Brexit: Know Your Enemy

The British people are struggling. They are hurting. And they have lashed out in the only way open to them right now – voting to leave the European Union.

Like New Zealand, Britain has never recovered since neoliberalism popped up, seemingly out of the blue, and caught us unawares in the Thatcher years (Rogernomics in our case). Under neoliberalism, cunning corporates managed to get the rules changes so that the rich get richer, those in the middle get poorer, and the poor miss out altogether. Continue reading

Dunedin’s Private Public Hospital?

Dunedin Public Hospital is in line for a much needed $300 million revamp. It has recently been revealed (ODT Sat 11 June) that potential tenderers have been told by the Ministry of Health that a public private partnership (PPP) should be considered.

The question is why? Why would the government get a private corporation to borrow money for the costs of the revamp as well as build it? Then repay this corporation the costs of construction, plus the cost of borrowing the money, plus a generous profit margin for both. Surely it is cheaper for the government to pay for the costs of construction itself. And it would have far greater control over the rebuild, albeit with greater public accountability. Continue reading

Likely Outcome Of Outcomes Model: Social Disaster

Our social services focused government departments have recently moved to an Outcomes Model. The Outcomes Model is supposed to result in improved efficiency and greater accountability from service providers. This should mean the government gets better value for its investment. Sounds good in theory. However, in the context of our neoliberal political environment, the Outcomes Model has the potential for social disaster.

Neoliberal governments are wedded to austerity and desperate to reduce social spending. It is couched in other terms, but the purpose for the change to the Outcomes Model is clear; the desired outcome is that people no longer use social services. Continue reading

Making Friends With The Robots – The Swiss Vote In June On A Universal Basic Income

On 5th June Switzerland will become the first country to vote on a universal basic income. It is a timely referendum. One of the main arguments for a UBI is that technological advances mean we face a future where there will not be paid employment for everyone. And that ‘future’ may be upon us. Continue reading

Act Against Corporate Welfare, Rescue The Common Good

Corporate welfare exists in secret trusts and corporations that play one country’s tax laws off against another’s to avoid paying taxes whilst heavying governments for handouts. Corporate welfare exists in misnamed ‘trade’ treaties, like the TPP, that allow overseas corporations to dispute the decisions of elected governments and embed corporate money spinners like the extension of copyright and patent law worldwide.

Corporate welfare fuels the “relentless machine of corporate profit.” And corporate welfare subverts the common good. Continue reading

Why Does Anyone Want A 70-year Copyright Term?

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Amendment Bill passed its first reading last week by three votes. Those in favour: National, ACT, United Future, and Phil Goff.

What National, ACT, United Future, and Phil Goff mainly voted to do was increase our copyright term to 70 years after the death of the artist or after it is first made available to the public, depending on who holds the copyright. Why? Continue reading

Tax Free Hideouts, Overseas Investment Thresholds, And The TPP

The government is determined to press ahead with the law changes needed to implement the Trans-Pacific Partnership as quickly as possible – before people get their heads around what is really happening. And there is plenty happening.

The Overseas Investment Office is under scrutiny for letting unsuitable buyers buy up land, and the Panama Papers indicate foreign trusts can use New Zealand as a tax haven. At present anyone, anywhere can invest up to $100 million in New Zealand without needing government approval.

Once the TPP is ratified that threshold will be raised to $200 million. Expect the concept of ‘sensitive land’ to get some serious legal scrutiny as well. Which begs the question why even bother with the Overseas Investment Office? Continue reading