Nicky Hagar wrote the book "Dirty Politics" in which he exposed some of the nasty wheeling and dealing that has gone on in the political scene. I have read the two chapters of the book which you can find on line, and followed the various debates about the goings on related to the National Party. There is, to my mind, some pretty shady dealing. Now I am sure other parties may have imbibed in similar antics. Recently the call has been that in this election, "Let's talk about the issues, and not this sideshow!" Politicians have said it. The media (which I trust less and less) have inferred it, asking politicians if all this Nicky Hagar stuff has prevented them from talking about "the issues". Let me say, this is an issue. The book has exposed some dirty politics! The book shows the political system using underhand methods for manipulating the press, the public and the parties. There are lies, half truths and dirty scheming slants put on things. THE ISSUE is that I do not think the leaders of a country should be doing those sorts of things or condone, use or be implicated in those sorts of methods to retain power! They are unprincipled. They are deceitful and it is an issue if our political leaders are that way inclined. We need to vote in people with integrity, honesty and with principles! We need to express our disgust, our distress and our opposition to such wheeling and dealing. It is an issue! It smells of a deep rottenness in the halls of power of our country, and somehow it ought to be cleaned out!
Who to vote for????
I am still debating with myself about who to vote for. I know who I will not be voting for. I will not be voting for the National party. I see our prime minister and his colleagues as an evil destructive force in our country. He is a very cunning operator who does his best to pass on any conflict to his underlings and is always there for the good photo opportunities. He plays the media very well, but I do not trust him. These Nicky Hagar revelations do not surprise me and I am sure they are the tip of the iceberg of the sort of wheeling and dealing that goes on. I see John Key (and his government) as a party supported in power by lobby groups and rich capitalist people who want to have "the system" operating to their advantage. Under his leadership little bit by little bit, workers' rights have been eroded to the advantage of profiteering employers. There is much more casual work now which gives the employer an advantage, with no security and poorer conditions for the employee. The rich are in a favoured position tax wise. The tax rate for high income earners is one of the lowest in the OECD nations. The OECD average is 42% - in NZ it is 33%. There is no capital gains tax, no tax on capital transactions, no tax on deceased estates and no tax on gifts. We are almost alone in OECD countries with this situation. All these things favour the high income earners, while GST (Good and Services Tax) proportionately hits low income earners harder. Another example of disparity is the comparison between "tax evasion" and "Benefit fraud". Tax evasion costs the country many times more dollars than benefit fraud. It is quite rampant. The noises from government would have you think otherwise. You are much more likely to be prosecuted for benefit fraud than for tax evasion. You are much more likely to have your debt to society forgiven if you are involved in tax evasion. Somehow that's "OK" but benefit fraud is seen as criminal. This favours the rich. This government is making cuts in the health and education areas and the people on the bottom are suffering the consequence. Funding for emergency departments, mental health and other areas of health mean that people in our communities suffer. For example Police, Psych services and mental health teams unload people into the night shelter who really should not be there. - we have a frequent user of the Night Shelter who soils and/or wets the bed and refuses to shower. Shouldn't he be in care? There are not the services available to him so he is left on the streets. Mr Key brandishes positive figures around, but ironically many of those are the result of rebuilding after the tragic earthquake in Christchurch. The National Party pays lip service to environmental issues. While it makes nice noises, in economic development areas, it's regard for the environment seems lacking and short sighted. I do not like Mr Key's arrogance. If teachers disagree with his changes, he and his ministers discount their opinion and wipe them off as being "political" without tackling the genuine issues they may have. I do not like some of his colleagues, they are abrasive, disrespectful and arrogant. I have seen Judith Collins, Gerry Brownlee and Bill English be completely down putting, nasty and disrespectful in interactions about those who may disagree. I just think their style is divisive, unhelpful and is a way of avoiding rational discussion of the issues. I do not think Mr Key can be trusted. How many times has he conveniently "forgotten" some incident. "Can't recall" are typical words you use when you know you are lying through your teeth! I am so suspicious of the man that I hate seeing his face on billboards and can understand the anger of some people wanting to deface them. (I dislike political billboards anyway, they are a blot on the landscape!) I see Mr Key as a greedy man being supported by people motivated by greed. At best they may still be adherents of the "Trickle down" theory i.e. "If the rich get richer the poor's circumstances will eventually improve." Since Old Testament times this has been shown to be false. There needs to be structures within society to allow for fairer distribution of resources. Such structures have been increasingly discarded within our New Zealand community. We are becoming much more of a dog eat dog society.
Who will I vote for then? I am unsure of Mr David Cunliffe, leader of the opposition. I actually respected the man he replaced, David Shearer who I saw as a man of intellect, compassion and discernment. I know and like some Labour politicians - David Clark and Phil Twyford seem to have people's welfare at the heart of their motivation for their involvement. But I also have enormous respect for the Green Party leaders, Russel Norman and Metiria Turei. I admire Russel Norman's intellect, rational approach and his compassion for people and the environment. He deserves greater exposure.
For me the important issues are...
- The increasing gap between the rich and the poor. The increased gap causes all sorts of bad side effects for our society.
- Unemployment - the lack of jobs. I think there needs to be more thought given to adding value to our exports. For example, we export tons of logs and woodchips overseas. Why cant we explore making paper, milling the timber or somehow working with it to add value, so that we create jobs. Our industries seem to be getting fewer and fewer.
- Giving dignity and hope - I think with technology and economic forces, we have a society where it is highly unlikely that a sizable proportion of people will ever get a job. There is no place for them in the scheme of things. Thought needs to be given into how we can make them feel more a useful part of the community. How do we include them and give them a meaningful part to play in our society? We pay dearly for them hanging around the streets, in terms of crime, health and general community cohesion.
- The impact of burning fossil fuels, and of other activities on global warming and the destruction of our environment cannot be denied. (98% of scientists agree that humankind's impact on global warming is enormous) We need a party in power who will have the insight and courage to take these long term issues seriously.
- Fairer access to health and education resources. More and more we see resources in these areas, available to the rich but not so easily accessed by the poor. If we are to interrupt the poverty cycle we need to make it easier for people to take steps toward a better lifestyle.
- Affordable housing. Home ownership is becoming much more difficult for people in NZ. I still believe that for health, happiness and a sense of security home ownership is much better than renting. Surveys by Habitat for Humanity showed much improved situations for families moving into home ownership. I know "middle NZ" couples struggling to get into home ownership. Whatever can be done to assist people to take this step would be beneficial for the whole community.