Monday, 15 January 2018

'Third Way' No Way To Go: A Reply To Wayne Mapp.

Pragmatic Idealists: When it becomes clear to both our new prime minister and her finance minister that the price they are being asked to pay to keep the neoliberal guard-dogs away from their throats is too high for any discernible good that it is doing, then we must hope that they will dig deep into the collective experience of the New Zealand labour movement and find there not only the courage to speak socialist words, but also to rally the New Zealand people behind socialist deeds.

I FEEL SORRY for Dr Wayne Mapp. He has always struck me as one of those National Party types who want to do good in the world – but not in a left-wing way. The political paradox in which such politicians are trapped, however, is that it is only under the conditions of a significantly modified capitalism – conditions created by the Left – that their benevolent aspirations can be fulfilled. Rather than acknowledge this, however, they are forever trying to convince the electorate that the Left only ever succeeds when it moves to the Right.

This is the fundamental thesis of Mapp’s latest contribution to The Spinoff, “Jacinda Ardern Is No Radical, But The 21st-Century Face Of Blair’s Third Way”. His argument, essentially, is that:

“In the latter part of the second decade of the twenty-first century, 22 years since Blair first became prime minister, his spiritual successors, Justine (sic) Trudeau and Jacinda Ardern, seem to have wholly adopted Third Wayism. The basic tenets of the neo-liberal settlement are accepted, but the state employs its power and resources to assist those who the market does not fully provide for.”

Putting to one side his transgendering of Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, Mapp’s fundamental misunderstanding of what Tony Blair represents merely confirms his inability to understand the central realities of our recent political history.

The core mission of conservative politicians like Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan was to tear down the Left’s modifications of capitalism and reconfigure it as closely as possible to its original nineteenth century form as was politically feasible. Thatcher and Reagan loathed politicians who, like Mapp, were happy to operate within the parameters of the “kinder, gentler” capitalism that the labour and social-democratic parties had created in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. The New Right project was best summed-up by the American, Grover Norquist, who famously declared: “My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”

Mapp simply does not understand that what we now call “neoliberalism” was a last-ditch and, as things turned out, highly-successful attempt to rescue the western ruling-class from the consequences of what it perceived to be a collection of out-of-control social-democratic governments. What the citizens of those countries: most especially the citizens of the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand; have been living with for nearly 40 years are the consequences of their rulers’ ongoing counter-revolution.

In the course of that counter-revolution, the world has witnessed, inter alia: the collapse of actually existing socialism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union; the dramatic expansion of the global proletariat; the general collapse of trade union power and influence; stagnating wages; the privatisation of publicly owned enterprises; an extreme concentration of media control and influence; the imposition of economic austerity; and the obscene enrichment of the owners and managers of the world’s largest corporations and financial institutions.

It is fascinating to read the way in which this counter-revolutionary world order is bowdlerised by Mapp into the innocuousness of: “an open economy with low tariffs, the private sector owning virtually all parts of the competitive economy, relatively modest tax rates so that the size of government is around one third of the total economy.”

The inevitable corollaries of Mapp’s ‘common-sense’ political-economy: rising inequality, precarious employment; poverty; homelessness; collapsing health services; a deteriorating environment; hardly  rate a mention.

What Mapp does make clear, however, and with considerable accuracy, are the sort of policies which Jacinda Ardern and her finance minister, Grant Robertson, would find it extremely dangerous, politically, to adopt. Changing the neoliberal paradigm, he rightly says, would require a different approach:

“The government would not have signed up to the [Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership]. A fund would have been established for the renationalization of at least the electricity companies. The top tax rate would be at least 40% to reverse inequality. Some form of compulsory unionism would be restored, though perhaps the promised industry wide agreements are intended to be exactly that. An economy so deeply regulated that official permission would be required for even the simplest of business transactions.”

What Mapp, rather predictably, doesn’t say, is that the response to such a radical departure from the status-quo, from the upper-echelons of the civil service, the business community, the mainstream news media and, of course, by his own National Party, would be swift and devastating. Neither Ardern, nor Robertson, require any lessons in the effects of such a backlash. The example of the so-called “Winter of Discontent” of 2000 is there in front of them all the time – reminding them of just how little real power governments exercise in the neoliberal order. Neither of them have any wish to be drowned in Norquist’s bathtub!

