Friday 26 July 2013

Mr Jones Goes To Taranaki

Defanging Misapprehensions: Labour List MP, Shane Jones', recent foray into Taranaki served as a forceful reminder of Labour's role as the party which, in order to serve its electoral base, must govern for capitalism as a whole - unlike its National Party rival which can and does govern narrowly for favoured capitalists - like Sky City Casinos and Warner Bros.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN the two main parties,” said the late Bruce Jesson, “is that National governs for capitalists, and Labour governs for Capitalism.”
In the course of a provocative foray into the energy-rich province of Taranaki, earlier this week, the Labour List MP, Shane Jones’, offered a neat demonstration of Bruce’s point.
“I am keen to defang these misapprehensions that are abounding that somehow industry has disappeared from our purview”, he told Fairfax NZ News.
“Nothing could be further from the truth and if my visit provides the opportunity to reinforce the centrality of jobs, the importance of industry and the need for a future Labour-led government to assuage whatever anxieties might be there in the minds of employers or future investors then I am up for the task.”
A great deal of very important information is packed into Mr Jones’ typically pithy statement.
First and foremost, Taranaki’s business leaders are being assured that, so long as he retains the Regional Development spokesperson’s role, they have nothing to fear from a future Labour-led government.
Mr Jones’ decision to offer that assurance in the form of a personal commitment: “I am up for the task”; was not, however, accidental. He was warning the Taranaki business community that, in Labour’s bitterly factionalised caucus, very few others are able to say as much.
Further decoded, Mr Jones’ message to the business leaders of Taranaki (most especially its powerful energy sector) may be read as an appeal for their support against those within his own party who have become reconciled to the centre-left vote being forever split between Labour and the Greens.
When Mr Jones talks about “the centrality of jobs” and “the importance of industry”, he is inviting his business audience to mentally complete the sentence Labour cannot utter for fear of alienating its most likely coalition partner.
“Labour wishes to reinforce the centrality of jobs and the importance of industry … ahead of the environment.”
The business community would be wise to take Mr Jones’ assurances very seriously.
When the National Party attempts to justify its current assault on the environment by talking up the likely expansion of employment opportunities, they are much less likely to be believed than when Labour talks about “the centrality of jobs”.
Voters look at the Government’s pokies-for-a-convention-centre deal with Sky City Casinos and all their prejudices about National governing on behalf of its “rich mates” are confirmed.
With Labour it’s different. The voters know that the bulk of the party’s electoral support is drawn from New Zealand’s wage and salary earners. Only a Labour Party whose priorities are “jobs, jobs, jobs” has the slightest chance of mobilising and sustaining that support.
This is what Bruce Jesson meant when he said Labour governs for Capitalism – rather than capitalists. To go on winning elections the party needs to foster job creation on a system-wide scale. It’s why Labour’s economic development policies have always been geared to promoting growth across entire industries – rather than just assisting individual firms like Sky City Casinos or Warner Bros.
When Helen Clark stated over and over again: “A rising tide lifts all boats.”, she wasn’t simply talking about the workers’ wages, she was also referring to the profitability of the bosses’ enterprises!
Unlike a great many of his colleagues, Mr Jones is far from convinced that, when it comes to promoting employment and protecting the environment, Labour can have its cake and eat it too. His response to the Greens plans for a new, “sustainable”, economic system: a variant they’re calling “Green Capitalism”; is brutal:
“Sustainability is as much about sustaining the livelihood of people as it is about guarding the ecological habitat of the Hochstetter’s frog. As long as I am in politics as a Maori politician I am going to be unambiguous in standing up for jobs and people.”
It’s difficult to think of a sharper contrast between Labour’s view of the environment and the Greens’. When Mr Jones’ uses the word he is not thinking of the unspoilt sands of the East Coast or the dense bush of Northland. In his mind he sees the bleak urban environments of Tamaki Makaurau and Porirua: a world without decent housing; without steady employment; without hope.
Labour makes capitalism work not in the interests of capitalists – but for the sake of their victims.
This essay was originally published in The Waikato Times, The Taranaki Daily News, The Timaru Herald, The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 26 July 2013.


Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Chris

I enjoyed the truism contained in Helen's remark:

“A rising tide lifts all boats.”

I invite you however to identify any government that has been able to influence the tides. The problem we face is that most politicians, and a good deal of the voting public believe they can; all they need is just a little more tax payers money and it can be achieved....

Anonymous said...

“A rising tide lifts all boats.”,

Trickle down theory???

Chris Trotter said...

Oh, Brendan.

If I thought it would do any good I'd invite you to read some economic history.

Economies are man-made - they are not natural phenomena like the tides. (Helen was speaking met-a-phor-i-cally.)Consequently, they are subject to human alteration and control.

The economic paradigm you so doggedly defend is merely one iteration among many varying, yet perfectly serviceable, models of economic organisation.

But, what would be the point? As everybody at Bowalley Road knows, you're impervious to any kind of evidence which contradicts and/or invalidates your naïve free-market assumptions.


Chris Trotter said...

