|Shaw, Ardern and Peters, the different faces of the Caring Capitalism popular front|
We take a look at the promises from the Labour party when campaigning and on taking office – what will these really deliver for working people? As we argued in previous issues of Class Struggle, Labour forming a Coalition with openly capitalist parties means it cannot claim anymore to be a party that represents workers. It has an excuse to betray its working-class voters by trading any real gains for workers in exchange for becoming the government.
That is why our balance sheet of wins and losses for workers in the first 100 days is boringly predictable. Once Labour signed the fiscal responsibility deal with the Greens it meant it can’t even adopt Keynesian spending to stimulate economic growth (boost profits) let alone spend on what workers need (living wages).
And to win Peters to form a government, Labour and Greens had to trade away some of its promises to appease his populist, conservative supporters.The result is that Labour now openly betrays workers on behalf of predatory, parasitic, international finance capital - most dramatically by signing the TPPA11! Labour is fully exposed as a open bourgeois party. We need an independent mass workers party!
Cash trickle downs to profits
Tertiary fees will be dropped a year at a time. But fees themselves are less of a barrier to poorer families accessing tertiary education than living costs. Raising student allowances by $50 a week will be pocket money for some students able to access a student allowance, the rest will have to increase their student loans, or continue to work part time to survive. The rent subsidy has gone directly into rent rises.
- Only a free, universal education from pre-school to tertiary paid for by taxing profits and rents can deliver the education we need!
Increasing the minimum wage to $16.50 an hour is an insult to low paid workers. We need a living wage for all workers. And even $20 is not enough!
- Only workers and students organising union-based wages and prices committees can decide what wage, allowance or benefit they need to live on!
Tinkering with Workplace Law
Labour’s tinkering with the workplace law doesn’t even undo the worst of the last National government’s attacks in favour of employers. And doesn’t help most workers employed by small businesses with 20 or fewer workers. They still face the 90-day fire at will scenario. Labour’s workplace policy is based on the ideology of fair shares between labour and capital. Yet global capitalism’s terminal crisis can only be solved by capital at the expense of cutting wages. To defend wages and conditions we advocate strikes and occupations.
- Putting people before profits means expropriating the means of production under workers control!
Fiddling with the Housing Crisis
Labour proclaimed a housing crisis when attacking the National government, but what do they actually deliver? Nothing substantial. Subsidising private landlords instead of taxing capital gains means that the cause of the crisis is left untouched. The market cannot solve the problem. This just perpetuates property speculators parasitic on workers’ wages.
- We are for minimum standards for all houses, homes, apartments, accommodation (boarding houses, motels, lodges, etc) to be set by working people. Increase secure tenancy for tenants to have longer term guarantees.
Banning overseas ‘speculators’ from buying existing houses will reduce demand but it won’t stop speculation in new builds whether the landlords are Chinese or Kiwis. We are stuck with workers making speculators rich. Why not tax the speculators? The tax working group cannot address this as their terms of reference exclude it. Too many MPs owning multiple rentals to allow Labour to entertain this radical solution.
- We say a 100% capital gain tax on all speculative rental profits to drive the parasites out of business!
State Houses for all who need them!
Gov’t will stop the state house sell-off. Should we be happy? Not when there is no serious attempt to replace those sold off by previous Governments. We are against “social housing” as a thinly veiled return to capitalist philanthropy and a quasi-market substitute for state housing.
- A state house with rent pegged to 20% of income should be a right for all those who need it!
The “KiwiBuild” programme cannot produce affordable homes when the building industry is beset by profiteering monopolies like Fletchers, exploitation of subcontractors, terrible health and safety records, poor employment records (including super-exploitation of illegal migrants, cash jobs –tax free) which have driven up the costs and made housing unaffordable to most workers. So, Labour dodges the issue and sets up another committee - the “Affordable Housing Authority”.
Obviously Labour refuses to put working people before profits. It won’t challenge the property-owning democracy where land grabbing and speculation has always been a shortcut to wealth. Driven by the banks, property speculation will remain a fact of life enriching landlords and banks.
- We say we need a massive public works scheme to provide jobs for unemployed youth in the building trades and a crash program in state house building until the demand for rental houses is met.
Fiddling with Family Incomes
Working families get a few crumbs. Paid parental leave, and $60 per week for the following year is too little, and if it has to be applied for, then it won’t reach those who need it. A winter energy bonus is welcome relief to some, but a stopgap in the absence of warm and healthy homes. So, in effect it is a bonus to (privatised) energy companies.
Child poverty. Labour expresses liberal concern. Sets a child poverty reduction target and budget reports on child poverty statistics. Goals are good but where is the action?
- We can’t solve child poverty without full employment, a living wage, and decent, affordable, healthy housing. So, we are back to the spending constraints of fiscal responsibility!
Mental Health, Prisons and Cannabis
Mental ill-health is a symptom of capitalist society that is broken and is alienating of the majority of the people. We know that most of the prison population have mental health problems or are in for drug offenses. Labour wants to cut the numbers in jails but won’t look at the obvious measures to achieve this. So far it plans to build the Mega prison at Waikeria. We say No Mega Prison! One alternative to new prisons is legalising cannabis. That would cut the prison population by half at least. But the deal done with NZ First will put decriminalisation or legalisation to a binding referendum only in 2000.
- We say legalise cannabis now! Close the prisons! Rehabilitate offenders in socially useful work or training on union pay rates!
The “nuclear issue of our age”? Oh please. Zero net carbon emissions goal by 2050. We will all be dead or dying by then. Capitalism is the cause of climate change.
- We say the alternative facing us is survival socialism or human extinction!
Global capitalism is in its terminal crisis and all Labour can do in its first 100 days is tinker and fiddle. We get more committees, reports and talk shops: a Ministerial Inquiry to fix our mental health crisis, an inquiry into the abuse of children in state care, a Tax Working Group, a Clean Waters Summit, an independent Climate Commission, an Affordable Housing Authority.
But talk shops don’t create change especially when they fiddle with symptoms and don’t touch the real causes of these problems. For example, tax evasion by the rich, profiteering at the cost of substandard housing and damaging the environment are all symptoms of capitalism in its terminal decline.
- We say Destroy capitalism before it destroys us!
TPPA11 cancels all the 100 days hype
The signing of the TPPA11 (Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement) is a sell-out of NZ workers to the global monopolies like Google, Microsoft or Apple who have the power to sue governments that tax or regulate their profits. What to do? We say national sovereignty means nothing if the working people do not control the economy. The profits from the TPPA11 will go into the pockets of the foreign and NZ capitalist class, the losses will empty the pockets of the workers.
Therefore, against the power of Big Pharma or Big Tech to monopolise patents and supply we say:
- · Socialise the health and communications industries under workers control to provide full access and free health and communications for all!
Against the power of monopolies to dictate economic, social and environmental policy by refusing to pay taxes on capital gains and profits we say:
- · Repeal the Fiscal Responsibility Act and tax profits and capital gains to pay for free comprehensive health, education and welfare!
- · Organise workers committees and councils to determine economic, social and environmental policy to meet our needs!
- · Nationalise without compensation the big four private banks and turn Kiwi Bank into a single State Bank under workers’ control!
- · Nationalise without compensation all foreign and NZ corporates that sack workers or close down!
We are for an independent workers party with a program for a Workers Government to expropriate capitalist property, socialise the economy and plan production for need and not profit!