The “Third Way-ism” that Mapp extols, and which he believes Ardern to be the twenty-first century exponent of, has always been, at best, a pragmatic recognition of the narrowness of the political and economic stage upon which progressive politicians are permitted to operate in the neoliberal era; and, at worst, an ideological manifestation of the “Stockholm Syndrome” in which fearful left-wing politicians start identifying with the terrorists who have taken them hostage.

On one thing, however, Mapp and I are in complete agreement. The creation of the Labour-NZF-Green government has, indeed, excited me and enlivened my hopes that, when it becomes clear to both our new prime minister and her finance minister that the price they are being asked to pay to keep the neoliberal guard-dogs away from their throats is too high for any discernible good that it is doing, then they will dig deep into the collective experience of the New Zealand labour movement and find there not only the courage to speak socialist words, but also to rally the New Zealand people behind socialist deeds.

Neither Tony Blair, nor Bill Clinton, ever believed that such a course of action could lead to anything except electoral catastrophe. And, in their time, the early-1990s, they may well have been correct. But, as Mapp is so keen to remind us, this is the twenty-first century, and the skies are thick with neoliberal chickens flapping home to roost. As both Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn have made clear, to call yourself a socialist in “the latter part of the second decade of the twenty-first century” is not the one-way ticket to political oblivion which Blair and Clinton assumed it to be. With the grim consequences of the neoliberal counter-revolution all around us, the imminent prospect of a peaceful, democratic-socialist, revolution no longer seems so bad.


This posting is exclusive to Bowalley Road.

28 comments:

Trevor said...

The Labour Government of 1984 to 1990 has a lot to answer for. Yes New Zealand faced an economic crisis in 1984 thanks to Muldoon's Canute-like misguided efforts to protect New Zealand from a serious decline in its terms of trade and inevitable loss of much of its UK market to the EEC. But the reforms of the Lange government went far beyond what was required. The sell-off of our state-owned assets that had been built up over many generations was an ideologically driven invitation to rape and pillage which the robber-barons duly accepted. It was to be a model promoted by the World Bank for the Russian oligarchs self enrichment after the fall of communism. Infrastructure such as the railways and in due course the electricity system were flogged off for a pittance. The corporatisation of New Zealand's economy has been a massive confidence trick. Services have declined and New Zealanders are worse off. Yes it would be good to see the new Government begin to address this disaster but I doubt they have the imagination or the collective nous to do so.

Len said...

FDR not back off in the face of capitalist discontent. If he could implement socialisic measures in the heart on the beast (USA) post WWII then a truly social democratic programme can be implememted in Aotearoa NZ despite the inevitable and predictable discontent of those who have been creaming it for the last 30 plus years.

peter petterson said...

No third way, do it our way!

Kat said...

Thats the worry for the likes of Wayne Mapp, its all evolving, albeit slowly, away from what he perceives to be the "right way". Soon for his ilk it will be like hanging perilously to a cliff edge by the finger tips as the realisation sinks in that its all over.

David Stone said...

About 3 months ago Jacinda used the phrase that identifies capitalism as" a good servant but a bad master". This perfectly describes the relationship between capitalism and governance , and between capitalism and society. If they use this as their principle philosophy they will do the best that can be done to help restore us and the world to an equitable balance.
Unfortunately this is the only time I have heard statements to this effect from Jacinda. Other statements she has made, on the management side of the economy rather than on the delivery side, rather support Wayne's appraisal of her and the present labour lineup's approach .
On his closing lines though " As was the case with Tony Blair 20 years ago, the new version of Third Wayism is neo-liberalism with the sharp edges knocked off. All of the benefits, but not the worst of the costs." What does he see as the sharp edges that are to be knocked off?
For the first years of the neoliberal experiment there was the accumulation of 40 years of responsible pragmatic management of capitalist economies throughout the western world to exploit and "capitalise " on. The sharp edges have only erupted with the austerity increasingly being imposed on the majority of the population that missed out on benefiting from the "exploitation" phase and now are required to compensate the fraternity that did benefit as the exploitation reaches completion and the opportunities run out.
The longer the ruse of neoliberalism , or" new way" is clung to the worse will be the mess .
D J S

countryboy said...

