Wednesday, 22 October 2008

random encounters

i haven't mentioned it, but i've been in a reasonable amount of pain over the last couple of weeks, due to a sore tooth. which of course means that i'm in root canal territory, a double-ouch, to the mouth and to the wallet. last week, my dentist made two attempts on two different days at proceding with the root canal treatment but the local anaesthetic wouldn't work properly, so she had me in tears with the pain.

now it's off to the specialist, and a massive bill, but hopefully no pain. i met the specialist today, a lovely fellow, and in the course of the consultation, i told him that i was busy campaigning so how best could i fit the treatment into my other campaign activities? which of course led to an interesting political discussion, starting off with him saying that he was thinking of voting for the national party.

well, here was a well paid (extremely well paid, given the quote he's just given me) person, and i managed to talk him around to thinking seriously about voting labour. i immediately started the discussion on tax cuts, guessing he would probably find that the most appealing aspect of national's policy. i talked about the economic downturn which would hit people on lower incomes the most, and how the national party package put these workers in a worse position. you, i said, will suffer but will still be able to put food on the table, and afford decent clothing and housing. isn't it better that the money goes to those who need it most?

we had a good discussion about social inequality, made easier because he comes from india too. we both know that someone with his qualifications would have a fantastic life in india, what with the chauffer-driven fancy car, the 3 maids, the private schools etc. but the one thing he wouldn't have was safety. there are a considerable number of kidnappings there as well as other violence, and well-qualified people have left the country on safety issue alone.

violence is what you get from social inequality, and this was especially brought home when a business owner in delhi was recently attacked and killed by his own staff when he refused to raise wages. if you don't ensure that you look after the vulnerable and lower paid, then you will pay for it by needing increased security, and by having higher crime rates.

he said that taxes were high in this country, but i said the top rate is much lower than australia and in many other countries. and if he was here in the 1970's, his top rate would have been 66%. yes, he thought that was terrible, he'd heard stories about that. well, i said, for that tax rate you would have had a free tertiary education. and that he identified with, and told me about the massive debts he had incurred just to specialise. i told him that's how a progressive system works, you get a free education as a student and then you pay for it through higher taxes when you're earning the income to be able to do so.

i also talked about how national had pulled funding from dentistry in the 1990s, particularly around the school dental-nurse scheme and what an effect that had had on a generation of school children. if you care about children's dental health, i told him, don't vote national.

we talked about don brash, who he didn't like. well, i said, john key was his deputy and went along with everything dr brash said and did in the 2005 campaign. do you really think he's had a whole personality change in 3 years, do you really think he now doesn't believe what he believed then? that's just not possible.

we talked over a few other things as well, and it was the social justice issues that had the most resonance with him. so there you go, people on higher incomes have every reason to vote labour! and it totally helped when we went out and his assistant assured us that she would definitely be voting labour.

similarly, at my local supermarket last friday, the checkout girl asked me what i'd be doing in the weekend. i'll be campaigning for labour, are you enrolled to vote? yes, and i'll have to vote labour, she said. i'm a student and i support universal student allowances.

i know my random encounters aren't equal to scientific polling, but i'm consistently getting the feeling that there is strong support for labour. still over two weeks to go, and i'm saying that this race is wide open.

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