Fair Trade Agreements Are The Way Of The Future

Many New Zealanders have spent the best part of the last two years fighting that misnamed “free trade” agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), with no end in sight. And now we have its spawn, TISA (Trades In Services Agreement) and PACER-Plus (a Pacific free trade and investment agreement covering 14 Pacific Island countries, plus Australia and New Zealand), to contend with. The Europeans have their equivalent in the TTIP, and they don’t like it any more than we do. Continue reading

Time For Coalition To Show Willing

The master of spin, Prime Minister John Key, has fired the first shots across the bow of the opposition parties. His quip to the media about “the coalition of the unwilling” will set the tone for the 2017 election and destroy the credibility of the opposition unless they move swiftly to prove him wrong and demonstrate that the wider left can work together. Continue reading

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