It's because I'm a little drunk. Though I'd rather not be drunk, perhaps more in ecstasy but beggars can chose fuck all, other than a deeper level of poverty.

'Neoliberalism' is a politicised term for ' Criminalism’, surely?
Our lot, and by that I mean douglas and his many cronies, hijacked the hijackers and hijacked OUR stuff and things for THEIR advantage. It wasn't some misspent ideal that went pear shaped. It was a few Kiwi-as pricks who knew too much for their own simple minds to navigate so they pinched it. All of it. It's kind of simple @ Chris Trotter. As much as I love your beautiful use of our wondrous language but in this instance, it's a simple, ugly truth. They constructed a plan over fish, chips and egotistical arrogance then took our stuff from us and sold it. The monies of which went into private hands. Is That Not So ? Mr Fay? Mr Richwhite? Mr Chandler? Mr Hart? Mr Gibb? Etc?

I want our stuff and things back mr douglas? You mean little fellow. You scheming, lying, sneaky, little pig farmer and I pray to God, that one day, I get to say that to the shrivelled flap with the bristle over the air hole that you might argue is a face. Others might equally argue that what you did can now be seen as failed idealism. I don't. I see [it] as a swindle. Neo Criminalism.

pat said...

Take heart from the fact that Wayne's wishful musings seldom come to pass

Guerilla Surgeon said...

The 'third way' as David Stone said is simply capitalism with a few concessions to social legislation by way of equality for LGBTQ people and women maybe. But the essential free-market capitalism is pretty much left untouched, and in some cases actually enhanced. This last courtesy of my mother, who was working on the minimum wage pretty much and saw her taxes going up, while those of the wealthy were coming down. Supposedly to encourage her to move into a management position. It'd be funny if it wasn't so tragic.

Wayne Mapp said...

Chris,

My first vote for conservatism was in the UK in 1983. I had left NZ Labour because at its heart it was socialist; most activists did not believe in markets or capitalism.

There were two fundamental reasons why I voted for Mrs Thatcher, her standing up to communism, and her standing up to the unions. Neither Thatcher or Reagan wanted to turn back to the nineteenth century, but they certainly did want to free their economies from the stultifying and excessive level of controls that had been imposed by Wilson/Callaghan and Carter. They were not a last gasp as you seem to think, they represented pent-up forces that were heartily sick of the failures, especially of Callaghan when all Britain seemingly could do was stagger from crisis to crisis. That is why both Thatcher and Reagan were so electorally successful, they understood and harnessed the energy of that frustration. My one echo of Thatcherism was proposing the 90 day trial period, which became part of National's 100 day programme in 2008/2009. Labour will modify it, but not destroy the concept.

Thatcher's drive to roll back union power and to privatise large state corporations also coincided with the the ability to hugely connect international finance markets through the use of technology. What became known as the Big Bang in London in 1984.

I obviously cheered on the efforts of Douglas and Prebble from 194 to 1987, but I was never tempted to rejoin Labour because I knew the heart of the party did not believe in Douglas and Prebble. They obviously knew that as well, given they helped found ACT.

As you accept (perhaps protest) the reforms of the 1980 fundamentally transformed capitalism, to the extent that the new leaders within UK Labour (Blair and Brown) knew they had to accept many of the changes if Labour was ever to be re-elected. Hence Third Wayism. In NZ, Helen Clark also knew that, though without the evangelising zeal of Blair.

What is really needed is a proper analysis of the appeal of Macron, Trudeau and Ardern. What are the common factors that led to their emergence? Why are they different to Sanders and Corbyn, because assuredly they are. Why are all three centrist? And not, as you would desire, radical.

greywarbler said...

Chile, frightening. Too awful to contemplate for long, so not at all.
That was somewhere else. It didn't occur to us that the political currents swirl around the world and could com and tsunami us too. No we go on about our business like an ant farm under glass, observed by people with control over us and designs for us which they are carrying out when the time is convenient for them and opportunities arise.

