Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Future perfect? Not in the present tense.

Now I get it. I can understand what Jianqi and his motley crew meant by their election campaign tag. The first thing I needed to understand about that tag was that the average level of education in New Zealand is pretty bloody poor and as a result press releases, public notices and newspapers are riddled with silly mistakes. It wasn’t ‘brighter future’ at all; it was ‘brighter futures’ as in for Jianqi and his lot.

In other words it means the current Government is dedicated to boosting the economy for the money men and those who are already exceedingly wealthy while totally ignoring the more pressing needs of the general population. And just so we don’t necessarily see it all happening they bring us bread and circuses to distract us.

This is hardly a revelation to many people but I bring it up (it is rather hard to keep down) to demonstrate to the few who might remain unconvinced of this very blatant agenda.

Check out these few facts and see if you still believe this Government has any sort of handle on how to make life better for the majority of Kiwis.

·         The Wellington Rape Crisis Centre is closing its doors one day a week despite their client contacts doubling in the last year because of a $55,000 funding shortfall.

·         Capital & Coast Health has cut funding to the Newtown Union Heath Service; a service that looks after the health needs of many low income people including new immigrants. They are to lose $275,000 per year, which is almost eight percent of their total funding because the DHB is attempting to cut its own budget by $20M over the next three years.

·         New proposals to ‘reform’ the Family Court mean those needing its mediation services which were previously provided free of charge, will now have to pay nearly $900 each time; a proposal that even officials at the Department for Courts have predicted will result in about 1200 fewer people being able to access the services.

·         In a time when unemployment rates are the highest they have been for 18 years and are still growing the Government is cutting $58.8M from the Youth Transition Service which provided training, support and education to school leavers to help them find work.

·         As if that wasn’t enough they also plan to cut $96.4M over the next four years from money available for employment assistance through WINZ.

There are dozens more of these cutbacks throughout most of the services provide by or supported by Government and of course the whole time we are being told it is because of the Global Financial Crisis or the Christchurch Earthquake or the Rena disaster or perhaps because the digits of the year add up to five. In any event the message is that these cutbacks are necessary because we have so many things we need to fund that we have to prioritise them and deal with the most important first.

That would make sense and be accepted by the majority of the population – if it was true. However it is rather hard to swallow the idea that we can’t fund health services for the vulnerable or programmes to get kids off their bums and out of trouble and into work when we still seem to have oodles of dosh to throw at some pretty marginal projects.

Here are some of the sillier examples of what I mean:

·         Gezza Browneye has spent $200M on consultants on what could be called the Roads of National’s Spendthrifts.

·         We currently contribute $1.8B to the IMF and are currently considering increasing this

·         Over the last couple of years we have given billions to bail out collapsed finance companies

·         Last year we guaranteed a $45M loan to Mediaworks a foreign owned private media company with billions of dollars of international assets.

It’s kind of hard to claim we haven’t enough to look after our own problems when we are so free and liberal with sums like that for purposes such as those. But it has just come to my attention that another project that I think is even sillier and wasteful in the current climate is going to scarf down another great pile of money that could be put to better uses.

I will probably offend a few sensibilities with this one, but here goes anyway; I am referring to the plan to build a large war memorial in Wellington to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing.

It is fine to recognise the deeds of those who (misguidedly or otherwise) went to war on our behalf. Although to be strictly accurate they went on behalf of the gutless politicians who always start these things and then send others to fight them. But I digress.

My point is that I have no problem with us holding a shindig in 2015; but why do we need to build an elaborate new war memorial when we already have 453 war memorials in New Zealand? Furthermore why do we need one which is already being calculated quite openly by Government to cost over $80M?

Of course as we all know, such estimates are always incredibly conservative. It is almost certain the project will blow out to well in excess of $100M and probably nearer to $150M.

I am very disappointed in the opposition parties for not opposing this, despite the fact they don’t have the numbers to stop it. But I guess none of them had the stones to do so. The ANZAC spirit is one of our most sacred cows and anyone who dares to do anything that might be perceived as pulling its tits is bound to cop a backlash and be accused of being unpatriotic or unsympathetic towards the sacrifices made by the diggers. The mud that would have been thrown at them would no doubt taint them in the eyes of the majority of people who will think this is something we have to do. I guess it would be an electorally unsound stance to take.

But wait a minute; do we really want politicians who will turn a blind eye to a capital expenditure like this while far more important things are being cut back?

Commemorate and honour the sacrifice each year, by all means, but do we really need to make more graven idols to the madness of war in order to do this?

I would ask anyone who defends this decision to ask themselves again what it was these guys thought they were fighting for. It has always been my understanding they were risking their lives to preserve a good way of life for us all. At least that’s what I’ve always been told. Of course that has been the Government’s propaganda about war since forever, but their motives have always been much less altruistic.

I believe the old soldiers I have spoken to from time to time and who have said they did it because they saw it as their duty to their fellow countrymen. That was what was in their heads and so they wanted us to have a better way of life and to look after our most vulnerable citizens.

I wouldn’t mind betting there will be a lot of these guys spinning in their graves when they see $100M or more going to this project while rape victims are unable to get the support they need, young people are short-changed on their education and all but the wealthy are having their health services compromised.

They’d be even less impressed to see Jianqi racing to knock down the assets many of them paid for so that he and his money market buddies can scoop huge bundles of them up and make even bigger fortunes.

Hmmm definitely brighter futures for them.     

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