It’s no surprise to see former Prime Minister John Key advocating financial incentives for Māori and Pasifika to get vaccinated in the next six weeks.
Individualising and monetising vaccination is the typical response of a neoliberal moneyman who believes the strategic use of cash will solve any obstacle in the way of the rich getting richer.
Since the first lockdown last year when the right wing went bonkers and called for opening the borders at the start of the pandemic (the likes of Winston Peters, Simon Bridges, David Seymour and the truly awful Michael Barnett) not very much has changed.
The National Party finally cottoned on that their message was rejected by the middle-class voters they could normally count on and they lost last year’s election heavily as a result.
For a while they changed tack but now they are back on message with John Key saying the government is to blame for low vaccination rates and has created a “smug hermit kingdom” which must now open up to the world.
The right wing is desperate to get back to business as usual which means:
- A return to massive profits for big businesses
- Opening up the borders for cheap migrant workers they can exploit with effective pay rates below the minimum wage
- Keeping work visas of these migrant workers tied to their employer and deny them a path to residency
- Bringing in more seasonal workers from the Pacific who can pick apples and prune vines while being paid effective pay rates less than the minimum wage by their crooked labour contractor employers (don’t tell me this is just a few bad apple employers – the exploitation of workers is endemic in horticulture and the legal consequences for employers are so pathetic as to be effectively non-existent – steal an apple from your employer and you will end up in jail but when an employer steals wages from a worker the state couldn’t care less)
- Opening up to mass tourism – our tourism “industry” depends heavily on this model
- Privatising MIQ for private profit making
- Keeping the tax system rigged so those on the lowest incomes pay the highest tax rates (through income tax and GST, minimum wage workers pay higher tax rates than anyone else)
- Dribbling out the building of state houses – under Labour the state house waiting list has increased at more than twice the rate the government is building state houses)
It seems clear to me from social media that the core of those refusing vaccinations are working class New Zealanders and the majority by a long way are Pākehā. This doesn’t show up in statistics which focus only on vaccine rates for different ethnicities because Māori and Pasifica are overrepresented in the working class.
The real problem with the “team of five million” is that for John Key and Jacinda Ardern it applies only to the pandemic and getting vaccinated.
Where is the team of five million when working class New Zealanders lose their jobs? Or desperately need decent affordable housing? Or lose the protections of the Residential Tenancies Act when they are shoved into grotty motels? Or when they are treated like scum at WINZ? Or struggle to put food on the table?
Where is the team of five million then?
Is it any surprise so many in the working class are susceptible to conspiracy-theory, anti-vax messages?
Labour and National politicians need to show some basic respect to the members of the team of five million who tell the government to get stuffed when it comes to vaccinations. The seeds of the problem lie in our economy based on greed with poverty and inequality essential parts of the picture.
Unfortunately, if you look across the Labour government’s cabinet is there any minister who will stand up against John Key’s “business as usual” agenda being brought back as quickly as possible?
Is there a single one?