We are concentrating on passing our NCEA exams so we can get into university and gain honours and get a well-paying career. Or if we can get to a cleaning job of three hours that begins at 4.30 a.m. when the buses only start at 5.30 a.m. And whether we can cope with work with less staff sharing the load, and get an extension on our computer contract for another six months before the company withdraws support for our model. There is no time to think as things change completely year by year and the unseen hand of Treasury keeping a lid on inflation destroys the incentive to invest to gain value from savings, and wages reduce and prices rise, as our monetary system is gamed by financiers and we scrabble to provide ourselves with decent shelter we can afford while our economy is largely dependent on our spending as consumers, to maintain an appearance of life in the said 'economy'.

There are all our retired people living longer lives, (if you get to 100 does the Queen still send you a telegram?), possibly 35 years on a pension if you retire at 65 and die at 100. Like lilies in the field, they may not toil for the community, but they do spin about their right to be supported by them perhaps for a third of their lives and be treated like old children looking to 'Nanny government'.

Could they possibly take an interest in the country and not just their pension and health care? What an excellent group, able to bring their maturity and experience to the fore and help us understand how we can
manage better. How to retain strength and stop our country's resources being removed from under our feet, like that tablecloth removal trick that leaves all the table setting in place.

Having our own feet under our own table, eating our own food in our own house, and planning to go down the island a bit and see our own children. Will that be achievable again in NZ for all in the near future? The Labour coalition will have to box clever as the saying goes, to achieve that, and it must be held up as a vision. I'm reading Kerry Spackman's The Winner's Bible and he says that to get imbued with determination to achieve a vision you have to think of it and prime yourself each morning. Perhaps a copy of his book should be sent to each MP from the PM down.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

God help us – Thatcher. I hadn't a clue who she was until she was made Prime Minister, and then some guy I was working with just out from England said she was known as "milk snatcher" because she stopped giving free milk to English kids. Seems to sum her up – either completely coldhearted or no idea of what it's like to be poor. I suspect both. It's interesting that when she died people work comparing her impact to Clement Attlee. Although to my mind, Attlee actually built something – was constructive, whereas Thatcher was totally destructive. Even that paragon of socialism Max Hastings/sarc just in case you don't know who he is :) said that she was brutal and insensitive, she was certainly indifferent to the suffering she caused amongst the three million new unemployed.
But there is always the TINA caveat, which I don't for a moment believe. She – like Douglas & Co inculcated what someone called a "tolerated harshness" in society that still hangs on today – what I've often called the social engineering of the century.
And yet apparently many – even relatively educated – young people haven't got a clue who she is. Which IMO is roughly what she deserves although a poor substitute for knowledge of what she did outright hatred of it.
So I must say I have some sympathy with the young woman who said "they say you should only speak good of the dead. Margaret Thatcher's dead – good."
She was an aberration in the Tory party obviously because of her gender, and naturally rolled by the old boys' club. Unfortunately, much of her legacy lives on.

David Stone said...

Wayne
"What is really needed is a proper analysis of the appeal of Macron, Trudeau and Ardern. What are the common factors that led to their emergence? Why are they different to Sanders and Corbyn, because assuredly they are. Why are all three centrist? And not, as you would desire, radical.
I feel quite sure that the factors are common to all 5 . I agree that Macron Trudeau and Ardern look different from Sanders and Corbyn but the sentiment within the electorates that has resulted in their rise is the same. It's driven by a widespread rejection of neoliberalism and is in each case the best hope that the voters have seen among their alternatives for a reversal of that philosophy. The latter two looking like the most genuine article esp Corbyn. Macron came through the middle and narrowly headed off a movement much more aligned to Sanders and Corbyn.
As you say we don't really know what to expect of Jacinda , we all hope for diametrically opposite performance. So it probably was for the Canadians. They knew what they didn't want any more of. How to find someone to vote for to have an alternative is the dilemma everywhere. Even Trump was to a degree a desperate, tragic attempt for change in the US.
D J S

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Oh – about that appeal of Macron – hasn't it disappeared down the toilet? As soon as he started talking actual policy? Just askin', because I'm not so much of the politics junkie as to keep track of him. I actually agree with David Stone, that his support came from a rejection of neoliberalism and hopefully a rejection of fascism as well.

