Tuesday, 18 July 2017

The Bright Sunlit Uplands Of Radicalism: Metiria Turei And The Greens Set The 2017 Election On Fire.

Do You Hear The People Sing? Metiria Turei’s pledge that: We will not be a government that uses poverty as a weapon against its own people”, is nothing less than a call to arms. Requiring the MSD to stop treating its “clients” as second-class citizens: making a bonfire of work tests, drug tests, bedmate tests, and all the other oppressive means of “sanctioning” beneficiaries, will have the same electrifying effect as the cry which swept through Paris on 14 July 1789 – “To the Bastille!”
METIRIA TUREI has rescued the 2017 General Election from the timidity and moral squalor into which it was fast descending. In a speech that brought tears to her listeners’ eyes and cheers to their throats, the Greens’ co-leader carried her party out of the shadows of moderation and into the bright sunlit uplands of radicalism that have always been its natural habitat. The Green Party’s AGM of 15-16 July 2017 will go down in history as the moment when it repudiated the “Insider’s” devilish bargains – and reclaimed its soul.
Turei’s revolutionary plans for New Zealand’s social welfare system will be examined below, but first a word or two about her prescience in regard to Winston Peters and NZ First.
Clearly, there is now no disputing her warnings about the racist implications of NZ First policy. What looked like gratuitous and counter-productive name-calling a week ago has been vindicated emphatically by Winston Peters’ utterances of the weekend just past.
It’s one thing to allow race and immigration to become confused (NZ First is by no means unique in this regard!) but it is quite another to call for a binding referendum on the retention of the Maori Seats. The last senior politician to draw a bead on the Maori Seats was Don Brash – and New Zealand only dodged that bullet by the skin of its teeth!
So, let’s be clear: there is nothing democratic about demanding a binding referendum on this issue. On the contrary, it is a shameless appeal to the very worst majoritarian instincts of the New Zealand electorate. Allowing 85 percent of the population to determine the fate of a representative institution dedicated to protecting the rights of the country’s indigenous 15 percent is not only reactionary, it is a direct threat to the “public welfare, peace and tranquillity of New Zealand”.  In such circumstances, no progressive New Zealander could possibly consider voting for NZ First.
By the same token, The Greens’ revolutionary welfare policies make it difficult for any progressive New Zealander to vote for anybody else.
As anyone who has read the heartfelt postings of people living at the razor’s edge of our welfare system (the latest one is here) knows, the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) presides over an empire of cruelty with few precedents in New Zealand history. The National Government boasts about the numbers who have been removed from the welfare rolls since they assumed office. That this is due to the sheer awfulness of being caught up in the Work and Income mincing machine is an “achievement” they are much less keen to acknowledge.
Though most Kiwis remain oblivious to what is happening behind the security-guarded doors of their welfare system, there are tens-of-thousands of families with direct personal experience of what it’s like to be a beneficiary – or the loved one/s of a beneficiary. To these folk, Metiria’s pledge that: “We will not be a government that uses poverty as a weapon against its own people”, is nothing less than a call to arms. Requiring the MSD to stop treating its “clients” as second-class citizens: making a bonfire of work tests, drug tests, bedmate tests, and all the other oppressive means of “sanctioning” beneficiaries; will have the same electrifying effect as the cry which swept through Paris on 14 July 1789 – “To the Bastille!”
The question is: do the Greens possess the electoral infrastructure to spread the good news to the tens-of-thousands of disillusioned voters who stand to gain from their policies. These marginalised citizens (minimum wage workers as well as beneficiaries) now have a very good reason to enrol and vote. The Greens boast that, this election, they have more campaigning resources than ever before. Here is their chance to prove it.
One reason to be hopeful that beneficiaries will hear about the Greens’ revolutionary welfare policies is Metiria’s extraordinarily courageous decision to admit that when, as a solo mum, she was faced with the choice of lying to the welfare authorities, or letting her child go hungry, she lied. Except that the story does not end there. Like Jean Valjean, the hero of Victor Hugo’s novel, Les Miserables, Metiria made sure that the many opportunities which flowed from her transgression were turned towards making her society a better place.
Hugo wrote of his sprawling literary masterpiece that:
“So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation, which, in the face of civilization, artificially creates hells on earth, and complicates a destiny that is divine with human fatality; so long as the three problems of the age—the degradation of man by poverty, the ruin of women by starvation, and the dwarfing of childhood by physical and spiritual night—are not solved; so long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words, and from a yet more extended point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, books like this cannot be useless.”
Any more than Metiria’s confession, or, the Greens transformative welfare policies, can be useless. They are the stuff out of which social justice is made. Meaning that, if Labour wishes to catch up with the only progressive coalition partner now available to them, then they had better start running hard – now.
This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Monday, 17 July 2017.


