Bugger the Polls, tax the rich and hold the line sleepy hobbits
Another bout of bullshit cheap brainfart telephone polls burped out of the mainstream media this week, Petra (bless her) on TVNZ Breakfast earnestly asked Phil Goff, 'how do you turn things around when your polls are so bad'.
Phil was way too polite.
Phil should have attacked the polls, should have pointed out that the landline methodology so favoured by the expedient and under paid journalists don't work in a recession this steep, that the NZ Herald digi poll using the exact same failed methodology predicted the race between Banks and Brown was neck and neck (Len of course won by a landslide), that the very same failed methodology predicted Hone would only win by 1% in Te Tai Tokerau (he of course won by over 9%).
Phil should have pointed out that these cheap telephone brainfart polls are attempting to manipulate public opinion rather than reflect it.
Which is of course exactly what the mainstream media are attempting to do by allowing a Government propagandist and pollster like David Farrar unchallenged space to peddle his soft sell push polling messages as 'political columns' and is the reason why most of the mainstream media continue to base their headlines on gutter raking by whaleoil who has predicted Phil Goff will be rolled more often than the West have proclaimed victory in the war on terrorism.
Watching our incompetent mainstream media's love affair with John Key in our first official cult of no personality has reminded me there are two types of NZer - the Shire Volk who support an unjust system because they benefit from it and the sleepy hobbits who just bounce from candy flossed news story to candy flossed news story without challenging any of the real issues.
In short we've dumbed down debate so far, that a smile and a wave can win an election. How cringe worthy. How ugly. How casually fascist.
As the brilliant Gareth Morgan so righteously points out in his brilliant column today...
One could be forgiven, in the light of the jargon of government-appointed tax working groups and welfare working groups, for believing that the main tax policy objective is to stop tax dodging and the main redistribution issue is to end welfare bludging. That's how dumbed-down and myopic the New Zealand discussion on tax and distribution has become.
...he is of course right. We have been so led in our thinking by a mainstream media who are as uncritical as State Libyan Television into refusing to even comprehend that our tax system is the egalitarian back bone of our nation that prevents us becoming a plutocracy by the elites, in the interest of the elites, and for the elites.
Much better that we bennie bash those who are powerless and force parents back to work rather than look after their child and create a tax system that enriches the wealthy while robbing from the poor. Better we are led to bitch about tax cuts and ignore the 210 000 NZ children in poverty while the 150 richest families gain in one year $7 billion, better that we don't question how we were plunged into an economic recession that demands those who had no hand in creating it do with less.
As far as the mainstream media are concerned, it is better we stay sleepy hobbits.
But I believe we are made of sterner stuff, I believe that sleepy hobbits can wake up and I believe those bonds of social obligations via redistributive tax were forged in fires far deeper than the pockets of our vacantly optimistic Prime Minister. When the rich and poor of NZ fought on the battlefields where our Nations honour was tested, they stood shoulder to shoulder and held the line. THEY decided that if all shared in the sacrifice of democracy, then all should share in the fruits of that democracy.
The mainstream media never tell us that narrative about ourselves.
Mike Williams reminds a spooked left that there is plenty of time for the polls to turn and that we need to recognise that the Rugby World Cup was always going to dominate until the 5 weeks when we could debate the issues. NZ has one of the highest voter turn out rates in the OECD, we take voting seriously and Goff can beat Key one on one in those debates because the free market dogma Key espouses has failed, and continues to fail.
Anthony Hubbards echos points I've made about Key's vacant optimism becoming his greatest weakness...
National's biggest asset will begin to shed its value. The smiley face might even become a liability, an empty grin amid the ruins.
...where I disagree with Anthony is that a Labour plus Greens Plus Mana Party majority would be the worst of wins, it would show a majority do not want to follow the punitive free market privatization solutions suggested by Key. Where I agree with Anthony is that at this stage, Labour simply haven't done enough to deserve a win and they are running out of time to earn that.
The reality for Phil is that by having the leadership handed to him by Helen, he didn't earn it. Political leadership is about seizing power, it can not be handed to you, without the blood of victory, the throne is crowded and not singular in direction. That political truism however is no excuse for allowing the Government to win, if Key is re-elected a punitive bennie bashing agenda mixed with a privatization agenda will swamp this country and damage our communities once again, just like they did last time when we saw our suicide rates sky rocket to the national shame they are today. We can not write off an entire generation of NZers for the interests of the wealthy so they continue to justify their 'right' not to be taxed more.
While National will have the most votes on the night, they may have no coalition partners and proof that not even they believe the mainstream media's nonsense of 60% support is that they are desperately cutting sleazy deals around the political spectrum to hold onto those tails so the dog can wag.
The message for those on the left of NZ is clear - hold the line, only the mainstream media and right wing fantasists believe this election is in the bag.
The final word to Gareth...
It requires abandoning stereotypes that populist politics incites. It is not true that those on benefits or not in paid work are inferior, and need to be whipped out of their complacency, that they would be "better" people if they were in paid work.
Yet the Welfare Working Group's recommendations which National is now implementing assume just that.
That our consumer society has become so mesmerised by materialism that the common belief is that everyone should be in paid work is testimony to the corrosion of what we value and our obsession with material gain, no matter how trivial. We have, sadly, lost the plot.
As Adam Smith said of the materially poor: "The difference between the most dissimilar characters, between a philosopher and a common street porter, for example, seems to arise not so much from nature as from habit, custom and education."
There is nothing lackadaisical about the poor.
Our tax and welfare policy is in urgent need of reconstruction so it ensures equal opportunity for all to participate and fully realise their potential in society in its widest sense - whether it be the paid or the unpaid workforce.
The chauvinism in policies that disparage unpaid work - whether it be care of the elderly, juveniles or of the community - has run way too far and will alienate more and more.
Time for sleepy hobbits to wake up now, John's smile and wave holds no answers for us as a country.