AB said...

Dr Mapp is a ponderous bore who is just peddling his dulled-down version of the 'end of history' myth - where everything has been settled forever and there is really only a small range of movement possible around the margins of agreed (neoliberal) principles.
Such is the voice of privilege defending its interests, whistling to itself in the dark for reassurance. But it's not how human history operates.

Victor said...

Chris

Yet again, you've given us a wonderfully lucid account of how we got into the mess we're in. The question remains as to how to get out of it.

Personally, I don't expect miracles from our new government. In fact, during the weeks between the election and the new administration being formed, I found myself wondering whether Labour might not be better advised to spend another term in opposition, in the almost certain knowledge that National and NZ First would fall out and fail to last the distance, whilst hunger for change grew and Labour's new leadership got a real chance to prepare itself for office.

But it now seems that National had no intention of making any significant policy concessions to NZ First. So, for good or ill, Labour is now in the hot seat. I obviously hope it will do well. But the new government has started life with a series of halters around it's neck, including the perceived illegitimacy of the largest party now being in opposition. Yes, I know it's rubbish. But lots of people continue to believe it.

To that, we must add the inherent difficulty of explaining the counter-intuitive notions of elementary Keynesianism to the second generation in succession reared on the dogmatic Micawberism of TINA.

And we must also take into account the very large number of New Zealanders who have seen their wealth increase dramatically through property price inflation and/or simply do not recognise the depth of crisis we're facing, in terms of our social, environmental, infra-structural, housing, transport, training and education deficits.

Now, it may well be that Gracinda is perfectly happy to operate within the tight limits of conventionally exemplary fiscal prudence. There again, it might be chaffing at the restrictions thereby imposed. I suspect the former is the more likely but, even if it's the latter, there will be a realisation that any significant break with TINA will only be effective if sustained over more than one parliamentary term. And that means keeping a large slice of a confused, divided, sceptical and potentially hostile public more or less onside.

It seems like we're back to where we were with Auntie Helen and Uncle Mike, who did a large number of good but minor things, whilst kicking most of the big issues firmly down the road. Unfortunately, we've also reached the point where the kicking has to stop and issues crucial to the sustainability of our economy, society and environment need to be faced. Will this happen? Can it happen? I just don't know.

Perhaps we'll have a better idea when New Zealand gets fully back to work in a few weeks' time.

Wayne Mapp

Your loyalty to your party and cause are exemplary, given the way you were recurrently passed over for the Foreign Affairs portfolio. I'm sure you'd have done a much better job than any of the boobies that actually got chosen. Sorry if I've embarrassed you.

GS

I'm not sure that most of Macron's support represented a rejection of neo-liberalism. France has never fully succumbed to this malaise and the educated young are often envious of their Anglosphere equivalents whom they perceive as less held back by regulation. Hence, in part, the huge number of aspirational French graduates in London (at least prior to 23 June 2016).

But I would agree that Macron's victory marked a clear rejection of Fascism, at least for the moment.

It's interesting to conjecture how the election would have developed if the Gaullists had come up with a 'Dirigiste' candidate of the old sort(e.g. Alain Juppé) rather than that rather un-French thing, a Thatcherite.

DJS

You do, I hope, understand just how insulted Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn would both be to be put in the same category as Mme le Pen. Or have I misunderstood you?

Kat said...

I would say that Jacinda Ardern's political philosophy is more socially focused and her promoting housing, health, full employment and equal opportunity for all invites the label of socialist by her political detractors. Norm Kirk held a similar social philosophy and he was labeled a communist by Muldoon. What a sad joke that turned out be.

Now we have Wayne Mapp confessing up to supporting Thatcher and Reagan. To be expected I suppose. Thatcher and Reagan certainly had intentions of removing "controls" but only for the few, like tax cuts for the top bracket. Thatcher had no qualms about exerting "controls" that suited such as inflation control at the expense of millions unemployed especially in Britain and then relying on market forces to ensure the survival of the fittest while sitting comfortably behind the smoke and mirror world of financial services.

