Pagani v Dim on economic growth

(Labour candidate for Rangitikei) has an op ed in the Herald where she says:

We were seen as looking backwards, not forwards. We didn’t sound aspirational, we sounded miserable. We were turning up on people’s doorsteps telling them their lives were gloomy. And anyone who has ever been poor knows the last thing you want is someone telling you your life is crap.

The hardest week to door-knock was when we were telling people – who had just come home from a day’s work earning the minimum wage – that it was a great idea to extend their Working for Families tax credit to beneficiaries. “So what’s the point of working my guts out all week while someone sitting at home on the dole gets the same tax credit as me?”

Indeed. Their worst policy of 2011.

There’s a reason we’re called “Labour”: We have always represented people who work. If you work hard you should earn enough to pay the bills, save a bit and enjoy the holidays with your family. If you have a great idea to build a business and work really hard, a Labour government will back you to be world class. It’s not just about dividing the economic pie fairly, it’s about increasing the size of the pie so everyone can get their piece.

Pretty sensible stuff. But Danyl at Dim Post says:

Growing the pie. David Shearer used the same cliche in his first speech to Parliament. Here’s my question: why are Labour still using ACT Party rhetoric about the panacea of economic growth, when all our economic statistics, social indicators and lived experience over the past thirty years tell us that the benefits of ‘growing the pie’ now aggregate to a  small number of high-net worth individuals? The rest of us stay where we are, or go backwards. …

For a few years during the mid 2000s it felt like we were going forwards – but that was just a bubble fueled by overseas debt. During this time Helen Clark constantly resorted to the tired old Kennedy/Sorenson trope that ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’. But this just isn’t an accurate way to think about economic growth. It may, eventually lift general living standards over a long period of time, but it always involves an element of ‘creative destruction’.

Danyl joins the ranks of left wing bloggers giving David Shearer appalling advice.

We had a party in New Zealand that used to say what Danyl said. They said economic growth is not as good as people make it out to be. They said we should not grow the pie as this exploits limited resources. They were the Green Party and tended to get 5% to 6% of the vote.

Then in 2011 they dropped the socialist dogma, and started talking about green growth, and how a vote for the Greens is a vote to get richer (implying more growth). And they broke through 10% for the first time.

Danyl thinks arguing in favour of economic growth is National/ACT dogma. It also happens to be the dogma of basically every major centre-left party in the developed world, plus pretty much all of Asia except North Korea and maybe Burma.

So my advice to David Shearer is not to start campaigning against economic growth. Well not unless he wants to beat Phil Goff’s 85 year low in the vote for Labour.

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