To: Anonymous@10:50AM

Not really. Trickle-down theory argues that if you tailor your policies towards the enrichment of the already wealthy, some of their increased wealth will eventually be spent in ways which benefit their economic inferiors.

The "rising tide" argument is about generating economic growth on a scale that lifts wages and employment as well as profits and investment.

An important difference.

Anonymous said...

Fair enough :-)

David said...

“Sustainability is as much about sustaining the livelihood of people as it is about guarding the ecological habitat of the Hochstetter’s frog."

This argument actually, and always, means that where there is competiton between humans and other lifeforms, the other lifeforms lose. And this is the choice in all environmental issues. However, the reality is that humans survive off other lifeforms and to destroy the environment means people can no longer sustain their own existence. The argument of Shane Jones, National etc only has one end and it is not a positive one. Green supporters aren't against business but realise that it has to make compromises with the environment so both survive. It's pretty obvious to Green supporters what is the easist route to take - we are not stupid. But we are also smart enough to know where the easist route will lead, and how much more it will cost New Zealanders in the long run. It's called making the hard choices. Labour is never going to win back the seats it has lost to the Green Party and will slowly and surely lose more because the around half of the New Zealand population who understand the path that needs to be taken will vote for a party they know will make the hard choices. I predict the Green Party will keep the present number of seats at the next election and may even go down slightly. But within a couple more election cycles the Greens will quite likely have around 20 percent of the vote, given that people like Shane Jones continue to exert considerable power in the Labour Party to the point where it is virtually paralysed.

Daniel Copeland said...

Writing to endorse what David said there. Until recently I'd have needed to add a long-winded explanation of just how dependent human agriculture and thereby civilization are on the services of the natural environment, but now I can draw all that to mind in one word: "Honeybees".

peterpeasant said...

You mean someone in the labour caucus cares about the voters who do not turn out to vote for labour?

Surely, you jest, Sir!

OneTrack said...

The problem is, Shane Jones is just one MP in the Labour caucus who seems to be in a faction of one person. What is the rest of hose MPs saying, including Shearer. Apparently whatever their real leaders in the Green Party tell them to. Or otherwise they are focussing on critical issues of our time, such as the manban. (Which we all know has not really been cancelled, it has just gone on the down-low. Wonder if they will even tell the poor male saps competing in the "chosen" electorates that they are wasting their time. I imagine not, as anything is ok for the cause and they need to make it look convincing).

In other words, Shane Jones saying some traditional Labour words does not mean they have changed course.

Karen said...

And a rising tide is exactly what we will be getting thanks to the burning of oil and coal over the last century. We need to be reducing our use of fossil fuel and investing in clean tech solutions otherwise the future is bleak. If you are very, very rich you will be okay but the children of the working class will inherit a seriously degraded earth.

jenny kirk said...

What is more, Chris, Jones went on further to comment that East Coast and
Far North Maori appeared to be siding alongside the Greens when it came to
mineral extraction in their own patches. He didn't bother to say (or find
out) that there are very real environmental concerns about "sustaining the
(current) livelihood of people" should such mineral extraction go ahead.
Mineral extraction is well known to bring environmental damage in its wake -
and it is that people object to. I find it objectionable that Jones is so
dismissive of the concerns of his own people in the north about the
potential disastrous activities of mining companies. He needs to get out and
talk to them, rather than just the Taranaki oil and gas business people.

David said...

Hi Chris
I understand the phrase "a rising tide lifts all boats" comes from JFK. So it has great 'progressive' credibility. Or it did. Not even Obama believes it now.

According to the NY Times of July 22, he says that "prosperity does not trickle down, and a rising tide does not necessarily lift all boats. The conservative policies predicated on those ideas, he maintains, amount to a you’re-on-your-own economics" (here).

Why would he think so? Most likely because "In 2010, the top 1 percent of U.S. families captured as much as 93 percent of the nation’s income growth" (here).

Things are not so bad in NZ, though that is the faintest of praise. A few days ago, Max Rashbrooke reported research showing "From 1980 to 2008, New Zealand’s top 1% captured 20% of total income growth" (here).

That rising tide has something of a slope on it, and many boats remain beached.


Anonymous said...

Big deal. This is the way it's going Jones or no.

Jigsaw said...

Chris -you are impervious to any evidence that contradicts your socialist philosophy, Brendan is quite correct in saying that it a common belief that just a little more funds will make a programme work.The multitude of programmes that the last Labour government ran-the majority without any real evaluation proved the point.Take off you rose tinted socialist glasses.

Chris Trotter said...

Some examples, Jigsaw. Are you referring to Working For Families? Kiwisaver? The Cullen Fund?

Let's try to be specific, Jigsaw - and offer up some evidence.

As for your charge that I wear rose-tinted spectacles when evaluating the successes and failures of "socialist" governments - past and present.

Well, I'll let Bowalley Road's readership judge the accuracy of that statement.

In my own defence, let me just say that I do my best to be as critical (in the true sense of the word) of those on the Left as I am of those on the Right.