Guerilla Surgeon said...

I remember when I first started collecting my pension. The guy told me about visiting them in asking for help and so on, and he said "Remember – you are a superannuitant, not a beneficiary." And while I have never dealt with the Ministry on behalf of myself, I have occasionally helped other people, and it seemed to me that the people at the coalface wanted to help, but were actually forbidden by those above them to even give beneficiary is a summary of exactly what they are entitled to. Unconscionable but typical.

Kat said...

".....if Labour wishes to catch up with the only progressive coalition partner now available to them, then they had better start running hard – now."

Fail to see what direct benefit Labour would have running hard to catch up and be associated with any confessions of historical welfare fraud from the Co leader of the Greens. Labour should steer well clear. Just another distraction.

ColonelR said...

I saw this story on TVNZ One News.

They gave it a neo-liberal angle.

ie Meritia is a fraud; thief on the tax payer etc

BlisteringAttack said...

In a professional context I have dealt with WINZ Case Managers in several offices.

In many instances, they were dismissive, aggressive, and belittling of their 'clients'; and didn't have their best interests at heart.

Jens Meder said...

If Matiria's "call to the Bastille" really gets some serious attention, then it is a welcome stimulation for the prosperous majority to approve of the universal effort needed for achieving at least a minimally meaningful level of personal wealth ownership by all citizens eventually, with proportionally equal participation in the additional capital savings effort shared by all - at last !

jh said...

It’s one thing to allow race and immigration to become confused
Essentially your position is that it is racist to complain that as a result of immigration policy the people whose identity formed the national identity are becoming a minority.

As Sonja Davies said to Chris Trotter:
“If people had any idea about the scale of these changes,”---,” they’d be horrified. It’s been decided that New Zealand’s future lies in Asia. That’s got massive implications – but most people haven’t a clue. No one asked them and certainly, no one’s telling them.” and with those changes came voting rights for residents, which surely must sway voting.

owm said...

These marginalised citizens (minimum wage workers as well as beneficiaries) now have a very good reason to enrol and vote.
Only if you believe immigration policy (large numbers of immigrants) doesn't affect the living standards of those on the minimum wage, put house prices up or reduce the quality of life. Who got bumped off the state house waiting list in Dunedin to make way for refugees?

jh said...

Interesting to compare The Greens with Tops

Tops is think with the head whereas the Greens represent emotional thinking. Tops will reduce super and bring in a UBI (for instance). The Green meme is that a rich 5% have all the ice cream and they will syphon it off. The problem is that wealth isn't just consumption (ice cream). The top 5% couldn't just liquidate their assets and redistribute them as their assets are working capital.

David Stone said...

Metiria's changes to the benefit structure, at least the removal of any obligation to seek work, coupled with the 20% increase across the board ,effectively establishes a UBI available as long as you give up working. My uncle was a fanatical social credit supporter, so I got introduced to the idea of a UBI in my early teens. IE over half a century ago. S C called it a social dividend and everyone would get it. I have always thought it a fine idea. The widespread criticism being that if there was no need to work, if a reasonable living would be provided by the state, too many people would choose not to work and everything would grind to a halt .
My feeling has always been that most people want to contribute to their society, as well as earn a bit extra, and that nothing would change in respect of necessary activities being performed. But I don't know, and until and unless it is tried out we can all only guess.
On Stuff I read that the 20% increase in benefit would increase the money received by a couple with 3 school age children by $200+ per week. $200 is 20% of $1000 , to increase to $1200 PW . I'm surprised that it is so much.There is perhaps a mistake somewhere. But cf a wage @ $20 /hr x 40hrs = $800 PW it looks like an attractive alternative already. I though I was doing OK.
Because everything in our lives is bought with money these days it's easy to overlook the basic reality that everything we consume is grown, harvested, processed , made, built , planted , sawn up, transported,etc. by someone else. Someone has to be a doctor and a nurse if we are to have a health service, someone has to be a teacher if we are to have an education service etc. and in the end if everyone, or if too many people choose to just let other people, who are not better off,who are not better paid, do these things for us.
Our money system , as a means of exchanging our working contribution to the whole in exchange for receiving a portion of the product of many, is being massively distorted by the banking and economic systems of the current era, but to a degree
that is irrelevant to the underlying fact that our needs are only met by someone's effort somewhere, and if we make none someone else is making it for us.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Essentially your position is that it is racist to complain that as a result of immigration policy the people whose identity formed the national identity are becoming a minority."

Whoever we let into the country, the people whose identity formed it depending on whether you mean Maori or English, (well I know you don't mean Maori but I just had to get that in because you consistently ignore them) will become a minority. Partly at least because we are no longer English.

