Crisis capitalism is on the move and it’s not going to be pretty

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There were a few days last week when it looked as though some fundamental thinking was going on in communities through New Zealand as the lockdown was focusing minds on the things that really matter in life.

Much has been said about the great job essential workers are doing for us during the lockdown – keeping our food, medical supplies and welfare services going while our public health system works on the pandemic.

Quite a bit has been written about most of our essential workers being hopelessly underpaid. Even with the 10% bonus supermarket staff are receiving during the lockdown, most will still be earning less than the living wage.

Meanwhile the bigger problems for humanity are also upon us: the climate crisis, ecological degradation and America’s endless imperialist warmongering for control of the world’s resources on behalf of the global elite.

Heaven knows the planet and its people need radical policy change and there has been a lot of good discussion about all these things and how the pandemic gives us the opportunity to pause and rethink our economic and social priorities.

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But while many of us hope the pandemic could be a gamechanger we need to be aware that the global wealthy are on the move to use the crisis to extend their control of our lives.

At one level we are seeing this in the pushback from the National Party which wants more help for businesses and are pushing for a speedy exit from lockdown. political commentators have taken up the call with the likes of “don’t kill the economy with a health diet” from a Stuff political reporter this weekend.

This is backed by Regional Development Minister, Shane Jones, who says “medical triumphalism is great but not at the cost of an economic carcass”. If it’s the rotting corpse of capitalism then personally I think the cost is worth it.

Unfortunately, the government is playing into a “disaster capitalism” narrative in several ways.

Medium and small businesses are struggling but big businesses are reaping the lion’s share of government assistance with another $6,000,000,000 in government “loans” to businesses struggling in the lockdown. This is our community money being paid out to large companies (minimum loan is $500,000) through the big Australian banks where the banks get the profits and we, the government, get 80% of the risk!

Yet another round of help for businesses came from Grant Robertson yesterday with the announcement company directors will not be personally liable if they trade whilst insolvent to get their companies back to profitability. Coupled with the “loans” announcement in the previous paragraph, this policy duopoly is likely to cost us citizens billions more.

Meanwhile the superrich are desperately leveraging themselves into the box seat as the saviours of the country. Led by former Air New Zealand head Rob Fyfe, a cabal of ne’er do wells have had their own private meeting with the Prime Minister and are championing themselves as community leaders using their wealth to bring in personal protective gear and then billing the government for their efforts.

Backing up the business narrative that they are our saviours is the saturation advertising by the owners of our supermarket chains amongst others is telling us how they are working so hard to provide essential services during the lockdown, how they only have our best interests at heart blah, blah, blah. Using the workers, who actually do provide these services, to speak for them is a smart move rather than have the supermarkets’ big investors’ tell the truth that their obscene wealth was created by keeping wages of our essential workers down to the lowest they can get away with rather than the most they can afford.

Any how will we emerge from this crisis? The government has appointed former Fletcher Construction boss Mark Binns to head up a team to decide what big infrastructure projects will be given the green light to get the economy moving again. Despite the climate crisis we should fully expect new roads to get the lion’s share of funding with a couple of new cycleways to keep James Shaw happy.

Big business is dead keen to get us all back to “business as usual” in quick time with the government priority to put the corporate sector first. We must resist this, not only for our own personal and community health, but also because there is no intention to shift from a business as usual agenda.

Instead of getting “back to normal”, we should work to create a new normal where communities are empowered to lead in a grass roots democratic fashion to save our lives, our communities and our planet.

10 COMMENTS

  1. The top 20% don’t need us, they can just build gated communities of their own.

    The governments response and people’s attitudes are the main factors. Simon Bridges and Jacinda mostly attempts to address the topic where as they go into routine rants when they’re faced with questions they can’t answer.

    We just need a lot more combate than the politics of kindness allows.

  2. I ahgree with you John.

    Shane jones was a sellout to te globale elite sadly.

    Winston Peters grew up in poliitcs under National Party politics and under the muldoon era.

    He is a true socialist as Robert Muldoon was also.

    But Shane Jones is just a puppet for the cororations simply.He should go back to National and be booted out of NZ First as he doent think or represent “NZ First”

  3. Good John Minto – cutting-edge societism? I don’t want to put socialism, as it just brings old divisive labelling into it. We need to find a way past the impasse we see, and the one we feel when people revert to their default positions about arguing their side in the capitalist-consumerist-materialist norm against the people, all confused and disturbed and looking for people to blame and scapegoat.

