What Use Are Businesses That Don’t Pay Workers A Living Wage?

So the minimum wage is to increase by about $1 an hour each year to 2021. That’s approximately $2080 a year for a full time worker. Not exactly winning Lotto. It’s hard to see how anyone could object to that. Yet already there are claims that it will lead to job losses and worse. Continue reading

We Voted For Change. Will We Get It?

It looks like voters will find out sooner rather than later whether they really did get the change of government they voted for.

The TPP partners minus the US are to meet in Japan in the next two weeks to try to revive the deal. Sadly, it appears the content is the same as it has always been, from investor state dispute settlement clauses to lengthened copyright and patent times which will bump up the price of medicine. It is still just a tool to allow corporations, many of which are, ironically, US based, to impose their rules on democratically elected governments to maximise corporate profits.

Prior to becoming the government, the Greens, Labour, and NZ First all spoke out against the TPP. They agreed trade deals need a major overhaul to ensure they work in the best interests of the people and the environment, not big corporations. Based on what was said, it should be safe to assume that New Zealand will not even consider aligning itself with the deal as it stands. Continue reading

Trade Agreements For The 21st Century

The world has changed significantly since the emergence of ‘free’ trade in the 1980s. In 2017 tariffs are the least of our worries.

We now know that the earth’s resources are finite and are being used up much faster than they can be replenished.

We know that carbon dioxide emissions are set to cause catastrophic climate change if we do not act quickly to reduce them. Continue reading

Time To End The Love Affair With Profit

Profit – what’s left over after all the expenses are paid, that’s all it is. But it has achieved cult status in the last few decades – since gambling on the share market became a favourite sport for those with a few dollars to spare.

Profit, or potential to make a profit, determines the size of the dividend shareholders get each year. CEOs’ reputations, and salaries, are based on their ability to keep growing the profits of the organization they spearhead.

But profit means only one thing, exploitation. Workers are paid too little. Consumers are charged too much. Natural resources are acquired too cheaply and/or shortcuts are taken around health and safety and environmental protection. And it means not sharing ideas and information that could improve the lives of people everywhere. Ever-increasing profit usually means exploitation in all of these areas. Continue reading

Crime And Punishment Is Not An Election Issue

Do we want to reduce crime in this country? If so, electioneering politicians should butt out. ‘Getting tough’ on criminals, such a popular election year mantra, is nothing like the same as reducing crime. To mete out a tough punishment means waiting until a crime is committed – a bit late for the victim of the crime.

Crime has been trending downwards for the past decade or so. Despite that, most people having the impression that crime rates are going up. We are wasting money on more prisons – and now Boot Camps. They are just vote catchers for the National/ACT government. Continue reading

Sometimes “The Law Is An Ass”

One of the most persistent cries this week – from even nice, well meaning people – has been, “the law is the law, you’ve got to obey the law.” But sometimes, to quote Charles Dickens, ”the law is an ass”.

The rule of law is important, but not an end in itself. Laws are supposed to serve the people. Not vice versa. Good law empowers everyone. Good law does not oppress anyone.

Laws are a product of society at a snapshot in time, more particularly the dominant sector of that society. There are plenty of laws that are or were designed to protect the interests of that dominant sector at the expense of other sectors of society. Continue reading

An Instant Solution To The Housing Crisis?

Too many people do not have a home to call their own simply because they can’t afford one. Something needs to be done now. We can’t wait for new houses to be built. Besides, it is generally acknowledged that the problem is not a shortage of houses, but a shortage of affordable houses. New housing developments to date have only provided a fraction of the affordable houses needed.

The quickest and easiest fix to the affordable housing crisis might be for the government to take a leaf out of the land bankers’ book and start their own land bank, with a twist – a public land bank with houses on it. Continue reading

Are We Ready to Get Serious About Reducing Inequality?

Inequality: we know it’s bad for everyone. We know we need to reduce it. We want to reduce it – sort of.

The worship of wealth goes deep. The exorbitantly expensive cars, private jets, yachts, mansions, luxurious holiday homes, clothes, the glamorous lifestyles enjoyed by the very wealthy are beguiling. The prestige, the power, the ability to get anything you want whenever you want it. These are things that most people, if they were brutally honest, would find it very hard to say ‘no’ to. Are we ready to give up the dream that one day, with a bit of luck, our horse will come in and we could find ourselves a multimillionaire? Continue reading

Enough About Immigration – Change the Record Please!

It is disturbing that immigration has become an election issue. There is nothing to debate. New Zealand is a relatively underpopulated nation. We can absorb more people. We need to absorb more people if climate change causes sea levels to rise and forces our Pacific Island neighbours from their homes. Or if war or lack of access to basic resources such as food and water make some areas of our planet unliveable. Continue reading

Uncap Health Funding

Somewhere, somehow we have become conditioned to the idea of health funding being capped.

We complain often that the healthcare budget is not big enough, but do not ask why it should be capped in the first place. Medical procedures are not something people undergo for fun. Surely everyone who needs medical treatment should get it as soon as possible? Continue reading