Bridges’ Response To Government Corona Package Case Of Ideological Shiver Looking For Spine To Run Up

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I must say, I’m a little surprised at Simon Bridges’ response to the Government’s Covid-19 package.

Not because it’s petty opposition-for-the-sake-of-opposition-alism during a time of ostensible national crisis. After all, presenting himself as the self-appointed and self-important prevaricating poodle perambulating upon the pant-leg of our democracy has basically been his modus operandi since he took over as leader of the National Party.

But rather due to the main thrust of his attack: that the Government’s response-package is hopelessly ‘ideological’. Because it includes a not insignificant amount of money for beneficiaries, and he feels that this means ‘medium-sized Kiwi businesses’ have been shut out.

In fact, the Government is provisioning exactly the same amount of money for beneficiaries – $2.8 billion – that it is for changes to business tax. Perhaps this is what Bridges is alluding to when he calls the Government’s response a case of “confuse priorities” – attempting to do two things at once (and more besides – such as the $5.1 billion in wage subsidies to affected employers) in a bid to look after both business and those no longer employed by same, rather than only corporates of an appropriately middling-and-up magnitude.

Now, there are two reasons I find it perplexing that Bridges is castigating this as “ideologically” oriented.

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The first is that it’s pretty non-ideological to look at a situation of sustained global economic turmoil, featuring specific impairments for industries and nations whose activity is primarily contingent upon long-distance travel and/or tourism … and conclude that this is going to lead to job-losses. You don’t even have to think about it as a theoretical. You just have to read the news going back over the past several weeks and follow the headlines. Three thousand jobs from Air New Zealand just a few days ago, haemorrhaging work-crews from the primary sector employers like forestry for some time before that. A situation which has already persisted, and is inordinately likely to persist, for some time.

That axiomatically means there are GOING to be greater numbers of New Zealanders who are not just out of work for the moment, but are likely to be out of work for the reasonable, and perhaps even foreseeable future. Because it’s the nature of this kind of crisis. It doesn’t just take out one employer or one industry – it affects, directly or otherwise, almost everything. It’s pointless (in the short and potentially medium term) expecting newly-unemployed Kiwis to just go off and find a job somewhere else or retrain for vacancies that haven’t come back yet.

Even despite the aforementioned multi-billion dollar package for employers – both in terms of tax-code alterations, and direct subsidies to keep people in work – that have already been announced, we are quite simply going to have thousands more Kiwis unemployed. They must be provisioned for.

What would be “ideological” in this situation, I suspect, would be pretending that this isn’t going to occur; or, as was done during Ruthanasia and its aftermath, ratcheting down benefits and their accessibility in a futile bid to force New Zealanders to go out and get into employment that simply wasn’t there (and, in the process, further weakening those remaining domestic operations that DID still have some viability by removing the income-streams of much of their clientele).

What would also be “ideological”, would be insisting upon putting as much Corona money as possible into already-reasonably sized businesses and then hoping that the benefits would trickle down to those who’ll otherwise now be on benefits. Various experiences with bailouts and absolutely cyclopean-scale interventions by governments overseas during times of recession, have amply demonstrated that this doesn’t tend to either especially work, or be particularly good value-for-money.

I also think it would be rather “ideological” to be demanding significant further subsidies for private sector entities – which doesn’t mean I’m intrinsically opposed to this in all cases – just that after so much apparently empty rhetoric about “picking winners” and “Polish ship-yards” and “corporate welfare”, it seems a bit curious that all that, and ONLY that, has ceased having the ring of truth to it for National’s speechwriters.

But the second reason I find it a bit perplexing that Bridges is seeking to attack as “ideological” the Government for putting cash in the hands of ordinary people rather than just their corporate overlords … is due to the lack of issue other (right-wing) political entities which Bridges usually quite likes have had with doing exactly the same thing. Providing payments to now-unemployed workers, I mean – not the incendiary claims of “ideological” non-responses for doing so, that is. Strange times, eh?

In fact, the measures that’ve been put into force by each of Australia’s Scott Morrison-lead Government, and the Trump-presided-upon Republican Party of America, are actually, if anything, more generous than what we’ve seen put forward thus far under Labour here. Perhaps, as the old political illumination/rummination has it, “Only Nixon Could Go To China.”

Now I certainly think that ScoMo and the Notorious GoP act with “confused priorities that do not deal, non-ideologically, with the issues” of their respective countries, on a basis so regular that you can’t set your watch by it because it’s a present-continuous now. I.e. ALL THE TIME. [Trump, for what it’s worth, I don’t think really acts ideologically – but instead, slathers himself with an ideological-like substance as he feels like, to present a false veneer of consistency or coherency to … whatever somebody told him to do that morning, up to and including authorizing missile-strikes on Syria because of a photo his daughter saw on Twitter]. But that’s not the point.