    Your figures and economic info impresses me. I presume you can guarantee that they are 99% right. Medium and small businesses are struggling but big businesses are reaping the lion’s share of government assistance with another $6,000,000,000 in government “loans” to businesses struggling in the lockdown. This is our community money being paid out to large companies (minimum loan is $500,000) through the big Australian banks where the banks get the profits and we, the government, get 80% of the risk!
    Yet another round of help for businesses came from Grant Robertson yesterday with the announcement company directors will not be personally liable if they trade whilst insolvent to get their companies back to profitability. Coupled with the “loans” announcement in the previous paragraph, this policy duopoly is likely to cost us citizens billions more.

    With the Australian government speaking from the apparently bottomless pit of lack of integrity, like a nasty neighbour who wants to borrow your expensive tools, and then won’t return them till they are shafted, we have am example of crisis capitalism. There are over 600,000 Kiwis over there, and since 2001 they have cut the vast majority from getting residency which is limited to the highly geared monetarily and in skills, usually technological. When we signed the Treaty for Closer Economic Relations* in 1982-83 following earlier NAFTA from 1965, I think it was based on good relations and fair trade. Surely the series of Australian onslaughts into our economy and society constitute hostile acts to us and our people! Are there some legally ‘woke’ barristers who would mount some sort of international case, or sue our own government to act on our behalf?

    * The Closer Economic Relations (CER) Agreement between New Zealand and Australia is one of the most comprehensive, effective and WTO-compatible free trade agreements in the world. https://newzealand.embassy.gov.au/wltn/CloseEconRel.htm
    Since 1983, trans-Tasman merchandise trade has increased by 10.6 percent annually. For the whole of that period, New Zealand has been either Australia’s largest or second largest market for elaborately transformed manufactures. Total bilateral trade now amounts to over AUD16 billion and New Zealand is Australia’s fifth-largest trading partner. Australia is New Zealand’s largest foreign investor, with investments worth more than AUD21 billion. New Zealand is Australia’s ninth largest investor, with AUD12 billion.

    NZ description: https://www.mfat.govt.nz/en/trade/free-trade-agreements/free-trade-agreements-in-force/nz-australia-closer-economic-relations-cer/
    Wikipedia entry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Closer_Economic_Relations

  4. John, you and others need to get real!

    Our ENTIRE financial world is based on a debt fuelled Ponzi scheme created in 1913 by the establishment of the US FED (which isn’t federal at all but a conglomerate of private banks who make all their own rules)

    Where does everyone think Adrian “mahi tahi” Orr is getting his QE money from?? Another
    massive “credit default swap” is where….. just like the RBNZ did secretly back in 2009

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0NYBTkE1yQ

    This utopian communist dream you guys all hope for is no match for this system. People love “profit”, they love to think their Mc Mansion is worths a million bucks, they love living off the backs of others to collect ever more rentals…..
    And its those from right & LEFT doing this! People love it…things may slow momentarily…but give it time and we will be back to the pyramid scheme post haste

    • What saved New Zealand from 20% interest rates in the 1980’s was small government, privatization and deregulation. And lots of people even now argue that was the correct thing to do to get the government out of debt.

      Now that interest rates are at record lows and government debt by your own words is a “Ponzi” then what got us out of debt in the 1980’s couldn’t possibly work in 2020 with record low interest rates and if you adjust for inflation then interest is negative. So what got New Zealand out of a high interest rate environment couldn’t possible get us out of a negative interest rate environment.

      What will get New Zealand out of a negative interest rate environment is expanding the governments balance sheet because that’s the only clean sheet left, the government is the only institution that prepared for a rainy day. 3 mouths ago The Reserve Bank was cutting the cash rate so people could spend spend spend and what they did with that borrowed time was to expand non-essential services.

      So the government has to borrow to expand essential services and we now have a pretty good idea after 10 days of lock down what an essential service is. So we will be getting a bigger government as the government stimulus programs progressively pulls New Zealand out of the Wuhan virus because that’s what the public has deemed necessary. Sorry not sorry sport.

  5. What I really think we need and will be most effective is government actually working in the interests of society and the people, not the corporate overlords and “taking necessary massive and comprehensive action”. PArt of this will be empowering grassroots local democratic action. The bigger story is dangerous global heating – we must reduce emissions 50% by 2030 to have any chance of limiting global temp rises to 2 degrees. If we don’t Covid-19 will be small fry. Thanks for the mahi Mr Minto.

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