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Economic Growth

There seems to have been a lot of bad news here recently, but there has been some which seems good as well, especially regarding some economic indicators. So is the current government doing a good job and helping to improve the economy as some people are suggesting?

Well yes, and no. There is no doubt that some of the government’s policies have helped the economy, at least as measured by certain crude economic indicators. But there are two questions we should be asking: first, would any reasonably competent government have achieved similar results; and second, do the results really mean anything and if they do are they worth the sacrifices made?

If you look back through various economic indicators in the past it’s often hard to tell whether National or Labour were in power at the time. In fact, according to the stats I have on overseas debt for the past 30 years Labour has actually done better, which is contrary to what many people might think. So can the government really claim a projected growth of 5% as a success or would that just have happened anyway as we inevitably bounce back from the global economic crisis?

And even if you do think government policy has resulted in increased growth and an improved economy, was it really worth it? We have serious environmental problems as a result of the dairy industry which has achieved a lot of economic success (almost none of which was the responsibility of this government I should add). Would we have been better to cut back a bit on dairy farmers’ profits and used some of that money to clean up the mess they make?

Wages and conditions for most people have fallen too. Far more people are doing temporary, and part-time work and most have less pay in real terms. Plus many costs are increasing much more quickly than rates of pay: electricity being the most obvious example (because of the way a previous National government created an “electricity market”). Is it OK to increase productivity by degrading working conditions?

We have lost a lot of jobs here recently, mainly because the government has refused to make any serious effort to stimulate employment. And no, that’s not because they don’t have the money to do it because they hand out tens of millions to prop up overseas corporations (for very little benefit) when they feel like it. Is it OK to cut benefit rates when in most cases the recipients of those benefits have been forced into unemployment through no fault of their own?

What I’m trying to say here is that achieving economic growth, in the simplistic sense this government promotes, isn’t difficult. If I took over running the country I could get significant growth by allowing dirty industries to exist without being too concerned about their effect on the environment, by forcing pay and conditions down so that companies have lower overheads, and by refusing to help the victims of my policies.

Actually that’s what I could do if I got control but why bother? It’s exactly what John Key and his fascist friends have done already so there’s no real need for me to be involved.

In fact the PM has gone one step further. He now his own private spy agency (run by an old friend) which he can use to snoop on anyone who disagrees with his ideas. Now that really is efficiency, National Party style!

Becoming economically efficient and achieving growth is easy and anyone could do it. Doing that while maintaining reasonable social and environmental standards is a lot harder, apparently much too hard for the current government anyway.

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