David Stone said...

I know I've had a fair go at this but there's one other point I'd like to make.
Although the imbalance of wealth distribution today provides fertile grounds for outrage when so many have insufficient for a dignified life, the largely unearned wealth of the 1% and esp the 0.1% is not available to Metiria to redistribute. It is in overseas bank accounts , in unproductive un taxed speculation, in $700 trillion of derivatives etc. To get at this, the real imbalance requires an overhaul of the banking system, either world wide or by isolating NZ and acting unilaterally. It requires controlling the flow of money in and out of the country; Actions far beyond the scope of anything being suggested by any political party. Hence Metiria can only pay for her largesse to one section of the community by taxing more heavily another that is hardly better off, and in some cases worse off than the recipients. Always supposing the scheme is not to be paid for by borrowing so as to have it paid by the next generation.

Nigel said...

I kept waiting for a giant 'but' and at the end of it couldn't work out if your tongue had been in your cheek for the whole piece. Surely you cannot believe that the Greens are the answer???

Victor said...


I wholeheartedly agree with you over the Greens' new tax and benefit policies. They're wise, they're timely and they've at last provided me with a party to vote for in this otherwise most dispiriting of elections.

But I can't agree that Metiria's admission of past legerdemain was helpful.

It seems to me that her admission will now overshadow discussion not merely of this policy but of the Green's entire platform. The knockers, the chortlers and the mean-spirited, trivial, worldly-wise now have an obvious target for their barbs of spleen.

Metiria is a highly intelligent and able politician and I really can't imagine that she would have made a mistake of this magnitude of her own volition.

I can't help thinking that she was being threatened with exposure and decided to make a clean breast of the matter before someone else raised it.

If so, the obvious questions to ask are who was doing the threatening and why?

The only other explanation I can come up with is that the Greens are aware of one or more high-ranking members of other parties, with their own, rather worse,skeletons in the cupboard and are clearing the decks before exposing them.

But I truly doubt that the current Green leadership has the capacity or inclination for such tactics. None of them, unlike Emmanuel Macron, has, to the best of my knowledge, written a post-graduate thesis on Machiavelli.

manfred said...

I must say I've often disliked the Green brand, being more of a social democrat workerist myself. But God bless them for this, sweet God bless them and all who come near them.

Guerilla Surgeon said...


Tar and Feather The Bastards said...

David Stone - your second comment shoots an arrow at the very heart of the problem here in N.Z. & indeed throughout the entire world. The international banking system IS THE problem. Or should I say PRIVATELY OWNED central banking system is the problem. It is why the world turned against Hitler. He threw out the Jewish bankers & bought in govt controlled banking & Germany went ahead in leaps & bounds. The history of the lead up to WW2 is littered with little known statements by Churchill, et al about how Germany had to be overturned so that the worlds Private bankers could again have their profit. Libya under Gadaffi had a state owned bank & was looking at implementing a gold backed Pan African currency - the Gold Dinah(a DIRECT challenge to the world reserve currency - the US petro dollar & to Wall St., & The City in London.) The fairytale of Him bombing his own people led to his overthrow, the confiscation of all Libyas gold & as soon as Benghazi fell, a new PRIVATE central bank being established. One could spend literally months reading all the voluminous writings about how the entire world has been dragged down by Private banking & how Sovereign banks could revolutionise life as we know it. Any country that attempts it would immediately find themselves a pariah & persisting would soon lead to accusations of funding terrorism / laundering drug profits, etc., etc. It would not be allowed by the money masters. I fear we will never get out from under the yoke of private central banking until the world can be awoken to the inequity of how money is created & how we are all debt slaves.

Bushbaptist said...

Saw that GS.

For Capitalism to work there must be 10% of the able workforce out of work and actively seeking a job. That keeps wages down and profits up. The Greens are up with the play there, they know and understand that mantra.

The greatest asset that any country has is a well educated and healthy population and the Greens know that too.

Winston's attack on the Greens is because he sees them as dangerous competition to his party's 3rd place position in the politic spectrum. It tells a lot that Labour is hanging their hat with Winnie. Shows that they are not the socialist party that Little claims them to be, if they were they would hook in with the Greens. Andy Little is another Tony Blair wannabe.

Bushbaptist said...


Guerilla Surgeon said...

I just read that Bushbaptist. It pretty much parallels what I heard some months ago when I was out running, (and incidentally being overtaken by people half my age but it gave me more time to listen) There was a great documentary type program on national radio about exactly the same thing it might have been on a Sunday with that Wayne character. But it clearly showed that the rich are treated much better than the poor when it comes to fraud. I'm getting a bit old for running up and down hills, but if I'd stayed home I wouldn't have heard it I would have been busy doing something else. So it's useful for finding stuff out often. :)

Victor said...

