses at Treasury know all this, of course. That is why Treasury has stated,

The Department of Labour says the rise will cost 6000 jobs. But Treasury has a counter view; “This has not been true in the past. The balance of probabilities is that a higher minimum wage does not cost jobs.Source

Andy Martin agrees,

Andy Martin runs a pub, employing 26 people in Oamaru. He says put the wage up and people just spend more money – everyone wins.” – Ibid

Andy Martin is a shrewed businessman and understands this better than most National politicians,  employers, right-wing reactionaries, and some low-information voters who don’t understand the economics of increasing the minimum wage. Raising the minimum wage from $13 to $15 is not just being fair to workers.

It makes damn good business sense.

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Additional Reading

Key’s figures dodgy on minimum wage – blog

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+++ Updates +++

MPs get pay rise package of $7000

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