Saturday, November 19, 2011



Before the previous NZ election in 2008 I commented on the promise made by the National Party that they would not sell public assets in the first term (political manifesto). I asked whether this meant the first school term, or university semester, or three-year term of government. Well, it turns out that the pragmatic John Key has kept his word and not interfered with Kiwi Bank (he did not buy it with his own fortune and call it the Key Wee Bank, as I had suggested) or sold the power companies.

However, despite assurances that taxes would not rise, there was an increase to 15% in the only tax that everyone pays (GST, the Goods and Services, the one that is often double taxation, when it is added to local council rates, for example). For some of the wealthy individuals this is the only tax they ever pay (they have diabolically clever accountants who show them how to avoid all the other taxes). Unfortunately it is a heavier burden for those who are not rich than for those who have heaps of money with which to make necessary purchases, particularly food and clothing.

Now, at the 2011 election, the subject of asset sales is on the agenda ("things to be done"), but it will only be "partial"; only a part of each power company will be sold, a mere 49%, and the proceeds will be used to fund the education and health systems, so that we can ease up on borrowing from foreign sources and reduce our deplorable debt. However, the deal is said to be that ordinary New Zealanders (who certainly need to save more) will be the investors who will purchase the shares, and Mâori are already  lining up at the counter (but they would rather see the assets remain in public ownership). It sounds reasonable, but a majority of citizens oppose the idea; it seems like selling half your house to pay off the mortgage, and then having the buyers live in that part of your home without paying rent, or watching them rent it out to others, who would not take proper care of it. We have not forgotten the mess that was made when the railways were sold.

On the other hand, there are some good reasons for selling the power corporations off completely and quickly, and both are related to the sun. First, solar flares are threatening to damage power lines (as they did to telegraph lines and machines in the middle of the 19th century), plunging the world into darkness and frigidity, and general powerlessness. Second, householders should be making their own arrangements and drawing on the solar energy that is poured forth every day from that great nuclear powerhouse in the sky. Smart people in Australia are able to sell their surplus of home-made electricity to the power corporations, feeding it into the national grid.

After the previous election,  I wrote about John Key being another public figure in NZ history who is Jewish, and I wished him well as prime minister. He has impressed us as a leader. I have just seen him being interviewed about the National government's work for Pasifika people. He knew what the facts are and he presented them lucidly and caringly. But the irony is that he was doing it on TVNZ7, which he is going to close down shortly and abruptly. He is the smiling human face for the National Party, but behind him atrocities are being committed.

The Mad Hatter's tea party has not helped the campaign, with the Hatter and the mad March Hare talking nonsense in a public place, and expecting privacy ("No room!" they said to Alice), and an eavesdropping device disguised as a dormouse was shoved into the teapot. Remember, the original hatter's tea party also involved an exchange of seats! Worse, this Alice in Wonderland scenario (Off with their heads, the Queen said to her police force) will associate the National Party in voters' minds with the crazy American extremists of the Tea Party.

We thought we were heading for good strong government under genial John Key, such as we enjoyed in Rob Muldoon's glorious reign. The National Party, like the All Blacks in the Rugby Cup competition, has been ahead on the points table all the way, but the fear is spreading that they will "choke" in the final test.

So then, we might have a coalition government, and the best alliance would surely be the two large parties, National and Labour together. When it came to the point of selling some assets, because food is not involved Labour would allow National to impose 15% G&S Tax (where have we seen that combination G&S before?).  Labour would also insist that a 15% capital gains tax (or similar) should be paid by the buyers. Imagine all those billions of dollars going into consolidated revenue, and all the wonderful services the government could provide with them. The great majority of the people would be pleased with their politicians. It would truly be one of those win-win situations, if both Labour and National win the election together.

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