Getting Active

I just listened to John Key’s 2013 opening speech. It was vacuous, condescending, and shouty. Listen to it again. It sounds like an opposition speech, belittling his opponents and complaining about their policies. Thing is John, opposition policies are irrelevant. It’s your policies and plans to help New Zealand we need to hear about. Apparently you have none.

Back when I voted ACT, my reasoning was that everyone should be able to bootstrap themselves. Just get the government out of the way and people will succeed. Anyone who didn’t was just lazy. A lot has changed since then, both in my own philosophy and in the world. You’d be mad not to see that hands-off government leads to a raft of issues from leaky buildings to fucked-up banking behaviour collapsing entire economies.

Also, the dirty secret is that at a macro level, “left” vs “right” policies make little or no difference to the performance of a country over the long term. Countries have performed exceedingly well under high tax loads (and poorly under low). What this tells me is that business will thrive in pretty much any market condition.

To my mind, the difference between left and right lie solely in two areas: regulation and social justice. Regulation means holding people to account for the true cost of their behaviour, whether that be using the wrong building materials, building unsafe vehicles, letting their cows shit in streams, or their use of diminishing resources. Social justice is an understanding that we cannot exist as individuals, rather that we owe our well-being and prosperity to this larger organism we call society, in all its glorious, smelly miasma.

I’ve never been a member of a political party. I’ve voted in every election, and in my time have voted for ACT (yes, really), National, Labour and The Greens. I’m what you might call a swing voter. Although to be fair, I’m more of a “trajectory voter”, having swung from ACT to Green. I don’t see myself swinging back.

I’ve had enough of this hands-off “market knows best” bullshit. It’s utterly bankrupt and a pile of lies. John Key’s pointless, wandering 2013 opening speech was the straw that finally made my camel lose its shit. As a result, I’m signing up as a member of The Green Party. You should too.

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  1. Like you I’ve voted across the spectrum, Act, National, Labour, and the Alliance. The only ones who seem to have any ideas and seem to believe what they’re saying are the Greens.
    This government have done absolutely nothing for four years other than tinker around the edges.
    I want to pay a bit more tax and have a more equal society. I do not believe this Government represents the values of most New Zealanders (Charter schools, Asset Sales, leaving everything to the market) and they’re having to resort to fear mongering in order to hold on to power – why they want to do so is beyond me as they seem to have so little ambition for NZ.

    1. “I want to pay a bit more tax and have a more equal society”

      I think you can should you feel the need. Unfortunately I don’t think handing over more money to politicians is going to change anything 🙁

  2. I’ve also voted for ACT, National, Labour and The Greens, and like you I’m now much more interested in what the Greens have to say than almost anyone else.

    I’m not entirely opposed to National’s ideas on many things, but they seem so obstinate and unwilling to exercise any sort of creative thinking or re-examination in their policy that I can’t stomach them anymore.

    I don’t agree with everything The Greens (or Labour) suggest but I have a lot more faith in them to honestly accept feedback and to constantly re-evaluate their policies in the face of new ideas and evidence.

    And above all else the Greens especially are tackling things on an issue-by-issue basis and trying to come up with policy and concepts to address those issues, rather than taking a broad ideology and trying to squish everything into it.

    Key’s childish and entirely substanceless responses to Labour and Green policy announcements are arrogant and offensive and they actively drive me further and further from anything remotely resembling support for National.

    1. Agree. Also the Greens have moved over the last few terms from the same kind of thoughtless ideologues to become a modern party whose policies are largely evidence-based and fully costed.

      I think my Green vote was cemented after talking to Gareth Hughes, and understanding that they’ve dropped support for things like universal student allowances, because while perhaps desirable, it’s an entirely unaffordable policy. Crikey, logic!

      1. I took off from my office when I worked at Lincoln to go and shake Gareth’s hand.. I reckon it was my chance to meet a man who should one day run this place…

        Like you, though I’ve always been a lefty, I’ve voted all across the spectrum (unlike you, I’m Canadian so I voted PC, NDP and Bloc Quebecois) but the current crop of conservative folk are just mean and disinterested in.. well.. people.

        (your challenge question has me singing the Happy Days” theme song.

          1. He seems to have lost his SOH lately though and the true colours are starting to show.

            Maybe the focus groups are telling him voters want to see a Prime Minister and less of the grinning class clown…

            Although those focus groups don’t say good things about the kiwi psyche if his efforts today rubbishing the opposition are what they think people will respond to.

      2. …because while perhaps desirable, it’s an entirely unaffordable policy.

        Following that logic we can’t actually afford anyone.

        The reality is that we can afford everything we have on about 10 hours per week each.

  3. “was the straw that finally made my camel lose its shit”

    Brilliant line 🙂

    I’m similar – I’ve tended to vote left (labour, green) but with a much much stronger green lean in the last few elections, even tho act or national should be more in my interests. But watching it from overseas is interesting – Key comes off as a mini David Cameron – an entitled, arrogant arse.

    Hopefully there is a swing next time – not sure I’d ever join a specific party, but I’m thinking about helping out (US presidential race style) in the next one – the greens are the only party that has actually impressed me for a while.

    The article you link to is interesting too – well, the hypothesis is, I need to actually read it. I didn’t know that, I assumed the differ tax levels etc actually made a difference..

  4. Great move. Its fantastic to watch the influx of bright thoughtful professionals joining the Greens.

    The Green Party is a pretty extraordinary culture to be involved with. Like any large group it has its foibles and like any political party it has ‘extremists’, but the thing that connects all these people is their a vision for a fairer society a healthy environment and an economy that works for all New Zealanders.

    And amongst its ranks are some of the smartest freshest progressive thinkers who are genuinely interested in finding solutions in a world gone mad. So, welcome aboard!

  5. Kia ora Ben, thanks so much for your support.

    We’ll keep working hard in Parliament and outside for good change and a smart green economy.


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