It’s also not the case that simply because several other countries do something, that somehow makes it ‘non-ideological’. It may just mean that it’s a new ideological consensus. Which is not necessarily a good or a bad thing, either. If compassion and greater economic self-reliance are some kind of new ideological trend, then it’s one that should heartily be encouraged. We might even get a sort of post-modern Post-War Economic Consensus out of this. Somehow.

Yet the idea that the Jacinda-lead government (we really are all operating on a first-name basis these days in Kiwi politics) is committing some sort of cardinal sin of “IDEOLOGY” [*sniff*] because it’s proposed to look after those who are soon to be jobless, as well as those who had formerly employed them … rather than focusing more exclusively upon corporations and hoping that all shall be well …

It isn’t even “let them eat cake”. It’s “let their bosses eat cake,  how DARE we have a community food-bank!”

We’re in an Election Year, and it is often alleged that parties engage in a lolly-scramble to attempt to buy themselves a constituency and consequent support. National’s attack upon Labour is that. Both in terms of the nature of the charge – which comes with the familiar smack of “Labour bribes beneficiaries for their support” and somehow extorts the business and upper classes to do so.

But also with the implicit promise that under National, things would be the other way around – i.e. if you’re from a sector of society that feels it’s under-served by several billion dollars of corporate tax code alterations and could do with Tiwai Point Rio Tinto levels of Government support for your medium (and up) sized business, then blow Blue.

Yet in times such as these, I don’t think it’s a “lolly-scramble” to try and support either business or beneficiaries. Or, as Labour/NZF/Greens have done – attempt to support both groups, and keep thousands more still in work as well.

I think it’s those rare combinations of virtues in politics – compassion, consideration, and vision.

It’s incredibly unfortunate that it takes a crisis and the shadow of looming, oncoming disaster to afford space for some ‘rebalancing’ of our economy and our society toward something potentially more just.

But if each Election is something of a referendum upon the direction of our ship of nation, and a plebiscite upon the values which we wish to see represented in our government and its leadership … then a response-package to a calamity which emphasizes compassion, care, and comprehension – well, taking that into account when we vote later this year isn’t being bribed.

It’s declaring what ethos we see in ourselves, in our society as it could and should be, and as we want it to be lead by on into our post-2020 future.

But, then, maybe I’m being “Ideological”.

17 COMMENTS

  1. Possibly, the Zombies that infest my smoko room are slowly getting the message. Die hard Natzos talking about the Covid19 package to be delivered to help business and the soon to be unemployed, coming from the hated COL. Self serving of course as they sense they may be joining the cue at WINZ. But whatever, seeing a little common sense at long last from Natzo voters, which might logically extrapolate into seeing some chinks in Natzos pathetic dog whistling tactics.

  2. It’s declaring what ethos we see in ourselves, in our society as it could and should be, and as we want it to be lead by on into our post-2020 future.

    What a great thought!

    (Thanks!)

  3. New Zealands statistics on Covid-19 infections are useless junk ,,,, and rapid community spread is almost certainly taking place right now.

    The figures are junk because as of Monday and Tuesday this week, you were not eligible for a test UNLESS you had returned from travelling overseas.

    Obviously and logically such rules would give the statistic of Zero, for people contracting the infection through community spread…

    Even if presenting all the symptoms of Covid-19. AND having been in contact with a person who had travelled overseas ,, AND the person who had returned from overseas had flu / Covid19 symptoms themselves ,,, Even if presenting that Trifecta of elevated risk , the non travelling New Zealander were not eligable to be tested.

    Dwell on that and think it through ,,,,

    The reason I know all this, is because I requested a test for myself and a couple of my friends, as we have all come down with ‘the flu / bad colds, after being in close prolonged contact with a person who had returned from the Philippines / Manila ,,, and I was told I did not meet the critera for testing. The original traveller and vector for our ‘Flu / cold believed Covid19 is a hoax, and has still not got himself tested.

    The Philippines at that stage (Feb ) had supposed low numbers of cases, probably related to near zero testing. The nice hotel the traveller was staying at had approximatly 70% of its guests Chinese people.

    I think the refusal to test us non-travelling NZers could have been related to the low number of tests available here ,,, From the MOH website on Monday “Our current capacity is 770 tests for COVID-19 each day and we expect that to be around 1500 per day later this week.” ,,,, “However, we also need to ensure that the right people are tested – that is people with a history of recent overseas travel; those who have been in contact with a case; and with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19. https://www.health.govt.nz/news-media/media-releases/covid-19-three-new-cases-linked-overseas

    To sum up the ‘bug’ I’m getting over probably has a 95% chance or higher of just being a normal cold / flu, that the Philippine travller brought back ,,, BUT that means a certain percentage of people in similar circumstances WILL have the bad bug ,,, and in NZ we were not testing these people.

    I conclude the lack of community spread in NZ is actually a lack of knowledge ,,, and we are not even reacting to unfolding events , let alone being pro active.

    Response wise I would place NZ somewhere between The Philippines and Italy, probably on par with the UK.

