Monday, 12 May 2008

cuts, cuts, and more cuts

john key has laid out his five-point plan for economic development. more of the same really. he's promising tax cuts, cuts in government spending and increased spending on infrastructure.

but he doesn't join the dots. significant cuts in government spending could involve cuts to the working for families scheme, so how is that going to help the "struggling kiwi families" he speaks of? the families that are struggling most are paying almost no tax, if they have children. there is no level of tax cuts that will restore their income if WFF is cut.

or there could be cuts to the kiwisaver scheme. which would impact the level of retirement income of our aging population. and will decrease the amount of funds available for investment, particularly investment in nz companies, to ensure that a greater share of our profits stay on-shore.

those are the two major areas of government spending that can be cut without reducing services. cutting departmental budgets while expecting the same outcomes is hardly realistic. the standard has a good post on exactly what level of tax cuts could be expected on promises to cap the size of the core public service.

i've done a previous post on the work the core public service do. basically, you can't increase frontline staff unless they have the administrative support services to back them up, leaving them focus on the frontline work.

but the promise to put large sums of money into infrastructure leads can mean only one of two things. either an increased level of borrowing, meaning more of the tax-intake ("your hard-earned tax dollars", to use their language!) goes towards interest payments instead of social services; or privatisation of some kind, which means you're going to have to pay for it another way (tolled roads for example, or remember the rural delivery charge back in the 90's).

there's nothing fresh or new here, and nothing to deal with issues of poverty or raising the level of before tax wages, which is what will really help those who are struggling. i find it interesting that we rarely see a comparison of before tax wages between nz and aus in right-wing rhetoric. they steer very clear of even mildly suggesting that employers should be paying their workers more, especially in light of eight solid years of economic growth.

i didn't have time to post on mother's day yesterday. i got a box of chocolates and a home-made card. every mother's day, i tend to recall the sermons that will happen in mosques up and down the country, and across the world. the theme is constant: why should we celebrate mother's day? every day should be mother's day. every day we should show respect for our mothers and appreciate what our mothers do for us and have gone through for us. this is usually followed by several references to hadith, especially the one that reminds us that paradise lies under our mother's feet. there's plenty of material like that, and motherhood is given a particularly high status in islamic tradition, across the world. which doesn't mean that in practice mothers are always treated well, but the theory is definitely there!

so i tend to be in two minds about mothers day. on the one hand, i do agree with my own mum who is adamant we shouldn't recognise mothers day, and especially hates the commercialised aspect of it. but on the other hand, i see that my girls want the opportunity to show me that they think i'm special and important, and it's hard to create those opportunities every day. so i'm ok with the low-key chocolate and home-made card thing - actually, i'm ok with chocolate on any day of the year!

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