The Economic Bubble
A recent article at the Guardian has heralded the third consecutive win for John Key’s centre-right National party, referencing certain statistics that demonstrate that the National led coalition government has managed to strengthen the economy despite the worldwide recession.
This is all well and good – at least in the short term. However, contrast those statistics from the latter editorial with this article from Forbes entitled “12 Reasons Why New Zealand‘s Economic Bubble Will End in Disaster” and we might get a more complete picture of the future of New Zealand. This article was written by an expert in the area, Jesse Colombo, who accurately predicted that the global recession would happen.
Let’s just take one of the issues mentioned in the article: public debt. Contrary to what the government has been telling the public, debt has dramatically increased since the Key government first took the reins in 2008. But don’t take my word for it. The Forbes article listed above states that at the time of writing, debt has nearly tripled since 2008. This article on Stuff.co.nz, a prominent New Zealand news site, puts New Zealand‘s current debt as climbing at $27 million a day.
Readers are encouraged to read the article and to do further research. In short, New Zealand is showing exactly the same symptoms that the global financial market was showing before the 2008 recession happened in the first place. The reason the government has managed to boost the economy despite a recession is because of certain external factors such as a Chinese bubble boost and the rebuild which is taking place in earthquake-damaged Christchurch.
This growth will not last forever. Who will be to blame when this economic bubble pops?
Wholesale Surveillance and Terrorism
Despite revelations from former NSA analyst Edward Snowden that New Zealand‘s Government Security Communications Bureau (GCSB) contributes to XKeyscore and NSA wholesale surveillance systems – and despite the fact that John Key has more or less conceded that these revelations are accurate – the general public of New Zealand have considered this to be a non-issue. Recent events in the Middle East and across the ditch in Australia have helped strengthen the public’s resolve that these systems are necessary.
No one in Australia (or New Zealand) seems to be asking where on earth Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) received their funding, training and equipment from. No one is asking how it was possible that the group waltzed unimpeded through Iraq and into Syria with mass quantities of Iraqi Armed Forces equipment. Instead, the public is all too quick to once again adopt the post 9/11 paranoia with the “us versus them” mentality that accompanies it, taking their anger out on ordinary Muslims who, if anything, have publicly distanced themselves from ISIS. Fortunately, I can show you an informative documentary that explains exactly who is responsible for ISIS and the current situation in Iraq and Syria, and why.
The “nothing to hide therefore nothing to fear” argument only applies if one conforms to the status quo of New Zealand and its allies. Kim Dotcom is not a terrorist yet he was spied on (illegally) before his mansion was raided by armed police and his assets were frozen. The victims of the Uruwera “terror raids” in 2007 were not terrorists but a combination of unrelated social activists and political dissidents. Section 7 of the recently amended Government Communications Security Bureau Act states that the objective of the bureau is to contribute to the “national security of New Zealand; and the international relations and well-being of New Zealand; and the economic well-being of New Zealand“. So, if you oppose New Zealand being a signatory to the secretly negotiated Trans Pacific Partnership agreement because you think a government losing its sovereignty to overseas corporations is a bad idea, can you be targeted by the GCSB? (For those of you who don’t know, John Key has made it quite clear that he intends to sign this rights-eroding “free trade” agreement).
If we really cared this much about terrorism, the New Zealand government would openly condemn international players such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, NATO member states and most importantly the United States for spending millions of dollars funding and training jihadists. However, John Key has made it quite clear that he will blindly support the bid for war in this region. In doing so, did John Key ever mention that Syria is Iran’s closest ally, bound by a mutual defence pact?
Furthermore, John Key has openly supported Barack Obama’s drone assassination program and it has recently come to light that the GCSB has been complicit in this program. Never mind that the US is not at war with Yemen, Pakistan or Somalia. Never mind that these drone strikes have killed thousands of civilians and systematically refuse the target a right to due process. Never mind that a New Zealand citizen was killed by one of these drone strikes without due process. Would it be okay if China or Russia conducted drone strikes in New Zealand‘s territory?
Other Domestic News
Domestically, the national government has placed a blanket ban on prisoners’ right to vote – a right afforded to New Zealanders by the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act. Approximately half of the prison population in New Zealand identify as being Maori, the indigenous population of New Zealand, and therefore thousands of Maori have lost their right to vote.
In late 2013, the government also held a nationwide referendum to determine if New Zealanders would support the sale of some of their key assets. The referendum cost millions of dollars and the resulting verdict was very telling in that the majority of New Zealanders answered “no.” John Key ignored the referendum and sold the assets off anyway. The government has also cut funding from many crucial volunteer organisations such as Rape Crisis centres. In that context, does it make sense that the government has enough money to spend millions of dollars on a referendum that they ultimately ignored?
Rather than admitting that the left needs to be better organised there are some who are claiming that the voting was rigged. Many have even signed a petition calling for a recount. Before we go down that road, we should first consider a number of factors. Firstly, one should bear in mind that almost the same amount of people who voted for National didn’t vote at all. Secondly, when Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected in 2009, the country faced large scale riots. We have seen nothing close to this in New Zealand. The political left is going to have to face the fact that the “smiling assassin” is extremely popular with the New Zealand public and recent revelations about National’s attack politics have done nothing to damage this rise in popularity, no matter how dirty these tactics are. If anything, these tactics have done exactly what they were intended to do.
What does it mean to be popular anyway? Adolph Hitler was popular. McDonald’s is popular. Bashar al-Assad, who we are told constantly by the mainstream media is a mass murdering psychopath, won the 2014 election in Syria by a landslide.
Obviously these include only a smidgen of the issues that exist under a National led government. There are also undoubtedly many people who do benefit from a National government, particularly those who are business oriented. However, to claim those benefits you still have to disregard all of the other issues mentioned above. To see what life is like for many New Zealanders who do not benefit from a National government, have a five minute conversation with the average beneficiary. However, this time around National have won so many seats in Parliament that they can form a government by themselves if they wanted; as well as acquiring the unlimited potential to ram through any piece of legislation they want. There is no court in New Zealand which can (or will) declare a piece of law invalid (though there is some hope in this area).
If you voted for the National party, and you are okay with all of the above, then that is fine. But you can’t claim you voted that way for any morally or pragmatically superior reasons.