Tar and Feather etc.

I'm not sure you've got your facts right.

The Brunning and von Schleicher administrations had already nationalised most of Germany's major banks as part of their response to the Great Depression.

The incoming Nazi administration re-privatised the majority of these, including giants such as the the Kommerz-und Privatbank, Deutsche Bank and the Dresdner Bank.

Meanwhile, I'd be grateful for any links you can provide to one of those speeches in which you allege "Churchill et al" (whoever the "et al" was) demanded that Germany "be overturned so that the world's Private bankers could again have their profit".

What a pity that you mire the very sensible idea of sovereign banks with apologias for monsters.

David Stone said...

Leaving out Hitler We learn that leaders have become monsters when they set up sovereign banks. Check the current and recent "Monsters" out on this atrocity .
Ta for the + Tar. You will be onto the fact that Ann Pettifor is advising Jeremy . There's hope from that corner. U K has standing in that world if anyone has, but what a fight that will be. Otherwise we are one of the few countries in the world that could possibly get away with unilateral action. It would go well with our "No Nuukes" policy.

Gin Slinger said...

After 4 years in the UK & Europe on my OE I returned to NZ.

And went into the local WINZ office to 'sign on' while looking for work.

The first thing the WINZ case manager asked me was 'what's an OE?'

Enough said.

Victor said...

David Stone

Yes, it would be very nice if we could leave out Hitler.

And it would be very nice if the internet ceased to be a vehicle for factually dubious revisionism about the Third Reich.

One can only conjecture over the motivation behind it.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

A good story in the Guardian about Metiria's admission. She'd apparently taken the vitriol into account, which is just as well because there has been a lot. Does anyone know if that arse Hosking has said anything about it?

Charles E said...

Set fire to the election have they?
Set fire to any chance of being in government more likely. Shaw will be plotting how to be rid of 'that woman' I expect.
It was one thing to out herself about her criminal past (which most of us have I accept) but she had to rub it in the wound by claiming she was justified it ripping off fellow workers hard earned tax payments! Disgusting! She should have just apologised and sent a large cheque to the government.
People like me and many others who pay plenty of taxes don't really care if brown people like her feel they are entitled to steal from us, since we are well off and anyway we avoid some tax now and then on the margins to compensate so were not so holy. And we break other laws. But PAYE folk can't do that and the tax take from their pay packet is significant, very significant for some and so they detest the likes of this puffed up thief. I saw them on the tele virtually spitting on her so I doubt she'll gain many votes except from the idiot very well off 'meddle' class left who would vote Labour normally. So no net gain there for the left.
I predict Winston will get more working class votes instead and a boast from the majority of Maori who realise the gravy train and the guaranteed seats do them no good at all. They want to be equal on their own merit not pandered to with fake electorates.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

The whole attitude of conservatives towards "fraud" is summed up by the hooha about Metiria. How dare a lowly person rip off the system. Forgetting that if she had been caught, and quite possibly even now, she would have been or will be, hounded for every last cent of that bloody money, or possibly back in the day put in jail. But people who steal large sums of money are generally let off if they pay back something like 10%. I've always been a PAYE person, and I would have gladly paid extra taxes to give beneficiaries of better life, and a chance to participate in society. And I'm quite happy with this "puffed up thief". Charles has obviously never lived on a benefit, or had to deal with the various bureaucrats that administer the system.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

And here's what's driving it all.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

" since we are well off and anyway we avoid some tax now and then on the margins to compensate"
And that's another thing. This so-called "avoidance" is just as much theft as what Metiria did, with much less justification, unlike solo mums, who mostly do it to give the kids a slightly better life, because you are well off anyway. Stinks, and you actually have a nerve admitting to it.

Anonymous said...

Charles E,

Causal racism much?

And what idiot made you, "who pay plenty of taxes, don't really care if brown people like her feel they are entitled to steal from us since we are well off and anyway avoid some tax now and then on the margins, And break other laws" the spokesman for the "PAYE folk, who can't do that and the tax take from their pay packet is significant, very significant for some"??

Ditto for "the majority of Maori who want to be equal on their own merit not pandered to with fake electorates." More Maori chose to enrol on the Maori register, you do know that don't you?

I mean you admit to avoiding tax, and having a criminal past. "Disgusting!" Which glasshouse are you throwing stones from? Coherence much? Covfefe?

Bushbaptist said...

@GS 11.39; Agreed whole-heartedly GS. I have no problem paying a bit more tax to support those less fortunate than myself.

For some years I was able to avoid much tax because of some loopholes but I was also investing the money in productive enterprises. Enterprises that employed many people full-time and on good wages too. Those workers were taxpayers as well so the net cost to the country was negligible.