This "third way" labeling is just an attempt at pigeon holing by Wayne Mapp.

sumsuch said...

The dissection of Wayne Mapp. My sense from the comments section is you deeply dislike him. I hold it for you in the end, but in the 'medium term' it's the rasp.

I like Mapp for his honest debate -- who else? And he is illuminating for the demo-cratic cause, as you've lit up.

Appreciate your muscularity for social-democracy. We can now see the 2 are linked like the antlers of stags that can't disentangle. The first English socialist organization, the Social-Democratic Federation saw it clearly back in the nineteenth century. Democracy to keep it water-clear and socialism for the people to matter more than the strong.

Countryboy, thanks for expressing what we feel.

Wayne Mapp, I felt at the time Thatcherism was just a bookkeeping trick (her level). Finite resources were already on the horizon. The common feature of Macron, Trudeau and Ardern is charisma. A sensationalism payable sometime in the future. As it will be for the utterly awful Oprah Winfrey. Chris hopes as ever. Sad hope is our strongest structure 33 years on the 'long term' 'you-shall-know-them-by-their-fruit' revealed the failure of 'plutocratism'.

Nick J said...

Wayne, maybe you need ask yourself how much is enough? Or maybe does one size fit all?

You support the Douglas model of privatisation of state enterprise without mentioning the reason why these enterprises were owned by the state. You don't mention the propensity of privatised enterprises towards monopoly or cartel. You never address the propensity of capital to aggregate, and for wealth to become disparate.

I don't have a problem with markets per se, I do with unregulated markets. There's enough evidence of these issues. Yes government ownership and control has issues, but I would contend that it is as intellectually bankrupt to propose markets based solutions to fit all sizes as it is to propose statist / socialist answers to everything.

Olwyn said...

@ David Stone: Your comment at 21.20, 15/1/18, is spot on. As to your second comment in reply to Wayne, one major difference between Macron/Trudeau/Ardern and Corbyn/Sanders is that the former have been promoted as political stars, while the latter have survived wave after wave of media/establishment hostility. The sneering superiority that has been leveled at them, along with people like Varoufakis, is no longer the effective PR weapon that it used to be, which suggests that the neoliberal narrative no longer has the grip it used to have. Its proponents however, still have hold of the economic levers, and I am not sure what it will take to weaken their grip on them.

pat said...

@Vicior 16.33

Tidy summary

Victor said...

Nick J

Total agreement.

Robert M said...

In terms of Macron, Trudeau and Arden my view is the common link is that for the moment France, Canada and NZ have ceased to care about the defence issue at all for the moment which is interesting as France has clearly been the United States only credible and useful defence ally for the last decade. Britain under Cameron or Blair was simply took fickle and devoid of the realisation that being an ally was actually about killing people on behalf of your friends and to do that you need competent and seriously disciplined armed forces. Israel and Japan are rather too independent and different to be seen as the vital US and Australian allies they are.
Mr Mapp was once a Commercial Law academic and apparently a MP for the North Shore and Defence Minister. From memory he had an office opposite the North Shore Police HQ and several pubs. My main difficulty with Wayne Mapp is it is impossible to understand what planet he is on. His term as Minister of Defence was less than distinguished. The National Party ran for office in 2008 mainly promising to develop irrigation;sack the CRC reverse the Mallard school closures; reequip and upgrade the RNZN etc ( if you study the class lists for Timaru Boys High School class lists for 1973 or 6.3 and 5A1 alone for starters and you will see the entire interconnected National Party/ Act conspiracy not to exaggerate far more acurately than any diametiric study of the Watergate, Wine Box or Trump gate conspiracy). Of course as far as defence was concerned Wayne and his deputy Heather Roy did the opposite and cut Naval pay, fuel allocation and capital spending to the bone. My own pet project the Protectors OPV was in jeporardy and I had to return to closely monitoring and anticipating every Press and Media move on that issue.
More fundamentally it seems to me the more market reforms were reversed early in the National Governments term a real private industry in NZ is about developing hotels and bars etc and that is now very restricted activitiy and laws in themselves do not open the nz market.