    We need to do better than the crap response which all 5 eyes Pirate club members have had so far ,,,, neo-lib BS is catching up and biting us all on the arse ,,, “Honest Government Ad | Coronavirus: Flatten The Curve” https://youtu.be/Hks6Nq7g6P4

    • +1 Reason. The only good news is that apparently 3 out of 4 people get Coronavirus and are fine, the problem is if 20% of people who are vulnerable, get it at the same time….

      Personally feel that people need to take responsibility and self isolate as much as possible even if they are fine, and be very careful around elderly and vulnerable people.

      They also need to try and help those people as much as possible to avoid exposure and also get enough food, supplies…

    • Bang on reason, lack of testing = lack of active cases. What they report is not a lie but it ain’t the truth.
      The lack of strategy or planning at my work is a bloody worry, business as usual no effort or communication from management at all, useless prick runs this place, head in the sand totally. If this is typical then we are in for a very bad time. Management and Civic leaders need to pull finger out.

      • Planning at our DHB has been outstanding but then we put people first, it’s why we work in health. Many others could learn and put people first not money. At this point in time, if you end up with this virus, money won’t matter.

    • Have you self-isolated reason or are you just a mindless pontificator? Also, since your concern was so great, did you arrange to be privately tested at your own expense?

      • Probably hasn’t easier to attack the messenger(Government).
        However this attitude is exactly how a virus spreads.

  4. The vitriol being spouted over this on the Mike Hosking Facebook page is truly epic. The lives of Mikes supporters must be truly horrible if they are jealous of people trying to live on the benefit levels we have in this country. Two other things were lost on them. Their main complaint was that the money was going to dole bludgers instead of companies whose workers were soon to be laid off. Clearly no understanding that all of this money is going to be spent and flow to these companies. That’s how this works. If you put the money in at the top it doesn’t help the economy. That’s why the GFC bailout failed to create demand. Secondly the extra $25 means they are not going to scream quite so loudly when they have to live on the benefits everyone else has been expected to.

    • The vitriol being spouted over this on the Mike Hosking Facebook page is truly epic.

      He’s unleashing an even more deadly virus into Aotearoa, a virus of hatred and divisiveness, of fear and greed. It needs to be contained, if it cannot be stamped out. We cannot allow it to become an additional deadly pandemic.

    • Late adopters of Modern Monatary Theory will be brought to it kicking and screaming just like Climate Change deniers have been brought into reality by rising seas and crippling natural disasters so to will Hoskings Hords eventually require government assistance. Such is the scale of the fiscal stimulus required to recover.

    • If anyone believes what Hosking has to say I remind them of this…” I have not crashed and will not crash only idiots crash

      “Next week Hosking crashed.

      Mike pollutes our airwaves with his rightwing diatribe.Maybe Mr Perfect, in the future will think before he sets about critisising anyone who is not as perfect as himself or his friends in the National party. Clearly not as he’s already filling the airwaves that Ardern has been too slow to react. Remember Mike your just a clueless shock jock.

  5. Time for some trickle up? Maybe only the resilient businesses will be sustainable and survive under this orthodoxy Simon? Simon?

  6. Dividing the $900 million Air NZ bailout amongst it’s 10,000 odd employees gives about $85,000 per person. Now obviously they have to maintain the business with this corporate welfare but even a fraction of this going to Air NZ employees still makes the $25 going to beneficiaries look irrelevant. The government should just have bought the other half of the company outright.

    • Yeah NZ needs to get back control of national infrastructure/essential resource assets like rail, air, shipping, fishery, forestry & maintain/extend a large agricultural/horticultural farming landbase. We need to aim for self sufficiency wherever possible. It shouldn’t be Protectionism vs Globalism but a formalised hybrid of the twoo outlooks. Protectionism first, Globalisation second. Globalism should start from a base where every nation produces it’s own essential goods as far as possible, export those goods that can’t be done as much/as well as by overseas markets & vice versa. A country should not be too reliant on one or a few sectors & reliant on just one or a few markets. If we can make it here we should. We should not allow money/wealth to be continually siphoned off/drained out to foreign enterprises/foreign shareholders. If the banks were all NZ owned we would have 5 billion of capital to help develop NZ based businesses & bring back NZ manufacturing. Every NZer should be automatically considered a shareholder in NZ economy & UBI paid not just from tax revenue but from profit revenue via NZ Gov having a stake in every corporation/company operating here.

      • The problem with production being owned by the government is that it becomes a political football with changes of direction every 3 years. Kiwibuild is a typical example of this houses built in the wrong place and the wrong type . This is why AIR NZ has remained so successful to date it was run as a business not a slush fund for the political party of the day. Do you really want to go back to the days of everything being made in NZ no choice expensive slow supply . In ti es like this we should think ourselves lucky the banks are so strong . You need to remember we are a small country at the end of the world.

        • Kiwibuild is being Govt initiated but done by the private sector. The latter is why it is not moving at the rate of earlier Government Housing.

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