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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Cunliffe's economy

To be honest, I’m not convinced by David Cunliffe’s speech to fix NZ’s economy. If you haven’t had the opportunity to read it click on this link:

Yes, I am sympathetic to the Scandinavian economic model of free health care, education and generous welfare scheme for the unemployed and pensioners and the focus on human rights. But in reality, this is a mixed market model that will naturally fall back into the neoliberal trap in order to service the large debt incurred through the excessive government spending and borrowing required to maintain the standard of living currently enjoyed by those citizens. It only takes a quick search on the internet to see that Sweden is stepping up its privatisation scheme to do exactly that.

Additionally, Cunliffe’s speech appropriates the ‘renewable energies’ policy advocated by the Green Party since entry into Parliament, knowing that Labour's competition has not so much been National, but evidently the Greens as apparent in the polls and recent elections. However, in my view, Cunliffe has failed to sell it. Why? Because the objective of implementing policies for the manufacturing of renewable technology is profit. Cunliffe insinuates that if NZ is to be a leader in renewable technology and get in on the $6 trillion dollar industry that it is, the measure of its leadership will always be in dollar value. Also statements such as 'sustainable growth' are hyperbole - economic growth is not sustainable, the earths resources are finite. I do agree that NZ should be aiming to be a user of renewable technology and should ensure in the process that all the steps taken to produce this technology is in accordance with ecologically sustainable practices. NZ should be leaders in effecting global environmental change and simply producing exports that are purportedly 'green' is not enough. It is counterproductive.  To manufacture these technologies requires the use of minerals and therefore mining. So there will be degradation of the environment in order to make such technology. If we do not have the minerals needed in NZ, then we will probably import them in their usable form, so while we may be limiting the effects on our own environment, we increase our ecological footprint through the very process of getting the products needed to make these technologies and then exporting them once they are ready for the market.  

My intuition is that Labour are trying to reduce the influence of the Greens by pushing similar policy, but Cunliffe is a little insincere in proclaiming the evils of neoliberal policy, when his mixed market economy leads to the same neoliberal trap. This is not a long term solution, because the Scandinavian countries are showing us that a mixed model economy cannot be sustained long term, and this is likely the result of a capitalist based system that functions on crisis.

What do I believe is the answer? I don’t know. But what I think is a better way of economising, is as stated in the comments section of my post on ‘Poverty is the result of inequality’:

"where resources are used more efficiently and effectively (ecological sustainability). Capitalism claims to be efficient, but its efficiency is in regards to what it can produce versus how much it cost to produce, so efficiency here is related to ‘money’ – it works against environmental preservation and sustainability. Efficiently economising, would mean that we were not exploiting resources, but in using them we were ensuring that we were not destroying biodiversity and creating environmental hazards. Effectively economising would mean that we were not depriving any person of their basic needs - clean air, water, food, shelter"  
In my view, NZ should be leading the way in global environmental protection/preservation and advocating for the universality of human rights. However, we need the credibility to take up that challenge, which means addressing the inequalities and environmental hazards that successive governments continue blame on global economic conditions - cop out.