Nick J said...

Wayne mentions a desire when voting for Thatcher type policies to roll back the Unions "power". This power had the effect of redistributing a proportion of the profits of enterprise to the workers. When that power was broken we saw the beginning of today's gross income inequalities, and it's evil sisters of uncertain income and casual contracts.

This at heart is what Wayne voted for. Did he see it coming or consider the social destruction it would cause? I for one did, anybody with any intellect would. Wayne as a clever person obviously thought that was OK. And that ladies and gentlemen is class warfare.

Victor said...

Kat

I don't doubt the desire of Jacinda and her government to build houses, provide jobs and make life better for the least advantaged in our society and, above all, for children.

The question is whether they've left themselves enough money to do so, given their reluctance to raise taxes and their intention to retire debt almost (if not quite)as fast as National.

This reluctance speaks to a caution reminiscent of the Clark/Cullen government , which did many good things but left the big things undone.

I agree the current lot aren't neo-liberals. They're broadly within the Social Democratic camp.

But Social Democracy is as much about how you run the economy as about how you distribute its fruits. Moreover, center-right economic policies and center-left social policies might result in something of a pantomime horse.

Still, it's early days and I'm reluctant to rush to judgement on well-intentioned people who are working hard in difficult circumstances.

Let's see what happens.

Kat said...

Victor

I doubt whether this coalition govt is going to live up to the pigeon holing of a tax and spend regime. Labour are on record as being fiscally more prudent than National and they would be making a big mistake giving the opposition the satisfaction to dine out on that pigeon.

I see the re-establishment of the NZ Forestry service as a big first step towards laying the foundations for creating the fruits you talk about. I would go further though and re-establish a twenty first century version of the Ministry of Works along with the NZ Forestry Service. All this govt has to do is announce that its in the pipeline and the ripple effect throughout the private sector will be of tsunami proportions.

Then there are the current non "third way" policies for regional development, transport/rail, housing and lifting of minimum wage.

David Stone said...

Victor
No I was referring to Melenchon . I know Le Pen made the run-off by a whisker, but her National Front support had folded.

Sumsuch
Most here disagree with Wayne but I think his engagement with commenters is appreciated and he is respected, esp for being straight-up about the"Hit And Run" story. I don't think he is disliked.

Olwyn
I agree your comparison of these leaders; The politicians, commentators ,media outlets etc that advocated for proselytised , and implemented the market driven economics of the last 30 years have attached their credibility to the dogma. Very few if any will ever have the gumption to accept that they were wrong , even privately to themselves. So while this generation of controlling elite remain in power and influence the system will be more and more desperately propped up and the dogma clung to. It will only be changed by a generation of leaders who have not committed their reputations to it, perhaps led by the odd individual like Corbyn , and our host incidentally, who were never sucked in by the theory in the first place,and who
railed against it in an agony of frustration throughout.
D J S

pat said...

Required reading...

Farrar's Honeymoon Scam
https://subzpsubzp.blogspot.co.nz/

Victor said...

DJS

Fair enough. Melenchon did rather well in the circumstances and may do better if, as I suspect, Macron fails to deliver.

The latter's policy mix appears "progressive" (a word I loathe)simply because France has never really experienced full-throttle neo-liberalism. He's a bit like David Lange in that respect.

For that reason, I find it difficult to group him with the likes of Jacinda or Trudeau, who are very much "after the fall", if you see what I mean.



Kat

All good points. But, by global standards, the last several New Zealand governments have all been totally reckless in their obsessive one-eyed attachment to fiscal prudence (paradox intended), whilst the country has decayed around them.

Taking top level income tax back to where it was ten years ago and allowing our per capita public debt to GDP ratio to stay a mite longer at the giddy height of less than half of Germany's, doesn't strike me as particularly profligate.

I also have reservations about Shane Jones's burgeoning empire, as, rightly or wrongly, I doubt his abilities are up to the task of running it. If, as you suggest, that's where we have to look for seeds of hope, I'm frankly not very hopeful. But I'd be delighted to be proved wrong.