Social Investment: Social Failure?

The terms ‘social’ and ‘investment’ are an unlikely combination. Proof economists have crossed the final frontier and sallied forth with their spreadsheets into social services. Social investment means, “investment to achieve better long-term results for people and helping them to become more independent. This reduces the number of New Zealanders relying on social services and the overall costs for taxpayers” (Treasury briefing paper on social investment 2016).

To be blunt, the social investment approach is too narrow and too nasty. It involves too much invasion of privacy, too much blame, too much resentment about sharing our collective wealth for our collective benefit. And it paves the way for government-funded social service delivery to be just another profit-making opportunity for overseas corporations. Continue reading

Immigration – Refugees Not Richlisters

Immigration is not the ‘issue’ – our government’s approach to it is. Over the past few decades our politicians in their wisdom have decided to apply the neoliberal trickle down theory to immigration. According to neoliberal theory, the ideal immigrants to New Zealand would be the wealthy.

So successive governments have gone to great lengths to encourage people with large sums of money to invest to come and live here. Their wealth was supposed to trickle down and provide jobs and income for the rest of us. 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

You Have To Be Green To Be Red?

Environmental issues and social justice are intertwined. Global warming can only be averted by using the Earth’s resources in a fair and sustainable way.

Likewise, social justice can only occur if global warming is at least contained. Those most at risk from a planet with frequent extreme climate events, pollution, and scarcity of resources, are the same people at risk from unscrupulous employers who refuse to pay a living wage and provide safe working conditions. Continue reading

Neoliberalism is Nasty

If we learn nothing else from the TPP debacle, it is that Neoliberalism is nasty. And its proponents are hypocrites.

One of the main sticking points in TPP negotiations now is the protection period, that’s right, protection period, on the use of clinical data behind the approval of new biological drugs. One would assume the TPP would be arguing for little or no protection period. After all, it is about removing barriers to trade; we are told so, repeatedly. But no, the proposed 12 year protection period is at least double what most of the signatory countries now have. The TPP is surely not about free trade. Continue reading