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

Cleaning Up The Mess Neoliberals Left Behind

Former National Prime Minister Jim Bolger has admitted Neoliberalism was a mistake. It is music to the ears. May he be the first of many to recant.

It would be churlish (but tempting) to point out that the Alliance Party and others warned at the time that Neoliberalism would be a mistake. Neoliberalism, we said, would lead to poverty, inequality, and unaffordable housing and all the social problems associated with this.

The Left was right. But now is not the time to gloat. Too much damage has been done. Now is the time to talk about how to clean up the mess the Neoliberals have left us. Continue reading

New Leader, Same Old?

We have a new Prime Minister – or do we? John Key may have been the front person for the National Party, but he was not driving policies. It is widely acknowledged Bill English did that, and he is the new Prime Minister. The question is, can Mr English sell his policies as effectively as Mr Key did for him? Continue reading

We Need to Think Big

The relationship between poverty and low educational achievement is complex. Education is a basic human right, and everyone should have access to good schools and tertiary training. But it is an oversimplification to say that the way out of poverty is education. People are poor because they don’t have enough money. The quickest and easiest way out of poverty is to make sure people have enough money to live on. Continue reading

Poverty and Inequality – Are We Bored or Burnt Out And What Can Be Done About It?

People have become bored with economic inequality and poverty issues, according to Otago University Political Studies lecturer Dr Bryce Edwards. He ruffled a few feathers, but he’s probably right. The amount of media attention and voter support the Alliance Party has gotten in recent years certainly supports his theory. Or possibly people are just burnt out. Continue reading

Poverty in New Zealand: Address to the Catholic Conference on Poverty

9 August 2008, Palmerston North, by Richard Wallis, 2008 candidate for Wellington Central, number 5 on party list

Good morning and thank you for the opportunity to speak. I am Richard Wallis, Alliance spokesperson for education and candidate for Wellington Central. I lived here in Palmerston North for 10 years, first studying at Massey and then 5 years at the local Warehouse. I was a member of the St Pat’s community. It was the Massey Catholic group “Manako” where I was reminded of the importance of social justice. Continue reading