by Don Franks
Poverty in New Zealand today has new ugly features. Adequate housing is beyond the reach of thousands. More and more people full time workers must beg food parcels from charities.
Having no attainable prospects, young people lash out and steal. A response to poverty from The Daily Blog is their “People’s Budget”.
Here are some of its points:
-Affordable Housing – Stop speculators using existing property to borrow for more loans by increasing the deposit the more property they have.
-Free Public Transport: Rather than welfare increases that the cruel and insidious MSD clawback, put money back into the pockets of the poorest with free public transport, while reducing climate pollution AND making roads more free for those who need to use them. Free Public Transport would make voters care.
-Free Dental Services: Our lack of free Dental is a disgraceful outcome of free market neoliberalism over public health.
-Free Breakfast and lunches in all schools: Again, rather than welfare increases that the cruel and insidious MSD claw back, put money back into the pockets of the poorest with free Breakfasts and Lunches at school. With inflation and mortgage rates soaring even the children of the middle classes will benefit.
-50 000 State House Build: Rather than simply trying to fund flawed models of a rigged property market built for speculators, do mass State Housing builds for only State House tenants and owner occupiers with rent to own options. Build these on Golf Courses we seize back from Auckland and Wellington using the Public Works Act.
-First $20 000 Tax Free: Most people earn barely $40 000, making the first $20 000 tax free would benefit the poorest first and most.
-Vice Tax on all Gambling, Tobacco & Booze: A special super tax on top of the total tax paid for products that are a blight upon society. Why should the Gambling Booze Vape Barons peddle their harmful products with the barest of responsibility?
-Remove GST from fresh fruit and vegetables.
Low paid workers would benefit from such reforms, how might they actually happen? The Daily Blog concluded:
“We need a radical means to place the yoke of taxation onto those who are causing the most economic damage and greed – the Banks, the Corporates and Speculators!
“Labour must think big on funding universal provision of services to survive the economic downturn and the new post-Covid reality in a climate warming world!”
“To fund these big services we need a new tax system. A Financial Transaction Tax penalises those who are the greediest while funding the services that benefit everyone.”
As if in reply, Labour’s Finance Minister Grant Robertson today produced his latest budget.
Political commentator Bryce Edwards noted:
“As a sign of how mild the Budget really is, it’s worth trying to locate any particular initiative that would be totally out of place under a National government. Certainly, it’s not that hard to imagine Bill English or Nicola Willis delivering this Budget. It’s hard to see any one particular Budget spend that a “compassionate conservative” or electorally-minded National government couldn’t have signed itself up to.”
Political activist John Minto wrote: “ By keep down the number of state houses the government is bolstering the incomes of middle-class New Zealanders who have rental properties. Keeping the housing supply tight for low-income families forces these families to stay in private sector rentals and pay impossible rents. The government then subsidises these impossibly high rents through the accommodation supplement rather than build state houses themselves. For those on low-incomes this is a landlord’s budget.”
If the Daily Blog really cares about materially helping poor people they need to stop bullshitting. Labour is not about to “penalise those who are the greediest”. The party which introduced GST is not about to take it off. Noone seriously expects Labour to attack the interests of property speculators, golf course owners, the liquor industry or any other capitalist enterprises. Saying a party committed to capitalism should tax the rich to help the poor is just hot air. These myths about Labour only help those at the top, by delaying people’s recognition of need for a working class alternative.