Baby Boomer intergenerational theft extends into political representation
Baby boomers' wealth explodes
This week Roy Morgan published its annual State of the Nation survey showing a stunning rise in the wealth of New Zealanders aged 55 and over.
The survey of 5000 older New Zealanders asked them how much they were worth and how much debt they had compared with the broader population.
The report confirms an extraordinary shift in the structure of wealth in New Zealand, raising important questions for politicians, policy makers and voters. Anyone aged 30 or lower should look away now. It may prove too painful to read.
Who will rid me of this troublesome generation? I'm not speaking as a bitter Gen Xer who has been forced to pay for all the privileges of a liberal democracy that Baby Boomers have exhausted while property speculating Gen Xers out of a first home. I'm not talking about the naked intergenerational theft of propping up their retirement funds while the rest of us pay for our own and I'm not talking about the manner in which these damned boomers hold on for dear life to the tops of the domestic career platforms exacerbating the fleeing overseas of Gen Xers, no I'm talking about the impact these boomers have on the election.
When the boomer weekly NZ Listener has Linda Clark on their cover bitching about having to change careers, you know that once again the cultural froth from the leafier suburbs of NZ are dominating all political dialogue.
Interesting research paper that the Parliamentary library has just put out “Final Results for the 2011 New Zealand General Election and Referendum”, highlights growing boomer power.
The 60+ age group is now the single largest voting block (821,500 voters) in NZ, representing 25% of all voters, and up from the 21% share this age group accounted for in 1996. The under 30 age group are 22% of the total voting age population, but accounted for 67% of the total eligible voters who were not enrolled for last year’s general election.
Boomer privilege is crushing the rest of the country, not simply in terms of reaping the benefits of a life of free public services and cherished rights watered down for the rest of society, but in terms of their vast political weight bearing down on the rest of us. We need strategies focused on empowering the rest of society to balance the never ending demands of the boomer generation, we need to re-enfranchise those disempowered. I've discussed these strategies in The Universal Suffrage Project 2014.
1: Lower the voting age to 16 alongside civics education classes in School to start the passion for democracy at a younger age. Taxation without representation is that most heinous of high crimes against citizens and taxing 16 and 17 year olds minus their right to say how that tax should be spent is worth expanding the franchise of democracy all on its own minus the wider social good of allowing the young their say.
2: Allow any voter to go onto the unpublished electoral roll and make the process as easy as ticking a box. So many of our citizens are on the run from debt collectors or abusive spouses that they refuse to enroll so as to not be detected. Any NZer can go onto the unpublished roll but the Electoral Commission goes out of its way to demand all sorts of reasons for it to occur. If the end point is to make it as easy as possible for citizens to participate, streaming this process and making it as easy as a box tick is a priority.
3: Make the date of the election a Wednesday and make it a public holiday. We bitch so much in this country about not having a day we can celebrate as NZers because white people feel so guilty about Waitangi Day, why not search for that which binds us and celebrate that? Election Day should be a celebration because we are one of the few privileged nations around the planet that allows political leadership to change minus violence and repression. Our exercising of the right to vote peacefully is celebration in itself and making it a mid week public holiday would do more for participation rates than any single thing the Justice and Electoral Select Committee review could endorse.
4: The National Party as part of their disgustingly unethical redneck tough on crime posturing passed law stripping prisoners of their rights to vote. Removing a prisoner incarcerated for less than 3 years their ability to vote removes any connection a prisoner might have with civil society. The argument is that prisoners who are inside for less than 3 years should be able to vote because the decision of the election will impact them one way or another once they are released within the lifetime of that Government. Nationals redneck worship by stripping prisoners of their right to vote puts us on the opposite side of the European Court of Human Rights who have argued against this type of prisoner flogging. Their argument is that incarceration doesn't remove your human right to vote, this is a positron far too intellectual for the National Party who seem more comfortable at farmer shed lynchings than the finer details of how the state should treat the incarcerated.
5: Expand the civics course in schools to immigrant communities and make the course a compulsory part of becoming a NZer so that new citizens know their civic rights and responsibilities.We do our new citizens a terrible disservice by not extending any hand of welcome when they become NZers other than a certificate ceremony. How can we expect them to interact in civil society with all the autonomy citizens have if the history and cultural norms haven't been explained?
We need to engineer a new democratic focus that promotes the interests of younger generations and doesn't leave the country to the whims of a bloated locust generation whose sense of entitlement is now putting the rest of the system at risk.