How long have I waited for someone in politics to say that? Not say something complicated, or prevaricate, or hedge, but just say those three things with force and conviction? Hearing it was like being handed a nice glass of cold water on a hot day. In fact, most of Cunliffe’s speech was refreshing: 50% female MPs, 26 week paid leave, binding vote on the Queen, NZ owned insurance, contributions to super…. It probably helped that I spent last night watching Inside Job.
Inside Job is about the 2008 economic crisis and the criminals who made it happen. If there were ever any doubt about John Key’s intelligence Inside Job puts those questions to rest. He not only made a fortune but he got out before it turned to custard. Of course, it also makes something else clear. There is no way anyone working at a high level for one of the toxic big five finance and investment companies could have any scruples, or give a stuff about the wider good of society.
Many things struck me as I watched the documentary unfold. Firstly, the spectacular and irresponsible failure of the world’s largest insurance company, AIG, must surely be playing some kind of factor in New Zealand’s shitty insurance situation post the Christchurch earthquakes. Secondly, it sucks to be Iceland. I actually had read about Iceland earlier and was already aware of how much it sucked to be Iceland, but then I forgot. As you do. Finally, how totally ridiculous it is to elevate economists to any kind of position of power. They are not scientists, they are social studies teachers. I say that with the greatest respect for social studies teachers (I am a social studies teacher), and I know for a fact that social studies teachers are not scientists who can predict the future. Letting economists forget that they are social studies subject is a big mistake because it usually results in them not teaching any history in their courses. Imagine taking a commerce degree and not studying any history? That would be totally ridiculous! Imagine what could be learned by studying the Great Depression and the restructuring of the financial system afterwards.
Economists of course don’t see it that way.
Economists would advise many things for an education system. Something competitive perhaps? Some national standards. Some league tables, some performance pay. This idiotic, pig-headed drivel is anti-social. Big finance companies of course have performance pay. Turned out it was based on how much business they did. Not the intelligence, social benefit or quality of the business, just how much business they did. Teachers could have the same, right? Line everyone up, make it a race, judge test scores, and hand out the bonuses. Test scores would go up; quality of education would go down; some teachers would be rich, and the rest would be poorer.
Our state schools are very, very precious. One of the most precious commons we have as a community. On the whole most people don’t want a choice of schools, they want a good school down the road. The good school down the road should be the aim of government.
Brand was a nice glass of cool water too, although you wouldn’t think so from the way many people on the left reacted. Reading the often nasty dissection of his comments has been a bit weird. His basic message was great, but what was even better was his passion and directness. Passion and directness have been absent from the left for quite some time. Brand is intelligent and worth listening to and reading. His articles are always funny and penetrating, his views on addiction as a health issue are great, and he has been saying this stuff about the world order for quite some time. In New Zealand I think that he is wrong about not voting, but in Britain I would have a lot more time for his position. In his editorial for the New Statesman he said that “the right looks for converts and the left looks for traitors”. The reaction from a lot of people on the left since his interview certainly proves that to be true. Brand is not the enemy, even if you think he is posturing and naive.
The enemy of a healthy, fair and fulfilling society is the enemy. The enemy of a healthy, balanced and fulfilling environment is the enemy.
And while I’m on my soapbox, please
Please go to the NetGuide Awards and vote for Scoop. It’s not perfect but it’s a damn “site” better than Stuff.