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Prebs Rebs - following Mad Dog - Young Labour

Future Lefts Monday 31 January, 2000

`Come and get me, filthy Tory'


CONTENTS: Editorial: Mad Right-Wingers, and "We Won The War" A response to last week's column Rebels misfire again! The News - Silly Season Over; Politics is Happening Again! Web site of the week


Editorial - Mad Right-Wingers, and "We Won The War"

Well well, we have thrown the cat among the pigeons haven't we?

Last week's Future Lefts led to all sorts of reactions. The Prebble's Rebels in a dimwitted media release on Tuesday (http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0001/S00027.htm) engaged in a lengthy discussion of my apparent left wing lunacy which led to a response from me (further down in this newsletter) criticising their personal attack on me. Next thing I know, I'm being commented about on the Rebels web forum, and, perhaps most spectacularly, in the latest issue of `New Write', which is the figment of the imagination (overactive, in my opinion) of one Philip Rennie. It's been a busy week!

I won't dedicate space to the Young Nats here, but have a look at their column. It's great fun; you can find it at http://www.youngnats.org.nz/newwrite28jan2000.htm and it is a spectacular read. I strongly, strongly advise anyone reading this column to go and have a look at it. Nowhere in politics have I ever seen anything that is so embarrassing to the sponsoring organisation.

But on to real politics.

One of the most revealing things with respect to the `born to rule' attitudes of the Nats is the way they can't seem to understand that the rollback of their nine year project to destroy the welfare state isn't going to be distracted by their ranting. I am referring specifically to the continual stirrings over the restoration of ACC as a public service, the carping about the tax increase on wealthy New Zealanders, and the restoration of some union rights in the work place. They try and state that their experiment succeeded, and that these changes will put the country's future at risk.

Yet nothing could be further from the truth. Such views display an ignorance of comparative countries and of alternative economic policies that could only come from squadrons of ill-educated BA (politics) students without a clue as to the real world's economic and social policy issues. It is an empirical fact that in the 1984-99 period the Australian economy grew faster than ours, despite a much more highly regulated labour market, significantly higher marginal tax rates and a range of policy interventions and subsidies from central Government and state Governments to industry.

It is another fact that the United States economy is in its longest ever economic expansion, under a president whose first action was to hugely increase top tax rates, and to propose (if unsuccessfully) the socialisation of the medical care system of the United States.

I mention these things to demonstrate that the `TINA' doctrine - `there is no alternative' - is utter crap. There are _always_ alternatives in economic and social policy. The right's crude attempts to dismantle the welfare state here does not bear supporting on practical economic terms, let alone any others - it has led to an undertrained and unproductive labour force, and a populace that often felt itself under siege, a feeling that was at its worst when Shipley cut benefits in 1991.

So the economic `success' of the reforms is at question. The political failure, in their own terms, has been total. Despite the rhetoric, the state in New Zealand is not significantly smaller than it was in 1984. In fact, it is significantly larger in terms of the % of GDP it consumes. Only in 1990-92 was there a serious attempt to reduce the scope of state activity - and that was given up with alacrity as soon as it was understood that it would lead to political suicide. Only the divisions on the left in '93 allowed the Nats to scrape home. Since then we have seen real increases in government spending in every category. So the facts of the matter are that despite the rhetoric, the right hasn't made us any `freer' at all.

Not only that, but the people have consistently rejected the view of `freedom' the right espouses. Labour was punished in 1990 for division, but also for trying to foist an undesired economic policy on New Zealand. 1993 saw National nearly destroyed and only saved by division on the left. 1996 saw a blatant lie by NZ First allow National to hang on to power despite what the electorate wanted. This demonstrates that the people have never accepted the welfare cutting agenda of the right, and that the conception of freedom that most New Zealanders adhere to is somewhat more sophisticated than a Neanderthal `low tax is good' doctrine.

The challenge for the new Government, of course, in this record of the economic and political failure of the neo-liberal reform programme, is to put something robust in its place. We need an ideological framework rooted in New Zealand society and responsive to the needs and wants of all our people. And we need economic, environmental and social policies that work together to achieve our goals of a prosperous, fair and united New Zealand. Underpinning it has to be an understanding that for most of us, `freedom' means opportunity more than it means freedom from constraint in the form of taxation. And that remains, as it always has been, the message of socialism.

Jordan Carter Editor, YL Vice President


A response to last week's column.

Got this feedback from a reader last week. It becomes even more relevant with the bizarre and hilarious Young Nats newsletter discussed above. Read on!

>Delivered-To: carters@c.pop.ihug.co.nz >Date: Tue, 25 Jan 2000 14:51:05 +0800 >From: Keith Ng >X-Mailer: Mozilla 4.7 [en] (Win95; I) >X-Accept-Language: en >To: carters@ihug.co.nz >Subject: Good work.. > >I've just finished reading you recent edition of Future Lefts, and >despite myself being "on the other side", and disagreeing with the >economic principles (what litte there was) stated, I have to say though, >it was very well written. And on a most fustrating (though not for you) >note, your writing and ideas was of far, far higher quality than >anything Young Nats has to offer. > >Being utilitarian and moderate right, I was seriously considering >joining Young Nats - until I actually went to their website. It was an >outright travisty, propaganda more shallow and transparent than even >that of the Stalinist days. I urge you, regarding that media release >rebutting Daniel Gordon - do it. For the sake of intelligence and >dignity itself - it's a wrong that must be righted, he deserves it. > >Let me make it clear that I'm in no way denouncing the policies of the >Right, or even the leaders of the Right in general - just that of the >Young Nats. I hope that you will publish this in the next Future Left, >because in the final analysis, the Left need a credible Right to >stimluate it, to keep it in check, and to constantly scrutinize its >ideas, and vice versa. And for the youth Right to become credible, it >needs nothing short of a coup, and fast. > > >Keith Ng of the Vision Group >Wellington (though currently in Hong Kong) > > >P.S. A matter of economics (regarding the statement in the 3rd world >debt section): wouldn't devaluing the currency *increase* real export >earnings? > >P.S.S. And, if all these banks suddenly lost trillions to these debts >simply disappearing a) many of them would collaspe right there setting >off a chain-reaction that could easily crush entire first world >economies, b) assuming they survive, no banks would ever lend to a third >world country again.


Rebels misfire again!

“Prebs Rebs - following Mad Dog" - Young Labour

"It seems that the Prebbles' Rebels are following in the footsteps of their mentor when it comes to personalised attacks on their opponents," Jordan Carter, Vice President of Young Labour commented this afternoon.

"After their election loss, the entire right is in disarray. The Rebels seem to be following this trend. Instead of putting forward their own views, they are merely attacking me personally - much the same as the Young Nats tried to do some weeks ago.

"For Clint Heine's information (President of the Rebels), it is he and not me who is out of touch with young people today. Heine's dream society is one where poor people are left to waste away on their own, where the environment is at the mercy of anyone who wants to abuse it, and where opportunity is only there for those who can afford to buy it.

"Young people don't follow that view. Most of us actually care about our country and our society. Socialism is the ideological framework which distills that instinctive caring for others into a coherent political programme," continued Jordan Carter.

"While most shy away from the word these days, the truth of the matter is that the only alternative to the new right reforms the world is turning its back on is democratic socialism. Parties like Labour are enjoying electoral success around the world, with the support of young people. Economic success in today's changing world depends on everyone having access to health and education - a core socialist ideal, and something Clint Heine's party opposes.

"Far from me living in the past," concluded Jordan Carter, "it's Clint Heine who wants to go back to the Victorian age. He's free to do so - but he's not got young people behind him."


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