Bomber’s new year predictions are very depressing. I’ve spent quite enough time being sad in my hobbit hole this year. Things can be better. Read on.
Supported by a ‘make and buy NZ’ investment strategy, small and medium businesses, often co-operatively owned, spring up all around the country. The old Bluff smelter site is being progressively transformed into an integrated, techie, tourism and retail space offering ethical products at reasonable prices to New Zealanders, with high quality government and Treaty funding, encouraging immigration into the South Island.
Benefits are increased by 30%, and beneficiaries in growing regions are encouraged to pitch in as required to pick the crops, in return for generous pay and bonuses on top of benefits. Thousands of families are pulled out of poverty. Other job opportunities for those wanting work are developed all over the country, underpinned by high quality training and movement towards qualifications. New Zealand puts it faith back in its workforce.
The Minister announces a Warp Speed (apologies for using a Trumpism) programme to build state houses in the main centres. The aim will NOT be to build Coro Street (as the current policy appears to be), but proper high quality houses with a bit of land, privacy and (God help us) parking! Our social housing programme will be large and transformative.
MSD and OT will be turned, by year’s end, into agencies that are on the side of the families and whanau they serve, with a strong ‘by Maori, for Māori’ focus. They will ensure that families have the financial, social and development support they need. No beneficiary will be shamed or denied assistance for being poor. A rewrite of the Social Security Act will be necessary.
The failure to reform schooling in the last term of the government will be corrected. Our education performance is declining all the time and this is very correctable. Tertiary and science policies need some work too.
Waitangi Tribunal hearings are going to influence government policy in all these areas. New Treaty relationships will be formed based on post-colonial models. Eugenic assumptions that still abound in the system will be challenged face-on through policy and practice. Aotearoa will begin to foster the potential of tangata whenua and all immigrants, regardless of race or gender. A strong, co-operative, talented, strong society will emerge, which will be cohesive, all of us together.
The Paris Accord will be full steam ahead and all nations sign up to more ambitious targets. New technologies pave the way for better use of renewal energies at minimal cost.
China decides to adopt a humanist liberal constitution and apologises to everyone for past wrongs.
Joe and Kamala do a pretty good job in unpicking the worst of Trumpism and fostering social cohesion in the USA. The Proud Boys disband. Free health care for all. Strong labour standards. Still plenty to do there but general environment of good humour abounds.
The pandemic ebbs and death rates fall significantly as the vaccine is administered to at risk groups. Work starts on a ‘what works’ programme to avoid the mishandling of future pandemics, called the Ardern model.
A non-harmful and non-addictive pill is discovered that transforms the recovery path for alcohol and drug addiction, producing healthy and motivated ex-addicts.
I know you old cynics (and young ones) are rolling your eyes. But all of this is possible, if we unlock our own self-imposed political stalemates and start thinking about how to move forward in the world.
In my first blog for 2020, I wrote: “Dust off the banners, then, roll out the sneakers and (for us oldies) walking sticks. The Liz manifesto for 2020 is recognition for all, economic fairness and social justice, the abolition of authoritarian practices wherever they occur, a reformation of all our institutions towards a more just and redistributive society (no more neo-liberalism), gender equality, decolonisation and the formation of a racially just society and saving the planet too”.
Ww have not made much progress, but the Covid brought many points at which we were able to observe and understand the importance of a trust relationship between individuals and the government, and how it can foster strength in difficult times. Now we just need to harness this to a model of social change.
As John Lennon put it nearly 50 years ago (1971), just imagine what we could do if we came together for change as a species. But now we dare not hope and scoff at those who do. Perhaps we deserve what we get, then.
Happy New Year.
Dr Liz Gordon is a researcher and a barrister, with interests in destroying neo-liberalism in all its forms and moving towards a socially just society. She usually blogs on justice, social welfare and education topics.